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Dr. B's Weekly Roundup: New Year—same you!

Jacqueline Raposo
Jacqueline Raposo
Dec 29, 2022
A color outdoor landscape of a mountain range with a river cutting through it. In the foreground a woman stands with her back to the camera, wearing brown pants and a shiny gold jacket, raising their arms to the sky.

Welcome to the Dr. B Newsletter, a curated weekly healthcare email that cuts through the noise to deliver vetted reads on whole-body health. Deep into the (phenomenal) show Call the Midwife, a senior character urges her colleagues to remember, “We are each as whole as we will ever be again.” To welcome 2023 with this mindful focus, we’ve rounded up resolution insight that inspires vitality + joy. Plus, healthcare news that'll keep you strong + grounded as the calendar page turns once again. Cheers!

  • The Checkup: your best you
  • In 2023: let's focus on the joy
  • Healthcare: oh, our mortality!

The Checkup

Live it up in 2023! 

An outdoor color photograph of a frozen river on which a white man in a wheelchair wearing a red pompom hat laughs with a white woman wearing a dark hooded coat and pink scarf sits on his lap and laughs, too.

To change for the better, research shows that we must genuinely want to change and need the skills + drive to make change happen. But most New Year’s resolutions are too simplistic or insincere to inspire follow-through. So we abandon almost 80% within two years.

Given these (exhaustingly) trying times, maybe it’s time to ditch resolutions + set ourselves up for joy instead!

Some ideas? Book your vacation. Cancel your gym membership + sign up for a dance class, climbing course or whatever physical activity you like. Schedule therapy + preventative health screenings now. Start a new hobby and let yourself be bad at it!

If these suggestions sound revitalizing, dig into more at ABC.

The best things in life are free!

A color indoor photograph of a young Black woman wearing jeans and a sweater, her full brown hair hiding her face, reading a book with her legs and socks perched on a blue couch where a dog lays sleeping.

Okay, so we just suggested you not make resolutions. But a few small, achievable shifts can improve your health and save you some dough. (Which you could then put towards that vacation or cooking class).

Where to start? Turn down the thermostat at night—you’ll sleep better + save on heating costs. Upgrade your H2O with a faucet filter or pitcher and stay hydrated while saving on bottled water. Instead of buying books, go to the library—there, you’ll find community + unexpected reads that’ll help sharpen your brain.

For tips on tackling the grocery store, connecting with nature and more, head to AARP.

Embrace eating mindfully

A color indoor photograph of two white women with long hair wearing sweaters. They sit at a restaurant table, cutting into pancakes.

This time of year, our feeds flood with diet + weight loss tips. And yes—eating well can improve our health, energy + self-confidence. But there’s a fine line between healthy dieting + disordered eating habits. So before you dive into calorie counting + treadmill treading, Everyday Health suggests you first ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is my goal for this diet? 
  2. Is that goal realistic for my body size? 
  3. What does “healthy” mean to me? 
  4. Will a diet make me feel worse?
  5. My doctor told me to lose weight. Could they be missing another health issue?

Head to the article for more advice. Or, if ready to reframe your relationship with body shame, our body acceptance blog post is here for you, too.

Healthcare 411

Covid-19 and overdose deaths drive U.S. life expectancy to a 25-year low (Politico). U.S. life spans have now fallen below other wealthy nations, hitting our lowest point since 1996. Life expectancy has been rising since the turn of the 20th century. But Covid-19 became the third leading cause of death over these last three years. Overdose deaths increased almost 16% in 2021 after having increased 30% in 2020. And while these statistics differ by population, it’s worrying that drug and alcohol deaths have risen across older Americans in general.

Vaccination rates are falling, and it’s not just the COVID-19 vaccine that people are refusing (Nature). Inching up to 2020, the WHO listed vaccination hesitancy as one of the ten greatest threats to global health. Layer on inadequately-funded vaccination programs + economic disparity, and global vaccination rates are at their lowest point since 2008—a reality that pits tens of thousands of lives against tetanus, measles, diphtheria and more. Read the report to for what to stay aware of in your region. And here’s why too few fully boosted seniors spells trouble for winter.

Many U.S. hospitals sue patients for debts or threaten their credit (NPR). Placing liens on property. Garnishing wages. Selling debt to collection agencies. These are a few ways 528 investigated hospitals across the country aggressively pursue medical debt. As a result, patients are cutting back on food, changing their living situation or coupling up on jobs. Use the article’s search tool to see how your hospital approaches medical debt. The results are scary. (But also why Dr. B offers $15 online medical consultations + no-cost care to those who financially qualify.)

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