Choosing a healthy doctor could save your life
Q: I went to see a new doctor to get my thyroid checked because I have been gaining so much weight. He was really fat, and I smelled cigarettes. I felt like I couldn't trust him. Am I being too picky? — Vickie L.
A: Now, we YOU Docs know from experience (and our wives, Lisa and Nancy) that doctors are human. But overweight doctors are far less likely to provide good weight-management advice to overweight patients. And that's a matter of life and death. A doctor who smokes may be willing to overlook a patient's bad habits. Another threat to your health.
So how can you find a quality doctor? Here's our "good enough to be your doctor" checklist.
• Look up the doctor on Facebook, and Google-check for healthy activities.
• Do a front-office interview. You'll learn a lot from how the support staff treats you. Ask if the doctor sees patients your age and with your health concerns. Ask where the doc did a residency and has hospital privileges. Find out how long the doc's been board certified (three years should be the minimum).
• Check out the doctor's credentials. Go online to see if the doc is included in medical-association databases, such as the American Medical Association and the American Board of Medical Specialties. Only choose someone board certified with admitting privileges at a major medical center.
• Don't hire a doc on the first date. If the doc doesn't ask about alcohol, tobacco, physical activity, food or stress, consider that a mark against him or her. If you don't feel comfortable or confident, keep looking. The reward is your better health.
Q: I had a checkup, and my doctor said I have to start exercising or I'm in for trouble. I'm too embarrassed by how I look to go to the gym. Should I buy a treadmill? — Frank W.
A: You could get a treadmill, but it'll probably be an expensive clothes hanger inside a month. We YOU Docs advise investing about 1/20th the money in a good pair of walking shoes. You're going to need them, because your goal is at least 10,000 steps a day!
Walking reduces anxiety and stress, decreases the risk of major cancers, memory loss and Type 2 diabetes, improves heart and lung function, increases flexibility — and it's fun! You'll lose weight and feel better almost immediately. So get started.
Jump in feet first. Go to a shoe store in the afternoon (your feet are larger then), and try on running shoes. They're best for walking, too. Then buy them; it'll raise your commitment level.
Step it up. Make a walking plan you can carry out. Week one — maybe all you can do is walk down the block and back. Do it daily. Extend your distance a little each time you go out. Get a pedometer to keep track of your steps. Shoot for building up to 3,000 steps a day over two walks.
Over six weeks, increase to 10,000 steps a day. But you don't have to do that all at once. Every step counts toward the 10,000. For example: Walking in place while watching 20 minutes of TV equals 1,000 steps; walking during a 15-minute phone call, another 1,000 steps; 30 minutes of vacuuming, 2,000 steps.
Need more help to get going? Get a buddy for daily walks or to tell "I did it today!" The pal can give you a get-going poke if you don't check in. No one available? You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org (there's a small charge for this daily email coaching). And don't forget, hoofing with a canine companion will speed up your pace by an impressive 28 percent. Don't stop stepping when the dog stops. Walk circles around him.
Lace up those shoes, take a deep breath and remember: Every success starts with the first step.
The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz, host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic, are authors of "YOU: Losing Weight." To submit questions, go to RealAge.com.