I had the pleasure of meeting with Fernanda Mello, a Health Coach (Institute for Integrative Nutrition) and Certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition (ISSA) in Orange County. She is a business owner, traveler, surfer, jiu jitsu competitor, cook, photographer and abides by the tag line “healthy choices with real food” Trust me when I say that you need a mobile spine to be effective and injury proof while training Brazilian jiu jitsu.
As a non-native orange county resident, it never ceases to amaze me the quality and number of health conscious professionals in our OC community. I'm finding that the area is rich with those seeking and helping others live a healthier lifestyle.
From what I can tell Fernanda has a unique approach and wisdom when it comes to health. Even more she brings passion to her work, with emphasis on awareness and smart dietary solutions.
Check out her answers from our min-interview.
At what point did you decide to prioritize your own nutrition?
I decided to prioritize my own nutrition around the time that I finished my bachelor's degree . However, I began to fully understand the power of nutrition when I started to cook all my meals and this happened when I moved to California, 5 years ago.
You have a great list of principles that guide your overall philosophy. Of the 8 principles which one do your clients grasp first and which can be more difficult to sustain?
My clients are usually really good at getting active, not all of them can easily stick to an active schedule, but most of them can. I guess the most difficult thing to sustain is making their own meals at home, because people tend to overthink making food at home and end up eating out in restaurants too often. I try to teach my clients that they can create easy and healthy meals without being a chef! I help with grocery shopping guides, grocery shopping lists and some tips such as good brands, places to purchase such as local farmers markets and healthy food stores.
If I’m not mistaken, you have experience recognizing and treating clients with Candida overgrowth? In your experience does a recent round of antibiotics set off your alarm? Or is there more to it and what can you share with people unfamiliar with this condition?
Yes I have experienced a lot of clients struggling with candida overgrowth and I believe it is a combination of both: use of excessive antibiotics and unbalanced lifestyle. Antibiotics kill not only disease-causing bacteria; they also kill beneficial bacteria that control our inner ecology. Friendly bacteria are so important to our immune system, ensure absorption of nutrients from the food we eat, help our mood, and many other heath benefits. Candida is a pathogenic yeast or fungus normally present in our inner and outer body, in small quantities along with good bacteria. The problem is when candida starts to thrive due to a high-sugar, low-nutrient, and low fiber diet. Fungus is an opportunist microorganism and they can spread fast if we don’t control them. A balanced diet and controlling stress can be a really successful and low invasive treatment to prevent candida.
It’s pretty clear that you practice what you preach in terms of life balance and activity. Is food the source of your activity levels or does getting out (surfing, jiu jitsu, yoga) act as a catalyst for eating healthier?
For sure!! Eating real food is always a good way to keep my energy levels steady, provide enough vitamins, mineral, and phytochemicals to help better recover results and performance! Eating natural food is also an amazing self-care practice and keep us more in tune with nature!
What sort of nutrition programs do you employ with your clients (duration, macros, elimination, etc.)
I mostly encourage more real food consumption and minimize industrialized food. I focus on quality rather on quantity. It depends on people’s body type, energy levels, lifestyle, and regular schedule. I don’t focus only on what people eat, but how they manage their stress, self-care, etc.
I try to keep track of food intolerances or allergies as well, so sometimes elimination diet can be super helpful.
Okay, on a serious note. Favorite yoga pose and Jiu jitsu submission?
I love crow pose and child’s pose (amazing reset and resting pose)
Jiu Jitsu submission: cross collar choke.
Finally, can you speak to what your ideal client looks like from a mutual fit perspective.
I believe that being healthy can have many definitions! It depends on each person and their lifestyle. But most importantly, being healthy is a constantly practice of self-care. Food plays a huge role in how we balance our inner ecology and overall energy levels, but it also important to balance other important aspects of life (physical activity, spirituality, personal relationships, work environment, increasing nature contact, and more). I love to see my clients having healthier choices, feeling more energized, sleeping better, having more energy, and loving themselves for what they are.