Behavioral health, nutrition, and fitness: An Op-ed by Curtiss Robinson
When I go out to talk to medical providers, including doctors, nurses, chiropractors, physical therapists, and so forth, I tend to ask questions about aftercare. Nine times out of ten, the providers in the medical field indicate that their clients rarely, if ever, follow up with their prescribed homework. That homework usually includes some sort of rest, exercise, stretching, and good nutrition.
I am confident that every ethical medical provider would agree that rest, fitness, and nutrition are critically important to good health. The converse must also be true. A lack of rest, fitness, and nutrition is detrimental to good health. So, the real question is, why aren’t medical providers referring their clients to the fitness/nutrition industry?
The Challenge: Overcoming Fear of the Unknown
Most medical providers, who have higher-level college degrees and a license backed by a professional board of ethics, tend to feel people in the fitness industry are undereducated or, in some cases, unaccountable to some sort of regulatory board. If I we’re a medical doctor for example, with an MD, reporting to a medical board, I would be cautious about referring my clients to someone who is either undereducated or not accountable in a similar fashion. It makes sense. Let me just be clear in this article that some folks in the fitness industry are undereducated and some are not accountable to a board of ethics. However, many of them are. Perhaps it is time to seek the good ones out in order to promote better health and wellness.
I would like to encourage all of those medical providers to take a hard look at the relationships they build with our clients. That relationship is a function of hard-won trust. Likewise, the best trainers find good clients and work hard to keep them safe, while setting goals and improving their muscular strength, endurance, and cardiorespiratory health. Well-trained and certified nutrition/fitness experts want to help clients build the best habits. Clients are encouraged to eat right, sleep right, and exercise. I hope this article brings comfort to those medical providers who agree that every client needs some sort of healthy lifestyle change.
I think I’ve saved the best for last. I love talking to the client. This last section is directed to all of you who understand the challenges of just being an American in a very fast-paced world. You work very hard 8 maybe 10 hours a day. You raise great kids when you get home from work until you go to bed. If you get 7-8 hours of sleep, then feel pretty good about yourself. Most Americans do not get enough sleep. The world we live in makes it far easier to grab a sausage and egg biscuit for breakfast and a cheeseburger for lunch than it is to do meal preparation at home.
It just ends up being a function of time or the lack thereof. Most people believe they don’t have time to fix good food and barely have enough time to get good sleep. It begs the question, when in the world can we schedule time to exercise? It truly is a challenge. I promise to answer that question at the end, but for now, let’s jump into what we face without healthy habits, including proper nutrition, a good night’s sleep, and some sort of healthy exercise routine.
60% of all Americans are overweight or obese. Cardiopulmonary disease, hypertension, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders are killing us. I dare say cancer can be linked to our poor habits as well. The decisions we make today about nutrition, sleep, and exercise will have some sort of effect on our health today, but those decisions will have absolutely undeniable consequences on our health in the future. Let’s look at the cost.
For those who think they can’t afford to take the time to make meals at home that are healthy and nutritious, you will pay dearly in metabolic challenges related to the food you take in. I know it is difficult, but there are systems in place that we can borrow and apply to our lives. Fitness experts and competitors typically pick one day a week to cook all of the food they plan to eat for the next five to seven days. The fitness experts and competitors are no different than you or me. They have other jobs. They have kids. They have distractions. They pay bills and have other challenges that take away precious hours in their day. But it is so important to their lifestyle that they make time for it. You can too.
I spent 24 years in the military. We were required to exercise every day. It was scheduled and habitual. At age 48, I still exercise every day. Simply put, it has become a habit and part of my lifestyle. Again, when we look at time, I always ask my clients how they spend the early hours in the morning before work as well as the time after they get home from work. Most say the same thing. They watch Netflix or cable television and hang out on social media for hours on end. What do you do? Most Americans just want a break and they deserve one, but what if a little scheduling could increase nutrition, rest, and fitness? What if that scheduling enabled more energy, less injury, and lower medical bills in the future?
I know you have heard a lot of this before, but bear with me. We can do more. We can live better. It is the key to longevity, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, with meal preparation replacing fast food, Starbucks, and convenience-store prices, you will be able to afford the best food and expert advice from nutrition and fitness experts.
I (Curtiss Robinson) opened Thriveworks in Conway because I believe that having excellent counseling and coaching in our community is important. I’m excited to announce that I’ve just opened a first-class health and wellness office in Conway, called “Conway Toe2Toe”, conveniently located right next to the Thriveworks office. Conway Toe2Toe offers fitness programs, healthy eating habits, and group support to help you get the job done. Just like our counseling and coaching clients have had excellent success, our clients at Conway Toe2Toe are also making progress (and you can too). Ask your provider about whether an appointment with a nationally certified trainer might be a good fit for you and your goals.