Monday, November 21, 2016

Turkey Trot and New Year's Resolution

Here it is, more than halfway through November, and it’s time to start thinking about Turkey Trots and Thanksgiving and eating lots of good food.

I’m going to take a page from one of my mentors, Dr. Robert Gilbert, a psychologist from Montclair State University. He recommends using this time of the season to start your New Year’s resolution 35 days early.

We have Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday. Why not use that holiday to say, “Hey, I’m going to run that Turkey Trot. I’m going to give it my best shot and finish that 5K before I start eating all the goodies later in the afternoon. I’m going to just do it!”

Racing runs in the family: Dr. Conenello (flanked by his sons Kyle, 14, and Luke, 16, after a race this past summer), an active runner, practices what he preaches.

Be Smart
Before you trot out the door on Thanksgiving morning, be smart. Make sure you are wearing a good pair of sneakers that give you the cushioned support you need. Hand in hand (or foot in foot) with the proper running shoes are good moisture-wicking socks that fit you well and provide additional cushion. And then get out there and enjoy the activity. Don’t try to kill it. Take it nice and easy and have fun.

The day after Thanksgiving, get out there again. We always say it’s the start that stops us. That does not have to happen. If you have a goal to lose weight or to become more physically fit or simply to try to be more active, this is your opportunity.

Start slowly
Try to build. Tell yourself, “I’m going to do this every other day,” or “I’m going to run five times a week,” or “I’m going to try to maintain 30 minutes of light jogging a week.” Whatever it is, make the Turkey Trot this Thanksgiving the start of your program.

And if you are able to follow through, you will have a 35-day head start on all those other people with their New Year’s resolution. By the time January 1 comes along, you will have momentum that you won’t want to stop.

Keep in mind a couple of concepts:
  • Be good to your feet.
  • Be good to your body.
Pre- and Post-Race
Before and after your Turkey Trot, use some static stretches, some wall stretches, some calf stretches. Purchase a foam roller and use it on the backs of your legs, your hamstrings, calf muscles, and Achilles tendons. Get a lacrosse ball and roll it with your foot to prevent or ease plantar fasciitis.

All these things are important as you begin your personal running plan. This is a great time to motivate yourself to do more. The winter doldrums are right around the corner. You do not want to get into a habit of doing nothing. Use this week, and the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, as a head start to incorporate a running program into a healthier lifestyle.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Evidence-Based Medicine

Dr. Conenello at the 2015 New Jersey Special Olympics State Games 

One thing I have learned, after being in practice for 25 years, is never to assume. So, I have always tried to proceed with the philosophy of utilizing evidence-based medicine. Too many times I have had patients come in who took for granted that what they had, or what they wanted me to look at, was benign. After examination, however, that was not always true.

For instance, there were times when a patient appeared to have what looked like a freckle, and wanted me to back up his own layman’s diagnosis with a second opinion. In many cases my examination did just that and I was able to allay any slight apprehensions he had.

On another occasion with a different patient, I biopsied the area. The blemish turned out to be a melanoma. The good news is that we were able to catch it as an early sign and get the patient the proper clinician to treat the cancer in a timely manner. In his case, the treatment was a simple excision. The patient had no other issues.

The process holds true for not only skin lesions but other things as well. A doctor might believe he has a good handle on what a specific problem is, but he should always practice evidence-based medicine. That means taking the proper x-ray if he is not sure, or the proper blood test or advanced testing, such as an MRI or a CT scan. Just to rule out all the possible negative things. That’s good medicine.

I believe that patients need to learn to be their own advocates and to ask for these types of procedures or tests if their doctor is not doing it. As a patient myself I had to learn to be my own advocate and to reach out to the doctor and sometimes push for more information via just such advanced testing.

The moral: Do not accept a diagnosis if you are not satisfied.