A defining feature of the Functional Medicine approach is the recognition of individuals as unique, and of each person’s health and wellness needs as unique, too. But it’s easy to find yourself making comparisons to others (and applying judgments about who’s “doing better” at being healthy). Overcoming this drive to compare and instead embracing our uniqueness can be a liberating experience as well as a step toward better health.
This idea—of getting comfortable with our uniqueness and addressing our unique root causes—is something recent FMCA alumna Heather Aardema has come to embrace and even celebrate. She had always considered herself “healthy,” but sickness crept in, in the form of an autoimmune disease. “I looked fine, yet I wasn’t,” Heather says. “My joints hurt. I felt old. I was 32 at the time and on more prescriptions than my dad. I was confused, annoyed, and spent a lot of time directing my anger toward my gene pool.”
Little did she know that, despite thinking she was making all the right choices, it was some of these very choices that led to her illness. “The way I saw it,” Heather says, “I was eating pretty healthy, especially when I compared myself to others.” Then something shifted. “I realized I shouldn’t compare my eating to others. I realized that going to the pharmacy every month was unhealthy. And I realized that maybe I actually could have a say in how I was feeling.
“So I put myself on an intentional path toward well being. I figured out my specific roots of well being. I got off all of my prescriptions. I took my life back and today I feel better than ever.”
Like so many of us, Heather’s discovery of the power of healing herself led to sharing that healing with others. After nearly 20 years in the comfortable routine of a corporate job, she found FMCA and “knew immediately that enrolling was the right decision, so I took a deep breath and jumped…this was for me.” She chose FMCA in particular because, after years of advocating for living and feeling well, an FMCA education would enable her to share her perspective “more confidently, and with credibility that went beyond my own personal experience.”
We asked Heather what advice she has for students thinking about following their path to FMCA. Her answer? “Do it, especially if the syllabus makes you giddy!” Her perspective is that taking the next step is about diving into what feels right and working hard to make it what you want. “Put pen to paper and start imagining. Don’t worry about having all the answers. Bounce your ideas off of others. Test the waters. And share your gifts with the world.”
Now an alumna, Heather is taking her FMCA education to exciting new places. She is creator and host of The WellBEING aLIVE Tribe, a monthly live community in Denver built to inspire, encourage, and empower health seekers. She’s also started her own boutique coaching agency, Root of Wellbeing, where she helps her clients “learn to redesign how they care for their bodies, reconnect to their own power to heal, and recharge their spirits to feel more energized, resilient, and whole.” And she’s launching a 20-day online Functional Wellness reboot program called Journey to JoyFULL for those who feel stuck in their journey to better health and wellbeing. Running from 9/20-10/10, Journey to JoyFULL will incorporate learning modules, journal exercises, challenges, recipes, inspiration, and a lot of Heather’s personal attention. “My goal through Journey to JoyFULL is to design and provide an incredibly rich experience that will positively impact clients’ well being for years to come.”