How a Bike Ride Gave Me the Courage to Quit My Job and Start My Own Business
Note: transcription provided by Otter.AI, which is a company that develops speech-to-text transcription and translation applications using artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Welcome everybody to today’s newest podcast episode for the Financial Freedom for Physicians Podcast. And as we talk about several types of freedom. The first is time freedom, location, financial and emotional freedom. And so today we have an extremely special guest. She’s done some really incredible things. He has a really unique and interesting story that I want to bring to the masses. So we have Dr. Jordana Rothschild, and I’m going to bring up her bio really quickly.
So, Dr. Jordana Rothschild is a physician. She’s a Preventive Medicine physician who has expertise in preventive medicine and her unique brand of care to give the ability to take on your own health adventure. She has spent her career helping people stay healthy before they get sick. She helps patients reduce stress to improve symptoms and manage chronic conditions. So a couple of her things you should know about.
Dr. Jordana led a team to provide medical care to underserved communities in Haiti, she also joined FEMA Medical Response Team in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and she enlisted in the US Army at age 40. So she’s done quite a number of fantastic and really interesting things. She received her medical degree from Tel Aviv University Sackler School of Medicine, and studied Mind Body Medicine at the Benson Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Mass General Harvard Medical School, which is one of the premier institutions in the country. She also holds a Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. And she’s board certified in general preventive medicine and public health as well as occupational and environment than Environmental Medicine and is a fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine.
So she’s also the host and founder of alpine health, which has several unique programs that you’ll hear about, as well as her blog. So without much ado, welcome Dr. Jordana Rothschild to the show. Welcome.
Dr. Jordana B. Rothschild MD, MPH, FACPM: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me here. It’s really, really exciting to be here, to meet you and to speak with everybody.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, we were just talking while discussing it. I know a lot of us we met during the pandemic over zoom in a lot of Facebook groups. And I know you read a number of my KevinMD articles and he also joined several summits. So it’s great to make connections, make friends and contribute and collaborate to the community.
Dr. Jordana B. Rothschild MD, MPH, FACPM: There are some good things to come out of this pandemic.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Exactly. So I’m always interested in the backstory. I always want to hear people’s motivations, inspirations, and very unique stories. And so give the listeners a backstory of how you came about, what you went through, and then where you’re going now.
Dr. Jordana B. Rothschild MD, MPH, FACPM: Okay, so, back way, way back at the beginning when I was in residency in preventive medicine, I have this really clear memory that we were given this group assignment to design our ideal medical practice. And together with some of my co residents, we came up with this really exciting vision of this lifestyle medicine practice where patients could come and lean on each other for support, and they could come learn how to cook healthy food. And they could learn how to exercise and have a place to exercise. And they could receive their comprehensive care, their pain, manage their injuries, their illnesses, everything all in one place. And it was like just this beautiful, gorgeous picture that we had in our head.
And then the assignment ended and residency finished. And I got a real job, which was great. I mean, I went back to that traditional path where I became an attending in the hospital where I trained in my residency. And then I went to another large healthcare system, and everything was fine. I was just like everybody else, I was an employed physician working for a large institution. And I did that for about a decade. And until the pandemic hit.
And so fast forward, it’s now May of 2020. And it’s my birthday. And it’s my 40th birthday, that big, huge birthday bash that you want to have when you turn 40. That was the pandemic. So that didn’t quite happen that way. It didn’t happen the way I had planned. Nothing ever does. Right? But, I decided, You know what, I least want to do something for my birthday. And my friends surprised me when they drove by in this car parade. It was nice and depressing at the same time, right? Remember those car parades wherever it kinda waved in their masks.
This was New York in May. So we were really in the peak of everything and, and it was bleak.
But I gifted myself my very first bicycle. There I am, 40 years old, and I’ve never learned how to ride a bike. And I scored myself a bike, which I don’t know if this happened, where you live. But getting a bike during the peak of the pandemic was like, It was miraculous that I was able to get my hands on a bike. But I got a bike. And that was my really, that was my gift to myself, and my 12 year old son.
And then the bike kind of sat there for a couple of days. And I was like, I don’t think I can do this. And my 12 year old son looks up at me with his sweet little eyes, and he’s like, Mommy, you can do this. I’m gonna help you do this. And I’m like, I don’t know, I’m kind of scared. What if I fall? The thoughts that are in the back of my head when I’m getting ready to ride this bike? The first thought is like, what if I fall? What if I scraped my knee? What if I hurt myself? But the other thought that I don’t think I really wanted to admit to myself out loud is everybody’s gonna look at me. Everybody’s gonna laugh at me. look at this old person getting on a bike, guided by a 12 year old kid. What is everybody gonna think?
That’s so pervasive, right? We all worry so much about what is everybody gonna think? And, and that holds us back from so many things. And it can paralyze you when you’re so worried about what everybody’s gonna think.
And you think back to your career, you stick to the path because everyone expects you to, everyone in the system expects you to do things a certain way. And you’re free to break away from that mold. Because what is everybody gonna think? And so, I was like, you know what, when your adolescent child actually wants to spend time with you, you do it, because adolescents don’t usually want to spend time with mom.
I went into the parking lot of this preschool, which was empty due to COVID. And my 12 year old son stood next to me and was like, Mom, you could do this. And so I kind of like, I got on and I wobbled a little and then I went forward, and then I stopped again, and put my feet down and stopped myself. And then I went a little farther. And oh, my God, I got it. And I did it.
So then kind of baby steps, right, we went for like, a half mile bike ride, and then a two mile bike ride. And I really got the hang of it, but I was still terrified the whole time. I’m scared of falling. I’m scared of hurting myself. And again, that gnawing thought in the back of my mind, I’m not actually that scared of getting hurt. I’m much more scared of when I fall, everybody’s gonna stare at me.
And then we finally built up to go on this 30 mile bike ride. It was great. I had a blast. It was really really fun. But like the whole time, even as it got longer and longer. By the end of each bike ride, my knuckles were still white from clinching the handlebars so tight, right, because I was still nervous, I still couldn’t relax, I was still terrified. So we go on this 30 mile bike ride, and right around mile 15.
It happens. There’s this really narrow passageway, and this really short turn, and I’m going a little faster than I should be. And I fall. I mean, I just went down. And I scraped my knee, I scraped my elbow. But guess what, I didn’t die.
I survived, I was okay. And more important than that, all the people that were nearby, came over to just like, see if I was okay. And they were so nice.
And I realized that not only do I not need to be afraid of what people think. And not only does it not matter, but most of the people out there want to help me, they’re rooting for me, they want other people around them to succeed.
And that was like this aha moment for me. So I got back up on my bike, I was fine. I finished out the bike ride, and I could finally relax, I had, I could stop worrying about falling because I fell and survived. And it was okay. And that was when everything changed for me. I realized that I don’t need to care what anybody thinks. I don’t need to be afraid of falling, I don’t need to be afraid of anything.
And shortly after, that is when I opened an LLC and started my own business.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: That’s amazing. You mentioned so many fascinating things, in terms of bike reading, and learning how to ride a bike, and really, it’s almost like a metaphor for really what happened during 2020. And really all of life. So I tell people that the pandemic was a needle that burst the bubble, but the bubble was actually decades in the making, culturally, socially, politically.
I really resonate with the idea of fear of failure, fear of hurting yourself, what other people think, not knowing and then maybe stepping along the way and you learning and then your big aha moment. So that’s just a fascinating story. And so you learned a lot and you applied it to starting a business. So tell us what, your current endeavors and what you’re doing now?
Dr. Jordana B. Rothschild MD, MPH, FACPM: I went back to I opened right with this ideal medical practice idea that we had come up with back when I was in residency, and I realized that, that was what I wanted to be doing all along. So that’s what I’m doing. I am working on building an ideal medical practice where we can treat people comprehensively, we can look at people’s entire lifestyle, we can help them stay healthy, active, happy and productive in a way that doesn’t make them feel like it’s institutional, right? I don’t want to just be sitting and getting people and getting people out writing prescriptions.
I mean, yes, that’s necessary. But there’s so much more to health than just fixing diagnoses. And so I want to create a space where we can really look at a whole person in every aspect of their life, and keep people healthy, and healthy is not the end goal. Health is the means to living a good life.
So I don’t want to get somebody’s blood pressure under control so that their numbers look good. I want to get somebody’s blood pressure under control, so that they are around for their grandkids, or so that they can go on a bike ride when they’re 80 or so that they, whatever their so that they, whatever their Why is, that is what we need to keep our eye on. That’s the big picture.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, that’s a great point. And a lot of it’s because of our medical healthcare system, every member is graduating medical school, and I’m like, oh, no this is the real world and it doesn’t look pretty. So, you describe your ideal medical practice. And just creativity, innovation. And as physicians, we all went into it to make a difference to change the world, change patient’s lives, but like I said, the system has its limitations, and it’s really the sort of almost like an assembly line type of setup.
So, but it’s really interesting. Tell us more about some of the principles that you incorporate like diet, fitness, nutrition, any sort of mental health, meditation.
Dr. Jordana B. Rothschild MD, MPH, FACPM: All of it. So I don’t, I really don’t think you can do any of it in a vacuum. Right? We are, we’re complicated. And we have so many dimensions to ourselves, and therefore, we have so many dimensions to our health. And they’re all interconnected. So, I mean, one of the things I think about when it comes to lifestyle medicine, again, as a preventive medicine physician, and I’m trained in lifestyle medicine.
So lifestyle medicine has different pillars of lifestyle medicine, which include the food we eat, the way we move our bodies, the substances we put in our bodies, the amount of sleep we get, the quality of sleep we get, the amount of stress we have, and our social relationships, the way we connect with other people. But when I think about those, first of all, each one is dependent on the other, right, like, if I’m sleep deprived, I’m probably going to be irritable. And if I’m irritable, I’m going to snap at my colleagues and my friends and my family members. And if I’m snapping at them, that’s going to impact my relationships. And when my relationships aren’t good, that’s going to increase my stress, which is going to make me, I don’t know, eat garbage and not feel like exercising and be fatigued. And then I’m not going to sleep.
Straight into this whole cycle. And I kind of see that the whole cycle is interconnected. And I would put stress in the middle of all of it. I think that stress causes us to not sleep and not sleeping causes us to have stress. And they’re all connected. But I really think that stress, and the way we cope with the challenges that are on our plate, that just is at the center of all of it. But I also think that you don’t, I think it’s impossible to expect somebody to fix, and I don’t like the word fix, but to tackle all of those all at once, right? That’s huge, that’s overwhelming.
But because they’re so interconnected, you actually only need to improve one of them. And there’s a reverse domino effect, right, everything else will be better. So if you just pick one, and it doesn’t even matter which one you pick, you pick whichever one is the lowest hanging fruit for you. So if you feel like you know what, I could probably eat much better. And that’s within that, within my skill set, I have the ability to do that. So if I start fueling my body with food, that makes me feel better, all that other stuff is gonna fall into place.
Or whichever, whichever one of those things is the one that works for you. And you take baby steps again, right, just like riding a bike, you’re not gonna, you’re not going to go on that 30 mile bike ride your first day. As you conquer each thing as you overcome each obstacle you get there.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: So in the medical profession, we have diagnoses, we have tests, we have treatments, we have drugs, we have medications and procedures. And that’s sort of the paradigm. But as you alluded to stress and wellness, and there’s a lot of alternative sides of looking at the whole entire patient that you can insert to incorporate in their overall wellness and diagnosis and treatment plans. So if people were more interested in learning about lifestyle medicine, I know you have several upcoming events for your audiences and for potential clients. Tell us where they could go and learn more about this. Because it’s very important, especially for example, you sleep and really just stress management, stress reduction. All of these are very important in our lives today.
Dr. Jordana B. Rothschild MD, MPH, FACPM: Absolutely. We so if you are local to the New York region, we are so excited now that things are reopening and most of us are vaccinated, and we’re so excited to host our first in person real in life event, is going to be on Wednesday, July 28 at Pindar vineyards, which is a vineyard on the North Fork of Long Island. And we’re going to be doing mindful drinking wine tasting. I am so excited about that. It’s going to be great. And we’re going to talk about mind-body medicine, stress management, and how to really be present in the moment when we drink wine rather than using it to numb ourselves to escape from the moment.
In addition, we’ll not have a group. We have an eight week group program. It’s not open right now. Our next group will be enrolling for the fall. But you can get on a waiting list for that and you can find out about that at AlpineHouseMD.com. And we also have a Facebook group where we are constantly posting material, we do weekly training there to teach people different aspects of mind body medicine and lifestyle medicine.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: That’s awesome. So for all the audience and all the listeners that are tuning into us, all of Dr. Rothschild’s links and resources will be posted in the show notes. And, and so Jordana, you’ve given such a fantastic metaphor for this show, which is translating learning how to ride a bike into improving patients’ lives. So, before we go, what are your final parting words for our audience?
Dr. Jordana B. Rothschild MD, MPH, FACPM: So, one of the most inspirational people that I follow is a Paralympic skier named Chris Waddell. And he actually climbed Mount Kilimanjaro despite the fact that he was paraplegic. And one of his one of the things that he says is that bold isn’t a superhero, bold is fear, and the courage to try to fail publicly, and colossally. And so the one thing that I would want to leave everyone with is that, we all know what we can be doing. We all know what we’re capable of. And it’s usually fear that’s holding us back. And that’s whether it’s in your health, whether it’s in your life, whether it’s in your career, your relationship, whatever it is, my biggest advice would be not to let that fear hold you back.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, I love that. So because it’s progress over perfection.
So a lot of times, we feel like we have to be perfect, or we have to fit this mold. And really, it’s just going out there executing and learning from it. If you succeed, you know that more to you. But if you fail, at least you learn something for the next time. But if you don’t try or you quit, then 100% you fail, you didn’t get anything, learn anything. So, and today, we have so many options, we have so many resources. So really the fear of regret versus the fear of failure is a much greater view.
So thanks so much. you’ve given so many wonderful stories and wonderful gems and all the resources will be posted in the show notes below.
Dr. Jordana B. Rothschild MD, MPH, FACPM: Thank you so much. Thanks so much for having me.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Many thanks again for being here. If you’re new, you can find me online at Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD, where I have links to other episodes or links to online resources that will support you on your financial literacy journey. I’ll see you there in on next week’s show. While I bring you thoroughly vetted information on this show regarding a variety of financial topics, I cannot promise you a one size fits all solution. This is why I caution you to continue to learn. Educate yourself and seek professional advice unique to your situation. If you want to talk to me, I welcome it. Please reach out via my website or email at chris@drchrisloomdphd. I read and personally respond to all of my emails. Talk soon!
Editor’s note: This transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.