“I have grown tired of ‘making it rain’ with prescriptions on my patients to control symptoms. I want to prevent illnesses altogether”
Name: Vivian Burkhardt
Cultural heritage: German, Grenadian
Place of birth: Germany
Current Residence: Berlin, Germany
Kiki: Tell me something memorable about your upbringing and how it has shaped the woman you are today?
Vivian: When I look back on my upbringing, I’d say that moving to Grenada in 2002 with my family of six has been the most memorable. We lived in Munich Germany, and my parents were pretty happy and stable, but it was always hard to leave Grenada so my siblings and I encourage my parents to seek jobs and a house in Grenada so we could live in paradise every day. Residing in Grenada, Germany and the USA during medical school had given me an international outlook and pronounced cultural competence when it comes to my profession.
Kiki: What did you specialise in during your medical training in the USA?
Vivian: I did my residency in internal medicine at the New York University School of Medicine in Brooklyn NY, but I decided to switch to family medicine to focus my attention on preventive medicine. My journey through allopathic medicine has taught me that the real trick is to intervene as a physician before illness to avoid it altogether. Due to the high-stress levels of the lifestyles we lead, we hardly give time to focusing on essential things, like preparing our meals or looking after ourselves. We live a life filled with convenient shortcuts that don’t require us to even move from A to B. The harsh reality is it’s making us all ill.
Kiki: Wow you have a point! When did you come to this realisation?
Vivian: To be honest it took me some time to realise what my calling was. I always knew medicine was my path, but I also had a strong desire to do something meaningful for others and myself. One day I asked myself, what do I do every day for myself that I am 100% passionate about. The answer was obvious, fitness and eating healthy! For years I’ve been preaching to family and friends about staying fit and to eating healthy. The response has always been right in front of my face, I’ve just been too preoccupied with other things to see it. Now, I will never work another day in my life because I have made my passion and hobby my job!
Kiki: So I’m curious to find out about this health and fitness advice. What’s your food and fitness regime like?
Vivian: When it comes to fitness, I try to work out five to six days a week and combine weight and cardio training with HIIT workouts. HIIT stands for High-intensity Interval Training and in my opinion its the best training modality, as you build muscle and therefore increase your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), burn fat and improve your stamina with cardiovascular exercises. I also like to think of myself as a ‘nature addict’ and enjoy going for a run every now and then to exercise outdoors.
I’ve been vegan for the past three years, and I’ve never felt better. I love fresh, organic, local and in season veggies and fruits. I’ve noticed that eating what’s currently in season is a great way to allow your body to adjust to the changes in the season. Sharing these fitness and health tips on social media via @dr.viviancharlott and observing how people respond positively keeps me motivated!
Kiki: I’m sure this diet and fitness regime is contributing to good skin and healthy hair?
Vivian: Oh yes and I’m all for natural products. I only use coconut oil on my skin and wash my hair as little as possible with shampoo. I recently did a five day fast and noticed that it had a significant impact on my skin. Most importantly there isn’t a product out there that is better than living a stress-free and happy life!
Kiki: 100% agree! So what’s next for you?
Vivian: I am currently expanding my non-allopathic medical skills, so I’m learning about nutrition, fitness and manual therapy (none of which you learn in medical school or during residency). I have grown tired of ‘making it rain’ with prescriptions on my patients to control symptoms. I want to prevent illnesses altogether. I will continue to spread knowledge via social media about the importance of avoiding diseases and illnesses because knowledge is key!
Kiki: What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Vivian: Don’t use your energy to worry. Use your energy to create.
Quick Questions! Getting to Know you… and everything about you….
Kiki: What song/lyric currently defines your life right now?
Vivian: Could you be loved – by good old Bob!
Kiki: What can’t you live without?
Vivian: My coconut oil.
Kiki: What’s in our online shopping basket right now?
Empty, but probably should be shampoo!
Kiki: Who do you insta-stalk and why?
Vivian: @Wthfilm – What the Health Film. It’s very impressive what that documentary did to raise awareness about veganism and how it has been a vehicle for change.
@9gag – I like funny stuff!
Photographs by Terel Moore Photography