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Carving Your Pathway to Success with Emma Sutherland

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Carving Your Pathway to Success with Emma Sutherland

What are the qualities needed to be a successful practitioner? How do you get your mojo back and become successful if you’ve taken time off from your practice?

Author and Naturopath Emma Sutherland talks about her experience of becoming a naturopath and getting her first big break as a practitioner. She shares what she has learned about becoming a successful practitioner, including the qualities needed to succeed, tips on how to make your business thrive, advice for new graduates, and how to help other practitioners on their own journey to success. 

Covered in this episode

[00:41] Welcoming Emma Sutherland
[01:29] Kefi, connection and naturopathic philosophy 
[07:05] Eat Yourself Sexy and how it impacted women on the show
[09:47] Qualities a practitioner needs to be successful practitioner
[14:15] Being a mum and a practitioner and getting your mojo back
[19:23] Know your strengths and your worth
[21:17] Advice for new graduates
[24:57] What practitioners need to do to become successful
[30:04] Communicating with clients
[33:33] Optimising commitment and compliance in clients
[35:00] How to help other practitioners succeed

   


Andrew: This is FX Medicine. I'm Andrew Whitfield-Cook. Joining us on the line today is Emma Sutherland who is a successful mum, author, and clinical naturopath, and her mission in life is to inspire women to get their mojo back. Her book "50 Foods That Will Change Your Life" is the ultimate guide to healthy eating for women. Emma was the expert nutritionist on the popular TV show "Eat Yourself Sexy" on Lifestyle You. "Eat Yourself Sexy" encourages women to take control of their lives and get back on the road to loving themselves. Emma is a regular media commentator and she's been extensively featured in radio and print media.

Welcome to FX Medicine, Emma. How are you going?

Emma: I'm great. Thank you so much for having me.

Andrew: Thanks for joining us.

Emma: My pleasure.

Andrew: Now, I want to go a little bit into your career and your past. So, tell us where it began for you to become a naturopath, I guess, first.

Emma: Yeah. Well, I think I was pretty lucky I grew up in a family that used a lot of natural medicine, and I didn't realise at the time that we were different to everyone else. We would take echinacea in winter. Our doctor was also a herbalist. And it wasn't until I was probably about 16 and all my friends were popping Panadols for their period pains and I was sort of like, "Why don't you just have some ginger tea?" and I realised that we were different.

Andrew: Right.

Emma: So, for me, it was only that way to begin with. And then many years ago my mum moved to a tiny little Greek island called Ithaca and I spent my late teens and early 20s, a lot of my time, over in Ithaca. And it's a tiny island. It was so tiny and I watched the old people. They have what they call in Greek, it’s a word, it’s called “kefi.” Kefi means a vitality and a joy that is indescribable. 

And I would just watch them, and they were just doing all the simple things, you know? They were growing the food that they ate. They would walk the mountains. They would eat simply. They would have community. They would do all the things that were so simple but yet resulted in this sense of vitality. I think I was about 25 when I realised that I wanted to take that sense of kefi and bring it back and give it to people somehow. 

But I didn't know the “how.” I just saw this abundance of health that I thought, "That's the way we're supposed to live." I came to Sydney, I moved to Sydney at that point, and I stumbled across an ad for a naturopathic course, and I thought, "Wow, that is what I want to do.” And that’s how I started.

Andrew: That's a really weird calling. When you saw an ad and it called to you? Really?

Emma: Yeah, I remember it was an ad for ACNT. That's where I studied. 

Andrew: Right. Yeah, yeah.

Emma: And I went to an open day, and this whole world opened up and I thought, "My goodness." It's so familiar because I grew up using herbs and things like that, but I didn't know that that's what it was called. 

Andrew: Right.

Emma: And it all sort of fell into place, and I thought, "This is what I want to do." And so I studied… I did my Advanced Diploma, and I did my Bachelor of Health Science at the same time in the four years so I did a double degree. And then I started practising straight away. I was just leaping into it.

Andrew: Now, I've got to just go back to your family here. You're mentioning kefi. This is one of my things, we talk about… Well, you mentioned it actually, "Why don't you just have some ginger tea?" 

For those people who have grown up not living the lifestyle, not living that kefi,  not having that joy, that mobility, that connection… to ask them for a simple treatment to be the answer to their ills, I wonder how much bang for buck you're going to get, when you're only asking for a pill, if you like.

Emma: Yeah. And it's a different paradigm, isn't it?

Andrew: Yeah. Whereas you've lived this. You've grown up with this. Your gut, if you like, has grown up with this healthy eating, this joie de vivre, this kefi. And we know that joy, and sleep, and connection, and stress have intrinsic connections to even your gut. You know? 

Emma: It’s phenomenally profound, yeah. And you know, there have been times in my life where my health has really not been good. And it was that true belief in the power of the body to heal, which is that classic naturopathic philosophy, and the true belief that natural medicines can really profoundly alter and improve your health. 

So I went to India to study my Master’s of Homeopathy, when I finished my naturopathic course. And unfortunately, I came home with some extra friends and I came home with hepatitis E. 

Andrew: Oh, goodness.

Emma: And I was incredibly unwell and, at the time, because it's so rare, nobody checked me for it. So I just got increasingly unwell. Anyways, eventually, we found out what it was. And it was turning to the power of herbs and herbal medicine to really nurture and nourish my liver back to health. And it was things like that that made me really think... I mean I love Western medicine, it's incredibly powerful, and I think that you can combine the two worlds really well. 

Andrew: Yes. Yes.

Emma: That’s my thing as well, with my patients. If you take the best of both worlds, it can all work together.

Andrew: Absolutely. Although I do make the point that… I wonder if what you were speaking about before, the kefi, that connection, it's not just a herb. It's not just this sort of exogenous type treatment that we think about, but it's a real connection to society, a meaning. I wonder if that's what naturopathy is giving patients that medicine isn't.

Emma: When you're in clinical practice and people walk into your clinic and they're automatically feeling relaxed and safe, and that they can express their fears and concerns, and they feel very listened to, I think the power of that exchange is quite remarkable.

Andrew: Now we're sort of getting off onto a track, but I do want to delve in a little bit further because you were involved in that TV show "Eat Yourself Sexy". With regards to eating for women, rather than eating for, say, families, why that focus on women?

Emma: Well, the show was a really interesting experience and the focus was on the average woman. We took eight women. So we picked eight women out of all the women that applied, and these were your everyday women. Some living far out of Sydney, some in the middle of Sydney. We changed what they ate. We changed how they moved, how they slept. We did a whole heap of medical testing before we did the eight-week block, and then we repeated it at the end. 

It just showed a remarkable difference you can make. Of course, from my angle, I really wanted to work on inflammation and get the inflammation down. We could see those markers move, you know, your CRP, your ESR. We could see those markers move just through the diet. Of course, the marketing angle is always going to be on weight loss and feeling sexy and that's a great hook, but essentially what we did was reduce the inflammation in these women's bodies and, along the way, changed their mindset about how they looked at themselves.

Andrew: Now, obviously I guess there's a limitation to what you can cover in a show but, with regards to the blue zones and what we spoke about earlier, kefi, this connection, did any of these women experience a greater feeling of connection? Of social interactivity? Involvement?

Emma: Yeah, it's interesting because there were three of them that were quite socially isolated. But they were choosing to be socially isolated because of how they felt about their perception of themselves. 

Andrew: Right.

Emma: And so at the end of the program, they were more confident and therefore they were starting to re-immerse themselves in their social circles again. So I think that women tend to do this. They tend to isolate themselves when they're not feeling confident with how they feel and how they look.

Andrew: Okay. So I know this is probably outside of the bounds of "Eat Yourself Sexy", but has anybody looked at what they're like afterwards? Has there been any engagement afterwards to say “How are you going now, 6 months, 12 months down the track?

Emma: Not officially but social-media-wise, yes. And one of the women now does triathlons.

Andrew: Oh, my God.

Emma: She is incredible. She has changed her life so much. She still sends me little updates and says how profoundly it changed her life. So it's beautiful, isn't it? It's remarkable.

Andrew: That's very, very cool. Now today we're going to be discussing how to be successful in a busy, noisy world. So I guess, firstly, what qualities do you feel a practitioner needs to have, in order to be successful?

Emma: There's so many but, look, one is confidence. Because it's something that's intangible and something that your patients will feel. It's something that cannot...when a patient walks into your room, if you are not confident - and I don't mean being overconfident, I just mean quietly confident in your ability to help them - then they've got to feel that because they have to believe in the process. Which means they have to believe in you, first and foremost.

Another one is persistence. I mentor a lot of students and a lot of new grads, and I think the number one quality that I see needed is persistence. Because this kind of career is not easy. And it's not as glamorous as what it's made out to be. It's a lot of hard work, and you need to be incredibly persistent. To be persistent for long enough, that means you've got to have passion to back it up. Because if you don't have the passion, your persistence is going to falter and you're going to fall off track.

Andrew: So, with regards to confidence, I mean any, all practitioners when they get out there...I can still remember my first day on the ward. Oh, my goodness. As a nurse, a man, talking about lack of confidence. And yet you turn up for the second day, and the third day, and the fourth.

Emma: Yeah.

Andrew: That's what gives you confidence. So I guess that persistence is really the first one, which will give you the confidence.

Emma: Yes, that's right. But I think you have to believe in yourself. 

Andrew: Ah.

Emma: I remember standing there. Because I had never done TV before. Never done TV. And then I landed this gig, and I remember the first day of filming. We're standing there surrounded by a film crew. There's lights. There's booms. There's this, this, that. There's a whole lot of people looking at me, and you just have to step into yourself and just step up and just do it. So you really have to believe in yourself and your abilities as a person. Not just as a practitioner but as a person, you know, your ability to connect with people. Your ability to listen and gain rapport with people. I think sometimes you just have to step into it and believe in yourself.

Andrew: So I'm going to ask you, Emma. I just have this feeling of relaxed confidence with you. Were you always like that? When you were a little girl, was that you?

Emma: That is such a great question. No, I don't think it was. In one way, yes, and another way, no. I mean I’m quite… I think I was quite shy in many ways as a child. I loved books. I spent all my time reading. And I remember I didn't have...I had lots of friends but only a few really close friends. 

Andrew: Yeah.

Emma: For example, I don't even know anyone from my high school now. I'm a bit of a loner in many ways, but I think you gain confidence as you get older. I mean I'm 45 now, and I'm loving stepping into this part of my life where I really feel like I know who I am and what I want in life. I think that helps, too. Having a bit of maturity on your side is a big advantage.

Andrew: Yeah, for sure. I just think it's really interesting how other people see personas, and they see the end product, and they think “I could never be that.” But when you look back at the beginnings of these personas, it's really interesting the changes that have occurred. So you mentioning confidence, persistence, and passion, and I think there also has to be included a willingness to change, to evolve.

Emma: Oh, absolutely. Yes, that's got to be a big one. I think, as a natural health practitioner, we're constantly learning. And whether that is we're learning...I mean I'm always studying. I'm always doing a course of some kind, but you're also always learning about yourself. You're learning about your strengths, your weaknesses, your traits, your passions, your personality. So I think the more you learn about yourself, the more confident you can be in them.

Andrew: Okay. Now you're a successful mum, we mentioned.

Emma: Yes.

Andrew: And motherhood is one of the detractors of confidence in many women. How did you surmount that? It's very common that women are, or feel isolated. I've seen in this in extremely competent women that I work with. They're just amazing people. And even these seemingly flawless women felt that they lacked confidence when they've taken time off to have a bub, and they were re-entering the workforce. It's so common.

Emma: Yes, it is. It's incredibly common. I think, for me, the sheer brutality of being a mum day in and day out was the thing that really, honestly just brought me to my knees. It's incredibly exhausting, and I've always been a single mum. And I don't have a lot of support around me in Sydney. So it's been a very...it's totally the hardest thing I've ever done. It's been a lot harder than becoming a successful practitioner, or any of those other things I've done in my life. 

Andrew: Right.

Emma: It’s definitely been one of the hardest things I've done.

Andrew: Okay, so was it being a practitioner that helped you get your mojo back, or was it being a mum that helped you get your mojo back to become a successful practitioner?

Emma: No, it was definitely being a successful practitioner. 

Andrew: Got you.

Emma: That gave me the skills I needed. When I became a mum...my daughter is 7 and a half now, so that was 7 years ago, so about halfway through my career. I think the exhaustion from that was the brutal part, but it was being able to put things in place like taking my adrenal tonics day in, day out. Taking magnesium day in, day out. All of those things that I could do to help prop myself up got me through. But it was a scrape through, I have to say. It was a bare-bones scrape through.

Andrew: Wow. I’ve got to say doing it on your own, man, that's an achievement in itself.

Emma: You know, one thing I look at is that, for me, there was, in relation to my how to work out being a mum, and my career, and that kind of thing is that there was no option to fail.

Andrew: Yeah.

Emma: Because I had this baby that was 100% reliant on me and I had to put a roof over her head and food on the table, and pay health insurance, and all of those things that you do as a parent. So the leverage that I gained from becoming a mum was amazing because there was just simply no option of failing. 

Andrew: Got you.

Emma: It was like survival. I have to be successful, even more now. So that was good.

Andrew: How did you use what you gained with struggling through with being a mum, to getting your first break and then into television land, and all that sort of thing?

Emma: Well, I actually…Yeah, it was the other way around. 

Andrew: Oh.

Emma: Yeah, so I looked…this is about 10 years ago. I realised that there were only so many people I could help when I was working one-on-one. That was a capped capacity to help people, and my passion was to help women and families. And I wanted to get a bigger platform in order to do that. And so I took the leap of hiring a publicist which, at the time, was crazy expensive. I had to put her on a 6-month contract and a retainer every month, and I remember thinking, "What am I doing? Am I crazy? This is so much money." But she was great. So she helped me get into writing for things like "Marie Claire" and she got me pockets of exposure that then allowed me to then get the TV show.

And then, interestingly I'd been working with a patient on a book, a patient that I would have treated for endometriosis. And she said to me, "Emma, I can't find any books that tell me what you told me in our appointments. That how food can really make a difference to your health and what foods you should eat for different conditions." She said, "I really want to write that book and I want you to write it with me." I was like, "Okay, great." 

So we'd written this book. It took two years and we'd finished the manuscript. We'd sent it to every publisher, being rejected by every publisher, and it wasn't until I picked up an agent. I was picked up by Chic Celebrity at the time and put under their talent house. They said to me, "Oh, you've got a book and you haven't published it? Why didn't you tell us?" I said, "Well, we've sent it to everybody. Everyone's rejected it. We haven't got anywhere with it." They said, "Don't worry. We know someone at Penguin." Literally, a week later, we were signing contracts for the book. And then, in the midst of all of that, I fell pregnant. It was a bit of a crazy time.

Andrew: Okay. But I guess the lesson that I'm pulling out of this is you can't do it all yourself. And there are experts in other areas that you should and could be relying on, rather than trying to be everything to everybody. 

Emma: Yes, absolutely. Yes.

Andrew: So you say a leap of faith and that's true but, hey, what a leap of faith that was.

Emma: Yeah, definitely. This is a really good point is, we need to know our strengths and stick to them. So one of the first things I ever outsourced, and this is literally 14 years ago, was my bookkeeping. I've actually been to uni and studied accounting. I didn't finish it but I studied accounting, and yet it was the first thing I outsourced. The reason was because I hated that part of it.

Andrew: You knew you hated it.

Emma: Yeah, I really knew I hated it because I dropped out of it at uni. When we can afford it, we've got to outsource the things we like the least.

Andrew: Yeah. Okay, so that's a reasonable thing, you know? There are some things that you need to just do, to get on with it. And I guess for the fledgling practitioner, you really do have to do your own BAS statements. You really do have to do everything, but I guess you get to a point where you can go, "You know what? I need to focus on this and, to do this, I can't do that."

Emma: Exactly, and you've got to think what is my time worth? If it takes me 6 hours to do a BAS or I can pay my bookkeeper 2 hours and she'll do it in 2 hours, what is that extra 4 hours worth to me? And how do I utilise it?

Andrew: Now that's a really important point. And something that I've never thought of before. How much am I worth? And how much is it worth paying somebody to do that so that I can create better wealth.

Emma: Exactly. That's what I mean. I'd much prefer to spend 4 hours in front of patients than to spend those 4 hours trying to struggle through a BAS statement, and I know I'm going to be making money doing that anyway.

Andrew: Right. This whole break into success, how does the average...? Now, normally the vernacular would be “Joe,” but let's say “Josephine." 

Emma: Yes.

Andrew: How would the average Josephine, the struggling, fledgling practitioner. The practitioner that's just come out of college and is going this big, starry-eyed thing about, "I want to change the world. I want to help people, but I've no idea where to start.” How do you help somebody to cement in their minds what their strengths are, where they should be headed?

Emma: That is a good point. I think it depends on how much personal development they've done. To begin with, I'm a big believer in personal development and I'm constantly doing that side of things as well. But the first thing is to find which area of clinical practice. Is clinical practice where you want to be rather than research or writing or something else? What area of clinical practice lights you up the most? 

Is it working with guys? Is it working with women? Find that avatar, that perfect patient, and really then think about where does that perfect patient live? Where do they exercise? Where do they shop? And try and get in front of them. So whether it's a notice up on the Woolies, the Woolworths board, aimed at your perfect demographic, or whether it's a free talk at a community hall aimed at your perfect demographic. 

But the most important thing is to define that ideal patient and just talk their language. And think the way they think so that you can really get in their head and work out what their pain points are. What are they struggling with? What information do they need? Because there's no point just popping out a whole heap of information via a blog or website if it doesn't appeal to anybody.

Andrew: I guess this paints a clearer picture for the need for internship. 

Emma: Ah, yeah. Yes.

Andrew: We talk about mentorship, somebody helping us. But an internship is where you are placed in various positions so that you can gain experience across a broad range of areas. So let's talk about that for a tick.

Emma: Yeah. I think other industries do it a lot better than us in this space, and I think that we were all those young, struggling and new graduates at some stage. We kind of owe it to give a little back. I think it's important that we do somehow mentor and help those younger graduates. 

I mean, I get a lot of people contacting me to pick my brain or ask me questions, and that's great. And then I've also got other interns that they want to get really good at blogging, and so what they'll do is that they'll say, "Hey, Emma, I'm going to blog and I'm going to do two blogs a month. Can you edit them? Can you help me develop my writing style?” and I'll say, "Yeah, of course, I can but I want to publish that on my website and put you as the author. Is that okay, too?" 

So, I think the thing with an internship is finding a win-win and finding out "How does that benefit me? And how does it benefit you?" And that could be a money exchange. It could be a time exchange. It could be, "Hey, you know, intern, can you please research this exact, find some papers for me on this topic? Let's learn about this together because I've got a patient that's come up with this and I need to learn more." But, yeah, I think interning is such a valuable way for people to accelerate and fast track their career.

Andrew: We spoke about what qualities practitioners need to have previously. What about things that practitioners need to be doing to be successful?

Emma: They need to be constantly learning, that's for sure. Because in this career you can never stop learning. And that's what actually excites me the most, is we can never know it all. We can always learn more. So they need to be learning, and I think that there has to be some level of social media presence. It doesn't mean you have to post five times a day, but just a regular, consistent social media presence is great. You may only have two or three clients, but if those two or three clients feel that they're getting progress, and they feel listened to, and that they feel that you're on that path with them, then ask them to refer. I think a lot of the time people's confidence stops them from asking their patients to actively to refer to them. It can be so simple. It's like, "Hey, do you know anyone else that's struggling? Because I'd really love to help them?"

Andrew: Oh, yeah, absolutely. It reminds me of I think it was an intake form of a practitioner. He was a brilliant practitioner and really cared for his patients. And one of the things he put at the bottom of the intake form was, "Look, it's my goal to be the practitioner for both you and your friends and to care for you. If you feel that they would benefit from my care, please tell them about me." 

It was a very simple sentence at the bottom of the form. Nobody had to say anything, but the uncomfortable topic, if you like, was taken out of the mouth so you never had to broach it. And yet everybody knew that that's what his goal was to be the practitioner for not just the patient in front of him, but their friends and family as well. I think it was a really brilliant thing that he did.

Emma: Oh, absolutely. Look, when I set up this clinic, Studio You, three years ago, I really sat down and I looked through all of my reporting and I looked at where all my new patients were coming from. So, were they coming from word of mouth, referred from other practitioners, from Google, wherever it was. And it was about 90% of patients were referred by word of mouth. And I thought, "You know what? The whole thing that I want to do is actually reward my current patients for referring, and then keep some rewards to the person that's coming in." 

So we set up a referral system whereby, if a current patient refers somebody, they both get 15% off their next appointment. So the new person will get 15% off their initial and the next time that patient comes in that has referred them. It's like a bonus. They go, "Oh, wow, that's great. Thanks very much. That's great." So it's a win-win all around.

Andrew: Look, I've got to say I do love this “win-win.” It was something that's smacked from my talking with Keonie Moore about her journey

Emma: Yes, yes.

Andrew: She goes, "It's got to be win-win-win. It has to be win-win-win for everybody.”

Emma: Yes, I agree.

Andrew: So, when you're talking about these fledgling naturopaths, and the fears, and the aspirations of opening the doors to your clinic. Or joining a clinic and starting afresh. You're sitting at your desk, there's nobody there. How do you actually get clients booking in to see you?

Emma: Yeah. Well, I remember my first six months in clinical practice. I think I saw about three patients. But you know what I did? I wrote so many handouts and I researched so many conditions that, by the time people started trickling in, I at least had a base of handouts so I could say, "Hey, here is a great handout on anti-inflammatory foods." So don't waste your time and don't get into your own headspace and become negative. Make the most of the time because, when you do get busy, you'll wish you had more of that kind of time.

Andrew: Absolutely. And you know what? These handouts and these refreshers of concepts that you'll be talking to clients about, I can still remember an integrative GP telling me that he'd be talking to his patients about leaky gut. They'd walk home. They'd talk to their spouse, who has not seen the GP, and he would try and disseminate the information that this GP had told his patient saying, "I've got holes in my gut.” And his wife's going, "What?" 

So there's these concepts that really need a backup and a refresher and, "What did she say? What exercise was it? What foods were they again? What do I have to avoid all of these things?" They're so important to have at your beck and call so it can go “bang.”

Emma: Yeah, and it's invaluable because one of our clinic philosophies is empowerment and education for clients. We're very much a paperless clinic and even our toilet paper is not made from paper, and we're so environmental, but you know what? The one thing we do do is we print these handouts at the time of the appointment, and we print their dose sheet telling them exactly what we want them to do between appointments. And give them to the patient on the spot and go through them. Because it's so much more powerful and you're much more likely to get success that way.

Andrew: Can I ask you? Using this sort of system, how often, or do you, on your second visit with the patient. Do you ask them to go away and say, "Look, there's going to be this period of change," and there's going to be some questions coming up where you go, “What? What do you mean by that?" Because it's new. It's new for them. How often do you find that people come back and go, "You know what? I don't get it. I don't understand"?

Emma: Very rarely. Very rarely because I'm very directional in the way I speak with my clients. And I've studied a lot of functional medicine with Chris Kresser and various people. And because I've got that Bachelors of Science, I'm very metric and fact-based as well. 

Andrew: Yeah.

Emma: And so when we're looking at black and white numbers, patients really do understand it. Because we give them this education of “This is what leaky gut is. Here's your handout.” But the other thing that I always say to patients is “Please email me if you have any questions. Never hesitate to email me between appointments.” 

Andrew: Yeah.

Emma: Because I don't like them calling me. It's really inconvenient when they call you. 

Andrew: Yeah.

Emma: But, when they email you, it gives me time and I've got an auto-responder on my emails which lets them know that I might not get back to them immediately.

Andrew: I know. I know you have.

Emma: You've gotten them before.

Andrew: But I love it. I loved what it said. It was, “Look, I'm focusing on my clients right now. I'll attend to your email as soon as I can.” And then it's cool, I understand that.

Emma: Yeah. And so clients will. They'll pop me an email in between if they are confused about things. because I just say to them, "I just want the ball to keep rolling. I don't want you to stop doing things because you're not sure of what to do. You just get in touch with me if that's the case."

Andrew: Now, we have to obviously broach that. Some clients will stop. Fall off the wagon, and then they'll eventually come back and wander back in and go, "You know, I remember this sort of stuff." Talking about getting your mojo or their mojo, how do you inspire, especially women I guess, to get their mojo back?

Emma: Yeah, and it happens. This is a cycle that happens and it's been in clinical practice so long because women do keep coming back every few years for that little fine-tuning, that little tweak. 

Andrew: Yeah.

Emma: But it's usually...the pattern is that the woman has become overwhelmed with the amount of things that's going on in her life, and so her self-care will drop. And once her self-care drops, then the food starts going out, the sleep starts going out, and then, before you know it, she's feeling awful again. 

I think, when this happens... like I just had a patient contact me this week and she's done our fat loss program. She had ridiculously great results. But she's had a lot of stress. Her mum's in the hospital. It's been really hard for her. She emailed me saying, "I'm completely off the wagon. I've put the weight back on. I'm really feeling flat," and I said, "It's okay. What we need to do is find some very small action points that you can do.” Because what I'm always saying to my clients is "I want to set you up for success, not ever for failure.” 

And if we need to step it right down to, "Hey, you know what? You're going to drink two litres of water every day. You're going to get to bed by 10 p.m. That's all I want you to do for now.” 

Andrew: Right.

Emma: Just have to step it back. Step it back. And get them to commit. And understand that you will be following up on them and they are accountable, and you are making this deal.

Andrew: Okay, so now that's a really interesting point that Andrew Heyman...I loved his way of approaching this. He warned his patients. He would say, "You will get sick of me asking this. On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you...?" And he would use that to gain commitment. So what sort of tricks do you use to gain commitment from your patients?

Emma: I think my skill lies in getting people excited about possibilities. And about how they can feel because I know that, especially for a woman, every woman wants to wake up in the morning feeling good. I'm not saying she wants to bounce out of bed every morning. That's unrealistic. But everyone wants to wake up feeling good, and strong, and healthy within her own body. 

And so I think it's definitely about getting her excited about that possibility. First of all, she's got to hook into that future self, and see that future self, and go "Yes, I want that." Because if you find that hook and what that means to them, you know, it doesn't mean that she's going to have more energy playing with her kids or yell at her kids less. Or maybe she's actually going to want to make love to her husband, what does that actually mean? And what's that hook? What's her why? And if you can hook into the why, and keep that current in your conversations and languaging with her, then she'll keep going.

Andrew: What about any other sort of key points that we need to help other practitioners with, with regards to either being, getting, or keeping, maintaining success?

Emma: I love this question. For me, I think one of the other things I've learnt that works really well is that just say yes. So, any opportunity that comes your way, just jump in. And don't get bogged down in the why, the how, the what, the whether, the logistics. Just jump in and say, “Yes." And then you can work it out later. 

But if you hesitate too much, "Oh, no, I don't have the skills for that," or, "I don't have the resources," just jump in and say yes. I can't tell you the amount of times that I've just said yes and I've got off the call or the email and thought, "Oh, my God. How on earth am I going to make that happen?" But you know what? You always just do. Things just fall into place when they're meant to be. 

Andrew: Okay.

Emma: Just jump in. Dive in.

Andrew: This reminds of the proverbs a bit. You've always got one saying yes and one saying no. Just say yes, that reminds me of the Yes Man. But then there's got to be this self-care, as you say. I guess I'm reminded of my first time jumping off a top tower at the pool. The longer you stand there on the edge, thinking about it, worrying about it, the less likely you are to jump off.

Emma: Exactly. That's exactly what I'm saying. You get too into your own head, and the one thing that I'm always saying is that it should be joyful. It should be fun. Like, isn't that why we do these amazing careers? Because we should enjoy the process and enjoy it. I think by standing at the top of a 10-meter block and looking down for too long, you're just not enjoying it. You're not enjoying it. 

Andrew: Yeah.

Emma: But if you're flying through the air, you would be enjoying it.

Andrew: Well, the first time was hellishly scary but, after that, it was fine.

Emma: I think a lot of people get caught up in their own perfectionism. And so they hold back from doing things because they don't have it perfect yet. But you know what? You're never going to have it perfect, and I think the amount and the vast incredible learning that you can do in imperfectionism is incredible. That's what gives you confidence, too, is making mistakes. And getting up, and keeping on going.

Andrew: Your words are so wise, Emma. I thank you so much for sharing the day. You've actually given me a little bit of an eyeopener, myself.

Emma: Thanks for having me.

Andrew: Yeah, it's been wonderful. Emma, thank you so much.

Emma: Pleasure.

Andrew: This is FX Medicine. I'm Andrew Whitfield-Cook.



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FX Medicine Podcast
FX Medicine is at the forefront of ensuring functional and integrative medicine gains the recognition it deserves and ultimately establishes itself as an integral part of standard medical practice. Hosted by Andrew Whitfield-Cook, our podcasts are designed to promote research and evidence-based therapeutic practises, acting as a progressive force for change and improvement in patient health and wellbeing.