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Make sure doctor is a healthy one

Updated: March 9, 2012 8:05AM

Q. I went to a new doctor to get my thyroid checked because I have been gaining so much weight. He was really fat and I smelled cigarettes. I felt like I couldn’t trust him. Am I being too picky?

A. Now, we YOU Docs know from experience that doctors are human. But overweight doctors are far less likely to provide good weight-management advice to overweight patients. And that’s a matter of life and death. A doctor who smokes may be willing to overlook a patient’s bad habits, another threat to your health.

Here’s our “Good Enough to Be Your Doctor” checklist.

† Look up the doctor on Facebook and Google; check for healthy activities.

† Do a front-office interview. You’ll learn a lot from how the support staff treats you. Ask if the doctor sees patients your age and with your health concerns. Ask where the doc did a residency and has hospital privileges. Find out how long the doc has been board certified. (Three years should be the minimum.)

† Check out the doctor’s credentials: Go online to see if the doc is included in medical-association databases, such as the American Medical Association and the American Board of Medical Specialties. Only choose someone board certified with admitting privileges at a major medical center.

† Don’t hire a doc on the first date. If the doc doesn’t ask about alcohol, tobacco, physical activity, food or stress, consider that a mark against him or her. If you don’t feel comfortable or confident, keep looking.

Q. My doctor said I have to start exercising. I’m too embarrassed by how I look to go to the gym. Should I buy a treadmill?

A. You could get a treadmill, but it’ll probably be an expensive clothes hanger inside a month. We YOU Docs advise investing about 1⁄20th the money in a good pair of walking shoes.

Walking reduces anxiety and stress, decreases the risk of major cancers, memory loss and Type 2 diabetes, improves heart and lung function, increases flexibility and it’s fun! You’ll lose weight and feel better almost immediately. So get started.

Jump in feet first. Go to a shoe store in the afternoon (your feet are larger then), and try on running shoes. They’re best for walking, too. Then buy them; it’ll raise your commitment level.

Step it up. Make a reasonable walking plan. Week one — maybe all you can do is walk down the block and back. Do it daily. Extend your distance a little each time. Get a pedometer to keep track of your steps. Shoot for building up to 3,000 steps a day, over two walks. Over six weeks, increase to 10,000 steps a day. But you don’t have to do that all at once. Every step counts toward the 10,000. For example: Walking in place while watching 20 minutes of TV equals 1,000 steps; walking during a 15-minute phone call, another 1,000 steps; 30 minutes of vacuuming, 2,000 steps.

Remember, every success starts with the first step.

King Features

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