Does your Health Professional "Walk the Talk?"
Or: "Will I have to perform CPR before this session ends?"
Imagine this and answer the question: As you lie back in the dental chair, will you still be feeling relaxed when the dentist grins and you realise that she has bad teeth?
I was thinking along these lines not long ago, while sitting for what seemed to be an eternity while attending a nutrition conference. It was a very informative conference but the mind can and does wander, especially when sessions drag way over time, as the presenter waffles on. What does unintentionally occupy my attention at times, during such events, is how healthy, or unhealthy a presenter may appear to be, despite or not being in congruence with their skills and experience. Some health professionals are the picture of perfect health, while others are - well - they're not looking all that hot. I sometimes wonder.....
"will I have to perform CPR before this session ends?"
Alofa and I have been swamped by demand for our services this year. It has been an interesting exercise working out what has been so different over the last 12 months as compared to previous ones. I put this down to mostly one thing: Both Alofa and I are walking the talk. We practice what we preach and it shows.
It is hard to argue that I do not know what I'm talking about, or that what I do does not work, when I'm out there winning the age group competitions and giving some of the young pros a good run for their money. And we have a growing number of clients who are performing at the peak of their sports. Some of them will be at the next Olympics.
Image: Gary on his way to winning the World Masters Games 60+ Mountain Biking
Photo by Graham Singer
Working out the keys to healthy ageing
I've been on a mission for the last six or so years to show that I'm one of the fittest and healthiest over 60 year-olds in the world. What I'm learning is shared with our clients.
Stage One of the plan is now complete with winning the mountain biking Gold medal at the April 2017 World Masters Games. Next is to win the BIG ONE which is the UCI Masters Mountain Bike World Championships to be contested in Andorra on 21st June.
Why Mountain Biking?
I've chosen mountain biking to demonstrate the benefits of our approach to healthy ageing because it challenges, to the extreme, many of the human qualities that decline with ageing such as:
Reactions and split-second decision-making
The ability to heal quickly and fully - the older one gets the less well one bounces!
Health and Fitness is relative
Does your health professional look healthy? But by what standard? They should. Most probably think of themselves as being acceptably fit and healthy, although I would tend to differ in many cases. How fit and healthy one feels is all relative.
If your health professional is constantly surrounded by the sick and dying, it is hardly a surprise that they may consider themselves to be quite fit and healthy, despite, say, having a pot belly and requiring daily meds for a "minor" health problem.
If you do all your sport and fitness training with people 20-30 years younger than you, it would hardly be surprising to find that your concept of what is fit and healthy is different to other people of your age.
It is a bit like asking an Eskimo if today is warm and their answer will be that it is a heat-wave; whereas a native of Samoa would not be able to answer because their teeth are chattering due to the cold!
I often offer this piece of advice to others:
If the health professional you are about to consult looks less healthy than you, I recommend that you get out of there quickly!
You may initially think I'm joking but I'm only half doing so. There really is an element of truth in this warning that is best heeded, given that your goal is healthy ageing - to live a long, enjoyable and productive life.
Image: Gary negotiating a hairpin corner during a race.
Photo by Lisa Ng
Tips for choosing the right doctor for you
Interview them first - ask them questions that will help you decide if their services and attitude are acceptable, if you are going to pay someone (either out of pocket or through insurance) they need to show you respect.
Observe their appearance- if they don’t look healthy, don’t hire them. Why would you pay a sick person to tell you how to be healthy?
Stop being a wimp! Doctors are never in charge of YOUR body. Once you make your mind up about a health matter, such as not taking a medication long-term, or refusing a vaccination for your child, make it clear it’s not a discussion, unless you decide it is.
Decide if you will utilise medicine or become dependent on it. Choosing to take a drug or undergo surgery out of fear is dependency, and also leads to a type of medical bondage. You can’t buy health.
Don’t follow the crowd, always ask questions and make your own choices.