Let me first give a huge “thank you” to all the wonderful doctors in my life.
My primary care physician, Dr. Andy Pasternak, MD, thank you for helping me get well when I was ill. And thank you for going along with me on my journey of experimentation and gathering unusual information as I worked on my health. You could have thrown your hands up and said, “You are crazy!” “I don’t do that test.” Or even, “That hasn’t been proven.” But you didn’t. So thank you.
Thank you to my Pediatrician, Dr. Ronald Clark, MD. Your wisdom has saved us from unnecessary medications and for that I am grateful. Your prescription for simply rest, snuggles and fluids was the best medicine you could have given. Thank you for always taking me, the mother, seriously despite my nagging. Thank you for helping keep my kids healthy.
Thank you to my obstetrician, Dr. Bruce Ferringer, MD. You are goofy and make me laugh, and I am endlessly grateful for your help to bring our daughter safely into this world.
Thank you to all the Emergency physicians we have come into contact in our lifetime for putting the fire out and keeping us alive.
Thank you to my dad, a retired surgeon. You have spent a lifetime caring for others and I certainly hope you find happiness in retirement. You deserve it.
Thank you to my husband, an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Chris Dolan, MD. You strive every day to do the right by each and every one of your patients. I know that it is hard with all the other life obligations, but you have found a way to do it, do it well and make a living! Moreover, you are even better at it today in no small part due to the fact that you take care of yourself too! You are a role model not only for our children, but also for your patients and even other physicians. If there is anyone who could make eating well, moving well and sleeping well BE COOL, it is you.
Let me tell you a little bit more about the doctors in my life having been raised by one and married to one. They are some of the most selfless people I know. They know how to work hard. They give up sleep on a regular basis. They give up eating on a regular basis. They give up sunlight on a regular basis. They even give up time with their precious family in order to do the right thing for their patients. Like I said, some of the most selfless people you will ever meet.
So, if you are a patient getting antsy because your doctor is running behind, well get over it, please. They are helping people, and they will help you too, even if it’s a little later than scheduled. Most doctors are thinking about the person right in front of them, only. Why? Because they care about the patient, probably more than the patient cares about him or herself. They care more about the patient than they do about themselves at that moment. And if your doctor doesn’t, then find a new one.
I love the doctors in my life. And I love my children. If I don’t love and care for myself, how can I parent my children? Ask any parent…..you simply can’t. I have tried. If my doctor isn’t able to take care of him or herself, how can I expect him/her to take care of me?
So, I want all doctors to start taking care of themselves…not tomorrow, but today. Now even. Because I need some hard working doctors helping me out when I get sick or injured. I know they work hard. I hear about it. I see it. I am married to medicine. But……they deserve better. They deserve health. Doctors need to represent health. A little health for our doctors will make them better doctors. They can’t give themselves away without replenishing the tanks. They are human, despite trying to be a superhuman.
Doctors, out of all of us you are the most vulnerable. And we need you. Yes we need you. You know how to do hard stuff that requires a boatload of serious willpower. You made it through medical school, boards, and residency to get where you are today, right? You are smart, but unfortunately sometimes you are too selfless for your own good. And maybe you simply forgot how to take care of yourself. You forgot what health looks like because you see illness all day. I know I forgot as a physical therapist, until I decided to take care of myself for myself, for my children, for my husband, for my patients and I got to see what health looks and feels like again, or maybe for the first time even.
And, in case you forgot, here is what I have found that seems to work. Four simple (not necessarily easy) principles that will help you get back on track:
Eat well – eat real food not food like substances
Move well – move your body daily (it counts even if its your job), but don’t beat yourself up
Sleep well – sleep when you are tired, and don’t push thru unless someone’s life depends on it. Recover as soon as you can. Sleep until you wake up naturally whenever possible.
Thrive on – connect to your family, friends and your purpose whenever possible, but not at the sacrifice of the other principles.
What about stress you ask? You think you are too stressed to try anything new? Well let me tell you about stress. I LOVE stress. It’s necessary, just like it’s necessary for you to take care of yourself. Stress is a fact of life. And if you look carefully, you see it everywhere. And you even see it making you happy? She said what? Yes, stress makes you learn, makes you connect to people, helps you build stronger bones for heaven’s sake. So you are probably addicted to stress too, but you got so distracted by your responsibilities and your selflessness that it seemed like stress was bad. But it isn’t. In order to make a diamond you need two things; coal and stress.
One of my goals as a health care provider is to continue to share information with those that need information. You need information. We all need information. Even if you already know the information, but simply forgot because you were too busy being selfless, let me remind you. And I promise to back it up with science as I have been on my blogs to the best that I can, especially as it relates to any physical therapy condition, which is to say almost anything.
There is so much information out there supporting these simple principles it is a bit overwhelming. But the simple principles hold true through it all. And it doesn’t have to be perfect unless your medical condition requires that, but seems 80:20 is a good rule to live by.
“The Paleo diet is a fad” you say. Well maybe the word Paleo is a fad, but health-seeking behavior is not a fad, but a movement. Doctors, please join us. No….I mean please lead us in this movement. We need good leaders. Stop trying to divert the attention away from yourself because you don’t want to admit that you are too selfless to actually take care of yourself. Why? Because I feel awesome. Health feels awesome. I feel like climbing the mountain, again. And if I slip and fall, or accidently do something stupid, I want a healthy DOCTOR to be there to help me pick up the pieces.
So I challenge you this......spend the next 30 days eating, moving, and sleeping like you care about yourself.
What do you have to lose? It’s only food. It’s only movement. It’s only sleep. Or maybe you have everything to lose by NOT trying. Try to see if it works, because the worst-case scenario is, it doesn’t work. And what if it does?
Explore the reasons why it works. Learn about your body, your health. And then SHARE!!
And then tell me about it! Tell us about it! If you are a doctor or healthcare provider, tell your patient’s about it!
We need you hard working doctors to help us when we are ill or injured.
And doctors, if it means you are 15 min late for my non-urgent appointment because you decided to walk in the sunshine for just a moment, I am good with that. You are forgiven. You need to take care of yourself, because I may need you someday.
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove refined grains (including gluten), refined sugars (keep it less than 10g for sure), refined vegetable oils (canola oil, butter spreads), processed food and beverages. The refining and processing often removes valuable nutrients from food and potentially makes it unrecognizable to the body, and therefore inflammatory.
Replace with WHOLE produce in the form of fruit and vegetables. Healthy protein and fat, because you hard working doctors need the protein and fat for the brain function and physical demands on your body. Drink water, lots of water. Move your body outside in the sunshine, please. You need Vitamin D just like babies and older women. Go to sleep in a dark room in a bed when you are tired. Turn off your phone whenever possible to connect with your spouse, your children or your friends. They love you more than your patients, I promise.
Restore health. Yes, your health. Do you remember what that looks and feels like? If you don’t, I hope you try these principles and find it again. And if you need help, maybe my blog will help you. If you have questions, please ask, because I am happy to investigate and share, I know how busy you are. I understand the need for proof. But don’t forget the start of something new always begins with a simple case study. Be your own proof. A sample size of n = 1 is still valuable and informative and worth sharing.
PS – Really this is for anyone and everyone and even ALL health care providers. We all play a critical role in this world and we can do it better if we have a plan to care for our own health.
Eat well. Move well. Sleep well. Thrive on.
Special thank you to Dr. Chris Dolan and Leah Williams, PT for the edits, corrections, advice on content and talking me off the ledge. I hope you approve.
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.