I recently had the opportunity to chat with DRC fast-packer and runner Rick Kwiatkowski about Nutrition Stop (click here for their Facebook page), where he works in St. Peters, MO. Get to know more about Rick and Nutrition Stop in this interview, then make sure to head over to St. Peters sometime to check it out!
Daily Run Blog (DRB): How do you pronounce your last name? Sorry to ask a question I'm sure you hear ALL the time, but I'm curious!
Kwiatkowski: Qua-Tow-Ski. It really is Kvee-At-Kov-Ski. Kwiat means "flower" in Polish and Kowski means "person". That was probably too much info.
DRB: Nah that’s not too much info. How long have you been working at Nutrition Stop (NS)? What has kept you there?
Kwiatkowski: I am terrible with time frames, I have been there for over 15 years. I moved to Texas [for] a while and worked for two different corporate nutrition stores. The reason I have stayed is how Mom and Pop shops do business. We sincerely try and help people. There are no push products and we do not work on commission.
DRB: What corporate nutrition stores did you work for?
Kwiatkowski: I worked for Vitamin World and GNC. I managed stores for both companies.
DRB: What differences do you see between these corporate stores versus NS?
Kwiatkowski: A lot of corporate owned and operated stores have push products and use a system that offers commission on certain products. I know how a lot of stores work and unfortunately I feel it interferes with the idea of truly helping someone get what they really need.
DRB: Both of the stores you previously worked at are supplement-specific. What kind of products do you carry at NS?
Kwiatkowski: We carry produce (all of it is certified organic), groceries, natural cosmetics, supplements, and bulk items.
DRB: Oh dang, now I really want to check it out! Do you have any favorite products? (I admit, I assumed it was mainly supplements!)
Kwiatkowski: We get our meat from local farmers. One product I eat almost every day is Missouri Bison. I also eat the Best Bar Ever nearly everyday as well. They are fresh made to order bars we have in the refrigerator(no preservatives).
DRB: I'm assuming the Best Bar Ever is local, then? Are a lot of the grocery items local?
Kwiatkowski: We try to get as much local as possible (Best Bar Ever is not local, but is always fresh). I live downtown so I am able to pick up some of our orders directly from the facilities downtown. I get to see how and where the items are made and deal directly with the people who make them.
DRB: Those relationships must be invaluable! Have you or Nutrition Stop been able to grow your local food stock because of those direct dealings?
Kwiatkowski: Yes. I also make it a point to go to local farmers markets and Best of Missouri Market (held yearly at the Botanical Gardens).
DRB: I’m sure that’s a great event! Do you do any of the ordering or selecting of products? If so, what do you look for?
Kwiatkowski: Yes. The market has changed so much in the past decade with internet and big box stores getting into the market. We, of course, look at quality of product and integrity of the company. But now we have to see who is carrying these companies and if they are selling them at fair prices. Some products are being sold directly at prices lower than what we buy them for from our distributors. This is not just happening in our industry, but others as well. That is why it is such a struggle for Mom and Pop shops to survive.
DRB: Wow they really don't make it easy! It's good that you understand that, though, and are able to look for those things. Now, you carry a wider range of products than I was expecting, but I'll still ask: what do you recommend to first-time customers? I get pretty overwhelmed at nutrition stores and I wonder if it would be the same at NS?
Kwiatkowski: I personally believe in keeping things simple. That way people are less likely to be overwhelmed and more likely to stick with it. I usually preach paying attention to your macros (proper amounts of carbs, fats, proteins) and not sweating the micros too much. Starting with a good multi is a great way to ensure you are getting a good foundation of the micro nutrients you actually need.
DRB: Okay! Is that part of why you warned me that your views on nutrition and eating are “a little out of the range of normal”? Can you explain what you meant when you told me that?
Kwiatkowski: I have tried a lot of different ways of eating in my time. I noticed the biggest improvement in my health when I added clean meats and organic dairy back into my diet. I was feeling so great that I did some research to see if there were any people who mainly lived off of such foods as staples. That is when I found out about the Masai Tribe of Africa. They are herders who live mainly off of meat and milk. They believe farming is a desecration of the land. Pretty extreme departure of what people commonly think. So I decided to embrace this idea and test it in a reasonable manner. As a result I eat a lot of dairy and meat and nearly no fruit and veggies. Haha!
DRB: Ha, wow! That is different from the norm. I assume that's why you like the bison meat? What do you consider clean meats?
Kwiatkowski: Hormone-free, pasture-raised, and organic if possible.
DRB: Within that, do you eat any meat or lean toward one kind of meat over another?
Kwiatkowski: Not really. I do bison, grass-fed beef, salmon, and tuna. I look for calorie- and nutrient-efficient foods. Most meat fits into that category.
DRB: You said you tried other dietary regimens, were you trying those all through your running/fitness journey?
Kwiatkowski: No. I really just started running seriously a year or so ago. I was an avid day hiker back in my single days. After getting married and having a kiddo, my windows of trail time have diminished. So, to make the most of it, I decided to train to be a fast packer. I had to evolve my diet to be nutrient- and calorie-efficient and change my training to involve running along with power hiking.
DRB: Do you feel your fitness journey ties in with NS in any way?
Kwiatkowski: Yes. I believe health is a holistic sort of thing. The three main things we should focus on is nutrition, exercise, and sleep/rest. Nutrition Stop fills in the nutrition aspect, fast packing hiking/running is the exercise, and me being an exhausted, active parent equals sleep. Ha!
DRB: I would ask if your son is active, but I have a feeling he is! How old is he?
Kwiatkowski: He turned four this month.
DRB: Oh he definitely exhausts you, then, ha! I see your trail running posts, do you take to the road ever?
Kwiatkowski: Occasionally. I used to run mainly paved at Forest Park almost daily when my son was younger and would ride willingly in his stroller. Haha!
DRB: Does he enjoy fast-packing or running with you?
Kwiatkowski: At times. We live in a walk able neighborhood and have tons of parks around. We get a lot of outdoor and playground time. I usually pack out all our water and snacks in my fast-pack so it works into the whole idea of fast pack training.
DRB: Soon enough he'll be fast-packing right alongside you! Thanks so much for your time, and for sharing such wonderful information about Nutrition Stop.
This is definitely a place DRCers should check out. Let us know if you've been and give us your thoughts on it! Thanks again Rick, see you on the trails!