As BeWell Associates prepares to move their offices just across the parking lot, Founder and Senior Nutritionist, Monica Montag reflects on the past 30 years of service and looks ahead to what’s next.
BW: Why did you start BeWell?
MM: I started BeWell because I wanted to help people. I was introduced to holistic nutrition through my own health crisis when I developed severe eczema. Overcoming it using just nutrition was so exciting and empowering that I wanted to share it with all my friends and neighbors — which is precisely what I did. Pretty soon people were calling me for advice, and that’s how it all got started.
BW: How do you feel about the growth of BeWell over the last 30 years?
MM: I am amazed and humbled by how far we’ve come and by the loyalty of my clients over the decades. I never had a business plan; I never imagine what it could become. All I did was try to help each person that came through my door and the best way that I could. I studied, went to seminars, met the pioneers of nutritional medicine in the 80s and 90s, and eventually got board certified. Many of the new therapies, such as functional testing, I sought out to help specific clients. I can still tell you which tests I explored to help which people; it’s been that personal.
Eight years ago I hired my first associate, Clinical Nutritionist, Angie Wallace and as of this summer, I have two new associates, Clinical Nutritionist Mary Gowdy, and RN Health Coach Naomi Williams, plus a full-time office manager, part-time receptionist, and a business manager. So basically my staff has doubled this year to meet the explosion in demand for our services.
BW: To what do you attribute the success of Bewell?
MM: Consistency, persistence and delivering the best quality of care we are able. As evidence, I offer the fact that we have grown mostly by word of mouth. Why? Because the vast majority of our clients feel better as a result of working with us. So they tell their family, their friends, their colleagues. We do very little advertising, except lately, and that is mainly to introduce the new clinicians to the community.
BW: You said you started BeWell because you wanted to help people. What do you love about your work now, three decades later?
MM: I love the same things now that I loved then, which is to be able to change lives, or more accurately, to show people how to improve their lives through what they put into their mouths and what they allow into their minds.
There’s nothing more gratifying than having a client come back and report that they’re feeling significantly better, sleeping better, and focusing better. Their digestive problems no longer control their schedules, or that they have been able to stop half or all their medications safely. This kind of feedback keeps me excited to come to work every day and to want to continue learning more about this fascinating field.
BW: What do your two new clinicians bring to BeWell?
MM: Mary Kate and Naomi give me the opportunity to reach more people, even though I don’t directly work with them. We clinicians meet for two hours every morning to review client charts and test results, and to discuss the best approach for each person we see. This kind of brainstorming is helpful for the clients and fun for me. Both Mary Kate and Naomi are excellent clinicians and bring different perspective and experience to their work. By collaborating, I pass on the “BeWell way” to their practices.
BW: You are moving into a new and larger office. Why do you think that now is the right time to make that move?
MM: Well, it’s pretty straightforward — we’ve outgrown our current space. Those of you that have been with me from the beginning know that I started in a spare bedroom in 1989, then added on a 300 square-foot office space to my home in Park Forest in the late 90s, followed by a basement office at 1001 University Drive. (Remember those bars on the windows?) And I moved into Parkway Medical Offices, to my current suite, in 2006. This weekend we’re heading into a larger space, across the parking lot in the same complex.
BW: What do you hope that clients feel in the new location?
MM: I hope the clients feel the same way in the new space as they did in the old — welcomed, hopeful, and trusting in us and our services. I hope they feel excited to embrace nutritional solutions for their health problems. And I hope they enjoy the quiet of our reception area and continue to use it as a place to enjoy a cup of tea before or after their appointment.
BW: Why do you think some physicians refer their patients to you?
MM: Thankfully there has been a turn around in the medical community’s understanding of nutrition‘s role in health. Over the years BeWell has developed the reputation as a practice that offers sound advice and produces results.
I am grateful for this change in the attitude of the medical establishment in our area and look forward to collaborating even more with local physicians.
After treatment, what comments do you like to hear most from your clients? Of course, I love hearing clients say that they feel better than they have in years, or they feel like themselves again, or a comment from a young family who was by no means well off but said: “this is the best money we ever spent.”
We offer our clients hope and a different way of looking at their health. We also provide time, which let’s face it, they need, to figure out complex health situations. That’s why we think of ourselves as health detectives.
People’s health pictures are becoming more and more complex. Through functional testing and close listening, we help guide them to solutions.
BW: What do you want your clients to know?
MM: I truly feel a profound sense of gratitude for each and every one of our clients who have placed their trust in me and this practice.
BeWell, always, and thank you!!