To those new to my blog, welcome! To those longtime followers, after one year of blogging, I want to thank you for your support. I started this blog with no purpose other than to communicate to my patients the developments within my fledgling practice. But as I started to write, I found myself driven to explore broader topics that relate to health, and our delivery system.
What does it mean to be healthy? I’ve come to believe that the answer to this question is different for each individual, but the answer definitely does not lie in physical health alone. To me, “healthy” is a state of mind and is going to look very different from one person to another. I watched one of my “healthiest” patients die of ovarian cancer this year. Unfortunately, I also see many patients every day with no true physical ailments, but who are very unwell. So in our quest for health, what areas do we have to consider? I have framed my ideas around the book Wellbeing written by Tom Rath and Jim Harter http://www.wbfinder.com/home.aspx but have added one additional category that I think they missed – spirituality.
· Physical Wellbeing – Do you have health and enough energy to do what you want to do every day? Do you fuel your body with healthy nutrition, exercise, sleep, and keep toxins to a minimum?
· Emotional Wellbeing – Do you have strong relationships and love in your life? Are there unresolved tensions with your spouse, parents, children, friends, or work colleagues?
· Financial Wellbeing – Do you feel secure in your ability to cover the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and education? Does the way you use your non-essential income bring you joy?
· Community Wellbeing – Do you take pride in your community? Do you contribute in some way that helps others in your world to thrive because you care?
· Career Wellbeing – Do you like what you do every day, be it at home or in an official work place? Do you wake up every day excited to take on the next challenge in your “job”?
· Spirituality – How do you refuel yourself? What feeds your soul? This can come from an official place of worship, or from another activity that brings joy and re-energizes your spirit like nature, music, writing, etc.
When I’m inspired to write, it’s with these categories in mind. Sometimes I also explore how our broken healthcare system can change to better serve the wellbeing of the community as a whole, without going bankrupt. So after my infancy as a blogger, I think I’ve finally figured out what I’m about and what the theme of my social platform will be – How To Be Healthy.
Careful readers of my blog may pick up that I’m mimicking my social media idol, Baratunde Thurston, author of How To Be Black. http://howtobeblack.me/htbborder In reading his book, I realized that although we have different platforms and objectives, we share the common idea that there is no one way to “be” anything. Although one may assume that his book prescribes a certain ideal for “blackness”, his thesis is actually that “blackness” is whatever a black person wants it to be. In his very funny way, Baratunde satirically puts forth a few models of “blackness”, but he ultimately admits that his book is really about “How To Be Human”.
Similarly, there is no one model for successfully navigating the path of “wellbeing”. Our physical health can dramatically change in a moment due to illness or injury, but we can always strive to achieve our own maximal fitness. One can be emotionally well within all sorts of different frameworks – married, single, childless, with kids, large friend networks, a closely held few. In addition, every relationship looks different. What matters is the degree of connection and the love that is felt. Financial wellbeing will look different depending on the community one chooses to live in. Spirituality can take innumerable forms, and so on. What matters is that a person lives their life authentically, with their own inner voice as their guide.
So welcome to HowToBeHealthyMD. I hope my readers will appreciate that my strong science background and training in evidenced based medicine enables me to judge new medical and nutrition information and provide a reliable interpretation of the implications. But I also hope my followers appreciate that I am a “radical academic” (also coined by Baratunde on that roof top bar in Austin) that isn’t afraid to stand in the face of commonly held beliefs if they just “don’t make sense”. I feel well poised to talk about issues of balance and wellbeing, because as a mother and an American, I’m struggling with the same issues you are. So here’s to being healthy! I hope you’ll continue the journey with me to higher and higher levels of personal fulfillment.