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These 4 Health Enthusiasts Credit The Vitamin Shoppe With Transforming Their Lives

Working at The Vitamin Shoppe, I’m constantly learning about new and powerful ways to boost and sustain my health. Editing stories about nutrition, fitness, and wellness for What’s Good—on top of being surrounded by super-passionate Health Enthusiasts—inspires me daily.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Vitamin Shoppe, I asked some Health Enthusiasts at the stores to share stories of how their jobs have personally transformed them. Here, you’ll see what happens when you focus on a goal and have an amazing company behind you all the way. (Hint: You succeed!)

Store#167—Fresno, CA 

Scott Romani Blog

This is the story of how The Vitamin Shoppe saved my life.

During Christmas of 2015, I heard my six-year-old daughter, Emma, talking to one of her toys. She was crying out, “Please tell Santa to help my daddy not be so fat anymore.” This cut me pretty deep—knowing that even my daughter could see that I was overweight.

By the summer of 2016, I stepped on the scale and saw that I weighed 333 pounds. Before then, I had tried to lose the weight, but I failed. I couldn’t stick to anything! I made excuses and allowed self-doubt to dominate my actions. Now, I was serious.

For the next week, I focused on my diet and supplements. I didn’t exercise at all for that 1st week because I just wanted to focus on my diet first. I bought a fish oil, a multivitamin, CLA, Psyllium Husk powder, and Glucomannan. I concentrated on lots of lean protein and veggies and made sure I took my supplements religiously.

After one week, I had lost nine pounds. Then I added the exercise. I started weight training and doing cardio workouts five days a week, pushing myself in ways I hadn’t before. I woke up in pain but I didn’t quit. I used the pain as motivation and kept on going. Something was driving me this time, and it took me a while to figure out what that thing was. Then one day I realized why I hadn’t quit this time—it was because I worked at The Vitamin Shoppe (since 2008). But now, I was finally ready.

I started sharing my story with anyone who’d listen. I started telling the customers who came in about the things I was doing and the results I was seeing. They’d come in and ask, “How much weight have you lost so far?” One customer joked that I was “the incredible shrinking man.” That just added fuel to my fire! I couldn’t let them down.

The biggest push by far came from my staff and colleagues. I began to send out mass messages to my staff and other district managers about my progress. And every time I’d send a message I’d get back a tidal wave of support.

Sure, I did a lot of the work, but I would be nowhere without the support of my family or my customers, staff, and peers at The Vitamin Shoppe. They have given me a strength that I never thought I had, and I owe an awful lot to all of them.

Without The Vitamin Shoppe, I am sure my little girl would be crying to Santa again this year. Now she doesn’t have to, because as of May 5th 2017, I have lost 92 lbs.

Store #714—Stony Brook, NY

Karen Hilsenbeck blog

When I joined The Vitamin Shoppe in January 2012 my life was changed forever. I was on my third round of Weight Watchers in five years (I was about 25 pounds overweight). I had a tendency to fall back into bad habits, so it was hard for me to stay consistently healthy. In fact, my closet was filled with three different sizes of clothing—and at this point, I was slowly moving back into the higher sizes.

By the time I joined The Vitamin Shoppe, I decided to really get serious yet again. But it was different this time; I took a different approach. I came to the realization that it wasn’t just about losing weight, it was also about changing my lifestyle and committing to it.

By working on the field, I learned all about supplementation, healthy eating, and nutrition. I had an increasing interest and fascination with the vitamins and supplements industry, and this inspired me to start making better choices in every area of my life.  I added exercise too, starting just with walking two miles a day. I began really reading food labels, and within a few months the rest of the weight dropped off for a total weight loss of 30 pounds. I was feeling better than I had in over 10 years. To celebrate, I decided I wanted to become a runner.

A customer told me about the Couch to 5K program and I decided to give it a try with the goal of being able to run (not walk!) during the annual Santa Toy Trot that I had been participating in with my sisters for years.

It took me 12 weeks to get through the nine-week program, but I finished, and I ran (no walking!) that entire 5K. A few months after that I decided to try kickboxing. One of our The Vitamin Shoppe customers had just opened up a studio and invited me in. It was a very tough first class, but I loved it so much that I immediately signed up. I’ve discovered that it’s one of the best workouts ever (not to mention, it’s great for relieving stress).

Fast forward to 2017. I have maintained that 30-pound weight loss. I exercise regularly, I rarely get sick, I regularly read food labels, I rarely crave unhealthy foods, and I eat a nutritious diet. On top of it all, I truly enjoy my job and have found my passion at The Vitamin Shoppe.

Being here has changed my life and I’m so grateful for all of the opportunities I have been given and the people I have met here. I also have had the opportunity, as a Field Training Manager, to teach others all about healthy living. The best part? I’m able to share my successes with our customers.

Store #040—Levittown, NY

Olivia Byram blog

At my heaviest weight, I was 302 pounds. And at 5’9, I resigned myself to the idea that I was always going to be, well, big. I also felt that my love for food would always be more of a driving force than my desire to be fit (I had previously worked in the culinary field).

I wasn’t exactly the type of person who might shop at The Vitamin Shoppe—or so I thought. I believed that vitamins were for people who were already fit and healthy—and I thought that would never be me.

All of this changed when I was looking for a career change that would allow me to spend more time with my child. In 2015, I went in for an interview at The Vitamin Shoppe. I was surprised at the size of the store and the amount of products that were available, and I was absolutely thrilled when I got offered the position and began training with Karen Hilsenbeck.

When I first met Karen she was enthusiastic and engaging, and she was definitely healthy—so I wasn’t sure I could exactly trust her healthy snack recommendations. I was wrong!

Karen had actually worked to wean herself off of unhealthy sugary snacks and junk foods, too. In fact, throughout my training, I learned more and more about the importance of nutrition and supplementation. With this knowledge, I began to see The Vitamin Shoppe’s role as a leader in the community.

Because I had learned so much by working at The Vitamin Shoppe, and because I was surrounded by encouraging people and healthy products, I dropped 100 pounds (in the past two years I’ve lost a total of 187 pounds). I had more energy and felt so much better physically. I was able to work out and learn more and more about all aspects of wellness.

I shared all of my new knowledge with my customers, too, who became friends to me. While my wellness journey may seem weight-focused, it’s so much more than that.  This career choice—and the people in this company who have supported me—-has made my entire life so much better.

Store #011—New York, NY

Saif Salim blog

My story begins when I first came to this the United States from Saudi Arabia at the age of nine. I was constantly bullied by classmates because of my accent, and every day after school some kids made a habit of chasing me. This continued for a couple years, so I really learned how to run fast.

Then, one day, my classmates finally chose me to play tag football. They hiked the ball and when it magically landed in my hands, I frantically wondered what to do next. They all looked at me in regret and screamed, “RUN!”

As soon as I heard that, I was gone like the wind. I sprinted the whole field, scoring a touchdown without anyone getting anywhere near me. They were all in awe of me, and that’s when I realized my talent. (Not surprisingly, the bullying stopped as well).

So, I joined the track and field club, and I ran my first track meet after a week of training. I started qualifying for youth national races, and later, I ended up qualifying for the 2008 Olympics in the 100-meter dash, but I tore my ACL three weeks prior.

The doctor said I would never be able to run the same again without surgery, but I shunned his statement. This is when I started learning all about vitamins and supplements (particularly for inflammation and joint health). And because I started taking them, I experienced a total health transformation.

I wanted to help others with their own health and wellness journeys, and I wanted to introduce them to the power of vitamins and supplements. I was already working in the health field when I found out about an opening at The Vitamin Shoppe. I was very attracted to its engaging culture; I wanted to truly listen to customers and help them. I got the job in 2010 and it remains a privilege to work for a company that is always evolving to better meet the needs of our customers.

Ever since I started working for The Vitamin Shoppe, I continue to train, and I run faster than I ever did.

My new goal? To qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

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