When my doctor first diagnosed me with a vitamin D deficiency, he told me to go out into the sunlight more often. That advice sounded great in theory, but it wasn't realistic. I asked him when I was supposed to do that during my day. At my 5 am run, the sun isn't up yet. I work all day - even through my lunch time. I am in a lot of meetings and can't wander too far from my desk phone. When I get home, I make dinner and help get my son ready for bed.
Does he see a time in my day where I can incorporate more sunshine?
He conceded the point and told me to take supplements. Problem solved.
Do I wish I could go out in the sunlight more often in my day? Yes. Absolutely. But I am realistic enough to realize that it is not going to happen with enough frequency to solve my problem. At least my doctor was willing to entertain the conversation with me.
It turns out doctors are used to dispensing their medical advice (eat healthier, exercise more, get into the sunshine) but they don't always walk patients through the obstacles that are preventing them from taking that good advice. A recent study in the Annals of Family Medicine took a look at this exact issue - patients often have the motivation to make a change in their lifestyle, but they need some additional help to remove the obstacles.
I think this is true for most people - we need some additional help to get around our health obstacles. I've tried re-arranging my work schedule on my own so that I have a free period to go outside every day, but I found that I would often ignore that appointment with myself. Maybe I need a sunlight buddy who I can be accountable to - someone to take the walk in the sunshine with me.
Either that or my husband and I need to visit the Caribbean more often.
What obstacles are in the way of your health goals? Share your thoughts in the comments.