Portia Tresselt Is Ms February

Profession: Nutritionist

Company: Let’s Celebrate Health

Birthplace: California

Family: two children, Madeleine (20) and Sander (15)

Star Sign: Taurus

Favourite Food: Japanese

One of seven children, Portia Tresselt started life in California, but was raised in Japan and Europe. From a young age she travelled the world, thanks to her father’s job as art director at Readers’ Digest, and also due to the fact that he had Japanese heritage and the family maintained close ties to Japan.

In her early 20s Portia returned to the US to attend university in Santa Barbara, where she studied business and linguistics. Not surprisingly, today she still speaks 4 languages (English, Japanese, French and Italian).

‘My childhood and my background meant that I was never sure about where I belonged. But this taught me tolerance and acceptance of all cultures and people. Travelling widely taught me to live with less,’ she says.

For many years Portia worked in the export/import business between Japan and China, using her language skills to negotiate trade deals. But there came a moment for her when she decided to make a change.

‘I was quite overweight, like many of my mother’s family, who were always dieting but never quite succeeding, and one day I took a walk along the beach to buy something from the shops. When I got there I realised I was just too exhausted to walk back. I started to cry, and at that moment I decided to make a change.’

‘From then on I promised myself that I would ask myself this question every time I put something into my mouth: Is this going to be good for me and build me up, or is it going to make me feel worse and work against my body?’

‘I developed a way to think healthfully – not about dieting, but about being healthy. I lost a lot of weight and have kept it off.’

After her moment on the beach, Portia went back to university and got a Bachelor of Science in Holistic Nutrition. From there she embarked on a career based upon educating and supporting people to live healthy lifestyles.

Over that time she developed a range of recipes (which will come out in a recipe book this year) and her own line of healthy products that she sold locally and at markets for many years.

But these days her focus is on the psychology of food and eating. Her ‘Conversations With Portia’ are just that: one-on-one chats with clients about their relationship to food, patterns of consumption, and triggers to over eat or choose the unhealthy option.

‘We talk about it all and unpick the myths and beliefs that we have about food as the enemy,’ she says. ‘And I support them where they are with ideas and a next step action plan to live healthfully.’

What’s the best thing about your job?

Working with people and continuing to learn myself. I get wonderful feedback, which is rewarding.

Worst thing? I tend to want to ‘fix’ people. But I know it’s not about that. In fact it’s about exactly the opposite — educating people and allowing them to come to their own decisions.

Hobbies?

Reading, tennis, beach walks with my dog, creating recipes.

Work Life Philosophy? To find pleasure in everything I do.

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