My number one healthy habit: 4 doctors tell
What do our leading medical professionals do to stay healthy? Lindyl Crabb asks four experts to share the healthy habits they swear by
We find out what our leading medical professionals are doing to take care of their own health. By Lindyl Crabb.
“I used to be a multi-tasker. I was juggling work and doing my PHD with parenting and maintaining relationships but I realised it wasn’t working and I couldn’t keep going. As a neuroscientist, I knew that our brains don’t work effectively this way, they just toggle between tasks, which uses up our resources. Multi-tasking is ineffective, inefficient, overwhelming and contributes to stress, so I started uni-tasking and giving my attention to one thing at a time. Everything became so much easier.
When we prioritise our time and energy, we do each thing well. I plan a daily to-do list and stick to it, but I also schedule downtime. For example, when I eat a meal I don’t do anything else. I turn the TV off, put my phone away and sit down to enjoy it. When I’m working from home, I allocate time to do each separate task and I only focus on that task. I make all necessary phone calls before my children get back from school so I can give them 100 per cent during our afternoon tea together. Giving quality time over quantity will strengthen your relationships and I’ve found that allocating my time has made me more present, content, productive and successful in achieving my goals at work and home.
Our lives have so many demands, but they don’t have to be competing.” >
“Regular meditation cuts your risk of cardiovascular disease by 50%.”
“About 25 years ago, I was going through a stressful time with a business partner. I came in contact with Dr Byron Rigby, an expert in meditation, and as the Buddhist saying goes, ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.’ Byron convinced me to start meditating. For the first six weeks I thought it was rubbish. We have so much stuff going on in our lives that for those six weeks it all came to the surface and I felt uncomfortable. But I persisted and now I’ve been meditating regularly for over 25 years.
I meditate daily for at least 30 minutes. It’s the first thing I do in the morning while I’m still in bed, and on the weekends I sometimes meditate for an hour. It makes me calmer, I hardly ever get angry and stress doesn’t affect me.
When I first started I practised transcendental meditation, which involves mantras. I believe that we have energy centres in our bodies called chakras, so now when I meditate I start with affirmations, then I tune into each of the chakras, I do transcendental meditation mantras and I finish with gratitude.
I tell everyone to meditate. It’s good for your health, your brain and mind, and a study shows that regular meditation cuts your risk of cardiovascular disease by 50 per cent. If everyone meditated the world would be a better place.”
“During my teens I regularly basked in the sun. After studying to become a dermatologist, I found that retinoid creams could reverse the ageing effects of years of sun exposure. I use a topical tretinoin, which is the active form of topical retinoid and needs to be prescribed by a doctor. It has scientifically proven benefits and can improve smoothness and reduce fine lines, coarse wrinkling, pigmentation and sallowness and tighten loose skin.
I apply the cream to my face and neck at night after cleansing, and wash it off in the morning as it can make the skin sensitive to sunlight if left on during the day. It took about six months to see an improvement in my skin texture and about 12 months to see a reduction in fine lines. Now my friends and patients compliment me on my skin.
I’ve recently started taking a nicotinamide tablet – also known as niacinamide – every day to protect against the harmful effects of the sun. It’s a form of vitamin B3 that reduces the DNA damage caused by UV light and enhances our DNA’S repair. A group of scientists and dermatologists in Sydney found that taking this tablet daily for four months significantly reduced the incidence of non-melanoma skin cancers. I buy it from chemists and health food stores and it’s so easy to incorporate into my routine.” >
“I needed to reduce the added sugar in my diet to preserve my own health.”
“As a practitioner, I sought to understand the impact sugar could have on my patients. I realised I needed to reduce the amount of added sugar in my diet to preserve my own health, which is how I discovered the Sugarbyhalf movement. It encourages people to reduce their intake of added sugar from the Australian average of 16 teaspoons a day to eight, and it’s had a huge influence on my life and my family’s. Reducing my intake requires daily effort, but like any habit it gets easier over time. I keep the fridge stocked with fruits, vegetables, fish and meat. I read food labels and look for hidden sugar in fruit juices, low-fat yoghurts and processed snacks and swap them for whole foods. I limit treats to special occasions and don’t keep any in the pantry.
In my field of expertise, consuming too much sugar is linked to weight gain, which is associated with reduced fertility. Cutting down on sugar is known to have an anti-ageing benefit and this includes your reproductive age. If you’re overweight when you fall pregnant, the excess weight usually stays on, which can lead to gestational diabetes, low birth weight, pre-term delivery and other complications.
Since starting the Sugarbyhalf program, the changes in my weight, mood, sleeping patterns and energy have been remarkable. Plus, its effect on my children’s behaviour has improved our family dynamics.” #