The secret to life can be sealed with a KISS.
Story: Dr. Richard T. Bosshardt
As I have gotten older and more experienced as a physician, I have come to value simplicity more and more. We, human beings, are incredibly complex creatures. We are complex physically, and medical science has just scratched the surface of our inner workings and how these relate to health, sickness, and longevity. We are, if anything, even more complex in our non-physical lives, our attitudes, emotions, preferences, and such, both as individuals and as social beings.
Despite all of this complexity, day-to-day life can be reduced to a few, fairly simple principles. In other words, the manual for living life day-to-day should be fairly simple and straightforward; it should not be a multi-volume tome like the old Encyclopedia Britannica. I call it the KISS School of Life. The acronym stands for “keep it simple, silly” (or “stupid,” if that is not too offensive).
I apply this to my daily practice of plastic surgery. I do not perform a complicated operation when a simpler one will work and produce a good result. I do not look for a complicated diagnosis when a simple one explains the clinical situation. This was the basis for an aphorism that every medical student learns early: when you hear hoofbeats, look for horses, not zebras. It is another way of saying that common things are just that, common, so don’t expend a lot of energy and resources looking for rare diseases when a common one provides the necessary answers.
With that in mind, how about simplifying 2019 a bit? Here are some suggestions on how to do this.
Health – Hey, it’s your body and, according to all evidence, the only one you are going to get in this life. You are responsible for it. Your physician can help you care for it, but only to a limited degree. The goal of both you and your doctor should be to make him or her unnecessary. Your doctor is in the best position to advise you on how to preserve, or restore, your health to the extent that medical science has provided us with answers and options, realizing the medical knowledge is fluid and ever-changing. A good doctor will try to keep you both out of the hospital and, later in life, out of the nursing home. How? It’s simple: follow your doctor’s advice. When possible, exceed his or her recommendations. Go the extra step. In the process, you will benefit yourself and become your doctor’s favorite patient.
Exercise – Throw away the articles and books on 10 best exercises, how to blast your abs, create buns of steel, or get shredded. Who has that much time? It’s simple. Just move. Make sure you can always get up off the floor without help. Do something active every day. Get out of breath and get your heart rate up for at least an hour several times a week doing something you enjoy. Running is my thing. Not yours? Find it. There are unlimited ways to be active if you just look. If there is a magic bullet out there for health, longevity, mood elevation, and a general sense of well-being, exercise is it.
Diet –We have made our eating so complicated that people hardly know anymore what to eat and what to avoid. What foods are OK? How much do you eat at one time? Bookstores have entire sections devoted to what people should eat or, the reverse, what they shouldn’t eat. It isn’t rocket science. Simplify. How about this? Eat simple foods, e.g., fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, that have not been processed by some corporation or company. Buy locally sourced foods when possible; this benefits you and your community. Prepare most of your own meals. Eat less animal protein. Limit refined sugar, salt, high fructose corn syrup. Avoid sugary beverages and diet drinks. Limit alcohol intake. Moderation is the name of the game here. Eat slowly so the satiety center in your brain can catch up to your stomach.
Purpose – People need a purpose. Without this, life is aimless drifting from moment to moment with no reason for choosing one course of action over another. The Book of Proverbs states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Simplify. What floats your boat? Gets you excited? What would you do, even if no one was paying you? If that doesn’t give you an answer, find a place where there is a need. There is need everywhere; you just have to look. Fill it. For retirees, this can be the most exciting time of life because they can do whatever they wish and utilize their skills where they are truly needed.
Vitamins and supplements – People spend untold millions of dollars on every sort of herbal, mineral, and vitamin supplement and almost without exception there is no reproducible data proving these are beneficial. Unless you are treating a specific condition or suffer from a particular deficiency, most supplements are worthless. Simplify. Your best bet is to take a high quality multivitamin each day. Find one that is certified by United States Pharmacopeia, or USP.
Life and the world can be complicated enough without us making it more so. Remember: KISS.
About the writer:
Dr. Richard T. Bosshardt graduated from the University of Miami School of Medicine in 1978. He founded Bosshardt & Marzek Plastic Surgery Associates, Lake County’s first practice to provide full-time cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery services, in 1989.