Focus on stress relief, and scheduling self-care. There is so much we can’t control and some stressors are bound to occur. It’s about how we manage that stress that really matters. Too much cortisol too often can be damaging to our bodies, it’s important to make rest and self care a priority no matter what that looks like to you specifically.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Taylor Dukes.
Taylor Dukes is a board-certified family nurse practitioner, functional medicine provider and private elite health consultant based in Texas. In addition to her private practice which services everyone from entrepreneurs to professional athletes to moms, she also co-owns a state of the art wellness center. She focuses on taking a root cause approach to patients health and uses specialty functional medicine laboratory testing to develop personalized protocols. She juggles her two businesses, patients and clients as well as her 1 year old son.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I’m a total adrenaline junkie, as long as I can remember I had dreams of being an emergency flight nurse. After nursing school, I went to work in a Level 1 Intensive Care Unit and while I loved the fast-paced environment, my body didn’t.
I became unexplainably sick with nagging symptoms that wouldn’t go away.
After a year of procedures, medications, and tests, I finally met with a functional medicine provider. I was forever changed and there started my passion for functional medicine and an alternative approach in the healthcare field. Since 2014, I has been immersed in the field of functional medicine as a provider. I had the opportunity to be the nurse for Dr. Amy Myers, a two time, New York Times best-selling author and MD from 2014–2017. Since then, I have helped other world renowned practitioners start and run their own functional medicine practices. My education and experience equipped me with extensive knowledge in health, nutrition, genetics and lifestyle and it is my absolute joy and privilege to partner with patients and encourage them in their health journey.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
I started a private practice as well as a wellness center in January of 2020. Little did I know that 2 months later a global pandemic would hit. Like all small business owners it felt overwhelming at times, but it forced me to pivot. It encouraged me to get creative with the services I offered and be flexible to new opportunities. A lot of people began to care about their immune system and state of health given what was happening and it allowed my business to thrive since I’m in the business of helping people get well. Very early on it became clear that I wouldn’t just work with people who were very sick, but also seemingly healthy people that want to be proactive about their health and get on personalized protocols became a huge clientele of mine.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I underestimated how much time it would take to run a brick-and-mortar business. I had done telemedicine online with other private practices, but I did not realize the demand that a wellness center would have on my time. Whether that is filling in for staff, making sure the water heater is working, etc. I have to wear many hats. I also learned that the staff you put in place to help your business succeed are everything- and are worth investing in considering they are the face and representation of your business. I wish I had known all of that at the beginning.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes! My mother. She always believed in, supported me and encouraged me. From a young age, she knew I would be a ‘businesswoman’ growing up. I was always trying to trade toys, set up shops as a child and make deals with my sister and cousins. When she knew I wanted to go to nursing school she supported me every step of the way but was a bit confused thinking I would pursue a business career. Well, here I am today- she was always right. Now I am a health care provider and an entrepreneur, the best of all worlds.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
I really believe that when people feel better they do better. If I can be a piece of that equation, I know I am on the right path. I also know that so many people feel left behind by their providers, whether they struggle to find a diagnosis or don’t feel heard, I know how that feels. When I was sick I was desperate for answers and not every provider I worked with was “bad” by any means but they were in a system that tended to use the “pill for an ill” approach or use bandaid solutions because the system wasn’t built to spend the time and energy needed to get to the root cause. In my practice, patients or clients are my number 1 priority, if they tell me something is wrong I’m going to dig until we find answers and can create a plan. I think having someone in your corner who believes you, is rooting for you and is in it for the long-haul is really special and I feel so privileged to partner with people on their health journey.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- At least 8 hours of sleep. When we don’t sleep so many different things can go wrong in our body. Getting enough sleep and rest is one of the easiest and most beneficial things we can do.
- Drink at least 80–100 oz of filtered water per day. Just like sleep, when we aren’t hydrated it’s bad news. For me it just means having a water bottle (and probably 3 other beverages if we’re being honest) on me at all times so Its a constant reminder to drink up.
- Switch to non-toxic personal care and body products. We are so lucky that nowadays there are so many amazing options when it comes to non-toxic products, that just didn’t exist In the same mainstream way it does now. And it’s not just a fad, so many of the things we put on our skin or in our homes is packed with harsh chemicals, free radicals, toxins and endocrine disruptors that have big consequences. What we put on or around our body is as important as what we put in it.
- Eat a low inflammatory diet consisting of colorful whole foods. The more color the better! I find that having that as the priority makes healthy eating so much easier and fun. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric is a great way to keep your body functioning at its best too.
- Focus on stress relief, and scheduling self-care. There is so much we can’t control and some stressors are bound to occur. It’s about how we manage that stress that really matters. Too much cortisol too often can be damaging to our bodies, it’s important to make rest and self care a priority no matter what that looks like to you specifically.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I think the two most impactful things would be accessibility to functional medicine lab testing and access to nutrient dense foods. It breaks my heart that the idea of “wellness” is out of reach for people whether that’s due to finances, location, knowledge or any other roadblock. I think getting the education out there on the benefits of testing could really change the medical field and so many lives, when we know the exact problem we can actually solve it!
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Always prioritize self care and schedule it or it won’t happen
- You cant be everything to everyone
- Take calculated risks
- Invest in a team and mentor if need be
- Never stop dreaming
These 5 things are the reason I am where I am. I learned early on that burnout is real, so I prioritized time to go to the infrared sauna, get some vitamin D or take a bath. As a health care provider I want to help everyone but as a business owner I had to learn that there is only one me and I can only be stretched so thin. So much of what I do as a provider is about risk mitigation so as a business owner that was a challenge, whether it was a financial risk or an emotional one they’ve all been worth it. One of the biggest risks I took was investing in a mentor and a team, they helped me so much and were worth every penny and more. And lastly, I think it’s so easy to get caught up in the go go go and loose sight of what you want, I’m glad I have people who continue to remind me to dream bigger and bolder.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Environmental changes- are so important- especially when it comes to making our homes our safe place. From the air we breathe, to the water we drink, the products we put on our skin- it all affects our overall health. When our water isn’t pure or our air is polluted that impacts us, every little thing matters. Think of toxic laundry detergent as an example, your towels, bed sheets, clothes are all washed in those chemicals. The simple swap to non-toxic detergent can not only minimize inflammation but also, could help mitigate allergies and eczema. The win win is that products that are better for you are typically better for the planet too!
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
You can follow me on Instagram @taylordukeswellness where I share a ton of information on health and wellness from hormones to sleep from anxiety to gut health and so much more.
Thank you for these fantastic insights!