My name is John Thomas Paruch.
- I’m a thinker.
- I have many ideas.
- I’m an innovator.
- I see solutions for things not yet identified as problems.
- I often see things differently than a fair amount of others.
- I believe health and well-being are predicated upon how we live and the daily decisions we make.
- I’m a physician.
Let me tell you my story: I got married and went to medical school at the age of 30. At that time in my life, I was in good health. I did not have any medical problems.
After 4 years of medical school, I started residency training in Combined Internal Medicine-Psychiatry. As an adult learner – newly married, with a young baby – I was focused on things other than my health. invested in career success – at the expense of personal health and well-being. I quickly fell into bad habits:
- lack of sleep, disrupted, fragmented sleep
- poor food choices, increased caloric intake of salty, high fat, and unhealthy foods
- a sedentary lifestyle
- not proactively handling stress
These habits have been difficult to change even as the years have passed – and I have redirected my focus to my own health.
Keep in mind, there’s only 168 hours in a week; 80 of those were tied up with workload demands. Many more (probably 4 hours per day) were dedicated to additional study outside of the hospital or clinic setting. Left with 40 hours to travel to and from the work setting, sleep, and live, I found many excuses to avoid investing in my health. While it’s debatable now, I found my habits quickly became weight gain, and this insidious weight gain quickly resulted in additional challenges:
- Were my food choices dictated by stress and lack of sleep?
- Was I too tired to exercise because I was working too much and too late?
- Was the weight making me more tired and less motivated?
- Was the stress of learning how to be a physician causing me to withdraw from social situations and compounding the lack of focused stress reduction?
- Was the way I lived simply a necessary part of the training to become a physician?
- Am I the only one who ended up this way?
Regardless, these bad habits – (that in hindsight were poor decision-making) – quickly became lifestyle dysfunction. This was complicated by sleep deprivation and subsequent chronic fatigue which contributed to further problems with lack of energy to be active. Food choices were driven by convenience and situation. Most of the time, the easiest shortest route was pizza and French fries. Something about the grease, carbs (read: sugar), and salt always seemed to hit the spot. I went from under well 200 lbs to 245 lbs – which when I hear myself say that to myself now I think, “I would have never believed that I would ever get to that point.”
But the lightbulb moment of change never occurred to me – even with all of the hints from my wife, Heidi, who often prompted me to “go for a walk” – until one day when I decided to go for that dreadful walk. It is time to change. I was tired of feeling tired. Prompted by Heidi and light at the end of the residency tunnel, I decided to start riding a bike throughout the neighborhood. Something about the mountainous task of walking (or God-forbid running) steered me away from those activities; but the speed of the bicycle – and the idea that I was traveling up to 10 miles per ride – allowed me to be inspired enough to take the plunge I was fearfully avoiding.