On (failing at) practicing what you preach

One thing that every health professional is always trying to do is to convince patients to change their behavior. Whether it’s the woman with diabetes who could really benefit from losing a few pounds, the guy with heart failure who needs to lay off the BBQ, or the teenager who just won’t take his meds, we spend a good portion of our days touting the virtues of whatever lifestyle modification it is this time, and probably an even bigger portion complaining to one another about how much healthier everyone would be if they just got off their asses and took more of an interest in their own health.

Of course, it’s easy to get self-righteous when we’re talking about other people. I’m pretty sure that if I had a chronic illness and had to take medications on a daily basis, avoid certain foods, etc., that I would be just as non-compliant as many of the patients I’ve seen in the hospital. You’d think that being highly educated (and not only that, but being highly educated in medicine and health) would motivate me to make healthier decisions (and I do try, I really do), but knowing the nitty gritty pathophysiological details gives me plenty of room to rationalize how this or that general recommendation doesn’t apply to me. Ironic, isn’t it?

3 thoughts on “On (failing at) practicing what you preach

  1. My roommate is the same! She will eat food that I think is too old to eat because she knows how fast things go bad as a biologist. *shakes head*

    My boyfriend has strictly followed a diet to treat a badly inflamed esophagus to little avail. Given how hard his anti-inflammatory diet is to follow, I can understand why so many patients just don’t comply at all.

  2. This is so the truth for all helping professionals, especially when first starting. Can’t even begin to count the number of my therapy sermons that I didn’t practice myself as a new therapist. Then I found myself normalizing and putting things into context more e.g. “even though it’s extremely hard it’s important to think positive when you’re depressed”. Now I find myself doing just about everything I tell my clients to do, and I don’t know if that’s good either :), I feel like a super psych nerd (and can now relate to the bizarre sanitation rituals the RNs do while we’re eating lunch).

    • Hopefully one day I’ll adopt better habits… Otherwise, in 20 years, I’ll look ridiculous when I’m overweight and lecturing my patients about how they need to loose weight, lol.

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