Health & Wellness Trendsetters are leading the way in helping people live healthier, happier lives by learning how to deal with stress and how to change their eating and exercise habits. Health & Wellness Trendsetters know that behavior change, not quick fixes, yields long-lasting results.
Health & Wellness Trendsetter: Meet Nasira Cooley
Nasira Cooley has quite a resume and is probably the most well-rounded and schooled health & wellness trendsetter you’ll ever meet.
Nasira teaches, coaches private clients in fitness and nutrition, helps ballerinas stay healthy, makes and sells homemade granola, and also plays an integral role as part of the team at Fashion Isle Smiles.
Fashion Isle Smiles is a family affair, founded by her dad, Richard Orren Burkholder, DDS and now led by her husband, Michael Cooley, DDS.
This dental practice takes a uniquely holistic approach to health & wellness:
“The mouth is the gateway to the body, and the place where health and wholeness begins. We believe in a comprehensive approach to dental care, emphasizing prevention and education as the foundation for changing lives. Our team is committed to excellence in service and loving care for all ages, as we strive to provide each individual with the treatment they need in a way that makes a positive difference.”
Nasira’s “Nutrition Kitchen,” is one of the services offered at Fashion Isle Smiles. She provides one-on-one nutrition consultations to patients to help them optimize their health by adopting a healthy diet. She also provides personal training sessions one-on-one and in group settings.
Interview with Nasira Cooley
1. What is your background?
I am a registered dietitian, fitness expert, and nutrition educator. I was drawn to public health and nutrition as a result of my diverse background in science, fine arts, and fitness. I am currently an adjunct faculty member at Chapman University, a private practice registered dietitian, and post-doctoral researcher. I also serve as the Nutrition Educator for Chapman University Department of Dance, the ABT Gillespie School at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and Maples Conservatory of Dance.
I’m a former classical ballet dancer and trained with Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, WA and the University of Arizona School of Dance and attended summer intensives at the National Ballet of Canada and American Ballet Theater.
Upon graduating Summa Cum Laude from the University of Arizona with a B.S. in Nutrition and a B.F.A. in dance, I continued studies in pursuit of a career as a nutrition professional and obtained a Master’s in Public Health from UCLA and a Doctorate in Nutritional Sciences from Loma Linda University. I’ve been a NASM certified personal trainer since 2008 and am a certified yoga instructor.
2. What inspired/motivated you to get into the health and wellness field?
My lifelong passion for health and nutrition is a result of my diverse background in fine arts, fitness, and science. Until my sophomore year of college at the University of Arizona, I was an aspiring professional ballet dancer. In conjunction with my ballet training, I chose to double-major in nutritional sciences, and thus discovered my passion for science and research.
By the time I graduated from college I was captivated by public health and nutritional sciences and thus sought to pursue a career in nutrition and public health. I aspire to bridge the gap between knowledge and practice regarding nutrition and physical activity for disease prevention, improved physical performance and quality of life.
3. What is most rewarding to you about your profession?
It is so rewarding to witness people and families make long-term changes that improve their health and outlook on life. When someone has a health condition that can be treated with a lifestyle change and they are successful with the recommendations I’ve made, I am thrilled.
4. As a health & wellness trendsetter, what do you predict will be the next big trend in your industry?
There certainly seems to be a growing interest in individualized nutrition using genetic markers as a guide. As this becomes more affordable, I expect more people will choose to invest in various tests to assess nutrient deficiencies or genetic predisposition to preventable chronic diseases.
5. What tips/advice would you give for someone trying to achieve optimal health?
I advise people to be realistic and to recognize that a flawless diet may not be attainable, especially as nutrition and health recommendations change every day as new research is published. Instead of aiming for perfection, focus on the basic principles of a health and balanced diet that have been known for decades – consume several servings of fruits and vegetables daily, make most of the grains you eat whole grains, stick to lean proteins and low-fat dairy, drink plain water, and exercise daily. Don’t get wrapped up in fad diets and gimmicks that offer a quick fix to health or weight loss.
6. What is your favorite healthy meal?
I love oven-roasted chicken and vegetables seasoned with fresh herbs and garlic for dinner or a hearty vegetable omelet for breakfast. I love fruit – fresh cut watermelon, strawberries, or apples are my favorite sweet treats.