BUT DID YOU REALLY TRY?

Churchill Part II

For years patients told me they tried exercising and eating better but their:
  1. blood pressure
  2. cholesterol
  3. triglycerides
  4. blood sugar
remained abnormally elevated which required prescription medication to control. I certainly wish their efforts didn’t wait until their lifestyle created most of these problems in the first place, however, I was always glad to hear an effort was put forth. As a doctor who cared enough about my patients to diplomatically push the envelope by asking questions that were typically unpopular, I asked my questions during our office visits none the less. These questions included:
  1. Specifically can you tell me what dietary changes you have made? What have you added and in what quantity? What have you subtracted and in what quantity?
  2. How often do you eat your meals in restaurants?
  3. How often do you prepare meals at home rather than just heating them up? (ex. Lean Cuisine)
  4. Describe to me the type of exercises you performed? How many times per week? How long was each session on average? Did you set aside specific time, or did you do it when time became available?
  5. Describe your sleep patterns and the average number of hours you sleep on a daily basis?
  6. Do you drink water? How much? How often?
  7. How often do you feel stress? How do you relieve stress?
  8. How much time do you have or make for yourself on a daily basis?
I know my patients liked and appreciated me, but I also know they didn’t enjoy the “gentle interrogation” they received during an office visit. The purpose of all these questions was to identify whether the patient took the steps necessary to achieve potential change or simply went through the motions to justify that lifestyle changes weren’t enough to correct a “pharmaceutical deficiency.” When I asked these questions my eyes were NOT on a computer screen; they were looking directly into my patient’s eyes to determine the accuracy and integrity of the answers.
The purpose of my approach was to determine the level I believed I could help my patients. Ultimately, it was their bodies and their decisions, but if they said they wanted to change, I did everything to make certain they were CLEAR on the ACTION PLAN and CLEAR on how DIFFICULT the road ahead was likely to be.
Most patients advised to make lifestyle changes DO NOT approach this suggestion with great enthusiasm. I would ask, “have you committed yourself to lifestyle changes with as much effort and focus as you would crawling out of a burning house filled with smoke unable to see the exit with two broken legs?” Most patients would laugh. You see, most patients don’t worry about escaping the burning house because they see an additional option.This option would include the fire department coming to the rescue, similar to the way the medical field comes to the rescue with “life saving” pharmaceuticals. Many patient’s believe that lifestyle changes OR pharmaceutical drugs create the SAME OUTCOME. Why put all the effort into lifestyle changes when the drug can “fix” the problem without a person having to “sacrifice” their current lifestyle? The answer is simple. Most lifelong medications DO NOT FIX the problem. They TEMPORARILY alter function attempting to achieve a desired lab result while causing potential harm to the liver, kidneys and heart. This is the actual state of health the average patient believes is curative in nature. This patient doesn’t concern themselves with the damaging side effects the drugs produce. Once the doctor says, “everything looks good according to our lab findings,” the patient believes (because they want to believe) that good health has returned.
Anyone that consciously makes the decision to take drugs in place of creating a healthy lifestyle and is willing to accept the physical, financial and emotional consequences of these actions is a person true to themself. Anyone taking drugs because of a lifestyle that has resulted in health risk factors (ex. high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar) and claims to have done everything possible yet has been unwilling to seek the advice of professionals to assist them and follow their guidance to the level needed to obtain positive results is a person untrue to themself. This type of person does not take personal responsibility for their health and will “live their lives relying on the fireman to put out the fire.”)
This article is not attempting to judge your decision, but rather to (not so diplomatically yet figuratively) “slap everyone upside the head” to help everyone make a conscious decision about who is going to CONTROL THEIR HEALTH? The drug company will be more than happy to accept the responsibility. Do you believe ANYONE cares more about your health and well being than you?
So, for all of you that have claimed to try to “fix” your health problems with diet and exercise, I have just one question:

BUT, DID YOU REALLY TRY?

NEED A HAND? I’LL GIVE YOU A BOOST. YOU KNOW HOW TO FIND ME!

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29 comments

  1. Churchill’s quote is so true. Sometimes wanting change is far easier said than creating change. It certainly takes an effort and discipline. Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sometimes attitude becomes everything. We can approach life from a defeatist attitude or from the side that exposes potential opportunities. I believe David made this choice when confronting Goliath. Obstacles may be huge, but the human spirit always has potential to rise above and produce results far exceeding the limited tangible possibilities our senses may perceive. It is this reason that I continue to offer ideas and believe answers can be found for everyone seeking solutions.
      Thank you for participating in these articles. Your lifes’ experiences add great value and receive very positive feedback from others who read them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think people attach a lot of emotion to eating and exercise. We use the descriptor “try” when really the decision is quite simple: you either do it or you don’t.

    My office had a bunch of wonderful junk food available to us today and I chose not to have any (it wasn’t a choice I enjoyed making, trust me). I didn’t eat it and then later say, “oh well, at least I tried.” That means that our excuses are stronger than we are. You can’t “try” not to eat junk food…you just don’t do it. The food isn’t forcing itself into your mouth.

    You also can’t “try” to exercise. You just do it. Everyone is busy, no one feels like they have any spare time…but most people I talk to spend an inordinate amount of time on Facebook and watching television. If you have time to do that, then you have time to exercise. You’re simply choosing not to do it, so your priority is television over fitness. I wake up at 5 am to workout and believe me, it’s not because I find it enjoyable.

    People often don’t take accountability for their actions, which is a shame. When I mess up and make poor choices, I’m the first one to point it out! If I’m not honest with myself about my own intentions and what the outcome of my own choices was, then I’m the only one who is going to suffer. The worst part is, if people lie even to themselves then how are they ever going to improve?

    I like that you take the kid gloves off in today’s post and tell it like it is!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Finding a balance between offending and informing can be a challenge. I think most people realize how much I care about the world’s health and recognize my articles are designed to help; not hurt people.
      It must be recognized, however, that the hormonal/emotional component associated with poor food choices and sedentary living is a real physiological issue for some that “mind over matter” will not necessarily in and of itself overcome. Various components in life need to be addressed to provide ALL the tools needed to overcome these damaging behaviors. I just wanted to make certain that those who might not have been aware of the meager attempt made to exercise and modify eating habits were clear that they might have sabotaged their own attempt.
      You have become a more disciplined person and benefited as a result. Sometimes this discipline, however, hides the compassionate side within all of us and makes us look “cold” to others. As I have aged and been exposed to so many people with so many problems, my attitude has softened. I’m a pretty tough cookie with very high expectations, but recognize the human limitations we all have. I’ll just continue passing these messages from various perspectives until the message is received by those truly wanting change.
      Thank you (as always) for your wonderful comments. Your contributions are very important.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s interesting because the Nicole Arbour “Dear Fat People” video offended so many people. I definitely don’t look how I want to right now and would consider myself fat. However, I laughed throughout her video – it was very funny to me and a lot of what she was saying was true. Comedy often mocks people and is very successful…look at Russell Peters who essentially mocks every race there is. I’ve never heard anyone get up in arms about his comments despite the fact that race is something we can’t control but weight (for most people) is something that we can. It baffles me when people get so offended over any comment to do with weight, but unfortunately not offended enough to actually make a change in many cases. Weight has health implications but you’re not allowed to mention that because then your “body shaming” people. One of Nicole’s comments was, “is your doctor body shaming you when he tells you that you have heart disease?” Maybe her delivery was blunt, but it’s actually true. In my real life (and non-Scarlet life) I’m actually quite blunt too!

        You know, I wrote a post recently that I am debating about putting live. I don’t generally get into anything controversial on my blog but this post that I wrote has a lot of things that need to be said (at least in my humble opinion). Since you have perfected the delicate balance of cold hard truth and gentleness, I feel like I should send it to you first as a preview and get your opinion!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I welcome the opportunity to read your post. I know when you write, it comes from the heart with passion and conviction.

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  3. I need someone to slap me upside my head. I mean it. I haven’t figured out what has to happen to make me take the serious steps to improve my health. Am I waiting for a heart attack? My dad had 2 one at my age of 59 and when he was 62. He is now 83. I certainly have all the signs and health signs for it. Or maybe lose my eyesight or a limb to high blood sugar from my Diabetes. I know it is serious, but I am waiting for the firemen I guess. I want a miracle. Maybe I should pray for help with my health. If God wants me to help others I need to be helped first so I can do that work.

    Great article, now find the 2×4. Seriously.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for the positive feedback. The purpose was simply to “put it out there” in front of people so they would have the opportunity to re-evaluate their current path in life. I have learned never to force ideas, but rather to encourage alternative methods to achieving beneficial outcomes. I can show people the water; I can’t make them drink it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You are welcome. You deserve it. You make me think. You encourage me, not enough yet to make that final decision, but I am getting there. Danny Ray is pushing weight loss and feeling better today. I have read several of his reposts. Most of this is stuff I know either from experience or classes or just reading blogs or of course my drs. BUT I am just not ready yet.

    If I miss an article it is probably because I still am not very good with the reader. I want my email from WordPress back. I hate this. I have missed a lot, but well no email piling up for sure. Your’s is one of the few blogs I never miss. Or your replies. I knew I read and replied to this earlier from Facebook and so when I saw it in the reader I read it just to see if there was a comment.

    Keep showing us the water, one of these days I will drink. thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well this was quite an important post with an empowering message. I like how you say people who knowingly refuse to take better care of themselves and wish to rely on medication are actually being more true to themselves than those who for whatever reasons aren’t being honest with themselves about their efforts. There are ALOT of emotions involved with unhealthy eating of course and it can be enormously challenging for some to overcome, but there has to be a certain level of perseverance involved in wanting to get better.

    I’m not sure what the answers are but messages like this are a good start for sure.

    Like

    1. I believe the difficulty in finding a solution comes from the underlying problems which present themselves differently in each of us. It is my opinion that the common thread needs to be a desire for improved health, for without this goal, weight loss typically becomes a recurring problem. The natural tendency is to measure success by a weight scale. The scale is a poor indicator of success since weight loss can result from muscle loss rather than fat loss. Focusing on a PROCESS that realistically offers a plan of action the consumer can follow (with modifications as different levels of success are achieved) has a greater chance of meeting success. It still requires great effort and a willingness to accept challenges all along the way.

      My goal is to help people find their own truths. If they choose better health, I want to make certain they realize they have someone they can turn to for assistance.
      Thank you for your contributions to my articles. Your ideas help me as much as they help fellow readers.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Where is determination bred, in the heart or in the head?

    I think I struggle in three areas:
    1. Planning
    2. Convenience foods
    3. Some sort of disconnect between my mind, which understands what I need to do, and maybe rebellion/pride, which doesn’t understand at all what I need to do. Ugh!

    Logic vs Emotion–the battle rages on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I call it the B&B struggle (Battle for Balance). One of the things I’ve learned is that it is ongoing for life. It is NOT just about getting over a hurdle. Life has constant challenges; how we adapt to these determines our level of health and happiness. This battle (in perspective) exists for a very short time (on average a life expectancy is approximately 75-80 years). Focusing on the PURPOSE of the goals rather than the difficulties we face along the journey helps each of us attain a better outcome. This means we have to constantly re-focus our attention to avoid taking the wrong path.

      Side Note: I look at convenience foods as those causing the GREATEST amount of PAIN and DAMAGE. When I view them in this light, they don’t seem so convenient!

      Like

  7. I had this conversation with my Doc on Wednesday evening.
    He basically bolloxed me (he is a straight talker and that is what I need) told me he would not hold my hand and that I had to take ownership of my situation. Once I agreed that the situation I was in was a valid problem but not an excuse, he began to talk solutions.
    I honestly don’t feel there is anyone bar close family that have my interests closer to heart than he does.
    An inspiring and brilliant Doc and I am very lucky to have him as my GP so I listen to what he says because what he says is RIGHT!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you are fortunate to have a good physician to work with. I have found a balance needs to be met with patients that demonstrates compassion and honest expression. I have found that repetitive failure usually occurs from approaching the issue from a similar perspective. For REAL change to occur, a DIFFERENT approach is commonly needed.
      Small consistent DOABLE changes with short term (weekly) goals is a wonderful approach. Constant success at these small goals increases self confidence and gradually adds up in time. If a person loses 1 pound it doesn’t sound like much. If a person loses 1 pound a week, one year later that person is over 50 pounds lighter. By doing things slowly people do not feel the same sense of deprivation as they do making drastic changes. Don’t create a time frame; create a REALISTIC game plan that you WON’T SABOTAGE. As you get further in the process the task becomes less daunting. Starting with a REAL commitment to oneself is one of the hardest parts of the journey. I’ll be honored to be permitted to offer suggestions (as a second doctor {since you already have an excellent provider} who has never met you, but cares about you none the less.) If more people reached out to offer assistance to each other with the only purpose being to help improve our lives, wouldn’t that be a planet worth bragging about!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That certainly would. Maybe I shall drop you a personal email sometime when I get a minute or too and explain what my situation is. I am lucky that my eating and weight is going well, I just need to sort out the other things and that takes time. Thank you for your kind offer and I shall take you up on it sometime. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. great post….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kat

      Like

  9. Medications cure the symptoms but not the underlying issue. I totally agree with this. I used to have chronic back pain, even got an MRI that showed bulging disc and degenerative disc disease. I took a lot of ibuprofen and muscle relaxers. I also developed plantar fasciitis. That was when I was 40lbs overweight and didn’t exercise, and ate crap. Once I started working out, changed my eating, and lost weight. It all went away. I don’t have back pain and my foot pain is gone. I rarely take an ibuprofen, usually just for a headache. That’s one reason I never want to stop. I just have to pick up 40#s and remember, that’s what I was carrying around all the time. When I hear other people who are overweight complaining about their back or feet, I wish I could help them realize how much better they might feel if they could exercise and quit eating crap. Sorry, such a long comment…I should just put it in my blog, ehh?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No apology needed. Your response is an important one. With 75% of the population overweight, someone will read your comment and see that “real people” have achieved weight loss and improved health. This will help to motivate others to make an effort just as you did. This is how change happens. Thank you so much for your comment. If only one person picks up on it, it will have been worth it!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. […] read this blog BUT DID YOU REALLY TRY?, and it made me want to […]

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    1. Thank you for passing this message to fellow readers. I truly appreciate it.

      Like

  11. I am old enough to remember a time when doctors would advise patients to quit smoking (or being a couch potato or …) but w/o any realistic suggestions about HOW. Patients would nod, go home, and continue unhealthy behavior. The conversation would be an empty ritual, to be repeated at the next visit. While there has been progress over the decades, there is still a long way to go.

    From the comments as well as the posts on this blog, I am glad to see how U are pushing in a good direction for more progress.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome back my friend. I was concerned for you.
      I agree completely. Our jobs as physicians are to complete the “checklists” so we can report our jobs have been performed. Wouldn’t it be nice if we chose to base our job performance on RESULTS instead.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your concern. Long silences from me are common: I have a lot of chores; my wheels turn slowly.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Noted. Albeit from an original New Yorker that qualifies as the SLOWEST New Yorker ever born in that state according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Stay healthy and happy and always enjoy life!!

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  13. […] Since my goal is to hit the 8 things listed in the above post, this post is a great way to decide if I’ve really been trying to do well or just paying lip service to my goals. […]

    Like

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