We’re celebrating a week of National Relaxation, and maybe in the last few weeks, you’ve started to feel rising fear, frustration, or anxieties you thought we left behind in 2020. So maybe the last thing on your mind right now is relaxation, but that’s often when you need it most!
When it comes to relaxation, we tend to look for short-term fixes for the large-scale problems we face. But when stress becomes a lifestyle, it can be a hard cycle to break! (Hello, we are so there too!) That’s exactly what Tiffany Allen and Leah Hazelwood are looking to change for the city of High Point at Triad Lifestyle Medicine.
“We wanted to create a personalized healthcare experience that truly focuses on the whole person,” says Leah, who directs business development at the clinic. The idea for this unique healthcare experience came when Tiffany, a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner, came to her close friend Leah with concerns about her career in medicine.
“She came to me and said, ‘I’m frustrated with only getting five minutes with my patients, and I’m expected to see 30 patients in a day. I feel like they deserve more,’” Leah remembers her friend saying.
“I was at a family practice which was fantastic, but what I realized was patients were just not getting better,” Tiffany says. After 12 years of treating the same recurring issues with her patients, Tiffany began to feel unsettled by the fast pace of conventional healthcare that didn’t always have the time to dig into underlying issues.
“I left at the end of the day feeling like I could have given that patient more, but I just didn’t have time,” she adds. “Here, I leave knowing I’ve done everything I can. We’ve set a good plan, and we have time for follow up. It’s a very different environment, not only for them but also for me.”
So what does a visit to a lifestyle medicine clinic look like? Well, for starters, each visit is personal, customized, and conversational. Rather than handling acute care (think: a sinus infection, virus, or broken bone), they treat ongoing chronic issues or wellness concerns. Instead of having a waiting room full of patients who have maybe 5-20 minutes to communicate with their doctor, Triad Lifestyle Medicine only has one patient in the clinic at a time. And that patient gets Tiffany’s full attention.
“Some people don’t want to see someone who’s not going to listen and just throw medicine at them,” Tiffany says, explaining that often there are other solutions for chronic issues besides medicine. If a patient struggles with a chronic issue – anything from IBS to high cholesterol, to anxiety, to migraines, to hormone imbalances, to insomnia – Tiffany works with them to explore each area of their health to hopefully uncover the root cause.
“We’re not looking at one segment of their health in a silo,” Leah explains. “We’re looking at their nutrition, their sleep, their stress, their spiritual life, their social life, and how all of these things come together to build a person.”
For Leah herself, she has benefitted directly from the practices of Triad Lifestyle Medicine. She has seen with improved techniques for meditation and mindfulness, nutritional changes, and supplemental vitamins, that her stress levels and sleep issues have improved dramatically.
“That took no medication,” Leah adds, “but it took time and commitment.”
As Tiffany notes, for a patient looking to pursue lifestyle medicine, often lifestyle changes, diet changes, and new practices for health and wellness will need to be incorporated. Even patients who don’t have any major health concerns are encouraged to begin a journey of small changes now to avoid problems in the future. Through cross-city collaborations and seminars, Tiffany and Leah provide the whole Triad community with the opportunity to educate themselves about taking control of their health.
“If a patient’s goal is to feel better but they’re struggling with something emotionally, then nutrition is only going to get them so far,” Leah says.
From therapists to yoga instructors, to chiropractors, to nutritionists, Triad Lifestyle Medicine has made it their mission to help vet and discover other local businesses that can support the holistic needs of their patients – like Humbled Warriors Yoga, The Center for Holistic Healing, MovingRoom Coaching, High Point Chiropractic, and more.
With an online portal for accountability, wellness check-ins, seminars and workshops, and online social groups, Triad Lifestyle Medicine has healthy accountability and community woven in to ensure patients stick with their lifestyle changes.
“Patients have to be willing to partner with us,” Tiffany explains. “It’s not going to be that you come in, take a pill, and feel better. You’ve got to put in some work as well.”
But when that work is put in, the results can pay off in spades. Tiffany notes one particular patient who suffered with IBS for years, and the condition had gotten to the point where the patient no longer wanted to leave her house.
After several tests, identifying a yeast imbalance in the patient, and helping her to create new diet and lifestyle habits, Tiffany saw a drastic improvement in the patient’s health.
“A year into her lifestyle change, and she is feeling great… and going about her normal life now,” Tiffany reports.
Beyond the tests and research that Tiffany performs with her patients to identify underlying causes, she also encourages her patients to ask questions, listen to their bodies, and trust their instincts.
“A lot of it is allowing people to be in tune with themselves,” she says. She notes that when someone isn’t attuned to their health, it’s easy to simply feel unwell with no clear cause or reason, which can lead to frustration and misdiagnosis.
“It’s a new concept for healthcare,” Tiffany explains. “It’s having people learn this is completely different than what they’re used to.” Often, she has patients who sit in her office, worried that if they ask too many questions or overshare about another area of their health and life, they will “burden” her or take too much time.
“No, I want you to share with me what you have going on!” is Tiffany’s response. “I want you to bring me those research articles you’ve seen on the internet. We’re all doing that, so we need to discuss why that relates to you or why it doesn’t…. Even if they’re never a patient, I want people to feel like if they have questions they can reach out. That’s what we’re here for.”
Overall, Triad Lifestyle Medicine has made it their mission to empower a culture of asking questions, staying informed, and taking an active role when it comes to pursuing health and wellness in our community.
“You get one body and we need to make sure we’re taking care of it,” Tiffany concludes. “And who knows your body best besides yourself?”
Discover our High Points,
The HPD Team
Photography by Franco Fields Photography