Updated: Mar 1, 2022
Lindsay "Mama" O'Neill
About our founder, Lindsay O'Neill
10 Questions & Answers:
Where did you grow up? Roosevelt Island, it's a small island in the middle of New York City - between Manhattan and Queens. It was a cool place to grow up in the 80's and 90's because many of it's residents were from the United Nations, and so we grew up with a very diverse friend group.
Where did you attend school? Growing up in NYC you had to apply and select a public High School, sort of like college, so I went to LaGuardia H.S. on the upper westside and was a Fine Arts major. Then I continued my pursuit of the arts at The Fashion Institute of Technology, where I double majored in Merchandising and Advertising/Communications. While attending FIT at night I worked full time during the day in fashion and non-profit fundraising. After the tragic events of 9-11 I took my first job in advertising/marketing in the Fall of 2001.
Tell us about your career in adtech/marketing... I was lucky enough to graduate with 2 associates degrees and already have a job in advertising at 20 years old. By the time I was 21 I'd already co-founded my first company, Innovation Ads (IA), with my friend Mike Lastoria, who is the current founder and CEO of & Pizza, and a few other young entrepreneurs. After IA I bounced around the "biz" mostly in sales and business development roles, working for adtech companies. Then in 2005 I launched my 2nd business, The Femme Network - a social and professional network for women. By 2007 I'd won many small business awards and was heralded as a top entrepreneur by Forbes, Crains NY, the NY Times and Self magazine. Unfortunately, after the market crashed in 2008/9 I went back to work for other adtech and martech companies and shutdown my business.
What made you take the leap out of the marketing / tech industry and into health? In 2013 I was the VP of a tech company that had their IPO in September, the same day my Poppa died. It was a rollercoaster of emotion. I had two little girls (Avery was 2 and Shay was 10 months), and I just couldn't do the full time executive thang anymore. So I decided to start a consulting business, and wanted to give back to my community through volunteer work. Thats when I started to teach cooking classes at the Family Club program at POTS Bronx, and to kids in local schools and privately. I loved teaching the basics of cooking and some of the healthy tips and tricks I'd learned throughout my life.
But why the focus on Culinary Medicine? Well, that didn't come until 2014 when I was pregnant with my 3rd daughter, and was accidentally hit by a car. I was on bedrest for 6 week because the pain was unbearable and kept sparking early labor. I was bored of watching TV and whining and feeling sorry for myself... my mother always told me "you can't complain about something unless you're willing to do something about it!"... so I did something about it. I started researching natural pain management remedies. In my research I found a ton of links of inflammation to pain, and easy recipes for reducing inflammation. The results were incredible. My doctors were in awe. But my health education and personal wellness journey was not over.
Tell us more about your journey. As you may know, women tend to put EVERYONE else first in their lives, before themselves. We run ourselves ragged - working, caring for the children, running our households, taking care of parents, friends and loved ones, and then we get sick. After Brynn was born, we started to notice some problems with her digestion. At the age of 3 in 2017, she started getting very sick. I was on full-time Brynn duty. Weekly doctors appointments, invasive procedures, early pick ups from pre-K, and still working as a consultant. I was burnt out. In June 2017 I was hospitalized for crushing chest pains. My hair started falling out in clumps, I had a fever for 10 weeks, and after 2 more hospitalizations, I was diagnosed with RuPus - Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus and "sentenced" to a lifetime of awful steroids and medications. But I REFUSED to live the life of a "sick person" and I knew from my earlier research that I could heal myself.
So, did you? Yes, I did. But it wasn't easy. My doctor put me on a crazy cleanse that was nearly impossible to follow. I felt like I was going to lose my mind, and I almost did. It was WAY too hard, but I learned a lot, and I worked with my doc over the course of the 28 day cleanse - then for 6 months after. Together we analyzed my "data" and found which changes were MOST important for my life and my body. Within the 6 months I was completely auto-immune free. I felt better than I EVER had. But Brynn was still sick, and as I mentioned before, us mothers will do ANYTHING for our children. So I applied for a course with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America called Healthy Kitchens Healthy Lives, and got in for their February 2019 course. It blew my mind! I wanted to lear more, do more, and help heal the world of the food-related illnesses! But I wanted to do it in an EASY to understand, implement and sustain way. So I launched SMALL HINGES, because small hinges swing the BIG door of positive change. Also, in my business consultancy I found the same was true - I started all of my consulting jobs with an analysis of what small changes we could make to positively impact the bottom line of the business.
But then COVID hit... Yes, COVID really messed things up for everyone. We were all scared, losing friends and loved ones, and couldn't get to our doctors' offices or even the grocery store. I tried to pivot my business away from "in home" health and cooking consults, but it was too hard to home school my 3 little kids, work as a consultant, AND run my own business. So I put it on hold. I was also going through a divorce, and had to put my family first. In late 2021 I decided to restart Small Hinges, but I needed a partner to help me get reestablished. Luckily my friend and world-class bariatric surgeon Anthony Maffei, MD gave me one of the greatest opportunities of my career - a concierge practice within his practice at Advanced Surgeons in NY.
Wow, so what are you doing at Advanced Surgeons? I meet with their patients to see if they are a fit for my 10 Week Small Hinges Program. If they are, we gather a LOT of data, like what foods trigger inflammation, what hormones they need to get in balance, what vitamins they are deficient in, and MORE - then Dr. Maffei and I reviews the labs, then meet with the patients/clients to design a customized program where they make self-selected small hinge changes every 2 weeks for 10 weeks. Research shows that it takes an average of 66 days to develop a habit. The Small Hinges Program is designed to help our clients/patients make the new habit of self identifying small changes they can easily implement and sustain in their diet and lifestyle, for optimal health & wellness for the rest of their lives.
That sounds like a great program, how can we learn more? You can CLICK HERE to book time or contact us about the program, but you can also download my SMALL HINGES app (coming soon). As a part of the 10 Week Program you get the Premium app for FREE ($200 value) which includes live cooking classes, 1-on-1 guidance from me, and so so much more. It's really such a blessing to be able to work with people who are serious about making positive change in their lives. Sustainable Transformation has become my mantra and my true purpose in life. It's the legacy I wish to leave to my children and to this beautiful world we live in. There may be hardship, chaos and fear, but my hope is that through education and healing we can all come together with the common goal of living happy and healthy lives together.
Love & YUM!