I would love to spread positivity and improved self-image in women. I believe that women are especially vulnerable to not only outside criticism but self-criticism. We all tend to grow up thinking we can look and do better. These ideas come from home environments, outside social influences, careers, outlook from men, movies, magazines and so on. These influences tell us to change and look more like “ an idea of perfection” rather than ourselves and this is just wrong. We are who we are, and that is enough.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Brittany Brinley.
Dr. Brittany Brinley is a Beverly Hills-based physician and entrepreneur board-certified in Internal Medicine. Graduating top of class from Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Brinley overcame early adversity to make her dreams of becoming the first doctor in her family a reality. Before opening her private medical concierge practice, Dr. Brinley worked as an ICU Hospitalist for Loyola University in Chicago. Dr. Brinley’s areas of expertise include general medicine, hospital medicine, fitness, heart disease, diabetes and skincare. You can learn more about Dr. Brinley at www.drbrinley.com and keep up with her on Instagram at @dr.brinley.
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 wellness?
As a kid I struggled with my weight and asthma. Both of these challenges I faced sparked an interest in healthcare, fitness and wellness. The steroids for my asthma made my weight problems worse. I made a conscious decision at a young age to get healthier and wanted to share and teach others about my passion.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
There have been so many interesting stories and people along the way. Due to patient client privacy I cannot go into exact details, but there is a recurring theme. The most memorable are those patients/ clients who feel like they’ve hit rock bottom and have nowhere to go. I am able to help them through medicine, wellness and lifestyle to achieve a second chance at life. A new way of living that allows them to experience happiness, success and most of all feel proud of their accomplishments. My favorite moments are when someone I helped walks back in and I don’t recognize them because of how great they look and feel. These moments truly fulfill me and are the reasons I work in my field everyday.
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?
One of the most humorous mistakes I made was not eating during a 24 hour shift. I wasn’t feeling the best before the shift started and didn’t want to upset my stomach more. I was in medical school and on surgery rotation at the time. Unfortunately, during my last surgery of a 36 hour shift as we were starting to cauterize the skin, I could just remember my vision starting to tunnel. In my head, I thought I warned my team that I wasn’t feeling well but in reality I just passed out on the floor, in a sterile OR room, without warning. They had to call a rapid response (a code for when a patient is decompensating in the hospital). The team had to assess me, check my glucose and vitals, literally in the middle of their surgery! I eventually woke up and had a very embarrassed laugh about the whole situation. Such a rookie medical student mistake!
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?
I want the readers to know that anyone can do it. By it, I mean that weight-loss, lifestyle, job, life, and family that they’ve always wanted. We all have struggles, time-constraints and even medical conditions that limit us. I’m here because I’m with you and can show you how to move past the barriers blocking you from being your best self.
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 parents were a great support system throughout my medical career. My dad worked at a steel company and my mom was a stay at home mom until taking the leap to go back to school to become a nurse. As I was growing up, I wanted to be a doctor and even though I nor my parents really knew how to make that happen, we were ready to figure it out. During the challenging times I felt that I wasn’t on the right path or doubted my abilities, they were always in the background reminding me why I started this journey and reinforced my confidence that allowed me to keep going.
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?
- I find that the biggest struggle for most people, including myself is procrastination. We all know how easy putting off that diet change or workout until tomorrow is. Excuses are easily made- “I have more time tomorrow”, “I’ll go to bed early and wake up early tomorrow to get a work-out in” or “I’m just too tired today, work was too busy and I need to rest”. Did you know that Exercising after work despite how tired you feel will boost energy levels? You’ll be able to accomplish more that evening after a work-out from the increased ATP production and endorphins.
- A second blockage happens after someone has started their change and has a “slip-up”. Maybe they ate two pieces of cake at a birthday party or said they were going to stop drinking wine and ended up having a glass anyways. Sometimes, being hard on ourselves or self-shaming afterward lead to negative thinking. Negative thoughts can lead to the belief that “we can’t do it”. This thought process hurts us more than just accepting the mistake and making a conscious decision to do better next time.
- Lastly, find support in the people around you- it could be your spouse, a friend or a family member. Sometimes it even helps to bring that person on the journey with you so that you can push and motivate each other. Plus, we can all agree, it’s nice to have someone keeping you company during those intense work-outs or skipping dessert to opt for tea or coffee after dinner.
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.)
1. Laughter really is the best medicine. Have you ever had that moment when you’re so upset at something or someone, you’re trying to be serious, but then something out of the ordinary happens and you just laugh. Next thing you know, you barely remember what you were upset about. Laughter has proven health benefits such as:
- Reduced stress
- Improved immune function
- Increased oxygen delivery
- Better mood
- Pain relief/ reduction
2. Find a hobby you love! Balance your hectic day to day with time for yourself, and what better way to spend that time then enjoying something you’re passionate about. When I speak with patients and friends about mental health, I’m always eager to discuss the things in our everyday lives that can help aid in improving our overall well being. Hobbies are a great way to find balance, peace and inner happiness. Through hobbies an individual enjoys, one can release stress, find time to have self discussion and create an outlet to release added weight that can become a burden.
3. Spending quality time with loved ones, no phone required for this one. Put the phones down and engage with friends and family, who knows, you might learn something new about them!
4. More veggies, more veggies, more veggies. The best way I find to get my veggies in is to try a new recipe. Buy a vegan recipe book or even look up a new vegetable recipe online. This will motivate you to not only cook the vegetable but excited to try the new taste out! And who knows, you might even like it!
5. Don’t set yourself back due to one mistake. Forgiveness is a big part of a wellness journey. When you slip up but overeat or miss a work-out, forgive yourself, move on and find the determination to do better next time.
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?
- Stress Relief- decreases cortisol levels in the body, one of the greatest stress indicators. Exercising also increases endorphins that help you feel better and tell your brain after a work-out that you have been rewarded!
- Increased energy — by increasing blood flow and oxygen throughout the body, you feel more ready to conquer your day, energized to go the extra mile or awake enough to put in another couple hours on that important project you’ve been wanting to finish.
- Better self-image.- when you feel great it affects the way you approach people and your confidence. Let’s face it, confidence is attractive, happy people who smile are even more appealing. When you feel great it carries into your persona and affects the way you look to other people. This is where the saying comes from, when you feel great, you look great!
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
I always tell patients, you don’t have to run a marathon to exercise. In my experience, many people feel like they need to go out, run for the first time and complete an hour of exercise. This is simply not the case. To begin, any exercise is better than no exercise. Also, walking around the block even 4 times, approximately one mile will help! The recommended exercise is 3–4 times weekly for at least 30 minutes consistently. This does not have to be accomplished the first time out and can be built up to.
Cardiovascular exercise in the form of walking, jogging, biking etc, plus resistance training with weights is a valuable part to any successful work-out routine.
In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?
Stretching is key. Before and especially after. When we work out, lactic acid can build within the muscle tissue. The more that accumulates, the more sore an individual may feel. Stretching and cool down exercises help to eliminate this build-up. Also, when we work out, components of muscle cells break-down naturally. These components are cleared through our kidneys. It’s very important to stay hydrated even after an intense work-out is complete to avoid any kidney injury. If there is too much muscle damage, a condition known as rhabdomyolysis can cause severe muscle pain and even acute kidney injury.
There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?
I personally follow a low carb, low sugar, gluten free, lactose free diet. My diet is pretty consistent with the paleo diet. I also limit my red meat intake. I am gluten and lactose free due to allergies, but do feel that gluten is very heavily processed and contains many added chemicals to preserve wheat, rye and barley products, especially in the United States. I monitor my red meat intake due to pro-inflammatory effects it has as well as the direct link with red meat and colon cancer. I am a huge believer in the idea- everything in moderation. I usually recommend low carb, low sugar, higher protein, natural fruits and vegetables to my patients. I go with a moderate approach. A diet should be balanced. No one wants to eat the same foods every day. If you are really craving a slice of cheesecake, have a piece, but don’t have the entire cake.
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 would love to spread positivity and improved self-image in women. I believe that women are especially vulnerable to not only outside criticism but self-criticism. We all tend to grow up thinking we can look and do better. These ideas come from home environments, outside social influences, careers, outlook from men, movies, magazines and so on. These influences tell us to change and look more like “ an idea of perfection” rather than ourselves and this is just wrong. We are who we are, and that is enough. There also needs to be more women supporting women. Due to the social strains and competition within society and jobs, women tend to compete with each other instead of building each other up. There is strength in numbers, women didn’t fight for the right to vote individually. It was a team effort, women working as a unit to accomplish a larger goal. If we’re going to continue moving forward there needs to be a sense of unity. There is room for more than just one at the top.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“The best preparation for tomorrow, is being the best you today!”
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 really look up to Carolyn Rafaelion, the founder of Alex and Ani. As a successful women entrepreneur, I greatly look up to her motivation, success and her charitable efforts. I am highly impressed by her Charity by Design. She uses her passion for jewelry for the better good. Known as a recognizable philanthropist, I strive to be as successful and giving as she.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?