Optimizing Health: Insights from Functional Medicine Expert Laura DeCesaris

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In this interview with Laura DeCesaris, a functional medicine doctor specializing in supporting female entrepreneurs and business professionals, we delve into the core principles of her approach. Laura emphasizes the importance of personalization in addressing the unique health challenges faced by busy women who juggle careers, family, and well-being. She highlights the significance of reevaluating one’s relationship with stress, incorporating movement as a daily health tool, and prioritizing high-quality sleep for overall well-being. Throughout the conversation, Laura’s dedication to guiding individuals toward sustainable health practices and empowering them to navigate their wellness journey independently shines through.

Who do you assist, and how do you assist them?

I’m a functional medicine doctor, and my primary clients are female entrepreneurs, executives, and business owners. I specialize in helping busy women who juggle the responsibilities of running a business, advancing their careers, maintaining family life, and managing their health. I support them in navigating the unique challenges that arise from this busy and multifaceted lifestyle. In essence, I work with women who embody the role of a busy working professional.

What are the primary health challenges your clients typically face?

The most common health challenges among my clients, especially working women, often stem from stress and its pervasive impact on their overall well-being. Many of these women are dealing with the strains of balancing multiple responsibilities, and stress takes a toll in various ways. This includes disrupted sleep patterns, reduced overall vitality, struggles with weight management, heightened anxiety, and a general sense of not feeling their best. Stress is a common thread connecting these challenges.

Furthermore, I frequently work with women in their late 30s, 40s, and 50s who are going through hormonal transitions. This phase often brings about changes in hormone levels, leading to a range of issues, with perimenopause-related concerns being prominent.

Gut and digestive problems are another prevalent issue among my clients, and they often have ties to stress when we delve into their root causes. These problems manifest in symptoms like bloating, dietary confusion, food sensitivities, and an overall feeling of unwellness.

Ultimately, what these women seek is a personalized and sustainable approach to their health. They want to move away from the constant search for the next diet, pill, or health trend and instead focus on understanding what to eat, what actions to take, and how to effectively address the unique challenges their bodies are facing.

What’s your approach to improving your clients’ health?

Our approach revolves around reverse engineering. When someone seeks my guidance, whether they’re dealing with sleep issues, hormonal imbalances, gut problems, or weight loss goals, we start with a clear endpoint in mind. Rather than focusing solely on a numeric weight loss target, we delve deeper, asking, “What does losing those pounds mean to you?” They often reveal desires like having more energy, active engagement with their family, or increased confidence in their business or personal life. Understanding these motivations allows us to craft a customized plan aligned with their unique aspirations.

Our journey begins with personalized lab testing, a cornerstone of our approach. Instead of providing a generic, one-size-fits-all protocol, we delve into their gut health, hormones, and genetics. This approach illuminates how their body operates and functions optimally. Armed with this knowledge, we can develop a tailored plan, avoiding the trial-and-error approach and cookie-cutter plans that many have previously tried.

With comprehensive data in hand, we identify the most impactful strategies—typically three or four key lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, and daily routine changes that will propel them toward their goals. We recognize that health transformations can be overwhelming, so we streamline the process based on personalized lab testing and individual objectives, ensuring sustainability. Throughout our collaboration, we continually refine the plan, introducing additional elements at a manageable pace. Our aim is to instill long-term habits, equipping clients with the tools to care for their bodies independently even after our work together concludes.

Education plays a vital role in our approach. Many women lack a comprehensive understanding of their bodies and female hormones due to gaps in our education system. We make it a priority to educate our clients about the inner workings of their bodies and how their daily habits impact their overall well-being. This knowledge empowers them to make informed decisions about their health.

While I serve as an expert guide, our ultimate goal is to empower clients to navigate their health journey independently in the long run. Self-sufficiency is a crucial aspect of our approach.

How do you maintain long-term motivation and keep clients on the right track?
Sustaining motivation over the long term starts with helping clients define meaningful objectives. I encourage them to consider, “What’s the ultimate goal? How do they aspire to feel, and what kind of life do they envision?” Pursuing deeply meaningful goals makes it far easier to stay committed. This is where the role of a health coach becomes invaluable.

It’s important to acknowledge that health journeys rarely follow a linear trajectory. We often wish that consistent actions would yield continuous improvement, but in reality, there are inevitable ups, downs, and plateaus, akin to other facets of life. The presence of a coach is invaluable because they can assist in navigating these plateaus, celebrating achievements, and offering the accountability and motivation necessary to remain on course.

Many of the women I collaborate with possess intrinsic self-leadership and motivation, particularly when pursuing significant goals. Our approach entails regular check-ins as they progress, inquiring about their well-being, goal alignment, and any challenges they may confront. When embarking on a health journey alone, sustaining self-motivation can prove challenging. Having a companion on the journey aids in cultivating habits and discipline related to self-care and health.

What are the primary benefits and results clients achieve through your guidance?

The most significant benefits and results come from the high degree of personalization in my approach. Since I primarily work with busy women, our discussions extend beyond health, nutrition, and diet. We delve into their daily routines, business commitments, project launches, speaking engagements, and more. This comprehensive approach enables us to seamlessly integrate their health journey into their lives, offering a truly holistic perspective.

I invest time in truly understanding my clients, considering things like their children’s soccer schedules, speaking engagements, and even their meeting times. The more insight I gain into their day-to-day realities, the better equipped I am to help them establish and sustain healthy habits, even during their busiest moments. Many women find it challenging to access this level of personalization, and they can become frustrated when seeking assistance that provides generic advice unrelated to their unique circumstances.

For me, it’s about genuinely understanding the obstacles that may hinder their adherence to a health plan. By identifying these challenges from the onset and adapting our approach accordingly, we set the stage for their success. Clients appreciate that I grasp their struggles and the demands of their schedules, fostering their trust in our ability to tailor the plan to their specific needs.

What obstacles often prevent people from seeking the help you offer?

One major challenge, especially among women, is the tendency to prioritize everything else above their own health. Balancing businesses, families, and numerous responsibilities can make it seem like there’s never a “right” time to focus on their well-being. The perpetual list of tasks often leads them to put self-care on hold.

Another obstacle is waiting until a significant health issue arises before seeking help. In our fast-paced lives, we often operate on autopilot, ignoring subtle symptoms and signals from our bodies. These signals may include poor sleep, mild anxiety, or decreased energy. Rather than addressing these early warnings, many wait until a major health crisis occurs. Taking a more proactive approach and tuning into these early signals can make it easier to address and optimize one’s health, preventing the need for recovery from burnout or a severe health crisis.

The demands of today’s hectic world can make it challenging for individuals to find time for self-connection and prioritize their health. Some may even hold the belief that self-prioritization is selfish, creating internal barriers to seeking help. These are just a few of the complex factors that can discourage people from accessing the assistance they need.

Are there any myths or misconceptions about your field of work?

Certainly, there are several myths and misconceptions surrounding functional medicine. Many people are unfamiliar with the term “functional medicine,” leading to a lack of awareness. When they do encounter it, they may believe it involves convincing them to purchase costly supplements and paying exorbitant fees for uncertain results. This perception doesn’t align with the true essence of functional medicine.

Functional medicine is intended to be a holistic approach that considers the mind, body, spirit, and lifestyle. It’s about guiding individuals to reconnect with themselves and learn how to comprehensively care for their well-being. It’s not a matter of choosing between functional medicine and conventional medicine; they can complement each other harmoniously. A genuine functional practitioner adapts the approach to meet individual needs, avoiding one-size-fits-all solutions, and emphasizing supplements excessively is not representative of authentic functional medicine.

It’s vital to conduct research and ensure that a practitioner is certified through reputable programs. Seek someone who shares your values and truly comprehends your requirements. Functional medicine doesn’t have to be overly expensive or reliant on costly supplements and gadgets. Often, it involves educational discussions that help individuals reconnect with fundamental human needs that have been overlooked in the modern world, such as proper nutrition, interpersonal and self-connection, outdoor activities, and maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm for quality sleep. Ultimately, it’s about understanding what your body genuinely needs for optimal well-being.

What inspires your approach to your work?

My inspiration for the way I’ve structured my business is rooted in my own experiences as a patient seeking help for my health issues. Throughout my life, I’ve always been driven to achieve more and feel my best. However, when I sought assistance for my health concerns, I often received generic advice like, “You’re trying to do too much; slow down, it’s just stress,” without anyone truly understanding me or inquiring about my life goals.

As I delved into the field of functional medicine and applied my knowledge to my own journey and while working with clients, I realized that there were people who needed this information delivered in a way that respected and honored their unique lifestyles. Many of the women I work with intentionally lead busy and fast-paced lives. Instead of telling them to slow down, I wanted to create a business that could support them in achieving their desired lifestyles.

I believe that people can have the fulfilling lives they dream of, although what that looks like may vary for each individual. Personalization is key to supporting those who choose demanding careers and have lifestyles that encompass both career and family. By meeting people where they are and providing information in a flexible, time-efficient manner that respects their lifestyle choices, I aim to offer the kind of guidance and support that I wished I could have found a decade ago when I embarked on this journey.

Do you have any recommendations for achieving better overall health?

Certainly, I have a few key recommendations that can significantly contribute to better overall health. Here are my top three:

1. Reevaluate Your Approach to Stress: Stress is an inevitable part of life, but it’s essential to reassess your relationship with stress. Some of us have unhealthy responses to stress, allowing it to overwhelm us. Instead, consider shifting your perspective on stress. When you encounter stress, ask yourself what lessons you can draw from the experience to better manage it in the future. This mental shift can prevent your body from producing an excessive rush of stress-related hormones that can harm your long-term health. Cultivating mindfulness and altering your relationship with stress is a crucial step.

2. Embrace Movement as a Health Tool: Many entrepreneurs and business professionals spend prolonged hours sitting at desks or in offices. While regular workouts are vital, it’s equally important to incorporate movement throughout your day. Movement is akin to medicine for your mind, enhancing focus and concentration. Consider integrating “movement breaks” into your routine, such as walking meetings or taking short breaks to walk around your workspace. Increasing physical activity and circulation can boost productivity and overall well-being.

3. Prioritize High-Quality Sleep: Quality sleep forms the foundation of good health. It’s not merely about the quantity of hours you spend in bed; it’s about the quality of your sleep. Many people may spend adequate time in bed but experience restless sleep, frequent awakenings, or issues like snoring that disrupt their sleep cycles. To enhance your sleep, establish bedtime rituals to unwind, ensure your sleeping environment is cool and dark, and invest in the right bedding or sleep accessories. You might also explore wearable health technology to monitor your sleep patterns. Sleep quality profoundly impacts energy levels, focus, anxiety, and overall well-being, making it a top priority for every individual.

These three recommendations—managing your response to stress, incorporating movement into your daily routine, and prioritizing high-quality sleep—can be transformative for individuals seeking to improve their health, regardless of their specific health goals.

What are the next steps for someone interested in learning more about your services?

If you’re keen to discover more about what I offer and how I assist entrepreneurs, you can visit my website at www.drlauradecesaris.com. On the website, you’ll find a brief application form designed to help me gain a better understanding of you and ensure that we’re a suitable match for your needs. As our approach is highly tailored, it’s important for us to confirm that we’re the right team to support you.

You can also connect with me on social media. I maintain profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn under the name Dr. Laura DeCesaris. Please don’t hesitate to reach out via direct messages, and we can initiate a conversation.

I eagerly anticipate connecting with you and exploring how I can contribute to your health and wellness journey.

Jeremy Baker

Jeremy Baker has a passion for helping his clients get recognition as experts in their fields. His approach to interviewing helps his clients tell their stories and talk about their unique set of experiences and backgrounds.