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California Transplant Shapes Area Health

Through her years as a commercial artist and teacher and a struggle with cancer, health and nutrition have always been important parts of Ana Mason's life, but it wasn't until she discovered Herbalife products to gain weight after training to run a 5K marathon that she decided to become an independent distributor for the company and make a business of her passions.

"Unlike commercial art and teaching, running a business, however, did not come naturally for me, but I've enjoyed meeting new people and building relationships with customers since starting Copiah Nutrition in 2013 in Wesson," Mason says.

Today, Mason is helping to shape the health of Wesson residents with her small store where she sells healthy meal replacement shakes, energy teas, pre and post workout drinks and high protein snacks; and offers friendly advice.

Mason landed in Mississippi in 2003 after growing up, working in commercial art, rearing two children and becoming a special and general education teacher in San Diego, California.

She recalls a childhood playing outside in San Diego's downtown area, where she would ride her bike to visit friends who lived five miles away. Mason graduated from Mt. Miguel High School in Spring Valley outside San Diego in 1986 and attended Cuyamaca Community College. She moved to Tennessee to live with her father, received an Associate Degree in Commercial Art and Music from Dyersburg State in 1989 and then returned to California to work in commercial art from 1990 to 1992 when a job injury cut her career short.

"I married and reared two children, now grown -- Justin Hickey, 31, a Navy CB; and Elizabeth Payne, 29, who is married to a police officer," she relates. "When I volunteered in a kindergarten, a teacher suggested that I start a second career in education. So I went on to earn BS and MS degrees at San Diego State University in 1999 and 2003 and to teach kindergarten and special education in the seventh grade before budget cuts in California schools again cut my career short."

Mississippi was Mason's next stop when she took over the Wesson property of the late mother of her father's second wife. "A teaching career opened for me when Mississippi school officials learned about my California experience during the school registration process for my kids," she says. She first taught at Crystal Springs Elementary School (2003-2008) followed by tenures at Hazlehurst Elementary School (2008-09) and Walton Elementary School in Jackson (2010-11).

In 2007, doctors told Mason she had uterine cancer, which she fought over the next four years, learning to conquer the stress which triggered it to reoccur. She has been cancer-free since 2011.

The Paul Lacoste Boot Camp -- a 12-week gymnasium program that prepares participants for 5K runs throughout intense one hour per day five-day per week workouts -- provided stress-relief during her cancer fight, but caused her to lose the weight that Herbalife products helped her regain, and led her to start Copiah Nutrition in 2013.

Mason chose Wesson as the location for her business to be close to her mother, who she brought to Mississippi in 2006 to live with her.

What are your hobbies? For the most part, they are on hold because of my business, but I like to work out and enjoy travel.

Are you a reader?

I focus on leadership development in both reading books and listening to podcasts. I pay particular attention to what Steve Harvey, Jim Rohn and Herbalife founder Mark Hughes have to say.

Are you into music?

I like Christian music. I am a fan of the group Pentatonix and singer Amy Grant. I listen to Pandora

Do you enjoy movies or theater?

Sandra Bullock is my favorite actress. I liked her in The Blind Side. Sweet Home Alabama is also one of my favorite movies. I watch sports on television, too. I follow the Tennessee Titans.

What would you do with lottery winnings if you were so lucky? I save my money.

How would you change the world? I am changing the world, encouraging nutrition, good eating habits and exercise.


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