(In part one of this article, we spoke about activity and exercise, nutrition, cholesterol and more)

I’ve been thinking about doctors…

Doctors save lives!  They have tremendous knowledge about the human body and how to fix it when things go awry. But we generally use doctors when something is wrong, not to prevent something from going wrong.  If it’s your first visit, the doctor will take a health history and of course, order a blood test.  But has he/she asked you about your exercise and activity?  How about eating habits?

What about the prescription that possibly gets written at the end of your visit?  Does your doctor write a prescription for exercise or possibly send you to a program, trainer or registered dietician to advise you?  Doctors are our primary care givers. But something of great importance is missing.  Lifestyle interventions have shown greater long term benefit than medicine, in many cases. Yet most doctors are not using lifestyle interventions to the full potential.  Pharmacology has its place, but it has side effects; exercise and good eating don’t.  The evidence on this is so pronounced through so many good, thorough studies! I just can’t figure out why most doctors are not prescribing exercise and other lifestyle interventions (like health and wellness coaching)!

When will modern medicine grow up and get with the times?  It’s not totally your physician’s fault.   There are 114 medical schools in the United States and none of them require their students to have even one semester of exercise science.  Also, 5-6 weeks of nutrition education is not the same as a registered dietician with 4-6 years of education, plus clinical work.

A gastroenterologist recently told me that what I do has a more of a positive effect on Irritable Bowel Syndrome and fatty livers than anything he can do.  I can give many examples where our staff succeeded when doctors couldn’t.  Exercise specialists and dieticians are indeed specialists in their fields.  They should be referred to just like other specialists.

I’ve been thinking about how we treat mental illness….

Someone with depression or anxiety gets sent by their physician to a psychiatrist and receives medication.  But wait a minute!  How effective are these medications?  Not as effective as you think.  Studies show that both behavioral therapy and exercise work better than medication alone.  And, we have learned recently that good nutrition plays a role as well.  There is also a high placebo effect associated with anti-depressant medication.  The estimates range from 30-65%.  These meds can cause weight gain, nausea, bloating, constipation, and more.  But brisk walks, some other exercise, and some talk therapy are more effective.  So why the mass prescribing of a whole host of drugs that can have multiple side effects?  I have been sent patients of both psychiatrists and psychologists over the years.  We’ve had good success, most of the time.

I’ve been thinking about unqualified practitioners…

Who is helping you with your health, wellness, and weight loss?  It is of great importance that your provider knows his or her field thoroughly.  Someone who doesn’t know what he is doing can cause harm.  I have heard therapists say they feel perfectly comfortable giving food plans and discussing nutrition. Yet they have never attended courses on the subject!   I recently saw an advertisement for a workshop on diabetes. However, not one leader of this workshop had any qualifications or certification in nutrition or exercise science.

Chiropractors are for back pain, reflexologists are great at using pressure in your toes for a variety of things, and traditional Chinese medicine can help you with many things.  But unless you are using them to help you with an underlying metabolic issue, weight loss through exercise and good eating is not their expertise.  Perhaps you are taking a supplement to help you lose weight that your alternative medicine practitioner gave you—none of them work.  If they did, the obesity epidemic would have ended long ago.  A therapist can help with underlying emotional problems, and a doctor can make sure it isn’t something metabolic like your thyroid.  But leave it to qualified weight loss experts to help you with weight loss.

I’ve been thinking about changing habits…

Eliminating bad habits and replacing them with good behaviors is key to improving your health.  This is not as easy as it seems, but if you keep everything in perspective, you can succeed and have great results.

First things first, don’t be an “all or nothing” type of person.  Acknowledge every single change you make for the good and celebrate it!  When you make a mistake, learn from the experience and just get back on track.  Don’t try to change too many behaviors at once.  Pick one change on the food front and one on the exercise side and work on those until you’ve internalized them. Every change you make will contribute to a nice result and down the road, your health will be better off for it.

We are all in charge of our health and well-being.  But taking charge necessitates being educated about what is real, what works, what doesn’t work, and what is the best path for you. Here’s the bottom line: without our health intact, we can’t function normally and accomplish what we want to in life.

I’ve been thinking about a lot of ways we can change our health and wellness for the better. I hope my thoughts will help influence you so that you can make changes “add hours to your day, days to your year and years to your life.”