12 Things I Have Learned from Working at Rodale


by guest blogger Maria Luci, social media and content editor at Rodale

I’ve had the pleasure of working at Rodale for almost two years now. In that time, I’ve edited hundreds of blogs on health, fitness, wellness, the environment, sustainability, and life in general.

Needless to say, the experience has taught me a lot and has helped me to grow both professionally and personally. Reflecting on this, I recently made a mental list of some of the things I’ve learned and ways I’ve changed. Here are 12 selections from that list:

1. The importance of organic…everything. It’s not just about the “dirty dozen,” or even just food, organic is a lifestyle. It’s a set of principles and a real way to change the world for the better. As Maria Rodale said in her informative book Organic Manifesto, “If you do just one thing—make one conscious choice—that can change the world, go organic.” Before my job interview with Maria, I devoured her book and was amazed by what I learned. Since then, I’ve only added to my knowledge of the importance of organic, absorbing facts about organic issues such as how regenerative organic agriculture can help reverse climate change; that organic foods have higher levels of antioxidants, and eating exclusively organic can eliminate pesticides from your diet; that organic produce is better for you and the environment; how organic fabrics are safer for you, the environment, and the people making your clothing; why using organic beauty products can help you avoid hormone disruptors; that choosing and growing organic food can help the bees; and that organic meat makes for happier farm animals and happier people. Oh, and I learned that Roundup is pretty gosh-darn disgusting. Needless to say, I eat organic now and try to buy sustainable and organic fabrics as much as possible.

2. You don’t have to worry about eating genetically modified food if you buy organic. The one label you really need to see to avoid GMOs is USDA Organic.

3. SO much about health and wellness. “Did you know organic neem could be used as a natural insect repellent?” “Watch out for BPA—found in plastics, cans, and soda—it can disrupt your hormones.” “You really shouldn’t buy Froot Loops cereal; lab testing found Roundup in it, plus it’s full of sugar.” “In fact, you should really just switch to organic anyway to eliminate your pesticide exposure.” “Americans eat WAY too much sugar.” “Oh, and did you know there’s such a thing as kegels for men?” I’ve practically become a walking encyclopedia of health. My family and friends love this (ha, not really).

I can now drop the latest scientific health research, fitness tips, or general wellness information into just about any conversation. Some of this info comes from editing health blogs or reading Rodale magazines, but a lot comes from the company library’s daily “Sieves” email, which shares original scientific abstracts from a wide range of sources. Thank you, Rodale Library, for giving me the ability to give advice to anyone who will listen about gluten intolerance, healthy snacks, hypothyroidism, and the hot and healthy food trends for 2015. I’ve also incorporated much of what I’ve learned into my own life, making for a healthier, happier me in general. I’ve become a more informed patient, too, getting the most out of my doctor visits. Now to get my father off sugar…

4. What a difference a walk makes. There’s a trail outside of our Emmaus office. It winds around a tiny pond and through a short wooded area. On sunny afternoons, when I used to hit that 3 p.m. dip in energy and needed to run for coffee, I’ll now go out and take in the fresh air and enjoy nature. Then I come back in refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of my afternoon. Plus, did you know that walking just two hours a week could reduce your risk of stroke by 30 percent?

5. I can run. (When I’m not trapped inside from snow, that is.) Anyone can. And anyone can like it, too! I never thought I’d be the type of person to run a 5K. Or run at all unless something was chasing me. But here I am, several 5Ks under my belt and my eye on some longer races to come. Thank you, Runner’s World and Zelle for the inspiration!

6. There is such a thing as kegels for men. I learned this during my time sitting in the Men’s Health office area. My desk was next to a sex editor’s. Oh, the things I heard…

7. How to make amazing gravy from scratch. Who knew it was so easy? Water, flour, and “bird juice.” Violà!

8. Everything is going to be fine. We all have bad days from time to time, but looking at the big picture and telling yourself that it’s all going to be fine can make a big difference. Reminding a friend or coworker that things will be fine can make an even bigger difference.

9. It feels good to work for something you believe in. This one is a given, and something I was really excited about when I was first offered a job at Rodale. To work for a company that cares about the planet and its people is such an amazing thing. Helping people heal, informing them about health and organic issues, and promoting sustainability makes coming to work easy, fun, and fulfilling!

10. Decluttering can be good for your body and mind. Last year I moved. In February. When it was snowing. It was a stressful experience, and my new apartment was a bit of a mess afterwards. So I joined a test panel for the Rodale book “Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight.” The panel laid out a plan by organizational guru Peter Walsh to clear my home of excess clutter and, hopefully, lose some weight and anxiety along the way. Well, it worked. In six weeks I lost five pounds, a whole lot of excess “stuff.” My anxiety levels went way down, and I have a super-organized kitchen, to boot!

11. It’s important to embrace and learn from new opportunities. Change happens, whether you want it to or not. Why not embrace it? Why not learn from it? While at Rodale, my office has been moved many times. I was once with the Organic Gardening folks, where I learned about raised beds and composting, and when the gardening club’s organic veggies are put out on the “free table.” I was sad to leave this group, but then I was with Men’s Health, where I absorbed more than I ever thought I needed to know about penis health—and where that group’s “free table” is located. Now I’m with my own team at Rodale’s, learning about merchandising and sustainable fabrics (and adjusting to sad fact that we have no “free table”).

I’ve joined several “think tank” groups, where I’ve met many amazing people from around the company and learned so much about everything—from photography to event planning. Soon, I’ll be working with Maria and the books team on her cookbook. I said yes to signing up for that first 5K. I said yes to taking on new work responsibilities. I said yes to dishing out organic hot dogs at the Organic Apple Festival. I said yes to taking butt-busting boot camp classes at the Rodale gym. Embracing new opportunities, trying new things, and saying “yes” even when it’s scary have led to so many amazing experiences. And have made me less fearful of change.

12. Runners love to talk about running! Ha, no offense, but it’s so true. One of this blog’s most popular posts ever? A Non-Runner’s Guide to Running. Why? Because it’s on point, hilarious, and—mostly—because runners have shared it with their friends like crazy because it’s so true. Oh, did I mention I run?

Bonus knowledge gained: the power of Bruce Springsteen.

marialuciMaria Luci is the manager and content editor at Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen and the social media editor at Rodale’s. She grew up in Virginia, but now lives in Philly with her husband, a black cat, and a good deal of houseplants. When not editing, she’s often eating organic food or running…or eating when she should be running.


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11 Responses to 12 Things I Have Learned from Working at Rodale

  1. maria (farm country kitchen) March 5, 2015 at 8:54 am #

    Oh Maria! I love this! You made me laugh multiple times and I’m honored that you chose to write about this. Thank you! I am happy and grateful you are here.

  2. Maria Luci March 5, 2015 at 9:43 am #

    Thank you, Maria! That means a lot. 🙂

  3. Donna in Delaware March 5, 2015 at 9:50 am #

    You made me laugh too Maria! I love that you have joined such a wonderful group of people. I love that you have learnt so much from Maria R. and working there. I too, and I’m sure that all of her bloggers have learnt so much also, we wouldn’t have it any other way, would you? Keep on learning, loving and laughing at Rodale. We’ll be along for the ride!

  4. Donna in Delaware March 5, 2015 at 9:57 am #

    By the way, those healthy tips you learnt are showing. You are beautiful! My best to both Marias.

  5. Alice Green March 5, 2015 at 10:50 am #

    When I read anything here that’s written by either of you two Maria’s — I often think of the Sound of Music and the song about “What do you do with a problem like Maria”. The Maria in the movie was an absolute delight….and that is just what I feel after reading your blogs, absolutely delighted!! Thanks to both of you and I am so happy I get to hear about your life and your work and your wonderful spirit. Anyone working at Rodale is a very lucky person. And those of us who get to read about and share in your lives are just as lucky. Thanks!!

  6. Maria Luci March 5, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    Thank you, Donna and Alice! What lovely comments. 🙂 You two are such wonderful, loyal readers!

  7. Katina Jenkins March 5, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    This blog really struck a cord for me. Three years ago today, my grandfather passed away. I grew up with a widowed mother, and my Papou was my first and fondest father figure. He knew how to love and experience life in much the same way Rodale teaches us to love and experience life—intentionally and joyously. He grew up in a big Greek family on a farm in Staten Island, NY, and he never ran out of things to teach me about the wisdom of dirt. Like many of the thoughts you shared with us here, he taught me to pay attention to the simple things—planting basil, taking walks in the neighborhood, eating your home-grown vegetables (“brain food”), experiencing every season outdoors (even this one!), cooking with olive oil, and working hard. In my brief time contributing to the Rodale’s family, I’ve learned so much, too, so thank you for sharing a bit of your journey. As the Greeks say, Yassou (to your health)! –Katina Jenkins

  8. Leah March 5, 2015 at 4:44 pm #

    Great post! I love working for Rodale (and with you)!

  9. renee March 5, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

    Maria! So fun to read this. I’m all about the walk in the woods as well – we’ll take a 3 pm break together on the first 50 degree day, okay? Will feel like the tropics!

    And you are absolutely right: everything IS going to be fine. My Mom swore by that, lived it, shared it whenever she could (especially to her daughter who tended toward the opposite view…) Was she right? I think so. And you think so, too!

    I learned this after being at Rodale for – well, a very long time – the people who surround you at work are the company. Not the products or the “deliverables.” They make it what it is. And I’m glad we (and Maria R) get to work on this adventure at MFCK together. It’s been delightful.

  10. maria (farm country kitchen) March 5, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

    I love you all 🙂

  11. Edward Chung April 12, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    Hi Maria! Thank you for that – it was a great read, both enlightening on Rodale and humorous too. I have been browsing the web for anything Rodale because I have been looking to work there for some time now. My main goal was for Men’s Health (NY) in an assistant fashion position, and I just read that the current assistant fashion editor (Gerilyn Manago) had her last day this past Friday. I’m very excited that the position has opened up, and would love any help from you – advice, opinions, etc. If we can communicate via email, that would be great, but whatever suits you. Thanks!

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