Owner of Hygeia - Optimal Health Through Functional Medicine
Every week I highlight someone in the Upper Valley who falls under the title of "Wellness Professional" - trainers, nutritionists, therapists of all kinds (physical, psychological, massage), and creators of healthy products, to name just a few. I give them a list of the same 20 questions and they choose to answer as many of them however they'd like.
This week I'd like to introduce you to Robyn Jacobs, MD
I am a board certified Ob/Gyn and an Institute of Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner. I currently work at the VA one day per week practicing clinical gynecology and spend the rest of my working hours practicing functional medicine at my downtown Lebanon (NH) practice, Hygeia—Optimal Health Through Functional Medicine.
What is your fitness/wellness philosophy?
I believe that our level of health/wellness arises from a combination of genetic and environmental interactions which are constantly changing. Because we can control our environment, we are largely able to control our health and I work with my patients to help them find strategies to optimize health and well-being.
How did you get to where you are now?
It’s been a long journey. I completed medical school at Dartmouth in the early 1990's and did my residency training in the US Navy. I was stationed overseas in Sicily for four years practicing Ob/Gyn then returned to the Upper Valley to an employed Ob/Gyn position. In 2005 I was feeling pretty disillusioned and I attended a conference where I was introduced to the principles of Functional Medicine (www.functionalmedicine.org) . This model, which looks at the underlying drivers of chronic disease and dysfunction and applies therapeutic interventions (often through lifestyle) to try to restore the body to a state of healthy balance, really resonated with me. I began studying this model and after years of attending advanced practice courses, and passing a written test and case reports, I was in the first class to achieve certification from the IFM in 2013.
What makes you unique in your field?
I am the only MD working in the Upper Valley in this model in private practice. I do not take insurance, which offers me the freedom to schedule as much time as I need with my patients and to let their medical needs dictate our treatment plan.
What's your go to meal for: breakfast, snacks/sweets, lunch, dinner, beverage?
My favorite breakfast is my kale smoothie: Banana, Organic Frozen Kale, Organic Frozen Berries, Coconut Oil, Almond Butter, Flax Seeds and Almond Milk – delicious and filling!
What's your guilty pleasure (food or otherwise)?
Chocolate! I love really dark, high quality chocolate.
What's something health and wellness related that you wish you'd known years ago?
I’ve come to understand the ability of stress to negate all of the other good things we do for ourselves. In my practice I spend a lot of time helping my patients work with diet and exercise, but I’ve found that for some people the stress of trying to stick with a rigid diet or exercise program undoes all of the potential positives of the lifestyle changes. My style has changed over the years and I work with my patients to find a routine that not only promotes health but is sustainable and based upon their values.
What's the best health/wellness/fitness advice you've ever received?
My son has Type I Diabetes and when he was first diagnosed at age 5 my husband and I panicked about everything he put in his mouth. A good friend of ours who is an endocrinologist said “it’s really hard to kill a diabetic, but it’s really easy to make them neurotic” - this really stuck with me – we all do things every day that aren’t great for our health. Finding the points of leverage that work for each individual is part of the challenge that I enjoy in my work.
What's your favorite quote or mantra?
“A lapse is not a relapse” (from James O. Prochaska, Changing for Good) - lifestyle change is hard. It’s important for people to realize that a lapse is not only OK, but is expected. One slip doesn’t undo all of the positives of lifestyle change.
Who or what gives you inspiration?
If you could only have one piece of fitness/wellness equipment what would it be?
My Pedometer. I am a very goal-oriented person so I find that keeping track of my steps helps keep me motivated. Studies have shown that prolonged sitting has damaging effects on our metabolism so I try to get up frequently during the day to “get more steps.” We also now know that total daily caloric expenditure, regardless of type or intensity of exercise, correlates with BDNF – a protein which helps to keep our brains healthy, so my pedometer helps me keep track of how I’m doing with calories spent during any given day.
What's your favorite non-gym physical activity?
It kind of depends on the day. Depending on the weather, my schedule and my energy level I can be equally satisfied by a hike, an easy jog in the woods, or a walk.
What are your passions outside of your field?
Horseback riding and singing. I have an 18-year-old Quarter Horse/Paint and he is major source of therapy for me. I also started singing with a women’s barbershop chorus 2 years ago and find the music and the camaraderie to be really good for my soul!
What are one or two tips you can give to help people be successful in their wellness journey?
Be kind to yourself and don’t panic – our bodies have an incredible capacity to heal so if we do something wrong there is opportunity to recover from it. Let wellness be a journey of discovery about your own strengths and weaknesses. We are all unique - if there was one RIGHT way to eat or exercise the definitive book would have been written long ago!
Where can people learn more about you?
- Website: Hygeia Women
Would you or your business like to be featured in "Meet the Wellness Professional"? Email Amy at RVCAmy at gmail dot com
Last Week's Interview - Anthony Vorachak, CrossFit Coach and Personal Trainer at the River Valley Club
Next Week's Interview - Court Vreeland, Owner and Clinic Director at The Vreeland Clinic
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More about the author, Amy Fortier: A short interview