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Jim LaValle’s Personal Journey and the Inspiration Behind the Metabolic Code®

May 29, 2020

My Journey with Health and Vitality

I’m James LaValle, founder of the Metabolic Code®. Today I am 60 years old and I’ve never felt better.

“Jim, how do you stay so healthy and fit”? I get asked this all the time, and the truth is, it’s not easy. I have to work at it, but the trade off is a great feeling of accomplishment. I love being able to start my day energized, ready to tackle what’s ahead of me, knowing that I am working on my health. All that being said, the most rewarding part of it all is that I can be present with my family. If you know me, you’ll know I’ve never been personal when sharing my story, so thank you for allowing me this opportunity. I hope my journey may inspire others to invest time in their health. Remember, It’s work, but it’s worth it!

James-LaValle-Age-20 James-LaValle-Age-60
May, 1978
Jim LaValle and his mother, Age 18
I had a big interest in training from the age of 14. I remember loading plates and a bench into the trunk of our car so I wouldn’t miss training when we went on the yearly family vacation. My mom and dad always had my back and encouraged me to “get after it”. I suffered a neck injury in an All-Star football game that devastated me. I had a full ride scholarship to a Division 1 program. I was lost for a while, it shook me to my core, it challenged me to look for meaning and purpose. I came “out of that dark night of the soul” with a commitment to serve. That is when training and nutrition pulled me out of my funk.
May, 1978
1980
Jim LaValle, Age 20
First body-building competition I took third place, and as Ricky Bobby the great philosopher said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” While going through pharmacy school I committed 4 hours a day to training at the same time doing internship and studying. I learned the value of locking into a goal and achieving it. First, I had to clean up my chemistry. I would get rashes, feel bloated, have bad blood sugar crashes and couldn’t think clearly. So, while I looked good on the outside, I was a mess on the inside. You see I was pretty sickly as a small child; I thought the amoxicillin and Dimetapp were part of my meal plan, bubble gum and grape flavor YUM. I went to a practitioner that changed my diet, gave me nutrients to help level out my blood sugar like chromium and magnesium, corrected my gut flora with probiotics and herbs that kill off bad flora, and then topped off the tank with vitamins and minerals. It opened my eyes to the power of natural therapies.
1980
1983
University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy
University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy was founded by one of the greatest medicinal herb extractors, a pioneer in pharmacy John Uri Lloyd. I took classes in pharmacognosy and learned that 40% of all medicines came from plants. Yet, there was so much biased negative information about natural therapies at the time. I had to be a part of the change. This would drive my passion in the integrative and natural therapeutic space. I graduated from school and went behind the counter​. If I could go back in time and change anything during this time, I would say I was pretty hard on myself over some things. In truth, it is not about what you do, it is about what you care about, and it is not about being first or last Ricky Bobby, just doing your best.
1983
Early 20's
23 and working at Kroger
I am standing behind the counter of the pharmacy in a Kroger store in one of the rougher, lower income neighborhoods in the greater Cincinnati area. I figured they put me there at the time, because one look at me and no one was going to be robbing me. A woman came up to me at the end of the day and gave me a script for diabetes medication, her Medicaid card and went shopping. She came back to get her meds and I looked down in the cart and I saw she had all kinds of foods that were going to make her diabetes worse. It hit me; my grandmother had lost several fingers and some toes to diabetes. She was also blind because of it. I asked my customer, "Can I take you around the store and help you make some better choices?" (I wasn’t supposed to leave the pharmacy, OOPS didn’t realize that!). She said yes, and in the next few weeks I had people coming in to get a grocery tour! It gave me the notion that people from all walks of life want to know about how to improve their health, yet they didn't have the knowledge or tools to do so.
Early 20's
Early 20's
I thought, "I want to tag foods in the store"...
I went to the Cholesterol Center at Jewish Hospital a leading center in cholesterol research. I wrote the Kroger Guide to Shopping for Heart Health with them. I wanted to tag foods in the store, test for lipids and blood sugar and really get people to look at things like sugar and trans-fat content and create real guidelines about healthy selections. At the time “low cholesterol” food labeling was on all kinds of products like cookies, loaded with sugar in many cases. And even back then I knew high sugar intake and blood sugar disturbances were a major cause of heart disease.
Early 20's
Early 20's
The first FDA approved food tagging system, influencing millions of shoppers through a major retailer
I went to the President of Kroger at the time and laid out my plan. His response, “I am not going to tell people what to eat, and big companies may be left out of the program because their food doesn’t meet your standard”. I replied, “people need to know how to eat” and left. I went to my pharmacy coordinator, Ron Roberts, and asked if we could do it. Ron gave me a shot. I went in and tagged hundreds of food items and set up end caps and created WOW events at stores where we brought in Jewish Hospital tested hundreds of people at time, tested blood glucose and got vendors who had truly healthier options featured. We found more people with diabetes, sold more glucometers and spawned the first FDA food tagging system that influenced millions of shoppers in a major retailer.

What I learned: Reach out and help one person and you can touch millions from it. Also, personally, don’t wait to clean up your chemistry just because you are young; get labs done, investigate where you need work, attack your health. Also, my idea was to “eat for lifestyle”, meaning that it’s never a “diet”. It’s all about nourishing your body to perform at its best and still have fun too!
Early 20's
Early 20's
I left traditional pharmacy to explore natural therapeutics
The powers that be said, “get back behind the counter”, but I just couldn’t do that. I left traditional pharmacy to explore applying myself to natural therapeutics and I was also doing personal training at a business I called “ESTATE OF HEALTH” located on an estate. I was taking on clients one on one, training them, instructing them on diet and changing lives one at a time. At the same time, I started seeing patients in a Dr. of Chiropractic office looking at labs, tracking progress and developing programs for people. I ended up working with an upwards of 600 people a week in a massive clinic environment. I was on fire with the power of natural therapeutics. Later in my mid to late 20's, I started exploring all types of healing traditions from Lakota medicine ceremonies to learning Tai Chi from a Chinese Master. So many teachers showed up during this period of time: Gilly Running (Lakota Medicine Rosebud Reservation), Mok Lao, Dr. David Polen and Dr. Alexander Wood (who truly shaped the way I think about healing and opened my eyes to the science of natural therapies.
Early 20's
1989
The Farm
At 29, I moved to the darkest spot in a 5-state area, Holton Indiana. It took me six months to get used to the quiet and lack of external stimulus. That quieted my mind, and the information just “flooded onto the page”, setting up what would become my prolific writing journey through my 30’s. I made flower essences, enjoyed the open fields and watching lotus blooms on my spring fed lake. Time simply slowed down and allowed me to really focus on laying the foundation for the next phase in my life. I stayed out there for 9 years, learning, experimenting with healing techniques, writing and lecturing all over the country, designing products and more, all of which was setting me up for really launching some bigger initiatives moving forward.

What I learned: Making a move to connect with nature and have a less stressful lifestyle, allowed my mind to flourish with the learning I was undertaking during this time. I wanted to soak up everything I could from different healing traditions.
1989
Early 30's
Throughout my 30’s, my passion for natural therapies was supercharged
My passion for pushing integrative health and natural therapies was at an insatiable level. A lot happened for me in my 30’s. I became Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition through the IAACN, founded by Winna Henry, and served in various capacities such as Fellow and Diplomate in Homeopathic Medicine and Pharmacy through the British Institute of Homeopathy.

I participated in starting a naturopathic medicine school and attempted to gain enough political support to gain licensure in the state of Ohio. I was adamant, meeting with legislators and funded lobbyists to support this innovative approach to medicine. I knew we had to gain acceptance for natural medicine as a part of health care. I poured my heart into it, yet I just couldn’t get it done. One of the goals I couldn't finish, but at least it conferred an academic degree Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from the Board of Regents. However, I was not eligible for licensure. It compelled me to follow a more “conventional” path of research, publishing, and working to help change the world of medicine from within.
Early 30's
Mid 30's
I began writing books...
I began writing books for both consumers and professionals. I wanted them to have tools to reference while also giving healthcare providers the ability to learn about these new trending topics such as “Drug Induced Nutrient Depletions” and comprehensive natural therapeutic handbooks to use in practice. As a healthcare professional I detailed decision trees for 200 conditions, focusing extensively on natural therapies.
Mid 30's
Mid 30's
Ephedra was outlawed, creating a massive opportunity
Something happened that created a massive opportunity. Ephedra was outlawed. DEA agents went into a pharmacy, picked up some ephedra containing tea, brought the box up to the pharmacist who unknowingly wrung up the sale. They took him out in handcuffs.

The Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Dr. Richard Wuest called me and said, “we can’t run from this. We need to teach pharmacists and students all about natural product now.”
Mid 30's
Mid 30's
I was teaching natural medicine in a Professional Pharmacy and Medical school as an appointed adjunct professor
I started writing continuing education for Pharmacists, began volunteering to teach at the University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy by teaching “A Survey of Natural Medicine” for 16 years while teaching at the College of Medicine Division of Family Medicine well as being a preceptor site to mentor young professionals.

I was teaching natural medicine in a Professional Pharmacy and Medical school as an appointed adjunct professor in the 1990’s in the Midwest. That was a big deal to help fill this need. This led to working with some of the biggest companies in the U.S. - CVS, Rite Aid, Longs Drugs, McKesson, writing for Retail Pharmacy News and consulting with global brands like Bayer and P&G. I was building momentum in this space and it opened up the opportunity to walk into Tri Health/Good Samaritan Hospital where they were trying to launch an integrative medicine clinic. I turned the program around and helped it run profitably in 6 months.
Mid 30's
Late 30's
Passion and commitment is the genesis of change
During my 30’s I also developed a program called “Health Trust Alliance”. We educated independent pharmacists on how to recommend dietary supplements. I was proud of that as it took me back to my roots in pharmacy, and to this day I have pharmacists tell me that I made health care exciting for them and that what they learned saved their business. It doesn’t get any better than that.

What did I learn: Instead of the old adage “New Ideas don’t get accepted old people die” I learned change could come. It just takes time, patience and commitment to creating change.
Late 30's
My 40's
4 Natural Medicines Databases, 22 books and 20 e-books
I wrote and/or spearheaded the writing of 4 databases on natural medicine during this time and wrote the majority of my 22 books and 20 ebooks. I was just churning information like a machine with my crew. We wrote 240 monographs on dietary supplements along with entire condition treatment plans. In addition, I was a featured writer in “Retail Pharmacy News” and named one of “America’s 50 most influential pharmacists”.
My 40's
My 40's
"Living Longer" with LaValle Metabolic Institute
I was approached by my future business partner while at Tri-Health. He was a world-famous radiologist and asked if I would consider joining forces with him, the General Electric Med Director and the CSO for Proctor & Gamble out at their facility to launch a program called “Living Longer”. I agreed to move but there was just one problem. The facility had a medical side and a racquetball court on the other side, complete with a beer tap and a popcorn popper. My office started out on the medical side, two weeks into the project, my partner came to me and said, “Jim, we need this space. Could you work on the racquetball side”? Sure, people can pass the beer tap on their way to the health guy! And you even had to go through my office to get to the employee restroom. Well, we got through that phase, and the pictures you see here are post-renovation of that racquetball area.
My 40's
2003
Cracking the Metabolic Code
We built a stunning facility; a true gem stemming from the community’s desire to seek out Natural and Integrative therapies, or what I would soon deem “metabolic medicine” within the release of my book, “Cracking the Metabolic Code”. The Metabolic Code® was born.
2003
Late 40's
Building a personalized health program with Lifetime Fitness
While at LaValle Metabolic Institute, Lifetime Fitness walked in the door with a simple question: “Can you help us develop a scalable personalized plan to help people with weight loss, because diet and exercise alone are not working”. They had read my Metabolic Code book and felt that the answer was within the factors I detailed about the stress hormones, blood sugar, mineral status, thyroid function, sleep, and much more that contributes to and affects your metabolism. Now all we needed was to find a way to deliver and teach this methodology as a platform.

We successfully deployed education to the staff some 2700 trainers and their dieticians. We developed a program that approximately 240,000 people participated in with a 93% adoption rate. That was all the proof I needed that we could scale to millions of people with the message of vitality at every stage in life.

What I learned: “Lemonade out of lemons” built that business - from nothing to a $3 million a year venue. How do you build in those conditions and get those type of results? Don’t focus on selling, focus on fixing problems and getting people feeling their best. Do this and you will achieve wild growth in your business.
Late 40's
Entering My 50's
Times got difficult
I moved to California when I turned 50 and this was the best of times and the most difficult of times. I was moved there by a company that wanted me to head up all their weight loss programming. I felt I needed to move beyond what I had built at the Institute, so I accepted the position. Four weeks later they shut the company down, leaving me in a very difficult spot. I had just moved my family.
Entering My 50's
Early 50's
Very rewarding work
Fortunately, I was teaching at A4M and consulting with Wakunaga of America so I could hold on while I regrouped. I started consulting for Thorne Research and helped them to develop their Thorne Performance line and also a JV with Helsin Pharma for supportive therapy for chemotherapy. This was very rewarding work and I enjoyed the time working with their team.
Early 50's
My 50's
The Metabolic Code® algorithm was born
I decided to start building a cloud-based “point-of-care” platform and writing what became the Metabolic Code® algorithm and assessment. A few false starts and 10 years later, it is successfully launched. The goal was to help practitioners like myself get a jump start on learning how to use integrative therapies, and to be able to track the outcomes to prove our work. It always bugged me that this “lack of evidence” was the criticism of natural therapies when in fact, you can name any 5 drugs that people get commonly put on and there is no evidence for that either. The fact is, we need to track all aspects: diet, supplementation, medication, exercise, sleep and stress in concert so that we can really look at data and identify clusters of disruption in a person’s chemistry.

I designed the Metabolic Code to create a “new language of health”, to assemble all the collected information and put it into a simple explanation of what they have going on with their health, along with their plan of action. Looking back to my early days of pharmacy and that woman I assisted, I saw that my teaching career and my time caring for patients all came together, allowing me to also create a system that would help practitioners because the algorithm built into the program assesses multiple complicated variables affecting a person’s health and giving a systematized way to address issues. This along with the education we provide practitioners is shortening the learning curve and helping practitioners be able to implement effective integrative health programs much more quickly.
My 50's
2011
Clinician of the Year for North America
In 2011 I was awarded the “Clinician of the Year for North America” for significant contribution to Integrative Medicine.
2011
2013
Your Blood Never Lies
A standard blood test indicates how well the kidneys and liver are functioning, the potential for heart disease, and a host of other vital health markers. Unfortunately, most of us cannot decipher these results ourselves, nor can we even formulate the right questions to ask about them—or we couldn’t until now.
2013
My 50's
Adoption caught on like wildfire
I did hundreds if not thousands of TV and Radio shows spreading the word on the value of natural therapies.
My 50's
My 50's
2017 Educator of the Year Award
An award I am most proud of was the “2017 Educator of the Year Award” from A4M/MMI, a top organization in with 400 instructors and 24,000 physician members.
My 50's
My 50's
Seeing athletes regain their edge and perform better than ever is such a buzz!
This also was the decade that I started working with professional athletes, Strength Coaches and fitness trainers to educate and help with creating plans to optimize performance and maintain resiliency under training. Dr. Heyman and I have worked with some drivers on the Corvette Racing Team, and  I am currently working with some individual players, as well as whole teams in the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS, and some Olympians.

We’ve developed and taught courses specifically for Special Forces staff for optimization of our elite armed services members. Seeing athletes regain their edge and perform better than ever is such a buzz!
My 50's
My 50's
It's rewarding working with Gold Jackets and their spouses
One of the more rewarding experiences has been working with Gold Jackets and their spouses at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. These icons of football cut across the game and legitimately reach millions of lives. They are an incredible family.
My 50's
May 29, 2020
Kicking off my 60's
I can’t wait to see what else the future holds for me in this now blooming field of Integrative Medicine. My 50’s taught me that sometimes it takes longer to achieve a big vision, but the right people will come to your side if you stay true to yourself, your message and goals.

My new saying: It’s work but it’s worth it! You can apply that to your health, your business or your relationships and you will come out on top.

A special shout out to Johnny Sirpilla, Jeremy Hogue, Dr. Andy Heyman, Fritz Geer, Ernie Hawkins, Wendy Lempner, Marta Graham and my team. To Tommy Stephenson, Inna Mitev, Chris Scaffa, Chris Mika, Brice Bielaski, Jacob Grasst and the rest of the Heated Details, Inc. team - you guys rock!

And most of all, my amazing partner, Laura LaValle, for supporting the evolution of this vision - thank you.
May 29, 2020

We are continuing to light the world up with our knowledge, giving people the tools they need to regain their vitality, resiliency and zest for life!