Physicians Practice What They Preach, Share Their Personal Health Tips

Group of physicians

HCA Healthcare-affiliated physicians touch the lives of more than 26 million patients each year. Their priority is you – to deliver the best possible care to every person, on every visit. But doctors need to stay healthy too. So, the patient in us wanted to know – how do they do it?

Our physicians were eager to share their go-to health tips they can’t live without. Here’s the inside information on how they practice what they preach:

How do you manage stress?
“I manage stress by always making sure there is time scheduled to decompress. I like to plan weekend getaways, date nights with my husband, or schedule spa time for a quick mani-pedi (‘me’ time) when I can.  Knowing there is something to look forward to after a long stressful week helps keep me grounded and ready for the next week to come.”

– Erica McEnery, assistant medical director of emergency medicine at Regional Medical Center of San Jose in San Jose, California

What is your best life tip?
“Find something you are passionate about and make it your life-long vocation, never losing sight of it.”

– David DeBoer, orthopedic surgeon at Southern Joint Replacement Institute at Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

How do you curb a sweet tooth?
“By avoiding conditions that trigger it like hunger or boredom. I eat almost every 1 ½ to 2 hours. I snack on fruits, nuts and seeds. It keeps the hunger down and prevents me from temptations. If you get hungry, it’s hard to stay on a diet.”

– Joe Llenos, family practice at West Valley Medical Group at West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell, Idaho

How do you stay motivated to exercise?
“I find it helpful to have personal tangible goals that hold you accountable to stay motivated to exercise.  This could range from a fun run, to finishing an Ironman, or hitting the same yoga class each week.  It’s easy to get in the same “rut” with exercise, and setting different goals can not only help prevent overuse injuries, but also keep your exercise routine more exciting.”

– Rachel Brewer, pediatric sports medicine
 at Rocky Mountain Pediatric Orthopedics at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver, Colo.

How do you fight off a cold? 
I wash my hands. A lot. During cold and flu season I also try not to touch my face as this is great way to spread germs into vulnerable mucus membranes. It’s harder than you think.  I’ll also take 1000 mg of vitamin C a day and be sure to get lots of rest. If I do get a cold I try to wear a mask when out and about so I don’t get others sick.”

– Matthew Trip, emergency medicine at Regional Medical Center of San Jose in San Jose, California

How do you beat the heat?
“The summer heat can be overwhelming even in our dry climate. Preparation is the key to managing extreme heat. Breathable clothing and sunblock are my essentials especially if exercising in the heat.  Proper hydration can help prevent heat illness, so devising a hydration strategy and sticking to it is important. I try to drink water throughout the day prior to going out in the heat.  When exercising intensely in the heat, I try to remember to add in an electrolyte solution/sports drink.  I always seek out the shade!  Even brief breaks in the shade can help your body enlist its “cooling off” mechanisms.  A cool water mister is my favorite device to use in severe heat!  Finally, I simply plan on limiting the total exposure to the heat and plan my escape to a cool environment!”

– Brooke Pengel, pediatric sports medicine specialist at Rocky Mountain Pediatric Orthopedics at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver, Colo.

How do you maintain a healthy weight?
“Working the night shift, I struggle with this often. In the ER, there is ample bad food to snack on, and sleep deprivation lowers our inhibitions.  The thing to keep in mind is to always have a realistic goal.  All bodies are different and you should want to be healthy, rather than “skinny”.  In addition to being an active person (cleaning your house, walking your dog, etc.), diet is more important in maintaining weight than exercise. If you love carbohydrates like me, make sure you are choosing whole wheat bread or brown rice. Get familiar with what a normal serving size of meat is.  It should be no more than the palm of your hand.  When you go out to eat, take long slow bites and save half your food in a doggy bag. Skip desert and order herbal tea instead!  Once a week make sure to “cheat” and have that piece of cake or beer so you don’t rebound.  Lastly, don’t beat yourself up!  If you give into temptation one day, eat only veggies or work out extra hard the next day.  Learn that you don’t need to feel full.  If you have an obsession with a certain bad food, try to take your mind off it by going for a walk for 30 minutes.  Watching TV actually increases our hunger centers so choose other activities to do.  Remember, there are no quick fixes to getting healthy.”

– Soumiya Prakasam, emergency medicine at Regional Medical Center of San Jose in San Jose, California

What is your best life tip?
“Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”

– Jennifer Wilson, obstetrics and gynecology at Mountain Vista OB/GYN & Midwifery at Swedish Medical Center in Denver, Colorado

How do you beat burnout?
“In whatever your profession might be, I’ve found that communicating with my fellow providers is extremely helpful in preventing burnout. Maintaining an interest in each other’s lives, sharing clinical experiences (as long as it’s HIPAA compliant), exchanging bits of humor, and being supportive of one another goes a long way in making me feel connected with a network of outstanding doctors, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, medical technicians, and other medical providers. Continuing medical education is another way to keep medicine interesting and exciting. Exercise, travel, and participation in recreational activities further help to keep me enthusiastic about my profession and rested enough to approach my time in the emergency department with energy and a fresh perspective.”

– John Beurle, emergency medicine at Regional Medical Center of San Jose in California

How do you stay healthy?
“I started exercising midway through medical school when I realized I was 20 pounds overweight and in terrible condition from hours of studying. I began running and biking, and enjoying both activities, when someone suggested I try to do a triathlon. There was an upcoming event that consisted of a 400-yard swim, a 12-mile bike and a 3-mile run. I entered the event, terrified I wouldn’t be able to finish. It turned out to be an amazing experience. I was completely thrilled to be out there ‘racing’ with all the other participants, even though I wasn’t going very fast. You got a finishers’ medal at the end, and I was so proud you would have thought it was a gold medal! From then on, I was hooked. I went on to do an Ironman race — an event that involves a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2 mile run — and I loved that too. That was over 15 years ago and, since that time, I’ve finished 20 Ironman races, including the Hawaii Ironman World Championships.”

– Dr. Lyndon Box, interventional cardiologist at West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell, Idaho

What are the best types of shoes to wear?
“I am asked continually how do I keep my feet healthy and what are the best type of shoes to wear.  One’s feet reflect one’s general overall health.  As I tell my own children, life is a matter of choices.  The basics apply.  Eating healthy with reasonable control of carbohydrates and use of healthy fats to control body weight has multiple positive ramifications.  Reducing body weight reduces stress on the joints, muscles and ligaments of the feet. Appropriate shoe gear is also quite beneficial.  I have always recommended the use of a running shoe even if you’re not running.  Maximizing shock absorption to the feet with proper support will help prevent impact and excessive wear to the joints of the lower extremity and back.  Unfortunately there is no one, simple panacea for foot health other than day-to-day commitment to healthy life choices.”

– Elliot Kleinman, foot and ankle surgeon at Terre Haute Regional Hospital in Terre Haute, Ind.

What do you do for a good night’s rest?
“After years of rotating schedules in the ER, I am so protective of my sleep.  I used to live life sleep deprived and I can’t believe how much better I feel now that I’m on a regular schedule.  I try my best to stick to a regular bedtime and get up at the same time each morning.  Also, exercise is important for a good night’s sleep.  I also try not to drink too much caffeine.   If you are a shift worker it helps a lot to be on the same shift rather than rotate shifts.”

– Sue Kirelik, pediatric emergency physician/clinical director for the Center for Concussion at Rocky Mountain Pediatric Orthopedics at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver, Colo.

How do you stay motivated to exercise?
“I mix it up. Rather than focusing on one activity, I like to do multiple activities each week to prevent injury. I focus on aerobics, power, endurance, flexibility and core strength.  Even if I am training for one event, like a marathon, I want to mix it up.  Currently, I do a core strengthening and flexibility class focused on technique, a high intensity “Orange Theory” class, and add in walking, jogging and hiking each week.  Exercising with friends is the best way to stay motivated. Most importantly, if I am injured or burnt out, I take a small break to heal and rejuvenate.”

– Elaine Nelson, medical director of emergency medicine at Regional Medical Center of San Jose in San Jose, California

How do you stay healthy?
“Regular exercise and ‘simple’ changes to my diet have made a huge difference in the way I feel. With three busy kids, and a demanding schedule at work, finding time to exercise has always been a challenge. I have finally met that challenge by prioritizing exercise at the beginning of the day, and the beginning of the week. Based on my schedule, I determine on Sunday which three mornings of the week I will exercise; and I exercise for one hour, three days a week, BEFORE I do anything else. And I’m a junk food junkie; but I’ve now cut out chips, fries, and desserts except for special occasions. I can definitely see and feel the difference!”

– Randall Goodroe, interventional cardiologist at Grand Strand Heart and Vascular Care at Grand Strand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

And there you have it. Now you know the answer to one of their most frequently asked questions, “What would you do if you were me?”

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HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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