Consistency (Updated Post)

As a physician, I am as much a therapist as I am a physical healer, and am well aware of the vital connection between mind, spirit and body. I have also seen how closely linked emotional stress is to development and exacerbation of physical ailments. What concerns me is when people abandon healthy habits during times of adversity, because it is at those times that some structure would provide balance to their lives.

A common question I hear from patients, clients, and strangers I meet is, “How can you maintain a regular exercise schedule and pack your food all the time with your busy careers?”, to which I respond, “I just do it.” Working out and eating right are as essential to me as sleeping and brushing my teeth. It never occurs to me to abandon healthy habits during stressful times. I recently went through a particularly difficult month during which I took a rigorous board certification exam, went through a residential move, and traveled to four destinations (two for my medical career, two for fitness and bodybuilding) over a two week period. Though I didn’t work out my usual six days per week, I did manage to train four to five days per week, every single week. The regular workouts gave me structure and balance which helped me to burn off some of the stress I was under, regulated my sleep cycle, and just plain felt good. In addition, I traveled with clean foods and lots of water, packing them and making sure I stayed on track.

Why would I push myself like this? Because I know that consistency is key to maintaining balance in one’s life. When I am consistent with my workouts and food, I maintain structure and focus and do not allow excuses of an insanely busy schedule to deter me from my mission to live an optimally healthy lifestyle. I know that if I were to deviate from a healthy lifestyle, I wouldn’t have the energy to push through my to-do list, and I certainly wouldn’t be very happy either. No matter whether I am traveling, working, or enjoying a rare free day for myself, I make sure to invest in myself every single day.

When I worked the Arnold Sports Festival Expo in Columbus, Ohio earlier this month, I made sure to drink plenty of water, filling up my one liter container 3 to 4 times each day. I also brought my Hot Logic Mini with me (https://youtu.be/GQltYTRLTC4) and had meals from Icon Meals with me, and I made sure to consume a meal every 3 hours to keep my energy levels up. If you are committed to living a healthy lifestyle, you will find ways to stay in line!

If you make an investment in yourself by being consistent with your exercise and meal habits, you will be rewarded with greater balance in your life and better health. Don’t you deserve that?

Yes I Write Prescriptions. No I Won’t Write One For Your Brother.

As a fully licensed, board-certified physician, I have written my share of prescriptions over the years for medications, imaging studies, etc. I recognize that it is an incredible honor and privilege to be able to write scripts, and I never take advantage of it. However, there are people out there who think nothing of asking me to write prescriptions for them, simply because I am a fully credentialed physician conveniently standing there in front of them. What is especially irritating is when people dare to ask me to conduct curbside consultations or write prescriptions for their family members or loved ones who not only aren’t there with them to be examined, but who are complete strangers to me. Tell me, how in the world am I supposed to conduct a medical evaluation on a complete stranger, sight unseen? These same individuals also tend to get offended when I kindly tell them that their loved one needs to be seen in person by a qualified medical professional who can assess their condition and administer the appropriate treatment.

So if you are the kind of person who is in the habit of asking doctors to do similar favors for you or your family, please understand that your requests are unreasonable and inappropriate. If your husband, sister, son, cousin, or best friend needs medical attention, do the responsible thing and either tell that person to go see a doctor, or take that person to the doctor.

What Do You Take For Granted?

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Chances are that you probably take many things in your life for granted. For example, you probably take for granted that you will wake up to face another morning. You may take for granted that you have job security or financial security. You may take your good health for granted, or you may have resigned yourself to sub-optimal health while taking for granted that you will somehow overcome the inevitable consequence of poorly managed illness. You may take your relationship or marriage for granted, assuming that because you have a partner whom you love and who presumably loves you back, you will never be alone or have to struggle with being single again. You may take for granted that your home is completely safe from violence, thieves, or natural disasters.

Never, EVER take anything you have in your life for granted. Anything can be stripped away from you in a heartbeat. The saying, “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst” has some utility in reminding us to pay attention and take steps to ensure our comfort, our safety, our health, our sanity. Nothing we have is permanent. It’s all on loan until we move on from this physical realm.

I know this sounds depressing, but it isn’t meant to be. It is simply a reminder to pay attention to what you are blessed with, to appreciate it, and to realize that just because you enjoy it and it has given you comfort or joy, doesn’t mean that it will last. Don’t count on it. Live every day as if it was your last.

I Hate Taking Selfies

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Both of my parents used to put me in front of cameras all the time, which largely explains why I am so comfortable in front of them. I am very much at ease before a still camera, and am usually fine in front of a moving one, even if I have to improvise or read cold. I have never really shied away from the camera lens like some people tend to do, and am usually happy to join in a group picture when asked to do so.

All bets are off when I have to take a selfie. I have stubbornly remained on the Android boat and refuse to cross over to the iPhone world, and as a result I have to deal with a camera which, quite frankly, sucks, especially when in selfie mode. I have an oval face, but my phone camera wants to make me look like I have a long, weird horse face! My phone camera is also completely incapable of capturing ideal lighting conditions. Since I want people to see me in my natural, everyday state, and am very reluctant to use filters on my social media posts, I realize that many of my social media posts which feature a selfie don’t exactly make me look my best.

As if that wasn’t enough to discourage me from taking selfies, I also don’t enjoy the process of looking at myself and trying to line up a picture. When someone else is photographing or filming me, I allow myself to relax and trust the person who is capturing my likeness. When I take selfies with my phone, I become easily and quickly bored with the activity. It’s not like me to spend massive amounts of time in front of a mirror, fussing and primping, so I certainly don’t enjoy spending additional time taking pictures of myself.

Here’s my M.O. for taking selfies: I think of a good setup for the shot, then I take between two and eight selfies. I know you selfie experts are probably horrified by the paltry amount of selfies I take, and are ready to tell me, “No wonder you don’t get good selfies!” I know that the most dedicated Instagram selfie takers will often take over a hundred versions of a selfie and sift through them to find the most flattering images, but I don’t have that kind of time!

I have spoken with branding people who say that it is worth taking time to snap the perfect selfie, but I have careers and a life outside of social media, and in that real world, time is money. If I don’t get my work done, I don’t get paid. And no one will have sympathy for me if I tell them I need a couple of hours each day to take the perfect batch of selfies. Since I also apply a five-minute face each day (concealer, brow pencil, eyeliner, mascara, blush, translucent powder and lipstick…NO foundation, bronzer, eyeshadow, lipgloss for my daily look!), I am not prepping for selfies all the time.

Who else out there hates taking selfies? IMAG0893

Pushing Through – Dealing With Troubling Times

Life is not about how hard you can hit, but how much you can get hit & still keep moving forward. -Rocky Balboa
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It is commonplace these days to hear people say that times are tough, and indeed they are. Truth is, there will ALWAYS be something we will be forced to contend with. At times those challenges can be so trying that they threaten to break our spirit and obscure the light at the end of the tunnel. However, it is imperative to push through those trials and tribulations while remembering what our goals are.

Your goals may be long term and centered around a career aspiration or the pursuit of an avocation for which you have great passion. Perhaps you have a weight loss goal or want to improve your general health. Or maybe you compete and are chasing after that elusive Pro Card or Olympia qualification. Chances are that any challenges which hit unexpectedly have no direct correlation to these goals, so why allow them to push you off course? You may get knocked around a bit, but the important thing is to get back in line with that prize you have set before you.

It always amazes me to hear patients and clients describe how they abandoned their meal plans and exercise regimens, and thus their fitness and health goals, when they were forced to deal with stressful life events such as divorce, legal issues, job loss, or family illness. What goes through my mind when I hear such things is that these people are doing themselves a disservice by dropping a regular regimen which has immense long term payoffs. A thread of stability is established when there is consistency with food intake and exercise which can actually lessen the impact of life stressors. Energy levels are boosted, depression is minimized, and an individual can assert his or her own personal needs in the face of adversity.

So if tough times are getting you down, remember to put the oxygen mask on your own face and take care of your own needs. Those who persevere will be rewarded after the storm passes. Hang in there!

Life Is Never Boring

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Any time I hear someone complain about how predictable, steady and boring life is, I chuckle, because I have never been able to make that statement about my own life. This doesn’t mean that my life is unstable, but that I have always had so much going on that there hasn’t been time for boredom to set in. I truly am CONSTANTLY doing something, and I have a habit of packing a lot into each day. I understand that some people are stuck in boring jobs, so I am thankful that I love being a physician, and love the environments in which I work. I am fortunate to be involved in pursuits which I am passionate about, and which give me an incredible sense of fulfillment. Whether I am doctoring, writing articles, modeling, doing booth work, creating nutrition and workout regimens, or working on business strategies or branding, so much is going on inside my head that I couldn’t possibly get bored.

I will admit that aspects of my regular daily routine could be seen by others as a bit dull, since I head to the gym around the same time, and I usually spend weeknights writing. However, I typically cram so much stuff in between those activities that I spend the entire day rushing around, trying to get it ALL done. The overachiever in me can’t seem to let go of the notion that the best days are the ones in which all the important items on the to do list are checked off. Even on the weekends, I spend the majority of my time trying to catch up on articles and plans which I wasn’t able to get to during the week.

Another feature of my life is that I wear so many hats that I have to constantly shift gears. Though it puts a lot of pressure on me, I prefer to have a lot of variety in my day, talking about medicine, fitness, skincare, nutrition, and business. My nerves can get pretty frazzled from the endless list of things to do, but I know I wouldn’t be able to deal with sitting around all day with nothing to do. I think partially because I have chosen a number of very interesting fields to pursue, and partially because I seem to attract a lot of movement and energy, circumstances also seem to keep me on my toes, and also keep boredom at bay. About 25 years ago, I remember someone telling me that I moved at a high “burn rate”, that my spirit had a lot of karmic energy which would attract lots of activity and movement. Despite its mystical tone, the statement struck me, and I can honestly say that it fits the cadence of my entire life.

If you find that you are bored with your life, it’s time to examine what might be holding you in a rut. Maybe you watch a lot of television. If so, turn off the television and read a good book. If it has been months or even years since you exercised, join a gym and commit to a regular workout schedule. Go out with friends. If you have pockets of time in which you are looking for things to do, try exploring your city or town by visiting other neighborhood stores, parks and restaurants. Cultivate a new hobby. Volunteer.

You can turn a boring life into a fulfilling, fun, exciting one by doing new things. Have fun!