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Let’s first consider what constitutes a healthy lifestyle, one that will enable you to “walk the talk” of a healthy and balanced life, yet still have time to be a doctor.

We all know that physicians lead incredibly busy lives and often struggle to maintain their own health – in mind, body and spirit. This module addresses mindfulness, or awareness, as well as your emotional well-being, before moving on to weight, nutrition and fitness. 

SelfTestBegin by taking this quiz to assess how you are doing in the area of self-care. Information on this website, maintained by the Canadian Mental Health Association, is helpful to Americans, as well.

Mindfulness "Mindfulness can best be described as an intentional focused awareness - a way of paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally." (1 Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. New York: Hyperion) Nonjudgmental inner experience occurs when people are aware of their thoughts and feelings without evaluation or critique. The process allows thoughts and feelings to come and go without taking action to fix or change them or becoming distracted by the experience.

When a person can approach daily routines and behaviors from a place of mindfulness, change is more likely to occur, and awareness of one’s environment, openness to new information and observation from different perspectives increase. All of these facilitate a sense of empowerment and control, which can decrease stress and increase creativity.
((Langer, E. J., & Moldoveanu, M. (2000). The construct of mindfulness. Journal of Social Issues, 56 (1), 1-9.)

Increasingly, evidence shows that regular meditation can improve physical health and make a person more productive. It also can also improve memory and focus. In 2009, Krasner and colleagues (2009) found that physicians who practice mindfulness show improved overall well-being and effectiveness in clinical practice. They also found that physicians who practice mindfulness become more aware of the presence of stress, better understand the source of stress and are more able to mediate the effect of stress. Approaching their daily practice with mindfulness lowers physicians' reactivity to events and increases their resiliency in difficult situations.
(Krasner, M. S., Epstein, R. M., Beckman, H., Suchman, A. L.,Chapman, B., Mooney, C. J., & Quill, T. E. (2009). Association of an educational program in mindful communication with burnout, empathy, and attitudes among primary care physicians. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 302(12), 1284-1293.)

SelfTestHere is a mindfulness scale developed by researchers at La Salle University and Drexel University, led by psychology professor Lee Ann Cardaciotto. Take the quiz, answering as honestly as possible how frequently you had each experience over the past week.

Now, use the following resources to learn more about the practice of mindfulness.

Mindfullness Based Stress ReductionPalouse Mindfulness - Online Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
VideoMindfulness Meditation Instruction - David Nichtern
WebsiteNine Awesome Mindfulness Videos on YouTube
TED talkAll it Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes
VideoOpportunities for Pausing

Focus on Yourself
AppHeadspace: Guided Meditation and Mindfulness
AppCalm: Meditation Techniques for Stress Reduction 
Webpage10 Simple Ways to Practice Mindfulness Each Day
TEDtalkEmotional First Aid
ArticleMediation Books by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer and meditation teacher bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. He is professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Instead of focusing exclusively on body mass index, waist circumference or waist-to-hip circumference, consider best weight as a barometer for weight management.  Best weight is the healthiest weight we can achieve and still enjoy life. What does that look like for you? Strategies to lose weight involve changing energy intake or energy output. 

If you are interested in changing intake:
WebsiteMindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think
WebsiteCenter for Science in the Public Interest
If you are interested in altering energy output:
WebsiteMyPlate Calorie Tracker


Of all health determinants, perhaps none is more important than nutrition. A recent study suggested that healthy dietary patterns can eliminate 9-16% of all-cause mortality for people older than 45 (Kant, Graubard, & Schatzkin, 2004).  Fortunately, nutrition is one of the easiest determinants to control, and it is entirely up to you to decide what you will consume.

Healthy eating is a skill that we can develop. Below are some resources to assist in improving healthy food choices:

WebsiteWeighty Matters: Musings of an Obesity Medicine Doc and Certifiably Cynical Realist
WebsiteUS Food and Drug Administration


While exercise and fitness are essential components of weight loss and healthy living, exercise does not need to take place in a gym or make you sweat. In fact, the best exercise is the one you enjoy enough to keep doing.

WebsiteFind your “toothbrush level” of exercise. This is the amount of exercise you do every day because you know you need to, just like brushing your teeth. These ideas from the Mayo Clinic can help start you on a fitness program. Exercise is not necessarily something we enjoy; we do it because it is something we have to do to remain healthy. It can take the form of a 10-minute daily walk, taking the stairs or parking at the spot farthest from your destination.