I grew up surrounded by medics, my father was an Anaesthetist and my mother a Consultant Nurse. Growing up in Dubai meant a very privileged upbringing in which we enjoyed a first-rate education alongside superb sport and recreation facilities. My father was the doctor for a local hotel which meant long afternoons on the beach after school.
In the 1990s we returned as a family to the UK which meant big changes and new experiences. My mother became the Nurse Manager of a high dependency unit. A facility that cared for young adults who had sustained neurological conditions following head trauma or disease. I spent weekends and some holidays working at the unit and as a family we always enjoyed Christmas morning with the residents, exchanging gifts and sharing in the festivities. It was a privilege to contribute to the care of these patients and it made me reflect on how fortunate I was to have my own personal good health, independence, and mobility. The work I did there as a young adult allowed me to see first–hand how all their medical and physical needs were being met. It was also the first time I realised how vitally important a quality social environment is to a patient’s well-being.
I cannot remember a time when I did not want to be a doctor, but it was during my early twenties that I knew I wanted to explore lifestyle medicine and how to use it effectively. I wanted to utilise all my experiences to really engage with patients on a holistic level. I knew I had to become a GP and I have never looked back.
For the past 13 years have I worked as an NHS GP in Soho, Central London. This has afforded me extensive experience of working in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic practice which serves a large LBGTQ community.
In March of this year I entered Private Medical Practice because it allows me the chance to better utilise the experience I have gained and also enables me to further progress my special interest in ‘Lifestyle Medicine’.
Increasingly people ask me “how can I take control of my health?” or “I am getting older and need advice on how to stay healthy”. My own mother asked me that question after undergoing breast cancer surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy just last year. Although I could provide vague answers in terms of diet and nutrition, I didn’t have any evidence-based medicine at my fingertips.
I am therefore studying for a Diploma in Lifestyle Medicine, certificated by the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine in California, USA. You may question, what is Lifestyle Medicine? – it is an evidence-based approach in preventing, treating and even reversing disease by replacing negative with positive behaviour. It utilises six areas – improving sleep quality, increasing physical exercise, managing substance abuse, managing stress, and forming and maintaining healthy relationships. Most medical students and even qualified Physicians do not receive training in the basics of ‘Lifestyle Medicine’ yet 85% of chronic disease is the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices in these areas.
I will be writing more on each of these six areas discussing each subject in more detail.