Not long after the release of her newest book, NEXT LEVEL, Dr. Stacy Sims gives Athletech News better insight into how she became the leading global expert on female physiology and training
“I’m a translator for exercise and fitness trying to empower women,” says Dr. Stacy Sims during her Athletech News CEO Corner interview. The statement came after ruminating on her dream job as a child (the surprising answer to that is in this article). Still, the leading global expert on female physiology and training has managed to exceed her wildest childhood fantasy, going from being a former elite athlete to book author, nutritionist, coach and mother. Dr. Sims’s tagline — “Women are not Small Men” — spawned into her very own TEDx talk regarding gender bias in sport nutrition studies and other lucrative opportunities. She’s also launched and developed two companies before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and consults for global brands such as Nike, WHOOP, Tonal and Nuun, among others.
Even with all of her myriad number of accomplishments, Dr. Sims tells Athletech News that failure has been a mainstay in her business pursuits. “You can’t do anything until you do it,” she declares, adding, “Everyone has to go through all those startup hang ups and understand what failure is in order to understand how to move forward and not have that emotional attachment so much.” Her ability to bounce back from defeat has led her to reinventing her career and thriving against all obstacles. Her latest book, NEXT LEVEL, ushers in the next chapter of her calling to empower women going through or anticipating menopause. The Stanford PhD graduate with over 700 published studies to her name gives Athletech News a better perspective on her voyage from “Army brat” to world-renowned scientist and CEO.
Athletech News (ATN): Tell us about your background
Dr. Stacy Sims: I’m varied in all so many different things. I started really with the eye of being an academic, wanting to go after and publish and answer the questions I was getting, especially with regards to female athlete health and nutrition and training. But I realized I’m not a true academic. There are lots of things that came up along the way.
While I was doing my Ph.D., things came up in [the] industry, and then when I was at Stanford doing my postdoc, I had the opportunity to work with Clif Bar and create some products with them, and then kind of fast forward to looking to launch and create a new space in sport nutrition. Things just started snowballing forward.
I now sit where I have quite a few different industry projects going, alongside my own company, drstacysims.com, plus the opportunity to get into the lab and answer questions through Ph.D. students and collaboration. I found that balance after a gazillion years is the best way to put it
ATN: Please tell us about your current company and how either your role or the company (if you are a founder) came to fruition
Dr. Stacy Sims: I have two major companies on the go at the moment. I think everyone knows about “Dr. Stacy Sims” which is where I’ve leaned on my education and applied the science to creating online courses, [I’ve] written two books about it and it’s all about how Women Are Not Small Men. That kind of just fell right in the middle of COVID where my husband said, “I’ve always wanted to create a[n] online course. Let’s go with ROAR. Let’s put ROAR on.” I hesitated, “I don’t know about that.” Given that we had so much time during lockdown, we took the leap and created the online course. We got social media going and there was this huge uproar where people really wanted to know everything there was about female physiology, how they should be eating, how they should be training, and [I] just kept wanting more and more. It came to a point where I thought, “Why am I going to keep a full-time academic position, when I could focus [on] all the things I love, which is getting the science, doing the science, and then translating it and disseminating it to easy, accessible products.” That is what I did in the middle of the pandemic.
The other one [company] I’ve had in the backburner is one I launched with one of my good friends and business partner, Hannah Grant, who was a chef for a major cycling team during the Tour de France. We met when my company was sponsoring her team. She wanted to know more about the science of fueling athletes for optimal performance, such as why they needed to hydrate, how they needed to eat, how much they needed to eat, etc., so I became the science behind what she was doing. A few years later we agreed that we needed to launch something together and right before the pandemic, we launched a jet lag drink product. It worked great! We were in the Oscar bags, we had Steve Aoki talking about us, and airports were considering bringing it into their convenience stores. It was just going and then boom — the pandemic hit [and] no more air travel! Immediately we said, “Oh gosh, we need to pivot.” We had to look at it as, “let’s go after performance lifestyle” and pivot the idea of “It’s not jet lag,” to more of “it’s working with body rhythms, including sleep and wake.”
ATN: What was your journey like to get to this point?
Dr. Stacy Sims: It’s been hard because I am an introverted extrovert. Having to talk about myself and having to push things is a bit outside of my comfort wheelhouse. I have this dogma of wanting to know why, and I don’t appreciate a lot of the supplements that are on the market, because marketing is louder than science, and the marketing most often trumps the science. I’m fortunate to have a strong marketing team around me, and communicating via my social platforms softens the introvert in me because I don’t have to be the one that’s actually on the face of things. It’s been interesting to go from the quiet, academic to having to be the face of my brand and other brands. I now feel much more comfortable addressing and responding to comments from people who just didn’t understand the challenged dogma.
ATN: When have you failed? Talk about your failures? What have you learned from them?
Dr. Stacy Sims: So many failures. The other day I was playing the game, “Sorry,” with my mom, my sister, and my daughter. They were going, “Oh, you’re so lucky! You’re getting through! You get all the number ones and the number twos so you can move… You just have so much luck.” I was laughing in my head [thinking], “I’m the most unlucky person ever.” Every step of the way there’s been a massive failure of some sort that’s forced me to have to switch gears or direction. The first of which occurred when I worked on a project for Clif Bar. Many of the challenges I faced were a result of being a naive woman in a very male-dominated [field] and not really understanding that people don’t have your best interest at heart.
ATN: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Dr. Stacy Sims: I wanted to be a translator for the UN. I was an Army brat and we moved to Europe when I was 8. I learned to speak French and I have memories of witnessing the military and political issues happening in the U.S. from afar and comparing that to the situations in Europe. My family and I then visited East Berlin when there was still East Berlin, and that’s when I knew I wanted to make a difference to help others. [I thought], “I really want to work for the UN and be a translator. Work for getting peace and equality.” Then I went to undergrad as a Poli Sci major and fell asleep in every single Poli Sci class. [So I said], “This is not for me.”
ATN: What would be the title of your biography?
Dr. Stacy Sims: That one’s kind of easy. It’s my tagline: “Women are not small men.”
ATN: What are some of your daily habits?
Dr. Stacy Sims: I remember running into a friend when I first had my daughter and she asked me, “Are you taking care of yourself or just the baby?” I responded, “What do you mean?” She continued, “You need to be you first before you can be mom.” So I’ve taken that advice to heart and prioritize getting up early and doing something outside because I’m like a dog that needs to play every day. [I need to do] some kind of physical activity for that mental clarity before I get into my office and face the emails, getting my daughter to school, the work aspects, the meetings, the after school activities, etc. There are times every couple of hours where I just take a step back for ten minutes and walk away from the screen… just to re-center.
ATN: Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Dr. Stacy Sims: I’ll be asleep somewhere under the dirt in Hawaii.
Candace Cordelia is a Pennsylvania-based journalist and on-camera broadcaster/host, with a reporting background in wrestling, entertainment, and lifestyle. Her reporting work has been featured on websites and in publications such as Bustle, Pro Wrestling Illustrated, New York Daily News, am New York, ABC News, Yahoo!, Good Morning America, Madame Noire, Sister 2 Sister, etonline.com, Diva Dirt and The Everyday Fan. Her favorite workout influencers include Chloe Ting, Cassey Ho, Pamela Reif and Mary Braun. She still can’t stand burpees and Rebbl Dark Chocolate Immunity Elixir is one of her favorite post-workout protein sips. You can follow Candace on Twitter @CandaceCordelia and on Instagram @thatgirlcandace16.