Chronically Living and how to make the most of it

How Do I Follow My Doctor's Advice? with Emily Marquis

December 20, 2021 Kelsey Harris, Emily Marquis Season 2 Episode 26
Chronically Living and how to make the most of it
How Do I Follow My Doctor's Advice? with Emily Marquis
Show Notes Transcript

Sometimes we get advice from our doctor's that we don't like. Sometimes we get advice that is hard to follow. This could be lifestyle changes, or taking medication properly. Either way, we need to at the very least take it into consideration and hopefully actually follow it. Emily Marquis, health coach and chronic illness warrior, is here to share how we can do this.
In this episode we talk about:

  • what a health coach does
  • how to get started with following doctor advice
  • SMART goal setting

Guest Bio
Emily Marquis is a Clinical Health and Wellness Coach, board certified NBC-HWC. She is an RYT200 Yoga Instructor and Mindfulness Consultant. Emily works with individuals and groups in support of creating healthy habits for sustainable lifestyle change. Drawing from her professional training and personal health challenges; she has experience in preventing, reducing, and managing chronic illness from stress to sleep to weight loss to work life balance. With her combined coaching and corporate HR background, Emily works with organizations in creating cultures of wellness and is NAHU certified. Emily also works with clinics and fellow practitioners to create a village for clients to best support their well-being. She is an Instructor at Emory University in their graduate Coaching certificate program. Emily lives in Colorado, USA with her family and loves the balance between a good TV show and an outdoor adventure.
https://emilymarquis.com/

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Kelsey Harris:

You're at the doctor's office and he or she says to you, sure, I'll prescribe you these pills. But you also need to lose weight, or exercise more, or change your diet, or try meditating, or whatever other lifestyle thing they've decided to throw at you this time. You leave annoyed, because you don't know where to start. Or how about We'll even help you anyway. If you've ever found yourself in this situation, then listen in is health coach Emily Marquis gives us some tips on the best way to follow doctor's advice this week on chronically living. I'm Kelsey Harris, chronic illness warrior and psychotherapist on chronically living and how to make the most of it, we're providing tangible ways to improve the well being of spoonies. So get ready to make the most out of your life, even with that pesky chronic illness.

Emily Marquis:

I'm Emily Marquis, I'm a board certified clinical health and wellness coach and I live in southwestern Colorado. I worked in human resources for about a decade and really saw the people as whole as part of my job, I was in charge of benefits and compensation and recruiting people as an HR generalist, you're in charge of all of that, and then training. And then a hard part of that job is also hard conversations. So Employee Relations when someone is not meeting performance expectations, or termination. And so I have had lots of those conversations and FMLA, and workers comp, so you really get to see people in vulnerable spots in the workplace, which is not really socially accepted, or at least it wasn't for a long time. And that's when things start coming up. Like I'm having this hard challenge in my life, usually it's health related or, or someone in their family is health related, and they are too embarrassed to talk about it. Or maybe there's not a culture of it. So we're really looking at how someone's whole life can impact a job. And I saw that a lot. And I worked through Obamacare, where it was really kind of integrated into the employers responsibility of good benefits and employee wellness and making sure that your employees are well as part of where they spend most of their time during the week, and then also providing incentives. So it's hard being able to write plans that incentivize people to feel well. And of course, the ROI is great. If you're treating people well and they're feeling well. turnover goes down, retention goes up, productivity goes up. So just connecting all those dots. And in that same sense, I myself went through some health challenges. So had fertility challenges and chronic stomach aches, anxiety, depression, I didn't know what was going on. And so when from doctor to doctor to doctor to doctor, my grandmother had lupus. So it's like, oh, this, you know, all these different things in my genes. My other grandmother had celiacs. And so I couldn't get an answer from a doctor, they just kept writing me prescriptions for antidepressants. I'm like, No, something else is going on here, please hope. And so I finally found a doctor that was like, You know what we're going to get to the bottom of this, we're gonna run every blood panel out there, and we're just gonna be curious. And so I found out some things and had and fertility challenges thyroid challenges, anxiety, I had PCOS, which is now very common in women. And all of these, these different things, were sort of hitting it at one stop. And it's like, okay, you can go on 17 medications forever, or, you know, you can go on some medication, and make some lifestyle changes, this can be reversed or managed, in a healthy way, complimentary, and you have to figure out how to do all of this within your budget and your full time 60 hour work week. So I feel very alone and isolated and the information I was given and the support system and what I needed to do personally my life to make those changes and then obviously when you're making those changes, it's peels back and onion of your belief system and support system and values and your time management and your schedule and, and really what you identify with which is could be your health or pain, and it's weird. So then there was this profession out there health and wellness coaching that supported people in making these changes. I said, Oh my gosh, I don't want anyone to go through what I went through, or workers of mine to go through. And so long story. I know that's a long story, but that's really, I couldn't believe there was a profession out there.

Kelsey Harris:

Emily felt empathy for the health challenges her employees were going through while she worked in HR and also has experienced her own health challenges which motivated her to make a career change. Now, I've had health coaches on the show before, but what exactly is a health coach?

Emily Marquis:

So I got certified in it 10 years ago in 2011. And it still wasn't a thing for a long time, it was sort of like a life coach or an Oprah wanna be to be this health coach, or you know, people think you're a nutritionist or a personal trainer. So I've been explaining what I've been doing for a long time. And then recently, now, there's all these studies of how it's sort of the missing links and prevention and also individual lifestyle change motivational interviewing, and now it's a board certified by the National Medical Examiner's as a recognized piece of the healthcare system. So now I'm able to work with people in a clinical way that's that's recognized in our health care system and with employers. So it's a lot of space to explore, and dive into the deeper conversation around what are my values and my identities and my beliefs? And do I want to crack that foundation open? Or is it already cracked? Do I need to put it back together, so that I can make some aligned behaviors within those. So if someone has a chronic condition, and they either want to maybe reduce medication, or that's not possible, and they just want to have a positive mindset, or get to the doctor more often, or okay, I know, I have to exercise more, but I've got small kids or you know, I've got a slew of other things going on. So it's all about this the science of lifestyle change. So with a health coach, you get space, to talk with someone to sort out what's important to you, what's your vision, and then either work with a doctor's recommendations, or what you know, needs to be done, and set realistic goals that fit individually into your life and in your values, with some accountabilities and cheerleading, some exploration of what works and what doesn't, and why. And that's really helping you make a sustainable change. that's meaningful to you.

Kelsey Harris:

So if you listen to my solo episodes, as well, you might notice a bit of overlap with things like values. And I'll be doing an episode on committed action, which is behavior change through goal setting. Obviously, there are huge differences between seeing a therapist and a health coach, but I was like, oh, it's really interesting that someone else is using that kind of values based living idea to Emily works with a variety of clients who have different chronic illnesses.

Emily Marquis:

My niche is really partnering with people who have chronic illness, which is a slew of things or with doctors. So if a doctor is recognizing someone is overwhelmed, or is having the desire to make a change, to support their well being that obviously is up against some barriers, or just can't make it stick that usually a doctor can refer me. So I work a lot with type one diabetes, I work with chronic pain, complementing sleep disorders, and anxiety disorders, or it's not doesn't have to be disorder, fibromyalgia, type two diabetes, things like that thyroid, issues, Hashimotos, all those things in there, they can be interrelated. So usually, I work with people who have doctors as a team of support to

Kelsey Harris:

Okay, so let's go back to that scenario, from the beginning of the episode, you go to the doctor, they prescribe you medication and maybe recommend a lifestyle change, maybe it's exercise or diet, something like that. And sometimes these doctors are too blunt, and they just say, like, lose weight or something. And this can be really hard to digest, especially with a chronic illness, you might even have the thought of exercising or losing weight won't actually help me.

Emily Marquis:

I mean, you can have 20 different things that could help you right, and if someone just says, you need to lose weight, or you need to start exercising more, that's gonna help you it can feel more like being told what to do. So it's like, okay, well, that is certainly going to help you. But what else could help you? So having the client decide, okay, well, maybe exercise isn't for me right now. But what could help you, you know, getting out of the bed in the morning a little bit earlier, or getting into routine or journaling, or having a social event with a friend once a week like starting out with what they think would be helpful. And then also kind of diving into let's say, a doctor makes a recommendation which again, like you said, Here's your like, pills and good luck remembering to take them all when and hear all the side effects. Now you have to manage those. So yeah, it can be both so it's really taking the opportunity to sit back and be open. Okay. I can search the internet and there's going to be seven different opinions on what's going to help me. What what do I think I can do what's important to me. And if a doctor says, You should go and exercise, well, that word can mean like lots of different things to different people. So let's peel back. Okay, let's talk about well, why wouldn't exercise work for you? Oh, I don't have time I've tried it before, it's never worked. So start to like, understand the barriers and see what other opportunities that might be. For example, exercise doesn't mean you become a yogi who can, you know, put themselves in a pretzel or you're going to run five K's every week exercise could mean you know, putting on a YouTube dance video and dancing for 15 minutes every day or walking around your block or playing with your kids or grandkids. So I think taking away that burn, or that staying of some of those words that we identify some negative feelings with and start to be open with. Okay, well, what could work for me that is also going to give me the same benefits instead of that that one word that that just keeps coming up.

Kelsey Harris:

So a bit of reframing of the doctor's vague recommendations can be a good place to start. Emily is right using the exercise example. There are so many ways to exercise that doesn't involve what we normally associate with exercise, heck, even cleaning counts as light exercise. What makes it hard for us to make some of these lifestyle changes in the first place, though?

Emily Marquis:

we're wired a certain way. So neuroplasticity shows us that our brain is malleable and can be changed up until the day we die. There's science of that. And before we used to think this is our personality, and this is who we are, and this is my belief systems and this generations have created these patterns, which is true. So coming out of those patterns is actually scientifically what is difficult. And it's possible. So it's just we've been doing the same thing or logically in our mind, which creates that mindset. And the longer we've been doing it either in our own lives or been taught generationally, it's just gonna be a little bit harder, like if you were to look at a record to pick that needle up out of the groove and place it in a new one. So science says it's possible, and it's challenging.

Kelsey Harris:

Emily is going to take us more deeply into how we are going to make these recommendations made by our doctors into a reality.

Emily Marquis:

This is very important to understand the autonomy and the individuality of the person. I mean, there's cultures if someone says, it's clear to me or the doctor, like, could you just have boundaries with your family like this is way too stressed out? You can't just have your sister dropping our kids off whenever she wants, you know, that's not gonna work for you. It's like, well, this is my culture, you know, we are in this village together, that's off limits. Okay, well, then what would your life look like taking a step back and taking space to reflect on? What's my vision? One year from now, and then taking steps backwards? Okay, if one year from now, if I were to wave a magic wand, here's what an ideal world would look like, well, then nine months, What's my goal? Six months, three months. And then what are the action steps in between. And so really using strategic SMART goal setting that's realistic, that's has some doable action steps in between with opportunity for adaptability and curiosity. And failure of action steps that might not work, or this work, then is not going to work now, or this really worked, I'm going to build on that. So building confidence with smart goal setting and having a support system with either within your current life or your coach, and also having someone on your side to just work through it. And that accountability is also scientifically proven to help when you have to show up for someone else, or something else than more motivated to do it.

Kelsey Harris:

There are different ways to go about making changes and having realistic goals depending on what illness you have. Emily gives us some examples.

Emily Marquis:

It depends on the chronic illness or the autoimmune so there's some things that don't have options to take breaks from and that can be working with someone's mindset and also some compassion really building compassion, and what are your strengths and building upon that? So for type one diabetes, you know what, what's the easiest thing that you can do to work within the recommended guidelines. So you feel well, like starting to really connect with your body? What does feeling well feel like to you? And when do you know in your data, or your blood work or anything that what that looks like when you're feeling well, so how you can reach those things. So really holding that container of empathy and can Passion alongside movement forward, even if it's baby steps like, Okay, you need to bolus your insulin 30 minutes before you eat well, you know what you've got a full life. Let's try 15. This week, 15 minutes on these few days, and then we'll work up to that. So really moving forward with at a pace that is working with that person's life within safety.

Kelsey Harris:

I like that Emily mentioned compassion. This is so important. I've mentioned this on the show before, but there have been some recent studies that show self compassion is an effective intervention for chronic pain. So Emily also mentioned SMART goal setting, which is very important as well. For those of you who are unfamiliar with smart goals, here's what she means.

Emily Marquis:

I'm sure we've all lived this. And science also tells us that one of the biggest challenges for success is setting unrealistic goals we all want to do well. And sometimes we can have perfectionism or we're overachievers we're like, you know what, I'm gonna change my life. And next week, I'm going to tackle this, I'm gonna be perfect every single day. And then life happens. And you're like, Well, that didn't work out and you feel defeated, and discouraged, and then kind of get that what's the point? I overwhelmed? So it's really being realistic. So SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, achievable, realistic, and time bound. So really specific. So instead of saying next week, I'm going to cut out soda. Well, are you doing that right out all? So like? Well, let's try two days, I'm going to have one soda, because right now you're drinking five a day. So on Tuesday, and Thursday, I'm only going to have one, and then you see how it goes. And so that's really specific, is realistic, and it's it's time oriented, and you're able to measure it the next week, like Did it happen or not, and then learn from it. Okay, and that well, now I'm going to on Tuesday and Thursday have known or three days next week, I'm only going to have one soda, and then you're building confidence and self efficacy and you're learning about your behaviors, with curiosity to so that's being really specific with baby steps, and then knowing that that's leading to a bigger goal of feeling better or healthy weight loss or just lower blood sugar or inflammation in your body. So having a bigger goal with small, small baby steps to get there,

Kelsey Harris:

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, or relevant, and time bound. What are those inevitable setbacks that we are going to experience when it comes to accomplishing our goals?

Emily Marquis:

And then you build tools along the way, because we're gonna have setbacks. So like, say you're into this week, month three, and then you have a really bad week, it's like, Well, okay, I'm going to build resilience, because I know I've done it before. And I can either start over or pick up where I left off. I think that is again, like having compassion, instead of beating ourselves up or beating someone else up because they're unable to achieve that, again, is very normal. And that is, so you can put tools into place to maintain something, but temptations are going to come so just make your toolbox bigger so that when a setback comes, you can say, Okay, I know this has worked for me, I'm going to pull this one out or say you do have a curveball and something else in your life. So it's natural that you go back to a tendency that wasn't serving you or you just don't have the energy to put into it like, Okay, well now you're this face. Let's adjust what's doable for you and reconnect with how that's gonna feel make you feel well to show up for everything else that's going on.

Kelsey Harris:

In this week's Patreon content. Emily tells us how to incorporate pacing for chronic illness into our goal setting to sign up for exclusive weekly bonus content and only $5 A month follow the link in the show notes. So does all of this work anyway, what are some of the results Emily has seen with her clients taking this approach to helping them following doctor's recommendations through her health coaching?

Emily Marquis:

So the results I've seen is people Yeah, they just feel well, and they have a strong perspective and boundaries on their life around what they prioritize to make sure that their health comes number one and then it seems like everything else can fall into place because they're feeling well or have enough energy or sleep or movement or medication is is going well. So when someone is content, that is the goal and feeling well unable to shine. I've seen people if if it allows get off of lots of medication, if that's a goal, I've seen people feel really well because they are adhering to medications. I've worked with people who have Bipolar, and they're just feeling well, because they're on top of their health care, which is something that's a lifelong process. And just I also do group coaching. And so feeling less isolated, where they don't feel like they're going through this totally alone. And having that partner in that is, is huge, then doctors, I mean, they want to help their patients in this way, it's just their system is not set up to spend the time or go deep. And sometimes people don't want to uncover certain stories to doctors. So the doctors are so excited to when they see they, again, all doctors want their patients to feel well, that's why they went into it to help people. So when we become a village, together as clinicians and patients, it's a beautiful thing,

Kelsey Harris:

good point about the way the healthcare system is set up. I think that trumps doctors truly do go into medicine with the best intentions. But the system itself isn't always designed for them to be able to help patients the best way they can. And this is where all of our other allied health care professionals like the ones I've had on the show come in. So circling back to the beginning of the episode where Emily told us about her own health issues. I'm wondering how she's doing now,

Emily Marquis:

my health fortunately, is well, it's actually pretty great, but things happen. So I choose not to drink alcohol. I mean, I have some every once in a while. But that really impacted my sleep and my mood and my energy and all these things in my life. And so that was a big change that I went through and, and now I just feel better. And I eat mostly a plant based diet, which was a huge change for me, but also just helped with my health, I had a lot of inflammation. I do take regular medication for thyroid, so I am on lifelong medication. I see a therapist regularly. And I think for over 10 years, we just celebrated 10 years, which is kind of weird to celebrate with your like I have a therapist for 10 years. I go to my doctor, I have a great relationship with them. And I get bloodwork done, and I do lots of things. So those are all of my tools in my toolbox that I know, keep that going well. But also I have curveballs. I feel like I'm a very healthy person. And last year, I was told that I may have breast cancer. And I went through this huge three to four month process of figuring that out. Fortunately, everything was okay. But and then, you know, I think so many women have lesions on their cervix. And I was told I had that. So I don't think anyone is immune from life happening. And so it's like, okay, that's when those tools are really important to pull out like, Alright, what's gonna happen. So fortunately, I'm very healthy. And I hope that that stays this way.

Kelsey Harris:

Emily has some final advice to depart on us, which I think is worthy sharing.

Emily Marquis:

I think that if you're feeling stuck or overwhelmed, that's totally normal. And I think that that's probably message to you that you have a desire to feel better, and you don't have to do it alone. So there's coaches out there to help. I'm sure there's support groups, or someone down the street who might be in a similar situation. So try to de isolate yourself, which I know is hard to COVID time but really trying to build up that support system and be vulnerable and curious and alright, what can I do stuff to well, because I deserve it.

Kelsey Harris:

Are you ready for our lightning round questions? Okay, sure. What are the top five songs that describe your life?

Emily Marquis:

Top five songs that describe my life? I was thinking about this that's so hard. I'm a huge music lover, huge music lover so I don't know if they describe my life but there's this version of Shelter From the Storm by Bob Dylan that's live and it's like fast and like rock that's like one of my all time favorites. And that I feel like describes some situations in my life. There's this one song I love it's a pop song I listened to with my daughter's oh my gosh, who is it? But it's like, cry and like every time I cry get a little bit stronger. So that one's like a fun like workout or sad song. Anything Van Morrison. I think he's so articulate and describing emotion and that's very moving. Three, right. Okay. Anything Fleetwood Mac. Oh, yeah. Yes. And also see, and I'm going to go the other way. Fiona Apple. Again. She's kind of like Van Morrison where she is very articulate and describing poetically, things that I love. So some of the spectrum there. I

Kelsey Harris:

like that very, very diverse group of songs. That's awesome. Yeah. What's one thing you can't go a day without doing?

Emily Marquis:

meditating. something I do every day, even if it's for five minutes. I noticed when I don't. So it's very important to

Kelsey Harris:

Me too, actually. Yes. What's one thing you plan on doing in your life that you haven't yet?

Emily Marquis:

I've been very fortunate but I would love to have a big, beautiful yard with a garden. And a flowers and food and just a beautiful serene space and I have a horrible, like gardening skill, like I just I can't grow anything. So I would love to someday if I had time, or I guess, you know, put I would love to learn more about gardening and and have a beautiful garden that would make my soul very happy. Well describe your perfect day. My perfect day is get up, meditate, journal, have my nice cup of tea before my family wakes up. So I have that quiet space before the crazy sets in, I have two young kids, and then get up and have a nice slow morning with them, where we eat breakfast together and just chat or tell jokes and then go outside, go hiking or on the river, do some yoga and then have friends over for dinner, play some board games and and go to bed.

Kelsey Harris:

Sounds great. How do you inspire others to make most of their lives?

Emily Marquis:

I would say I live my life fully. And that I just I really like to try new things. And probably surprise people over COVID I had a friend or I was like, you know, I really want to learn how to clog which is like tap dancing like Appalachia or flatfoot clogged style. And I found someone in town. I live in a very small town and who does it and I picked it up and we learned how to clog and my friends like what? What are you doing? And I'm like, this is I mean, why not? Why wouldn't I learn this? So I love to just find something I want to do. And just give it a try and have fun because life can be very serious sometimes. So really trying to have fun and and then talk about it and celebrate it with other people. So

Kelsey Harris:

where can we find you and follow you.

Emily Marquis:

My epicenter of contact is on my website. So it's Emily, Marquis M-A-R- -U-I-S.com And you can find all things about

Kelsey Harris:

They're awesome. So I'll definitely make sure to link that in the show notes. Thank you so much for coming onto this has been wonderful.

Emily Marquis:

Thank you. I really appreciate it. Kelsey, thank you so much.

Kelsey Harris:

following your doctor's advice comes down to a few things. You have to be open to falling in the first place. So if something like medication that you need to follow regularly, hopefully you're already open to doing that. But sometimes with the lifestyle stuff, it's a little different. So opening your mind up to all the smaller options within their advice. Setting SMART goals with baby steps as you make your way to the full goal and accountability to whether that's to yourself your doctor, your health coach or sport friend. You know I like this smart goal setting is something I definitely do with clients and with myself and it's always always helpful. So reflection time. What did you notice about your thoughts and feelings as you listened to Emily today? What are you noticing now about your noticing? Have a great week and keep making the most of it? Special thanks to marred.e for he original music and Char ty Williams for the origina artwork