Doctors Are Detectives

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There is tremendous responsibility in being a physician, and I take it very seriously. Any time I walk into a medical facility and see patients, I know that the patients and staff are all counting on me to assess patients fully, make proper diagnoses, and provide appropriate treatments. Basically, I know that I MUST make the right decisions at all times and be at the top of my game. Talk about pressure! Nevertheless, the thrill of solving a problem is so rewarding that it quickly eradicates any feelings of anxiety.

I just read Atul Gawande’s excellent book, Being Mortal, and I love this passage in which he very aptly describes the satisfaction which can come from being a physician:

“You become a doctor for what you imagine to be the satisfaction of the work, and that turns out to be the satisfaction of competence. It is a deep satisfaction very much like the one that a carpenter experiences in restoring a fragile antique chest or that a science teacher experiences in bringing a fifth grader to that sudden, mind-shifting recognition of what atoms are. It comes partly from being helpful to others. But it also comes from being technically skilled and able to solve difficult, intricate problems. Your competence gives you a secure sense of identity. For a clinician, therefore, nothing is more threatening to who you think you are than a patient with problem you cannot solve.”

The truth is that pretty much every physician has come across a case which he or she could not solve, one which necessitated a discussion with a specialist, or a lengthy literature review to aid in diagnosing the zebra who walked into the office that day. Physicians are human, fallible, and though they usually have the answers to the puzzles which are constantly presented to them, they may find themselves stumped every now and then, and that is a dreadful feeling.

It is an honor to serve humankind as a problem-solver, and I will always strive to keep my clinical acumen as sharp as possible in order to provide the best medical care.

A Funny Story My Favorite Aunty Shared

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Aunty Jean was my favorite aunt on my mother’s side of the family, and she made a tremendous impact on my life from a very early age. I remember meeting her for the first time during my first visit to Hawaii at the age of three. My uncle Tadashi had suddenly died of a heart attack, so my mom flew us both out to Hawaii to pay our last respects.

From the moment I set foot on Hawaiian soil, I was mesmerized by the islands and felt immediately at home. It certainly helped that I was able to meet my mother’s extensive family, and was greeted warmly by them. Jean was especially doting, and spent a great deal of time with me during our week on Oahu. She engaged me in arts and crafts, took me to the garden in the backyard to teach me about tropical fruits, and spoke pidgin English, a weird combination of Japanese, Hawaiian, and English which delighted my young mind.

Aunty also let me tag along and watch her cook. It was on one of those days during which I was watching her that I exhibited behavior which she thought was peculiar and brilliant, and went so far as to share the incident with other family members. The strange thing is that I barely remember the incident, but she remembered it vividly and loved retelling the story.

Aunty was standing in front of her kitchen sink, cleaning a whole fish. I stood next to her on my tiptoes, peering over the sink’s edge to watch her scale the fish.

Then I said, “Aunty, take one eyeball out.” She was alarmed.

“Why do you want one eyeball?”, she exclaimed.

“Please, Aunty, can I have an eyeball?”

She looked at me, impressed by my determination. “Well, okay, but I don’t know why you want it.” She proceeded to enucleate the fish on one side. “Okay, now what?” She looked down at me expectantly.

“Cut it in half.”

“What? Why do you want me to cut it in half?”

“Please Aunty.”

“Okay.” She shook her head in wonder and then cut the eyeball in half. “Now What?”

I held my hand out, palm up. “You can give it to me. Both pieces.”

Aunty obliged, placing two half-orbs onto my palm.

“Thank you Aunty.” I smiled at her, then looked down at the cross sections, studying their anatomy, bringing my hand to eye level to get a closer look. Once I had the anatomy lesson in my hand, I no longer paid attention to the full fish corpse which Aunty was cleaning.

My aunt found my fascination with a sliced fish eyeball completely odd, and was overcome with the strong sense that I would become either a scientist or a physician when I grew up. How right she was. During my entire grade school, high school and college years, I was in large part a science nerd, and when dissections, science experiments or surgeries on small animals were presented to me as class assignments, I dove in with feverish enthusiasm. At one point during college, I held a major in science illustration (I later switched to exercise science and obtained my Bachelor’s degree in that field). Eventually, I endured the rigors of medical school as well as three years of family practice residency, and I have enjoyed a career as a board certified physician for 13 years.

Yes I AM a Doctor!

doctor-bag2It appears to be a lifelong curse for me to have to deal with people who never seem to take the fact that I am a bona fide medical doctor seriously. Most recently, I was challenged by a hater who didn’t bother to check facts and find out WHY I had “board-certified physician” on my main Instagram profile. All she saw was B.A. in Exercise Science and stupidly assumed that I had no other credentials. I purposely left out all my medical certifications and titles because I had to include my fitness background, writing and modeling descriptions in a limited number of characters.

She attacked me by posting a challenging comment on MY Instagram post, so I wrote to her clarifying my background and then blocked her because her comment was rather scathing. She returned through a different IG profile and BLASTED me, hurling profanity at me via another public comment. So I threw all her filthy words back to her and blocked her again. I REFUSE to be bullied by haters, especially those who don’t bother to do some research before hurling false accusations and insults against people they don’t even know.

Even those who know me through social circles will exclaim, “Oh wow, you mean you’re a DOCTOR doctor? That’s amazing!”, as if my medical training and career are somehow not supposed to be taken seriously by those near and dear to me. I want to yell, “YES, I am a doctor! Why didn’t you believe me the first time I told you? Why do I have to somehow prove it to you?” What irks me is that I don’t see these people doubting the abilities of their friends who work in any other industry, be it certified public accounting, law enforcement, or any other respected profession. I honestly resent the insinuation that my credentials somehow don’t count because I don’t wear a white coat all the time (by the way, I can’t STAND wearing those polyester nightmares) or flaunt my professional title like a badge.

For those of you who question what my credentials are, I will be very clear. Several years after I obtained my Bachelor’s degree, I completed four years of medical school which culminated in a medical diploma. After that, I completed my internship year (which was also my first year of family practice residency training) and became licensed as a physician. Two more years of residency training in family practice followed, then I sat for my specialty boards and became board-certified in family practice. Eight years later I had to sit for board recertification, and that process will repeat itself every eight years until I retire from medicine.

I am not a nurse or a physician’s assistant (though those professions are highly respectable, and attract some of the smartest and most compassionate people on the planet). What I AM is:

Degreed.
Licensed.
Board-certified.
Physician…ahem, a.k.a. Medical Doctor.
Yessir.

I may not be conservative or conventional, but I expect the same amount of respect as a physician who chooses to fit the mold and wear conservative attire and a white coat. My patients refer to me as Dr. Naito, not as Dr. Stacey or Stacey. I have worked VERY hard to become a physician, and I also recognize how hard my colleagues work as well. That is why when I am around other physicians, I err on the side of caution and refer to them as DOCTOR and not by their first names unless they specifically ask me to refer to them on a first name basis.

STACEY NAITO – IFBB Bikini Superstar (Interview)

Please check out the great interview which Christian Duque from Strength Addicts hosted, and in which I am the featured guest! We talked about a lot of topics, and I covered a lot of ground on my background, my contest journey, and my philosophy on training, diet and competing. Check it out and please LIKE and SHARE! Thank you so much!

Don’t Feel Like Yourself? Hormone Imbalance Could Be The Problem.

Portrait of a happy middle aged couple together outdoors

Portrait of a happy middle aged couple together outdoors

Are you experiencing any of the following?

Low energy
Insomnia
Irritability
Hair loss
Weight gain
Mood swings
Hot Flashes
Night sweats
Skin changes
Dry skin
Brittle nails and hair
Decreased libido
Erectile dysfunction
Difficulty concentrating
Memory loss
Depression
Anxiety
Muscle loss
Decreased strength

The above signs and symptoms are usually a clear sign of hormonal balances which are a function of the aging process. It is pretty widely known that women go through a process in which their estrogen and progesterone levels diminish and bring about symptoms of menopause which can be downright frustrating. However, men also go through a decline in testosterone as they age, with some men experiencing a sharp or early decline which manifests in troubling symptoms which have an adverse effect on their day to day lives. This decline, known as andropause, can be monitored through salivary or serum testing of hormone levels and treated with BHRT.

The good news is that in many cases, natural supplements and certain food choices can correct these issues, but some individuals, both men and women, may require supplementation with bioidentical hormones, also referred to as BHRT. Bioidentical hormones have the same molecular structure as the hormones which are produced naturally within the body. As a result, the body treats bioidentical hormones exactly like hormones produced within the body, which means that the body’s hormone balance can be restored.

If you are in the Los Angeles area and interested in booking a consultation with me for hormone balancing, please visit: http://www.drstaceynaito.com/#!natural-hormone-support/c1wd8

Maintaining A Healthy Perspective With Contest Prep Plans

The following article is featured on SportsNutritionSupplementGuide.com as well:

http://sportsnutritionsupplementguide.com/authors/authoritative-experts/stacey-naito/item/1496-maintaining-a-healthy-perspective-with-contest-prep-plans#.VVezzPlVikp
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Those of us who compete are well aware of the critical importance of following specific meal plans which are designed to optimize lean muscle mass and promote fat loss. However, these meal plans, especially during cutting phases, can be extremely restrictive. In our quest for attaining the ideal physique for whatever division we compete in, we may find ourselves in a spiral of obsessive nose-to-the-grindstone adherence to foods we may have grown to abhor, intertwined with strong temptation to deviate from the plan and indulge in forbidden foods, only to berate ourselves afterwards for doing so. After all, we are only human, and after weeks or months of eating clean, we may be so exasperated with daily servings of asparagus, tilapia, chicken breast, and sweet potatoes that our emotional food triggers may kick in and undermine our contest prep efforts.

With orthorexia, there is an unhealthy fixation on clean foods and one’s moods are dictated by how rigidly a clean diet is maintained. So how is this different from what competitors do in the weeks leading up to a competition? The mentally healthy approach is to regard food simply as fuel and to dismiss any emotional association with particular items. I have been witness to and a participant in the fantasizing of forbidden foods in a manner akin to lustful, sexual craving. I have heard competitors talk backstage at length about all the foods they were planning to indulge in immediately following their final visit onstage for the night.

What I find interesting about such food fixations is how they are distinguishable from anorexic behavior. When I was 19, I battled anorexia, dropping to 85 pounds on a 5’5’’ at my lightest. With anorexics, they have a clear and complete aversion to calorie-rich foods and have successfully turned off any interest or cravings for such items, whereas with bulimics, orthorexics and many healthy competitors in contest prep mode, coveting indulgent foods is rather commonplace. Among all these groups, there is a propensity for obsessive and compulsive behaviors. One may argue that such obsessions and compulsions are a vital component of contest prep and that without such tendencies a competitor will lack the focus necessary to succeed.

It seems apparent that competitors as a general rule, are dangerously close to that fine line which separates a healthy relationship with food from orthorexia. I remember quite well how rigid I was about the food I ate when I was anorexic and even kept a daily food journal in which I wrote down the calories and fat grams of every food substance ingested. I also recall how horrified and ashamed I was of myself when I would reluctantly consume a food I regarded as fattening.

Over 20 years later, I have a healthy relationship with food and for the most part regard it as fuel. Yet I am immersed in the world of contest prep and like many other competitors will balk and grumble about the clean foods I must eat. There are times when the mere thought of eating another spear of asparagus seems like the most disgusting activity in the world. On the rare occasion that I find myself in a restaurant, I find it an alien concept to peruse a menu and actually be able to order whatever I want from any part of the menu. There are also times during which my metabolism is in hyperdrive and I could eat almost nonstop for the duration of the day.

Here’s the thing: if I indulge in something that is not part of a contest prep meal plan, I don’t flog myself. Rather, I allow myself to enjoy the rare treat and move on. If you find yourself wallowing in extreme anxiety and prolonged guilt over ingesting a food item which is on the banned list, beware. This could signify the beginning of a food-related psychopathology.

The Wrinkle Banisher…That’s Me!

Puppy wrinkles
Just like the elastic in an old pair of sweatpants, the elasticity of the skin diminishes over time, resulting in unattractive skin folds and lines and a deflated appearance. Sun exposure, cigarette smoking, and consumption of processed foods, sugar and alcohol also contribute to fine lines, uneven skin tone, and brown discoloration. Fortunately, there have been countless advancements in aesthetic medicine which have resulted in the development of non-surgical interventions which can diminish or even completely eliminate these signs of aging.

Some individuals who are needle-shy will opt for laser treatments as a means of resurfacing and refining the skin. However, these treatments must usually be done in series and can be rather costly. Another non-invasive and cost-effective solution for aging skin is a chemical peel. There are many different types of chemical peels available, ranging from very light glycolic acid peels to an aggressive TCA (trichloroacetic acid) peel. One composite peel (phenol, TCA, salicylic acid and Retin-A) which is my personal favorite is the Vi-Peel which is painless, well tolerated by the majority of skin types, and only requires a few days of social downtime. The Vi-Peel is my peel of choice and the one which I offer to my patients. http://www.drstaceynaito.com/#!chemical-peels/comt

Before and after images from a single Vi-Peel treatment

Before and after images from a single Vi-Peel treatment

Another wonderful option for correcting loss of volume in the face is an injectable filler. There are a number of hyaluronic acid based fillers available now (Restylane, Perlane, Juvederm, Belotero) which last 6 months to a year. Radiesse is another natural filler option, which is comprised of calcium hydroxylapatite, a substance which also acts as a biostimulator, stimulating cells in the skin to produce collagen over time. Radiesse lasts 18 months or more and is a very cost-effective treatment for women in their 40’s and beyond who want to refill sunken areas which often develop as menopause looms. http://www.drstaceynaito.com/#!injectable-fillers/c1tgx

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If you have wrinkles in the forehead and around the eyes, Botox and Dysport are excellent treatments and will last for 3 to 6 months. I tend to prefer Botox over Dysport because the effects are more robust and tend to last longer than what I have seen with Dysport over the years. Xeomin is another form of botulinum toxin which is well-suited for patients who have developed a rare resistance to Botox of Dysport over time. http://www.drstaceynaito.com/#!botox-treatments/cr7z
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For those of you in the Los Angeles area, I offer the Vi-Peel, Botox, Juvederm (including Voluma), Radiesse, Restylane, Perlane, and Belotero treatments. I also perform electrocautery treatments on benign moles and skin tags. Please visit the links in this blogpost for more information on how to schedule a consultation. Why not start the summer looking your very best?

Yes I AM A Doctor!

doctor-bag2It appears to be a lifelong curse for me to have to deal with people who never seem to take the fact that I am a bona fide medical doctor seriously. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard friends exclaim, “Oh wow, you’re like a DOCTOR doctor? I had no idea!”, as if my medical training and career are somehow not supposed to be taken seriously by those near and dear to me. I want to yell, “YES, I am a doctor! Why didn’t you believe me the first time I told you? Why do I have to somehow prove it to you?” What irks me is that I don’t see these people doubting the abilities of their friends who work in any other industry, be it certified public accounting, law enforcement, or any other respected profession. I honestly resent the insinuation that my credentials somehow don’t count because I don’t wear a white coat all the time (by the way, I can’t STAND wearing those polyester nightmares) or flaunt my professional title like a badge.

For those of you in the group which questions what my credentials are, I will be very clear. I completed four years of medical school which culminated in my medical diploma. After that, I completed my internship year (which was also my first year of family practice residency training) and became licensed as a physician. Two more years of residency training in family practice followed, then I sat for my specialty boards and became board-certified in family practice. I am not a nurse or a physician’s assistant (though those professions are highly respectable and draw some of the smartest and most compassionate people on the planet). Degreed. Licensed. Board-certified. Physician a.k.a. Medical Doctor. Yessir.

I may not be conservative or conventional, but I expect the same amount of respect as a physician who chooses to fit the mold and wear conservative attire and a white coat. My patients refer to me as Dr. Naito, not as Dr. Stacey or Stacey. I have worked VERY hard to become a physician, and I also recognize how hard my colleagues work as well. That is why when I am around other physicians, I err on the side of caution and refer to them as DOCTOR and not by their first names unless they specifically ask me to refer to them on a first name basis.