Creswell, Health & Wellness


After a long, fruitful journey of nutrional health careers, Yaakov Levine is retiring from Natural Grocers as a nutritional health coach today, Aug. 29. JEN BLUE/THE CHRONICLE

Yaakov Levine, 66, of Creswell, has always been on a journey to be healthier. His father was a semi-invalid from heart disease by the time Levine was 5 years old, and it made him want to live a healthier life. What originally started out as a hobby has turned into a fruitful career, with Levine teaching nutrition to those in the community.
But at the end of the August, Levine is retiring from Natural Grocers as a nutritional health coach. He said part of what gets in people’s way of reaching their health goals is the everyday stresses of life – whether positive or negative – and ”for me to fully walk my talk, retirement will help me do that,” he said.
When he was younger, he took an aptitude test that suggested he work in a profession where he could be helping people; as a budding nutritionist, he decided he could share what he was learning with others. In 1990, he received a job offer from his local health food store in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Levine had a few careers, working as a dairy farmer and in manufacturing, before he focused on the herbal products industry.
He was working in California when he attended a supplement herbal workshop in Oregon, and that gave him the opportunity to join an apprenticeship program, which attracted him to move to Oregon. One of the places he worked was Wise Woman Herbals in Creswell, making product, before he decided to go back to school and get his credentials as a nutritional health practitioner. Levine said when he looked at the required books list, he realized he owned most of the books on it already.
In 2007, as part of a community service project for his degree, he wrote a nutrition column for The Chronicle. He said he never wrote in that capacity before and he struggled with it until he realized he didn’t have to be an editor.
”I enjoy being able to share with folks and it’s exciting for me to learn how to be healthy,” he said. ”I have information that I could share to help educate others.”
Levine still writes weekly columns for The Chronicle.
For six years starting in 2006, Levine had an office in Creswell where he would meet for consultations. In 2014, he began his nutritional health coaching position at Natural Grocers in Eugene and he said that it’s ”been a great five years.”
Store Manager Nate Hancock started working at Natural Grocers in March and called Levine one of his biggest champions, helping him transition into the role.
”Working with Yaakov is great. He’s extremely knowledgeable and supportive in life and work,” Hancock said. ”I’m going to miss him a lot. With the store, he’s by far surpassed any expectations in his role here by bringing in classes and creating community relations. He’s an all-star with his role throughout the company.”
Due to his time teaching at Natural Grocers and consulting in Creswell , Levine has become a highly visible person. He said he was up in Portland with his wife and people would approach him and ask him questions.
”I hope to have a little more anonymity when retiring,” he admitted. ”It does help that people will listen to what I say. I don’t know everything, but I know a lot and people trust me.”
He said that most teaching is listening and being sensitive to where people are at, and teaching them from whatever level they are. He said people have different knowledge and interest levels and he tries to make the classes enjoyable for everybody.
”Teaching is one of my favorite things to do in the world,” he said. ”To have that sort of interaction, I want to make my classes interactive and interesting and fun.”
Along with his love for teaching, a major reason he does this work is his own striving to be healthier. In 2000, he had a bout with kidney cancer and had to continue to make changes to live a healthier life.
”If I’m talking about doing something for health, I want to walk my talk,” he said, ”and when I’m making suggestions about different ways to be healthier, I’m talking to myself too.”
When he was in nutrition school and was asked what he would specialize in, Levine said he just wanted to help people be healthy, and that he enjoys working with people regardless of what they come to see him for. The most rewarding aspect is when people tell him that what they’re doing is working better for them – ”having an impact on people to eat healthier and take charge of their health,” he said. ”I’m most proud of supporting folks to find a sustainable way to be healthier.”
Going forward, although he will still be present in the community, Levine said he doesn’t have any plans in his retirement. He wants to sit back and let the dust settle.
”I’ve been working since I was 12,” he said. ”We’ll see what happens. I’ve never retired before; I don’t know what it’s going to be like. We’ll see where life leads me next.”



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