The Inquisitive Olive  The Inquisitive Olive

TIO: Dr. Robin Berzin

Dr. Robin Berzin is a doctor, and the Founder and CEO of Parsley Health, America's leading holistic medical practice designed to help women and their families overcome chronic conditions.
TIO: Dr. Robin Berzin

Parsley Health: Robin Berzin, MD

Kosterina Family,

Get ready to be inspired. Today’s Inquisitive Olive interview features superwoman Dr. Robin Berzin – founder and CEO of Parsley Health. Parsley is a holistic medicine practice that is growing in popularity due to it’s ability to go deep help uncover the root cause of any health issues instead of the more common band-aid approach (read: prescription meds). Robin is not only the founder of Parsley Health, she’s also a mom of 3 young children, a practicing physician and now, an accomplished author! I had the opportunity to review an advance copy of her book State Change: End Anxiety, Beat Burnout and Ignite a New Baseline of Energy and Flow. Berzin describes a State Change as a “new normal” – a new baseline for how we feel on a daily basis. My “book report” on State Change can be found on our blog here. In this TIO, learn more about Robin, her nutrition, fitness and wellness routines and her practices for limiting screen time. PSA: You want to be sure not to miss her take on managing mental health in our myth-busting section below.

Dr. Robin Berzin is a doctor, and the Founder and CEO of Parsley Health, America's leading holistic medical practice designed to help women and their families overcome chronic conditions.

QUICK PICKS

Favorite food? Shrimp tacos.

Favorite self-care treatment? Long epsom salt baths & meditation,

Favorite grocery store purchase? Blueberries.

Favorite skin care or beauty product? Naturopathica face scrub.

Favorite place to travel? Anywhere with a beach.

Favorite part of your day? My morning espresso spent with my kids, dogs, and husband, and my evening meditation and wind down routine.

SELF

How did you come to the world of wellness?

I am a mom, a doctor and the founder of Parsley Health, America's leading holistic medical practice. I founded Parsley because I saw too many patients, particularly women, who were suffering for years because nobody was helping them get to the root cause of their health concerns. Instead of looking closer at what was driving their symptoms, they were told “it’s all in your head” or sent to specialists who put them on track for a lifetime of prescription drugs to mask the symptoms. But that’s not the only way to do medicine and I believe that patients deserve so much better.

At Parsley we focus on personalized holistic medicine that puts food, lifestyle, and proactive diagnostic testing on the prescription pad next to medications. We do this because it helps patients find real relief – 80% of our patients improve or resolve their chronic conditions in their first year of care – and we know that when we help our patients improve their physical health it helps beat burnout and reduce anxiety and depression. My new book, State Change, is on that very topic and shines a light on the physical barriers to peak mental health.

What’s your passion? What makes you feel most alive?

Personally, my family. My husband and I have three kids, two dogs, and we’re outnumbered. But everytime we look at the kids we remember “this is why we’re here.” Professionally, it’s my work at Parsley Health. I don’t think you should have to live next to the best hospital in the country to get the best care, and as we’ve expanded nationally online, we’ve been able to help tens of thousands of patients across the country thrive. Every one of those stories gives me life and fuels me to come back to work the next day.

What about you suprises people when you first meet them?

Usually people are surprised when they learn I’m a CEO, a practicing physician and a mom of three. Less than 15% of healthcare CEOs are female, and even fewer are doctors and moms, but I think it gives me a unique perspective that helps us care better for patients at Parsley.

Where do you live, and what do you love about your home/hometown?

I love being able to go on long walks along the waterfront in Brooklyn. Sometimes I bring the kids, sometimes the husband or the dogs, but often I just go alone and do a little walking meditation.

You’re an expert—that’s why we’re interviewing you. Tell us about your wellness journey and credentials. 

I attended medical school at Columbia University and trained in Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. I also studied yoga and meditation, and have trained in functional medicine with the Institute of Functional Medicine.

What inspired you to pursue your area of expertise?

When I first moved to New York post-college, I subsisted off green apples, protein bars, and coffee sweetened with Splenda because I thought it was “healthy”. In truth, it was probably the worst thing I could do for my health, but I was so disconnected from my body I couldn’t feel the state of imbalance I was living in. But when I began my yoga practice, and began to reconnect with what was going on inside of me, all the other dominos started to fall into place. I fell in love with the way that what’s going on in our bodies can influence the way we feel, mentally and emotionally. Not long after that “aha” I went to med school to learn more.

Is there a wellness myth you can bust for us?

There’s a common myth in wellness and medicine that your mind and mood belong to a psychiatrist while your body belongs to your primary care doctor. However, there may be things happening in your body that are sabotaging your best efforts to reach peak mental health. For example, anxiety isn’t always just because you’re anxious, sometimes it’s the body activating a powerful alarm system to tell you “there’s something wrong!” There is a body-mind connection, and as we face a rising tide of burnout, anxiety and depression it’s important for people to know that peak mental health starts in the body too, and it’s not “all in your head.”

CULTURE & RELATIONSHIPS

Who do you call family?

My husband David, our three children, and our two rescue dogs

Food is love, so tell us: What’s a comfort food that you associate with family?

Pumpkin pie!

Do you have a home remedy or family secret you’d like to share?

I typically stick to a plant-based paleo diet, which means eating real, whole foods, eating lots of plants and veggies, and cutting out sugar and processed foods. One of my favorite salads to make for lunch is my Super Green Salad. I chop the leaves from 3 to 4 stalks of kale and combine with 1⁄2 avocado, a handful chopped red cabbage, a handful chopped celery, a handful chopped cucumber, and 1 sliced, grilled chicken breast. My go to dressing is 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (Kosterina’s), 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and black pepper.

How do you stay connected with loved ones?

Saturday is our tech-free day. We spend time with each other without the distractions of work and screens; it’s a way to truly connect with one another.

How do you balance the responsibilities of family life (to kids, partners, parents, or others) with self-care?

Yoga and meditation are an absolute must for me. Even if it’s just three minutes of breathing exercises, meditation grounds me and prepares my body and mind for the day ahead, and that helps me remember to carve out time for self-care in the rest of the day so I can show up as my best self for the people who depend on me.

MIND

What part of your morning ritual helps you start the day on the right foot?

Not looking at any screens for the first 30 minutes of my day.

Tell us about a time when you didn’t feel well—physically, emotionally, or spiritually. What action steps did you take to heal?

After graduating college, I moved to New York and worked as a paralegal prosecuting security fraud for the US Attorney’s Office. I’m beyond grateful for this job… for showing me exactly what I didn’t want to do with the rest of my life. Around this time, I was running religiously on the treadmill, eating green apples and protein bars, and pouring Splenda in my coffee–all of which I thought was the pinnacle of health. But really, I didn’t feel good. I felt unhappy, lost, and anxious. Looking back now as a doctor who regularly sees patients following similar patterns as my younger self, I understand I was mentally, physically, and spiritually undernourished. Thankfully, I found yoga. I became aware of my body in space for the first time; I felt a state of calm and freedom I had never before experienced. It was the first time I used my physiology to overhaul my psychology. It was my first “state change.”

Do you have rituals before bedtime? How do you unplug?

My screens are off by 9PM. I go full analog for an hour before bed to give my mind time to rest and wind down.

BODY

Take us with you on a grocery shopping trip. What’s always in your cart (real or virtual)?

The more vegetables and healthy fats the better. Avocado, almond butter, extra virgin olive oil are kitchen essentials. I also like to stock the fridge with leafy greens, clean proteins, cold water fish and some specialty foods that boost physical and mental health. Specifically, I love adding medicinal mushrooms to my meals. Medicinal mushrooms like lion’s mane help reduce neuroinflammation, which can result in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, and mood disorders like depression, anxiety, brain fog, and poor sleep. While reishi mushrooms have been shown to reduce fatigue, depression and slow the spread of cancer cells. It’s crazy to realize, but what we choose to eat three times a day and seven days a week can really impact our current and future health. Food is medicine.

How do you enjoy your Kosterina Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

I use Kosterina’s EVOO constantly. One of my favorite snacks to make for myself or the kids is a sliced ripe avocado, seasoned with lemon or lime, a little salt, and a drizzle of Kosterina’s EVOO.

Do you like hosting dinner parties? If so, do you have a dish that’s your claim to fame?

It’s been a challenge for all of us these past two years to host something as lovely as a dinner party, but when I’m able to, I prepare a slow-roasted wild salmon with smoked paprika, parsley and lemon (cook at 250 instead of higher temp - it keeps the salmon amazingly moist), and a big chopped brussels sprout/kale salad with pine nuts, lemon, pickled red onions, and EVOO.

What are your favorite fitness resources/favorite workouts?

I love Taryn Toomey’s The Class. Exercise is how our body processes emotion, and Taryn and her team do an amazing job ensuring that you get a great workout that boosts your mood too.

Do you have any wellness goals for 2022?

My fitness goal is the same I prescribe to my patients. Exercise is a must for mental health, and when we cross-train we’re able to not just target different muscles but different parts of our brain, as well. Aerobic exercise boosts mood, controlled movement like yoga or tai chi disrupt repetitive or trapped thought patterns, and strength-building increases muscle mass, which balances blood sugar, lowers inflammation, and prevents cognitive decline. And of course, we also must rest and recharge our bodies.

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