Dr. Brooke Stubbs wants to change the way you think about wellness
It’s International Women’s History Month, and the perfect time to celebrate trailblazers around the world. Dr. Brooke Stubbs is an innovator in medicine. But you could also say she’s an innovator in Me-Sets. Brooke founded a medical practice in Austin called Rooted Femme. This is not your typical doctor’s office. Instead of hustling patients in and out, Brooke gives them time to talk about their health and their lives in a holistic way. And instead of focusing on what’s wrong, and what pill can “fix” it, Brooke helps her patients experience total well-being through their daily habits.
But her practice isn’t the only way Brooke has turned her passion into a movement. She also created the Rooted Food app to make it easier to eat more plant foods. And she co-hosts a podcast called “That Rooted Feeling,” which offers more advice on adopting a plant-based lifestyle.
All of Brooke’s work is based on the six pillars of lifestyle medicine:
- A whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern
- Physical activity
- Restorative sleep
- Stress management
- Avoidance of risky substances
- Positive social connections
Brooke has changed so many lives. And it all started by changing her life. That’s why I was eager to talk more with Brooke about her story and her holistic approach to health. I’m excited to share our conversation with you today. (This interview has been edited slightly for length and clarity.)
How did your own health journey begin? What motivated you to start getting healthier? And what were the first steps that you took?
So in my residency, I really didn’t focus on my health. I was getting chest pain, and I was really burnt out. I went through some infertility issues with endometriosis. I’m sure it was related to my lifestyle. My husband was like, “You’re a zombie. I think you should quit.”
I just knew I could be doing more for patients to prevent them from getting into the hospital. But also, the way I was practicing healthcare was a detriment to my own health. One of my colleagues had passed away from a massive stroke and one had a massive heart attack after a marathon.
My own first step was just getting rid of meat. It was the easiest step. Then I just started focusing on more whole plant foods. The more of those I ate, the more I craved them. And then the next step was getting rid of processed food.
How did you decide to focus on women’s healthcare in your practice and your other projects?
When you speak to a woman and you get to the heart and you care about them, they spread that care to everybody around them. We are usually the purveyors of the health in our households. We make sure that children get to the pediatrician. We make sure dinner’s on the table. We’re the ones that do the grocery shopping. And women have such a strong role in helping care for their elderly parents.
How do you give women a different experience in your practice vs. what they might encounter in other parts of the healthcare system?
I know empathic providers provide a better health outcome. I really want my patients to check in with me often. I want them to talk to me about even the smallest problems. I have patients say to me, “Thanks for being my nutritionist, my doctor and my therapist all in one.” I like making a difference in their emotional and mental health as opposed to just providing them a medication.
What have you observed about what women are feeling and experiencing right now?
We have a really hard time delegating. And I think that we’ve become accustomed to carrying so many responsibilities on our shoulders. It becomes like a syndrome of trying to be perfect. And it’s really at the detriment of our health.
I don’t think women give themselves enough grace or enough credit. Or enough rest. We all need a little bit more rest and rejuvenation time to focus on ourselves. We really need this permission almost to take time for ourselves.
Where are you now in your personal health? What keeps you energized to do all the things you do?
I usually go to bed between 8:30 and 8:45 p.m. I’m asleep by 9. I get up at 5 a.m. Waking up, I say what I’m grateful for. I do an affirmation. I meditate. I journal. I work out. I get ready, and then the kids are up. We get them ready, and then I’m off to work. Work isn’t work for me. It really lights me up. It brings me purpose and energy. And it just keeps building on itself. This energy, the feeling of well-being — it’s so beyond any feeling I had for like 35 years before that. I can’t explain how good it feels. And I want everybody to feel that way. So that passion just drives me.
When you are feeling run down or off track, what does a Me-Set look like for you?
I just go back to my foundation, my basic routine. I know that it works. And I usually don’t feel rundown unless I have really gotten off track with that routine. I can handle most emotional things from a very centered position if I’m taking care of myself. If I feel like I’m not able to handle a lot, I’ve put too much on my plate. So I’ve gotten really good at saying no to things that don’t serve me. I think it’s important for a lot of women because we just say yes because we don’t want to disappoint people. And so I try not to overcommit. And then if I’m just overwhelmed, I go through my checklist. Have I been nourishing my body well? Have I been getting enough sleep? Did I exercise this morning? And if I haven’t, I just go back to that foundation, the routine that I set for myself to make sure I’m including all those pillars of health. And then I call my mom.
A lot of women feel like we’re running on empty right now. What is one step we can take to start refilling the tank?
I cannot emphasize enough the power that meditation has had in my life. I think the key to health is really turning off your brain sometimes. We get overwhelmed thinking about what we didn’t do right or we would have changed in the past. Or we get overwhelmed with all the things that we’ve put on our plate for the future and all the expectations we have for ourselves. But when you meditate, your brain is empty of all of that, and you can just be in the present moment. It just reframes everything for you.
In the #MovementMaker community, we’re focused not just on our own health but on how we can help promote better health for others. What are some ideas for how we can do that?
In social interactions, focus not on problems, but solutions. Question what society tells us about health, and get out in the community and show a different way. Teach kids about health when they’re young. Working on yourself elevates those around you. And serving others elevates you. It’s all connected.
You can follow Dr. Brooke Stubbs on Instagram at @BrookeStubbsMD.
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