The secret to healthy living – body, mind and spirit - Ep. 01

January 11, 2021
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In this episode, Dr. G is joined by Steven Lome, DO, double board-certified cardiovascular specialist, and Todd Fink, CADC, certified alcohol and drug counselor at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health, to discuss the fundamentals of healthy living.

What is the secret of a healthy life? Good health has many facets, and they’re all important. Regular exercise, food choices, mindfulness and spirituality are just the tip of the iceberg. The first step to better health? Making the choice to start the transformation.

But where (and how) to begin pursuit of a healthy lifestyle? Start small. No one can transform their health overnight, and that’s okay. It’s a lifelong process that involves failure, learning and commitment.

How can we boost our immune system? How much exercise do we really need? How can we tell whether we’re stressed? Is spirituality the same as religion (and why is it relevant to health)? Dr. G’s experts tackle these questions and share some tips to help you set yourself up for success. 
Are you ready to transform your body, mind and spirit?


Myths vs. Facts

“Older individuals should strive to get 150 minutes of exercise per week.” - Fact
150 mins of moderate intensity aerobic exercise is the minimum we should strive for. There’s even more benefit if you go up to 300 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise and add some simple strength training two days per week.

“There are no harms seen in adults who get less than 7 hours of sleep each night.” - Myth
We need to get a full night’s sleep, which is generally 7-9 hours for adults. This can be challenging, especially since the invention of the smartphone. As a society, compared to 100 years ago, we sleep 1.5-2 hours less now.

“I can actively boost my immune system to avoid contracting disease with immediate effect.” - Depends
It depends what you’re talking about. It doesn’t matter what you do in regard to healthy eating, exercising, taking supplements—if you’re exposed to something like the coronavirus, you’re going to be at significant risk and you’re not going to avoid it. But when it comes to chronic diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, eating the right foods and taking other healthy steps can help us avoid illness.

“Self-care is not necessarily being selfish.” - Fact
Self-care is important. It’s easy to take care of others and neglect your own needs. Self-care is about prioritizing your own wellbeing so you can be the compassionate person you aspire to be. There’s a lot of shame in compassion fatigue and occupational burnout, because as people motivated to help we think we’re always supposed to be on and ready to serve. We need to reduce that stigma with self-care and have people prioritize their own wellbeing, just like the analogy of putting your oxygen mask on first on a plane before helping others.

“Mindfulness can be practiced daily and in many ways.” - Fact
Mindfulness needs to be a habit. It can be as simple as closing your eyes and meditating while you’re on the train to work. Studies have shown that mindfulness can lower blood pressure, lower cardiovascular disease risk.

“To be spiritual, one must follow a guru.” - Myth
It’s not necessary to have a guru or be part of any religion. However, just like anything else you want to grow in, it can be helpful to have a guide with experience to give you some tips on how to get started.

“People who are spiritual can use their beliefs to cope with illness, pain or life stressors.”  - Fact
Being spiritual—being connected with your mind, your emotions, your mental wellbeing—will help when a stressful event occurs. You’re going to have a better mental capacity to cope. You’ll have mental techniques ready to handle that stressful situation.

Listener healthy OH-YEAH!

"Making my depression and anxiety a priority in 2020. Not that I had much of a choice when I started 2020 in Intensive outpatient treatment. But I have kept going, even when all I wanted to do was give up  and stop battling them everyday. There have been many mental ups and downs this year. Many times I thought I was improving and on my way to a depression free life, only to be knocked back down. There have been twists and turns and shifts in focus during my treatment, but I have pressed on. I am also proud that I have decided to be open and not hide that I have depression and anxiety. I would like to see the stigma surrounding mental illness gone. Being open and sharing my experience is one way I am trying to normalize it for others, especially for my kids who have had their own anxiety struggles." – K.B.

Additional resources

Episode Transcript

Dr. Gomez [00:00:11] Hey, what's up, friends? My name is Dr. Mark Gomez, but you can call me Dr. G. and welcome to Health 360 with Dr. G.

Dr. Gomez [00:00:20] I'm so excited that you're here today joining me on this journey. I'm a board-certified internal medicine physician. I practice out of Edward Hospital in Naperville, Illinois. And this show is about you. At the end of the day, I want you to have all the tools that are needed for success. Remember this, when you have success in your health, you're going to have success in your life. And really what Health 360 with Dr. G is about this opportunity. Each episode you're going to meet some of the best physicians, healers, healthcare professionals and experts that I know. We're here to help you get better, what you want to do, whatever you're trying to accomplish in your health and in your life, think of it as an opportunity. We're going to help coach you from getting from point A to point B. We want you to have success with everything that you do, the pillars of everything that we're going to talk about longevity, vitality, quality of life. These are things that we all want as people. Why can't we have it? But we know in order to have success, we have to work at it. It's a discipline, but we also have the resources and the people that will support us and encourage us to our goals. So I'm so excited to work with the Health 360 with Dr. G. Check me out on my website -, you can of course, follow me across all social media @Health360wDrG. I tell you what, today's show is fierce and what a way to start this. The inaugural episode, Health 360 with Dr. G. Today we are talking about the secret to healthy living - body, mind and spirit. Who doesn't want to have healthy living? We're going to talk about it. You're going to meet my experts today who are at the top of their game and what they're doing. They're all about helping you. They help out their patients and their clients on a daily basis, and they never have lost their sense of self, they've never lost their sense of purpose. And again, we're going to do is you can be sure that you have these tools for success. I want to inform you and inspire you to live to be the best version of yourself each and every day. Yes, we got to put some work into it. But I'm here for you. My experts are here for you. We want you to have nothing but the best of opportunities, growth and livelihood there is possible. So without further ado, what I'm going to do is introduce my guests. But of course, before you meet them, let me hit you with a quick disclaimer. The content of Health 360 with Dr. G., a Healthy Driven podcast is for your information and entertainment purposes, purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. So we're talking today about the secret to healthy living - body, mind and spirit. People ask me this all the time, like "Doc, what is it going to take for me to get to my goals?" Well, we're going to talk about it. I want you guys to grab a pen, and some paper. Because what we're going to talk about today, I want you to write down. When you write it down, you commit it to memory and it becomes actionable, but also becomes not just actionable, it's measurable. And again, we're going to have you do the best you can. And, of course, when anything comes down to your health, make sure that you talk to your doctor, your healthcare professional. He or she will be there for you when you need it. And I'm so excited to keep it going. So here we go my friends, buckle up. Hey, you're in for a good ride. So my first guest today, he and I have known each other for a long time. We were in residency together at Loyola. And he's just a lifelong friend, colleague, expert, passionate, passionate physician about what he does. His name is Dr. Steven Lome. And I want to read his bio because his credentials run deep. Dr Steven Lome. He's a double board-certified cardiovascular disease and lifestyle medicine specialist with Montage Cardiology. He's out of Community Hospital, Monterey Peninsula. Hey, you guys can check him out, search for Dr. Steven Lome. His YouTube page is fierce, Dr. Steven Lome, welcome to the show.

Dr. Lome [00:04:35] Thank you so much for having me. I'm very happy to be here. Yeah. You do such a great job spreading a very important message to the world and keep on doing it. I'm glad to be a part of it.

Dr. Gomez [00:04:46] Oh, um you have a big heart, my friend. You know, you're awesome, brother, so I cannot wait to keep getting granular.

Dr. Gomez [00:04:52] Why don't you tell us a little bit about what we're talking about - the secret of healthy living. People always want to know secrets. You know, that's why we're having this conversation. You know, we talk the secrets. You know, when you look at health in general, is there a secret to healthy living?

Dr. Lome [00:05:06] When you think about. There absolutely is a secret and the whole concept behind lifestyle medicine is truly your body already has health. Actually, the secret is the default state of the human body is to be healthy. Your body doesn't want to develop disease such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, those types of things. The default state is to not have those things. Really, those chronic diseases only develop if we actively do something that damages our body - eat the wrong foods, remain sedentary, smoke, cigarettes, those types of things. And so the secret truly is if you just remove the thing that's causing the harm to the body, then the body has a crazy ability to heal itself. Really no different than if you cut your hand with a knife and you sit back and do nothing, your body can stop the bleeding, form a scab and form a scar within two or three or four weeks. But if you keep putting your hand in the same spot with the knife over and over again, you're never going to heal up, right? Well, if you keep eating the wrong foods, or smoking cigarettes, your body gets damaged and damaged and damage over and over again to develop all these diseases. So the main secret is just don't do the things that cause harm to your body. And the body will naturally heal itself.

Dr. Gomez [00:06:19] Love it, brother.

Dr. Gomez [00:06:20] I talk about this, there's a quote that I that I have. It's a quote from Socrates. And neither writes Socrates. Yes. That Socrates, one of the founders of western philosophy. He said, quote, the secret of change is focusing all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

Dr. Gomez [00:06:36] I want to use my next guest, Todd Fink. Todd and I had known each other for a long time. We've done many collaborations together, talking about getting to the next level, talking about taking your health and make it something that's ordinary and make it extraordinary, the opportunity that's had. So to read Todd's bio, Todd is just a longtime friend and colleague of mine. A - take notes, everybody. You're about to get hit with some good information. I want introduce Todd Fink. Todd Fink is a certified alcohol drug counselor with Linden Oaks Behavioral Health. He's an artist. He's a TED talk speaker. He's just a he's like a renaissance man and a wealth of knowledge and a breath of fresh air. Todd, welcome to the show.

Todd Fink [00:07:17] Thank you so much, Dr. G. It's good to be here with you, my friend. And your passion for compassion is very inspiring. Good to be here and to meet Dr. Lome. And it's an honor to join you on the first episode and join two esteemed medical professionals, medical doctors. So, yeah, I'm very happy to share. And I would echo what Dr. Lome said. I think health is also evolving as technology changes, it changes our lifestyle and we have to adapt. I also think balance is important with health and it's different for each person. And on the wheel of balance, we may find that one dimension of our life needs a little bit more attention. But I like to replace the word balance with balancing, because as soon as you're working on one area of your life, some other areas neglected, and if you think of balancing, then you'll understand that it's always a shifting of our energy and attention in a world where those are very limited resources. And then, of course, purpose and meaning and values that helped to build that in one's life. And that's going to be a little bit different for everybody. And taking the time to elicit one's values and then plotting a course where you can live your best life is going to affect the mind, body, spirit in a positive way.

Dr. Gomez [00:08:36] Well wonderful.

Dr. Gomez [00:08:37] Well, there you go. You guys have met the crew. These gentlemen are fierce. And so how this show is going to work again, we're talking about the secret to healthy living - body, mind, spirit. We're going to break down those kinds of topics. We're going to go through some specifics. I have questions. And I know you guys out there that are listening to us want some answers. And we're going to break down some of these topics, by section. We're also going to get to some frequently asked questions. We're going to do something that I love to do, those of you that have followed me in social media before, you know, I love doing myths versus facts. We got to set the record straight. It's about breaking it down and telling the truth. And of course, I got a new segment called Listener Content because it's good, it's about you. And the messages that you may have may pay it forward and serve as a catalyst for somebody else. So I cannot wait for this discussion. So how this works, we have what's the chief complaint. What is the chief complaint you ask? Well, that's when somebody comes in to see their healthcare professional and they had the reason why they are there. So the chief complaint, a.k.a. the question of this hour, is what are the secrets to healthy living - body, mind and spirit? So here we go. Dr. Lome, I want to piggyback on what you said a little bit earlier about these choices. We're talking about how do you make these choices, these lifestyle choices, the default choices? Where does somebody start if they're trying to get on a plan to make themselves healthier? How does somebody begin that journey?

Dr. Lome [00:09:58] And that is such a huge, important question, because the first step is simply making the choice to begin that journey. And once that choice is made, there's going to be many different barriers in trying to eat healthy, exercise, do those things, cultural barriers, family barriers, just knowledge barriers, not knowing what to do, and people need to realize it's a journey, it's a process. You can't just watch one documentary on Netflix, such as Forks Over Knives, which is phenomenal, and instantly say, I know everything about nutrition and healthy lifestyle going tomorrow.

Dr. Lome [00:10:29] I'm on a healthy diet. No way. You can't do that. Just like you can't pick up an instrument after never having played, for example, on guitar, watch one documentary on Netflix about how to play guitar and boom, you're good at it. So it's going to be a journey and a process. And people need to understand that they're going to have failures. They're going to be successful. And the key is learn, learn, learn, set up your home environment so that you can be successful, get the unhealthy food out, get support from everybody you live with and just start doing it. Start eating the healthy food, start getting out, getting active, make sure you sleep well, do the meditation, whatever it is that you really need to do. And as you start doing it, you'll get better and better. And for example, food wise, you'll stop creating unhealthy foods the more you eat the healthy foods and you'll have more energy and then you'll just see how important it is. But honestly, it is such a tough question to ask because every individual person is in a different situation. So you just need to analyze your situation and try to get all those factors in your mind, write them down and say, how am I going to attack each of these with a diet, find the recipes, with the physical activity, get the family involved. And this just go right at it. And it's a challenge, but the rewards are way worth it, as you know.

Dr. Gomez [00:11:46] When I see patients of my practice and they have that success. They commit themselves to these foundations, these foundations of lifestyle.

Dr. Gomez [00:11:54] As you mentioned about getting exercise, sleep, nutrition, stress management, mind body connection, smoking cessation. When you're doing those kinds of things, when they hit those targets, they do such a great job. Todd, let me ask you this. Piggybacking on what Dr. Lome said, he's laid down a foundation about having a vision. But also before you have a vision to kind of acknowledge where you're at, how does somebody just acknowledged, where they're at first, be comfortable with that and then start to get this vision and actual steps?

Todd Fink [00:12:29] Well, I would just add that through some daily mindfulness practice, some introspection, some eliciting of values, you can get a sense of where you're at. And like Dr. Lome said, everybody is in a little bit different circumstances. 20 some years ago, I made a lot of changes to my diet, but we didn't have a lot of the information that we can readily access today. And so I was using just mindfulness practices to really listen to my body. Our body is sending us so many subtle messages, not just how food tastes, but the energy levels we have in the hour following or the days following. And I think if you start to establish that communication line and open that communication, you can get a lot more in tune with the way that you feel and the way that you want to feel. And yes, so small steps towards that and understanding it's a process like Dr. Lome said. Same would be true with anything with anything else that we aspire to, to grow in.

Dr. Gomez [00:13:29] I want to I want to talk about some of these kinds of foundations, because I know people are like, oh, you know, doc, Dr. G., what do I need to do? And so, you know, we always get asked because we always had those patients that want the specificity. How do we go from a generalized approach to more specific? Because we use so that we would all agree that when you have specificity with somebody, they're more likely to get some measurable results versus kind of trying to apply a broad a paint stroke to get people healthy again. So I like the specificity someone to ask this question of Dr. Lome, you know, talking about give these pillars, these foundations of lifestyle medicine.

Dr. Gomez [00:14:04] And by the way, Dr. Lome, he just got his board-certification in lifestyle medicine. And that's why I love this guy. Love it. Love it right there. I am just a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, I'm not board-certified.

Dr. Gomez [00:14:17] But Dr. Lome has taken the even extra steps to continue to work better. He did this for his patients, but he's also doing it for himself and his family. And so that message of I get you, I've got you, I can help you. I can help coach you. Even though it's an issue. We've talked about how do we invoke behavior change? What we have to do it in a very nonjudgmental way. But when you are evoking that change, you're able to then also help others and that can encourage others to get change, too. So let's talk about, Dr. Lome, when I think about your body, exercise, you know, people want to talk about, you know, nutrition, something that, you know, how do we how do we how do we start? How do we start this process? How do we really simplify it?

Dr. Lome [00:15:04] Yeah. And so it's a complicated process of simplifying it. I think when you think about the pillars, you think about nutrition, you think about physical activity, you think about wellness, sleep, mind, body, and you just have to simplify. Just write those things down and see where you think the problems are in your life if you can improve. Now, from a science perspective, we're all evidence based in lifestyle, medicine, nothing that isn't really pretty well validated with science. Right. So what we do know is in regards to chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension and heart disease and many forms of cancer, the main aspect is nutrition. Of course, physical activity is important, but it's really hard to maintain a healthy diet if you don't have all the other components, the wellness, the meditation, lower stress levels and the support. So to simplify it and to try to get started, really the approach that we just like to take is educating yourself and learning and then just doing it, making a simple step, find a recipe that you know is a healthy one and just start eating. Don't worry about I can't eat that. I can't eat this. Don't get yourself too bogged down in details initially to start eating the healthy things and then you'll grow. And your repertoire of the food you eat will grow and the types of exercise and your ability to enjoy them will grow. And then you will become more in tune with your body and yourself and your stress level can go down if you address the right thing. So honestly, simplifying it is just trying to focus on the simple things that what you can do right now in the immediate moment, eating the healthy diet, getting out and moving and trying to make an action plan as to how you're going to continue doing that from here on out.

Dr. Gomez [00:16:55] Todd, let me ask you this question. There's I love where Dr. Lome's gone with that. I want to continue with that. You know, getting somebody motivated, getting someone to take action can be difficult because you have to kind of meet people where they're at, you know? You know, somebody might be you can't kind of come at your clients and assume that assume anything you really shouldn't assume anything at all. And so and so once you establish where they're at, how do you start working with them and coaching them during that process?

Todd Fink [00:17:30] Well, I would just add on that there's different types of motive, motivation, and there's different types of barriers to motivation. There's one theory called the gravitational theory of motivation, which means we're always motivated to do something even when it feels like we have no motivation. We're actually motivated to rest, are motivated to relax. But if you've ever tried to sleep indefinitely, you realize pretty soon that you can't at some point you don't want to lay down anymore. You want to get up unless, of course, there's some other illness. And then arranging your environment to help you with your goals day to day are our motivation is unpredictable. But over the course of many days, many weeks, many months, there are things we aspire to there. There are dreams that we are trying to fulfill. So building your environment in such a way that it encourages you towards your goals. Some of the common obstacles to motivation, though, especially in mental health, are associated with depression. That's like your classic low energy. But what people with depression often don't understand is that most people have to push themselves to start anything. Every morning the average American hit snooze 12 times. And so when but when you have some depression or even seasonal effect disorder, it feels like I'm the only one that really has to force myself. So that's pretty normal. I mean, that's just basic science. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest. So teaching clients, teaching people how to push themselves and how much to push themselves, because also you want to be kind with yourself. You don't want to do more than you can. You don't want to be too forceful. So it's a balance of discipline and compassion. And then something like ADHD, which is also pretty common and a lot of young people struggle with this is a type of lack of motivation that's based on focusing so people end up avoiding doing certain activities because there's a sense of shame that they can't focus and read the book or do the do the exercise or do the assignment and teaching people how to build their concentration. And that is just like any other type of exercise. People try to start with a 15, 20 minute meditation practice and when they can't do it, they think meditation is not for me, but that would be like trying to run a marathon and then thinking exercise, that is not for me. So building slowly. And then a third kind of obstacle to motivation is anxiety, which is the most common mental illness in America. This is really more of a fear. So it's not a matter of having enough energy when someone with anxiety avoids the thing that they want to do, there is relief and they can go do some other activity. So this isn't a matter of just finding energy or finding concentration. This is a matter of finding willingness to lean into discomfort like we were we were talking about before, Dr. G., and being able to step outside of our comfort zone and continuously challenge our ourselves and orient ourselves to safety and continue to stretch and expand that comfort zone. If we're aware of those obstacles, then we can quickly make progress towards our goals with exercise, diet, nutrition, what have you.

Dr. Gomez [00:20:35] Well, you mentioned lean into it, and I love that word at such a type of word that's being used because we have to lean into these situations. We were talking a little bit earlier, but the expression is be comfortable being uncomfortable. And so but that's where the opportunity for growth lies. And so when I think about my patients and I'm approaching them, whether it's from their physical health or their mental health or their spiritual health, we would talk a little about that in second. You know, I would say we got to lean into it. And I always say, you know what you want to do the what's the wise in the house, as they say, know what you want to do and it's OK to ask what you don't know how to do it. Why do you want to do? What are the you know, this is what I love about working with people, and we all do as clinicians, you get to work with people and understand their whys. What is that why? And then eventually once you understand the what and why, why not the how? And so that's kind of my approach to things, you know, Dr. Lome I want to ask you this question before we get into some a little more of the specifics of that, especially when it comes to body, mind and spirit. But what do you think about you know, you've had so much success with so many patients. We've also had challenges. We all have challenges. And then, you know, we don't we use that as an opportunity to grow for ourselves, too, as clinicians. But if somebody has a setback, you know, a lot of people may say, oh, my gosh, this is a failure. How do you how do you how do you tell people that a setback is OK?

Dr. Lome [00:21:59] Yeah, great question. So I actually try to preface the first time I meet somebody and I'm telling them about all the lifestyle changes that can be positive for their health. I always preface that right away by saying, hey, listen, you're going to have failures, you're going to have setbacks. That's OK.

Dr. Lome [00:22:13] If somebody was writing, learning how to ride a bike and they fell off once and they never got back on again and never learned how to ride that bike. Right?

Dr. Lome [00:22:20] So it's always there's going to be setbacks. Expected it. Don't get yourself down. Just get up, get right back on that bike and go again. And so. As long as you have that mindset to begin with, it's going to set you up for success in the future. And so I follow a lot of there's a lot of great support groups out there on Facebook, and there's always somebody posting every day. I'm so disappointed with myself. I'm a failure. I ate a whole pepperoni pizza and now I don't know, I'm feeling horrible. It's like and the people come and support him and say, don't worry. It happens all the time. Realize it's going to happen. It just don't lose focus. Think about all the positives that can happen if you keep going with the positive lifestyle changes and don't get bogged down.

Todd Fink [00:23:03] And I would just add on to that. Please go ahead.

Todd Fink [00:23:06] To learn from those experiences, so Dr. Lome's right, that those are the stepping stones to success. So also if a patient or client can maybe journal about their journey and they'll start to identify triggers, patterns, hurdles, and then they can also celebrate when they overcome. And part of the joy in life is not in having no flaws, but in overcoming them, identifying them, mastering them and growing ourselves.

Dr. Gomez [00:23:33] Oh my God. This is why you guys are amazing, because I learned from you every day for me is an opportunity to learn. And I take that with the deepest sincerity and humility as I can, because I. Who doesn't? You know, maybe that's just me, how I'm motivated, I want to do better for my family.

Dr. Gomez [00:23:50] We're all motivated by so many things. I want to do better for my community, want would be better for my country, I want to do better as a global citizen. And so I want to be part of something that's bigger than myself.

Dr. Gomez [00:24:02] But everybody's got their origin story, so to speak, or their history. But, you know, you guys are looking at it as, you know, as an opportunity to continue to expand. So what I want to do now is I want to get into some frequently asked questions. And we're talking about making the secrets of healthy, you know, the secret of healthy living - body, mind, spirit. These are things that, of course, that people have asked me. So I chronicled them for you guys. So here we go. We're go to break it down actually by systems. So here we go so we'll start with body. All right. Here we go. Dr. Lome, here's a question for you. Frequently asked question all right. Here it is.

Dr. Gomez [00:24:37] The theme is immune system. How can I boost my immune system naturally? And are there home remedies that I can do to boost my immune system?

Dr. Lome [00:24:48] Well, that's a great question and a very hot topic right now, of course, because a coronavirus in the pandemic and honestly, the science about immunity and immune system and how diet and lifestyle relates, again, being extremely evidence based. The science is there, but it's not profound. It's not super strong because we in our modern times haven't had to deal with this before. And so you've got to preface everything that I say is that a lot of the things that we know about immunity is based on mostly basic science and some smaller studies. But really to understand how diet lifestyle will truly impact mortality from something like coronavirus would require a huge kind of randomized trial. Some people try this, some people try that, and let's see who has a better immune system in order to fight off an infection. So it's a challenging question to answer specifics. And there is a ton of misinformation that's out there. It's not really science based. So be cautious and only look at information from big authorities. I first warn you. But in general, what we do know, of course, is avoiding foods that can cause inflammation and harm that could harm your immune system. Processed foods in general are a huge thing and an excess of animal-based foods, especially processed meats. Now, the other thing is making sure not just avoiding the harmful things in your diet, but eating the healthful things, eating at least five to eight servings of vegetables, including green, leafy vegetables, berries. They have so many different what we call phytonutrients, Phyto meaning plant nutrients. So they're only found in plants. There are so many different research studies showing these different types of phytonutrient that could help boost immunity when they look at blood test for immunity. But how does that really correlate with fighting the infection or surviving the coronavirus? That is truly not known. So if you are looking for a magic pill or herbal supplement or something that you can just take and say, now, my immune system is better and I'm going to survive coronavirus, there's really not science to say this is the magic pill or else, of course, it will be recommended by the CDC and other big authorities. It's not really there. Having said that, it just makes common sense to avoid yourself having chronic diseases. Don't let yourself develop diabetes, overweight, hypertension, heart disease, lung disease from smoking because we know 94% of people die from coronavirus have a chronic disease. Only 6% of people die from it, didn't have some type of chronic disease beforehand. So doing all the regular lifestyle medicine things will help your immune system prevent the chronic disease and help you survive.

Dr. Gomez [00:27:30] Thanks for that awesome answer on that thing. All right, here you go. Todd, I got this question for you. Let's talk exercise a frequently asked question.

Dr. Gomez [00:27:38] You know, Todd, I hear stories about you pre-pandemic hooping it up, balling like crazy in the gym, you and I have never played one on one and even if we did, I probably tear an Achilleas or tear my groin or something like that.

[00:27:52] So but I hear. We'll play horse then. We'll play horse. We'll play socially distanced horse.

Dr. Gomez [00:27:58] I got your brother. That, we'll make it happen. Let me ask you a question about exercise. People ask you this all the time. So here we go. A frequently asked question about exercise. Here we go.

Todd Fink [00:28:06] Why should I exercise and what are the benefits of doing so? Well, aside from being physically fit and burning calories and some of the basic benefits, it is a really powerful mood elevator. It changes some of our neurochemicals in a very positive way. And also, I think when you mention basketball, I've loved basketball my whole life. So it reduces my stress. Exercise is a very practical way to manage our mental health. And there are lots of studies that show that it has so many mitigating abilities for depression and for anxiety. However, picking something that you really enjoy, that's why I hooped it up my whole life, because I can literally just let everything go and get absorbed in the game. The game just becomes life for me when I'm playing with a with a group of guys. And if you find something like that, then it's not work. Now, there are some studies that show that the frustration with just pushing yourself through laborious exercise has some offsetting features to whatever the benefits are. So the more you can find exercise that you enjoy and that could be walking in nature, that could be going for a vigorous hike. But there's so many opportunities now with technology and gyms and so on. And of course, because we are limited with the pandemic getting back to nature. Connecting with nature at the same time, he's going to be.

Dr. Gomez [00:29:44] Dr. Lome, what are what are some of the to piggyback on some of the exercises and Todd, I just love that breakdown, you know, what would you say? You know, you see your cardiologist, lifestyle medicine physician, you know, what are the kind of statistics that we're seeing? Say somebody does not engage in any kind of movement? What are the risks?

Dr. Lome [00:30:03] Yeah, so the risks the risks are really huge. And to say I agree with everything that Todd said, 100% that you got to do what you love. The guy you enjoy don't progress too fast. No more than 10% per week. So you can maintain it lifelong. You want to focus on staying physically active forever. But the really the simple motivator to exercise is it'll lower the risk of heart attack, lower the risk of stroke and lower the risk of cancers, even diabetes, and make you live longer. The mortality is down. And so there is a whole huge amount of evidence to say that sedentary people have a significantly higher risk of heart attack, stroke, premature death and even cancers. And the actual percentage is going to vary from study to study. But it could be as much as 40 or 50% increased risk in somebody who is like very sedentary, especially when you combine that with unhealthy dietary habits. So it could be a huge increase.

Dr. Lome [00:30:56] So the blue zones, the longest living cultures in the world ever, they're very physically active. They did that when they look at those eight longest living cultures, it's interesting how the average person did enough physical activity to be about 17 miles of walking a day. That's about the equivalent of what they did every day. Now, they didn't go to the gym, ride a bike and go bench pressing a bunch of weights, do CrossFit or something like that. They were just constantly physically active, working the fields, moving around. It is about the equivalent of 17 miles a day, which is a lot of physical activity. So even if you're not going to gym and working hard and sweating, just make sure you set up your environment to stay moving and active.

Dr. Gomez [00:31:37] So and I love how you're in in you're in the moment as well too. I want to ask some questions. So there's some FAQs on the body, I want to do some frequently asked questions about the mind. Here we go, Todd. I like this question.

Dr. Gomez [00:31:50] Here we go. This is a frequently asked question. Here we go. Is there a checklist of signs of stress?

Todd Fink [00:31:59] Yeah, I would say some basic signs would be.

Todd Fink [00:32:04] Excessive thoughts, excessive worry, lack of motivation and just changes in our health if we're feeling down, changes in our mood and it's good to take time to check in with ourselves and just do a little bit of inventory, how am I feeling where my energy levels at?

Todd Fink [00:32:21] What am I thinking about? It's amazing that we can find ourselves lost in thought. A lot of studies suggest that we spend more than 50% of our day thinking about things and not realizing what we're thinking about, just being lost in thought there was a there was a study where researchers contacted participants in the study at random times. That was part of the agreement that you could be called or text and they would respond with what they were thinking about in that moment and where they were. They might be on the train, they might be at work, and then they would add all this data up to see how often does it actually sync up with where a person is and what they're doing. So when we're lost in thought were more likely to get anxiety, we're more likely to get depressed because being lost in thought cannot be a flow state. To be lost in thought means you're either thinking about the past, which is probably leading to feelings of depression, and or we're worried about the future, which can create fear, anxiety and other tensions. So just setting up a basic check in practice to check those things and then see where my thoughts are going and have a technique for grounding ourselves in the present moment can manage that to a great extent. I love how you say ground yourself into the present moment.

Dr. Gomez [00:33:36] That's something that I do each day. I do something called star fishing. And I got this actually from a colleague of mine that was part of our practice who was a behavioral clinician who basically challenged me each day to just take that moment.

Dr. Gomez [00:33:53] You know, when you wake up first thing in the morning, that is your time. You had that moment before the world comes at you before all the things you have to do. You gotta to go to work and things like that. If you take those few moments, it just you know, I literally I don't do it in the bed because I'm always there. But I get to the floor and I will lay on the floor. And just kind of spread myself out in like a starfish shape and starfish formation. And I just breathe. I just try to just listen to feel hear the sounds. But I'm just going to be calm in this piece, and it helps set my tone. You know, what else helps set your tone, car karaoke.

Dr. Gomez [00:34:31] Why not? There you go. Let me ask you. Having a mindful morning routine is really important, Dr. G.

Dr. Gomez [00:34:37] Yeah, it's a routine. There's no doubt about that.

Todd Fink [00:34:39] It says the. Hygiene, just like hygiene, taking a mindful moment like that, just like brushing your teeth, just making it part of your daily hygiene, your mental hygiene.

Dr. Gomez [00:34:48] I have to tell you this quick story I did that one time. I drove to work without the radio on and I started hearing my muffler, like dragging on the ground. And I go, oh, OK. Now, if I had the radio turned off by what I have heard, that I was being mindful that moment and then it cost me a lot of money to get that thing fixed. But that's a side story. There we go back up. They get a little out there. But that's a little.

Dr. Gomez [00:35:08] Dr. Lome, let me ask you this question. Well, we haven't talked much about spirit, and I want to make sure we get into that before we get into some myths versus facts. You know, when you think about spirituality, maybe just from a kind of a, one on one kind of thing, it's got a lot of different meanings to that person. But when you think of spirituality and have success with your spirit, what does that mean to you?

Dr. Lome [00:35:30] And that's another really great question. And it could be answered probably in ten different ways, depending on which perspective. I always make sure that people understand spirituality is different than religion. A lot of people will kind of intermix those things. And that's not really what we're looking at in religion. We're just looking at taking yourself, your mind and being able to be in touch with it, in tune with it, understand what your mental health needs are, your mental hygiene needs are, and being able to control it and do what you need to do to lower your stress level and to adapt so that you could be a success with all the other modalities. Dean Ornish is one of my mentors and others, they have lifestyle medicine. A great guy and he stresses so much the spirituality component in heart disease reversal and Alzheimer's reversal in the prostate cancer reversal studies that he does because he knows that if you're not in touch with your spirit and you're not taking the time to meditate and do all those other things, it's going to be markedly harder to be successful with that healthy eating and the exercise component. So spirituality really just means looking at your inner self, your mind, and being in touch with your mental needs. And it does connect to the physical health of your body very strongly.

Dr. Gomez [00:36:48] I think it binds so many things together, have this meaningful connection with something that is bigger than ourselves. And it's that we had to run towards, as Todd said earlier, lean in versus running away from things. So. So, Todd, when you think about

Dr. Gomez [00:37:04] spirituality, you know, I think about people that say, well, I don't know my spirit, I don't know myself, I don't know what's important to me, maybe they're lost, you know, how does spirituality really drive somebody to become part of something or how does it steer somebody onto a path that they want to be on as far as their healthy living?

Todd Fink [00:37:27] I think just just the fact that our bodies are going to die, coming to terms with mortality and being able to talk in a healthy way, not a morbid way about what existence means to people so that spirituality becomes purpose and purpose is relevant here because there's limited time on this earth and understanding what that would mean for each individual and then finding one's personal path to inner peace.

Todd Fink [00:37:54] Etymologically, excuse me, etymology. The etymology of spirituality has its roots in Latin spiritus, which means breath. So in the simplest terms, it means connecting with that spark of life. Now we've talked about food and exercise and sleep and all these activities that we need on a regular basis. Right. But the one we need the most immediately is breath. And when you start to tune into it and you pay attention to it and you ground yourself in it, you realize that if the next breath doesn't come, nothing else can happen. And that starts to, I think, lead to introspection and lead to a deeper understanding of who we are, that we're not just this body. There's energy in this body. There's consciousness in this body. And we can start to explore that.

Todd Fink [00:38:43] And that will actually give us a lot of detachment from all the things that were not all the false identifications that we've had with all the changing roles that we play, all the things that our bodies go through. And that will ultimately lead to a sense of who we are. We don't find out who we are by going out and grabbing an identity. We find out who we are by shedding all the things that we aren't all the conditions that that creates so much mental suffering.

Dr. Gomez [00:39:13] Wonderful, thank you and I want to say that for me, it allows me to ask questions, it allows me to really understand is your purpose, your sense of self and what I think about people trying to have success with their health, we do have to be introspective to then hopefully help to serve as a catalyst for us to do better. You guys hit the head on the nail and spirituality, again we could talk for days about what it means, but it's so important as it really wraps us into the physical, the mental, the social and the spiritual of the whole self, the holistic self.

Dr. Gomez [00:39:46] So what I want to do right now is I want to get into a segment, those that have found me on social media before, you know, I like to do something called myths versus facts, setting the record straight. So here's how it works. I say statement by panel, they're going to answer the question why it's not a question, sorry it's a statement, my bad. So they're going to answer the statement and they're going to say either myth or fact and they're going to say why. We're going to try to see how many we can get through this. I divide it into sections again about body, mind and spirit.

Dr. Gomez [00:40:12] But again I what you at home, those of you out there listening to us to know that we got you on this one. So let's separate fact from fiction. Here we go. Myths versus facts. This is going to be on the body theme. Let's go back the body. So, Dr. Lome, the first myth or fact to you. Let's do it. Here we go.

Dr. Gomez [00:40:30] All right.

Dr. Gomez [00:40:32] Statement: older individuals should strive to get 150 minutes per week of exercise. Myth or fact?

Dr. Lome [00:40:38] I think that's a fact. It kind of depends how you define older because nowadays people are living longer and such. But 150 minutes of moderate intensity, aerobic exercise is the minimum we should strive for. There's even more benefits if you go up to 300 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise and it's recommended to add some strength training. They always say maybe two days a week to about an hour's worth of some simple, simple strength training exercise, not like bench pressing 500 pounds or anything crazy, but simple stuff. Right. And so that's the type of exercise we really recommend to prevent cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses.

Dr. Gomez [00:41:14] Wonderful. Here we go. Todd, here's a statement. Still on body. Here really like this one. Statement: there are no harms seen in adults who get less than seven hours of sleep each night.

Todd Fink [00:41:26] Myth or fact? That's a myth. I think we need to get a full night's sleep, which would be more like eight hours. Of course, this is very challenging.

Todd Fink [00:41:34] Since the advent of the smartphone, there's been an increase in insomnia to like 33% of the population has experienced insomnia. But Dr. Lome would know better than I would about all of the health risks with lack of sleep over time.

Dr. Gomez [00:41:51] Well, there's no doubt, actually, as a society, we sleep on.

Todd Fink [00:41:56] Even cardiovascular risk. I'm sorry, Dr G.

Dr. Gomez [00:41:59] It's all good. You know, as a society compared to a hundred years ago, we sleep 1 – 1.5 hours, maybe even 2 hours less on average per night than we did back then. So we live in a pervasive, sleep deprived society and lack of sleep affects every single organ in the body, without a doubt.

Dr. Gomez [00:42:16] Here we go, myth or fact. Dr. Lome, let's do one more body. Here we go. Like this one.

Dr. Gomez [00:42:22] I can actively this is something talked early. I can actively boost my immune system to avoid contracting disease with immediate effect. Myth or fact? That I would say is actually a myth.

Dr. Lome [00:42:34] So if you're it depends what you're talking about. I guess so. It depends. If you're talking about catching an infection, it doesn't matter what you do in regards to healthy eating, exercising or taking some kind of herbal natural remedy or supplement. If you get exposed to something like the coronavirus, you're going to be at significant risk and you're not going to avoid it. There's not enough science to say that anything, if you're going to do it, will lower your risk a lot. You need to wash your hands, socially distance and try not to have a chronic disease. So if you do catch something like coronavirus, then you won't actually contract it. Now, if you're talking about other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, all those things, then then certainly eating the right foods and making sure your cause harm your body, like we said at the beginning of the segment, will allow the body to naturally heal itself and that will help to avoid those types of diseases.

Dr. Gomez [00:43:22] Excellent. Here we go. We're going to switch to mind. Here we go, Todd, myth or fact. Here it is. Here's a statement: self-care is not necessarily being selfish. Myth or fact?

Todd Fink [00:43:32] That's a fact. Please explain. Self-care, is important, especially those in helping professions I think we're seeing now or understanding more and more that those who care for others are responding to their needs, not being met at some point in their lives, especially in mental health care. And that takes a real toll on the health care professional. There's a real there's a such thing as secondary stress and secondary traumatic stress. And occupational burnout has a lot to do with taking in all these all of these stories and all of these hurts and wounds. So self-care is about prioritizing our own well-being so that we can be the compassionate people we aspire to be. There's a lot of shame in compassion, fatigue and occupational burnout because there's people who are motivated to help, we think we're always supposed to be on and ready to serve. So there's a little bit of a taboo with it. But we need to reduce the stigma with self-care as well and have people prioritizing their own well-being. Just like the analogy of putting your oxygen mask on first in the plane, take care of yourself and then widen your circle of compassion from there. Wonderful.

Dr. Gomez [00:44:45] Here we go, Dr. Lome. Here's to mind one. Myth or fact. Here we go. Mindfulness can be practiced daily and in many ways. Myth or fact?

Dr. Lome [00:44:55] That is an absolute fact, of course. Yeah. Just like your starfish. Do it, everybody. And not only could it be practiced every day, really, it should be it needs to be a habit, become part of your daily routine. It could be as simple as if you're taking the train to work, take that moment and close your eyes and do a little bit of meditation right there. Try to block everything else out. Whatever it is, you need to make sure it becomes a part of the regular routine. And it's been shown in good scientific studies that mindfulness, such as meditation and such, can lower blood pressure, lower cardiovascular disease risk and be really helpful. And that's why it's included in things like Ornish lifestyle, medicine. Yeah.

Dr. Gomez [00:45:37] Here we go. Let's do a couple more of these. We'll switch the topic to spirit.

Dr. Gomez [00:45:40] Here we go. Todd, I like this one. To be spiritual, one must follow a guru. Myth or fact?

Todd Fink [00:45:48] That is a myth. Certainly not necessary to have a guru or be part of any particular religion or tradition like we said earlier, spirituality is one's personal path to peace. However, just like anything else that you would like to grow at or become better, like music or exercise or anything, it can be helpful to have a guide, to have a teacher, to have somebody with experience, someone who is knowledgeable to help give you some healthy tips on how to get started and how to make progress, but no, not necessary to have to have a guru or pledge lifelong devotion to God.

Todd Fink [00:46:26] Well, I follow you, my friend, so there you go. So it's all good. Friendship. If by guru you mean my true friendship. Yes, we need that. Thanks.

Dr. Gomez [00:46:35] Let's do more of these things. Here we go. Dr. Lome. Here's a last myth versus fact that we'll do here on spirit. I like this one.

Dr. Gomez [00:46:43] People. Statement: people who are spiritual can use their beliefs to cope with illness, pain or life stressors. Myth or fact?

Dr. Lome [00:46:51] Absolute fact. Absolutely, because being spiritual, being connected with your mind, your emotions, your mental wellbeing, if you're really connected when that stresser hits you when, God forbid, a loved one gets sick or passes away, you're going to have such a better mental power, mental capacity to be able to cope with it and manage it. You'll have the techniques already developed to be you can be ready for that stressful situation. It is going to happen to everyone. It is just super important to be ready and prepare yourself, so, when it happens, you can cope with it and you don't break down and, you know, fall apart.

Dr. Gomez [00:47:28] Wonderful. So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Can I just add something to that? Go ahead, please.

Todd Fink [00:47:31] Meditation really is like preparation for catastrophe. It's about gradually building equanimity to these inevitable setbacks in life. One that was really wise.

Dr. Gomez [00:47:44] What Dr. Lome said. Thanks, guys. So there you go. Ladies and gentlemen, myths versus facts. So we've only a few minutes left and I want to wrap this up, but this has been an amazing because, again, we could talk all day, but we want to be respectful of your time. But we want to also make sure that that you have a plan. You know, we talk talked today about laying the foundations. What are they, the secrets of healthy living - body, mind, spirit. So I mentioned at the beginning, I call it the chief complaint. When somebody comes in, that's what we are talking about. What are those foundations? When somebody leaves the medical office, we call that the assessment and plan. That's when that person gets their diagnosis and most importantly, a plan and action plan and a follow up. So I'm going to start with you, Todd.

Dr. Gomez [00:48:23] Why don't you give us a few take home messages, a few key tips for people out there to be successful. When we're talking about laying down the secret of healthy living - body, mind and spirit.

Todd Fink [00:48:37] Well, one more thing that we didn't really touch on with all this, I would say, is kindness. And that's been the inspiration for my podcast, Kind Mind, is trying to explore all the dimensions of humankind and being both. And then some research has suggested that kindness helps on all of these different levels. There was even a Harvard study that researched the Mother Teresa effect. What happens in the immune system when you perform kind X or when you observe videos of Mother Teresa helping orphans who are sick? So we see that it operates on a on a lot of levels. And for teenagers with social anxiety or school avoidance, it's been very effective at mitigating those symptoms. Six small acts of random kindness per week has an extraordinary benefit for those dealing with anxiety. And it can really be a part of your exercise, getting out and doing good in the world, volunteering, moving around, showing up in places, making new friends when you're in the flow of doing what's important to you and of course, including yourself in kindness. But something else to keep in mind with this, that research shows that there's a little bit of a difference between altruistic kindness, the kindness that you just do for the goodness of it without any thought of getting something back. And then there's something called strategic kindness. We're talking about altruistic kindness versus strategic kindness, that kind of kindness where you're expecting an outcome, where you're doing it solely for the sake of feeling better or getting recognition than actually has a different pathway in the brain in fMRI studies. So trying to make time to be kind to yourself, to be kind to others and grow your health through kindness. And if you if you want support with that, my podcast deals entirely with being a kind person in the world and kind yourself.

Dr. Gomez [00:50:29] Excellent. Thank you, Todd. Dr. Lome, give us a few take home points out there about having success and laying down a foundation towards healthier living through body, mind and spirit.

Dr. Lome [00:50:40] And so I think that a lot of great things have already been discussed, has been a wonderful conversation. And so I think that, some of the keys are first making that decision to focus on your health and anybody who got to this point in the show has already made that decision, which is awesome. Then you need to, you need to educate yourself to empower yourself about how important it is for this mindfulness, meditation, the stress relief, healthy eating, the physical activity. Education is key. A phenomenal book called How Not to Die. That's so great. Great book. It is for those people who aren't book readers, watch Forks over Knives on Netflix. The Game Changers on Netflix, those are great resources just to get yourself going and motivated. And there is so much out there that people can learn. And I'd just like to say that I feel as though people need to understand the crazy important impact of this topic. I'm a cardiologist. I'm practicing every day seeing heart attack patients, heart failure patients, hypertension, obesity. The number one cause of death in America for more than 100 years in a row is heart disease. Cancer being number two. Heart disease is nearly 100% preventable with healthy lifestyle changes, especially if done from childhood from the beginning when the foundation of cardiovascular disease starts. So if you really think about it, we have a cure sitting in front of our face for America's number one killer. But we have chosen as a culture, as a society, as a health care system to actively, really not make healthy lifestyle changes, an important topic for many different reasons, cultural reasons, money reasons with the food industry or government policies are not really proper in regards to food and diet, which is a lot of influence by the money, big business. And then our healthcare system just doesn't focus on it, because the way we're set up in our current healthcare system is to get paid for pills and procedures and doing more and more and more in prevention, does the opposite, prevents the pills, prevents the procedures and actually loses money. Hence, a lifestyle medicine doctor is the lowest paid doctor in the United States. Natural nutrition, which is wrong. I should get a bonus every year. My patient doesn't have a heart attack or doesn't have a stroke or gets off their medicine or loses weight. Instead, I actually get paid less if they're healthy and more if they get sick and need me. So we really in lifestyle medicine, want to make this shift away from pills and procedures and towards eating predominately plant-based diets, being physically active, mindfulness. And so the audience just needs to understand the massive importance of this topic because of the huge rates of chronic diseases out there that's going to bankrupt our healthcare system. Not to mention it's going to take the life of many of the loved ones that people watching the show have probably already experienced with heart disease and stroke. And it's preventable. So each individual person watching this needs to realize that you have the power to help other people and save other people's lives and spread this message of lifestyle change and wellness in order to literally save the lives of the people that you love.

Dr. Gomez [00:53:44] Wonderful. I love your guys' passion. So thank you, Dr. Lome. Thank you, Todd Fink. I want to get into the segment, before I give my final thought. I want to get into a recognized something called listener content, healthy OH-YEAH! here it is.

Dr. Gomez [00:53:57] This is from somebody named K.B. K.B. says this: Making my depression and anxiety a priority. Not that I had much of a choice when I started 2020, in intensive outpatient treatment, but I've kept going even when all I wanted to do was give up and stop battling them every day. There have been many mental ups and downs this year. Many times I thought I was improving on my way and on my way to a depression free life, only to be knocked back down. There have been twists and turns and shifts in the focus during my treatment, but I've pressed on. I am also proud that I decided to be open and not hide, that I have depression and anxiety. I would like to see the stigma surrounding mental illness gone. Being open and sharing my experience is one way I am trying to normalize it for others, especially for my kids who have had their own anxiety struggles. Thank you, K.B., for just being present and looking at this as an opportunity. We are with you 100% on everything you do. So thank you for sharing your story. So my final thoughts are this, what is the secret to healthy living body, mind and spirit? My answer is time. Although health is commonly viewed as the most invaluable asset that we have, its value is predicated on have the time to enjoy it. You know, times is invaluable. It's the only commodity that you can't buy back or return or buy more of it. So every day we are all given the same amount of time. Those 24 hours, we get to choose how we want to use them. You know, everybody, rather than think that you don't have the time to do something, you can make the case that you don't have the time to not do something and engage in self-care behaviors. So ask yourself this. Recognizing that there's only a finite amount of time in your life, wouldn't you want to make the most of it. So I want to thank my guests, Todd Fink and Dr. Steven Lome, check them out. Hey, everybody, you've been listening and watching Health 360 with Dr. G.

Dr. Gomez [00:55:56] A Health Driven Podcast. This episode is written by Mark D. Gomez, MD. and Tiffany E.R. Gomez. Producers are Tiffany E.R. Gomez and Keith Hartenberger. Audio and video production specialist is Mike Pasky. Copyright 2021 Edward-Elmhurst Health. All rights reserved. For more awesome health information, visit me at and follow me across all social media @Health360wDrG. Hey everybody, this is Dr. G.

Dr. Gomez [00:56:22] Signing out. Peace out. Thanks, guys. Thank you. Thank you both. It's been a pleasure.