080. Internal Validation for What We Need to Do with Maggie Berghoff

The Do a Day Podcast from Bryan Falchuk

Maggie Berghoff is a functional medicine nurse practitioner turned health entrepreneur.  She works with celebrity clientele, execs, and CEOs to up-level their physical and mental health and achieve peak performance.

Maggie has been featured in many outlets such as Entrepreneur, Well + Good, Under Armour, CBS, NBC, Glamour, iheartradio, and national television.

Maggie also mentors health and wellness clinicians and coaches in building an online business of their own.

Her focus on health and wellness was part of her life for a long time, but took a much more central and personal role during a major health crisis during college and into early adulthood, culminating in a mini-stroke, amongst many other health issues that no one seemed able to solve (or even take seriously). That ignited the drive in Maggie to be her own cure, which lead her down the path she’s on today.

Key Points from the Episode with Maggie Berghoff:

  • Maggie Berghoff grew up the daughter of a pharmacist, so she was very much in the Western Medicine mindset
  • When Maggie was seven, her mother got colon Cancer (when she was just 35), went to a holistic treatment center, and came home both cured and changed in terms of her approach to wellness.
  • That was incredibly interesting to Maggie, and lead to a strong focus on diet and how food can heal us while also being very athletic and into sports.
  • As a result, in high school and college, she was pushing her body very hard along with the popular fitness diet of low fat, low carb.
  • While she looked healthy, in her senior year of college when she was at 22, her body gave up and she blew up, bloated and inflamed.
  • She tried to power through it, and event went after a Masters degree, and ended up having a mini stroke.
  • Through everything, doctors struggled to give answers, and often just excused away what was going on.
  • They would blame the intensity of her lifestyle, birth control she was on, hormone shifts as she got older and other things rather than seeing extreme swings in health.
  • Over the course of a few months, she had gained 50 pounds. And no seemed to think this was a problem.
  • On top of that, despite sleeping 10+ hours a night, she was exhausted throughout the day.
  • A follow-up with her primary care doctor showed some abnormality in her thyroid numbers, so the doctors finally acknowledged something might be wrong.
  • But despite that, it wasn’t blatant enough to truly see a problem, so it was still so hard to find what was wrong enough for the Western Medicine approach to spot it.
  • And Maggie was young and fit, so despite gaining 50 pounds, she was still in the range of what most healthy people weighed, so it wasn’t a cause for concern despite the sudden and extreme shift.
  • Some days, she would see her weight change by 12 pounds overnight, with doctors just blaming it on eating too much salty stuff at dinner.
  • Her swelling was so extreme that she experienced pitting edema, where you can press in on a part of your body, pull your finger away, and the intent remains, like pressing your finger into mashed potatoes or clay. It is not normal, especially for someone in their early 20s who eats healthily.
  • Her doctors gave her medicine to treat the various symptoms. While the pills helped with the symptoms, they covered up what was happening inside, leading to more and more damage, including kidney failure.
  • Maggie is an extremely optimistic person, so she went from specialist to specialist feeling like this would be the one who figured it our and helped.
  • With each visit, her hopes were dashed, leaving her frustrated and no closure to getting better.
  • She got diagnosed with a rare kidney disease and zero immune function that will require immunotherapy for life.
  • When the doctor blew her off on the back of that diagnosis (“Check in after six months,”), she had had it.
  • She got in her car, and broke down crying. She called her mother, who gave her sage advice.
  • Her mother said, “Maggie, no one cares as much about you as you do yourself.”
  • She was right. And Maggie took that as catalyst to help herself, enrolling in Functional Medicine Health Coach certification on top of her grad degree and work as a nurse practitioner.
  • She went on to solve her own health crisis through what she learned and have to children despite being told she was infertile.
  • Maggie went back to when she was 22 or 23, and described her stroke, including trying to call her mother to tell her what was happening, and not being able to speak.
  • On the back of her stroke diagnosis, the hospital didn’t do anything or diagnose anything. They tested her, saw that it happened, didn’t see anything currently presenting, and just discharged her.
  • She didn’t blame the people, but more the way things work where the system does not allow you spend the time to figure out what might be going on with a patient. She shared her own experience as a nurse practitioner where she would be penalized for spending too much time with a patient.
  • We got into the idea of finding the root cause, but Maggie feels that there isn’t really a single root cause ever. It’s a multitude of interrelated things.
  • Ultimately, she found that she has Hashimoto’s disease (like Michelle Bronson, who shared about Hashimoto’s in Episode 75), adrenal fatigue, a parasite, H. Pylori, difficulty absorbing nutrients and more. The interplay of everything resulted in the symptoms she was living.
  • She decided to boldly clear the deck, removing all the pills, and focusing on nourishing her body so it could focus on getting better, as it naturally wants to do.
  • We got into the subject of trusting your gut instinct – knowing inside what we need and believing in ourselves enough to follow what feels right and avoid what feels wrong.
  • She doesn’t just apply to our wellness, but our business, relationships, etc. We often look for external verification of our ideas, but actually, we need the internal verification and confidence that we know with every cell of our being to go forward.
  • I asked Maggie if she’d give up her journey with all the struggles. She said unequivocally no. There are so many lessons she learned that she benefits from and can help others benefit from because of it. She wouldn’t give that up.
  • Her perfectionism was so strong that it put her at risk at times, so she’s thankful for finding more balance around that.
  • That perfectionism lead to judgment and shame at times, for example around having to make the decision to stop breastfeeding sooner than she had planned to.
  • She stepped back, looked at the balance of the costs and benefits of stopping or continuing and made a balanced decision for her life.
  • She leaves us with the simple by powerful remind that “we’ve got this!”


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