I find being a pediatrician very rewarding for many reasons. I have the privilege of caring for children of all ages. I get pleasure and amusement from helping first time parents navigate the basics of caring for a newborn, then gently scold those same parents when they allow the baby who is now 2 or 3 years old, to rule the household. During the elementary school years I enjoy a really nice relationship with the kids as we begin to have great conversations – children say the funniest things! The teen years are particularly interesting as I take on dual roles. Cheerleader and hand holder for the parents who are convinced either they or the child won’t survive the teen years without murder being committed. I’m a confidant and advocate for the teen who is convinced that his parents are the worst in the world and don’t understand him at all.
The most rewarding aspect of being a children’s doctor is that parents and their children see you as a role model. I dispense tons of advice to families about so many things including how to adopt a healthy lifestyle. I would be a complete fraud if I were telling them to do things I couldn’t do myself! My advice often has more weight because I use my experiences as examples. I’m in the health business after all and so being healthy has always been important to me.
Life is full of many unexpected twists and turns – I’m sure that we’ve all had our share. As a doctor though, avoidable personal health problems shouldn’t be on that list. I happen to have a family history of hypertension, stroke and cancer, so prevention is key for me. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle including eating heart healthy foods and exercising daily is the most effective way to prevent chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.
My work is very demanding, and I have a variety of other interests and responsibilities that require that I be at the top of my game. My clinical skills and medical acumen have to be sharp because lives are at stake. I find that being physical fit improves my mental acuity and clarity of thought. It allows me to be physically and emotionally available to my patients, my family and friends.
My personal goal is to make every meal as healthy as possible and exercise everyday. With that lofty aspiration I’m able to exercise an average of 4 – 6 days per week. I eat healthy meals with the exception of when dining out at the occasional party where I have no control over the food that’s prepared. I actually enjoy “healthy” foods – whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, and beans. Healthy foods, contrary to the thinking of many, can be quite delicious.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wake up every morning excited at the thought of exercising but I’m living proof that the benefits are huge and so I push myself. Cakes and cookies are my guilty pleasure but I make sure that I never have them in my house, so I’m not tempted to indulge. The best thing about that is that once in a while, when I go out to a restaurant or a party, I can splurge on dessert without feeling guilty.
In the next post I will make this practical and talk about how you can, live this way for the rest of your life.