Women In Wellness: Dr. Tiffany Lester, Physician at Parsley Health
Where conventional and alternative medicine meet
Dr. Tiffany Lester is a physician at Parsley Health, a membership-based medical practice, led by a team of doctors who treat the root cause of any health issue with holistic medicine. Lester takes a functional approach to chronic disease in order to figure out the underlying issue of an illness. She was trained in internal medicine with additional training and education in functional medicine and acupuncture. For the last decade, she has combined conventional and alternative medicine to approach health from the inside out by focusing on nutrition, prevention, and wellness.
We recently sat down with Dr. Lester to learn what inspired her to pursue medicine, took a closer look at her wellness routine, and discussed the changes that need to be made within our current healthcare system.
What made you decide to become a doctor?
When my mother was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) while I was in middle school, I became acutely aware of how quickly your health can change and how illness can impact your entire life – career, family, and lifestyle. I watched her go from a vibrant, successful woman to being unable to physically and mentally navigate the world without assistance. In my young naivety, I wanted to cure this condition that had changed the mother I knew almost overnight. I started to learn everything I could about the brain and the body, which led to my decision to become a doctor.
Once in medical school, I became disillusioned with conventional medicine. I felt like a certified drug dealer. It wasn’t what I signed up for, not to mention I paid thousands of dollars in tuition! Luckily, I found integrative medicine and learned it was possible to have a fulfilling career treating the entire person. I quickly transitioned to studying nutrition and acupuncture, as well as Chinese and functional medicine. For over a decade, I have combined all of those practices to help hundreds of people get well and stay well. It is one of the greatest honors of my life to be a part of someone’s health transformation.
Did anything specific draw you to Parsley Health?
When I joined Parsley in 2016, it was a very new concept. We were taking a different approach to practicing functional medicine. Traditionally, an appointment with a functional medicine practitioner costs thousands of dollars, just for a consultation. Then you would often incur additional costs for specialty testing and supplements. I couldn’t afford to see myself out of residency or my first few years of medical practice. That never sat well with me, even though I fundamentally believed in this comprehensive approach to health.
Parsley Health offers a new approach, which makes functional medicine accessible to more people who need this type of care for the chronic conditions most of us are suffering from. We take a holistic approach to digestive issues, hormone imbalances, infertility, diabetes, cardiovascular health, and more. Our membership model and monthly payment option make that possible. It’s so much easier for me to sleep at night!
Is there anything about the current medical and healthcare system that you would want to see shifted?
It’s all about accessibility for me and redefining what wellness actually looks like. Wellness is often presented as this far-away goal that includes fancy superfood powders, massages, tracking devices for sleep and fitness, and expensive exercise classes. It is this internal dichotomy as I love incorporating all of that into my personal life while at the same time knowing it is not accessible to most of the population, especially BIPOC individuals. It also isn’t necessary to be well.
I would love to see a shift in our current healthcare system towards more inclusivity of what it actually means to be well. To shift the mentality that health is complicated and outsourcing our wellness to clinicians, medications, and operations instead of owning our inner knowledge. I often say to patients that I am here to guide them with my expertise and years of education but they are responsible for doing the actual work.
Optimal health is obtained by the small shifts we make every single day. Choosing the green smoothie over the bagel for breakfast. Choosing to take a walk outside for 15 minutes over scrolling through social media. If we can teach others how to incorporate these tiny shifts into their daily lives, then they will see the additive results and positive impact, typically in a very short time. So I would love to see clinicians trained in the efficacy of these modalities and empower their patients to be less dependent on them to feel better.
What does your daily wellness routine consist of?
I tend to keep my routine pretty simple! It looks different day to day depending on what my body needs. I consistently do a morning check-in with my body and spirit. It always includes some sort of mindfulness practice – meditation, sound bath, breathwork, or a walk on the beach. Then I typically make a matcha latte and sip on that while my morning face mask works its magic. I also intentionally connect with a friend or family member to keep my community strong in this remote world.
What do health and wellness mean to you?
Health to me is an internal sense of well-being that allows the fullest expression of yourself on a consistent basis. When we are healthy, we are able to show up better for ourselves and others. When we feel well, we make wiser choices about the foods we ingest, the exercise we engage in, and the people we commune with. The specifics may look different as we are unique beings, but the goal is the same for all of us. We all want to feel vibrant and thriving without letting health practices take over our lives in an unbalanced way. Wellness is finding that homeostasis or balance within our lives that allows us to minimize the physical effects of the chronic stressors of this world.
How have you rē-spun your life?
My life looks very different this past year in the new pandemic world we are all living in! I’ve transitioned to telemedicine 100% which has allowed me to design a life I only dreamed about previously. After experiencing multiple tragedies in 2020, I knew I needed to turn the healing I extend to others towards myself. Working remotely has allowed me the flexibility to live in environments that nurture my spirit. No matter how difficult the day may have been, I now have the ability to readily access nature and reset my nervous system. It has been an absolute game changer!