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Lifestyle Medicine Changed The Trajectory of My Professional and Personal Life

Dolapo Babalola, MD, shares the joy experienced professionally and personally, while adopting the principles of Lifestyle Medicine as the foundation to achieving wellness from within.

Thoughts were passing through my mind, when are we ever going to get over the pandemic?

A full year had gone by and yet no hope in sight.

I began to believe the words of my husband that it would take a minimum of two years for things to go back to normal or to the so-called “new normal.”

But truth be told, I did not want it to return to “normal.” I had mixed feelings.

 

Professionally, “Normal” was defined to me as a broken healthcare system.

There was not enough time in the day to get to the root cause of diseases but, instead, to apply bandages to mask problems.

I always felt stressed practicing conventional medicine.

I wanted to do more for my patients by educating them on the role of individual choices and their impact on their health, but I was torn between the needs of the next patient patiently waiting, to the current patient in front of me intrigued by all the information they were receiving about their health.

At the end of each clinic day, I felt overwhelmed and rejuvenated all at the same time.

These mixed emotions did not support my health and wellness.

 

Professionally, “Normal” was defined to me as a broken healthcare system. There was not enough time in the day to get to the root cause of diseases but, instead, to apply bandages to mask problems. Click To Tweet

 

I felt drained, and it started affecting my mental health to the extent of questioning if I wanted to continue practicing medicine.

I asked if I was compromising my wellness over my medical career?

I was devastated and exhausted from chronic fatigue to the extent that I almost crashed on the highway dozing off from sleep deprivation.

It felt like I was never able to refill my cup quickly enough, before the next clinic day.

 

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I longed for a way that I could optimize my health and wellness while at the same time helping my patients.

I pounded on the words of Annie Dillard, “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.

What we do with this hour and that one is what we are doing.”

I questioned my true meaning of life and purpose. I queried if I had to sacrifice my peace of mind and financial independence for my occupation.

 

I was devastated and exhausted from chronic fatigue to the extent that I almost crashed on the highway dozing off from sleep deprivation. It felt like I was never able to refill my cup quickly enough, before the next clinic day.

 

 

In my daily quest to empty out my email box by day’s end, I stumbled across a scholarship opportunity for faculty interested in the practice of lifestyle medicine.

It sparked my interest.

I wondered if this could be the answer to my inner quest for satisfaction; especially as a family physician trying to short circuit the oversubscription of prescription medication to manage chronic diseases (as well as those set of prescriptions to abort the side effects of the initial medication).

 

It felt like I was never able to refill my cup, quick enough before the next clinic day.

 

I am a huge fan of “doctor shows.” So imagine my surprise when I watched The Resident, Season 5, Episode 17 where they featured a lady with an undiagnosed illness seeking medical attention for a new symptom.

Upon further review, she was taking 17 different medications.

The discussion of “poly-pharmacy” came up and the battles of taking several other medications to combat the side effects of the initial therapy.

Unfortunately, this lady died from medication-related complications prior to a conclusive diagnosis which, in literature documents, happens quite often.

 

I wanted to be a family physician trying to short circuit the oversubscription of prescription medication to manage chronic diseases (and the set of prescriptions to abort the side effects of the initial medication). Click To Tweet

 

According to the CDC, about 128,000 people die from drugs prescribed to them.

This makes prescription drugs a major health risk, ranking 4th with stroke as a leading cause of death.

It is heartbreaking to watch the medical dilemma play out on a television series. But I was thrilled to know that I wasn’t alone in wondering about the dysfunctional state of the current healthcare system, where we are trained to focus on pills over skills, symptoms over the source, and pharmacy instead of “farm-acy”.

Unfortunately, this stems from the fact that the curriculum in medical schools is targeted toward managing diseases instead of preventing and reversing them.

 

It is heartbreaking to watch the 'polypharmacy' medical dilemma play out on a television series. But I was thrilled to know that I wasn’t alone in wondering about the dysfunctional state of the current healthcare system Click To Tweet

 

I applied for the scholarship and to my great amazement, I was approved to participate in the year-long course.

This was the beginning of a new chapter for me a provider who was struggling to keep my head above water, both professionally and personally.

It felt like I was never able to refill my cup quickly enough, before the next clinic day.

I discovered the power of an improved healthcare system that delivers hope in healthcare and reduces the burden of sick care and physician burnout.

Fast forward to my current state, I completed the Lifestyle Medicine course, attended the annual conference, and was certified as a diplomat.

 

It felt like I was never able to refill my cup quickly enough, before the next clinic day.

 

I found joy again in the practice of medicine.

I stopped questioning my passion and purpose for life and embraced a new life that doesn’t compromise my own wellness at the risk of caring for my patients.

 

Lifestyle Medicine focuses on habit-forming modalities as the primary focus for healthcare.

Lifestyle medicine is the foundation for a redesigned, value-based, and equitable healthcare delivery system, leading the whole person, by preventing, treating, and reversing lifestyle-related chronic diseases using 6 main pillars which I would be elaborate over the next six articles.

 

I stopped questioning my passion and purpose for life and embraced a new life that doesn’t compromise my own wellness at the risk of caring for my patients.

 

There are numerous studies that support and demonstrate the benefits of these pillars as tools for improving energy and thriving with a clear and focused mind.

My goal is to promote the practice of Lifestyle Medicine as an integral option for personal and professional assimilation regardless of specialty.

 

Many families around the world, including mine, celebrated Lifestyle Medicine week from May 29-June 4.

Through the principles of Lifestyle Medicine, we incorporated the six pillars into our daily practice for renewed our health and vitality.

  • A whole-food plant predominantly focuses on nutrition for all its nourishing benefits to heal and repair our cellular levels to support our emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health.
  • Restorative sleep for the repair and renewal of our bodies which is our powerhouse.
  • Consistent, energizing, and fun physical activity
  • Stress management to prevent burnout and maintenance of wellbeing
  • Meaningful and positive social connections validate our purpose for living
  • Avoidance of risky substances to ensure we remain present and healthy.

 

Lifestyle Medicine helped me to remove my focus from the pandemic and when it would be all over to “I am prepared for what is next.”

I am ready now due to a new improved insight on how my “normal or new normal” would now look like for me, my family, and my community through the lens of Lifestyle Medicine.

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