10 Questions with ... Dr. Evelyn Higgins
January 10, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Recognized international expert on fitness, diet and health; graduate of the State University of New York and New York Chiropractic College; radio show host, 22-year practicing physician, author, health care commentator, columnist, and lecturer. Hosted at WBCX and WDUN-A/Gainesville, GA.
1. What brought you from your practice to doing radio? What, or who, was the catalyst that brought you to do a radio show?
I wanted to reach people on a larger scale and be part of the solution rather than just talk about the health problems of our nation. Radio was the route I chose to do it. I started as a volunteer host at a local college -- the first talk show at WBCX. I was hooked!
2. You're an athlete and have served as a sports doctor; how do you motivate an individual who works long hours and has responsibilities that eat away at his or her time to get out and exercise? How and where does someone who needs to be more active start? Is this something that employers, families, and other institutions should be addressing to help people find the time to be healthy?
Motivation begins with education combined with inspiration. I try to get people to see their health as their asset or conversely their liability. Lifestyle diseases make up 70-85 percent of the diseases we are plagued with. Once I can get someone to understand that, I break it down to attainable daily steps to change their lives. Everyone has a different starting place, and I let them know that's OK. If they are total couch potatoes, I suggest simply walking 5 minutes a day -- no more. It's about habit changes, then we build up from there. If they need to lose weight, I create realistic, attainable steps to that. Once they see results and feel better- it becomes easier. We can all have legitimate excuses, but in making our goals realistic and attainable anyone can get started to a healthier life. Companies can certainly reward employees for living healthier lives with many simple, inexpensive incentives.
Sports taught me many things, one of which is seeing our moving body as a gift. Lastly, families can enjoy quality time and create healthy habits by exercising together. Parents need to be the examples for their kids. Walk and talk-make health a family affair.
3. In the present economy, many people are going without health insurance, and some are foregoing checkups or medical treatment in fear that they won't be able to afford the result. Do you foresee a solution to this, whether a government plan ("Obamacare" or otherwise) or a market solution, or are people going to increasingly delay medical treatment... and what will the consequences be if a solution isn't found and politics continue to be played with the issue?
Excellent point. Our current national situation is the perfect time for individuals to realize they and only they are responsible for their health. Leaving it up to someone else is a grave error. I believe good can come out of a national paradigm shift by creating a prevention mentality. I refer to health as more than simply the absence of disease, and it is this mentality that will set us free. We have to begin to see all aspects of health. I refer to the four pillars of health: the physical, the emotional, the intellectual as well as the spiritual. A balance of all four creates lasting health. We have the research to back the mind-body connection, we now need to put it into play. In actuality, lifestyle diseases are reversible for the most part and we need to concentrate on disseminating how to do that and stop playing the cash cow political game with insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. That is a tall order!
4. What differences are there between your show and other medical shows on radio and TV -- what do you bring to the table to differentiate yourself from other "doctor shows"?
My show encompasses what I refer to in the above question -- the four pillars. I believe we have to look at all four components, and in doing so teach people to create personalized programs for themselves by walking away with what they learned from that show to apply immediately. My show is not a 60 minute infomercial; it truly is a health show. I believe our purpose in life is to become the best version of ourselves, each keeping our own individuality. In "teaching," I try to motivate and inspire the listener or viewer to believe in themsleves and see their life as a gift, and treat it with such respect.
5. There's more information, accurate or not, good or bad, about health and medicine available to the average consumer than ever before. Everyone races to the web to look up every symptom. Do you see this as a good or bad thing, and what do you advise listeners about seeking information about health issues? What should they be looking out for, or be aware of, when Googling whatever ails them?
Excellent point, Perry! "Dr. Google" can be a double edge sword. Seek out basic information and then ask an expert when needed.
6. Who have been your mentors and inspirations in your career?
At my second Talkers New Media Seminar I had the honor and privilege of speaking with Michael Harrison -- he "gave me the time of day" and I'm forever grateful for his belief in me. He is a man of great integrity and honor. I then consulted with Holland Cooke, who has great insight into the industry and helped me tremendously. Currently, I'm proud to be a part of the team at Main Street Radio Network. They have put my show on the map and together we are growing rapidly.
7. Take the average American, probably a little overweight and less active than he or she should be, probably not eating the healthiest stuff, stressed a little... What would be the first thing that person should do to start getting healthier? There may be a lot of things he or she needs to do, but what would the bast first step be, in general, for most people? What would a good, achievable, sustainable New Year's health resolution be?
You have described the average American perfectly, Perry. We have to look at all four pillars. Starting with the physical -- the weight. Let's begin by figuring out how we can reduce the daily caloric intake by just 500 calories or burn 500 or both. That could be by eliminating a few sugar-laden beverages a day, simply changing a few food choices. Just 500 calories a day over a week allows us to lose 1 pound a week. By, again, creating small, realistic attainable steps, this is very doable.,/p>
A much underestimated problem is lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation is a huge problem and this makes you reach for high sugar content foods to get the quick energy burst from the sugar. So simply sleeping 8 hours a night can help reduce your weight. Stress is another big indicator for overeating. Just as there are environmental toxins that hurt our bodies and make us sick there are emotional toxins. There may be toxic people in our lives that are contributing to our poor health. I call it the honest inventory -- that is, looking at our lives as they really are and making the tough decisions to change them for the better.
Next, our bodies were designed to move. We can all do little things that add up every day to help move more. If possible walk to work. If that's not an option, try parking in a parking spot away from the door and walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Moving your bodies helps decrease stress as does mediation, yoga, tai chi or any relaxation exercise including breathing exercises. New Years resolutions are the same year after year -- to be healthier and lose weight. They remain the same year after year because by Valentine's Day people are already disgusted and have thrown in the towel. It's about creating a realistic plan, attainable and goal oriented... and looking at all four pillars of your health and creating new habits which help you rather than hurt you.
8. Of what are you most proud?
Taking my show on the road, believing that I could create the perfect backdrop of physical, emotional, intellectual as well as spiritual components by broadcasting from the Santiago de Compostela, an 800+ kilometer hike from Southern France through the Pyrenees Mountains, then across the entire country of Spain to experience a 1,200 year old, fabulously rich history with a goal of motivating, inspiring and engaging the listeners. It started as a physical and intellectual journey to show listeners that I walked the walk and talked the talk. It turned out to be a life altering experience for me. I have a book forthcoming about the trip called Three Meetings. While it is my story, it is the story of each and every one of us creating our own journey through life.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _____________.
.... laughing -- truly the best medicine!
10. What's the most important lesson you've learned in your career?
To be grateful for every person and every experience, even when they didn't appear to be what I wanted, they all have value and they're all for a bigger purpose and reason.