Being a doctor has saved my life

I ran a 5K last weekend. I succumbed to peer pressure. The more others talked about running it, I decided I could be a runner too.

My patients describe their HIIT workouts (high-intensity interval training, for those of you not in-the-know), PiYo classes (Pilates-Yoga combination), increasing mileage for an upcoming duathlon/triathlon/marathon, and now I can proudly share my measly 5K experience with them. Of course, I will leave out the small details, like having to walk uphill out of breath while being passed by athletes twice my age and weight, some carrying canes, then having an asthma exacerbation because of improper preparation for the race. I will only describe the Facebook-shareable-worthy info: “I finished a 5K! Yay!”

Everyone assumes that their doctor must be eating right and exercising at least five days a week and enjoying every minute of it because doctors are specialists of good health. Doctors must be following the clot-preventing, anti-inflammatory, HDL-increasing, LDL-lowering, body fat-reducing, life-extending rituals that are recommended by the FDA, AHA, ACC, JAMA, NCEP, OREO and PBJ, right?

Here’s the truth. And I speak only for myself, a family doctor, a mom, a wife and a friend.

I, too, struggle with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and finding the time in my day to exercise.

I, too, am sometimes just trying to make it hour to hour, day to day, week to week, through soccer carpool, dance practices, nightly dinners, grocery shopping, parent-teacher conferences and home maintenance. Not to mention traffic jams, homework with kids, binge-watching Gilmore Girls and needing sleep.

I understand. I am human too, but somehow, because I am a doctor, I feel that I not only need to know what’s healthy, I must promote what’s healthy, and live it too. Otherwise, I’d be a hypocrite, right?

Is that fair?

I don’t think so, but I am grateful for the automatic super-ego that comes with my profession.

In many ways, being a doctor has saved my life. Based on my family history, I seem pre-destined to have diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s, but my profession has lowered my risks drastically. My loud super-ego screams, “Yes, please” to healthy choices of grilled salmon over a bed of greens, hold the dressing, when my id would rather do the talking and choose macaroons, French fries, pepperoni pizza with extra pepperoni and a few anchovies. (PMS.)

I thank my patients who push themselves through their physical fatigue, mental stress, sleepless nights and carb cravings to meet their health goals. No, I am not asking about your exercise habits to judge you! I admire your discipline and perseverance and need more of that in my life.

After putting kids to bed, I will do some planks and yoga. All I can do is keep trying, just like everyone else. Maybe tomorrow, I will have a patient coming to see me who is a Crossfit-er or a ballet barre fanatic, then I can get motivated about core strength and posture.

Christine Nedeau is a family physician.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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