It’s hard to describe the feeling immediately after Yom Kippur! Maybe the word is “cleansed”. We have just poured our hearts out to G-d to forgive us both as individuals and collectively. We have fasted for 25 hours and ended with one more blast from the Shofar. There is a sense of joy that we don’t feel at any other time of the year. Even though somewhat weakened by the fasting, we all feel accomplished and ready to really start the New Year. Succot is right around the corner and what better way to celebrate our new found status than a Yom Tov full of joy. We have prayed for good health and for the whole nation, but are we ready to make an effort to improve our health, fitness and general well-being? As much as we need to pray to the One above for good health, and as much as our doctors can try to help us if we are sick, ultimately, there is a certain amount of effort that we ourselves must do to maintain good health and functionality. Without that, we can’t maintain great health and well-being. Remember the letters TLC.
My office staff and I get great satisfaction when we see our clients succeed in changing their health, and life around for the better. Two of our recent clients chose to try our path in helping to lower their blood pressure and lowering their risk of potentially debilitating diseases. Within three weeks of changing some unhealthy behaviors, they have already succeeded in lowering their blood pressure to below average! Someone came into us with terrible, even unbearable lower back pain last week. As of yesterday, his pain had diminished by about 80% and for the first time in a month, he is totally functional. Several individuals who completed our 10 Weeks to Health program are seeing great results which are helping multiple health issues they have in addition to just helping them feel better. What is the common denominator between all of these success stories? They are all accomplishing their goals with hard work and without medications. They are using TLC!
TLC—when I was growing up that meant tender loving care. In today’s world the initials TLC also stand for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes. This TLC is the latest term to describe medically based, structured, supportive programs to help people lower their risk and to reverse life-threatening conditions such as hypertension, stroke, diabetes and heart disease. The purpose of this program is to help people improve eating habits, exercise, manage stress, quit smoking, and learn how to lead an active life style. Unfortunately, due to being inundated with patients and lack of time, the medical profession often ignores TLC. That is something that is very costly to both the patient and to the economy as a whole. It is much cheaper to improve your health without drugs or surgery.
Dr. Neil Gordon, M.D., PhD, who is a preventive cardiologist, headed a study published in 2004 in the Journal of Cardiology, reported the effectiveness of a 12-week community- based lifestyle management program. This particular program was geared toward people with hypertension, abnormal cholesterol, and diabetes. Dr. Gordon and his team found that many of the patients achieved their goals–without medication. Specifically:
- 67% of people lowered their blood pressure to their stated goals
- 39% of people lowered their blood sugar to acceptable levels
- 21% of people lowered the LDL Cholesterol to their goal level
It is important when beginning a TLC program that you are first evaluated to access your current health status and to see what your risk of disease is. Then you need to state your outcome goals for the program. Do you want to lower cholesterol, blood pressure or blood sugar? Do you need to quit smoking? And now how are you going to reach those goals? You may choose a combination of dietary change along with a well-rounded exercise program. You may also need to add some behavioral coaching or therapy into the equation. Each program needs to be set up individually, keeping in mind the patient’s abilities to exercise, their daily schedule, and their capacity to stick to a program.
It may be easier to prescribe drug therapy for a patient. If the root cause can be treated and preventative measures can be taken, than TLC should be the first step. Even if one needs to take medication, those medicines will likely work much better in conjunction with TLC. TLC doesn’t just treat the symptoms; it treats the underlying problems and works to prevent you from getting unhealthy. TLC is so effective that 54% of US Corporations have incorporated it into their work place. The results are more productivity in the workplace as workers take less sick-days, and workers get more tasks accomplished each day.
Using prescription drugs is also expensive. Overall prescription spending rose to $773 per capita for the year 2010— 2011. Prescriptions made up 17.0% of total per capita spending in 2011 and 25.4% of out-of-pocket per capita spending. For 2011, average price for a brand prescription rose by 17.7%. In 2014, Americans averaged $1,000 per year in both prescription and over the counter drugs. TLC? Maybe there is some initial investment, but in the long term, it will end up much, much cheaper. Imagine if you could save $300, $500, or $800 per month!
There is no doubt that there are times when drug therapy is the only recourse. But always ask you doctor if you can try TLC first. Go and see a wellness coach or personal trainer and try it first. Be in contact with the American Heart Association and Medline Plus for some help and guidance. Even if it doesn’t work completely, it can lower your drug dosages substantially. Take a moment and think of the savings in both not suffering the side effects of most of these drugs and the financial savings of reducing or eliminating the need for them. Even if you are perfectly healthy, TLC is the best preventative medicine around.
At this time during the Jewish year, we are often reflecting on our lives and certainly on our lifestyle. As we start a new year, we can take upon ourselves a few changes that will make the year more productive in every single way. And when better than a time of joy—after Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and as Succot comes to a close– to take something new upon us! Write down a couple of TLC changes that you feel you can start with. Using Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes is great way to “add hours to your day, days to your year, and years to your life.”