Paul Jarrett is the co-founder and CEO of Bulu Box and a subscription box champion. We had a chance to pick Paul’s brain about vitamins, supplements, and other health-maintenance products, and also got some advice on how to stick to a weight management plan.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Why did you decide to start Bulu Box?
I saw how much people struggled to find the right health and wellness products for their lives and their bodies. I experienced the struggle firsthand when I played football at Iowa State, gaining and then losing over 100 pounds. My wife and co-founder, Stephanie, and I wanted to give people an easy way to discover the best products on the market. We have extensive experience in CPG product marketing and advertising, so we understood how to build a program that would appeal to brands looking to find new customers, too.
Other than losing weight or building muscle, what are some common reasons why people turn to health supplements?
I think of health on a spectrum. On one end, you have your “I run 10 miles a day and only eat kale” folks. On the other end, you’ve got the “I eat fast food and drink soda daily” types. (For the record, we believe in an 80/20 lifestyle.) The goal – and what I think health supplements provide – is for people to find a way to move from where they are on the spectrum to where they want to be. Supplements are a way for someone to build a healthy, lasting habit.
Name one new nutritional supplement that you’re really excited about.
Neocell Collagen Bars. Neocell has taken one of the biggest insights from subscription sampling programs – the idea that people want to replace their existing food and drink habits with healthier versions – and made a delicious product that achieves that goal.
What advice might you give to people who are overwhelmed by the huge number of health supplement choices that are available to them?
Most of your local health food stores will have a dietician or other medical professional on staff to give consultations, or they’ll offer free/low-cost classes. Just ask!
When you were taking supplements in order to gain and then lose weight, how much trial and error was involved in finding the right combination or dosages of your supplements?
Tons of trial and error! I had many of those “Oh crap!” moments where I’d taken too much of something, and there were times where it felt like I wasn’t making any progress. I got sick of spending hundreds of dollars on products and watching big tubs of protein stack up under my sink. I wanted to try everything before I decided what was best for me. I didn’t want to start in the vitamin and supplement aisle; I wanted to end there.
Were there ever any times during your weight loss or weight gain regimens that you struggled with maintaining discipline and staying on your program? If so, how did you overcome these feelings?
I still do daily! I was a “yo-yo dieter,” and I still might be. I’ve found that for me, I need to focus on a few things and then add additional elements like vitamins and supplements. For example, I had to quit thinking “diet” and start thinking “new life;” it was a paradigm shift. Furthermore, a few key components I work on mastering are things like “get back on the wagon.” You’re going to fall off, so make it about getting back on track. Also, focus on reducing sugar and carbs. Our bodies want energy in the form of glucose. Our bodies are better at processing glucose than lipids or proteins for use in respiration. When you take away or reduce the easiest source of energy, your body has to work harder. In addition, getting good sleep is important. Your brain needs deep, restful sleep to make right decisions. So for me, I’ve realized I’ll never fully overcome the feelings, so I embrace that fact by thinking about a new life, not a new diet, and also getting back on track, reducing sugar, and getting sleep. When I master those things, I move on to supplements, vitamins, exercise, etc.
To what extent did you embrace other people’s comments about your weight gain/loss progress and use them as positive reinforcement?
I did get a lot of compliments, but the best positive reinforcement was feeling confident in clothes. Words are great, but a picture is worth a thousand words; and a nice pic in a nice suit that sits well was all the reinforcement I needed.
Based on what you know about the current health and fitness research, what new types of health supplements might we expect to see in the market over the next several years?
We are going to see a lot of “custom solutions” and more data supporting the use of certain vitamins, supplements, and health products. For example, I might take my DNA test and see that I have an overactive gland that prevents me from sleeping; and instead of getting a prescription for Ambien, I might be just as well off reducing caffeine intake and taking melatonin. That data could be used for a specially formulated drink, bar, gummy, or pill. Imagine having a “John Smith’s custom nighttime bar” that has exactly what John’s body will need to optimize him for the next day. Those products are in development, and it will likely be a few different startups that crack the code on them. But eventually, hyper-customized functional food products will become mainstream.