Saturday Dec 12, 2020

Episode 4: Money, Lean Living, and Standing Up for What You Believe In with Dr. Rachel Sterry

Episode 4: Money, Lean Living, and Standing up for What You Believe In with Dr. Rachel Sterry

In this episode, Jason Stein interviews Dr. Rachel Sterry, a naturopathic physician who helps soon-to-be mamas balance their hormones… and their sanity! 

After declining an offer to attend Harvard Medical School, Dr. Rachel received her medical training from the National University of Natural Medicine. She’s worn many hats over the last 10 years - personal trainer, yoga instructor, physician, doula - but her mission remains the same: to help mothers reclaim their health and live the life they envisioned outside of the broken mainstream medical industry.

Join Jason and Rachel as they talk about:

  • How to balance making money and living your life on the Renegade path
  • Getting rid of the stigma that naturopathic physicians are “less than” M.D. and D.Os
  • Why she’s stopped taking insurance in her business
  • The power of letting go of things you don’t believe in and holding space for what you want in life
  • What Dr. Rachel loves most about having a lean business and life
  • Her advice for Wellness Renegades for heading into 2021

Connect with Dr. Rachel:


Jason Stein  0:03  
Hi. Hi,

Dr. Rachel Sterry  0:05  
This is not Jason Stein, and welcome to another episode of the wellness Renegade podcast. Here, we explore the crossroads of wellness entrepreneurs like you and me. We're committed to making money well, helping others live healthier lives, people who are going against big pharma, insurance conglomerates and the mainstream medical models. Each episode, we journey into the challenges and breakthroughs it takes to own your own business, pave a path through conventional medicine and truly become a wellness.

Jason Stein  0:38  
I wanted to hear somebody else say it. So I invited my partner in crime my partner in personal life, professional life, and my wife, Dr. Rachel Sterry. Welcome, welcome. I'm not using a microphone today, so I hope that we're picking up the sound okay, because our life has changed dramatically in the last six months.

Dr. Rachel Sterry  1:05  
It's accurate!

Jason Stein  1:06  
You want to tell them a little bit about where we've gone, what we've done?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  1:10  
Well, we started in Portland, in a charming little bungalow, built in 1910, in southeast Portland, and uprooted and moved to about as far east as you can go in Oregon: Joseph. And where the morning temperature is about 18 degrees. And there's snow on the ground as we speak. And we're living in a tiny house in an RV Park, which is way classier than it sounds. We recently bought commercial real estate and are creating something spectacular.

Jason Stein  1:49  
More to come on that. Now, one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the podcast was that you are a true Renegade: you work for yourself, you have two kids under five years old, you have so many credentials - personal trainer, yoga instructor, physician. It just goes on and on,

Dr. Rachel Sterry  2:17  
I was a doula, but I didn't keep that one up. 

Jason Stein  2:19  
And so my question to you, like, the first question is, how do you navigate how to make money and live your life on the renegade path?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  2:35  
Hmm. It is an interesting question, because, um, although money is certainly an important facet in our society, it's never been a driver. For me. It's always been sort of this elusive thing that was out there. And it wasn't until I met you that I started to change my relationship with money and realize that it's not just about saving. It's about being in circulation.

I don't know if this is something that you've shared with others, but I am. I am I would frugal be the right word.

Jason Stein  3:11  
Yes, you are frugal. Yeah.

Dr. Rachel Sterry  3:14  
Um, I enjoy saving and not spending. So, you know, my tactic when I lived alone was playing games with myself, like, how long can I go before I turn the heat on? Because that's gonna save money. Or how long can I go without buying any new food and see like how much of my pantry I can go through? Little things like that. One winter, I didn't turn my heat on at all. So I'm back to your original question. The balance of making money is the only way that it's really worked for me is to find something that I genuinely love doing. And I am passionate about helping others live in a healthful way that's in integrity with themselves. And I believe that most of us are not there. Unfortunately.

Jason Stein  4:08  
It's interesting, because when I met you, I remember you had a lot in - well, let me back it up. When we first met, we met in the gym and I asked you to coffee and you weren't sure as a business coach and consultant if I wanted your business, or I wanted your *business* 

Dr. Rachel Sterry  4:29  
Did you know? 

Jason Stein  4:29  
No, I really did. I just wanted to take you. I wasn't interested, I wasn't interested in being your coach until I found your accounts receivable was outstanding of not letting your patients know that they owe you money. And I remember that journey as you started to become more and more clear that as a wellness practitioner, you can't just give it all away.

Dr. Rachel Sterry  4:53  
Yeah, it's okay to ask to get paid. But it's a hard journey because there are many times where I spend an entire session with a patient and I, um, you know, a lot of the work that I do - well, I order labs and I write prescriptions, and I but so much of it feels like counseling, because so much of our illnesses are chronic disease, and so much of that is, is really laid upon this stressful environment that we've created. And so a lot of my work is centered around talking to people about the biggest stressors in their lives and how to realistically shift them in a meaningful way that will stick. And I oftentimes felt guilty about like... well, I mean, like, anybody can talk to somebody. So I don't want them to feel like I'm taking advantage of them. I just, you know, I'll see if they remember to pay me.

I remember the guilt went away when she when when you met a wellness coach that was making like, triple what you were making with like a 10th of the knowledge base and pissed and how angry you were

Not at myself but at her! I was like "You charlatan, that's ridiculous." I want to at least get paid like a fifth of that.

Jason Stein  6:20  
So the other thing that I remember you navigating around money was you were offered a very high end position with an HMO as a naturopathic physician with a six figure position. And you turned him down.

Dr. Rachel Sterry  6:37  
I did. I did that happened.

Jason Stein  6:40  
That must have felt good. 

Dr. Rachel Sterry  6:42  

Jason Stein  6:45  
Not at the time?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  6:47  
It was what'd it feel? How did it feel? It just felt like, Well, I know I can't do that right now. Um, and it wasn't necessarily because I didn't believe in the company at the time. But I had Cooper, and he was, oh, he was less than a month old. And they were offering, you know, six weeks, or if that, because I would be relatively new to the company. And I countered with halftime proposal. And, you know, they had enough applicants that they didn't need to accept that because they were looking for a full time position. But when I have clarity on something, it's never, never really very difficult for me to decide. And I think that the universe knew that I wouldn't be happy even as a part time, because I don't know, I spend an awful lot of time for my kids.

Jason Stein  7:45  
You do love our kids. It's true. So I'm gonna put you on the spot. And I often run into renegades that really sometimes struggle with money, because it isn't a driver. But they also struggle with visibility. Because like you they're extremely humble. And I'm wondering, um, you originally wanted to be cardio surgeon, cardiovascular. Yeah, cardiovascular surgeon, and you got accepted to Harvard. And you don't ever let anyone know that not in your bio?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  8:27  
I did. I changed my bio, because you harped on me for three years.

Unknown Speaker  8:30  
So, why was that so hard? 

Dr. Rachel Sterry  8:31  
Because I didn't go. So why does it matter? 

Jason Stein  8:34  
Well, because you were you got to choose whether you could go or not.

Dr. Rachel Sterry  8:38  
 Lots of people get to make choices. Not everyone, it's not every choice you've made in your life.

Jason Stein  8:43  
So is the only reason that you put it in your bio is because I asked you... that I thought it

Dr. Rachel Sterry  8:48  
Didn't just ask! Every time we talked...

Jason Stein  8:51  
I did, I harped. It's true. And so is that the only reason you put it in? And now that it's in? Do you feel that it adds value?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  8:59  
I just try not to look at my bio!

Jason Stein  9:04  
There was zero transformation or breakthrough in that conversation there. I am curious if you guys are listening to this podcast, if you reach out to us, if you were a naturopathic physician or even a healer of some sort, and you did get into Harvard Medical School, would you let people know or not?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  9:25  
It just feels obnoxious and braggy? What like, if that's not the path I chose to take? Why am I putting it in there except to be like "ding ding ding!", ring your own bell.

Jason Stein  9:35  
Well, because your bio, especially in this climate when more and more people are online looking for health care options or wellness options. It is important to have that thing. It's one of the things that sets you apart. But I am curious from you guys, because maybe I should have just kept my mouth shut. 

Dr. Rachel Sterry  9:58  
You don't have to do that!

Jason Stein  10:01  
I do I do sometimes. So, let me ask you some other questions. Um, have you ever felt treated by the medical community as "less than" for being a naturopathic physician rather than a DO or an MD?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  10:18  
Absolutely. But more so my patients are really... what do they say? "I have to talk with my real doctor." or -

Jason Stein  10:28  
"With my real doctor," that's what they say to you?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  10:31  
Or "I was seeing I was seeing a real doctor before I came to see you." Or, I mean, "I'm open to anything, even things that are crazy." I mean, it's nothing overtly negative, it's just these little side comments where they clearly in in their mind, you are not at the same level as the medical doctor that they were seeing through their insurance or their HMO or whomever.

Jason Stein  11:00  
And so most people may or may not know, in the state of Oregon as a naturopathic physician that you can take full insurance. You had your DEA license, so you can prescribe hardcore drugs.

Dr. Rachel Sterry  11:14  
Yeah, you're you're licensed as a primary care physician, you can do minor surgery, you can prescribe narcotics, you can do the whole shebang. And I did have my DEA for goodness, 10 years, six years, some number of years. But I realized that I didn't believe in the medications that it allowed me to prescribe. And it was paying into a system I didn't agree with. So I stopped doing that. I got off the insurance panels, because I really didn't agree. I still don't agree with the system as it exists, which is why I don't have health insurance myself. Because I don't want to pay into either end.

Jason Stein  12:02  
Now that can be a whole nother episode, because that's something we don't talk about a lot. But we do have some systems and strategies around 

Dr. Rachel Sterry  12:12  
Yeah, don't get hurt. 

Jason Stein  12:13  
Well, no, that's not. Yeah, great. That one only works for those but their heads in the sand works for me. And you got hit by a car.

Dr. Rachel Sterry  12:22  
And what happened? Is it being covered?

Jason Stein  12:25  
It is being covered. It is.

Dr. Rachel Sterry  12:27  
By our car insurance!

Jason Stein  12:28  
Fine, it is. So, we're going down a rabbit hole. I am curious about this insurance conversation because I'm adamant about it as well. I try to let my clients choose for themselves. But I believe it's a mucked up system. And that many times as a wellness Renegade, if you're taking insurance, a couple things can happen. One is they have a team of people trying to deny your coverage. Every year, they're trying to give you lower coverage. And they can do chargeback. So do you remember when BlueCross BlueShield came to you? And they were like - how much was that?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  13:05  
It was close to $5,000

Jason Stein  13:07  
So $5,000 they came back to you. And they're like "We made a clerical error. You owe us $5,000." And did you pay?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  13:14  
I was enormously lucky. Like, that wasn't luck. It was because of my stellar service. But my patient paid it.

Jason Stein  13:26  
Oh, so your patient. So you asked your patient?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  13:28  
I did not. She got the same letter that I did. And she knew what was happening. And she contacted me - you know, my money issues, I wouldn't have asked her to pay for it. And she said, "This is not right. I want you to be paid for your services."

Jason Stein  13:40  
Now, how freeing was that when you stopped taking insurance altogether?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  13:45  
It should have never taken in the first place. It was, Yeah.

Jason Stein  13:48  
What would you say for the listeners that are wellness renegades and they're like, but it's where the majority of my money comes from?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  13:57  
Um, would you sell drugs? 

Jason Stein  13:59  
Nice, good answer.

Dr. Rachel Sterry  14:00  
Um, would you steal cars and break them apart and sell them for their parts? Because you can get a lot of money that way. Do you prostitute? Because those things make a lot of money? That's what I'd say.

Jason Stein  14:14  
Yeah. So you're against it, apparently.

Dr. Rachel Sterry  14:17  
Yeah, I mean, fear is a huge driver. I get that.

Jason Stein  14:19  
Yeah, you were in it for a long time where you didn't want to let it go. Yeah,

Dr. Rachel Sterry  14:23  
I guess that my feelings of - my feelings around supporting things I believe in and letting go of things, I don't know, have gotten stronger as I've gotten older? They've also gotten a lot stronger since I've had kids. And so I think I have the freedom to do that. And I really have seen time after time when you open space for something to come in. And it can't come in if the space isn't there. It can't happen until you're willing to learn to let it go, it can't be filled. 

Jason Stein  15:02  
That makes sense. And I've seen that myself where people say, "Well, I'll wean myself off." And the challenge is that it becomes, and you said, would you sell drugs, it is like a drug when you're getting paid by someone else by third party, but then they want to get involved. They want the chart notes, they want to say how much the payments going to be. And if they ever come back to you, and they're like, nope, we've decided not to pay you well...

Dr. Rachel Sterry  15:28  
And just google opioid addiction in the US. And like, that's a whole nother rabbit hole. But I mean, insurance pays for that.

Jason Stein  15:36  
Yeah, it is interesting that they pay for a lot of things that you and other providers may not offer. So it's a game, and you got to choose how to play the game for you. I'm not against my clients taking insurance when they're playing the game. And they know it's a game. But I don't think it's a good long term strategy. Because you never know when they're going to change the rules. So we've changed our lives dramatically. And one of the things that I love about being a wellness Renegade is when you're, when you're not in lots of debt, and you get to create what you want to create. It's easy to be nimble and make changes quickly. What's the number one thing you love about moving from being? Yeah, yeah, for those that can't see you, because there are a lot of podcast listeners. Rachel is moving into yoga poses. What's your favorite thing about having a lean business where you can be nimble, you can make changes, you can move to a small town, you can live in a tiny house, what do you love about it?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  16:55  
I feel like I'm living in integrity. That's what I love most about it

Jason Stein  16:59  
In the last five years, where did you feel most out of integrity?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  17:07  
Probably in the advice that I would give patients over and over and over again, about, you know, letting go of the fear of work, and the the never ending to do list and allow yourself to lean into freedom and possibility. Like, you know, I recognize now, being outside of the city, that so many of my days were spent, not spinning my wheels, that is an inaccurate representation. But I'm not - I'm not a good idler. And so I would fill my days up. And technology, I guess there's - there's really the baseline, I see how it's sort of taking over the world, I see the way that people are connected to their phones and their iPads, and I watch this younger generation. And I'm scared. And so I think that being in this place, I finally gave up my cell phone. I'm off of all social media, although I am coming on to help you just with Wellness Renegades as like, not as Rachel but as part of that entity. I'm so using it in ways that I can get on board with. But letting, truly letting go, of the ways that I don't agree with.

Jason Stein  18:41  
It's interesting because you're you lean really towards lean technology, but your business and Wellness Renegades is 100% online. So you had a patient today?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  18:54  
I did. And you know, I mean, I've always said I I prefer in person. When I see people, I like the one on one connection or the group connection. I enjoy teaching classes in person. Right now, that is just not an option for really, anyone anywhere. Well, at least in Oregon, I don't know how it isn't all the other states with COVID-19. And so it has been an interesting play between the two worlds. But part of what I'm looking forward to, and what we're creating, is the community building aspect.

Jason Stein  19:39  
One of one of my favorite things - because you've traveled with me as we've traveled to different countries - is meeting a client for the first time live. And it's really interesting noticing that a client that you sit down to and talk to, might be a lot taller or a lot shorter than you expected. So that's always fun to meet a client live. Uh, I'm curious for Wellness, Renegades, you know, the community, you know, several of the people, what do you think will be most helpful in the year 2021? in becoming more of a Renegade, for, for anyone, for the listeners, for the people within our own community.

Dr. Rachel Sterry  20:32  
There's the million dollar question.

Jason Stein  20:34  

Dr. Rachel Sterry  20:35  
What do I think will be the most helpful? And I think that going inward and discovering which practices in your daily life in your business life are you engaging in purely because you think you should be based on someone else's recommendations? Or out of fear? And figuring out how to let those go.

Jason Stein  21:03  
Hmm, I like it. I like it, because another client that you know, recently said, the internal community that we have on Facebook, of providers - this person said, what we're doing more than anyone else is that they're seeing is helping people transform fear. Yeah, well, any final words before we close out today?

Dr. Rachel Sterry  21:34  
Any final words? Um, how did you know? How did I know what - how did you know that you were asking me out for my *business* and not my business?

Jason Stein  21:52  
Oh, um, it's a great question. How did I know? Because I would have started with just a phone call. And I would have met you either at your office or somewhere else. I wasn't a business coffee shop person. So because I asked you to coffee. That wasn't my MO. Yeah.

Dr. Rachel Sterry  22:16  
So the woman you're meeting who owns a practice here - should I be worried?

Jason Stein  22:27  
No, that's a that's a past student. And, ah, I'm meeting her for coffee - not because I'm wanting her business. She's got a - 

Dr. Rachel Sterry  22:38  
I'm kidding!

Jason Stein  22:39  
Great, great. And this is the person that digs with teeth and bones. Yeah. So anything else? You keep going, I'm gonna have to edit something out. So, I'm going to just say thank you for being here!

Dr. Rachel Sterry  22:57  
Oh you're so welcome!

Jason Stein  23:00  
Alright, so this is Jason Stein, Dr. Rachel, and we're Wellness Renegades. Peace.

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