How are you best motivated?

Lego figures at Guelph LakeI had recently read this article in The New York Times, When Your Doctor is Fitter Than You Are.  The article discussed a study on patient’s perceptions on physician’s online biographies regarding their fitness and whether patients feel possible judgement from physicians about their health.

It gave me pause to think about how I myself feel as a patient visiting a health practitioner who discusses their fitness and health goals. And also how I, as a health practitioner, could be making my patients feel when I discuss any health pursuits. When asked about my profession as a chiropractor, it is common for people to note that they are slouching or that they don’t have the best posture, almost preemptively as if it would be something I would comment on (I wouldn’t). As an aside, the evidence is lacking regarding what “good posture” is and correlated pain from it, however that’s for a different blog post. And I would not want people to think that I’m coming from a place of judgement regarding posture or health habits.

In the past, I have found it’s a find balance of wanting to educate patients on the best evidence regarding health, to be empathetic to each person’s journey and definition of health, to motivate patients to improve their own health, and to also avoid oversharing my own successes & struggles (after all, the patient’s visit and time is not about me).

When I step back I realize that I do personally feel intimidated at times when I visit providers who are “preaching” rather than gently encouraging. Perhaps there is a personality type that one type of advice resonates with better. When I’ve seen my own physician and she has discussed health advice regarding diet and exercise, I have appreciated her approach. Perhaps it is the way in which she strikes a balance of compassion and encouragement with her suggestions.

As someone who has had their own personal health struggles with weight, exercise, anxiety, aches and pains, I’ve sometimes wondered if prospective patients would view knowing these things as a negative. Or, one could wonder if perhaps they would see it was someone who would be able to empathize with having been there themselves? It’s a fine line also, as one does not and should not discuss overly personal information with patients during their visit.

Our team has a variety of past fitness experiences, from being ecstatic at running a 5km run (me), to being a mogul skier on the provincial BC team, to completing an Iron Man. We’ve also each had our own struggles. For me, 7 years ago, due to some health complications, the thought of just walking one block was daunting.

One thing is for certain, know that whoever you see at our clinic, we will all come from a place of respect for you and your health and want to help you to reach your own personal health goals in whichever way we can.

Do you have any advice on what has worked well to help motivate you towards your own health goals? Have you noticed a preference that you have in the way a health provider provides advice, motivation, and encouragement to you regarding health and fitness?

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