The importance of having your primary care doctor on your health team is second to none.
In 2016, losing weight, exercising more and making better lifestyle choices (healthy dieting, less drinking and smoking) all scored high on the list for New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, out of the 40 percent of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, studies show only 8 percent achieve their goals.
We asked Dr. Randy Rossignol, an internal medicine physician at Touro to share his thoughts about New Year’s resolutions. “They are great, with a caveat,” he says. “Resolutions are a great starting point whether they are about losing weight, eating a healthy diet or increasing daily exercise, but it is far better to focus on establishing year-round, attainable goals.”
A number of factors play a role in a person’s ability to lose weight. That is why it is such a hard resolution to keep. Eating a healthy, calorie-controlled diet and exercising for 30 minutes per day (an American Heart Association recommendation) are the most important factors for weight loss, but your genetics may also play an important role in keeping the pounds off. “Genes, hormone problems as well as some medications contribute to a person’s susceptibility to weight gain,” Rossignol says. “By discussing your weight goal with your primary physician, you can address conditions such as under-active thyroids, Cushing syndrome or polycystic ovary syndrome that may be contributing to the problem.”
In addition to reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes and some cancers, exercising strengthens your bones and muscles, and improves your mental state. According to Dr. Rossignol, by forming healthy habits such as exercise, healthy eating and knowing your key health numbers, you can make significant lifestyle changes that help prevent heart disease and other health issues. “When someone makes regular exercise a habit, not something dreaded or pushed to the end of the priority list, there are always positive results,” he says. “As a community, we need to make strides to move more each day.”
Dr. Rossignol is a fan of “Corporate Recess” — a new program in the workplace that blends in-office activity with out-of-office exercise. “Since most people spend an average of 11 hours per day sitting, whether at a work desk or at home, this is a fun way to elevate the heart rate and break up your sedentary day,” he says. “If you can fit in exercise in 10- or 15-minute segments, then your goals become more manageable and achievable. When we sit too many hours, not only does it negatively affect our back and pelvis, [but] it also creates a myriad of health issues, including an increase in cardiovascular problems, strokes, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.”
There are also the mental benefits of exercise, especially for relieving stress. “Because we are living in a fast-paced, pressure-filled home and work life, we are seeing more and more stress-related illnesses,” Rossignol says. Physical activities helps relieve stress because it produces endorphins (chemicals in the body that act as natural painkillers), which help promote an overall sense of wellbeing.
Eating right and cutting back or quitting smoking or drinking alcohol are all great ways to promote good health. According to most dietary guidelines, a healthy diet is one that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free milk products as well as lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts. There’s no one diet that is right for everyone, so it’s important to follow a healthy eating plan that’s packed with tasty foods and that keeps your unique lifestyle in mind.
For those trying to quit smoking, Dr. Rossignol warns against e-cigarettes. “We still do not know the long-term effects of the electronic or vapor cigarettes, so people need to be aware that these products may still have tobacco or other toxins in them [that] can lead to lung disease, heart disease and cancers,” he says.
Alcohol, when in excess, is associated with many health risks, including chronic diseases, such as liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis and various cancers of the liver, mouth, throat, larynx and esophagus, as well as high blood pressure and psychological disorders. The recommended amount of alcohol for the moderate drinker is up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
LET YOUR PCP BE YOUR HEALTH ADVOCATE
After earning his medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Dr. Rossignol completed his residency at LSU Health Sciences Center in Baton Rouge, specializing in internal medicine. In 2017, he joined Touro because he believes in its philosophy. “At Touro, we focus on preventive care, such as making sure our patients have yearly physicals,” Dr. Rossignol says. “We also believe that by educating our patients, we can ensure that they understand how to have a healthy diet and lead a healthy lifestyle. We are helping our patients prevent future illnesses.”
Dr. Rossignol has wanted to be a doctor since he was a toddler, carrying around his Fischer Price bag. “I have always enjoyed science and helping people,” he says. “By developing lifelong relationships with my patients, I can help them along the way.” He believes the best way to be successful with New Year’s resolutions is to set attainable goals and establish a relationship with your primary care physician. That way, you can ensure that you are participating in preventive care and health screenings as well as having an advocate who can help you manage your health, family history and health-risk factors.
Crescent City Physicians
3434 Prytania St., Ste. 460
New Orleans, LA 70115