Achieving Balance Through Nutrition

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“Work-life balance” is an elusive concept these days. The appeal of success frequently outweighs the pursuit of relaxation and mental health. At least that’s what happened to Stephen Porter. But he started seeing San Francisco One Medical provider Jenny-Viva Collisson, MD earlier this year with the goal of turning his life around.

Uncovering the Layers

Porter had always eaten healthy, avoided junk food, and been very active—running a lot and playing tennis in college. But running a successful video production business in San Francisco took over his life, and he was overworking himself and neglecting his physical and mental well-being. So he booked an appointment with Dr. Collisson to start making changes.

“She looked at me as an overall person—me and my entire lifestyle,” Porter says. “On top of being stressed, I was heartbroken in my personal life. There were all these layers contributing to my health.”

One of the biggest issues was Porter’s nutrition: He was basically living on bagels and coffee. “What I was eating wasn’t doing me any good at all. The carbs and white flour weren’t providing me with the nutrients I needed,” Porter says. “I’d been on this diet for a few months and was pretty depleted and nutritionally deficient. I was crashing in my workouts and not enjoying my business.”

Porter’s treatment plan started with reading books Dr. Collisson had recommended, including “The Mood Cure,” “Ultra Metabolism,” “In Defense of Food,” and “The Blood Sugar Cookbook.” By learning more about how to better fuel his body and cook healthy and tasty meals, he had the tools to start changing the trajectory of his health.

Vegging Out

Porter’s biggest struggles? Eating vegetables and cutting out sugar. When he was younger, his aversion to vegetables was so strong that they would make him gag. So he started out with simple salads and progressed to tasty vegetable recipes that Dr. Collisson had given him to help him learn to cook.

“She made it so that I really enjoy vegetables,” Porter shares. “In fact, I recently made an awesome kale salad with shrimp, avocado, and tomatoes. Her recipes helped me in the process of learning to cook vegetables.”

Steadying the Spikes and Crashes

Now, Porter has cut out bagels—his former staple—and is eating a primarily plant-based diet. “I’d never realized that a coffee-and-bagel diet led to major blood sugar spikes and crashes,” Porter says.

In order to even out his blood sugar, Porter ate regular meals throughout the day and gave up sugar. He eliminated it from his diet entirely for a few days and found that on the third day he wasn’t craving sweets as much anymore.

Part of the treatment plan that helped him adapt and restore what had been depleted was amino acid therapy. “Amino acid therapy is a treatment to balance brain chemistry and make lifestyle changes much easier—restoring sleep quality, lifting energy, focus, and mood, and dramatically reducing cravings for carbs, sweets, alcohol, and caffeine,” Dr. Collisson explains.

Seeing the Change

Porter quickly started noticing changes in his body and mental state that motivated him to stay on track. His running time dropped from a seven-minute mile to six, and less than three months after his first appointment with Dr. Collisson, he qualified for the Boston Marathon. “I went from stressed out, not taking care of myself, and borderline collapse to qualifying for the Boston Marathon for the first time,” Porter shares.

Before changing his diet, he had been losing weight and wasn’t able to sleep. Now, he says he feels energized and sleeps fine.

Detox, De-stress

Learning to decrease stress was also very important for Porter’s healing. At Dr. Collisson’s urging, he began surfing more and took up yoga—a mellow activity to offset his running. “Being active in those ways was better than overworking myself all the time. I can maintain those activities without crashing and burning out,” Porter shares. “Dr. Collisson helped me create a life I enjoy.” Porter continues to check in with Dr. Collisson regularly.

His encouragement to other people looking to change their lifestyles is to start making small adjustments and see what happens. In his words, change can happen pretty quickly.

The hardest part is taking the first step, but when you have a team behind you, it’s a lot easier. A One Medical provider can partner with you to define a plan and get you started on your way to a more balanced, whole, and healthy life.

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The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

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