Melissa Love, AKA “The Westport Weight Whisperer,” is a certified nutritionist and weight loss expert, who ran the Ideal Protein Weight Loss department for a doctor in Fairfield, Connecticut for several years before venturing out on her own in 2015. For the past year and a half, Melissa divides her time between her Fairfield and Stamford office, where she is Director of Nutrition and Weight loss for Vivacity Life Center, a medically owned and physician run , state of the art, health and wellness, anti aging center. Melissa works side by side with Dr. Richard Koffler, an integrative physician who specializes in hormone rebalancing, hypothyroidism, pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome and a host of other ailments that have a profound impact on one’s ability to lose weight.
The back story: Melissa is an NYU psychology graduate who, years ago, had the fortuitous luck of starring in a Dannon yogurt commercial, which caught the attention of Norman Lear , the iconic television producer who liked Melissa’s quirkiness enough to fly her out to Los Angeles to meet his television partner, Bud Yorkin, who wound up hiring Melissa to co-star in a television series with Melanie Griffith. Acting work begot more work for Melissa (Steinberg at the time) and she became a successful working television series actress and writer, who collected a bevy of well-known industry and celebrity friends a long the way.
While in Los Angeles, Melissa married a residential developer/ builder and segued into decorating the interiors of her famous friends’ homes, before deciding to formally study nutrition at CSUN, in Northridge, Ca. Her core curriculum in food science, nutrition, and dietetics gave her the foundation to springboard into crafting a weight loss regime which she honed, throughout the years, by keeping up with evolving scientific discoveries and methodologies, and attending multitudinous health and wellness conferences offered throughout the country..
Her first group of dieters were actually some of these well-known clients whose homes her hubby had built and she had decorated. In terms of Melissa’s own weight problem at the time, she believes the catalyst for her to finally deal with a compulsive overeating issue coincided with selling their Pacific Palisades home to Larry David and his wife, Laurie, and moving up the street into the old estate of the late Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly. “I had what anyone would consider the perfect fairytale life: Two beautiful girls, a great husband and friends, a thriving career, and an majestic estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean, except I was miserable. I was in fat-girl Hell, hating how I felt and looked and thinking ‘Princesses that live in palaces aren’t supposed to be portly’.”
Her life-altering moment happened literally the first night intheir new home when she and her husband clicked on the television and saw a rerun of a comedy series Melissa was a regular on, called “Bizarre,” created and directed by Bob Einstein (of Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fame). It was a silly sketch that relied on a play on words, where Melissa portrayed a hysterical woman reporting to a police captain and policeman that she had just gotten (bursting into tears) “graped.” The two men say, “You mean—” She cuts them off and screams “Grape! Grape! Don’t make me repeat it—Uck! it’s such an ugly word!” After she finishes describing what happened (substituting new words for the ones too painful to say) and makes her exit, the policeman asks the captain whether he believed her story. The captain responds, “Are you crazy? Who in their right mind would want to grape her? Did you get a look at the size of her bass?” (Referring to Melissa’s fat ass.) Gulp!
A devastated Melissa realized at that moment that her weight problem had precluded her from many acting opportunities in her career; the same thing her closest friend and agent, the beloved and celebrated Howard Goldberg, tried to tell her throughout their deeply bonded years together. She’ll never forget the night
when she revealed to Howard that Bob Einstein teased her and called her “thunder thighs” (which Melissa always laughed off) and Howard burst into tears.
Melissa’s Oprah “aha! moment” hit her all at once and forced her into immediate action. Pulling an all-nighter, and with fierce determination, she barreled through a maze of moving boxes that contained all of her academic books on clinical nutrition, health and diet disciplines, and authoritative reviews of the many weight loss protocols at that time. One particular article that she read advocated the benefits of a diet based on the total removal of carbohydrates, allowing just protein and fats in order to achieve a ketogenic, fat burning state.
By 7 a.m. the next morning, Melissa was off to the library to formulate her own weight loss plan that incorporated the science of emptying the body’s reserve of carbohydrates to encourage this burning of stored fat.
This protocol became a world -wide success when Dr. Atkins came out with his book, touting this blissful state of ketosis, where, Melissa says, your hunger dissipates, your energy elevates and a host of other feel good physiological effects take over. “Finding Ketosis was like capturing the Holy-Grail”
During this time, Dr. Atkins had just come out with his new “Diet Revolution,” advocating much of what Melissa had discovered in her science texts, and it was the very protocol she was adhering to herself.
Cut to : Several months later, and a new Melissa emerges, having lost 50 pounds. In fact, she has maintained this weight loss and her healthy weight of 118 pounds for the past 26 years. Melissa attributes the deep connection she shares with her patients to the fact that she has walked the talk. She understands in a way only a “true fat girl” (as she says) can understand, “It’s the shame, self loathing and anguish one experiences being so out of control with food.”
Using the protocol that has worked for her, she has made it her life’s mission to “pay it forward.” Her thriving private practice runs the gamut from obesity related issues, compulsive emotional eating and self-medicating with food, to stubborn plateau frustration, and sugar addiction. She treats the interplay of behavioral, psychological, medical, and nutritional components to create long-term success with weight loss. Melissa believes most chronic health conditions and adverse symptoms are due to imbalances related to one’s diet and lifestyle. In clinical terms, she helps her clients manage their macro and micronutrients while encouraging exercise to support the formation of neurotransmitters, in order to access those feel-good guys like endorphins, serotonin, dopamine etc. She also advocates sleep, critical for a healthy heart, weight, mind, and long lifespan.
Melissa offers a permanent solution and liberation from a lifetime of food deprivation/starvation cycles and the inevitable weight gain and depression that follows. Her rapid weight loss protocol stabilizes blood pressure and blood sugar, often reverses Type 2 Diabetes, and greatly improves one’s lipid panel while shrinking one’s waistline. The beauty of her protocol is that the body’s pancreas is given the unequivocal chance of restoring its proper regulation of glycemia. “By the time you reach your goal, you will have transformed your body’s ability to metabolize sugar by re-educating your pancreas to use the correct amount of insulin to move into the receptor cells and no more.
Melissa explains her approach: “Carbs cause an overabundance of insulin, which is the hormone that transports excess calories into fat cells, and the insulin locks the carb in, preventing it from being used as a source of energy. Excess insulin creates sugar cravings, encourages fluid retention, and shifts metabolism into storage mode, also known as weight gain. It also creates that vicious cycle of craving more and more sugar and carbohydrates.” When sugar is metabolized in your fat cells, those cells release a surge of leptin— normally an appetite regulator that signals to your brain you’ve had enough food— however, when you’re constantly consuming too much fructose and the body keeps accumulating more fat, the surges of leptin increase, but the brain becomes de-sensitized. It’s like the mother of the boy that keeps on crying wolf: the cells ignore the warnings that you’ve had enough nutrients and become resistant. Hence, the brain thinks you’re still hungry and you end up eating more, and craving more sugar. This is a vicious cycle because refined sugar is the very thing that causes leptin resistance. Studies show that leptin changes the brain chemistry and controls the way your body stores fat. “So many of my dieters are leptin-resistant, which leads to “insulin resistance,” says Melissa. She takes a deep breath, “Obesity is a very complex disorder.”