By: Mallory Spoor-Baker | Category: Health & Beauty | Issue: January 2012
Make this year your healthiest yet with regular exercise, good nutrition, more sleep and quitting destructive behaviors.
We all expect great things from the new year. We attach great significance to this annual turning over of the calendar year. What do you want to accomplish in 2012? For me, this starting over always gives me a feeling that I might be able to achieve a new goal. It gives me a feeling of being able to reclaim time that I’ve lost. I start to rethink my approach to the problems in my life that are unsolved.
As always, a continuing issue in my life is about striving for better health. I absolutely believe that if I am healthier, I look better, and of course, I feel better. For many of us, the new year means resolving to eat better, exercise more, get more sleep. Hopefully it also means to change patterns of health-destructive behaviors.
As a physician, I advise people to quit smoking, decrease alcohol consumption, or lose weight. When I was in family practice, I saw people every day that I would counsel to change those things. Changing these behaviors is extremely hard.
For the physician, even having time to talk about change and prevention is hard. When my current patients ask me why I have a cosmetic practice now, I say I chose to change my practice because of time. In general practice I sometimes saw 65 patients per eight-hour day. I think that averaged about three minutes per patient! I began covering another physician’s practice who had a stroke. Seeing his patients meant I had to start treatment on medical problems that he had not had time to address. This meant I had no real constructive time with my patients and no time with my family. Something had to change in order for me to practice the “whole person” type of medicine that I wanted to practice and also be the wife and mother I wanted to be.
My current medical practice, Advanced Cosmetic Medicine, has certainly changed over the years. I’ve always tried to add new services and procedures that were safe and worthwhile for me and my patients, which are mostly targeted at someone’s appearance. Many of you know that I recommend the consumption of more fruits and vegetables and whole food nutrition. What's the old saying – “You are what you eat”? We have gotten so far away from a whole food/plant based diet that we are a sick people. Yes, our life expectancy is good – thanks to modern medicine in the United States. We certainly do not have an access to food problem – obesity is rampant. We do, however, have a nutrition problem.
The calories most of us consume are empty calories. Our common foods are so over-processed as to be completely devoid of any nutritional value. We also don’t consume food that is dense in nutrition. What are those foods? Fruits and vegetables. We need to eat them raw! Can you eat nine to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day? That’s a full time job!
The gradual loss of these nutrient-dense foods in our diet has meant a gradual decline in our bodies’ ability to heal itself. In our haste to create new technology we have forgotten about the “old technology” of basic nutrition, daily exercise and quality sleep. The loss of whole food nutrition in our diet has meant an ever-expanding cascade of free radicals, which over time cause cell damage, DNA damage, and cell death – this leads to disease. To add to the whole degradation process, we participate in destructive behaviors.
Can we fix this process?
The good news is yes! We can change our diet and resolve to change the destructive behaviors. I believe that you have to start with a plan and set goals that keep you focused on your journey. Set goals that are initially small enough that you can achieve them; for example to lose five pounds, not 100, or to start walking 20 minutes every day, not an hour. Allow yourself to build up to the hour. When I counsel patients about smoking cessation, I tell them to acknowledge how much they smoke and decrease their cigarette intake by two cigarettes every two weeks. As far as improving nutrition, it’s hard to consume nine to 13 servings of raw fruits and vegetables per day. It’s also difficult to get consistent variety and quality produce that does not cost a fortune. I, therefore, take a well-researched whole food supplement of fruits and veggies, as well as using a whole food meal replacement drink, which is putting me closer to my weight loss goals.
Weight loss, better nutrition, exercise, more sleep and quitting destructive behaviors will make you feel better, look better, be healthier, and live better. These goals take time and effort to achieve. There is no magic pill. Making these decisions and carrying out the activities will also increase your self-esteem, which improves your sense of well-being. Happy Trails! Happy New Year and a new you!