It’s appropriate that I’m introducing myself to the Medcan client population in a newsletter with the theme of self-care, because self-care is a big part of the reason that I’m so excited to be joining the Medcan team. I’m an entrepreneurial MD who has for decades straddled the disciplines of business and medicine.
Throughout my career, initially as a family and sports medicine physician and later with a focus on population health, I’ve focused on prevention as a mechanism to improve health and wellness. I’m the founder of Stillbrook Accessible Retirement Residences, a registered charity focused on developing affordable retirement living communities for lower socioeconomic frail seniors across Ontario. Most recently I was vice-president and chief medical officer at Unity Health Toronto, the newly-created organization that includes such nationally renowned Catholic hospitals as St. Michael’s and St. Joseph’s here in Toronto. I’m also a member of the Premier’s Council on Improving Healthcare in Ontario, selected because of my provincial healthcare experience with improving patient flow through Ontario’s 150 hospitals.
Prevention also explains why I’m so excited to be leading the medical team at Medcan. So much of the struggle for MDs today involves convincing our patients to pursue healthy lifestyles. You’ve got to be active, you’ve got to watch your diet, you have to have a balanced lifestyle—including spiritual wellness. But easier said than done.
I’m excited to work with the people who form Medcan’s client base because they’ve already self-selected, purely by virtue of using Medcan’s services, to show that they value their health—and not only that, they’re willing to devote a measure of extra effort to ensure that they live well. As a doctor, that’s wonderful, because it means patients are meeting you halfway. What’s even better is that Medcan provides partnership and support on all sides of its “eat, move, think” emphasis—with nutritional, fitness and mental health support.
With Medcan’s client base, I am excited to show the rest of the world the benefits that a focus on prevention can create. Therefore, I thought it might be fun to provide my own series of self-care priorities. Here are three principles that I use, to ensure I’m focusing on prevention to live well.
Exercise is the key part of my wellness strategy. I commute by bicycle to and from work twelve months of the year, down to temperatures of about minus ten. (Colder than that and I can’t keep my feet warm.) On top of that, I enjoy indoor rowing workouts, and I try to engage in resistance training three or four times a week.
Sleep is a key barometer for how you’re doing in the rest of your life. If you’re not sleeping well, there’s probably a reason for that—look for it, address it, and hopefully get your sleep to the point you’re waking up rested and not getting drowsy during the day. Routine is the most important way I maintain my sleep hygiene. I try to be in bed every day by 10 p.m., and I’m up at 5:30.
I love what I do, and sometimes the work can be all-consuming. Now that my three boys are all in their 20s, it’s sometimes too easy to work long hours. When things are tipping too far toward work, my wife may issue a gentle reminder—maybe it’s time for a sail? We get out on Lake Ontario with just the sound of the wind and the luffing of the sails. I can’t think of a better stress relief.