If you’ve ever wondered if it’s possible to have a thriving practice as a Functional Nutrition Counselor, even if you don’t have prior experience in the field, then you’re going to love Ali’s story.
Nutrition is a second career for Ali. She began Full Body Systems without any prior nutrition training, and now she’s thriving in practice and making an impact in her community.
Ali shares with us how she began her practice, and how simple, organic conversations allow her to educate people in her community about health, nutrition, and ways they can empower themselves and their families.
Ali: I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at 15, and there weren’t drugs at that time. My doctors told me I had to take care of my body. I remember my pediatric neurologist saying, “You can’t stay up all night like all the other teenagers can. You have to sleep.” That’s how I knew lifestyle was a part of the puzzle, although we didn’t call it that.
I went through all the nutrition phases—vegan, non-fat in the 90s, Healthy Choice frozen meals… I had this long-time interest in understanding long-term health problems and how we can use nutrition to address them.
Ali: I wanted to learn more about the human body. I wanted a deep dive, something more than nutrition. I was looking for a program that would teach me how nutrition works in the human body.
I remember opening up Andrea’s email and saying, “My gosh, this is what I want to do! This is the class I want to take.”
I knew some people who had gone through other programs, and so many of them were struggling. They kept saying, “What do I do with this now? How do I open a business with this basic information?” But I felt differently. I was confident. I knew exactly what I was going to do because I had Andrea’s training.
Ali: It’s definitely a lot of information but I absolutely love Andrea’s way of teaching. For me, I think the reason I could digest it quickly is I had such a strong desire to learn what she was teaching. I was like, “I am excited, give me more!” I do have to say that I would get off the calls needing to digest all she said. A lot went into my brain and I needed time to process. I accepted that and gave myself that time. I didn’t expect to understand it all at once.
Ali: Part of why people want to work with me is that I’ve had a chronic condition for many years and I’m living a full life. It’s not just folks with MS. It’s also friends. They’re like “Wow, you’ve had MS for 31 years and look at you. You’re obviously doing something right. Can you help me with my digestion? Or my autoimmune disease?”
Also, my business grew through my friends. I’m 46. That’s an age where people are saying things like, “OK, my kids are old enough to where I can start thinking about myself. My kids are sleeping through the night but I’m not.” Or, “I get headaches several times a week and I have for the last 10 years.” And I say that they don’t have to. I can help them.
Sometimes people will hear that I’ve studied functional nutrition and they’ll say something like, “What do you know about the menopausal symptoms I am experiencing?” And I’ll tell them so many of their uncomfortable symptoms can be helped with nutritional changes. They say, “Really?” Then we start to talk about it.
Another reason I think my practice has grown so much is that people feel safe to come and share their story. And I share my story right back. I love sharing vulnerabilities. I love a deep connection. A deep relationship. And that’s how it works. People show up and they’re vulnerable. Whether it’s about their poop, their fatigue or something bigger.
Ali: You are going to learn a tremendous amount about the human body—about physiology, anatomy, and then how nutrition and lifestyle play a role in it. It’s amazing to learn how it all comes together.
Andrea is a phenomenal teacher. She’s really good! She’s so interesting. So engaging. You want to listen, you don’t want her to stop…
You have to do Full Body Systems. After that, you can decide if you want to do other trainings, but you have to do Full Body Systems. It’s the foundation for helping people finally feel better.
Ali: I just want to say how much I love this program. Full Body Systems is the whole reason I have a practice. The support is amazing. And the tools, the knowledge, the confidence, and the people I’ve met. The friends I’ve met through the program are amazing. We all think alike. It’s just a really cool community led by a cool woman and I’m honored to be a part of it.
Andrea created this amazing environment of wanting all of us to collaborate together. I think it’s because she shares so much. She’s always offering us resources and saying, “You can use this in your program.” So we do that too. We say to each other, “Hey, I made this. Use it.” It’s a really nice community of all of us collaborating, and not feeling isolated or alone in our work, even though we are solo-practitioners in our practice.
A lot of it comes from leadership. From the culture of the school. The culture is about learning and community and lifting us all up. We’re all really supportive of each other and it’s a wonderful community.
Functional nutritionist and educator Andrea Nakayama (FNLP, MSN, CNC, CNE, CHHC) is leading patients and practitioners around the world in a revolution to reclaim ownership over our own health. Her passion for food as personalized medicine was born from the loss of her young husband to a brain tumor in 2002. She’s now regularly consulted as the nutrition expert for the toughest clinical cases in the practices of many world-renowned doctors, and trains a thousand practitioners online each year in her methodologies at Functional Nutrition Lab. Learn more about Andrea here.