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What Does a “Healthy Lifestyle” Even Mean? Here’s what Dr. Mamina, FAAD says.

Dr. Mamina is a physician who believes in taking a holistic approach to health. Additionally, she is board-certified in internal medicine and dermatology. 

Prioritizing feeling fulfilled and connected

A healthy lifestyle is definitely a loaded term with many different meanings and interpretations, but I believe that health is multifaceted. Emotional health, mental health, and spiritual health all play a crucial part in overall health. Of course, your diet should make you feel good. I’m a huge fan of fruits and vegetables just because they’re jam-packed with nutrients and antioxidants. They’re literally like medicine in food form.

Minimizing processed sugars and oil is good, but minimizing stress and feeling like you have enough in life is deeply important to your health. Many people feel like they’re lacking or as if they don’t have enough, but having gratitude and being mindful of what you value in life can be transformative for your mental health.

Relationships and community are also really important to health.  One of the biggest components of happiness is your sense of community and your sense of belonging. Feeling like you’re a part of something is consequential. Some people are very happy being alone, but a sense of connection plays a large part into happiness. Everyone’s perspective on spirituality is different, but I think the idea that there is something beyond or bigger than ourselves can be very grounding. I think spirituality can help us understand that we have a higher purpose than life’s everyday monotony.

Avoiding a preoccupation with Image and Appearances

Life is about more than making a good presentation, but people think that you have to look a certain way to be healthy. Being thin does not mean that you’re healthy and having acne does not mean that you’re unhealthy. The definition of health is much broader than what’s presented. For example, a lot of people are infatuated with skincare and clear skin, but diet is essential as well. You can have a thorough skincare routine and beautiful skin, but if you have a poor diet, what’s going on with your insides? If you’re just focused on the appearance of your skin and not much else, are you really connected to what’s going on with your body’s wellness?

Health isn’t always an image, and I think it’s gotten to the point where not only do we have to look a certain way to be healthy, but we have to be able to afford certain things and go on these amazing trips to be happy and well. And that’s so not the case. 

Being around the people that I love brings me so much happiness, but I think people are so obsessed with the idea of image as an integral part of happiness. I think having nice things is definitely fine, but it’s not going to bring emotional and mental fulfillment. 

Accepting That You’re Human and Resisting Toxic Productivity.

I’m still working on taking the time focus on the things that bring me joy. When you do things that bring you joy, it’s not a waste of time. If something is bringing you mental health, it’s not a waste of time. When you’re doing something that makes you feel present and brings you joy, that is also productive. Productivity and fulfillment don’t have to be separate. 

Of course, we have everyday responsibilities as humans to maintain a normal life, but everything doesn’t have to be so task-driven. People always want to get “this” done, or have this amount of followers, or reach this milestone at their job. I think being driven is really good, but it’s important to enjoy the process, to feel present, and to feel like you’re getting fulfillment.

I’ll admit - with being a physician, it’s tough to reconcile this. For the majority of my career, I’d been overworking. It’s true that sometimes the place you’re in demands a high level of productivity. 

For example, going through med school was hard work. It’s not really joyful. I did a double residency with dermatology and internal medicine, and it was a five-year program. Normally, dermatology residency is 1 year of internal medicine and 3 years of dermatology, but I did 2.5 years of each. I would go back and forth between the two every 3 months. That double residency was so mentally and physically exhausting. And plus, with your dermatology residency, the amount of information that you have to learn is insane. The dermatology board exam was the hardest test that I’ve ever taken in my life. My internal medicine boards covered pulmonology, cardiology, nephrology, GI, and infectious disease (etc.), and that was a walk in the park compared to my dermatology boards. 

It was mentally taxing, but something that got me through was knowing that this journey was a steppingstone for my growth and fulfillment. Challenges are essential for growth and gratitude. I also had to understand that, even in arduous situations like that, humanity and community are possible and beneficial. It’s a competitive environment, but you also have to consider that bonding experiences are so much more intense when you’re going through a challenge together. Some of my closest friends are from med school.

The last few years have been extremely busy, and I have just now chosen to work 4 days a week. I’m also pivoting my focus a bit. There are parts of dermatology that I consider to be more fulfilling so I’m trying to do more than that. I’ve become more interested in taking a holistic approach to health. I see a lot of patients, and that’s productive. But when I do things that I’m passionate about and when I’m helping people in a positive way, I feel very fulfilled. However, the challenges I’ve faced were a necessary part of finding fulfillment.