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In The Media

Natural Balance Body Work & Wellness in the Media

New owner’s approach goes deeper into prevention

12:02 PM CST on Sunday, December 23, 2007
By Randena Hulstrand/Staff Writer

Larry Cleveland, a registered and licensed dietitian and massage therapist, purchased Natural Balance Bodywork and Wellness Center in November from previous owner Amy Parent James in a business move mirroring his personal philosophy on health: the body’s ability to heal.

He offers massage services as well as corrective massage, Jin Shin Jyutsu, ionic cleanses and a gamut of nutritional counseling, spanning food allergies, sensitivity testing, weight loss, high blood pressure management and diabetes prevention.

“I see myself as a wellness coach,” Cleveland said.

Larry Cleveland, registered and licensed dietitian and massage therapist, purchased Natural Balance Bodywork and Wellness Center in November.
While Cleveland has been interested in nutrition and bodywork most of his life, an auto accident in 1991 left him with a cracked vertebra and closed head injury. He spent the next year and a half on a journey to heal emotionally, physically and spiritually, he said.

Suffering from headaches, and neck and back pain after his medical treatment, Cleveland discovered relief from various forms or bodywork.

“The body can heal itself,” he said. “Its energy is very powerful.”

As a child, Cleveland remembers wanting to help those in pain. His grandmother, who had three back operations, suffered from pain until her death.

Cleveland became a massage therapist in 1981 in Tulsa, Okla., where he was raised.

His increasing interest in health and preventive measures for pain and illness prompted him to move in 1989 to Dallas, where he began working with a neurologist, specializing in myofascial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia. Cleveland ran the program, incorporating massage therapy and water exercise classes into the treatment process.

“We worked on people who everyone else had given up on,” he said.

Wanting to gain additional credentials, Cleveland studied advanced bodywork techniques and earned a dietitian’s degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Allied Health Sciences School in 1997. He began treating people with diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, kidney failure and other chronic diseases using clinical nutrition.

But Cleveland’s most recent work on staff in the clinical environment made him realize the importance of and lack of prevention in the health care system.

“The best insurance policy isn’t the card in your pocket, but how you take care of yourself,” he said.

Following several basic steps, he said people can help prevent chronic diseases by drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, eating well and effectively managing stress.

Through wellness coaching, Cleveland said, he focuses on finding out the outside influences that drive poor health habits.

“I want to know what’s really eating at people,” he said. “That’s why I do massage.”

If people are under stress while trying to alter their diet, for example, Cleveland said the change may be grueling.

Cleveland offers relaxation massage as well, but also provides corrective or “fix-it” massage, a more intense technique designed to provide posture correction and relief from migraines, tennis elbow or sciatica pain.

Dr. Bruce Bond, an English professor at the University of North Texas, has suffered from upper back problems caused by incorrect spine bend for the past 24 years. He recently visited Cleveland for a session of corrective massage.

“I can tell he’s doing deep work and bringing my body into balance,” Bond said, adding that he was impressed with the amount of time Cleveland took in assessing his problem.

“He looked carefully at my body alignment, studying exactly what is going on,” he said.

Cleveland also offers corporate wellness services, such as coaching and massage.

“Our health care system is falling apart,” he said. “The model has to change.”

With more employers shifting the cost of insurance to employees, Cleveland said prevention is becoming a valuable alternative.

“Its better than waiting to be taken care of,” he said.

Some corporations still don’t recognize the cost-effectiveness of preventive care, Cleveland said, but others are beginning to realize the benefits.

Cleveland coached a Texas Instruments employee to stop reading The Wall Street Journal before bedtime and, as a result, the patient was able to combat insomnia and take a lower daily dosage of medication used to treat high blood pressure.

Cleveland sees his services as complementary to those provided by physicians.

“I can help doctors be more effective,” he said. “I can spend the time with nutrition follow-up.”

With more natural treatment options available and integrating healthy habits, Cleveland believes prevention is the key to wellness, especially “if you’re living life as a possibility,” he said.

RANDENA HULSTRAND can be reached at 940-566-6845. Denton Record Chronical