As a child, I literally thought the life process went as such:
- Go to school and graduate
- Get a job
- Get married and have a family
- And then somewhere around the 40-year-old range, you'll start to get sick
- That sickness precipitates the need for medications, which in turn makes the individual’s quality of life less enjoyable.
- The family of that individual now must watch as their love one struggles to understand not only the disease process but how to also reverse it
- The family feels helpless as they witness their loved one degenerate right before their very eyes until finally one day……
I bore witness to this process, not only with myself but with other individuals I grew up with. I literally thought that this was just a part of the process, the natural course of life, and that sickness will eventually get us all. This is a stark reality to come to as a child, but it’s even worse for those in living conditions that might be situated in a way where they already feel that health is the least of their worries, and instead, poverty and crime supersede it.
My grandmother always told me that I was a problem solver.
She said this because I would always come to her house searching for something to fix, but then finding that there was nothing for me to fix, I would then break something, study it and then put it back together. Although this was a headache for her, she allowed me to cultivate my inner scientist and problem solver. It was that characteristic that made me further examine this thing we call “dis-ease”.
I could not accept that this was life. How could one population of people seem to enjoy all the joy that life brings throughout the course of their lives, while another population seemed destined to be doomed to the realities of the disease. These questions sent me on a long path of research, experiments, and practical implementations, which then brought me to the bittersweet truth of this.
You don’t have to be sick.
It’s a bitter truth in the sense that a large portion of deaths in America would be preventable if more people implemented a healthier lifestyle. At the same time, it’s a sweet (and healthy) truth, because that means that each one of us has the power to change once we empower ourselves with the correct information. The power to change exists in each one of us and it always has!
As a young Physician Assistant, I soon ran into my own dilemmas.
- Patients would come to me with a grocery list of questions pertaining to how to transition to a healthier lifestyle, which always made me very happy to see but, although I could sit there and speak with them about health, fitness, and nutrition all day, the waiting room was filled with patients waiting to see me. I couldn’t keep them waiting forever.
- I spent more time reprogramming all of the faddish misinformation they had heard or been told over their lifetime. There, unfortunately, is no shortage of misinformation out there, and while they may have seen some short-term changes, how many of them were actually healthy?
- I was hearing trauma story after trauma story about failed attempts at new diets, surgeries, gimmicky weight loss pills and procedures that only wasted their time and increased their level of frustration and hopelessness. These stories made me feel as though these people were being preyed upon, having their emotions played with, and being taken advantage of. That alone bothered me enough to want to take action.
- Many patients had no idea how to exercise, at what frequency, nor how to use much of the equipment available to them.
- Most of the questions were about nutrition. Many had an idea about what not to eat but were lost when it came to what foods to eat. They also had questions about how many calories, frequency as well.
- Inadequate time always played a role as to why they could not become more active, they were also not sure how to get an effective workout in without it taking all day.
- I realized that some of my patients would feel informed and empowered at my office, but a couple of days after leaving my office, without having the support from our team, some would fall off. At the same time, I noticed that the patients who continually came to our office on a weekly basis were way more likely to be successful.
- And lastly, I was repeating the same information over and over. I knew there had to be a better way.
- So, what was I supposed to do? Complain about the system and it’s discrepancies? Do nothing? Was I supposed to go along with the get along?
- Of Course Not!
This is literally a problem that would keep me up at night (alone with my baby) because I knew that most, if not all of my patients could significantly improve their health with the correct step by step information, and who better to give it than their “health care provider”? But, how could I package up so many years of information and know-how in just a 15-minute visit?