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It's My Birthday - How Functional Medicine Made Me WANT to Celebrate!

at San Daniele, Coppell
Jen and Tommy Neitzel

I am 51 years old today.

I'm not quite sure how that happened because I don't feel 51, and I do my best not to look 51 (thank you, botox & Hidden Door Med Spa)...but here I am! A full-grown 51-year-old woman! And you know what, I've never been happier to grow older!

As I reflect on the last year, I am astonished at what I've accomplished with my health. I spent my 50th birthday in bed with covid, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. After a health scare in August, 2022 my health started to take a nose dive. I found out I had an auto-immune disorder. Then, I was diagnosed with ADHD. Then, menopause. Then, I discovered I had type 2 diabetes. And each new "discovery" felt like a huge blow because they just kept coming one after the other.

I do NOT want to be the old lady who sits in front of her television when she retires watching soap operas and Wheel of Fortune. I want to LIVE my life. I want to travel, I want to meet new people and experience new things. I want to be energetic and vivacious when I'm in my older years.

But if I was going to be that kind of person, I knew I had to make some changes to my lifestyle. So I did. After years of yo-yo dieting, I finally set out to fix my health through functional medicine (food and exercise). I ordered a glucose monitor and wore it religiously. I tracked my food intake, exercise and weight. I started exercising 5 times a week. I read some incredible books (but this one was by far the most impactful because it teaches you how to properly eat food and my doctor called it the "nutritional information we should all be taught,") and partnered with a functional medicine doctor/hormone specialist who draws an extensive blood panel every 3 months so I can track my progress.

It wasn't easy. In fact, it was/is extremely difficult to break patterns that have existed for 50 years...but I did it because after years and years of trying to make changes, it finally became important enough to me to live a well-balanced life.

With the help of my functional medicine doctor, I got my hormones balanced (which helped a lot with my ADHD), got on a sleep schedule, started exercising, found the proper supplements for my body and started eating properly. I've eliminated most processed foods from my diet, and I focus on lean protein and organic vegetables (the side effects of my auto-immune disorder show up less if I eat a low-carb diet and stay gluten-free).

I am so proud to say that I am no longer a type 2 diabetic! I took my insulin resistance from 79% to 20% and my a1c is 5.2! The health plan I started has me down 25 lbs, too (which is finally a side-note for me instead of being the only thing I worry about).

I feel fantastic! And I'm just getting started, because I realize that my health is a daily work-in-progress. I'll continue to exercise, eat right and live by a new rule: Enjoying the 80/20 life. That means I am disciplined about my food intake and exercise routine 80% of the time, but I give myself a bit of grace for special occasions and holidays.

This new mindset has helped me significantly increase my energy levels and for the first time in a very, very long time I can honestly say I am the healthiest I've ever been! That's the best birthday present I can think of to give my family and all the notaries around the country who mean so much to me!

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Hi Jen! I just wanted to say thank you for sharing part of your health journey and for highlighting Functional Medicine on your platform. What you accomplished is amazing! I recognize the hard work and discipline involved. Functional Medicine and Environmental Physicians have played a huge role in my health over the past 12 years, and at the risk of sounding dramatic, likely saved my life. I wish all primary care physicians would take a functional approach. This is a topic that I'm passionate about. Genetics, lifestyle, and environment all play a role. Anyway, thank you again for sharing. I feel that sharing health stories like this inspires others to find their own answers and to be their own advocates.

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