Dr. Christine Lydon: Yale Graduate and Fitness Personality
ABOUT CHRISTINE LYDON, MD
Since receiving her medical degree from Yale in 1994, Christine Lydon, MD has made it her life’s work to educate people about sound nutrition, effective training techniques, and healthy approaches to permanent weight loss. A fitness personality and physique model with a long list of television and print credits, Dr. Lydon has served as a nutrition consultant to large corporations, as well as a personal fitness consultant to a diverse clientele ranging from housewives and firefighters to celebrities like supermodel Carre Otis, Quentin Tarantino, and the late Richard Pryor. Dr. Lydon currently devotes herself to writing and speaking about weight management, disease prevention, and nonpharmaceutical alternatives for increased longevity. People place their confidence in Dr. Lydon’s commentaries because, as her photos clearly illustrate, she practices what she preaches.
In my own words…
I earned my MD from Yale in 1994, but unlike most of my peers, I chose not to practice medicine in the traditional sense. While most MDs treat disease for a living, I spread the gospel of good health. Between my medical education, research background, consulting experience, and involvement with the fitness industry, I’ve managed to assemble an eclectic foundation that sets me apart from other self-proclaimed health gurus.
For example, I am certainly one of very few physique models who can truthfully say that my opinions on diet, training, and supplementation are rooted in a solid understanding of biochemistry, anatomy, and physiology. By the same token, after spending nearly a decade doing investigative research in the areas of neurobiology, biomechanics, and sports medicine, I know how to interpret data. Whether I’m perusing the latest breakthrough study in the New England Journal of Medicine or scanning the health factoids in Cosmo, I can read between the lines to draw my own conclusions.
Likewise, working closely with private clients boasting a spectrum of occupations and personal fitness goals, from academy award winners and professional athletes to fire fighters and new moms, has taught me the delicate art of motivating without overwhelming, an approach that carries over to my writing. As an author, columnist, and freelance writer, I find it extremely fulfilling to know that I can reach more people in a single day than the average physician might treat in a lifetime.
A lot of people ask me what on earth led me to follow such an unorthodox career path. After all, I went to medical school to become an orthopaedic surgeon. Back then, my head was filled with romantic preconceptions about what it meant to be a doctor. According to my ingenuous notions, modern medicine was a dynamic, almost magical domain of endless possibilities, and doctors were heroic miracle workers. I truly believed that the human body, with the proper inducements, possessed infinite healing potential.
Medical school cured my fantasy.
I quickly learned that most people who suffered from serious medical conditions would never be “as good as new,” that treatable almost never meant curable, and that drug side effects could be just as devastating as the illnesses they were intended to alleviate. Moreover, I was appalled by the alarming degree to which the pharmaceutical industry shaped my medical education. By pouring billions of dollars every year into drug research, pharmaceutical companies subsidize the education of every physician who graduates from an American medical school. The upshot of this arrangement is a medical system that places inordinate emphasis on disease treatment without the slightest attention to disease prevention. And as a result, most doctors are shockingly ignorant about the most fundamental aspects of healthy living.
The hypocrisy of healthcare hit me hardest when I was a surgical resident. During my albeit brief tenure as an orthopaedic intern, I spent over one hundred hours per week within the dreary confines of County Hospital. In my profound state of sleep deprivation, things like regular exercise and healthy eating quickly fell by the wayside. Unfortunately, the only reliably palatable items dispensed by the hospital cafeteria were baked goods. Dessert became the main source of pleasure in my life.
As someone who has always reveled in the joys of the outdoors and physical activity, as someone who needs regular exercise, healthy foods, and adequate sleep to feel sane, I have never been more miserable. As the months passed, I found it increasingly impossible to reconcile the fact that my chosen profession, that of a “healer,” required me to adhere to a schedule that was destroying my own health and well being. And for what? I found myself wondering. After all, many of my patients would return to a life that had been permanently altered by their illness or injury; things would never be the same for them. My entire existence began to feel like an ironic exercise in futility.
After devoting a decade of my existence and six figures in student loans to becoming a physician, all I had to show for it was endless frustration, overwhelming exhaustion, a rapidly expanding rear end, a bleeding ulcer, and utter disenchantment toward my chosen profession. I took a step back and tried to remember what had drawn me to medicine in the first place. I realized that more than the promise of a fat paycheck, more than the prestige, more than my parents’ approval, more than anything else, I had once dreamed of being a doctor because I felt a sincere desire to make a difference in people’s lives. So, I did the only thing that seemed to make any sense at the time and I quit my residency. It was the toughest, and BEST decision I ever made. Since that fateful day in October of 1994 when I bade farewell to County General, I’ve made it my life’s work to educate people about healthy eating, efficient exercising, disease prevention, and non-pharmaceutical alternatives for increasing longevity. Many of my fundamental beliefs about good health fly in the face of the western medical establishment, contradicting the conventional wisdom embraced by physicians who have been lulled into complacence by the monumental influence of the pharmaceutical industry. An unfortunate number of American doctors are openly hostile to any therapeutic practice which does not involve a prescription pad or an operating room. The very notion of disease prevention has been systematically wiped from their collective consciousness. Even the most progressive health care providers are shockingly ignorant when it comes to the basics of healthy living. It’s not their fault– they’ve been brainwashed into thinking that they are health experts, when in actuality they are disease experts.
Obviously, I cannot single-handedly revolutionize health care. Shifting the emphasis from disease treatment to disease prevention would involve a large-scale overhaul of the entire medical establishment– something that is not likely to happen any time soon. Unfortunately, that does not change the fact that, in the real world, the only completely reliable way to “cure” disease is to stop it from happening in the first place. But don’t expect to unearth a wealth of knowledge about disease prevention at your doctor’s office.
Although medical school taught me the basics of physiology, anatomy, and biochemistry, virtually everything I now know about good nutrition and effective exercising I learned after receiving my degree. Had I completed my residency training and gone on to practice medicine like most of my peers, it’s doubtful that I would know the first thing about healthy living. If I was like most practicing physicians, I would eat a diet rich in processed foods, chemical preservatives, saturated fat, and artificial ingredients. I would consume too much coffee and alcohol and not enough fiber. I would suffer from emotional stress, lack of exercise, and lack of sleep. My body would be gearing up for a myriad of pathological processes including cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, and chronic fatigue syndrome. In other words, I would be the typical unhealthy American.
Tallying all the perils of modern living can be overwhelming. Who will save you? Who will be there to tell you what to eat? How much to exercise? Which supplements to take? Even if your GP happens to be one of the enlightened few with a grasp of what healthy living entails, your doctor can’t force you to adopt a healthy lifestyle. The only person who can make your healthy life choices is YOU!
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