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“5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Can Dramatically Improve Your Wellbeing” With Dr. Marvin Singh

Use a tracker to keep track of things like your resting heart rate, heart rate variability, sleep patterns, etc. These can be so helpful in identifying where you need a little extra help so you can make changes quickly and see how your body responds. Asa part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That […]

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Use a tracker to keep track of things like your resting heart rate, heart rate variability, sleep patterns, etc. These can be so helpful in identifying where you need a little extra help so you can make changes quickly and see how your body responds.

Asa part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Marvin Singh. Dr. Marvin Singh is the founder of Precisione Clinic, where he helps patients understand their bodies, how they work, and what they need. Dr. Singh also has a book in the works entitled Own Your Health.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?

When I started practicing medicine I felt like there was a disconnection in how we take care of patients who were chronically sick. This got me interested in learning about different approaches to healthcare and from there I started learning about integrative medicine and decided to enroll in the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine Fellowship program. This was so eye opening for me and it was like a breath of fresh air was blown into my body. I learned so much about health and wellness and found the benefits in my own health (I lost 30 pounds in 3 months and got rid of my heartburn) and I saw the benefits in my patients as well.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I had a patient who was struggling with abdominal pain. He had a full work up done and there was nothing to be found as a reason to explain his pain. He came to me for a second opinion and I agreed with his prior work up. I took the time to actually listen to him, to listen to his concerns. I asked him, “what would you tell me if I saw you in the store 1 year from now and you looked and felt like a million bucks….what you tell me when I asked you, how did you do it?” And he looked up at me and said “Doc, I’m just depressed.” This was our “aha moment” and now the healing could begin. Now the real conversation could be had. And this really underscored for me the importance of the mind-gut connection.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

The first time I tried to teach someone breath work, we were practicing the 4–7–8 breath and at least two times I messed up the counting. I was a little embarrassed but at the same time laughing at myself for making such a simple mistake, repeatedly. But I sat back and thought that it really doesn’t matter as much how you are breathing when you do breathwork….just sitting, being still, and appreciating that sense of presence is all that matters. So, don’t sweat the details. Just go with it!

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

There are very few physicians in the United States who are formally trained in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Integrative Medicine and who have received certifications in all of these areas. During the process of training I also immersed myself in the literature and have written articles, book chapters, and co-edited a textbook in the field of Integrative Gastroenterology. While I have academic appointments at UC San Diego and UC Irvine and I love to teach and educate others, my passion is in developing personalized health plans for my clients. I feel that my contribution to the world of wellness is in bringing awareness to the concept of Precisonomics, the next generation of healthcare, that looks at your health using cutting edge science and technology to help uncover the secrets of your personal wellness. Precision medicine is a game changer in how we define health — or what it means to “be healthy.” Instead of using statistics based on everybody, we now have the technology to go in and see what’s true for you-just you. This means we can see how healthy you actually are, or what could use improvement, and make adjustments from that information. It also lets us look at your risk factors for certain diseases and then make decisions to hopefully prevent — or at least prolong — their onset, such as breast cancer, heart disease, or Alzheimer’s. Even more fascinating, we can also see where you might be prone to injury, which is definitely a game changer not only for professional athletes, but for anyone who engages in sports or physical activity.

In short, precision medicine is our ticket to better health, for longer. And I am so excited to be a pioneer in this field!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My wife. Without a doubt. She helped me when I was lost early on in my career, when I discovered that something was missing from the way we take care of patients. She introduced me to Dr. Andrew Weil and Integrative Medicine and although I was initially resistant (being very traditionally trained), she persisted and I finally started learning about Integrative Medicine and found that it was fascinating and filled with a lot of evidence basis for some very interesting therapies and treatments. From there, I decided to pursue formal training in integrative medicine and the rest is history! I have incredible physician mentors who have helped me get to where I am today, but I have to give credit to my wife, where the idea to do what I’m doing now came from!

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

This is a great question. Often the biggest challenge is ourselves. One of the things I enjoy helping people doing is figuring out how to implement these healthy strategies into their lifestyle. It truly is a personalized process. I think time management is a big obstacle; it’s important to look at your schedule and map out how and when you can do certain things. Setting priorities on what we do day to day can also often be an obstacle; it is important to remember what is truly a priority (exercise) vs. something we do for fun (check social media) and think about how we can do both or set time limits on less essential activities. Fear of trying something new is also an obstacle, believe it or not. And while trying new things and practicing different lifestyle habits might be intimidating at first, this is actually the most exciting part of becoming healthier because you will learn about so many new and different things and what you thought was once difficult will be seemless months down the road. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to do everything at once. Actually, you shouldn’t. Pace yourself. There is no race. It’s not a marathon. It’s your life. You have time. Enjoy it!

Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)

Trying natural therapies whenever possible and safe. This is important because sometimes the medications we take cause other problems. If we can solve a problem more simply and safely, then we certainly should try to.

Breathwork is so important for stress reduction. I consider it the gateway to mindfulness. Sometimes starting off your stress reduction routine can be intimidating. I don’t pressure people to meditate right off the bat. I teach them about breathwork, which is simple and easy to do and only takes a few minutes. Once you get the hang of this, you are ready to move on to something that might require a little more effort.

Look at EWG.org (The Environmental Working Group) to get an idea of what foods you really need to organic and which products are safest for you and your family. Toxins can certainly impact your health; if we can identify safer products and cleaner foods to eat we will be one step ahead of the game.

Use a tracker to keep track of things like your resting heart rate, heart rate variability, sleep patterns, etc. These can be so helpful in identifying where you need a little extra help so you can make changes quickly and see how your body responds.

Do something nice for yourself and/or someone else, and do it often! Kindness and compassion as very key components to being healthy, happy, and living longer. It sounds so elementary to say something like this but there is actually scientific literature that underscores how important this simple concept really is. Keep paying it forward and keep putting good energy into the world. If you do this, it will certainly come back to you.

As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?

Exercise is important for our gut microbiome. Studies suggest that those who exercise have a more diverse and resilient gut microbiome. This is important because our microbiome is the seat of our immune system and is central to optimizing health.

Exercise is important for reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes. It helps your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels and also helps reduce levels of inflammation in our body.

Exercise is important for mental health and mood. Exercise can increase the levels of BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor). This is a very important substance for our brains because higher levels can be associated with slower aging of the brain, enhanced mood, and better memory.

For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?

Choosing an exercise routine is also a personalized thing. We have certain genes that might predict if we might excel at power based activities or endurance based activities. So I often will check these things in my clients to help them understand what might be best for them.

Outside of this I would suggest trying something like yoga or tai chi. These are great low impact movement based activities that are also great for stress reduction and tuning in that mind-body connection.

Strength training is important. You don’t have to start off bench pressing or doing squats in the gym to impress your friends. It’s ok to start simple and just get a pair of dumbbells. There are a ton of different things you can do with a simple pair of dumbbells.

As simple as it sounds, just going for a brisk walk is a great exercise. It is easy to do, low impact, and can easily fit into a daily routine for anyone. It’s a good way to start and get your heart pumping. You will often find me walking laps around my office building in between patients. When I have to take conference calls I will also just pop in my ear pods and go for a walk and chat at the same time. You have to make sure to get in your steps everyday!

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

The book “Mindsight” by Dr. Daniel Siegel made a large impact on me. It helped me better understand how the mind works and how it can influence our behaviors and feelings now and later in life. By understanding this concept better, I feel like I was able to elevate myself to a different level as a health care provider because I started to be able to really understand and feel where people were coming from and what drove certain behaviors and lifestyle choices. When I was able to do this better, I started to be able to give better, more meaningful recommendations. I always tell people that when I truly understood “mindsight” I stopped becoming a simple “doctor” and become a “healer.”

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I believe I am already starting a movement. That movement is called Precisionomics. Precisionomics is the next generation of healthcare and it is an innovative way of practicing medicine. We are now able to help people by looking at their highly personalized information. It’s one thing to say “hey, most people benefit from this so you should do it.” But it is so much more impactful to say “hey, these are your risks and if you do these certain things we can try to reduce your risk and improve your quality and length of life.”

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

My favorite life lesson is a quote is that “it is important to be on top of your health rather than underneath disease.” This quote speaks to the heart of what precision medicine is really all about. Early on in my career I learned the importance of this concept. When I started to understand my body on a higher level, looking at my genes, microbiome, sensitivities, exposures, and other elements, I realized I truly knew what I needed to do in order to optimize my health and when I did this, the weight started coming off, my mood improved, and I just felt overall rejuvenated. I learned that if you took a personalized approach health, you can stay on top of your health rather than always feeling like you were underneath some disease, condition, or symptom.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to meet Dwayne Johnson, The Rock. I think many of us look to him as the prototype for fitness and I would love to learn some of the tricks he picked up along the way that helped him get to where he is today. I would also be interested to learn about his microbiome and see what kind of good microbes he has keeping him in shape…but that’s the nerdy part of me…always wanting to discover and learn more on a higher level.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Please come check out my website www.PrecisioneClinic.com and follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @DrMarvinSingh. I also have a podcast called “Precisione: The Healthcast” which can be found on all your favorite podcast platforms; this is a great place to hear me chat with the leaders in the field of health and wellness.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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