No matter what we do, what we do matters.
Meet Linda LaLonde. Linda is an herbalist and the owner of The Natural Path in Downtown Downers Grove, IL. Linda's own story and path to personal wellness has transformed the way many locals are viewing their health and wellbeing. Linda's natural approach to wellness and her one-on-one approach and storefront offers a unique opportunity for wholeness and health to our local community.
G: I found you when I was at the end of my rope with some medical issues and I couldn’t get to the bottom of it. You helped me so much, and introduced me to some great products. What you are doing is so unique.
L: It’s a huge niche. I think the reason that I love it so much is that I usually get the people who have tried everything. They are wanting something different, and they are wanting to get back to the core. To the foundation. They are tired of the noise and the confusion. You go into any of these big box stores looking for a supplement, and it’s so confusing. No one is there to help you or to guide you. I love the client that comes in and is just looking for some direction. I don’t need lots of people. I need the right people.
G: Yes. I feel that. I was so overwhelmed when we first met with wanting to try an alternative to prescription medications, but didn’t know what to do. I had been to a GI specialist, and nothing was really working. I was wondering what were the underlying causes to the symptoms. And I think Western Medicine can sometimes be limited in that we need to understand if there’s a nutritional deficiency, an underlying cause, or an alternative to a prescription with side effects.
L: Yes, that’s huge. People come in and they are confused. They have only heard one way, from their doctor, but they are intrigued about an alternative approach. They don’t have a plan. They don’t have a program. I only work one one on with someone, and a program with me is three months. Because that’s how you really get to know somebody, and that’s how you establish a relationship and help them take their health to the next level. They then have a partner, a health coach who is willing to do the research for them and with them. Then together we make decisions. I love it.
G: So most of your clients are with you for three months?
L: Yes. We establish a protocol, get things under control, and they lay the foundation for their health or their plan. But then they keep coming back. They come back because a family member gets diagnosed with something, and they need something. Or they get a cold. I want it to be an rotating door. I want clients to come in and for me to say, “What can I do for you”? I just love doing it.
G: I remember when you opened up, you were offering wellness classes. Are you still doing that?
L: I have coaches here who teach those now. And I love coaching the coaches. I did teach classes myself for two years, and I loved doing it. Right now though I am really loving and seeing great results working one-on-one with people. Sometimes when you have a big class, someone gets lost, and one person is one too many to have get lost. So I have classes and coaches out there, but the individual level is where my business thrives now.
G: Speaking of business, you first opened up down the street. It was just you on your own offering classes, consultation, and the shop. Now you have opened up into a larger space and have trained coaches to work alongside you. What has that been like?
L: Yes. I now have 54 certified health coaches working under me in our community. They work in physical therapy, chiropractic offices, and other various wellness areas. In addition to that, I have trained nationally over 3,000 people for the company I partner with teaching the gut health protocol that I use. And it’s great. I get the opportunity to travel, and meet new people. The more people we can get out there and teach, the better it’s going to be. I would love to see this model in every single community. Because then you can help more people. And that’s what it’s about.
G: For someone who doesn’t know anything about a naturopath and what they do, how would you describe that?
L: What I do is that I am the planner. I take a wholistic approach to their body. We rip the house down and we rebuild it. What that means is that we look at the whole picture. Food, water, protein, exercise, lifestyle. What’s your stress like? It’s looking at all of the areas of life. Stress can be a blocker for weight loss as much as food. We have to look at all of these areas in their life and then come up with a game plan for what works with their life that they can carry out. It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change. You can’t throw a diet at someone and say, “Good luck. Get all of your ducks in a row”, without any support. Because that is not going to work. So I work for three months with someone. We start with improving the health of the gut. We start from the very beginning with the food choices. We take it week by week in a way that makes sense. We clean up the mess. And then we start building the body back up. So what I do is that I help people get a handle on their health, in every area, not just one.
G: Do you have people who come in who aren’t ready to do a three month program? How do you help people who just come in to your shop curious about something or looking for one thing?
L: Sure. I have people who come in and maybe just ask for a cleanse or a supplement. I’ll help them all day long. Not everyone is ready for a big commitment. Maybe they are just looking for more energy. I am more than happy to help them find some supplements that will work for them. As well as the fact that I give them some tips. There is no magic pill for anything. So I help them figure out what lifestyle changes can help with whatever they are looking for. In this situations, I just give people ideas of things to try and tell them to come back in and tell me how it’s working for them.
G: How did you get involved with this branch of wellness?
L: I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at 40. Five doctors told me I had MS and I could hardly walk. I had $22,000 in medical bills and I had a two year old at home and a family. I could hardly walk and I had lost functioning in the whole left side of my body. This was fifteen years ago, and doctors told me there was not much I could do for it, and that I would need a wheelchair. My sister-in-law recommended that I see a naturopath and at the time I had no idea what that was. I drove an hour and a half to see this woman who worked out of her basement. She asked me what I was eating, and I couldn’t figure out how that mattered. She told me that my gut was a mess and that I was on a bad path. I worked with her for one year. All she did in that time was reorganize my food, detox my system, and then supported my system all with herbs and supplements. She got my body to the point where it was back to working the way it was supposed to work, and I have not had a symptom in 14 years. It didn’t even take me that whole year to feel better. I felt better within a couple of weeks. And I now have no diagnosis of MS.
G: WOW. All of that with working with herbs?
L: When I had my own health crisis and started working with a naturopath, we would boil the herbs from the garden. Now as an herbalist, I work with herbs that are encapsulated, so people can just take them in capsule form and not have to go through all of that. It’s amazing the results that we can get working with herbs. What that woman did for me was save my life. At that point, I became passionate about health and wellness, and I was doing these things for myself and my family because it was keeping me well. I was doing all of this stuff that I was learning about with nutrition and herbs, but I wasn’t managing my stress. At 48, we were having some significant financial stress and I had a heart attack. I got to a hospital, and that time Western Medicine saved my life, so I don’t discount it. That’s when it really clicked for me that stress can kill you. It was destroying my system that I was working so hard to try to build up. It was a big hit over the head. It was a “God-moment”. It’s honestly the best thing that ever happened to me, because that’s when I realized I needed to do something that meant something. I went back to school to learn more about herbs and to become a naturopath within two weeks of having that heart attack while I was on bed rest. Within six months, I was off of all of my meds, and I was no longer a cardiac patient.
G: I love that story. That’s so incredible.
L: That’s my story. The best thing that came out of it is that I can help so many people that don’t know what to do. I can give them hope. I can give them things to try. I can help them figure out what to do with their stress, which is very real for everyone. Not only do we talk about “taking it down a notch”, but finding strategies together. Maybe it’s getting better sleep at night. Maybe it’s meditation. Maybe some herbs. So I am someone who gets to be on their team. And I love it. It could have gone very different for me, but I felt like I was led here. Now in my life when I get worried about things here in the shop or how things are going, the minute I start going down that road, I remind myself that my purpose is to help people. I can always bring it down to that, and it all just comes back why I do what I do. I truly feel like I “get” to go to work. It’s awesome. It just keeps growing and evolving, so I do feel like it’s a “God-thing”. For me, this space is It’s all about finding things that make people happy. I have even offered yoga and a film class in here as well as wellness classes. It’s just a place for people to come in, leave their phone at the door, and find what is going to work for them. I want it to be about people coming together.
G: You obviously love what you do, and it sounds like this is your Zen happy place. Outside of what you do here, what keeps you motivated? What inspires you?
L: My five kids inspire me. My time with them. My husband. My walking. I love to travel. Meditation is not huge for me, but I do try to do it. It’s just really about enjoying my family. It’s all good.
For more information about Linda, visit www.thenaturalpathdg.com