Tell us your name and a little about yourself.
My name is Melissa Gauna and I am a Nutritional Therapist. I live in south Texas, a region called the Rio Grande Valley which is full of culture and tenacity. It also has one of the highest obesity rates in the country. It’s challenging to educate the community on health and wellness in an area with such high rates of diabetes, obesity and degenerative disease. But it’s absolutely rewarding and the transformations I have seen are remarkable.
What exactly does your company do?
As a Nutritional Therapist, I empower others to take responsibility for their own healing using food & lifestyle choices. I teach others to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to health. I provide solutions to problems. I motivate and inspire change rather than blame and shame. I don’t just provide meal plans, it’s more about helping them visualize a better future for themselves, one with a higher quality of life. I also help bridge the gap between the doctor’s office and what they should be doing at home.
What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
It all started with my own health challenges and a lack of answers from professionals. As I jumped from specialist to specialist, I decided I would no longer put all of the burdens on the medical professionals to figure me out. I put the burden on myself, to put the time and effort to research and come up with my own solutions to my problems. That’s not to say that I didn’t find amazing and helpful doctors along the way, because I did. I just changed my mindset and accepted that ultimately I was responsible for my health. And that was empowering. After studying nutrition and finding some answers to my health issues, I decided I wanted to help heal the world. I was determined to help others find hope in healing through food and I wanted to help on a bigger scale. My next challenge was partnering with health professionals that would give me a chance since at the time I was a health coach working with one-on-one clients.
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
At the start of my nutrition career, I wanted desperately to help heal EVERYONE. What I wish someone had told me earlier is that not everyone wants to heal. More importantly, not everyone is ready for change. You can talk with someone ’til you’re blue in the face, but if they’re not ready, you can’t force them to change. When you start to care more about them than they do about themselves, it’s time to move on. And so I’ve accepted over time that not everyone wants your help and that’s O.k. Some come around and some don’t. Focus on those that want to heal and are ready to do the hard work.
Who are your biggest influences and people you admire and why?
I admire anyone that doesn’t conform and isn’t afraid to fail. Professionally I admire so many medical professionals as well as natural healers that are helping people truly get to the root of their disease. But more importantly, my biggest influences are my parents. My dad always marched to the beat of his own drum; he wasn’t a follower and he taught me to not be afraid to stand alone. He also instilled in me the quest for knowledge; to never stop learning. My mother as well has made big sacrifices in her life, and she taught me never to settle. My mother made sure I knew my worth; she’d build me up so that I wouldn’t let anyone else tear me down.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
There have been so many people who have supported me over the years, including my husband. Relationships are extremely important to me and my clients know I truly care about them. And so out of the trust I build with my clients, I was given the opportunity to work with a local medical professional who gave me a chance. He believed in me and now I am helping more people get healthy and live healthier lives. But if I had to name one person who helped me along the way, her name is Dolores and she believed in me.
What do you see as your greatest success in life?
More than my success professionally, my greatest successes are my children. I have two boys that I am raising with my husband of 17 years. It is my mission in life to raise them to be happy, productive members of society who are critical thinkers and take responsibility for their own successes & failures in life. I am teaching them to make things happen for themselves; don’t conform to what society thinks you should be. Break the glass ceiling and reach high.
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