Female Disruptors: Maleen Avery & Anna Paulich of Rebel Medicine On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Don’t be afraid to repel people. You can’t please everyone. In the professional world of health care, we are obliged to treat everybody. We are not allowed to turn anyone away and that can be mentally draining when you and the patient are not the right fit.
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maleen Avery & Anna Paulich.
Board-certified weight loss physician, Dr Maleen Avery and Health Scientist/Nutritionist, Anna Paulich are on a mission to save women from having to sacrifice their body in order to have a child with their signature “Diet Killer” Body Transformation program.
By shifting away from diet mentality and government food guidelines to a science-backed way of eating, not only did Anna solve her infertility issues resulting in 2 amazing kiddos, but the duo lost a combined 100 lbs they had packed on during the postpartum years.
With a background in Biochemical Science and Medicine this powerhouse weight loss/sport medicine physician and holistic nutritionist/health scientist/ low carb & fasting coach share the latest scientifically proven methods that help moms reclaim their bodies from the societal lie that tells them to just accept their “mom bod” as a new normal.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Maleen: A few years ago, I was struggling as an overweight sports medicine physician and single mom. I didn’t have enough energy to meet the demands of a busy home and work life and I felt like a complete fraud giving my patients health advice that didn’t even work for me.
I tried and failed all the usual doctor-recommended weight loss methods and nothing worked. It got to the point where my patients were congratulating me on my pregnancy, except I wasn’t pregnant!
Things finally changed for me once I started digging into the science of fat loss and I realized that the weight was just a symptom of poor metabolic health and hormone imbalance.
I began to use personalized nutrition in my sport medicine practice to help people reduce pain and inflammation- the pleasant side effect was that they would drop weight, ditch medications and reverse chronic diseases! This changed my outlook on medicine and led me to switch gears and pursue my American Board of Obesity Medicine certification to become a weight loss and metabolic health physician.
But I soon became painfully aware that the medical system didn’t allow me to spend the necessary time with patients to help them achieve the deep mind-body transformation they desired. This is why I left clinical practice to build Rebel Medicine with Anna and deliver The Diet Killer program to women worldwide in the online space.
Anna: When it comes to health — I know my stuff inside out.
I have a Bachelor of Science in Applied Biology, a Diploma in Chemical and Biosciences Technology, I’m a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Keto and Fasting Coach, Certified Food Addiction Recovery coach, and Certified Personal Trainer. I’ve been working full time in the field of Diabetes for the last 12 years as an educator of Healthcare professionals .
I know what it’s like to feel frumpy and frustrated.
I was always referred to as “big-boned” when I was younger. Bingeing and restricting was my specialty. I used to binge on pizza pops, potato chips and kraft dinner.
I had no idea what that was doing to me at a cellular level at the time.
As I entered adulthood, I ended up piling on the weight and struggling later with thyroid disease and infertility.
All the free diet plans and high intensity workouts just didn’t work anymore.
After the birth of my son in 2013, I had severe joint aches and felt like crap. I knew it was something more than “just being a mom”.
A chance meeting with an endocrinologist led to a diagnosis of Graves disease which inspired me to get my nutrition in check. That was the missing puzzle piece this whole time. But I found way more than I was expecting. I discovered “The Switch” that even doctors and dietitians don’t know or speak about and was able to switch it off and heal my metabolism.
I lost 60+lbs and resolved my health issues. Now I have power over food instead of letting it control me. Nighttime cravings and hunger are gone. I have energy throughout the day and sleep like a baby at night and the best part is I now lose weight effortlessly!
It’s so powerful that it’s the exact same approach I teach my clients now.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
The diet and medical industries have gotten it wrong when it comes to weight loss for women. The typical advice fails because it doesn’t acknowledge the hormonal and biological differences men and women have in their weight loss experience.
We take a firm stance against outdated and dangerous advice including calorie restriction, moderation and portion control, as well as the most frustrating thing we hear from our colleagues: that people can’t make lifestyle changes on their own therefore we should always rely on weight loss medications and surgery.
Where the diet and medical industries fall flat is that they are focusing on temporary solutions to treat symptoms instead of addressing the root cause which in most cases has to do with appetite-regulating hormones and neurochemistry.
We teach women how to unlearn decades of biologically inappropriate diet advice that focuses on restriction which has damaged their metabolisms and we help them undo their unhealthy relationship with food. What we’ve learned is that weight is just a symptom of poor metabolic health. Once you restore health, the weight comes off.
The problem with a lot of the industry-sponsored dietary advice is that it’s biased and often sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and processed food manufacturers. And worse, studies are not typically focused on the female postpartum experience. We therefore take our knowledge of female biology and apply it specifically to the scope of weight loss and metabolic health.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We’ve come a long way from when we first met each other 2 years ago. And while our experiences were raw, we now look back and chuckle about it. We can appreciate how far we’ve come and the valuable lessons we’ve learned along the way.
We met each other while working in a publicly-funded medical clinic run by a non-medical CEO whose only goal was to ensure a rapid turnover of patients to make a quick profit. As a result, we lost total control of our processes while finding ourselves stuck in an environment that wasn’t aligned with what we wanted our brand or vision to be.
It was quite comical because Anna was used to coaching high end clients via her online worldwide coaching platform but then was forced to lower her standards and work in a dumpy clinic where the lights were flickering in patient rooms and people were begging for money and shouting obscenities outside the front door. The environment was so chaotic that we stopped measuring our patient’s blood pressures because they were inevitably through the roof when they arrived in the chaos.
While we made someone else money, we lost our own financial investments and our identities in the process. Maleen was told how to practice medicine and Anna was told to pump people through the program so that more revenue could be generated.
Enough was enough. We were both miserable and burned out and knew that something had to change. It was then that we decided to cut our losses and exit the public healthcare system. We partnered with each other in the online space to deliver a superior quality service aligned with our standards that would get our clients the deep transformative results they deserved.
The lesson we learned was that we had to step out of the healthcare system in order to be able to help women fix their metabolic health and finally get results. It’s crazy to realize that in order to actually get healthy and prevent/ reverse chronic disease, it often takes an act of rebellion against the established medical care guidelines to accomplish this.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
Dr. Jason Fung, author of The Obesity Code, was an early mentor of ours. We both shadowed him in his fasting clinic in Toronto, Ontario.
What we do now is very different from him but we admire Dr. Fung because he stepped out of the physician mold and shook up the diet and medical industry with his books. By not being afraid to spread his message, he changed so many lives. He was the one who advised Maleen to pursue her American Board of Obesity Medicine certification.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
From our perspective, biologically appropriate nutrition for women that is science-based should really be considered the standard of care instead of one-size-fits-all approaches that are really geared towards men and are pushed on women by the government and food industry. When these approaches don’t work for us, we feel like failures when in fact, it was the biologically inappropriate recommendations that failed us.
An example of a negative diet industry disruptor is the gluten free craze. People often mistake a product as being healthy because it is labelled as gluten free. However, what they don’t realize is that the food is still processed and is full of ingredients that promote inflammation and further metabolic damage. This is why people on a gluten-free diet may experience temporary results, but eventually stall as the inflammation creeps back.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- Don’t be afraid to repel people. You can’t please everyone. In the professional world of health care, we are obliged to treat everybody. We are not allowed to turn anyone away and that can be mentally draining when you and the patient are not the right fit. Often, patients are referred to you by their doctor and don’t really want to be there, are looking for a quick fix, or are not yet in the right mindset to make a transformative change . It is nearly impossible to force a health and weight transformation on people who are not ready to transform. By going into private coaching, we now have the freedom to attract the women who will most benefit from our expertise and coaching.
- You have to be a good fit for the coach just as much as they have to be a good fit for you. Just because someone can pay you, you should take their money and try to coach them if your methods aren’t a good fit for them. We don’t coach women who are vegans or vegetarians because this lifestyle does not fit into our framework for treating chronic disease and weight issues.
- Best piece of advice Maleen gives to patients: “You have more power to transform your health with your knife and fork than I do with my prescription pad.” Oftentimes, people think they are doomed by their genetics and family history but they don’t realize the transformative power of biologically appropriate nutrition that can change the trajectory of their health.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
Now that we’ve helped women lose the postpartum weight, we want to shift our focus to helping women conceive and start their motherhood journey.
In the near future, we will be launching a program specific to women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) to help them lose weight, regulate their cycles, and restore fertility.
We’ve also started working on a new book that should be released by the end of this year.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Men don’t have to prove they aren’t the same as women, but for some reason women constantly have to prove that their whole existence is different than a man’s. Men don’t face having to advocate for their rights and to be treated for their biological differences because the system is designed to treat them.
Most of the past scientific studies are male dominated. We are starting to see this change little by little.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
Food Junkies, a book by Dr. Vera Tarman was our first introduction to the world of food addiction. We struggled to stick to our nutrition goals even when everything was working well and the weight was coming off.
Willpower and discipline cannot and will not ever do the work that needs to be done to repair the neurochemicals in the brain and body that have been damaged.
Food addiction isn’t the problem, it’s a symptom of a problem. And when we discovered why we were self-sabotaging it was a pivotal light bulb moment for us.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Women we’ve coached around the world inspire us to continue doing the work we do as they tell us of the remarkable results they’ve achieved as a result of our transformation program. When they send us pictures of themselves on the beach or their positive pregnancy tests, it feeds our passion.
In our next phase, we hope to have a baby wall of fame from all the women we help achieve motherhood by healing their PCOS.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
You don’t have to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm. We have spent many months burning ourselves out while neglecting our own needs to serve others in situations that weren’t the best for us and this is true for moms and caregivers who we coach. It’s ok to stop being a martyr and put yourself first.
How can our readers follow you online?
Definitely check out our website: www.rebel-medicine.com and follow us on instagram @rebelmedicine.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!