A Little TLC Goes a Long Way

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TLC. When I was growing up, that meant “tender loving care”.  Today, the acronym  TLC also stands for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, and is the latest term used to describe medically based, structured, supportive programs to help people lower their risk of and to reverse life-threatening conditions such as hypertension, stroke, diabetes and heart disease. The purpose of this program is to help people improve eating habits, exercise, manage stress, quit smoking  and learn how to lead an active life style.  Unfortunately, due to heavy patient loads and a lack of time, the medical profession often ignores TLC, which ends up being very costly to both the patient and to the economy as a whole.  It is much more cost-efficient to improve your health without drugs or surgery.  

Dr. Neil Gordon, M.D., PhD, who is a preventive cardiologist, headed a study published in 2004 in the Journal of Cardiology which  reported the effectiveness of a 12-week community- based lifestyle management program.  This particular program was geared towards  people with hypertension, abnormal cholesterol and diabetes.  Dr. Gordon and his team found that many of the patients achieved their goals – without medication. Specifically:

  • 67% of the participants lowered their blood pressure to their stated goals.
  • 39% of the participants lowered their blood sugar to acceptable levels.
  • 21% of the participants lowered their LDL cholesterol to their goal level.

It is important when beginning a TLC program that you are first evaluated to access your current health status, and to determine your risk of disease.  Then, you need to state your desired  goals.  Do you want to lower cholesterol, blood pressure or blood sugar?  Do you need to quit smoking?  And finally,  how are you going to reach those goals?  You may choose a combination of dietary change along with a well-rounded exercise program.  You may also need to add some behavioral therapy into the equation.  Each program needs to be set up individually, keeping in mind the patient’s abilities to exercise, his daily schedule, and his capacity to stick to a program.  

It may be easier to prescribe drug therapy for a patient.  But if the root cause can be treated and preventative measures can be taken, TLC  should be the first step.  Even if one needs to take medication, those medicines will likely work much better in conjunction with TLC.  TLC not only treat the symptoms; it treats the underlying problems and works to prevent you from becoming unhealthy.  TLC has been found to be so effective that 54% of US corporations have made it part of their corporate culture.  The result is greater productivity in the workplace, as workers accomplish more tasks each day, and take less sick days.  

There is no doubt that there are times when drug therapy is the only recourse.  But always ask you doctor if you can try TLC first.  Invest the time in visiting a lifestyle coach or personal trainer, and try it first.  Check out the the websites for the American Heart Association at www.americanheart.org or Medline Plus at http://medlineplus.gov/healthyliving.html for some help and guidance.  Even if it doesn’t work completely, it can lower your drug dosages substantially.   And even if you are perfectly healthy, TLC is the best preventive medicine around.  Using Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes is great way to “add hours to your day, days to your year and years to your life.”  

Alan Freishtat is an A.C.E.* CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER and a LIFESTYLE FITNESS COACH with over 15 years of professional experience. He is the Co-Director of the Jerusalem-based weight loss and stress reduction center Lose It! along with Linda Holtz M. Sc. and is available for private consultations, assessments and personalized workout programs. Alan also lectures and gives seminars and workshops. He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at [email protected]  Check out the Lose It! web site – www.loseit.co.il.  US Line: 516-568-5027.