Possible Side Effects

On Friday I had a doctor’s appointment, and I really hate going to the doctor’s office because of all the germs that I imagine are lingering in the air and on the seats of the waiting room and because, it seems, all doctors run at least thirty minutes behind schedule, but yet another small annoyance accompanying a big move is that you have to actually meet your new doctor before you can have any prescriptions refilled. Since I’m still searching for a job here in Hawaii, the longer than normal wait time wasn’t really an inconvenience and I was able to concentrate fully on my fear of all of those germs trying to float their way into my upper respiratory tract. Seriously, it should be standard operating procedure for everyone to carry a plastic bag around with them, and, if we have to sneeze or cough, we can do so into the bag and trap all of our germs inside. Or maybe I should just wear a hazmat suit to the doctor’s office. I’m generally not a germaphobe, but something about the doctor’s office turns me into one in the same way that being at the vet’s office turns me into that owner who keeps her dog on a short leash and won’t let him sniff, touch, or generally associate with the other dogs. Some might say I’m overly cautious, but, like that country song says: it’s like being too lucky, a car too fast, a girl too pretty, with too much class, no matter what they say I’ve done, I’ve never been overly cautious. Or something like that.

After I finally made it out of the germ immersion chamber  waiting room, my appointment was pretty straightforward. Essentially I just had to meet with the Doctor and have him sign off on my refill, but, and I think this is a reflex for doctors, he first took a listen at my heart and lungs and this is where an ordinary visit became extraordinary. While listening as I took deep breaths but not so-deep-I’ll-get-light-headed-and-pass-out breaths, the Doctor asked what I did for exercise. At first, I bristled because I thought he was implying that I didn’t do any, so my response began with “I do more than it LOOKS like I do…” and I went on to explain that I do a combination of weight training and cardio. He then asked how frequently I did cardio, and when I told him the truth (4-5 days a week, thank you very much), he said “yeah, I can tell; it seems to be working for you.” Apparently my resting heart rate was slow enough that he could tell that I consistently do a fair amount of cardio, go figure. Gold star for me!

This was a great reminder that the benefits of regular exercise aren’t limited to only what we see in the mirror or even to the amount of weight we can lift or speed/distance we can run. Even though I can’t see it, my heart is in there, soaking up the benefits of my active lifestyle and because my heart is stronger, the rest of me can get stronger too. This was an appropriately timed reminder because, of late, I have been feeling a little annoyed at the determined layer of fat that refuses to budge from my belly and love-handle area (maybe because I’ve been frequenting the beach my body has decided to keep this ‘inner tube’ as a precautionary measure to prevent drowning?), and it forced me to remember that health isn’t about what I look like in my bathing suit (although, custom inner tube aside, I look pretty darn good if I do say so myself) but about how my body feels and how smoothly it functions. Remember, one of the side effects of a healthy, active lifestyle is that your doctor will know, without a doubt, that you are telling the truth when you tell him you exercise regularly. Unfortunately it also probably works the other way. If you claim to exercise regularly and you don’t, I bet your Doc can tell if you’re lying, so there really is nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain but lacing up those sneakers and going for a walk/jog/bike/whatever. Not only will it make you feel good, but you’ll save face on your next doctor’s visit.

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