Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lucy Townsend, Founder of Functional Medicine Associates, located in Purcellville, VA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

In 2018, I founded Functional Medicine Associates. There, I work with individuals who have been diagnosed with subjective cognitive impairment and mild cognitive impairment to prevent and reverse the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. As a certified ReCODE practitioner, I utilize the Bredesen Protocol, a comprehensive, personalized evidence-based program to address the potential drivers of cognitive decline. I collaborate with my clients’ physicians to obtain accurate diagnoses through advanced cognitive and clinical assessment of their histories and labs, along with a report that reveals root causes — such as inflammation, glycotoxicity, lack of trophic support, vascular issues, and head trauma — to guide accurate medical intervention.

Tell us about yourself

Before founding Functional Medicine Associates, I worked in the healthcare industry for over 25 years. Today as a ReCODE practitioner and Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach, I draw on my many years in physical therapy, counseling, and advocacy to provide insight, strategies, and support to my clients and their caregivers to make lasting lifestyle changes to improve cognitive health.

I matriculated at the University of California Santa Barbara, where I studied biology. I received my bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from San Francisco State University and my master’s in counseling from the University of San Francisco.

I acquired my certification as a board-certified patient advocate from the Patient Advocate Certification Board (PACB), an organization of professions including, but not limited to, healthcare and patient advocates, case managers, and others who, on behalf of patients' communities, share the goal of safe, effective and compassionate healthcare. Board-certified patient advocates work with individual clients who need assistance navigating complex medical situations by partnering with them, seeking to empower them, and supporting their ability to make autonomous decisions.

I received my training from the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy (FMCA), the only coaching certification program incorporating functional medicine and functional nutrition into the curriculum. The International Consortium approves this program for Credentialing Health and Wellness Coaches. The Institute of Functional Medicine, in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic, partnered with FMCA to develop the course content, which offers health coaches a time-tested standard that can be consistently applied in various settings and effectively discussed with other functional medicine practitioners around the world. FMCA-trained health coaches guide patients to optimum wellness using functional medicine, functional nutrition, mind-body medicine, and positive psychology coaching. A central theme of the training, positive psychology embraces and enhances people’s higher selves to achieve optimal functioning.

Years ago, I visited my grandmother in her nursing home, where she was convalescing with what was then diagnosed as arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Today it’s called dementia. She was confined to her hospital bed. She was 72 years old. She played with a doll. She had no idea who I was or knew her daughter, my Aunt Lucy. I was seven at the time. Not long after that visit, my grandmother passed away. She lived in Boston. I was in California. That visit left a lasting impression.

Fast-forward twenty years to 1994, when I was in graduate school. I had to select an internship, and I knew I wanted to work in research with dementia patients. I secured a position at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Hospital, working at the Older Adult Center in the PTSD and dementia unit. I worked on a longitudinal study that evaluated dementia patients and their caregivers. The study involved interviewing dementia patients and caregivers regarding stress and coping skills related to activities of daily living. This experience profoundly shaped my perspective on the importance of the caregiver/patient relationship.

Back in 1994, when I was doing research, very little hope was given to Alzheimer’s disease patients. Most families were told to get their loved one’s affairs in order. Thanks to a paradigm shift, decades of research, and recent clinical success, Dr. Dale Bredesen, a world-renowned neuroscientist and neurologist, developed a revolutionary protocol to help thousands, if not millions, prevent and reverse cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. I’m on a mission to help him. I did my clinical training with him to become a certified ReCODE practitioner.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment has been to be recognized in my field for my expertise in helping clients prevent and reverse cognitive decline successfully while building a thriving profitable practice.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Work-life balance can be very challenging. One of the hardest things was eliminating old habits that carried over from being an employee. As an entrepreneur, I view my time and money differently. How time is used is much more important than how much time is spent on something.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Mindset is the foundation of everything. Research shows that mindset plays a significant role in determining life’s outcomes. By adapting and shifting your mindset, you improve your health, decrease stress and become more resilient to life challenges.
  2. Write a comprehensive business plan (BP). Include a mission statement. Whether you need a lot of funding on the front end or not, mindset is everything. Understanding your goals and objectives elevates disappointment on the back end. Your BP is the foundation of your business.
  3. Take your strengths and weakness seriously. If you start early in your career as an entrepreneur or become one later in life, you will have to work hard for it. Knowing your strengths and weakness is essential for business success or failure. Be realistic, budget for needs you can delegate to vendors, and focus and execute on your top skills.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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