Healthy perspective on healthy living

These Outer Banks Medical Group providers are promoting wellness with action. Pictured left to right: Dr. Cara Sumners of Outer Banks Family Medicine Manteo; Marielle Silk, FNP, Employee Wellness and Occupational Health Program; and Dr. Christina Bowen of Outer Banks Family Medicine Southern Shores.

Contributed photo by J. Aaron Trotman

The Outer Banks Hospital and Medical Group are fortunate to have three providers who are absolutely passionate about wellness. The truth is, all of our providers would rather see illness prevented or caught early, but three in particular have or are earning additional credentials to keep pace with the latest research around wellness. This is fitting because wellness is actually in the mission statement of The Outer Banks Hospital.

With so many fad diets and mixed messages out there, we thought we would have our wellness professionals offer a little healthy perspective on healthy living.

Bottom line: Wellness does not have to be complicated, overwhelming or expensive; rather, it must be intentional.

Dr. Christina Bowen

Dr. Christina Bowen is no stranger on the Outer Banks. In fact, she is one of the most sought-after physicians and public speakers on the topic of wellness here in our community. Bowen completed her medical training at East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine and is board certified in family medicine and hospice and palliative medicine. She is also a graduate of the Integrative Medicine Fellowship at the University of Arizona. Bowen practices at Outer Banks Family Medicine in Southern Shores.

So what exactly is integrative medicine? Integrative medicine considers the full range of physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual and environmental influences on a person’s health.

The integrative medicine approach takes into account that your health is influenced by your everyday life – your environment, your choices, and your mental and emotional well-being. Sounds simple, but for decades, many of us have been passive about our health, letting time and the craziness of everyday life dictate our well being.

“I am passionate about intentional living,” Bowen says. “We have choices that we can make every day to ensure that we are living our best life now.

“I have a lot of gratitude about my role as a woman and my ability to intentionally influence the health of my family, my patients and my community,” she says.

“As a woman, one of the most important things you can do is to be mindful and intentional about protecting your personal health and being a role model for those within your scope of influence.”

Bowen’s healthy perspective on healthy living: “Begin each day by setting an intention to live with gratitude for your most valuable asset, your health. And choose to do something every day that helps you and those around you live their best life now. For ideas, visit my blog at dr.christinabowen.com.”

Dr. Cara Sumners

Dr. Cara Sumners is another local provider who is committed to wellness – and we do mean local. Sumners graduated from Manteo High School and returned home to practice here on the Outer Banks after finishing medical school at The Brody School of Medicine.

She is completing her training in integrative medicine and practices at Outer Banks Family Medicine in Manteo.

“As a primary care physician, I can treat some illness with medications alone — an ear infection or strep throat, for example. These can be simple illnesses to treat,” Sumners says.

“What I find most rewarding is helping my patients with chronic diseases. Medications alone won’t help patients with chronic disease live their best life now. This is where an integrative medicine approach complements my primary care practice.

“I can look at the whole person and help determine what things in their environment can also have a positive impact on their health.”

“It’s really pretty simple and it’s true whether you have a chronic disease or not. Health happens where life happens – in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our churches and at work,” Sumners says.

“As women, we are often the engineer of our environments. We help our family choose the foods that stock the pantry, the activities that fill our spare time and the places we go. I’m with Dr. Bowen about being intentional, especially when it comes to being the engineer of healthy environments for ourselves and our families.”

Sumner’s healthy perspective on healthy living: “Be intentional about creating healthy environments for yourself and those you love. Stock the pantry with healthy foods, get creative about incorporating physical activity into your life, and go places and be with people who energize you and fill your emotional tank with love.”

Marielle Silk, FNP

Marielle Silk, a family nurse practitioner, returned to the community to help launch our new Employee Wellness and Occupational Health Program. Silk received her master’s in nursing from Yale University and is board certified as a family nurse practitioner. She also is certified in plant-based nutrition and is currently working on completing her training in lifestyle medicine. She is the main provider for The Outer Banks Hospital’s Employee Wellness and Occupational Health Program.

“It can be overwhelming to think about all of the changes that you can make to live your healthiest life now,” Silk says. “From sleep habits to getting more exercise, some people never start on their wellness journey because just thinking about it can be stressful.

“I am a strong advocate for making small changes that over time greatly improve your wellness. In our practice, we use health coaching to help patients determine their own first small steps. Once a client finds success with just one small change, they begin to gain the confidence they need to continue on their path to wellness.”

Silk’s healthy perspective on healthy living:

“Every decision you make to choose a healthier food, move a little more and treat your body kindly is a big step in the right direction. Be intentional about each small change,” Silk says. “Intentionally and gently get on your path, and begin your journey toward wellness one small step at a time.”

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