Full Body Systems Graduate Spotlight: Cody Blakley
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
Cody Blakley had no prior medical training or experience with Functional Nutrition counseling prior to enrolling in Full Body Systems, and yet his success and growth are tremendous! From a young age, when his grandmother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), he began questioning and recognizing the gaps in healthcare, even if he didn’t yet have the language to identify them.
An inquisitive mind and natural interest for health and wellness guided Cody through different modalities to help people feel better — from yoga and Ayurveda to mental health and finally, Functional Nutrition. You may be surprised to learn about one of his discoveries along the way!
What led you to Functional Nutrition Counseling?
Cody: I’ve always had an interest in health and wellness. I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t have terms for it growing up, but I was always fairly mindful of health and wellness and lifestyle choices, and it became part of my life when living in New York.
I was working for a nonprofit and got to the point of burnout. I was burning the candle at both ends, working crazy hours, neglecting my self-care and my routines. I knew I needed to do something because it was just insane. That led me back to yoga. I’d done yoga ten years prior and remembered how balanced I felt afterward. So, I got very immersed in it and became a yoga teacher.
Then, I explored Ayurveda and was very interested in how it addressed bio-individuality and how impactful your diet and lifestyle can be for your physical health and your mental health. But, after becoming an Ayurvedic health counselor, I realized that there was still a gap in presenting that scope of practice to today’s population.
Is that when you started searching for Functional Nutrition?
Cody: I stumbled across a holistic psychiatrist named Ellen Vora, who was living and working in New York. After a workshop and online support group for mental health, we stayed in touch, and she knew my desire to further my education in the holistic realm of healthcare and recommended Andrea’s program. Before that, I didn’t have the term Functional Nutrition to even explore what I was looking for, but I knew it was exactly what I wanted after looking into it.
Did you have any medical background or training?
Cody: I was always interested in health and wellness and did have my experience as a yoga instructor and Ayurveda health counselor but had no other medical experience. My undergraduate was in applied sociology, and I worked in the non-profit social work sector.
What inspires you to help others?
Cody: I’ve always had a strong desire to help people with their health and wellness. Mental health has always been a huge passion, mainly because my mom has had many mental health issues, and my grandma had Multiple Sclerosis and was wheelchair-bound. My passion for helping others seemed like an extension of those experiences.
So many people don’t know about Functional Nutrition or Functional Nutrition Counseling, and I think that’s also partly why I continue to be so interested in it because it’s a whole new approach, a mind shift.
How were you affected by your grandmother’s diagnosis?
Cody: It was hard! When my grandma was diagnosed, the only option was to take the medication and deal with whatever side effects. There’s not a lot of hope in that equation. We didn’t know how she got it, and we had to rely on whatever the doctors said to do.
I remember I was young when she was first diagnosed. I was ten years old. She lived in a wheelchair and was there physically with us, but she wasn’t there mentally for over a decade.
And I remember thinking, does it have to be this way? Is this the only approach? There’s no other perspective? It seemed like a narrow way of going about the whole illness. What’s great about Andrea and her program is that you learn about the Three Roots, Many Branches and that at the end of the day, Multiple Sclerosis is a branch. So instead of only focusing on the branch, we look at the terrain and address the soil. From there, we learn that there’s so much work that can be done.
No one took into consideration that my grandma was eating processed foods. I knew that nutrition had to play a role but didn’t have the tools or ability to put it into words. Thankfully I know now and can share it with other people.
It provides a sense of hope.
Do you have a niche that you’re serving now?
Cody: I’m still trying to figure it out, but I’m focusing mainly on mental health. I’m passionate about working with people who don’t always have the means to afford Functional Nutrition Counseling. I never thought I could have had this opportunity either because I grew up rather poor.
I grew up in a community where it was very common to eat McDonald’s all the time because it’s cheap. It’s what you can afford. We grew up on food stamps. And so, growing up in that situation, you’d think Functional Nutrition is so far out of the realm of help.
I’m also very interested in men’s Functional Nutrition Counseling because I have found when working with my clients, I need to express Functional Nutrition to women differently than men.
I’m learning how to distinctly navigate how to teach men and women to take care of their health. My male clients tend to be more proactive and mindful about lifestyle and diet, which can be challenging because they’re only interested in going to the gym and gaining muscle, but there’s so much more to health than just vitamins and gaining bulk.
Have you changed the way you practice healthcare after taking Full Body Systems:
Cody: Before Andrea’s program, I became aware of inflammatory foods and had a client dealing with signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis. She was very interested in changing her diet and lifestyle. I was quick to tell her to cut out those inflammatory foods. Forever. I told her she couldn’t have them. She was very overwhelmed by that, and it was a lot for her at once. She was not interested in continuing, which looking back, I understand.
Knowing what I know now after Full Body Systems, I would have asked, “what do you feel comfortable trying first?”, not throwing so much at her at once. And then also getting her insight instead of just saying, “OK, you need to cut it all, everything inflammatory”. If the person isn’t quite ready, it’s OK. But acknowledging and honoring their space is important, and asking how to make small changes versus taking a huge leap.
How do you bridge the gap with your clients?
Cody: I think my approach is almost always to be transparent and vulnerable, to speak in a way that’s very practical and honest about my vulnerability or my own story. For example, I have struggled with emotional eating and eating a certain way because it’s cheaper.
The more honest I can be and the more vulnerable that I can be in those situations, the more people are willing to listen to what you have to offer. Many people think Functional Nutrition counseling is out of reach, but it’s more achievable than people think. Actions like eating diverse foods and sleeping eight hours are care recommendations we can make versus explaining the circadian rhythm or complex physiology. I believe this is also something I’ve realized through Andrea’s program. it’s not that complicated. It can be, and people can make it very technical and dive into the biochemical, but we’re focusing on eating real foods and how those foods and nutrition respond to each unique person.
What would you say to someone considering Full Body Systems?
Go for it. Do the program! Come at it with an open mind and be willing to be open to a mindset shift. There’s so much room for growth. It’s not for a particular gender, race, or income level. It works for everyone so you can help all populations of people feel better. There’s a world of possibilities and hope to help serve others.
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