Dr. Abbott's Journey To Functional Medicine

On the surface, Ryan and I appear like we have come from different planets. With tattoos across his body and an outgoing voice that can be heard far beyond earshot, it is very difficult to miss Ryan.

While my passion can come out roaring like a lion as well, you are much more likely to hear me through a voice speaking out through poetry, in writing, with the depth of silence.

Stepping back into our childhoods, you will also find an equally remarkable dichotomy. Growing up in a comfortable upper middle class, suburban neighborhood with my twin brother as my closest friend, the most challenging thing I faced as a youngster was how to make it to two soccer practices in one evening.

Given the margin to explore, however, I was ruthless both on the playing field and in the classroom. From soccer to baseball and basketball in between, I was always on a court or field giving my soul for my team. Competitive would have been an understatement. In the classroom I was equally ruthless, internally driven to achieve at the highest level with little care for what others thought or were achieving themselves.  


I didn’t need you to tell me to try, I just need you to tell me if I could do better, and better I would do.

Fast forward many years, after graduating Summa Cum Laude with a degree in chemistry from the College of William and Mary I was headed for the next big fish to fry: The University of Virginia Medical School, one the top 25 medical schools in the country, and arguably the top school in the state.

Piece of cake right?

6 months into school, my competitive nature, my perfectionism was getting the best of me. My mind, body and spirit were dissolving into medical nothingness. The onslaught of information and my desire to know it all was reaching a peak. Operating at such a high level for so long without a moment of rest culminated in a burnout so miraculous, it is hard to believe it actually happened. After waking up one day knowing I had to do something different, I walked into my dean’s office to tell her I needed to take some time off to get well, to figure out what in the world I actually needed to do. A few weeks later I found myself speaking to a psychologist in an intensive therapy program leading me to the ultimate awakening I could never have seen.

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Finding yoga, meditation, and calm; for the first time becoming the observer of my experience, it was like I was given a different brain and different set of eyes.

Amidst this awakening, a miracle in itself, I was given a little I-pod nano. Looking at its tiny screen I saw for the very first time something called a Podcast. To this day I can still remember this little purple icon, beckoning to be explored.

Clicking into this wonder, I was quickly pouring through several suggested health podcasts. Don’t ask me how, but I stumbled upon and fell into a podcast known as The Healthy Skeptic by Chris Kresser.

This was early 2013, nearly 6 years prior to the writing of this post, and while Chris was certainly already making waves on a larger scale, he was by no means the force he is in the space now.

As part of gentle and authentic conversations, Chris spoke with others in the field of evolutionary and functional health about the dietary template our ancestors had eaten and how we should be seeking to not only eat such a template now, but embody their lifestyle in as many ways as possible.

Now known as the Evolutionary Mismatch theory, this line of thinking proposed that many of the chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and autoimmune disease we see today are a result of humans consuming foods and living a lifestyle in conflict with our evolutionary history, our genes and their adaptive expression.

Needless to say, as a medical doctor in training, this was an intriguing hypothesis, but what I found even more compelling was the depth and genuine passion of Chris and others in this space. I learned more about nutrition in 2 weeks of listening to Chris’ podcasts than I had or would learn in the entirety of medical school. Making the connections between biochemistry and nutrition, lightbulbs were going off and connections were being made at light speed.

It didn’t take a genius to realize that this path, this way of living, this way of approaching healing was what I was called to do.

Upon returning to UVA medical school in early 2014, there was no stopping my train, and the rabbit holes into functional approaches to health and wellness were being explored daily. Combining my own personal education into functional medicine and ancestral nutrition with that of the traditional medical training, everyday was an adventure, a journey to discover what exactly we, as human beings, needed to heal and remain well.

Bringing us back to the present, some 5 years later, this passion for functional health has only grown and lead me to places I could have never imagined.

It lead me as I mentioned in our first post to the Charlottesville Farmer’s Market, to Moon Maiden’s Bakery, to Ryan’s wife and ultimately to Ryan himself.

If only we could actually make something like this up.


Building resilience and putting down Roots, we have partnered now to become Resilient Roots: Functional and Evolutionary Medicine, a novel collaborative utilizing a scientifically rigorous, complete care model to address the root imbalances present in chronic health conditions such as autoimmune disease, cancer and gastrointestinal disorders.

Say goodbye to the 7 minute visit and prescription and welcome a new way of living, of being, of healing.

We are here to give you the time and space to make meaningful and sustainable lifestyle change.

We are here to give you the raw materials your body needs to heal.

We are here to give you the confidence and empowerment to know it’s possible.

Are you ready to grow Resilient Roots?