Healthy Living - 10 (Slightly Blunt) Tips

by Sarah Villafranco, MD /

 

As I was preparing to switch computers, I was looking through my documents and came across this one: “Dr. Villafranco’s Tips on Healthy Living”.  I used to hand this out to select patients in the ER – the ones I thought could handle these ten simple, unedited (and, yes, a little blunt) truths.  And here they are:

 

 

  • Drink water. Spring water is better than filtered water, but any clean water is better than no water.
  • Exercise 5-6 days a week.  Period. No excuses. If you are new to exercise, just walk briskly for 15 minutes a day.  Not to the store, or to your car, or around the mall. Walk just for the sake of walking.  You should be breathing hard during those 15 minutes. Awesome music with a fast beat helps. You might be surprised how much you like the way you feel afterwards.
  • Michael Pollan sums it up (author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma):  “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”  Ask yourself if the food you are eating is really efficient fuel for your body, or whether it is mostly trash. Don’t eat trash. If you want to read a very short book to help you keep it all straight, read “Food Rules” by M. Pollan.
  • 1-2 alcoholic drinks per day. That’s enough. It really is. And if it isn’t, you may need some help.
  • If you smoke, stop. You have to stop smoking. There is NO EXCUSE for smoking – NOT A SINGLE ONE!!  I DON’T CARE IF YOUR DOG DIED AND YOUR KID RAN AWAY AND YOUR HOUSE BURNED DOWN AND YOU HAVE MORE STRESS IN YOUR LIFE THAN ANYONE ELSE IN HISTORY – THERE IS NO REASON TO SMOKE CIGARETTES IF YOU WANT TO KEEP LIVING!!!!! If you want to quit, ask me about my two little secrets.
  • If you don’t have a primary care physician, get one. Don’t you want to have a doctor who knows you, has all your records, and wants to keep you healthy and happy?? Who wouldn’t?
  • Remember that all the power you need in your life resides within you. Corny? Maybe. True? Definitely.  YOU must take responsibility for your own health. YOU must CHOOSE to be healthy. You can’t GET healthy if you are always looking for someone to blame, or a pill to pop, or a quick, easy fix.
  • Laugh more.
  • Be outside often – see the mountains, the rivers, the wildlife. Try not to forget this beautiful world, and help try to keep it beautiful.
  • Take 5 minutes every day to sit quietly and breathe deeply. Think about nothing at all, or think positive thoughts about yourself and those you love. Just those five little minutes can have an awfully big effect.

Leave a Comment

This list is awesome! I used to give out a similar (not so blunt) list to my skincare clients. I figured if they even took a small amount of advice from it that it would be better than doing nothing. I found out later that a few had posted it in their closet or on their mirror for daily inspiration. I’m sure a bunch of your ER patients did the same!

Alexis on November 13, 2014

@Jill – Here are my two quitting smoking secrets.

1) Nicotine is only in your system for 48-72 hours after quitting smoking. So true “withdrawal” from nicotine only happens during that time. All other withdrawal symptoms are what I call “behavioral withdrawal”, which is the very hardest part of quitting. But, sometimes it helps to know that your body will be nicotine free after just a few days – that’s an empowering notion. So, I tend to think it’s better to skip the nicotine supplements and muscle through a couple days than to prolong nicotine exposure for weeks or months by using the patches and gum.

2) Smoking is an addictive behavior. In order to succeed, you have to replace it with another addictive behavior when you’re transitioning away from cigarettes. I advise people to do one of two things. If you have a dog, take the dog out for a brisk walk around the block every time you want a cigarette. It will get you slightly out of breath, which makes you less inclined to want to smoke. And, your dog will be PSYCHED. Or, if you don’t have a dog or you’re at work, find a place to hook your feet and do 6-7 sit-ups. Not enough to dissuade you, but enough to make your heart pump a little bit and make you feel you’ve done a wee something good for yourself.

Both of these activities will help release endorphins into the bloodstream, which are the feel-good chemicals that come from exercise, and can help chemically replace the feeling of having a cigarette. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll get “addicted” to the endorphins, and you’ll have massively changed your life before you know it.

Above all, I tell people to remember that ALL the power they need to stop smoking is, without question, inside them and readily available. It can actually be as simple as not picking up another cigarette – if you can find a way to let it be that simple. Your body WANTS to be healthy. You just have to stop getting in its way.

Best of luck – I know he can do it.
XXOO,
Sarah.

Sarah Villafranco, MD on November 13, 2014

Sarah

My husband smokes, what are your two secrets for helping quitting…. PLEASE…XX

Jill on November 13, 2014

I love these tips! Most I follow, some not so much, but they’re all SO right on. Blunt, perhaps, but totally what needs to be said and heard. Thank you Dr. Villafranco!

Stacey Lorinczi on August 07, 2014