Pilates Rowing Action Exerciser
Getting Off Your Medications
Founder & CEO, The Village Doctor; Associate Clinical Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine
Youth is wasted on the young, my father used to say. And as we all age, we know exactly what he meant. As a physician, I see many patients who feel much older than their chronological age. Why is this? Often it is because the habits and routines of years ago have faded and been replaced by hours of inactivity punctuated by business lunches, stressful meetings, and overscheduled days. What follows are body changes we can all see from the outside: extra pounds, lack of fitness, and poor posture. But even more important are the changes that can be measured on the inside: elevated blood cholesterol and blood sugar, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure. These patients already feel bad enough without medications, and then their alertness, athleticism, and libido become subject to the side effects of the drugs used to treat what are now chronic medical problems. These drugs include statins for cholesterol control, diabetes medications for blood sugar control, and an array of others to control blood pressure.
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Neither the patients nor the physicians are happy with these changes, and many discussions occur in doctors’ offices across the country regarding diet and exercise. Diet blogs are read and personal trainers are hired, but almost always, over time, the “old” bodies return. This is because the fundamental relationship with diet and exercise has not changed. Almost by definition, diets require sacrifice of both quantity and quality of food. Exercise becomes a means to an end, with patients slogging through 30-minute sessions on a Stairmaster or grinding through 2-mile runs. Both the diet and the exercise are joyless and hence never become habitual, much less ritual. I would argue that people believe that good health is all about losing weight. That is essential, but how it is done is more important. Their goal should be to look forward to their exercise and to change their relationship with food. Youth-promoting exercise can be joyful, and healthy meals can be delicious.
I learned this about two years ago, when I noticed that some of my patients were dramatically losing weight and becoming healthier and, in fact, their whole outlook on life seemed to be changing for the better. When I asked them what they were doing differently, they all mentioned The Happy Body program.