Tag Archives: Medicine

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and What it Means for Health and Weight Loss

22 Aug

I’m a big reader. Recently, I was reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and one section really stuck out to me—it speaks to how community affects our health.

Living a long life, the conventional wisdom said at the time, depended to a great extent on who we were — that is, our genes. It depended on the decisions people made — on what they chose to eat, and how much they chose to exercise, and how effectively they were treated by the medical system. No one was used to thinking about health in terms of a place.

Wolf and Bruhn had to convince the medical establishment to think about health and heart attacks in an entirely new way: they had to get them to realize that you couldn’t understand why someone was healthy if all you did was think about their individual choices or actions in isolation. You had to look beyond the individual. You had to understand what culture they were a part of, and who their friends and families were, and what town in Italy their family came from. You had to appreciate the idea that community — the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with — has a profound effect on who we are. The value of an outlier was that it forced you to look a little harder and dig little deeper than you normally would to make sense of the world. And if you did, you could learn something from the outlier than could use to help everyone else.”

This chapter was published in the New York Times and you can read it here. To me, this was an important eye opener. So often, we think about genes and decision-making as the two main drivers behind our level of health. The research that Gladwell is referencing indicates that it so much more than just the individual. Our health is also a product of our culture, the people that we surround ourselves with. Whether we’re trying to pinpoint why someone is healthy or why they aren’t healthy, we need to not only look at the individual but beyond them to their culture and environment.

Outliers (book)

Outliers (book) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What does this mean for someone who is trying to change their current health status? To me, I think that it means we have to think of ourselves within context. None of us exist in a silo. We are influenced by the people around us and their values. Does something in our environment have to change in order for us to succeed in changing into a more healthy being?

How do you think your cultural context has affected your health? 


How To Find A Good Doctor For You

27 Jul

What I look for in a doctor, might not be what you look for in a doctor. Besides areas of expertise, some of us what our doctors to have a certain type of personality or bedside manner. Some want to chat for 15 minutes before the exam starts and others are in and out the door before you even knew they were there. How do you find the right doctor for you? It can seem a bit intimidating; after all, as I’ve told you all before Doctors scare me silly.

It’s like any relationship. It can come from an introduction from a friend, family member, of colleague. It can come from chance. Or, in today’s society, it’s increasingly more likely that it’s coming from the internet.

I personally found mine through ZocDoc.com. Here, I was able to research all the doctors under the specialty I was interested in– that accepted my insurance none the less! I could explore their background, certifications, research, and areas of expertise. And, my favorite part of all, is that I could see many reviews from patients who had been to see that doctor. Once I found a doctor that I thought would be a good fit, I could then schedule an appointment with them directly on the website and fill out all registration forms online in advance of the appointment. How cool is that? I’m all for less time waiting (and stressing) at the office.

Conversation between doctor and patient/consumer.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, here’s the important part. If it turns out that the doctor you go to see isn’t the right fit– you need to keep looking. It’s absolutely crucial that you find a doctor that you are able to trust, work with, and that you feel comfortable with. I think I probably drive my endocrinologist crazy. But, he calls me if I’m trying to ignore my lab results and helps me stay accountable. Which we all know is what I need. He apparently gets that too!

Do you have a doctor you really like? How did you find them?

Why Doctors Scare Me Silly

18 Jul

Ever since I can remember, I was scared to go to the doctor. I was always making up excuses not to go– whether it was a regular check up or because I had a cold.  The anticipatory anxiety before each visit is so intense. At times, it’d even make me actually physically ill.

I’ve gotten better. But, I’m still nauseous before my doctor’s appointments and will do anything to get out of them. At the heart of the matter, of course, is not that I think all doctors are evil and out to get me. It’s really all about accountability. (Are you noticing a theme here?)


scaled (Photo credit: wader)

For so long I really lived by the now cliche saying, “ignorance is bliss.” I somehow  believed if I just completely disregarded my weight, my health, the facts that are right in front of me on a daily basis, I would be okay. It seemed like so many people went about their lives without making their health a priority and ended up alright, so why should I be any different?

Well, maybe I am different. I need to put my health first. And, no matter why I’m in that doctor’s office, I still need to face the numbers in front of me. The blood pressure will be taken. I’ll have to step on that scale. The doctor will evaluate the current state of my health. I always hated failing.

So how have I learned to stay calm when I’m headed to the dreaded doctor’s appointment?

Continue reading