We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather Fitzgerald RD and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heather, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Balance is different for each person, but in my experience, I feel that my balance blends working hard, having enough time for self-care, such as exercising, keeping up on my health appointments, spending time with my dogs and just relaxing, doing nothing. My definition of balance has changed over the years as have my goals with creating balance in my life. About 10 years ago after my marriage ended, I threw myself into my work and declared that I would be married to my work. Since then, I’ve built my practice up from a small practice to treating well over 250 active patients. In the past few years, I’ve made real efforts to build into my schedule, the self-care activities that I not only enjoy, but also the ones that I don’t love to do. I realized that hard work is necessary, but if I’m just working on my practice, how can I also enjoy my life—in other words, I pondered, how can I live my life in a more balanced way while still keeping my practice thriving? So, I made a list of the things I love to do or participate in and also the necessary tasks that I need to accomplish to keep myself healthy and well, both physically and emotionally. In the last three years, I’ve slowly implemented all of those items on my list. It’s felt both scary and satisfying, as I let go of working 12-14 hour days and hired an assistant to help me with the administrative aspects of my practice, and started exercising regularly, playing tennis twice weekly and spending more time in nature, with my friends and playing with my dogs! I realize that there is no such thing as a perfectly balanced life, but adding in the things that make me feel whole and satisfied, has not only sustained my emotional, mental and physical well-being, but has also supported my patients and my practice, by allowing me to ‘walk the walk’ instead of just supporting others health and well-being. It may seem obvious to some, but it it took me time to let go of my ‘control’ and learn to delegate to others, which took time and effort, but has made me feel and become more balanced. I look at my own personal balance as a work in progress, as my priorities and desires shift, so does my need to continue to work at it on a daily, monthly and yearly basis.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My practice is unique in that I spend a lot of time listening to my patients. I think that so many practitioners do not have the time or the patience to listen to what their patients are saying, but rather, have their own agendas on what the patient needs. By listening to my patients and also asking lots of questions, this helps me understand not only what the source of their health problems/symptoms may be, but also, how they got to where they are currently. Our health is dependent on so many changing factors, but certainly includes how we LIVE each day, what we put into our bodies, our state of mind, our financial situation, our family life, friendships and love relationships, how we manage stressors and how we resolve conflicts in our work and personal lives. So, although I practice functional medicine and help people learn how to live healthier lives, through making better choices in nourishing themselves, as well as how to tackle ‘overwhelm’ and feel more calm amidst great challenges. But, above all, being a compassionate and caring healer is why I do what I do. Helping patients live and be healthier, both physically and emotionally, is so rewarding and I take pride in my patient’s successes’, as I know how difficult it can be to change habits and make permanent lifestyle changes. I know that the ‘personalization’ that I describe in how I care and treat patients, is truly the gem that sets me apart from others. It’s all about what you bring to the proverbial ‘table’ and I’m happy and proud to say that I bring myself to each patient session, for the patient’s benefit.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
What I love about Los Angeles is the diversity in places and things to do! Some of my favorite spots around the city that I’d take anyone here for about a week would be: Malibu for Mexican food at Cafe Habana at Cross Creek and then spend the afternoon at one of the northern Malibu beaches, like Zuma, which is gorgeous! Maybe do some shopping at the shops at Cross Creek! I’d also plan for a day at the Griffith Observatory! It’s an incredible view of the city and I love the observatory movies that you can go to! I’d also like to visit the Broad museum downtown, as it’s the newest museum in LA and has a great variety of modern art. Afterwards, I’d plan on taking them to Perch Restaurant downtown, which also has an amazing rooftop view of downtown. I would also plan a day in Santa Monica, hitting 3rd Street Promenade and then having lunch at one of the great restaurants in the Santa Monica Place outdoor mall. I would like to also take them to the Getty Center Museum and have lunch at the outdoor cafe. The botanical gardens there are beautiful and the views of the city are incredible! There are so many other places that I love—I would go for a hike in Pacific Palisades either at Temescal Canyon Park or there’s a great hike up off of Capri Drive in the Palisades.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I think that my Shoutout goes to all of my patients–They are the ones that keep me sharp, curious and always learning new things. Without them, I wouldn’t be the woman or the practitioner that I am today. Their own stories of overcoming hardships, financially, physically and emotionally, help me keep my feet grounded and grateful for my own life. I also couldn’t have gotten to where I am today, without the help and support of my office manager, Allison Meyer. She is an incredible young woman, who has been essential to my growth and to me achieving more balance in my life! She handles the areas of my practice that I simply do not have time to address, and she does it with creativity, grace and efficiency!