Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Power of Small

Loki and I rounded a corner on our walk through Druid Hill Park yesterday and we were suddenly overwhelmed by a sweet, flowery smell. Yes, even Loki raised his dog nose into the air for a few sniffs. It was remarkable. I peered around and didn't see any large flowery bushes or flower beds which would explain the aroma. Then, I looked down.

Spanning in all directions on both sides of the path were these tiny little white flowers. I will rely on any botanists to correct me, but I believe they are the flowers that come with clover. In many suburban expanses of perfect green lawns, the clover is much maligned as a weed. Yes, some people coat their lawn in chemicals in at attempt to banish this "weed." I'll spare you my feelings on lawn chemicals and the pursuit of the perfect green lawn - for now anyway - as I have another message.

The power of very small things. One of these flowers alone would not have the ability to create the amazing aroma we encountered yesterday. The hundreds and thousands of them together did something amazing.

In our pursuit of health, the ultimate body and the purist diet, sometimes we look for THE ANSWER. The big flowery bush in the garden of life, if you will. Maybe we can learn something from the lowly clover bud. Maybe we can finally recognize our real power really lies within the tiny, small choices we have each and every moment to better our wellbeing.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Crowded Exam Room

How many people are in the exam room when you visit your Doctor? You may be able to count one other individual, a nurse, though that doesn't happen so much anymore. 

What about all the other people you can't see but are there in force? Several people from your insurance company, at least. Maybe a human resources person from your work and your boss wondering when you'll get back to the office. There is usually a person or two from the state medical board, maybe someone from the AMA, an auditor. Could be a few Government people in there - Medicare, Medicaid. Maybe the front desk clerk from the doctor's office wondering why your doctor is running late. Again. There must be a lawyer or two - malpractice insurance. I bet you could count at least five or six local drug reps all with free pills to give away. Perhaps a few specialists, all thinking you now need to visit them for a test or two. Honestly, it is getting so crowded in there you might not even be able to see them all.

Who "owns" the relationship in that room? The trust between a doctor and his or her patient should be sacrosanct. It isn't very often anymore. It can be...

I've recently had a very different experience. Me and my doctor. He is different both in his practice of medicine and his approach to the business of medicine. He doesn't have front desk staff. When you arrive at your appointment time - you simply knock on his door and have a seat until he is ready. He is always on time. Your initial visit with him is 90 minutes. The follow up visits are 30 minutes. He actually takes your blood pressure, checks your pulse, eyes, tongue, heart. You actually talk and explore things in a collaborative way. He doesn't seek to mask symptoms, in fact he welcomes them as clues. He seeks to resolve problems. He has telephone consult hours each morning. He gives you his cell phone number for emergencies. He types up notes and instructions while you're sitting there - he prints them asks you to read them to be sure you understand. You both keep a copy. He doesn't take insurance. You write him a check when you're through. He writes the receipt by hand.

My Doctor practices medicine the way most people who go to medical school want to practice (based on my conversations with many physicians). I don't know any physicians that welcome the involvement and influence from the dozens of people all sent there courtesy of our current healthcare system.

What if healthcare could be like my experience? What if the relationship between patient and Doctor was an actual relationship versus a transaction? We wonder why there are reports of up to one-half of patients not following their doctor's advice (for diet, exercise, medication, physical therapy, rest). Who will listen to someone you spend an average of 7 minutes with? Who can possibly trust someone you don't even know. We have a populace that is very sick and getting sicker. All of the medical transactions in the world aren't going to make people healthier. And the cost pressures continue to mount which we still attempt to resolve through faster, easier, cheaper medicine.

When will we learn? Slower, meaningful, collaborative medicine could be the answer. When a Doctor and patient own the relationship together, good things happen.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Axis of Wellness

HBO debuted "Weight of the Nation" last night and the conversation continues today about the impact of obesity on people and our country. If you didn't get a chance to watch last night you can watch online now. Parts 3 & 4 will be on HBO this evening. It is worth watching.

Our challenge, as individuals and communities, is to find a way to lose weight and get healthy. It matters not if you are overweight, obese or of a normal weight today - this epidemic impacts all of us. Only 1/3 (or less) of people in this country are able to maintain a healthy weight. This is a community problem and it is very complex.

What is certain? Our healthcare system and economy cannot survive the pressures levied by the obesity epidemic.

Now here is the good news: there is no magic bullet - which means you can do something about it right now.  And, here is the bad news: there is no magic bullet - which means the only way to solve this problem is for you (and me and our friends, family, colleagues, neighbors) to do something about it and start right now.

What to do? Here are three things you can do today:

  1. Drink plenty of water (and give up any drink containing sugar)
  2. Move your body every day and several times a day (even 5 minutes a few times per day is better than nothing)
  3. Cook at home more (using real food) and eat less processed food (which is most things that come in boxes)
Your goal is to get into the upper right quadrant of the Axis of Wellness. You can get there by making good choices each and every day. 

You can do it. I believe in you. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Rule for Health. Rule for Life.

I did an interview last week for Entrepreneurial Fit radio and my parting tip was "Exercise before email." While I had initially written that tip back in 2010, I hadn't used it much lately and over the last few days it is really growing on me.

In the context of the radio interview, I was talking about first thing in the morning. It is far too easy to end up in a place where checking email (or other social media) is the very first thing you do each morning. It is particularly easy for those of us (I'm guilty here) who keep our mobile phone by our bedside. Many mornings before my brain is fully awake, I'm plugging back into the grid and running through my email, Twitter and the Cybercise and Move.Eat.Be. Facebook pages. Inevitably, I'll get distracted by something and end up getting up late and having to rush through my morning exercise to get on with my day.

This is stupid. 

If there was anything so earth shattering that had happened overnight, I trust someone would have called me. And, yes, I'd answer the phone because it is next to my bed.

The exercise before email rule is a great thing to implement first thing in the morning, at least. Even if you only have time for 10 jumping jacks, a five minute yoga or stretching routine, 5 pushups or a walk around the block - it is something for your mind and body and doing so will get your day started on a better foot.

If you want to get really crazy with it, implement the rule for each hour of the day. Many people are realizing that email is a giant time suck and those smart people are transitioning to a "check email once per hour" or (egad) only four times a day. If you are one of the wise, brave souls who has cut the email cords and started such a system you could easily add an exercise before email practice into your life. Every time you hear the email bells ring, you could stop and do five minutes of exercise before checking your inbox. If there is anyone out there brave enough to try this, I would love to hear how it goes.

Seriously, we (by which I really am also guilty here) spend far too much time in front of our computers and far too little time moving our bodies. In fact, I'm sitting in front of my screen writing this on a lovely Sunday afternoon (I'm doing it for you, dear people).  Every small practice you start for your health matters and exercise before email is a great place to begin.

This week, I am going to religiously follow the exercise before email rule each morning. And for now, before I fall victim to whatever email is now sitting there waiting in my inbox, I'm going outside to walk my dog.

Happy Sunday!