Take Charge of Your Health: Five Tips from a Physician-Athlete

June 23, 2016 Brigham and Women's Hospital

Healthy food and fitness background concept

Wellness includes healthy eating, exercise, and mindfulness.

Dr. Claire Twark is a third-year resident in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Department of Psychiatry and a seasoned triathlete. In this post, she offers some valuable wellness strategies that she uses in her own work and training.

I believe that wellness is a lifestyle. It includes healthy eating and exercise, as well as mindfulness and wellness within relationships. I recommend proactively thinking about your own wellness and setting improvement goals for yourself. I often advise patients to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) goals, such as going to the gym for 30 minutes twice in the next week or increasing their daily step count by a few thousand steps.

Here are five tips to consider:

  • Wellness opportunities are all around you. We are all busy, so use the wellness opportunities that are readily available. Try walking to work, taking the stairs, and choosing healthy food options.

  • Contribute to a healthy eating culture. Take time to pack healthy snacks and meals for yourself. I frequently bring a mid-morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack with me to work. Staples in my diet include yogurt, fruits, vegetables, hummus, quinoa, nuts, and nut butters. Take the extra step and choose healthy foods when you bring food to a gathering or host an event.
  • Find wellness partners. Encourage your co-workers, family members, friends, and neighbors to join you in achieving wellness goals. Try a new fitness activity at a club near you. Many have promotional events that allow you join their programs on a trial basis.
  • Keep yourself accountable! Sign up for a race, walk for a cause, or take a group class. Start logging your workouts with an app (such as trainingpeaks.com). Even easier, automatically track your steps using a pedometer, your smartphone, or a fitness tracker. It’s amazing how many steps you’ll add if you choose the stairs instead of the elevator and take a 25-minute walk at lunchtime or after dinner.
  • Mindfully think of each moment as an opportunity. What you do today is important. The choices you made yesterday, last week, or last year don’t predetermine your decision in this moment. I find that using mindfulness to stay in the present moment without judgment can be very helpful as I approach a challenging portion of my day or a difficult workout.

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