Finding the Miracle Within
By Susan Michell and Dr. Mary M. Alavi
As seen in Style and Living Magazine October, 2006*
According to the American Obesity Association, “obesity affects one-third of the American population, approximately 60 million individuals. The number of overweight and obese Americans has continued to increase since 1960, a trend that is not slowing down.” They are alarming statistics and ones that can affect every facet of our lives, leading to a society of weight-loss resistant and fatigued individuals. Furthermore, for the first time in the history of mankind, this generation of children is not expected to outlive their parents.
At Balanced Health and wellness, Dr. Mary Alavi’s goal is to help individuals find the healing power of their own bodies by promoting and supporting a healthier lifestyle. Few people today don’t wish they could shed a few pounds and find themselves more fit and healthy. However, despite their efforts the weight stays put. “It isn’t as simple as calories in versus calories out,” says Dr. Alavi. “There has to be an overall healthy lifestyle, no matter what. This must include stress reduction, adequate restful sleep, appropriate nutrition and exercise, and eliminating unnecessary stressors to our bodies. These unnecessary stressors may include food sensitivities, abnormal organisms in the gut, toxicities, hormonal or neurotransmitter imbalances, emotional and physical stressors, most of which are largely related to our lifestyle and therefore potentially completely reversible by our choices.”
A graduate of the University of Texas Houston Medical School and certified by the American Board of Family Practice, Dr. Alavi has spent more than 20 years committed to helping her patients through individualized care with a team approach. “I consider myself their partner,” she says. “My ideal patient is one who is as committed to their care as I am.”
Dr. Alavi knows that every patient is different so each person who comes to Balanced Health and Wellness is evaluated for their current status and needs with the development of a customized plan to focus on achieving their personal goals for overall wellness.
“Our most common complaints are weight issues, chronic fatigue, and stress,” says Dr. Alavi, “and those complaints are directly or indirectly related to the overwhelming majority of the myriad of health problems we see.”
Whereas many doctors simply treat the ailment with medication when it arises, Dr. Alavi believes in preventing or reversing the underlying problems whenever possible. “I’m not saying that all drugs are ‘bad’ or that all natural substances are good, but rather that the healthier we become metabolically and physiologically by being willing to practice a healthier lifestyle, the lesser our need for medication, supplementation or medical interventions.
Dr. Alavi advocates the philosophies of Diana Schwarzbein, M.D. Founder of The Schwarzbein Institute and author of The Schwarzbein Principle II, which links metabolic healing to the overall wellness of a person. “Because the systems of the human body are interconnected and because one imbalance creates another imbalance, poor eating and lifestyle habits, not genetics, are the cause of [many] degenerative diseases,” writes Dr. Schwarzbein. “You need to be healthy to lose weight, not lose weight to be healthy.”
What most people don’t realize is that many of their healthy issues may be connected to imbalances in the gastrointestinal tract. Testing, when appropriate, may be done to determine hidden food allergies and sensitivities (such as milk, eggs, soy, or gluten – the most common), and to evaluate the stool for abnormal bacteria, fungus, parasites, etc. “If any of these are issues, nutrition and our immune system may be hugely affected, thus impacting our health and quality of life,” says Dr. Alavi.
Once the patient’s profile is complete, the healing process can begin. Programs are customized to address hormone and/or neurotransmitter imbalances, metabolic issues, toxicities, with a foundation of appropriate nutrition and exercise. A team approach for support is utilized for optimal results. Masters degreed in exercise physiology, Ramon Stehle leads the personal training team. Other staff members offer emotional support as well as education and resources for nutrition and exercise. Rena Leverence offers full therapeutic massage services for stress reduction, detoxification, exercise enhancement, as well as for specific problem areas. For the feel good, look good part of our health, Balanced Health and Wellness offers Titan for skin tightening, photogenesis for fine lines and wrinkles, intense pulsed light for red and brown discolorations, spider vein removal, laser hair removal for all skin types. Our licensed medical aesthetician offers skin analysis and a full array of skin care treatments including medical grade chemical peels, micropeel-plus, skin treatments for corrective or enhancement results, lash and brow tinting, eyelash extensions, as well as medical grade nutritional skin care and mineral make-up. Dori is also double certified in laser techniques.
Once patients begin to gain control of this portion of their lives, their complaints of fatigue, stress, and/or weight issues begin to dissipate. The cycle of weight, fatigue, and bodily stressors are almost always intertwined. Dr. Alavi takes this very seriously. “It is important [to me] that patients have a place to talk about their fatigue and truly be heard – not dismissed,” she says. More importantly is to be able to get to the underlying causes and address them appropriately and permanently.
All to often, it is mothers who deal with this problem. “They are the most likely not to take care of themselves,” says Dr. Alavi, a mother herself. “They are too busy taking care of everyone else.” And all too often, they blame themselves for being stressed, overweight, and tired. Many simply accept the notion that motherhood is synonymous with increased fatigue and compromised nutrition. However, using the same principles of good nutrition, exercise, and proper rest encouraged at Balanced Health and wellness, those same mothers can “step back into vibrancy,” says Dr. Alavi. “They can rediscover who they really are and be able to love themselves—all of themselves—for who they truly are—pure love.”
The most difficult step is making the decision, taking that first step, a step outside of the cycle where weight problems, fatigue, and stress continuously recycle spinning off a web of medical problems which become increasingly complex with time. However, once the decision has been made to break that cycle, all choices begin to support that decision to reclaim your health, reclaim your life. Dr. Alavi provides patients with an educational, peaceful, nurturing atmosphere in which to achieve their lifestyle goals. “I believe the body is a working miracle,” says Dr. Alavi. “If we can give the body what it needs, far more often than not it will heal itself. I don’t pretend to cure or heal anyone, but I believe that we at Balanced Health and Wellness, we are a source of education, support, and resource to serve those who choose to help themselves.
*Staff members have been updated to reflect current staff.