Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross MD, a medical doctor for 30 plus years, shares the miracles beyond medicine that she discovered in her own journey through chronic illness, devastating loss and family addiction. Carolyn shares how learning to think of illness as a call to action prompted her most challenging life pivot. We discuss her process of moving beyond the loss her own identity as a pioneer in the field of women’s medicine and how her recognition of the trust challenges of her own profession shaped her new calling to create programs for people with addictions and eating disorders, in part by redefining those addictions. Carolyn also shares the rituals that keep her moving forward. Learn how the miracles beyond medicine that Carolyn experienced gave her the hope and tools she needed to regain her own health, faith and calling – and how her perspective can help you too.
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Miracles Beyond Medicine: My Journey Through Devastating Loss & Chronic Illness With Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross
I am so happy to be with you here for the same reasons and the new reasons too. The same reason is that I’m speaking, I’m here, and we’re here together. It means we’re alive and that is such incredible news. We take it for granted. I take it for granted moment to moment each day how much of a celebration it is that we’re alive, that we have a breath to take when there are people everywhere taking their very last breath in this moment, so this is a sacred and a holy day. To be able to spend it together for however long we will be together is a blessing. I am also blessed to have great people in my life, great family, great friends, great colleagues, and great people that I get to work with.
I get to introduce you to somebody that is great in my life. A beautiful lady, an amazing doctor, incredible professional, somebody that’s committed a significant part of her adult life to helping people, men and women who are dealing with some very serious issues. Some of these issues are known and often times a lot of these issues are hidden, and that’s part of what makes them challenging.
Dr. Carolyn Ross, welcome to the PIVOT Podcast.
Thanks. I’m so happy to be with you.
Will you share something about yourself that you’d like people to know?
I’m a physician. I work with people with addictions and eating disorders. I’ve been in medicine for over 30 years, which is telling you something about myself, which is how old I’m getting to be and glad to be alive. I’m a mother. I have three sons, one of whom I lost in his 30th year. I’m a grandmother of a granddaughter who just turned seventeen this week. Those are the best things about me, my family. I’m a sister. I’m the oldest of five children of an African-American family. I have two brothers and two sisters, and my family is important to me.
You’re also somebody who’s an entrepreneur. You’re a businesswoman.
I’ve been in the business of medicine most of my career. I’m doing a startup business. My startup business is an online coaching program for people with food and body image issues, people with obesity, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. I’m starting what is an exciting opportunity for people to be able to access expert care online and expert information. We know that the internet is full of information, but it’s not always good information. I want to be the purveyor of good information in this area because so many people are struggling with it.
By good information, you also mean accurate?
Expert and accurate.
You mean everything that’s on the internet isn’t accurate?
I saw a great article about how much has changed in the field of people dealing with weight issues or obesity and binge eating disorders. In my years in medicine, physicians came out and took a hard stand about this and talked about the importance of eating healthy. At first it was low-fat, that’s what you have to do. Then it was, ”We made a mistake. It’s not low-fat.” Then it was low-carb, that’s the way to go. Then it was, ”Maybe that doesn’t work.” Then it was, “Get rid of all the sugar in your diet, high-fructose corn syrup.” After a while, all of us can become jaded, but more than jaded, also confused about how to eat and what to eat. We lose our natural ability to enjoy food. Even in medicine, doctors are coming out and saying, ”We’ve made a lot of mistakes. We don’t know as much as we thought we knew. We need to get some real research.”
It doesn’t seem like the doctors are often the ones to say, ”We’ve made a mistake.”It doesn’t seem like that level of humility is typically baked in to that profession. I feel like what you’re saying is that this information and misinformation and owning of the fact, that creates trust issues. Don’t you think it creates trust issues?
It creates trust issues, but you have to understand that if you’re in the profession of medicine, you’ve been steeped in this understanding that knowledge is everything. What we’ve lost in medicine is the recognition that there’s a lot of art in medicine that needs to be practiced and that research isn’t always valid. In the area of obesity research, you can get 50,000 people who have a certain weight and a certain BMI, and then you track them for 30 years. If you were to do that and see the ones who have a higher BMI and the higher weight also have higher risk for diabetes. What that leaves out is could we take 25 out of those 50,000 people and let them be normally active and eat healthily and see what happens? Then you’ll have to ask – is it about the number on the scale, or is it really about lifestyle?
The newer research is showing that most researchers, they had the assumption that it was weight. When you start with that assumption, you’re already going down the wrong track. You’re already biased in favor of “a person needs to lose weight.”It’s been hammered into doctors over and over, we’ve got to get our patients to lose weight. It’s a hard thing to change. It’s a hard thing to shift. You can go back 50 years when there were commercials on TV showing doctors advertising cigarettes in their white coats. They were smoking and saying, “Camels, that’s the one to use.” These are doctors. Doctors at that time were told there’s no risk of cancer with cigarettes. We bought that BS and we’ve bought into the “weight is bad, certain foods are bad.” That’s probably going to turn out to be BS too.
[Tweet “I have a philosophy that everyone who eats should enjoy what they eat.”]
Food is such an essential thing. There’s very few needs that we have, but among the things we call true needs. I’m always on the lookout for scarcity language because much of my training has to do with mindset. When you hear the word “need,” you need food. My dad used to say to us that, “Food is medicine.” It was Michio Kushi, and then before Kushi, it was somebody else. Somebody some time ago figured out that food is a thing that helps us to regenerate our bodies and our minds and our hearts and our souls through what we ingest, whether it’s the ingestion of information, the things that we hear and see and learn, and also the intake of the physical substance we call food. What’s your philosophy? Do you have a philosophy of eating?
I have a philosophy that everyone who eats should enjoy what they eat. I did a CD set with Andrew Weil, and we titled it The Joy of Eating Well. Every meal should be a great meal for you. Maybe it’s a small meal, maybe it’s not the most gourmet meal, but it should be a great meal in terms of its flavor, its texture, its effect on your body. That’s what we’ve lost in all of this “you should do this, you shouldn’t do that” stuff or “this food is bad, this food is good.”People don’t even enjoy what they’re eating anymore. There was a big study on this where they compared enjoyment of eating. It was six or eight different countries. They were countries in Europe, then they compared them to the United States. In the United States, people have the least amount of enjoyment of eating of any of the other countries. They said that people in this study didn’t enjoy food to that degree that they do in France or Spain or Japan or Italy. Italy is the home of enjoying eating well.
We were in Positano and some other places last summer and we sat for hours, the joy of eating. There was The Joy of Sex years ago. I’m curious whether the joy of eating has been written. You’re an author, so I want you to share the title of your book, but The Joy of Eating might be an upcoming title.
It is innate. It’s something that children do. If you watch little children eat, they put their hands into cake, they are fully immersed in the experience, sometimes even smearing it all over their faces. When a child eats a strawberry, they’re like, “So exciting.” I was in Positano, and we went to a little grocery store there. They had a pint of beautiful, perfect strawberries. The difference was compared to the strawberries here, every single one of them was perfectly ripe. Every single one of those strawberries had the beautiful strawberry flavor. Some of them weren’t under ripe or over ripe. I have a pint of strawberries in my fridge and half of them are dying and the other half are not ripe. We got that pint of strawberries, me and the woman I’m staying with. Every morning we would sit there and eat strawberries, which I remember from my childhood, but something I rarely do anymore. That’s what we need to get back to, that enjoyment.
Would you give us the name of your book?
The book is called the Food Addiction Recovery Workbook. There are a lot of people in this country and around the world who identify being a food addict. In that book, I get into talking about what that means. It’s not so much about the food, it’s about our own ways that we use food and how food solves a lot of our problems, whether it be the problem of stress or the problem of a sadness or loneliness. It may surprise a lot of readers, but it also will be validating for people who consider themselves to be food addicts.
The other books you’ve written? I want people to be able to get those resources.
The first one was The Binge Eating and Compulsive Overeating Workbook. The second one was The Emotional Eating Workbook. These are all workbooks including The Food Addiction book. The good part about that is people can go through some of the same processes in the privacy of their own homes that I use with my patients in my office and with the online coaching for them.
What’s the best way for people to get the new book?
It’s available at Amazon. It’s also available on the publisher’s website, and that’s NewHarbinger.com,
It’s so profound what we can learn from other people’s reinvention stories, those pivotal moments in their life. Would you share one or as many as you’d like?
I’ve had many more pivots than I expected. Once you go to medical school and you become a doctor, you think, “I’m set for life. I’m going to be a doctor.” I’ll talk about one that was probably the biggest in my life in terms of upheaval for me. That was around the beginning of 2001. I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. At that time, I had a large women’s center clinic in San Diego. When I say large, I had a 5,000 square foot lease, which I had renovated. I had fifteen employees, so it was a big deal; a lot of overhead and a lot of responsibilities. I loved what I was doing, but I was beginning to get burned out and I don’t think I paid much attention. I thought, “Keep your head down, keep working, you’ll figure it out. It’ll all get better.” I’m sure a lot of people do that. I talk to patients all the time who were doing the same thing and didn’t recognize that’s what was happening. It was a call to action for me.
I got so sick that I couldn’t work for two years. I couldn’t work because my brain wasn’t working. I would forget the dosages of medications. I would have trouble remembering to do stuff. I didn’t want to hurt anybody. I decided at that point that it’s time for me to step aside. At that time, I didn’t even know if I would ever be able to come back to medicine. Having been at that point in medicine and been in intense practices where I had close relationships with my patients, it was a huge loss for me. To get up in the morning and not put on the white coat, not be called Dr. Ross, all of those things were surprisingly traumatic. It was like grieving.
I had to go through that process of grieving what I thought was going to be my life. There I was, in bed for two years, and I didn’t know what was going to happen next. Financially, I thought I was completely equipped for this, but my disability company refused to pay me disability even though I paid on the policy for 25 years. They didn’t accept the diagnosis, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. It was not an acceptable diagnosis in medicine in 2000. I had very little money coming in. I had a six-year-old son to support on my own, and the financial stress was added to the stress of being sick and trying to figure out, “What am I going to do with my life. How am I going to support myself?”
To make a long story short, I went through an incredible process. One of the things that was a surprising help to me is the meetings of alternative medicine practitioners. My doctor didn’t know what to do for me. When I was in those meetings, I would hear stories about people who have had miraculous cures from lung cancer, from things that the western medicine doesn’t consider curable. I thought, “If somebody can cure themselves from lung cancer, then maybe there’s hope for me. I started talking to these people and I would call them up and say, “I heard about your story. Can you tell me more about this because I need inspiration? I need hope that I can get better.”
I met these incredible people. And they were just normal people. They weren’t super special, but they had these miraculous cures. Each time I met them, I would listen to their stories. As I listened to their stories, I heard several things that they’d repeat over and over. One of the things is that, “Illness is a call to action.” When I started to hear this, I started to ask myself, “What am I being called to do?” I realized at that point that what I had been doing was finished, and I needed to look forward to the next step. That was one of the several things that I heard. I wrote about this in the very first book I wrote, which I self-published and it’s called Miracles Beyond Medicine. Those people helped me so much to learn about how to use my illness to pivot. Often times when you have an illness or serious injury or something that just throws you down, it is that chance to pivot.
Over time, I started feeling a little bit better and I decided to do a fellowship in integrative medicine because these alternative practitioners had helped me so much and I wanted to be able to help patients in that way. I was very fortunate, although it surprised me, but I applied to the fellowship with Andrew Weil’s program in Tucson and I was accepted. That was my lifeline. My son and I picked up and we moved to Tucson. I had $20 in my bank account left, and we barely had enough money to pay for a Motel 8 in Tucson. The people in the fellowship didn’t know any of this. They didn’t know how they were my lifeline, but that was the beginning of how my career changed. I did the two-year fellowship, I got a settlement from the disability company, and then I started focusing on integrative medicine.
This was a catalyst? The getting knocked down was a catalyst for you to pivot. How do you define pivot? Because a lot of people think of a pivot as something that is negative, that somehow it means something didn’t work, so now I’ve got to change. Change is uncertain and change is scary, and you don’t know what it’s going to bring. It’s something people resist, and we know what you resist creates suffering. How do you use that chance to pivot? What does that mean to you?
The chance to pivot is more in hindsight because you do go into the belly of the beast when you are going through something like this. Oftentimes, it takes a massive amount of suffering to get people to change. This was what it took for me because I was so wedded to my persona in San Diego as this innovative women’s health doctor. I had received all of these civic awards for my work and my patients loved me. The day I was moving out of my office, one of my patients came in unannounced and said, “Dr. Ross, I heard you’re closing your practice. Are you okay?” In her mind, it would have taken something like “she’s dying in order for her to close her practice.” That’s the perception they had. It’s a perception that I had too, that I would never have changed. It’s hard when you’re in the middle of that change to see it as positive.
[Tweet “Illness is a call to action.”]
It’s normal to be in the middle of it, to be in the belly of the beast. In that moment not to have the hindsight and the wisdom even to see it as positive?
That’s why I said that the people who had had miracles were so important to me because here I am, so sick, I can’t get out of bed, and I hear them say, “I got better.” I didn’t feel in my heart it was possible for me to get better because I was that sick. When I heard one person after another and after another say, “Here’s what happened for me,” When I heard their stories, it enabled me to have some hope. That was part of what helped me to see the opportunity in all of this, was hearing their stories.
Being in the belly of the beast is what Pivot, the book, is all about. I remember writhing in pain in my office the day that it closed. I had my near-death thing, I was in the hospital thinking, “I’m having a heart attack.”It turns out it’s an anxiety attack. I didn’t go through what you went through, that’s why I’m riveted, because you got into the belly. I went to the place where I was hating life. I woke up in the morning and put my feet on the floor and I’m going, “Shit.” That’s the first word out of my mouth, “Shit. I can’t believe this is me, this is what I’m doing.”I was making a lot of money. From an ego standpoint or from the way people would look at it, the way they look at you, people thought you were at the pinnacle of success. You have a very good thriving practice. You are a doctor. You have defied the odds.
I’m the same thing. I’m a lawyer, multi-state practice, multi-millions of dollars, and I hate life. I’m hating my who I am. The pain was so excruciating that I was almost sickened by myself. I was making myself sick. Part of my pivot didn’t result in either my screwing up my marriage or screwing up my health or diving. I’m not an addictive personality, so I didn’t do those things and go buy a Ferrari and drive off with a half-age girl. I was so miserable on the inside. When I closed my practice, I’m lying on the floor, writhing in pain and crying because there is a shredding truck for two days shredding my files. I realized that this was the end of something significant. As you close your office, I can only imagine you realizing in that moment that it was the end of a chapter.
Having the women’s center was a dream that I had conceived ten years before. For the first five years, I worked toward that goal and then developed these beautiful facilities and this wonderful practice. It was a dream that I had fulfilled. It was a dream out of nothing because at that time, there were no women’s centers other than what they call women’s centers, which were mammography centers. Mine was a full-on practice for women to get their healthcare needs met. Like you inside, I was miserable. I was so tired, I was exhausted. I didn’t have enough time to spend with my son. I felt incredibly stressed with all the responsibilities I had. On the outside, everybody saw, “She’s a hardworking, competent physician.” On the inside, I was dying. That’s what it took for me to make the pivot. I had to get really sick.
When you’re in the belly of the beast, which some of you may be right at this moment, we all are on some level. Life is about change. It’s the only constant thing we can count on. Being great at change and great at having perspective and even being able to know that there’ll be a time when you’re at the top of another staircase looking back down, you can see how all the stairs logically fit together. When we’re at the bottom looking up into the darkness, it’s very difficult to see that, to have that perspective. Let’s imagine ourselves all in the process of change wherever we are. Fast forward a year, three years, five years from now, look back down that staircase to be able to see that logical progression of things fitting together, this orderliness to the universe.
Even if you can’t imagine how it’s going to turn out, what kept me going was having the feeling that somehow it would turn out. I could say to myself, “I don’t see where it’s headed. I could not have seen what happened next in my life. I had no clue, and yet I did feel like I had to put one foot in front of the other to move forward into that darkness with the stance that there is a light at the end of the tunnel somewhere. It may take longer than I had hoped,” and it certainly did. My middle son has suffered with severe mental illness since he was eighteen. He had crushing depression and he tried everything from medication to exercise to taking vitamins to meditation. He was extremely proactive in his own behalf, and yet he could not get through it.
It was one bout after another until when he was 29, the first year right after I left to go to the fellowship in Tucson, we got word that he had died, and he was only 29 years old. That was an even more crushing blow for me than being ill or being under financial stress. I can’t describe to you if you’ve not lost a child. It’s hard to describe, but I felt like I had left my body and it was so surreal. It was so deeply painful. It was the most painful thing that I ever experienced. It brought me into a sense of perspective about everything that I was seeing as wrong in my life. When you get to that place where you lose the person that’s most valuable to you, where your heart is broken to that degree, it puts the rest of your life in perspective, whether it be my career, which was always my number one focus, it became, “Who cares?” I honestly don’t care anymore because I am so devastated.
What that led to was an even better pivot than I could’ve expected. After I left the fellowship with this broken heart and this desire to do something to memorialize my son, to not make his death meaningless, I was given the opportunity to work with people with mental health issues, addictions and eating disorders. I felt that if I kept one mother, one father from losing their child from depression or from addiction or eating disorders, then that would be a tribute to my own son, and that would help me to heal. That’s exactly what happened. After I left the fellowship, I serendipitously got this position at Sierra Tucson working with an incredible team to help patients with eating disorders and addictions and depression.
I remember so many times in that year after my son died, sitting in front of terrified parents whose daughter or son had been admitted to the program, and they had overdosed on heroin and they had all these frightening experiences. I could sit across from them and talk to them and say, “I know how you feel. I know that terror. I know what you’re going through.”I’ll do my best to help them move through that and change their perspective on the situation. That’s what my son’s death brought me. I’ve always been an empathetic person and I’ve had a lot of loss in my life, but this one was crushing. It was literally crushing, and coming out of that, I did have a different level of compassion, a more of a depth of compassion.
In the pivot process, part of it is levels of our own self-acceptance. It’ll always come back to self-love and self-care. Wherever we are meeting ourselves in this moment, in the belly of the beast, the good, the bad, the ugly, the ability to care for ourselves and love ourselves enough in that moment, to not judge, but simply to be willing to take the next step, that’s what you did. You kept one foot going in front of the other in a time when looking into the darkness could never have predicted what would’ve come.
To have enough faith, that mustard seed, to be able to take that step forward. In listening to you, people that are in the middle of that and haven’t written a book about it or haven’t experienced some of the devastating things that you have and you’ve been speaking about, for them to have a little voice in their head that might say, “I can ask what is the opportunity? What is the creative opportunity here for me, for the growth?”
In my first book that I self-published called Miracles Beyond Medicine, I wrote about my own journey to healing and the miracles that helped me along the way. There are several things that the people who had miracles told me about. I heard when they spoke about their stories, several things. The other one was there’s many roads to healing. As a western-trained medicine doctor, I had some experience, but not a lot, with healing through other methodologies or spirituality. The people I heard about had done lots of different things to get well. Everything from going to Mexico and being seen in clinics there, to reading certain books about spirituality, to using certain rituals and whatever they had used had worked for them. If you say, “He got cured from lung cancer using (fill in the blank), Maybe we can use that on everyone else with lung cancer, ”that’s not how it works, and that’s what I figured out.
My colleagues say to me, “You healed from chronic fatigue syndrome. Tell us what we can tell our patients.” The only thing I can tell them is it’s a journey. It’s a very personal journey. There is no one thing, there’s no magic that works there. You have to find your way through the journey. For me it was spirituality, it was grief, it was supplements, acupuncture, Phoenix rising Yoga, many of which I’d never heard of. I did what I was drawn to do and that’s what healed me. It’s not satisfying to western medicine because in Western medicine, we say, “Caroline just took this one pill. She took this one supplement and that’s what cured her.”
I probably took 100 supplements all at the same time, and that’s not what cured me. It was that and time and patience and all of that. I’m not a religious person, but during that time there was a scripture that helped me to have faith, and that was the 23rd Psalm. Sometimes before I would go to bed, I would say to myself the 23rd Psalm or the Lord’s Prayer because those gave me a sense of comfort. Even though that’s something from my childhood Southern Baptist past, it still gave me comfort. I didn’t scoff at it because it made me feel good.
The Lord is my shepherd. There’s two things I wanted to cover. One has to do with rituals and practices that support you. You’ve had a more recent pivot that might be helpful for people to know about and would empower folks. It’s not a health pivot, so it’s not that related thing but something different many years later. We’re always pivoting, and this is part of the great learning. Not the learning, but the appreciation for the importance of our growth and to have the humility to know that we always have to stay up, that growing is a part of the evolution. To not resist growing is incredibly important. Would you share that more recent pivot?
I’m back practicing medicine. Having gone through so much pain and loss in the last years and being a doctor, you train yourself not to show your emotions, not to be too vulnerable. There’s a part of what we learned in medical school, which is you’re in charge. You’re not the one who’s crying when someone dies. That had become a persona for me. What I wanted more than anything was to regain some of my ability to live from my heart. I was given a challenge by my mentor, whose name is Adam, to do something which on the surface is simple, and that’s to do some Facebook Live posts.
I about had a panic attack thinking about doing those. I started realizing what’s going on here, and numerous conversations with people. They’d say, “What’s the big deal? You speak in front of people all the time.”I was given an opportunity to speak at a community center on addictions, and as I was sitting in the audience listening to the speakers who preceded me, I started to feel like there was an opportunity for me to speak from my heart. I had all these notes about what I was going to talk about. I got up on the stage, and I was literally shaking. My legs were shaking, my voice was shaky. I started by saying what I said to you, that I’m a doctor. I talk about my personal experience with addictions, but I’m going to do that. I talked about the effect that I have two brothers who I had been close to.
One of them just passed away a month ago. One was a heroin addict, one was a crack addict. I talked about the experience of being their sister, of being a doctor, and wanting so badly to help them. I felt like all of the skills that I have and helping all these other people. Why can’t I help my own brothers? Why can’t I get them to stop using? It was a powerful experience for me to share my story with the people in that room. I’m sure many of whom have been family members of people with addictions of both. For me, it was breakthrough because I was able to speak from my heart and let the shaky legs do their thing.
What’s a ritual or practice that keeps you going one step forward?
Staying grounded. That’s my biggest ritual. I do it in various ways. Mainly for me, it’s staying in my body, feeling the sensations on the inside of my body. Whenever I find myself feeling anxious or distracted or stressed, I try to come back to feeling the sensations inside of my body so that I can stay grounded and therefore aware of what’s going on. I am part of a group of people who meet on a regular basis every other week and we talk about things like being in the now and being aware of how we can improve our lives and live from our hearts and live from the place of being in the now. That’s something that sustains me, having that regular connection with people who are on the same path as I am.
I meditate from time to time. Not as much as I used to, but that’s always available to me. I’ve been able to do something I wanted to do for a long time, and that is to exercise regularly. I made a commitment to go to the gym at least once a week. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m going to the gym twice a week and I also go to a Pilates class once a week, so I do three different exercise experiences per week. I do that without fail, whether I’m traveling or not, unless I’m sick or injured. That has given me an enormous amount of satisfaction because I’ve been able to show myself that I could trust myself to do what I said I was going to do.
[Tweet “Staying grounded. That’s my biggest ritual.”]
This is what’s been daily rumination. It always comes back to this for me, this idea that we have to live a life that we truly love. We have to love ourselves. We don’t have very good models for how to love ourselves. To give yourself unconditional attention and to take care of yourself the way you’re doing when you go to the gym, it’s a visceral experience of love for yourself. It leads to trust. It leads to self-trust, which enables you then. That idea of how do you pivot? How is it that you can be in the belly of the beast and still move forward toward the things that you want or the things that the universe has for you and that is in store for you in the future, in the dark that you can’t see?
You have to be resilient to be able to go after those things, to be around long enough to see them come to fruition. Taking care of yourself and being able to trust in yourself and trust in that unknown is the key. You’re just embodying that, and literally how beautiful. Thank you so much for being with us and for sharing your incredible pivot stories and your wisdom. Is there anything you’d like to say before we sign off?
I love being with you and I love being on your podcast. I encourage your audience to continue to take those steps forward and not to lose hope and not to lose faith.
Have a beautiful and blessed day. Wake up tomorrow morning. Wake up this moment. Every moment you get an opportunity to be conscious and love yourself, love yourself more fully. Our practice, our ritual that we share and love to share it is that you get a chance to start your day fresh tomorrow. It’s a new beginning. It’s a new day. Put your feet on the floor. Be grateful for that conscious breath that you’re taking as other people everywhere around this world, there will be people taking their last breath in that moment. If you’re inclined to say it or think it, declare it out loud, if you like with your hand on your heart or arms up in the air to say, “I love my life.”
- Dr. Carolyn Ross
- Michio Kushi
- Andrew Weil
- The Joy of Eating Well
- The Joy of Sex
- Food Addiction Recovery Workbook
- The Binge Eating and Compulsive Overeating Workbook
- The Emotional Eating Workbook
- Miracles Beyond Medicine
- Sierra Tucson
About Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross
Dr. Ross completed her undergraduate degree in Modern Foreign Languages at Purdue University and then was a full-time mother of her two older sons before returning to school to complete her Pre-Med requirements. She then went to the University of Michigan Medical School. Dr. Ross’s practice experience after medical school helped fuel her interest in understanding what makes people heal as she saw that most of her patients’ medical problems were related to lifestyle habits and the stresses of modern living.
In searching for a better way to address these issues, Dr. Ross began to explore complementary and alternative therapies and the use of herbs and supplements for her patients. She then completed a residency in Preventive Medicine at Loma Linda University and set up practice in San Diego, California, where she eventually opened three women’s centers where she practiced primary care and office gynecology. Her women’s centers integrated the best of western medicine with complementary and alternative therapies such as yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic, and nutrition counseling. She developed and ran a weight management program that offered a holistic approach to treating obesity. During that time, she also served as the medical director of The Rader Institute’s inpatient eating disorder program.