“I am a very visual learner,” Dr. Joël Villeneuve, ND reveals. “To help me to learn the alphabet my mom put letters on the stairs, so I would see them every day.”
Today, Joël practices Kanban, a Japanese system for scheduling and efficiency, which essentially dictates that you should only have 3 things on the go at given time. “With Kanban, I focus my attention on the three things I have identified as important to me at that time,” she advises. “I can only add something new to the list once I have taken something else off.”
Following the practice of Kanban has helped Joël manage all the moving parts in her life. As the founder of Revivelife, an integrated clinic focused on longevity medicine and wellness, she is also is a wife and a mother to two teenage boys.
“Revivelife is focused on integrative medicine; it includes all aspects of your life from lifestyle, food and mindset to nutritional therapies, hormones and acupuncture,” she explains. “I call it ‘longevity medicine’; I look at lifestyle changes to improve health vs prescribing medication as step one.”
“I WAS FASCINATED BY PEOPLE WHO LIVED LONG LIVES”
Starting her practice was not easy. Although she has a mentor in Dr. Don Warren, ND, who she worked with after graduation (Doctor of Natural Medicine), she was presented with many obstacles upon taking over his practice upon his retirement.
“The bank I grew up using my whole life said ‘no’ when I asked them for financing to purchase the clinic,” she reveals. She was eventually able to find a female banker who believed in her and gave her a loan. She is now in her 25th year of practice.
Within the first few years of practicing Joël suffered a serious burnout. “I felt an incredible pressure to succeed,” she confides. “I worked constantly, I ate on the road, I gave up exercise and was eventually diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.”
It was her mentor, Dr. Don Warren, who helped nursed her back to health. “It took one year to recover from that burnout,” she explains. She modified her work days to include a two hour nap at lunch, orchestrated to let her continue running the practice without continuing to burn out.
“I burnt out because I gave up my pillars,” Joël confides. “The outlets that kept me sane, the things I love to do…I gave them all up to put more hours in at work.” Today she has her list of pillars and they are non-negotiable. “I am not a morning person by nature, but I start each day with exercise and a walk, snowshoe or cross country ski with my dog,” she explains. “I do these things first so that I don’t compromise them. And I am better off for it.”
“When you work hard, and smart, it shows”
“PUT YOUR OWN PILLARS IN PLACE AND MAKE THEM KNOWN. THESE ARE NON-NEGOTIABLE”
Joël wrote and published her first book last summer, Power foods 101, a nutrition tool-kit for wellness, health, longevity and energy. “I wrote this book for my dad,” Joël exclaims. “My parents are ball room dancers and very active, but they love a good buffet,” Joël laughs. “I began to notice that when my dad ate on the road his PSA marker (one marker for prostate health) would go up. But when he ate my mom’s home cooking it went down.” This correlation proved the power of food on health and encouraged her to write a book to share his with others.
“You can have it all, but not always on your timeline,” Dr. Joël informs. “I have always wanted to write a book, but my kids where young and needed my attention. Next I was doing a t.v. show time – 36 episodes on RogersTV over two years - and I just didn’t have time to focus on a book.” Interestingly, “it’s a much better book now than it would have been 12 years ago,” she confides. “I have a lot of goals,” Dr. Joël pronounces. “Put your goals out there; anything is possible. It just might take longer than you expect. But it will happen and in the end often be better than what you thought it would be.”
Ten years after starting her practice she had her first child. She hired a locum and took 6 months off. “I was very naïve,” she explains. “I came back to a business in shambles; patient flow dropped by 50% and I realized that although a locum takes care of your patients exceptionally well, doesn’t run your business. Only an owner who is passionate about all aspects of the business can do that.”
“ALL OF YOUR DREAMS CAN HAPPEN, BUT IT MAY NOT BE ON YOUR TIMELINE”
Two and half years later she had baby #2. “I took one month out of the office; taking calls when needed; I had to stay in touch with the business. You have to make sacrifices,” she explains. In order to continue to balance motherhood and her practice, she worked part time for 9 years.
Married for 25 years, her 13 and 15 year old boys are both ski racers. “We go where there’s snow,” Joël laughs. Being outside is a core pillar of Dr.Joël’s. “When in doubt, look to nature and the answers will come to you,” she reveals. The fresh air, nature and surroundings provide clarity.
“Life is like an elevator. People get on and people get off. Focus on the people getting on in your life,” she advises. And that’s good advice.