6 Health Lessons I Learned From Dr. Oz

Who doesn't know at least a little bit about Dr. Oz? Most of us can rattle off these impressive lines from his bio: A Harvard-trained cardiac surgeon, best-selling author, Emmy award-winning TV show host, and (sometimes controversial) wellness advocate.

I'd seen his show a number of times but as a cardiologist, mid-day is not my best TV viewing time. So I was more than curious to learn more about this famous doctor when I received a birthday gift inviting me to a talk he was giving. I showed up a few minutes early and was surprised to find that only Dr. Oz and his assistant were in the room, setting up for the talk. (Soon it was a packed house and he patiently took a pictures with every single person who asked for one.)

The title of his talk was The Good Life, as his new magazine is called. I took notes on a few business cards and wanted to offer you some of the insights that stuck with me:

1. Four things hold us back from making healthy changes.

Dr. Oz said that the big four restrictions to pursuing the health path we know we should are: enough time, enough money, enough knowledge, and fear of change. He emphasized that the last one, fear of change, was the most important. Health care professionals need to address this and discuss it with patients. He said that support groups, online tools, and follow-up visits or calls can encourage sustained change.

2. He discussed four factors that increase your chances of making positive changes.

They are:

  • Making it easy to do the right thing
  • Adoring your solutions with passion and energy
  • Appreciating that feelings about the benefits of change matter more than the facts (people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care)
  • Living the good life with joy. He emphasized that in order to succeed, you need the two Cs: connections and celebrations.

3. He listed the biggest goals to achieve for health.

If you want to improve your health, these are the most important areas to tackle first:

  • Have a goal blood pressure of 115/75
  • Exercise 30 minutes a day
  • Find a healthy diet easy to love (he dislikes added sugar more than added fats, a point where we differ)
  • Control stress and manage sleep
  • Control addictions

4. He showed us an amazing stress-reducing technique.

Dr. Oz pointed out that a lot of stress is created by clenching the jaw. He instructed us to open a bottle of wine (joking that if you drink the bottle, stress will be relieved) and place the cork in its full length on your upper and lower teeth to prop your mouth open for a minute or two. He said this creates a sort of natural smile and opens the tight TMJ, similar to a Duchenne smile.

5. He was emphatic that sitting is the new smoking, a public habit that shortens lifespan.

He pointed out that he was pacing and we were sitting; only he was actively prolonging his life.

6. Soon we'll all be using our cell phones to optimize our health.

In the next few years, our ability to monitor our health, metabolism, and overall wellness with smart devices will explode. He mentioned a free phone app, Ask MD, which I have tested and have found remarkable.

After his talk he answered questions for about 30 additional minutes. He demonstrated a broad grasp of integrative medicine, quoting recent medical literature more than once. He then took pictures one by one with anyone that missed that chance earlier. (I'd already nabbed a selfie, and given him a copy of my book, which he said he'd read on the plane.)

Overall, I came away from his presentation with a very high regard for the man, his commitment to continuing education, his approachabililty, and his integrity. As Dr. Oz has said previously, "whatever you choose, do it fully with a passion and child-like enthusiasm."

He has clearly found the field that he is passionate about and I am grateful he has opened the door to so many to consider alternative routes to health. It was a special birthday lunch for sure.

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