Monday, August 10, 2009

L.A. Times Article - Does it matter what the doctor weighs?

Dr. Regina Benjamin with President Barack Obama

Here's an interesting article from the L.A. Times on the personal health of doctors. Does it matter? Do medical health professionals need to be healthy to be effective?

"A doctor doesn't need to be perfect, but it'd be hard for me to take financial advice from a CPA who had just filed for bankruptcy," said Dr. Timothy Harlan, medical director of the Tulane University School of Medicine, who says he believes physicians should make a genuine effort to be healthy.

Personally, I believe it's my responsibility to be as healthy as possible. I'm kind of a health nut. This morning Nini and I had vegetable juice for breakfast, as we usually do: carrots, beets, cucumber, ginger, and an apple (on the weekends, when we have time, we like to follow that up with bacon and eggs with tomatoes, onions and cheese). Most mornings I'm out at Mar Vista park doing taijiquan or qigong. I drink a lot of green tea.

I don't usually advertise these activities, because people sometimes don't react well to hearing about them. Instead of "hey, good for you" it's some hardcore eye-rolling and "well of course YOU do that. You're healthy! I could NEVER be as healthy as you are."

The fact is, there's no hard line between a "healthy person" and an "unhealthy person." I haven't always had these habits. I only started juicing about a year ago (note: I'm talking about this kind of juicing, NOT this kind). I only started exercising every morning during the past month, when I finally had the freedom to organize my own schedule. I drink green tea because I like how it tastes and how it makes me feel - I'm not choking it down because it's good for me. In the future I may not have the time to exercise every morning, or make juice and then clean the juicer (which takes awhile and is kind of a hassle but still worth it - if you've never had ultra-fresh juice straight from the juicer it's like a punch in the taste buds - much better than anything you could buy in a bottle. Besides that there are all kinds of health benefits which have to do with how fast the nutritional content of juice degrades when you let it sit around - for best results drink within two to three minutes of juicing).

My general philosophy is that you should enjoy life. If life isn't enjoyable, what's the point? I've tried drinking, and cigarettes, and various recreational drugs. I've tried all different kinds of exercise. I've tried not exercising. As a patient, I've tried acupuncture, massage and herbs. I've tried meditation and talk therapy and EFT. For myself, I have found what works, and continue to discover new things all the time. Through learning and teaching martial arts and four years of formal TCM education, I have tools that can help me to understand what works for others. I encourage you to experiment, and find what works for you. If you want to change something about your health, or your life, your body, your mindset, try something different. Don't be afraid to ask questions or seek guidance in unexpected places.

Find a doctor that you connect with. Everyone needs help with health challenges, so don't be afraid to accept professional help. But the best doctor is within yourself. Go look for him or her. They're in there.

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