Lifestyle Medicine at Willowbend Health & Wellness
Dr. Phyllis Gee, founder of Willowbend Health & Wellness, practices lifestyle medicine, which emphasizes diet, stress, sleep and other preventative measures to address health issues and help patients become partners in their own health journey.
Gee was born in Baltimore and was raised in Long Island, New York, by her aunt and uncle after her mother died at age 45 from breast cancer. That experience would later play a role in her decision to become a medical doctor, but during high school, she wanted to be a nutritionist. “It didn’t make sense that someone that didn’t even eat many vegetables decided to major in nutrition in college,” Gee muses, but realizes in retrospect that an interest in preventative health was taking root during her teens.
During undergraduate studies at Cornell University, Gee took a summer internship promoting healthy eating in East Harlem, New York. There, she gained more insight into the work of nutritionists and was intrigued by the clinical aspects of the profession, inspiring a change of major to premed. After graduation, she was accepted at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, in Detroit.
Gee chose the OB/GYN specialty because she could serve younger patients through preventative care, perform surgery and deliver babies. She worked in public health for the National Health Service Corps while serving on the faculty of Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital at Harlem Hospital Center, in New York City.
Gee and her husband eventually opted for a more relaxed lifestyle and lower cost of living by moving to Dallas after visiting the area during one of his business trips. Here, Gee worked for the Cigna insurance health maintenance organization, but her interest in preventative care continued to grow. She learned more about chiropractic medicine and took nutrition classes that taught her new and different information.
After completing functional medicine training through the Kresser Institute Adapt Practitioner Functional Medicine Training program, Gee opened Willowbend Health & Wellness in 2019. Having her own practice allows her to speak more authoritatively about getting well and staying well through prevention.
Maintaining Healthy Lifestyles
Gee meets patients where they are and educates them about her services, along with preventative lifestyle measures such as diet, stress management and sleep. “If people address those three issues first, often they will find health challenges improve even without supplements or detailed lab testing,” she says.
Her especially designed programs, such as Restore Your Health Metabolic Reset, address common disorders that include cardiovascular issues and diabetes. Gee’s Women’s Wellness program features preventive hormone and health management options, and sexual wellness options like non-surgical treatment for urinary incontinence or low libido.
Gee has a 10-week program that comprises educational modules patients can access virtually online. Because many health issues stem from obesity, she provides guidance for healthy, achievable, weight loss, along with whole body detoxification and movement. “I tell people that joining a gym and doing intensive exercise is not necessarily required, but movement is,” Gee explains. “Doing low-intensity, restorative exercise like yoga is also very beneficial.”
Optimal health begins with healing the gut, which can be damaged by processed foods and sedentary lifestyles, Gee advises. She recommends supplements when necessary, such as vitamin D complex, turmeric and omega-3s, yearly detoxification and mental wellness measures such as maintaining social networks with family and friends and building mind-body connections through meditation or prayer.
Many people begin their new year with ambitious health and fitness goals, but sometimes falter midway through the year. Gee recommends intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating as an approachable way to maintain health goals and healthy weight. Intermittent fasting involves not eating for periods ranging from hours to days. Gee says eating within a certain time frame can help improve digestion and allow the body to rest and restore while sleeping.
Gee doesn’t advocate completely restricting certain foods, but rather maintaining a balanced diet that includes organic foods when possible. Regular checkups, monthly self-breast exams and periodic lab work round out her wellness recommendations. She says, “Functional medicine offers an opportunity to restore heath before resorting to pharmaceuticals. Drugs have a place, but catching issues early can allow us to take a natural approach.”
Willowbend Health & Wellness is located at 4601 Old Shepherd Pl., Bldg. 2, Ste. 201, in Plano. For more information, call 469-361-4000 or visit WillowbendHealthandWellness.com.