Friday, February 12, 2010

What do you do to stay healthy?

Robert E. Kramer had run out of excuses for not taking his own advice to be physicially fit. So he took up running. In this month's Physician Writer Search column, Dr. Kramer tells about how he worked up to regular runs and dropped some weight:

"By 38, I proudly realized that I was a runner. I had finally accomplished what I had put off for all of those years. I was in the best shape of my life and felt truly healthy."

But, he continues, a couple years later he had fallen off the wagon and realized there is always something lurking to throw him off his running routine. He writes:

"In the end I’ve learned an important lesson. Living a healthy lifestyle, day after day, month after month, will always be a lifelong struggle. It helps me relate to my patients, who often face even greater obstacles than I do in their bid to be healthier. I keep reminding them that lifestyle change is a marathon, not a sprint."

What do you do to stay healthy?

1 comment:

  1. Denial of Disease

    Every chance I get I remind the medical students I'm teaching to realize how difficult it is for a patient, a person, for myself to accept that something's wrong with me: that I have something, some physiologic process like blood pressure or sugar regulation, some organ like the heart or the brain or the gut that needs either a dietary change, a lifestyle change, a supplement taken, or even a prescription in order for it to function normally, for it to do its job - that I am suffering in some way as a consequence.

    For example, recently I had some heart rhythm problems that seem to stem from the fact that I haven't been addressing my blood pressure or my stress level adequately. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross originally detailed this acceptance process with regard to losing a loved one - the grieving process.
    The five stages are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Sadness, Acceptance.
    But each one of us goes through this process whenever we encounter something in our lives that demands a change.
    1)At first we don't believe this is happening - despite facts staring us in the face, despite undeniable consequences, despite others pointing something out (if one person calls you an ass, you can shake it off; if a dozen people call you an ass, grab a saddle).
    2)Then we get angry or annoyed about this change. Why in the hell is this happening TO ME?
    3)Then we play the fantasy-thinking game - What If . . . What if I do this or that, then maybe I don't have to REALLY make this change in my behavior.
    4)Then the THUD - when reality really sinks its teeth into us and takes hold. The resultant sadness, the depression, is even physically palpable.
    5)Eventually we reach emotional neutrality - our new reality - our, this is just the way it is - I need to move on with my life.

    The crazy thing is that the acceptance process doesn't go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; from Denial to Anger to Bargaining to Sadness to Acceptance. What confuses and confounds us is that it jumps around from one stage to the other, with no rhyme nor reason. As long as we don't fight the process, the flow though, will course towards emotional neutrality, towards acceptance. From this platform, we can spring into action and begin the needed behavioral change.

    Be gentle with yourself.
    Start with the most minute change.
    Vow to exercise 1 minute a day. Eat one less piece of bread a day. Drink one more glass of water a day. Follow one breath a day. Say "Thank You" one more time a day.

    Ask for willingness each time you open a door. Inertia is what keeps us stuck. One step - just one step - and we're on our way to taking better care of ourselves, to having more energy so we can act like the person we're called to be. Let's always remember: where the rubber meets the road is how we act.

    Many Blessings,

    Jay E Mattingly MD