Why it is Critical to be the CEO of Your Health

"Any other questions on your mind?" The doctor asked through a forced smile and subtly gritted teeth.

She must not have liked my ten minutes (just ten!) of health questions after I waited 45 minutes past my scheduled appointment time to see her.

The conversation, loosely approximated, went something like this:

"I'm trying to troubleshoot my breakouts, so I've eliminated sugar, gluten, dairy and alcohol from my diet. Can you help me test the nutrients in my bloodstream to make sure my levels are normal?"

"Okay I can run your testosterone levels."

"Well, I...I'd like to know about all of my levels — iron, calcium, cholesterol — whatever is possible to test. I'm willing to pay extra."

"If you're eating leafy greens, you're probably fine."

"What I am trying to say is that, I'd like some precise data rather than making a wild guess or just assuming everything is okay." **

**May the record state that I am not the one in the room who went to medical school! I am a woo woo yogi life coach and I have to convince you of my desire for data?!

She still looked skeptical. "You know, it could be the environment too. New York has a lot of pollutants in the air."

"Listen, I've tried everything and nothing has worked. I am now paying very close attention to my food, and that IS working. But rather than just hoping or assuming my body is balanced and my hormone levels are normal, I would like to see some bloodwork."

Sigh, "Ohhhh Kaayyyeeee, we can do that," she said, almost as though she were appeasing a child by acknowledging an imaginary friend.

Are you kidding me?!

I report that I am exercising, meditating (to lower stress that shows up as cortisol), not drinking, not a smoker, and eating just about as clean as one can eat, and I have to make a case to get some basic facts about how those changes are reflected in my body?

I am a woman without wine, cappuccinos and chocolate (okay, still working on this one) — do you think I would give those up if I weren't serious?!?!

We move on to the exam portion of the appointment.

"Have you seen a dermatologist? They can prescribe {long complicated name}."

"Yes, I've seen dermatologists for the last 15 years actually." And in fact, not one has ever asked me what I was eating.

I explained to her that I have tried every cream, pill and antibiotic, and beyond studies showing that many have harmful long-term affects, they weren't working.

At the peak of my frustration, I figured maybe my body is trying to tell me something.

So instead of shutting it up with pills and prescriptions, I decided to listen and experiment and understand if I am doing something to enable the reaction (breakouts) I'm trying to avoid.

I started reading countless books, blogs and studies on how closely correlated diet is with acne. I gobbled up every bit of research and naturopathic remedy I could find. I now know that, in addition to stress and hormones, dairy, sugar, gluten and caffeine have all been known to aggravate (if not outright cause) acne.

Bottom line 1: Knowledge is power. Bottom line 2: I will be switching doctors.

This whole experience was not all that abnormal. To the non-informed patient it was just like any other 20-minute annual exam. But to a frustrated and increasingly more educated one in the areas of health and nutrition, it was a wake-up call.

Sure, I could pay for a third-party to conduct all these standard tests for me, but should I have to? If the doctor was already drawing my blood for a routine exam, wouldn't it make sense to tack on a few other nice-to-know benchmarks?

You just earned a new CEO title

This experience was an important reminder that we need to learn to be our own health advocates. I say learn because this IS a skill. It is not something we are taught, and medical care can be quite intimidating and overwhelming . . . and I'm not even dealing with the big stuff.

You've heard me talk about how no one will hand you your career on a silver platter. Well, it takes the same dedication, work, research, eating/exercise experiments, and awareness to be the CEO of your own health and medical care.

There is no doubt that the practitioners you choose to see are important, as are regular check-ups, but they are nowhere near everything.

This post originally appeared on Life After College. I have imported selected posts from 2013 to catch new readers up to speed. Is that you? If so, a) awesome! And b) check out the new here guided tour. For long-time readers, nothing new in this one!