Hello! My name is Melissa Ford Cox and I am a holistic nutrition consultant in Oakland, CA with a Master’s of Science in Applied Nutrition and a Certificate in Holistic Nutrition. I graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, with a Bachelor’s of Science degree. After spending more than twenty years working in the advertising and marketing industries I knew I needed a change. Since 2008, I have been working with private clients and small businesses as well as companies such as Kaiser Permanente, ChoiceLunch and American Bone Health.
Here’s my philosophy: Cook. Breathe. Move. Some days you do more, some less but do these three things every day and you will be healthier and happier than you ever thought you could be.
Here’s how I may help: I am a creative problem solver. I get how hard it is to change. I can teach you how to use nutrition and lifestyle changes to restore your health. For good.
Here’s my back story: My second career out of college was as a print buyer in the advertising and marketing industries. It was fun and creative; a lot of travel; and I was able to use my problem solving and project management skills. But it was also not healthy. Long days, late nights, rich food, and a lot of alcohol which lead to a lot of Advil, processed frozen foods and other unhealthy habits. Mind you this was all “normal” for the industry and I rolled with it. And then the panic attacks started.
These were followed by the crying and the low self-esteem. Of course, this only lead to more alcohol and Advil. I was no longer on the normal side, I was sad and depressed; had allergies or was sick year-round and had uncontrollable cravings that lead to gaining 20 pounds. Not only could I not perform this job until retirement, I no longer wanted to. Something had to change.
With my husband’s support, I started taking night-time classes in holistic nutrition at Bauman College to learn how to help myself get better. Around this time our black lab, Gracie, started having her own panic attacks and would curl in a ball and shake. We quickly discovered she was allergic to store-bought dog food – even the cleanest food would set her off. Her holistic vet suggested foods that would help her and we started cooking all of her food. She improved within a week. Our friends would say, “Everyone should eat like Gracie” and they were right: quality, organic whole foods cooked simply, eaten twice a day, every day. Hmm…we were on to something.
Light bulb #1: Good nutrition can help you heal
We started making most of our own food. Breakfast and dinner at home and packing lunches even when not convenient. Slowly, small improvements were seen but resistance was high on all fronts. In my mind going from a highly dysfunctional-functional place to a wholly holistic place was not going to happen quickly – or ever. As I learned more from my studies, food alone could not provide all of the solutions. Next step was to add in exercise to see if we could push ourselves further.
Light bulb #2: You must incorporate movement/lifestyle changes
I wanted to make a career change to something I was passionate about. I found work with companies that were more in line with my new and growing philosophy. It was so exciting working for companies that did good for the world. I felt I needed an MS in nutrition education to balance the holistic nutrition program and so more studies.
Meanwhile, no more crying at the drop of a hat, allergies and sick days were few, but the cravings and the weight were still high. I was tired of trying and not seeing full results and found myself giving up and slipping back to bad habits. I knew what to do but I did not do it. All the science (read logic) in the world does not mean you will make all the necessary changes that need to happen. Good nutrition and some lifestyle changes had taken me a long way in healing, but I needed to get my brain on board. I needed a full-blown well thought out cover all the bases no plan B program to get over the next hump.
Light bulb #3: Eventually willpower will be exhausted. You cannot white knuckle your way to health
Fast forward to 2017 and life was so different. Then boom! Menopause! High blood pressure, brain fog, legs of lead, and exhausted due to not sleeping. My husband was also experiencing signs of middle age. He was low on energy, had trouble concentrating, his lifelong ability to recall details was slipping and he was even gaining some weight. There was nothing worse than sitting in a meeting, not mentally keeping up with the 20-somethings or being unable to do the hikes we used to do or falling asleep at 7pm only to be exhausted the next morning. Wait! It does not have to be this way. You know you can fix this. It was time for a new plan.
Light bulb #4: You need to adjust for different stages of life
In researching the needs for our new normal, I realized that there were many other people around me that were experiencing mid-life as we were. It was not just the stuff of jokes and many people were far more miserable. I developed a program for us that would decrease brain fog and cravings, increase concentration and energy, and improve sleep which in turn would allow for a revitalized body, brain and life. And best of all, knowing what I know and working through the changes, I learned I finally have the confidence to commit full time to a nutrition practice.
Lightbulb #5: You need to share this with the world
So here I am at the intersection of the art and the science of nutrition. Balancing the research with real food that tastes great. I am a creative problem solver which is vital because we are all unique. And I get how very hard it is to change. But I know that I can teach others how to use nutrition and lifestyle changes to restore their health. For good.
Member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and volunteer with American Bone Health