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Fascinating Women 2023: Chella Po

“I am now the person I wish I had before.”

Chella Po is her own hero. The New York University-trained and Manila-based US registered dietitian is the woman behind betterbeing.ph. Better Being offers specialized nutrition coaching that promotes good relationships with food and diets. Expect Chella to tell you about options when it comes to eating habits, rather than punishing you for that donut. It’s advice she wished she received beforehand. Now, she’s sharing her knowledge with others, being exactly the type of person Chella needed in the past. With a master's degree in Nutrition & Dietetics with a Concentration in Clinical Nutrition to boot. 

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Chella Po | Photo by Ria Regino

Chella started on her career path almost ten years ago, shifting from her nonprofit work in New York. The stress of the Big Apple and the demand to perform forced her to focus on quality living. It all leads back to food. What you eat affects how you feel and how you are as a person. It’s a simple connection, but navigating through it is complicated. Chella serves to be a guiding voice through the noise of conflicting information and limiting beauty and wellness standards that harms more than helps.


A year into launching Better Being, Chella enjoys an overwhelmingly positive response. She’s also carved a place on social media, adapting to Reels to debunk myths about dieting and proper nutrition. 


Read our exclusive full interview with Chella Po below!


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MetroStyle: Please tell us a little about what you currently do. Why do you love what you do?

Chella Po: I'm a dietitian. I decided to become a dietitian a while back after my own experiences with food as a tool to promote well-being.


I was always tired. It was a mix of feeling anxious and stressed. I learned little by little from people around me that if you eat better, you actually feel better. I tried it and I actually did feel better. And when I realized a lot of people didn't know this, I wanted to help those people too. This was back in 2014 to 2015, so almost 10 years ago. 


I went back to school and learned more about it. I'm just so happy to send a more positive message about food. It's the message that I wish I had when I was younger. I am now the person I wish I had before. I'm doing this now so that other people could avoid the mistakes I made. 



MS: It’s been 10 years since you shifted career paths, and you’re still at it. Why? 

CP: I love working with people. It’s gratifying. You can see right away after one or two weeks, people are better. People have more energy and brain space.


I'm not a fan of calorie counting. I did that for a long time and wasted a lot of energy. There's that layer that I am mad at all those things. If I can save somebody from going down that road, I’ll do it. If I can teach another way. I will give somebody that option so that you're not stuck with an old-school way of restrictive diets. 


I moved back to the Philippines during the pandemic. I tell people here that it's not about losing weight. I want to show people that they have more options. It’s nice to be able to build a community here. I grew up here so I know kind of the challenges the Filipinos have. I can tailor what I learned to the conditions people face here in terms of nutrition.


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MS: What is the best part of your job? 

CP: There's a big lack of education here, so just being able to put more information out there is the best part. I feel there is always, “Don't eat this. This is bad for you.” I am more about, “This is what you can do. These are things you can do if you don't have a choice because of your location or budget.” 


I feel good to give that to people because health is the foundation. If you don't feel good, because your health is not good, then you have so much to worry about. You can’t live your life. I love seeing people’s lives take off or when I work with them and their relationship with food transforms into helping the relationship they have with themselves. I have people who tell me they owe me a lot. They look at other parts of their life and see how it has improved. I connect to their well-being in general. 


MS: Can you share some career milestones?  

CP: I started to work with people about last year in January through betterbeing.ph. It’s good that there are people who trust me to be a part of their health journey. Being a part of their lives is always the highlight. I’m also getting a lot of referrals. It’s the smallest thing, but every person that I work with gives me such a nice experience. 



MS: Would you say that having an audience on social media is a milestone?

CP: I find it a bit scary at times. I'm just as lost in the messaging out there. When people respond to me, saying they have similar experiences, it is validating. It's a learning process. Everybody has a whole different set of issues and a whole different environment.


MS: What is the most important role of a dietitian, especially in terms of body positivity and body neutrality?

CP: It’s my role to remind people of a few things: You don’t need to thin to be healthy. You don't need to look like a social media fitness influencer to be healthy. You don’t need to eat or exercise the same way people online do. There's genetics. It’s like different dog breeds. You never expect a chihuahua to look like a bulldog. There's individual variation. I’m all about working with an individual to help them find what is their definition of healthy.  It doesn't need to look like what it does on social media or what somebody else says. It’s what feels good for you. It’s healthier to make sure you’re getting what you need and you're not stressed out over food. You're exercising in a way that you enjoy and not doing something you hate. 

You don’t need to thin to be healthy. You don't need to look like a social media fitness influencer to be healthy.



MS: What should people be wary of when it comes to nutritional TikTok/Reels posts? 

CP: When something is focused too much on weight loss or talking about losing weight fast. There is no one food group that is going to solve your problems. It would be so nice if that were the case. It’s not. It’s everything else on top of what you eat. It’s also your sleep schedule, your lifestyle, and your environment. It’s even the distance from your house to a good supermarket and the number of hours spent commuting. 


You cannot recommend the same thing to everyone, without considering the other factors in their life. You should let yourself discover your own nutrition journey because everyone is different. Good if social media inspires you to be healthier because these people look like they're happy. They're energized, but you don't have to look like them. You don't have to eat what they eat.


MS: What advice can you give women or people who would like to enter the same industry you are in?

CP: You need to reach a point where you know yourself and what skill sets you're good at. I was thinking about this recently, I talked to people who asked me how I got into this. I was always good at science. I never pursued it because back when I was younger,  I felt like there was not much of a career path, especially for women. But who’s to say that? For women, just go do what you’re interested in it'll take shape somehow. 


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MS: What difficult times have you encountered so far and what is the best lesson you got from those times? 

CP: At first, it was not having much guidance. Times were really different. The Internet wasn’t as widely used as it is today. It also gets lonely. It was all about trying to push forward and sometimes the best you can do that day is take a shower and do some homework. But you just keep doing all the small steps.


MS: What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?  

CP: You just have to go for it and trust it will be okay. If I could turn back time, I should have trusted myself much more. I would tell myself to be more decisive and trust that I could handle whatever comes my way. 


MS: Why do you think women should be celebrated more, especially in your field of work?  

CP: Luckily for me, my industry is women-dominated. It’s a nice space to be in. There are  challenges because there are assumptions like, “Only women should take care of their health.” 


Some women feel hopeless because they have tried everything but still don’t feel they are good enough. There’s also a lot of research that’s missing on women’s health. We’re always taught to just live with the pain during our period. There’s also PCOS and similar issues. We need more awareness about what women go through. 


Follow Chella Po on Instagram @betterbeing.ph


Article by Olivia Sylvia Estrada
Photography by Ria Regino
Hair and makeup by Patty Cristobal
Photographer’s assistants Warren Diotay and Hipolito Gangani
Special thanks to SmartBite


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