Health and Vitality Coaching: A New Approach to Living Healthier
by Matt Smith, DDS, CCN

Americans are certainly living longer, but are they living better? Or, put another way; our life spans have increased, but have our "health spans" kept up? We now see many people who are living their last 10 or 20 or more years in relative states of disability. Wouldn't it be preferable to live all of your years filled with vitality, vigor and joy?

There's no question that over the last 50 years, our lifestyles have relied more on processed and fast foods, advances in technology that decrease our need to move and use our muscles, a more toxic environment and higher states of chronic stress. Each of these alone can have a negative effect on our health; in combination they are taking a devastating toll.

An abundance of scientific research suggests that Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) should be the fundamental therapy and preventive approach for a variety of conditions, including: elevated cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance (a.k.a. metabolic syndrome or syndrome X), overweight and obesity and accelerated aging. The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that the healthcare community recommend lifestyle intervention to patients, often, even before medicines are prescribed.

While most healthcare practitioners are aware of this information, implementing TLCs in a busy practice has been a challenge. Creating a program that is effective and efficient and includes proper follow-up is a major undertaking.

Even though most healthcare practitioners are aware of the effectiveness of TLC's, implementing an efficient program, including proper follow-up, is a major undertaking for a busy practice. Keeping the cost to the individual at an affordable and fair level is an additional challenge. Our healthcare insurance system (better known as "disease care insurance") does not understand that the money they spend to keep us healthy will save them money in the long run and so, the insurance companies will not approve of true "health care" expenditures.

The good news is that there's a program available that incorporates individually tailored lifestyle recommendations including dietary, exercise, stress reduction, customized supplementation and motivational elements. Efficiency and effectiveness are accomplished by using a combination of one on-one sessions woven into a series of small-group informational and motivational meetings over a 6-10 week period. The cost-effectiveness of this model keeps the out-of-pocket expense minimal allowing all those interested in extending their health span to participate. This program can help you make lifestyle changes that will positively affect your health for the rest of your life.

The cost-effectiveness of this model keeps the out of pocket expense low. Thus, anyone who is interested in extending their health span is able to participate. A comprehensive program includes information about how, when, and what to eat for a healthier you. Advice on shopping for food, reading nutrition information labels, eating at restaurants and while traveling, is included. You will have the opportunity to discuss the need for dietary supplementation and if so, how it can be customized for your individual needs and conditions.

Nutritional intake is but one aspect of improving and extending your vitality. Looking at how the environment affects your health and how you can increase your ability to manage it is critical to your wellness goals. Exercise advice, stress management suggestions and motivational tools and other technique will ensure your success.

Ideally, the program would be is preceded by a complimentary introductory session so that you could to allow you to meet the presenter and "sample" the program. Remember, it's never too early or too late to make changes in your lifestyle habits. Obesity among children and adolescents is epidemic; it's our responsibility to teach our children good lifestyle habits now so that they will have the opportunity to enjoy futures filled with health and vitality. Regardless of where you are on the continuum of life, you can influence your future to enable you to enjoy life more fully. Working with a clinical nutritionist to develop and support a personal lifestyle and wellness plan is a great first step in attaining the level of health that can add years to your life and life to your years.

Dr. Matt Smith, D.D.S. is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist (C.C.N.) and certified personal trainer. He is offering a complimentary orientation workshop to introduce his "Health and Vitality Coaching" program on 9/24/03 at 77 Veteran's Memorial Highway, Commack. He can be reached at (631) 499-5663 or by e-mail at msmithdds@aol.com.