Spin Doctor

| illustration by Charles Marsh | Every year, Fort Worth, Texas magazine comes out with the Top Docs feature, and it’s always been one of the most popular issues. Occasionally, features or articles dealing with some aspect of healthcare may make a number of us feel guilty about not taking better care of ourselves. If you’re one of those people, maybe it’s time to start addressing those unpleasant feelings.

You just need to do what I do, and it only involves a small change in your diet. Head over to the grocery store and purchase several bottles of fruit juice. Once you get home, check the label on each of the containers. It always says, "Shake well before drinking." Simply follow the directions. After you finish shaking the bottle, set it back down and go pour yourself a scotch. Within 30 minutes, those guilty feelings will be gone.

However, taking care of ourselves is really very important these days because all of us know that healthcare costs are rising. Health insurance companies are not only raising their premiums, but also trying to save money any way they can. One of the ways is by deeming more and more procedures as unnecessary and refusing to pay the providers and the hospitals. Because of the shortfall, emergency rooms might even start requiring cash up front before someone can be admitted. That could be a problem. It’s a little difficult trying to find your credit card or fill out a check while you’re waiting for CPR.

But at my age, I am starting to pay more attention to all the health tips you’re barraged with every day in the media. I thought it might be a good idea to share a few I stumbled across that might be of some interest.

First of all, you don’t need to be a vegetarian to be healthy. Sure, they’re into healthy sounding things like gluten-free, no sugar, low sodium, all natural whole grains. Truth is, the only thing natural about that would be refusing to eat it. Plus, it’s a difficult diet to stick with. A vegetarian cookbook actually tastes better than all its recipes.

You also don’t need to pay for a trendy exercise class to stay fit. Most of those workouts can be duplicated in your everyday surroundings. For instance, Pilates is basically the same as trying to change clothes in your car.

Now it’s not uncommon to hear people talking about the benefits of raising their endorphins, particularly joggers. But what are endorphins? They are actually neurotransmitters that give us feelings of pleasure. Lack of endorphins has been associated with depression and other emotional disorders. But running around the neighborhood at five in the morning is not the only way to raise them. Random acts of kindness also work. The other day at the store, I saw a little old lady who was too short to reach the cat food up on the shelf. So I stood on her shoulders and got it for her. Felt great the rest of the day.

Of course, not all health advice is easy to follow. Healthcare professionals have long suspected that stress and anger are just as detrimental to our well-being as smoking and obesity. They claim the best way to deal with negative feelings is to not only exercise, but also to develop more tolerance and understanding. But let’s face it. There are things that we may never understand that will always make us mad, such as technical support, Congress and having bike lanes along Forest Park Boulevard.

Well, I hope these tips help. And don’t be afraid to have a big meal or skip a workout every once in a while. I realize that some diets and exercise programs are strict and require commitment. But so does insanity.