'Don't do it, you would starve'
These were the words of a very good doctor friend of mine, said to me many months back when I told him that I was going to dedicate myself fully to the practice of Lifestyle Medicine. These are words that I remember always, and very vividly too, because up till today, I have yet to prove him wrong.
My personal journey as a 'preacher', practitioner & promoter of Lifestyle as Medicine came about accidentally. What started off as an accidental journey of a doctor turned incidental chef & restaurateur has brought me to where I am today - a passionate practitioner and advocate of Lifestyle as Medicine. Everything I do today is about waking people up and helping them to begin to take steps to harness the power of lifestyle as medicine to prevent and heal - whether it is the patients I see in my clinic, the students I teach in the classes, seminars and programmes in my Engines of Health School or the audience who attend my talks or the participants of the various lifestyle medicine programmes that I conduct in companies, organisations and churches.
What is Lifestyle Medicine?
Many, if not most of the chronic diseases, that are taking away years from the lives or the life from the years of people today, have roots in their lifestyle. What and how one eat, exercise, rest and manage the stresses of life have as great, if not greater influence than one's genes and environment on whether one develop diabetes, heart diseases, stroke, cancer and other 'common' chronic diseases.
One would assume that commonsense would tell us that if lifestyle is a major contributor to these chronic diseases, then lifestyle modifications should be a major part of the prevention, management and even treatment of these chronic and severe diseases. But we all know that the reality is that most people diagnosed with these diseases would still not make significant enough effort to change the very lifestyle habits that caused the diseases in the first place.
Lifestyle Medicine is not a philosophy, it is the scientific evidence-based use of lifestyle as Medicine, the specific prescription of lifestyle modifications customised to the individual to prevent and improve specific chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, dementia, frailty based on what latest medical studies say.
Lifestyle Medicine is about not just knowing, but actually putting into practice, what medical science has all along been saying and is increasingly saying emphatically what it is continuing to learn about the power of lifestyle in preventing and improving many chronic and severe diseases.
'Preaching' & practising & prescribing Lifestyle as Medicine - my journey so far.
So what and how have I been 'preaching' & practising & prescribing Lifestyle as Medicine? Firstly I run regular clinic sessions where I practise and prescribe lifestyle as medicine, not in exclusion of but in adjunct to the use of medicine if it is necessary, Secondly, I started and run a Lifestyle Medicine School called Engines of Health here I conduct classes to teach participants the medical science behind many of the diseases that are significantly caused by lifestyle such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, Thirdly I 'preach' and speak about the power of lifestyle as Medicine at every platform I get invited to, whether it is at medical conferences, company events or church meetings. Fourthly, I run structured programmes on Lifestyle as Medicine for companies and churches for their employees or members. Lastly, I even practise Lifestyle as Medicine as best as I could in the restaurant that I started and still continue to run, by introducing to people who would otherwise be unfamiliar with many healthier ingredients such as wholegrains (e.g. quinoa) by putting into the menu new but yet familiar hearty dishes I created intentionally using healthier but unfamiliar ingredients.
It has been and can be very discouraging.
Many of my friends, including the very good doctor friend who told me ''Don't do it, you would starve' , have been trying to convince me to face the 'harsh reality' that most people do not want to change their lifestyle, regardless of the number of or severity of the chronic conditions that they have that are brought about by their lifestyle, that they would rather pay a lot of money to 'solve' or 'deal' with the problem in a way that does not require any significant change in their lifestyle,
My well-meaning friends are right, majority of people would only want treatment in the form of medications, and would rather not hear or even contemplate making any lifestyle modifications that would require them to perhaps stop eating what they love, start doing what they don't love - exercise or improve what they have not been able to do such as taking steps to managing stress. or improve their sleep.
However passionate I am, however determined I am, I am still human at the end of the day. I do get discouraged like everyone else. My journey so far, in telling, teaching and coaching people (patients, coachees, participants, public) to know and harness the power of lifestyle to prevent and manage chronic diseases, to maintain and regain wellness, has been a long, lonely and largely a discouraging one.
There had been moments of encouragement, such as when I see my patients or participants of the programmes I run, make big improvements in their disease conditions after making significant lifestyle modifications - whether in their diet, exercise, rest or stress management.
But there were just as many, if not more moments of discouragement when the very endeavour to bring this very important message to people who need it most is met with not just indifference but sometimes even great resistance.
And when I turn to my fellow doctor friends in times of discouragement, quite a few will tell me ,'This is the reality of the society we live in, don't be a hero, just give people what they want, not what they need, otherwise be prepared to be discouraged or even starve.'
I am stubborn and I will press on.
Getting people to wake up to the power of lifestyle with regards to health, teaching and helping people to harness the power of lifestyle modification to improve their health is what I have been called to do, so I shall press on.
Perhaps writing this post is meant to be cathartic for me, it has afforded me an outlet for my frustrations and disappointment. Now that I have done that, I shall take a deep breath, be still and refocus. For I know if I focus correctly, I will never starve but instead I shall continue to run and run and not grow weary, I shall soar on wings like eagles. I shall refocus and press on.
- Waking people up to
The Power of Lifestyle to Heal & Destroy, helping them to maintain wellness & regain lost health through informed lifestyle & food choices
>> My Medical Practice where Lifestyle & Dietary modifications is the first go to medicine
>> My 'School' - Engines of Health - where I run workshops and programmes
>> My Advocacy - The TV & print media where I have the priviledge to advocate the power of Lifestyle as Medicine
Why & What I Blog about
Blog's Top Posts
Lifestyle as Medicine - my journey, my passion, my pain
How & Why I became a Lifestyle Medicine Doctor, Trainer and Advocate
Doctor turned Accidental Chef turned Incidental Chef
Reflections of 'The Food Doctor'
How I lost weight 'accidentally'
Doctor turned Accidental Chef - How it all began
The birth of The Bento People
I made this Tom Yum Daikon-'noodles' because I was 'angry' with how the love for noodles was affecting one of my patients.
No wasted Journeys -
Why I Blog
Buay Chye, God & I. The day God sent me a cook.
Behind every adventurous man is a long-suffering wife
How I accidentally left a legacy as a 9 year old boy
The day blogger Leslie Tay (ieatishootipost) came to visit
The accidental marathoner
- how I accidentally ran the marathon when I was 12
They call me a Maverick.
I say I am an Explorer.
Why & How 'Advocating Healthy Eating' became my purpose, mission & passion.
Sharing about the power of food on Diabetes Lifestyle magazine