When was the last time you could say, "My Doctor Practices What She Preaches"? A doctor who practices good, healthy living sure brings credibility to the table when he/she asks a patient to lose weight, quit smoking and exercise. In reality, nobody believes a fat cardiologist. Nobody believes a pulmonologist who smokes. So why should you believe your doctor who is fat and/or smokes and/or does not do a lick of exercise? Just because a doctor takes the "Hippocratic Oath" does not mean the doctor can be a hypocrite. The "do no harm" oath should mean "do no harm to thyself" first.
However, life as a doctor starts with a fiery trial called residency training. During this process, waistlines explode to the point that small-sized scrubs are nearly impossible to find. Some young doctors turn to unhealthy habits like smoking, food or worse to escape the suffocating stress caused by the pressure-cooker environment of a hospital. And the most exercise a first year doctor gets is by walking from the back parking lot at 4 a.m. Depending on how scary the parking lot is; one might even break into a run. Unfortunately, life as a doctor starts on an unhealthy pathway and those unhealthy habits have a way a creeping into the permanent consciousness of living.
Can a doctor relearn how to live? Can a doctor become a role-model of health after all of that? I am here to say, "YES!" Yes, I did. An injury in residency necessitated my need to start an exercise program. My program entails a sweat-drenching aerobic program and a muscle-burning anaerobic strengthening program. My day always starts with exercise to get those metabolic fires burning. Eventually, I realized that a commitment to physical conditioning was not enough to overcome injury and feel better. Slowly, I have been revamping my nutritional habits. The final hammer came down one year ago when I went to a "flexi-tarian" (not quite vegetarian) diet. In this past year, I have dropped nearly 40 pounds. I have gone from a size 12 to a size 4. Talk about having to tighten your belt. At this moment, I can honestly say that I have never felt better.
The best part of this story is that my patients have noticed. I have inspired many to take a closer look at their own habits. The power of leading by example is more enormous than I could have imagined. More have quit smoking. More have started food journals and changed eating habits. And yes, more have started to exercise. Go Team! As a team, we can all relearn to live a healthier life, one change at a time.
So what do you say to your hypocritical doctor who does not walk the walk but can certainly talk? How about telling him or her, "If you do it, I will do it"? Challenge the dogma that offers no credibility. Challenge your doctor to follow you in your quest for fitness. In turn, I challenge you to follow my lead.
I am a specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I am here. I am listening. And I can put you on the right road.
Published On: January 29, 2010