Each month, The Fine Line features a special guest — a woman who thoroughly embraces her age and lives her life to the fullest. February’s guest is L.A.-based holistic nutritionist Elissa Goodman. After fighting her own cancer and then losing her husband to the disease, she dove headfirst into healing and now has an abundance of wisdom for women who want to live healthy and well. We are truly inspired by her and think you will be too.
Releasing old patterns that don’t serve anymore. Letting go of past trauma. Finding an inner calm and peace. These are the things that holistic nutritionist Elissa Goodman wants to help her clients do.
Yes, she wants them to eat more vegetables and drink green juice and take the right supplements and get more sleep, but the often-overlooked mental components of health are critical to aging well, she says. “Stress and anxiety are doing a number on women as they age.”
Goodman, who is 56, grew up in Arizona and moved to New York City right after college. It was there she met her husband, a lifelong New Yorker from Queens. They both worked in media, logging crazy hours in an office and sometimes even sleeping under their desks. She says they were coffee addicts, sugar addicts, and workaholics, but when they got the opportunity to move to Los Angeles, they jumped. “I remember thinking, Thank god we get to go someplace a little slower,” she says.
In L.A., she landed her dream job at Vogue and started to dabble a little in wellness. But after a short time relocating, a doctor diagnosed her with Hodgkins lymphoma. She was only 32.
I didn’t feel good. I’d never felt good. That was such a huge impact — there was one doctor who really took the time to listen to me.
Specialists recommended an aggressive treatment of chemotherapy and radiation, which didn’t sit well with Goodman, and she was eventually fired by her doctor for refusing chemo and opting for half the recommended radiation. But along the journey, she met a physician who noticed an inner pain unrelated to her cancer. “He said, ‘Let’s talk about your life and your stress. You don’t look happy.’ I just remember him saying, ‘Let’s start working on that.’ I burst into tears,” she says. “I didn’t feel good. I’d never felt good. That was such a huge impact — there was one doctor who really took the time to listen to me.”
That was a turning point. Goodman started eating vegetarian, juicing, practicing yoga, and trying to meditate. It was a difficult time, she says, but she recovered from the cancer.
Her husband, who was diagnosed 11 years later with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, didn’t fare as well. He died at age 45, after a battle that included chemotherapy and two bone marrow transplants. Goodman found herself a single mother to two girls under 10. “I thought, Holy shit! These girls have had two parents with cancer! I knew I had to do something.”
That’s when she found an integrative medical/nutrition school and began to study the Western modalities of diet and nutrition as well as Eastern medicine. When she graduated, a friend at L.A.’s Cafe Gratitude asked her to create a cleanse for the restaurant, and then she was asked to do a macrobiotic cleanse for M Cafe. “From there, the work, which I got into mostly for my family, became a business,” she says.
Today, in addition to seeing private clients in person and via Skype or Facetime, Goodman supervises an online 21-day cleanse program and a popular L.A.-only soup cleanse. She also hosts private lunches where she guides women through a group chat about healing and nutrition. (We’re working on hosting one just for TFL readers — stay tuned.) Most importantly, she is well and happy — and her children are well and happy.
“It’s been a long road, but there have been a lot of rainbows,” she says. “I am thankful for the bad stuff and the stuff that made me wake up.”
Six More Things About Elissa
Personal philosophy: We are products of what we eat and how we treat ourselves. No matter your story or history, you can cleanse your body and, through nutrition, lead a happier and healthier life.
Astrological sign: Aries. That manifests as an extreme drive. I will go to the ends of the earth to figure out how to make something work.
Absolute passion: Helping people get to the root of their physical and mental health issues. I am not a doctor, but by really listening you can tell a lot about what is going on with a person.
Morning beverage: I love coffee or matcha. I do a modified Bulletproof with organic coffee or matcha, MTC oil, a really thick coconut milk, and stevia, I whip it in the blender. It’s very satisfying.
Constant challenge: Right now, it’s leaving my phone downstairs and not checking it first thing. I want to give myself some time to wake up and connect before looking at email and social media.
Current obsession: Supposedly our bodies work best at a certain frequency, and my goal this year is about raising our vibrations. I have a partnership with a friend who has stickers called Body Vibes. She worked with a research company to create beautiful stickers infused with a positive energy frequency. They’re for everything from anxiety to sleep to focus to hangovers to self-love. It will be fun to see where that goes.
Elissa Goodman released her first book, Cancer Hacks: A Holistic Guide to Overcoming Your Fears and Healing Cancer, last June. For more about Goodman, visit elissagoodman.com and keep reading The Fine Line in the weeks ahead.