Recently I had the opportunity to participate in an event at Cowboy Stadium called Challenge America. Held on January 19th of this year, the program in Arlington that day was the seventh so far being offered around the country in 2013. Challenge America Military Opportunities, or CAMO, is a non-profit organization designed to provide support resources to active and former military members and their families. TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz along with 250 local medical professionals volunteered to provide 15 minute physicals to all who desired one. The Dallas event, also open to civilians, drew around 800 participants who attended Family Fitness Day.

In addition to the focus on health and fitness, the day was filled with seminars, symposiums, and important information for military families like mental health, employment, housing and family issues. The afternoon concluded with a picnic on the floor of the stadium as we listened to music performed by Amy Grant, Vince Gill, and Mr. Gill’s daughter, budding country artist Jenny Gill. While I had not previously been familiar with Challenge America, I found the day both exciting and rewarding. As a child of a World War II veteran, it felt good to be giving something back to the community and to local servicemen and their families as they transition back from the battlefield and resume their normal lives throughout the Metroplex. I was surprised to learn that North Texas is home to the largest population of active and retired military men and women in America, surprising indeed considering that we do not even have a large military installation in this region.

In addition to education and community outreach, Dr. Oz has a greater vision and a bigger goal. In his words, “ we think we can change the health of America one city at a time.” So as nurses gathered test results for cholesterol, blood sugar, body mass index, and blood pressure, the doctors reviewed the results of the exams and explained to each person what the results meant and what they could do to improve their overall health and wellness. In addition, Dr. Oz compiled all the results into a report that he made available to the mayors of Dallas, Arlington, and Ft. Worth. As you might guess, the news was not so great.

Forty–seven percent of the attendees were overweight, some severely. Forty-four percent were hypertensive. Vegetable eaters were scarce as two thirds indicated they had two or fewer servings a day of fresh vegetables and fruit. Belt salesmen would have had a field day with the 40/40 club; forty percent with waist sizes greater than forty inches. According to Dr. Oz, all these statistics can be reversed, and it is his hope that the one on one discussions will inspire people to live healthier lives, and that local leaders will see the need and responsibility to invest in additional public health resources. More than one participant was shocked to find that their present health challenges are serious and if not addressed, might quickly lead to life threatening consequences.

One of my favorite ministers at our church always closes his sermons by asking the question, “how can you use this on Monday?” So as I reflect on the events of Challenge America, I am struck that on a smaller scale my medical practice has a similar objective, not because we can change things one city at a time, but because we can help with America’s health challenge one patient at a time. How do we use this information to help? Nobody understands better than me how difficult it is to change poor habits. So in my practice, we try to go beyond just saying “improve your diet and exercise more each day.” My staff and I relish the opportunity to help our patients change their lives, improve their quality of life, and provide a blueprint for their families. We do this with evaluation, education, encouragement, and patience.

So challenge yourself and focus the next 3 weeks on changing just one thing to move in a positive direction toward improving your health.



Changing Direction

About 5 or 6 years ago I began to sense an uneasiness in me that propelled me to explore alternative ways to look at and treat the variety of functional issues that walked into my office everyday. I won’t call them illnesses but they do have a name and a diagnosis code as we say in the business but we all see them every day- things like insomnia, fatigue, inability to lose weight, headaches, muscles aches and pains, mood swings and of course menopausal symptoms. Not only had I began to notice these things happening in my own life but my patient base was aging with me. We all seemed to be having the same issues and as a trained gynecologist, I could prescribe hormonal therapies which for the most part at that time were synthetic hormones for the menopausal symptoms- Prozac or Zoloft for the mood swings and depression/anxiety symptoms- Ambien for insomnia etc..etc…….

I don’t know if it was boredom or what but I was needing a change. I had stopped delivering babies because I just had to start sleeping at night and my aesthetic practice was doing well but I was needing to get back in the trenches and plow in a new direction. The fruits of these last few years is beginning to find shape in the form of a new practice – a practice focused on helping you stay healthy and functional in your world.

Today I would like us to look at food – the absolute foundation of any program of health and well being. We have all heard it said many times “We are what we eat” but that is really hard to believe, especially for women – we look around and see thin women who can eat anything and never gain an ounce or large women who eat 1200 calories a day and still gain weight -“What is up with that?”  Obviously, there has got to be something else going on and there is – our genes.  As Mark Hyman states, ” Our genes load the gun but our lifestyles pull the trigger.”  Genetically we are all created to take the food we eat and utilize it for fuel but how we take that food and manufacture energy is unique to each of us. That being said, even though there are unique issues for each of us basics principles apply to us all. Optimal health is achieved only through continued effort to eat a healthy well balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates and fats found naturally in our world and not manufactured. The food industry today produces more and more manufactured and genetically engineered food substances that the body does not have an inherent way of processing. As a result, nutritious aspects of our food sources are being depleted and replaced with not only “hunger busters” but “health busters” as well.

I will try to unpackage some of these issues as we continue to move ahead on our quest for long term health and wellness.

As I begin this journey of “blogging” I feel quite ill-equipped as writing has never been much of a strong suit-but none the less here we go. I would like to communicate to you much of what has taken place in the last several years of my professional career, a career which has been a been a reflection not only of the  traditional training in medical school and residency but the teaching you, my patients, have given me in the exam room.

As I entered the 21st century and the second decade of my career, I began to sense that the traditional care of women was lacking and that we had received the short end of the stick as it were in knowing how to remain functional in our world as we entered mid life. Oh, sure- traditional medicine had its answers- “ Well you’re just getting older – but so many of us have experienced overwhelming fatigue, persistent headaches, decreased libido, inability to lose weight despite 2 hours of exercising each day and 1200 calories – all we physicians had to offer were kind words- “ you’re just getting older,” synthetic hormones and Prozac. Not exactly an ideal way to remain healthy and functional.

What no one was talking about was that there are physiologic reasons for these things to be occurring and that there are many ways to approach these issues without pharmaceutical intervention.  Let me stop right here and say that the pharmaceutical industry has a definite place in the health and well being in many instances but what has gotten lost in the process is the non-medicinal approaches to many of the issues we face.

Health care from the prospective of a physician has taken a turn that requires a physician to see more patients in less time to be able to run their business and cover expenses. This type of practice is onerous and leaves no time to educate patients on preventive health issues that are so vital to health and wellness.

As I have spent numerous hours in educational meetings and training courses over the last 8 years, learning more comprehensive approaches to the functional side of health care, I am hoping to offer a program to share my knowledge and help you become more vital and rejuvenated.

I feel as though health and wellbeing are foundationally supported by 5 key areas that we must keep in mind:

1)   Dietary/Nutritional Guidance/ Gastrointestinal Cleansing-Detoxification and Supplements

2)   Exercise – Interval Training and Muscle strengthening

3)   Sleep – Optimal 8-9 hours each night

4)   Spiritual Connection

5)   Hormonal Balance

Each of these areas is important for each of us to achieve optimal health and a 10 minute annual exam leaves little time for communication and education.

I am working on being able to have an opportunity for each of you based on your needs to evaluate each of the areas and optimize them so that you may remain functional in your world, to live each day to it fullest and be the best you can be- all clichés of course but our bodies are designed perfectly and because we have abused it so with poor diet, lack of exercise, environmental toxins and lack of individual knowledge of our own DNA and risk factors – this perfect body is aging faster than intended so we must arm ourselves with tools that enable us to reach our maximum potential and it is never too late.

Over time we will look at all these areas in depth and hopefully gain insight into our own areas of need and better plan our program of health, wellness and longevity. Yes, our days are numbered but lets be sure to have the most life in those days!

Thank you for all you have taught me – we will continue to learn together in the days, months and many years ahead.