Wellness Wednesday: Wellness Gifts

Still searching for that perfect gift ? Why not give something that promotes health and wellness ? I propose considering a “ wellness gift”. Here are some useful categories: 


1. Books on health and wellness. These could be books on mental or physical health. 

The Seven Habits books by Stephen Covey are some of my favorites. 

2. DVDs for exercise, yoga or meditation- Try those by Gaiam or Jillian Michaels. 

3. Basket of healthy drinks: herb teas, decaf coffees, matcha, or chai

4. Basket of healthy foods 

5. Healthy cookbooks ! - Try the Mayo clinic cookbooks, as well as the series by Jonny Bowden PhD, CNS. 

6. Tuition for a series of health classes, but only if you are sure they want them. 

7. Cool workout gear, or a gift certificate for it. 

8. Certificates for spa treatments, massage, or even a personal trainer session.


Spread cheer this season with some of these worthwhile wellness gifts. 

Structure Sunday: The Structure of Prevention 

Here’s a simple question: Is it hard or easy to stay well ? 

Staying well is two things: avoiding disease and optimizing health. I’ll be the first to tell you that there are some diseases you simply can’t avoid. I’ll also be the first to tell you that most diseases are a preventable. 

What is prevention ? Is prevention hard or easy ? Prevention is not one thing. It is collection of different actions. Most importantly, these are done over time, on a meaningful schedule, and so we call them habits. I find that lots of people do certain few healthy things once in a while. Oftentimes these same people wonder why they do not see gains in health or fitness. What they are missing is the element of time. Taking one, two or ten habits and performing them in perpetuity over time is what makes the changes. If I could change just a few ideas in my patient’s minds, this would be one of them. 

Prevention requires you to harness the element of time. Time gives your actions power. Most prevention habits are simple easy acts in and of themselves. By themselves they don’t so much. Multiply them by months and they make significant and long lasting changes. 

Here are some super simple acts which you can multiply over time. 


Record three things for which you are grateful before you go to bed. 

Read them upon arising. 

In a conversation, listen first then respond with “I” statements. 

Think and take two full breaths before responding during a conflict. 

Meditate for 10 minutes per day. 

Have about 6 close friends. 

Consider having a partner. 

Have a pet of whom you take good care. 

Ensure your work is meaningful. 

Don’t overspend. 

Take your allotted vacations. 



Wash your hands at work and when you get home. 

Get your required vaccinations. 

Sleep at least 7-8 hours a night. 

Wear seat belts. 

Use sunscreen.

Eat three meals and three snacks each with protein and produce. 

Avoid simple refined carbohydrates. 

Use olive oil and green tea. 

Ban soda, smokes and drugs. 

Limit to one wine or beer per day. 

Drink 3 liters water per day. 

Brush twice a day, floss and use a peroxide mouthwash before bed. 

Exercise for half hour 5-6 times per week combining cardio and light resistance. 

Incorporate yoga every week. 


Super basic, right ?

Super powerful.

That’s what these habits are when repeated over time. 

Prevention doesn’t hurt, it’s not expensive, and you can do it anywhere. It does take a plan to carve out the small slots in the day to do these things, but it really isn’t hard. Just keep the list handy, do the items, and you will wake up in a few months and notice some pleasant changes. 











Wellness Wednesday: Survey Results for your Biggest Health Challenges

Don't you like getting survey results? It's like getting the punchline to a joke or solving a puzzle. Basically you get to compare your anticipation of the results with the actual results. It's even more fun when the results you get are unexpected. 

Many thanks to those who took the time to complete the survey. The number is small, but it is more than last survey I ran.

Here are the key results:

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  • Approximately three quarters of respondents felt that their health was only somewhat where they wanted it to be.
  • The biggest health challenges were divided almost equally across nutrition, fitness, weight, and stress.
  • Most everyone who took the survey took the time to write a bit about the biggest obstacle to health maintenance. Time was the most common theme expressed in a variety of different ways. Some people referred to the time demands of their job, partner, kids, house and pets. I doubt very much that these things are ever going to go away. In fact, I hope all of us always have jobs, partners, kids,  houses and pets. It sounds to me that concerted improvements in time management would be helpful across the board.
  • Respondents were uncertain and vague when asked open ended questions about what would help them the most with there health. However when given a choice of specific set of health related products, they were able to clearly choose what would help them the most. This is where the surprise came. It wasn't a product at all. Far and away the most often chosen product was a "health coach." 

Fairly recently I ran into a physician friend of mine who I thought had retired. It turns out she had actually gotten certified as a health coach. She is loving it and and really feels like she's making a difference in her patients' lives. So after I saw the results of my survey I called her up to find out a little bit more. It turns out that health coaches are probably the next big thing in preventive medical care. 

It turns out that there quite a few health coaches out there and it turns out there are a lot of courses you can take in person and online by a great many certifying organizations to become one. However, only one organization is approved by the American College of Sports Medicine, the Wellcoaches School of Coaching. ( It is an evidence based program which uses up to date behavioral, exercise and fitness science to help people improve their life and their health. Luckily for us, my friend was certified in this manner. She works at out local fitness center. 

All well and good. But I called her later and grilled her about insurance coverage for such services. It turns out that, yes, many insurances do cover some health coaching, which struck me as a pleasant surprise. So I am going to start utilizing her and her team for my patients. I and many other doctors do a lot of office based health coaching, but in the setting of providing specialized medical care I can only give health coaching a limited focus. 

I wonder about those without insurance, those with high deductibles, and those with insurance that does not cover health coaching. I still would like to know what resources would be helpful to people who wish to, in effect, be their own health coach. What do you think ? 




Wellness Wednesday : Your Wellness Challenges

This Wednesday I am reaching out to understand your health challenges and what could potentially help you meet them. I work with patients nearly every day and give them information about what can improve their health. Sometimes they are able to work successfully with it and sometimes not. I am fascinated with what separates the two groups. 

I have always tried to make the process of becoming healthy accessible to everyone. I am striving to learn the pertinent behavioral science behind health habits that will enable me to help you actually make those positive health changes. 

I myself am motivated by a variety of things: healthy cookbooks, exercise videos, stories of success, and even inspirational cards that sit on my desk. 

I invite you to take my survey and let me know about your challenges and what you think could help. I am most interested in your response. Click on yoga girl below to access the survey. I promise to publish results next week on Wellness Wednesday. 


Dr. Gina 

Medical Monday: being a patient

Yes folks that's my arm. There's nothing better for a doctor than to be a patient sometimes. Your regularly scheduled blog post is thus interrupted with this post about my small experience of being a little too sick. 

You may wonder how I came to be such a health nut. Well it's because I have lupus. I have to be extra careful and on top of things to stay healthy. The majority of the time I do very well, but once in a while a simple upper respiratory infection gets the better of me. I had to come in briefly for some extra medication and  I am feeling much better. I will probably not be in clinic for the next couple days. 

I was reminded of how vulnerable and wretched you feel when you are truly sick. I was reminded how much it means when people help you out. I had a good friend or two cover for me on labor and delivery, my husband who brought me in, and all the hot shots in the emergency room to tune me up. 

There are two messages as far as I can see. Number one, if you are not doing well reach out and get some help. Number two, if you see someone else not doing well check in with them. It means so much.


Structure Sunday: What's behind the Structure

How do you find the energy and motivation to do the things you want to do ? That is going to be the topic for at least a couple blog posts this week.  Why ? because you have indicated that you find this a challenge. 

It's all a matter of inspiration. But who can rely on inspiration ? Can you find it or make it ? Click here to find some surprisingly old wisdom and new science on this critical issue.