Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz is a nationally renowned expert for integrative women’s health. She helps women transition through important phases of life and she is on a mission to explore what it means to be a woman in this culture and age. I asked her...
Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz is a nationally renowned expert for integrative women’s health. She helps women transition through important phases of life and she is on a mission to explore what it means to be a woman in this culture and age.
I asked her how she navigated her life challenges and how you can learn from her journey for a post-COVID world
"Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz is a nationally renowned doctor, expert, speaker, and advocate for integrative women’s health.
As a partner at Women’s Care of Beverly Hills, she’s performed thousands of deliveries and continues to help women transition through important phases of their lives -from adolescence to post-menopause. Her expertise covers all aspects of gynecology including sexual health, fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, and the science of self-care.
Dr. Suzanne’s diverse background combining her degrees in conventional medicine, Ayurveda, and holistic medicine are key factors to what makes her the integrative women’s healthcare expert that she is.
“I’m on a mission to not only explore what it means to be a woman in this culture and age but to also support our growth as individuals and how we show up in our communities”
Since 2006 Dr. Suzanne has reached millions through TV, print, and dozens of online platforms. As the landscape of women’s health changes, networks such as CNN, NBC, and Fox look to her for answers on new medicine & technological developments for postpartum depression, fertility, HPV, and sexual wellness.
I've never done it the way I was supposed to do it.
I didn't even do premed. And then I left college and I was like, Oh, I don't really like working for people. I mean, I can, but I don't enjoy it. And I went, I went back and did a postbac. Premed. So that's the other thing too. There's never one way to do it. There's always another opportunity.
The road is winding. I so didn't get into medical school the way I was supposed to do it. I was out of college for four years. I worked, I did research, I worked in a free clinic. There's a through line, right? Like I really liked helping people for the sake of helping them. You know? And not because I'm so awesome, but you know, you feel a lot out of it when you give, when you, you get what you give.
So, You know, when I, when I got into medical school, I was at USC at LA County and that was really interesting cause I was like, Oh everybody isn't here for the same reason what I was like, so idealistic CK. So ideal is like, but then I got to work with these amazing patients at LA County who I felt were so generous.
It was like, you don't even know me. You're really like, this is scary. You're sick, you're poor. I felt like they were the most generous people I'd ever met and so kind and like how they will let me in. Like that's so private. It's so like, it's your body, it's your health. And it's like people were so vulnerable and.
And I think my authenticity and my being real like really paid off because people trusted me. And then I got a lot of like, and there's like some cultural stuff too, but you know, a lot of central Americans and Mexican Americans, and you know, it's a County hospital is one of the biggest County hospitals in the world.
It was just a crazy jumble. And people who didn't even speak Spanish, like they spoke some native, you know. Tongue that I didn't, you know, I was like, this person is from Mexico. Okay. Like they're, they're native. They didn't speak, they didn't speak the Mexican Spanish that I learned, and, we just somehow figured it out and I got a lot of, I got a lot of love from these patients and I got a lot of like, God is working through you, that kind of stuff."
" it was in my twenties and at first you're just like, Oh, cool. This is this person's belief system and I'm here to help provide comfort.
And then as I got older I was like. Hmm. Interesting. Not in charge.
because as a physician, and I'm a surgeon, like you're in charge, you're the authority, and it's a weird balance because you have to have that confidence. I don't want to gross people out, but to cut people open and have somebody over there put them to sleep and I'm going to cut them up and take things out, put them back together and they're going to wake up and they'll be fine.
They'll be better than ever. Like that's crazy. That's a crazy thing to do. but I think as I got older, I really realized like, and talk about purpose, right? But my purpose really was, I have some kind of innate gift and skill set and talent, and I've worked very hard. To hone those skills, be really good at it, and have a level of integrity that I'm comfortable with.
But there is definitely a part of it that I just, it has nothing to do with me.
I understand that I don't need to understand it, but it does drive me because it gives me a purpose.
I have a background in ayuveda, which is the, holistic professional medical system of India, similar to Chinese medicine. I think people make this assumption that if you have some kind of involvement with a holistic, traditional medical system, then it's all, woo, well, that's not true. I mean. The ancient physicians of of China and India and everywhere else, because there was medicine everywhere all over the planet.
There always has. That was the science that was available to them at the time. And what's interesting, when I first started studying was like, they kind of nailed it before they were doing dissections about how the body works.
It's pretty wild. Like it was like. Whoa. That's actually what happens. You know, like very subtle, systems like what we would call immunity or the way the blood system works, or the nervous system. Like they were right. And they had language about it. So that, that appealed to me, I think. But I'm very much heart and mind, and I think that that is.
That is, you know, science and intuition or art and, you know, and, and that's discussed in conventional medicine also. That's the bedside manner, you know, or, I mean, that's the best way you would see it. You know,
different language, different language, different nuance about
how you have a different bag of tricks.
I have a deeper bag of tricks. I have pharma, I have, you know, my surgeries, procedures. I have meditation, breath work. Herbs, you know, lifestyle stuff. I admit it talks a lot about aligning your practices with. Your particular unique constitution and the environment in which you are living, which includes seasonal change, I think, you know, which is sustainability.
I was always into, but that they all go together. That's one of the reasons that sustainability and trying to be as in harmony with our environment as possible is so, so, so important to me.
"when I was a resident, I had, a teacher, a physician, dr Leo Lagasse. And he was a really outstanding surgeon. He was a GYN oncologist, so he was a cancer specialist for women's cancers, and he was a known philosopher, like he was an incredible surgeon. The surgeries were so long, like hours and hours, hours long, and he would cheat all.
Ultimately, he would start kinda getting into it with the residents and ask you all sorts of like personal kind of a philosophical questions. And. He, I remember he said this to all of us all the time. He was like, you know, what do you think? Do you think that my patients on their dying, breath they're worried about like the golf course or the extra car, the beach house or the trips?
No, they're worried about their family, their loved ones. Like they don't care about the jewelry. And you know, I mean, he didn't give you the answer, but he, you know, he dealt with a lot of women dying of ovarian cancer. And I was, you know, young, a young mom. I was like. 20 whatever. I would probably like 30 when I met him.
And, you know, not like, I didn't kind of thought that myself, but hearing that from a man much older than me, who was very accomplished and very admired and just bringing it down to the brass tacks, like what's important? you know, was it a good thing to hear at that, at that point? But you know, you have to figure that stuff out for yourself, honestly.
And sometimes you have to like put yourself through some. And pain to get there."
"what I'm saying is you're not being true to yourself. You're going to have a big life that is not true to you. And you may find yourself.
Very unhappy and wondering why. Well, that's because you really weren't being true to yourself. So I'm going to tell you a little story. In my mid forties I mean, I've always been a very ambitious person, and I wanted to be successful, and I wanted to have a lot of stuff and do a lot of stuff, and I always had this purpose and I felt like I wanted to share it, but I definitely wanted a lot because I think I didn't.
Wasn't getting something, and it was, what I wasn't getting was I wasn't getting me at 47 I had was diagnosed with breast cancer out of the blue. Right. I was young, like, what? How did that happen? And so that little brush with mortality changed a lot of things for me because even though I was skirting around a lot of the stuff we're talking about today, I really wasn't owning it and I wasn't into it completely.
And I was. Yeah. I just had a very complex relationship with it. I had a lot of fear about it. I think I had a lot of shame around it and I was
all about like who I really was and wanted to be in life. Yeah. And, I think changed, everything changed. I mean, I had to shut things down because I had to take care of myself.
which was not something that I was very good at. I was very good at taking care of you and everybody else, but not myself. And a lot of things changed. I mean, my marriage ended. the way I approached my work changed and I did a lot of work on myself and it was really, really painful, really hard. And I actually, all these other things that I do, I stopped doing.
Pretty much all of it for a couple of years, and I had to really let go of like what I thought I was going to be in this world or who I thought I was supposed to be, or Oh my God, the moment I'm going to lose momentum, Nope. None of that happened happened as I got back to who I am and then. All sorts of things started opening up to me that were much more aligned with who I am and what I really wanted to be doing."
"What did you do to get to the center of who you really are? I asked that question specifically because this is the time. people are going through a lot of external, internal chaos, marriage, relationships, all of it happening.
when my marriage ended and I was recovering for breast cancer cause they kind of happened around the same time I had to grieve.
All of this stuff that I had, aggrieved, this person that I thought I was, and I did very specific work. I did. This is where 12 step really worked for me. I'm not, I mean, I don't want to get too deeply into it. I don't have a substance abuse problem. It was more of a process issue for me, and that really helped me a lot.
But I think really that process, the 12 steps are really amazing. I mean, basically the process is what I'm talking about. It's, I'm admitting that you're powerless. Looking at yourself in in real time and actually owning up to the shit that you've done. And also giving yourself a break and apologizing to yourself for what you put yourself through and letting go of that person that, that shell that was acting a certain way and then having to rebuild.
And I mean,I basically did my work. Took care of my kids and like read, meditated, exercise, talk to very small group of people. I really, a lot of people in my life that really weren't necessary fell away. and I, a lot of my media stuff, my T, I didn't do any of that for like two years least.
I was very attached to that. Right. you know, I had a lot of like, TV stuff and like, people, Oh, we want you to do this. Television show and blah, blah, blah. People blowing smoke up my ass. Sorry. Like, you know. And I was just like, like I had no energy for any of it. And I realized like, that's not even like, what is it that I want?
So. Really like I got really quiet and sometimes it's really uncomfortable to be quiet because then you're left with yourself. You're not, you don't have the distractions. So that is what's happening right now is why a lot of people are freaking out. There's no distractions of activities and stuff and things and people, and it's like, it can be like scary, but if you can just get quiet with yourself and realize like.
That's okay. Quiet as okay. Uncomfortable is okay. Grief is okay. Anger is okay. All these things are okay. Feel them for me. What work was feeling them writing about them? Process, process it for me, talking about it with people, certain trusted people worked, and then just kind of being open to like, okay, what's going to happen next?
Let's see. And it's pretty crazy how many things opened up to me that made much more sense. A much better relationship.
I love that first and foremost with the self, right?
Yeah. Have a relationship with me. Yeah. Yeah."
"with this podcast, the kind of friends I have, a lot of people have a lot of admiration for them and they're the boss or the leader.
They're respected. All these things. But they tell me well, at the end of the day, all those things are nice, but they're fleeting. those things. The success, the accolades, the magazine covers, the interviews, all these things. When you close your eyes, you're by yourself again.
So whatever doesn't suit well with you are still there.
Hundred percent hundred percent. That's like when you like decide you're going to move to another city to start over. Aren't you the person going to that new city? I mean, if you don't, if you don't. Get okay with you. You're, you're going everywhere with you."
"I took a storytelling class once and the teacher who became a good friend said us, you know, a lot of our best stories are going to come from wounds, but the thing is time to share that story is while you're still in the wound where the wound is fresh, it has to heal and scar over, and then you have learned something from it.
You have a perspective on it. you're not so vulnerable in that area anymore. And you, your, your ability to share it now is a much more powerful tool as opposed to the emotional vomit that would occur while you're still in. It isn't like that's the processing. That's not the time to share in a storytelling event."
" having every single day, a period of time that is still. Is has been the thing that has had the most positive impact on me.
And so if nothing else that people can try, there's so many apps and things, and stop judging and stop talking about how you're making your list. That's okay. That's what's supposed to happen, you know? But giving yourself, if you could do 20 minutes, great, but even just five minutes. Every day of quiet breathing.
Really it will, it is a game changer. I have a mantra meditation, but I don't even do the same thing all the time. And the reason, I think the reason a mantra works is because it gives you that thing to pull you back when you are making your shopping list or you are starting to stress out about that situation.
Okay. Right. Let me go back to the mantra that's, that is the practice. It is a practice. There is no perfection. It's a practice. So getting kind of a way from accomplishing anything with that, but just being in it and being present. For me personally, it's been a game changer. There's a ton of science to support it, a ton of science to support it so that that's perfect.
Cause that's my heart and my head experience with that. "
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