I’ve never been the kind of person who looked to historical figures or famous achievers for inspiration on how to lead my best life. Maybe it’s because my life is so rich with friends who amaze and motivate me with their determination, their intelligence and their heart.
Case in point: my friend Risa Groux, a certified clinical nutritionist in Newport Beach. We first met a couple years ago when, after a heavy-duty course of antibiotics for a dental infection caused a litany of digestive problems, I dragged myself into her office. I had received a couple press releases about her practice and was intrigued.
I don’t remember exactly what I was expecting – maybe to be shamed into eating more vegetables or something. What I found, though, was this firecracker of a person who all but vibrated with a passion for healing your life through the power of wholesome food. The innovator behind a program called The Newport Beach Cleanse, Risa advocates for the therapeutic use of nutrient-dense, high-quality foods, antioxidants, herbs and supplements to achieve optimal health.
Let me just get this out of the way and say that yes, I am probably her worst, most disobedient client. (I have a weakness for linguine alle vongole and a great Pinot Grigio, among many other things.) But when I listen to her and follow her very informed advice, I feel fantastic. I’m slimmer and my aches and pains disappear. (“So is that pasta and wine really worth the extra weight and feeling bad?” asks the angel on my shoulder, whose voice, strangely enough, has Risa’s slight East Coast cadence. “Of course it is! Yes, yes!” counters the devil on my other shoulder, who sounds a lot like Peggy Lee after a Scotch-and-cigarette bender.)
But what I appreciate about Risa possibly even more than her encyclopedic knowledge of food and the human body is her living testament to the power of “following your bliss,” to borrow that old Joseph Campbell phrase.
Risa was always the kind of person who paid attention to what she ate – she was the mom who made her babies’ food from scratch, who bought organic produce before it was a thing – but she was also a woman with a high-powered career as a marketing professional for professional sports teams.
Then, she unexpectedly fell ill. The diagnosis? A thyroid condition known as Hashimoto’s disease.
Unsatisfied with the limited options her doctors gave her for treatment, she furiously researched and embarked on a nutritional plan that radically improved her health. She sought the expertise of leading scientists and researchers, attended seminars, read everything she could – and in the process became convinced that her passion for nutrition could help other people. She decided to dedicate herself to a career doing just that.
It was a risk, starting a new business and leaping into a new career path. But she trusted herself, she trusted her knowledge and she was driven by the conviction that she could help others discover a new level of wellness and vigor.
At the risk of sounding like a dimestore version of Oprah, I think that’s inspiring – how Risa’s conviction doesn’t stop at personal satisfaction but uplifts others in the process.
You’ll notice a few other people like Risa highlighted in our pages this month – women such as UCI Foundation trustee Julie Hill who aims to be among the first “astrotourists” and our own Karen Kelso, who took a solo journey to find who she is now, apart from her role as mom, wife and creative director for this magazine. You might find inspiration, too.
Samantha Dunn, EXECUTIVE EDITOR
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