I’m not a fan of resolutions. I ranted about it 1 year ago. Wellness resolutions never stick for people because it just becomes too much at once. Supplement regimens become a complicated hodgepodge of this or that miracle fix.
Whatever new “thing” is blasted over the blogosphere and social media has to be read, processed, and fit into your life. The scientific community is constantly, it seems, giving mixed messages of what works and doesn’t (see butter, sugar, carbs, and even calcium).
Resolutions are cliche by now. The problem with resolutions, as everyone is aware, is they don’t last. So, for 2018, I suggest that you throw out your resolutions and, instead, live by these 3 simple rules: Be smart, keep it simple, and be strategic.
1. Be Smart (And Have Smart Friends)
We love that people are really taking ownership of their wellness. They have access to so much great information—and most people take advantage of it. People want to be more autonomous and informed. People are more involved and engaged… It’s great!
But let’s be real. Most people are not finding the right information. Most people aren’t even looking in the right places. The truth is, unless you’ve been trained on how to analyze studies and data, finding truth will be difficult. I don’t say that lightly. Four of my six years at pharmacy school were focused on our profession, and a majority of that time was learning how to absolutely tear apart research to validate it. It requires an extensive understanding of bias, the “tricks,” and lying—I mean statistics.
For the average consumer, there are plenty of patient-friendly resources that have done that work for you. In general, go to the true experts in the medical communities, the people that study these diseases. If you have a thyroid issue, the best place for information is the American Thyroid Association (thyroid.org), not a blogger/health expert.
Our furnace just broke at the store. It’s cold, yo. I could Google a solution. I could find Youtube videos that explain what to do. Or I can establish a relationship with a true, trusted professional and have them not only help me, but teach me how to manage my heating and furnace better.
Resolve to be smarter. Don’t follow the media personality or the health food store employee. Don’t try to DIY. Find trusted, knowledgeable, professional experts.
2. Keep It Simple
Everyone takes too many supplements. I’m the supplement guy that wants people to use less of them. Fewer, higher quality interventions will be RADICALLY better than the closet-full of supplements that most people have. Having to plan your day around taking your supplements is something no one should be doing.
Our instincts tend to make things more complicated at first. During 80% of our nutritional consults (no exaggeration), a customer will focus on things like finding the apples with the lowest amount of simple carbs, instead of what matters—eating more fruits and vegetables. You don’t start out as a black belt in Karate, you have to work your way up.
Focus on what REALLY matters. Once this has become a habit, then get more sophisticated in your approach.
You don’t need a multivitamin, a green powder, a prebiotic, probiotic, B complex, and an herbal cocktail to get healthy for the New Year. More isn’t better.
Resolve to keep it simple. Reject the desire to add new things. Get the right dose of fewer, well-made supplements that you actually need.
3. Be Strategic With Your Health
Because of our desire to make things more complicated and try to be our own experts, things get out of hand.
In this new year, resolve to be strategic. Make a plan. Be more selective about what you let in. Truly commit to your current plan; optimize what you have before you add on more. Get rid of what doesn’t work faster.
Making a proper plan is not something many people are trained in. To make a strategy for wellness, you should think like a pharmacist. Luckily enough, I am one, so I can teach you!
A pharmacist’s core responsibility isn’t to fill prescriptions fast like these Rx machines at the chain pharmacies. We’re trained to assess whether a therapy is appropriate or not. That’s how you should think about your current regimen. That is the yardstick you should use to measure future new products against.
To determine if what you are doing is appropriate or not, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I know why I’m taking it? If not, consult an expert to learn this. Any supplement you take for an unknown reason probably could get tossed.
- How do I know if it is working? If you were on a blood pressure medicine, for example, I’d hope your blood pressure would go down. The same with supplements. If you take something for joint pain but your knees still hurt, this is a good sign that the supplement isn’t appropriate. It’s not working, so get rid of it!
A pharmacist wants to know that every therapy (prescription or over-the-counter, including supplements) has an indication or a reason that it’s being used. If there is no reason, it shouldn’t be used.
A pharmacist wants to make sure that for every indication, the treatments are optimized. This means that it is working as intended. Before we give up on something, we want to make sure we’re taking the right dose. If something helps a little bit, we’d want to safely increase the dose—but no higher than the max. The adage is: start low, go slow, but go. Knowing this, we can now make aa wellness strategy that works. You must get and stay organized, always measure and assess, and define what you are NOT going to do.
Get Organized: Gather EVERYTHING you have, supplement and over-the-counter medicine wise. Go through every bathroom, cabinet, and box you have stuff squirreled away in. Throw away anything that’s expired. Throw away anything you don’t use or need anymore.
Measure and Assess: You’ve gotten organized, now you’re left with what you actually use. Ask yourself important questions: Do they work? Are they helping? If not, now’s the time to get rid of them!
The Don’t List: The last part of any good strategy is stating what you WON’T be doing. “I won’t take fake whole food vitamins.” “I don’t want to take any products that could be dangerous or unsafe.” “I won’t take diet pills or stimulants.” “I won’t add anything new unless I speak to my trusted expert first.” This will help set boundaries, making it even easier for you to stick to your plan.
Understanding how to think like a pharmacist will help you view your wellness regimen clearer. After you’ve cleaned house, you’re left with only the supplements you REALLY take, knowing why you take them and knowing if they work.
A Resolution For All Years
Make 2018 the year you make one last resolution. Ignore everything else. Don’t get convinced to buy or subscribe to any product or gimmick. Make your plan, do the work, and measure your results. Make a resolution now to follow three rules: be smart, keep it simple, and be strategic with your wellness. Make your wellness plan using those 3 rules and you’ll never need a resolution again.
We offer our services to help along this path. We’ll gladly be your trusted expert, helping you make a smart, simple, strategic wellness plan via one of our wellness consultations. It’s a great offer—take us up on it!
Just trying to keep it real…
Neal Smoller, PharmD
Owner, Pharmacist, Big Mouth