Ask yourself this: if a person in pain takes a pill and the pain goes away, does it mean he or she is healthy again?

This is a question often asked by Dr. Melissa Longo, Collingwood chiropractor and founder of Thrive Chiropractic & Holistic Care — and it’s an interesting one.

“Health is how your body expresses itself in a functional way,” said Melissa. “Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritally, socially… It’s not just how you are feeling. Some days we feel bad, but our body is healthy.”

Conversely, just because a person takes a pill or slaps a bandaid on a bruise to make it feel better, that doesn’t mean the pain will stay away. This is one of the things Melissa loves most about being a chiropractor, because real health comes from within the body, and as she says, everything starts with a healthy spine.

Melissa attended Dalhousie and McMaster universities, graduating with a Bachelor of Kinesiology. Athletic, Melissa always loved the way the human body worked and thought she would open a facility, until one day she injured her shoulder and had to see a chiropractor. In that moment, everything clicked. So Melissa applied to the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and never looked back.

“It just made sense to me,” said Melissa. “Anatomy, physiology, how it all works… And then my health improved dramatically the more time I spent with her.”

Her core philosophy is that health is holistic.

“What I love about the chiropractic philosophy is, let's look at the cause of a problem and figure out how to solve it, rather than just patching things up all the time,” she said. 

For example, let’s say you get chronic headaches. Instead of giving you something to numb the pain, Melissa wants to figure out what is causing your head to ache so you can stop it from hurting altogether. And as a chiropractor, she always starts with the spine, because “it’s the foundation, it’s the piece everything is connected to.”

However, Melissa recognizes that not all issues can be solved from the spine alone, and believes that as a holistic healthcare practitioner, it’s important to tap into your network.

“I love this community because there is this amazing network of healthcare professionals that I am very happy to refer to,” she said. “I think it’s important to also dial in on what you love best.”

Melissa applies this concept of dialing in on what she loves most applies to other aspects of her life as well, and it is ultimately what she attributes her success to today.

Born and raised in Toronto, Melissa moved to Collingwood almost 20 years ago with her husband at the time and their newborn son, just six months after she graduated from chiropractic college. They found their way north looking for a small-town, community feel, and Collingwood checked all the boxes. Melissa and her now ex-husband opened a practice together in 2002 and quickly got integrated into the community. They had their kids and as Melissa said, “life went on.” Flash forward a few years later, when Melissa and her husband split, they also decided to split their practice.

Now a single mom of young boys attempting to run a household, build a business, and stay involved in the community, she took a step back to consider what it was she really wanted.

“I realized that what I love about what I do is the clinical care and the act of healing,” she said. “I wanted to be a chiropractor — to share the message of health and healing — I wanted to be a mom, and I wanted to be me.”

It was as simple as that, so she “stripped away what wasn’t working and focused on what was.”

Melissa moved into a new location at 128 Hume St. 10 years ago and opened Thrive Chiropractic & Holistic Care, a small, live-work space that allowed her to have her kids at home while she worked. Through that process, because she simplified her role — no longer managing other people or a property — she was able to focus on the thing she really loved: sharing information about health and healing.

In January 2013, Melissa started her own TV show, called Good Living, Good Health, where she went around to different places in the community and talked about the foundations of healthy living.

“It was all about how to stay healthy,” she said. “I didn’t want it to be about disease prevention, I wanted it to be about the foundation of a healthy life.”

After three years of being on TV, she shifted gears and launched her first of four podcasts. She is now the host of Rockstar Doctor Life, a weekly show that shares real life successes, struggles and tips for doctors to help them rock their life as a chiropractor. Also over the last five years, Melissa has been operating a side hustle — albeit a pretty big one — where she does coaching and consulting for chiropractors to help them grow their businesses and raise happy families.

“My experience rebuilding my business gave me a launching pad of knowledge to share with other people,” she said. “I’m not a superhero, if I can do this, you can too. It’s just a matter of really getting clear on what kind of business you want.”

Because for Melissa, “reframing what it meant to be successful” allowed her to own who she truly was and figure out the type of success that would make her the happiest.

“Clarity is such a big peace and it seems to be what I am known for, helping people really tune into who they are and what they want,” Melissa said. “And then building a business around that.”

Melissa acknowledges that she does a lot, but she rarely feels stressed, and she attributes that to clarity. She said, “It’s knowing what you want and being okay going for it. Or, you are going to fail and figure something else out and make a change,” she laughed, “but you never know if you don’t try.”

Over a decade after that initial shift, between her clinical patients and coaching clients, Melissa’s work really does come down to helping people thrive.

“I realize that I really love transformations,” she said. “I love watching people and their health transform, but also their lives transform with the work they do for themselves. Physically or otherwise, my purpose I think is to help people thrive in all areas of their life.”

But she knows in order to do so, she has to stay healthy herself.

“I think that’s why I love health as much as I do, because if I am not healthy then my energy is not as good,” she said. “Just like a business, the body is dynamic and constantly evolving, so we need to support that.”