Just Because A Doctor Said It – A Response
About a week and a half ago I posted a Facebook status which read, “I’m sorry, but just because ‘your doctor said so’ doesn’t mean you’re right.”
It was in response to an article that Adam Bornstein wrote on Livestrong.com titled The Most Dangerous Diets Ever, where a handful of readers were up in arms that he dissed the HCG Diet.
For those unaware, the HCG Diet is where one injects hormones (derived from the human placenta) into their while following a 500-800 kcal per day diet for “x” number of days…..
……under a doctor’s supervision, of course.
I’ve made it known in the past how I’m not a fan of this “diet”, and that I find it absurd that anyone would think injecting themselves with (EXPENSIVE) hormones while following such a pitifully low caloric intake for an extended period of time is a healthy endeavor.
More to the point, I find it downright appalling that any physician would endorse such a plan and then recommend to his or her client(s) to try it.
Makes me wonder whether they went to an actual medical school or Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Hahahahahaha. See what I just did there? Zing!
That notwithstanding, the main argument for those who defend the diet is “well, my doctor said it was safe.”
Riiiiigggggghhhhhtttt. Lets not forget that there was a time when doctor’s recommended that people smoke for its health benefits.
To reiterate what I said earlier in the week:
I’m not saying that ALL fall under this umbrella – there are undoubtedly many superb primary care personnel out there – but I find it hard to believe that any doctor would advocate this diet without some monetary kickback or incentive to do so.
It’s a lot easier to tell someone to drop $1500 on hormone injections than teach them proper eating and lifestyle habits, I suppose.
Then again, doctors don’t necessarily practice health and wellness, they practice medicine. If you present with a symptom, they’re going to treat that symptom with medicine. So, I guess I can’t fault those who do advocate this diet. Most get two weeks of course work in nutrition – max – during medical school. Many think apple juice is the same thing as an apple!
To that end, today I’d like to share a guest post from Joe Lightfoot who, as a current medical student AND strength coach, has a unique perspective on the topic.
Just Because a Doctor Said It – A Response
Tony’s recent Facebook status update (and blog post) regarding doctors created quite a lot of debate, and a lot of interesting thoughts were expressed. However, I felt the overriding response was one of negativity towards doctors.
It inspired me to write the following blog post. So how come I feel strongly enough about the issues to write about it?
Well, I’m about to graduate medical school this July and I’m also a coach (currently I work as the S&C coach to the England Under 19 Lacrosse team and I also work with non-athletes too). As I’ve seen it from both sides, I hope I can add a new perspective to the debate.
First off, I agree 100% with Tony’s statement. Just because a doctor does say something it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.
But you shouldn’t be surprised or offended when a client has the point of view. Doctors have held, and will continue to hold a position in society whereby the public trusts them (whether rightly or wrongly in certain situations).
Why? I feel it’s due to the differing barriers of entry for both professions. To become a coach or trainer is relatively easy, however to become a doctor you have to complete either five years of medical school in the UK, or a total of eight years in the US counting undergraduate studies and then medical school.
Now the length of formal schooling is not a sure fire test of how correct someone is, but if you were a member of the public with no prior knowledge, who would you trust?
The client doesn’t know that you’re a hotshot trainer or coach who’s well read, takes care of continuing education, and has a wealth of experience. You could be someone who did one certification and professes to know everything.
Furthermore getting a client or athlete to trust you is your job. So whilst it’s damn annoying when someone believes something incorrect just due to someone’s perceived authority, attacking that said person won’t help the matter.
I think by demonstrating credentials, building trust and offering evidence to back up your advice is the best way to have an impact on your clients.
As a coach, I think a doctor’s position of trust is something you should use, not try and dispute. Rather than someone to fight against, that doctor could become one of your best allies in promoting healthy behaviours. I think it all begins with reaching out to the doctors of your clients and forming a partnership, and even offering education on the area of your expertise.
Doctor’s Knowledge Of Lifestyle
So do doctors know about lifestyle advice? The short answer is no. You’d be mortified if I told you how much education and training I’ve had regarding exercise and nutrition.
If I had to sum up my experience at medical school in one sentence, I’d do so like this: I have learned about disease, but I haven’t learned about health.
Doctors need more education on everything to do with lifestyle advice, particularly exercise and nutrition. That is indisputable.
But it isn’t all bad news. I’m currently visiting the US and shadowing a number of doctors in Boston. I recently met one doctor who is currently studying for the CSCS. Her reason? Exercise is one of the most important things her patients can do.
This isn’t a lone example. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Why All The Negativity?
Like any profession there are good and bad people. Medicine, like coaching, is no exception.
To say all doctors are egotistical, cheat on the wives, don’t practice continuing education or think critically is wrong, and frankly offensive.
Whilst some are motivated by money and titles, the vast majority of people became doctors because they want to help their patients.
If you took just a snap shot, you could quite easily come to the conclusion that all trainers are just out to sell the latest gadget to make money, and coaches all shout and scream at athletes until they collapse. In fact, the opposite is true, and the industry is full of awesome people who know their stuff and make a major positive impact on people’s lives.
Mike Boyle has said it; I think I’ve heard Dan John say it: Coaches and trainers are a front line defense against disease and illness, and we’re some of the few professionals practicing proactive healthcare and preventative medicine.
Doctors should welcome coaches and trainers support, guidance and help. Medicine is becoming increasingly multi-disciplinary and I hope to shortly see the day when patients are referred to strength & conditioning coaches.
So what can we do? It all starts with education. I’ve made it a life goal to bring the medical profession up to speed on lifestyle advice, and create a true health service with the Move Eat Treat campaign.
This campaign aims to educate health care professionals on lifestyle advice, including nutrition and exercise. Coaches and trainers have a wealth of information, which doctors need to embrace and understand.
Someone once told me that to change a health care philosophy would take 50 years. So I figured we best get started. A major step is getting doctors and coaches to work together, and it starts with mutual respect of each other skills.
Who’s up for creating a proactive health service? I’d love your support for the campaign HERE.