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A Second Opinion

Chris Davlantes

I hope everyone has had a great start to 2016. This is the first installment of a monthly article which I will be providing to my fellow City Gym members and which will focus on various health-related issues and topics of interest. Many of you are nearing the end of your first month of "New Year’s Resolutions" (starting to write this monthly medical article was one of mine), and – despite the fact that classes have been full and the gym has been much busier than usual – many will unfortunately "fall off the wagon" after several weeks and go back to their usual ways with regard to diet, exercise habits, and busy lifestyles. According to research done at the University of Scranton, the findings of which were recently published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of Americans will "usually" make New Year’s Resolutions, 17% will infrequently make them, and 38% will "absolutely never" make them. However, people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals than people who don’t explicitly make them. Unfortunately, maintaining those resolutions long-term proves to be difficult for many. The study revealed that only 64% maintain their resolutions past one month and only 46% past six months.  Listed below are the Top 10 New Year's Resolutions made by Americans at the end of 2015:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Getting organized
  3. Spend less, save more
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
  5. Staying fit & healthy
  6. Learn something exciting
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Help others in their dreams
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend more time with family

For those of you who don’t already know me, I teach SPINPower® classes at City Gym on Sundays at 9:00am, but I am also a physician board-certified in Emergency Medicine and have practiced in the Kansas City area for approximately 20 years (most recently at the University of Kansas Hospital).  One of my New Year’s Resolutions 6 years ago involved changing my diet and getting serious about maintaining a regular exercise regimen.  After many nights, weekends, and holidays in a busy ER, juggling multiple sick patients at the same time, many of whom had succumbed to years of neglecting their health and who were suffering from morbid obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, I came to the realization that I was going to end up in a stretcher just like one of them someday, if I didn’t start to “practice what I preached”. 

Some shifts were so busy that there was no time to eat dinner, so – on the way home at 2:00am – I would stop at McDonalds (nothing else is open that late), so my growling stomach wouldn’t keep me up at night, and then I’d fall asleep on the couch watching ESPN.  The wake-up call one day was when I diagnosed a 41-yr-old man (two years younger than I was at the time) with a nearly fatal massive heart attack, despite appearing fairly healthy and only having a history of borderline high cholesterol and a family history of heart disease.  Shortly thereafter, one of my best friends was also diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS aka “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”), which is a devastating disease without any effective treatment or cure.  This motivated me to purchase my first road bike, and – after about 6 weeks of high intensity cross training, eliminating fast food from my diet, and countless indoor cycle classes – I lost 25 pounds and rode in a 3-day, 270-mile charity bike ride from Boston to New York (the “Tri-State Trek”).  The feeling of accomplishment I had at the time was like a drug, and I was instantly hooked.  From there, I moved on to running marathons and have other “resolutions” on my bucket list like my first triathlon this fall in Chicago and competing in an Ironman event before I turn 50. 

 

My point is, while it is good to “turn over a new leaf” or make a “New Year’s Resolution” which we won’t always maintain, it is important for us to all take control of our busy lives and make more permanent lifestyle changes with regard to our nutrition, exercise regimen, and overall wellness.  For many, myself included, setting a goal or training for an event is what has motivated them to maintain that healthier lifestyle.  For others, it may be motivation triggered by a battle with cancer, getting over a bad marriage or relationship, or – most commonly – a desire to lose weight.  It may even simply be an outlet for relieving the day-to-day stress related to our jobs, parenting, etc.  Whatever the reason, try to think of your “New Year’s Resolution” as more of a stepping stone toward a new, healthier you.I hope to see you in my SPINPower® class on Sundays at 9:00am!!!