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How One ...
Published: June 8, 2024

How One Student Turned Tragedy into Triumph

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James Fly was looking for a nutrition program so he could confidently advise customers at his natural food store. What he got was so much more than an education. James found a way to transform his own tragic life events into a way to help others heal.

What were you doing before Integrative Nutrition? 
For the past 16 years, I have co-owned and managed a small natural market-health food store in downtown St. Joseph, Missouri. Prior to this, I worked primarily in religious public relations. I think I have always had a calling to be involved in healthcare. I was a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Coast Guard serving at the U.S. Public Health Service Outpatient Clinic in San Pedro, California.

What led you to explore Integrative Nutrition’s Health Coach Training Program? 
Our customers consider me to be an authority on natural health, but I felt their confidence in me was overrated. I attended national conventions, went to seminars, and kept up with industry journals, but I began to feel the need to study in a structured nutrition program. So, I began exploring different options. I knew that I could not quit my job and go to a university for four years to pursue a naturopathic doctor degree. Briefer online programs appealed to me. I clicked on a link to IIN, two months later, I was a student!

What are you learning at Integrative Nutrition? 
I am learning about the priority of primary foods and the different dietary theories along with their pros and cons. I'm particularly keyed in to IIN's philosophy of bio-individuality where no single diet works for everyone. 

“The school celebrates the value of every student whether they are male or female, younger or older”

What happened since you enrolled in Integrative Nutrition?
My 80-year-old mother suddenly became ill. She developed post-surgical complications and lingered in and out of the hospital for six weeks before passing away. Then the costume storage area above our store in the historic Missouri Theatre complex caught fire. In order to save the historic theatre the fire department poured thousands of gallons of water, which cascaded down directly upon our retail space. We were literally underneath "ground zero" of the fire as charred timbers and ashes covered our floor and shelves. Reestablishment will likely take several months before it can be occupied again. Prior to these devastating events, I attended IIN's conference in Miami Beach and listened to Dr. John Douillard relate the story of how his thriving Ayurvedic practice burned to the ground one Christmas Eve in Boulder, Colorado. Dejected at first he said he came to the realization that the fire, while tragic, opened up doors of opportunity for him that he could not have previously imagined. I could not imagine, as I sat there listening to him, that the very same thing would happen to me exactly two weeks later! In retrospect, I believe I was meant to hear that story to help my wife and I cope with our own tragic event.

What do you love about the school?
What don't I love about it? As I said, I really appreciate Integrative Nutrition’s philosophy of bio-individuality which fosters tolerance and acceptance versus dogmatism and one-size-fits-all. The school celebrates the value of every student whether they are male or female, younger or older. I also love the dynamic teaching methods like my little red IPOD which I take everywhere with me and I can listen over and over again to the lectures if I want to. The school recognizes that not everyone learns the same way.

What's the name of your business?
StairWELL. I came up with this name after studying with IIN for several months. I realized that lasting changes in health are gradual ones and take time to incorporate into one's life. The word Stair represents those steps and well, of course, symbolizes the goal of achieving wellness.

What do you love about your work?
The same thing I loved about running a health food store--having an opportunity to influence someone to change his or her life for the better. But this time, instead of focusing on supplements, I will be dealing with the very foundations of health--diet, relationships, career, spirituality and physical activity.

Tell us about your practice
I feel compelled to target it toward men of my age who have weight -gain and low energy concerns. I am, of course, willing to help anyone, but this is the market I'd like to focus on. We do plan to reestablish the store, but my health coaching practice will be its cornerstone. Foods and vitamins will be supplemental to it. Currently, I am maintaining contact with our customers through a weekly email newsletter. When the time is right, we will link them to my IIN website. I can't wait!


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