I have focused individuals on managing and reducing their stress, as well as lowering the pressure and noise in their lives. This is an ongoing project for all humans. The most successful people can effectively manage their stressors and turn them into positive outcomes. Learning that every obstacle is an opportunity to succeed has helped many I have coached in handling complicated situations effectively.
Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?
As a part of our series about “How We Can Do To Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Bruce Pinker.
Dr. Bruce Pinker is an experienced foot and ankle surgeon who is board certified by the American Board of Podiatric Medicine. He is a graduate of the New York College of Podiatric Medicine (NYCPM) in New York City. Dr. Pinker started his career at the highly respected Binghamton University (State University of New York), where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in a pre-medical course of study focusing on Biology and Philosophy. Dr. Pinker completed two residency programs at St. Barnabas Hospital in New York, a rotating podiatric residency program and a primary podiatric medical residency program. While at St. Barnabas Hospital, Dr. Pinker had extensive exposure to foot and ankle trauma, foot and ankle surgery, diabetic foot injuries and infections, unusual diseases, dermatology and disorders of the foot, as well as general medicine and general surgery. Dr. Pinker then continued to Philadelphia where he trained at the esteemed Hahnemann University Hospital, as well as St. Joseph’s Hospital where he became the Chief Resident and led the podiatric surgical team. At Elkins Park Hospital, also in Philadelphia, Dr. Pinker focused on elective foot surgery and sports medicine under the tutelage of Dr. Gary M. Gordon, DPM. In addition to treating patients in his busy private practice, Dr. Pinker is a professional foot & ankle health and wellness speaker who delivers many original seminars annually, such as “Diabetes & Your Feet: The Winning Combination,” “Exercise Safe to Lose Weight” and “Keep On Running.” Dr. Pinker is an expert in corporate health and wellness and continues to work with many corporations throughout the tri-state area. Dr. Pinker is also a proud Teaching Faculty Member of the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center Podiatric Surgical Residency Program, in Brooklyn, NY, one of the largest and most respected podiatric surgical training programs in the United States. In 2019, Dr. Pinker was awarded the honor of membership in the highly regarded publication: Who’s Who in America. Every year, Dr. Pinker conducts an Annual Holiday Shoe Drive for the Homeless to benefit the less fortunate in his community. Dr. Pinker has donated a portion of the shoes collected each year to foreign countries in need. For many years, Dr. Pinker has also been a proud member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) in the New York City chapter (EO-NY). Through his powerful experiences in EO-NY, he has had the privilege of coaching and being coached by many other successful entrepreneurs focused upon success in business, family, and personal life.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/5859a47509a5d1a2d31b775482d2a9a0
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Growing up in the suburbs of NYC, I was always very athletic. My friends and I always played sports every day after school and on the weekends. During the spring, we often played two sports during our younger years: lacrosse and baseball. As I got older, I focused on tennis and running, and was also on the wrestling team for a short while. At the age of 12, I experienced a severe hamstring tear while playing football that required months of rehabilitation. From this experience, I was introduced to the world of sports medicine and gained an appreciation for how the human body heals. During this time, I also studied piano and trumpet, and started a rock band when I was 14 years old. At this time, I also began writing music, being inspired by songs from The Beatles, The Who, Billy Joel and many others. To this day, I still write music, and have recorded over 20 songs. As a child, I was taught to help others, a principle that was instilled in me by my parents. Giving to others came naturally to me as I find there is no higher calling than to help another in need. I have found, after 20 years of private practice, that connecting with others is the greatest gift one can possess, and I aim to connect with every individual I meet, whether it’s personal, clinical, or professional. I strive to make every connection count and hope to improve the quality of another’s day in any way that I can.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
As a senior at Binghamton University, I reached out to several podiatrists, looking to learn about the profession of podiatric medicine and surgery. Dr. James E. McNerney, DPM responded to my request. He spent a day with me discussing the benefits of the profession and encouraged me to apply to podiatry school. The interesting aspects of the diabetic foot and podiatric sports medicine were shared with me, in addition to elective and trauma surgery, as well as routine office procedures. Dr. McNerney was an adjunct professor of the Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine (now called Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine), and wrote me a letter of recommendation. After learning from his insightful anecdotes, I realized what a wonderful career podiatric medicine and surgery could be, and confidently applied for admission. The following year, I enrolled in the New York College of Podiatric Medicine (NYCPM).
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
My father was the strongest influence in my life to keep my pointed in the right direction. Without my father’s encouragement, I’d never be the person I am today. My father encouraged me in every avenue I pursued, whether it was sports, music, or medicine. Often, when my rock band practiced or performed, my father was there to listen and provide support. If I wrote a new song, my father always made time to hear it and give me his opinion. When I was playing baseball or tennis, my father was there to practice with me, help me throw the ball better, and hit my serve better. If I ever had a problem, my father would talk with me and help me work through it. Today, when I think about how I can support my son, I remember how my father helped me and apply the same ideas.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
As a third year student at NYCPM, my first rotation was in the pediatrics clinic. Being fresh and new, there was a lot of learning ahead for me. On the first day, one of my patients was a four year old female who presented with her parents who complained that their daughter’s feet hurt more with the orthotics one of the doctors prescribed for her. I found this rather perplexing, as orthotics typically reduce the pain and discomfort patients experience, that’s the reason why they are recommended for some patients. I could not understand what the issue was, and measured the orthotics up to the patient’s feet, and they fit well. I presented the case to the attending physician and showed him the orthotics, and in a matter of seconds, without blinking an eye, he said: “They have them reversed. They’re wearing the right one in the left shoe, and vice versa.” A rookie mistake, I thought, and laughed a bit. I then returned to the family, explaining that they were using the orthotics in the wrong shoes, right one in the left shoe, and vice versa. The mother and father laughed and then thanked me for explaining the problem. They then placed the devices in the respective shoes, and their daughter put on her shoes and happily skipped out the door. From this experience, I learned that sometimes, the solution to our problems is sometimes rather simple and right before our very eyes. If we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen R. Covey, was the most impactful book I have read to date. Some of my entrepreneur friends had spoken about it, and so I knew I had to read it. Learning from the book how to prioritize between urgent and important taught me how to build a successful foot and ankle practice, always thinking of ways to innovate and improve the experience for our employees and our patients. By applying the principles of Covey’s book, I was able to grow our practice by augmenting our advertising to increase patient volume. The practice grew so much, I had to hire an associate to handle the high volume of patients. By constantly considering what is important, but not urgent, a major teaching of Covey’s, I’ve been able to plan for the future and introduce new treatment options and advanced technology that has benefitted our patients dramatically, such as Juvederm treatments, Laser treatment for toenail fungus, and Shockwave treatment for heel pain. The principles of Covey’s book resonated with me significantly, as the result of these combined efforts has helped our practice grow 30–50% year over year.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a “Life Lesson Quote” that resonates with me. I learned this lesson, The Golden Rule, at a very young age, and have always applied it in my interactions with others. As a coach once taught me: be firm but fair — it is similar in its concept. Everyone is someone, and they must be treated with respect. I truly believe that what goes around comes around. If you are cruel to others, you will be treated the same. I’ve incorporated The Golden Rule into leading by example in my dealings with others. I believe in treating others fairly and with respect, while being transparent and honest. I have found this policy works best and breeds success.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
We just completed our 13th Annual Holiday Shoe Drive for the Homeless to help support the less fortunate in our community. Over the past 13 years, we have donated over 14,000 pairs of footwear to local benevolent organizations to help combat foot infections and diseases the homeless are known to incur, such as frostbite, gangrene, and infected wounds. These foot infections can be very serious and lead to loss of one’s foot or limb. Amputations carry a high mortality rate for the patients affected, and the families of amputees are often affected, as well. Amputations also carry significant mental health issues for patients and their families. We hope to prevent amputations by providing footwear to those in need. Over the years, we have sent footwear to Haiti to help them recover following an earthquake, and also to various parts of the U.S. to help them recuperate after suffering from a hurricane. We strongly believe it is important to give back to the community and proudly do so annually. We are planning a blood drive for next year with the help of a local blood center. As there have been blood shortages, hopefully this comes to fruition so many individuals can benefit.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each. For optimum mental wellness.
I have focused individuals on managing and reducing their stress, as well as lowering the pressure and noise in their lives. This is an ongoing project for all humans. The most successful people can effectively manage their stressors and turn them into positive outcomes. Learning that every obstacle is an opportunity to succeed has helped many I have coached in handling complicated situations effectively. A major bio hack I have shared with many is to hyper hydrate. Consuming 16 ounces of cold water in a matter of three to four seconds provides an energy boost and also an exothermic reaction that cools the body. This should be performed at least three to four times per day. in intervals. Hyper hydration is nothing new, but, surprisingly, I have found that many individuals do not consume nearly enough water. Being dehydrated, we know from research, puts us at a disadvantage, and we can not effectively manage stress or challenges in this state. Being hyper hydrated allows us to stabilize our body and handle challenges more directly with a clear mind. Many of those I’ve coached have reported an energy boost after hyper hydrating. They have also related that prior to an important meeting or job interview, they have hyper hydrated and have had significant success as a result of feeling mentally ready for the task at hand. Ice plunges have been very beneficial for many that I have coached to increase their mental wellness. For those unable to utilize ice, freezing cold showers are a good substitute. Cryotherapy is also beneficial in this regard. The low temperatures have the ability to awaken the mind and stimulate cerebral activity. Many of those I have coached reported increased mental acuity following ice plunges, freezing showers, or cryotherapy. A third good habit for achieving optimum mental wellness is getting adequate amounts of sleep. Whether young or old, it is necessary to rest and restore the body in order to perform at a high level. Most individuals need at least six hours of sleep to function properly. I have directed individuals to black out their windows and discontinue usage of all digital devices at least one hour before going to bed. Many of those I have coached found an improvement in overall mood by following these recommendations. We must realize the body and the brain need rest to recharge and operate the next day. Many entrepreneurs struggle with the concept of rest as they may be working over 100 hours per week trying to build their businesses. Nonetheless, rest is essential for optimum mental wellness.
Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.
Every morning, before getting up out of bed, I practice a five minute breathing exercise that incorporates meditation. Long, slow breaths in and out help to regulate my thoughts and help me gather an order to start the day. Also, before a monthly meeting with several other entrepreneurs, we participate in a three minute meditation from Headspace to settle us all so we can focus in a relaxed manner on the meeting. Also, prior to getting dressed ach day, I practice yoga that incorporates various stretches that I learned while in high school. This helps to prevent lower back tightness and addresses the entire body in approximately five minutes. I find both of these activities grounding and make for a solid way to begin each day.
Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
In the realm of optimum physical wellness, I recommend to many individuals to stretch on a regular basis. When we awake, the body is typically somewhat tight on one side, or in the back region, and needs to be aligned. Morning stretching is highly beneficial to reducing physical stress. Those I have coached have reported increased physical strength following a week of regular morning stretches, as recommended. As well, regular yoga exercises, as mentioned above, help to improve overall bodily strength. The yoga exercises have improved overall bodily strength in those I have coached, including those practicing hot yoga. Typically, a 30 minute or one hour program is highly beneficial for most. A third good habit for optimum physical wellness is regular workouts three to four times per week. These have helped create strength and stamina in those I have coached. A balanced mix of cardiovascular exercise and weight training three to four times per week is recommended. Working out first thing in the morning has been highly beneficial for most, simply consuming 16 ounces of cold water prior to the workout. Cardiovascular exercise of at least 30 minutes is recommended, preceded by a solid weight training regimen that works the chest, arms, back, and leg muscles. Those that I have coached have reported an increase in productivity after just two weeks of steady morning workouts as this regular exercise program also increases the level of endorphins to stimulate brain activity and feelings of euphoria. If they were not able to exercise as recommended, I suggested taking 30 minute walks outdoors to help frame their thoughts and increase blood flow. Also, hyper hydration (as previously mentioned) will help to replenish muscles with water which can help prevent injury. In addition to hydrating the body’s muscles, hyper hydration has given those I have coached an energy boost and feeling of strength.
Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating?
We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, 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 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives? I believe healthy eating is essential, and most individuals understand nutrition on a basic level. The main blockage to eating healthily is time. Many do not have time to cook healthy food for themselves. Fast food is readily available at the click of a screen or the dial of the phone, and it is everywhere. Also, we are heavily influenced by advertising, be it internet or television, and we are products of society. Many of us look for convenience, choosing an affordable meal at 10.00 dollars, even though it is not healthy. Some choose fast food due to price. Unfortunately, many don’t realize that a slice of pizza from a local restaurant is much healthier and probably more affordable than a McDonald’s cheeseburger meal. Due to branding, as well as a somewhat “addicting” quality in fast food, many make poor, unhealthy choices when it comes to eating. For some, they must be “scared” into eating healthily. Being diagnosed with diabetes or high cholesterol, or being told one is overweight, can inspire some to practice healthy dieting. For others, it’s a heart attack or the loss of a loved one that can get one to integrate healthy eating into one’s life. As I learned years ago, healthy eating is a lifestyle, and it should be practiced every day. Consuming a healthy diet is essential for overall optimum wellness. Minimizing the processed sugars and carbohydrates and replacing them with whole grains, such as steel cut organic oatmeal and whole wheat bread, is recommended. As well, including fruits and vegetables into nearly every meal, as well as lean protein, is very nutritional. Consuming smart snacks, such as raw almonds and walnuts, brings several benefits to many. Nutritional supplements, such as turmeric and ginger are recommended to reduce inflammation and improve digestion. Flaxseed oil can help improve healthy cholesterol, and zinc and vitamin D are also suggested to boost the immune system. You are what you eat, and consuming healthy foods nourish the whole body, including the brain. While working on time-consuming projects, those I have coached stated that on days when they consumed healthy foods, and eliminated the “junk food”, they were more effective in executing the tasks the set out to accomplish.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
Optimum emotional wellness can be achieved through daily breathing exercises and meditation. I have found that holding one’s breath for approximately six to eight seconds helps to hold oxygen in the brain and increase alertness. Only performed a few times, along with long exhales, it helps to regulate one’s breathing and provides a solid way to begin one’s day. Before or after stressful events, meditation helps to ground one’s self and should be practiced regularly, if not periodically, as mentioned previously. Improving one’s self awareness helps significantly to build optimal emotional wellness. By individuals focusing on their strengths, and not trying to dabble in too many other subjects, one can grow and develop a niche in certain arenas. Learning what one is good at, and working to cultivate one’s skills, helps one to know one’s self better. By understanding one’s self, and consciously and deliberately focusing on specific tasks, one can succeed and rise faster in one’s career and personal life. A third good habit to lead to optimum emotional wellness is daily journaling. I have practiced daily journaling and it has helped me to think more clearly, and those I have coached have said the same. Simply writing or typing for at least 15 minutes at the start of each day can help bring clarity and lead to success in business, personal, and family matters.
Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.
Smiling is very powerful. My father, my strongest influence in my life, taught me to smile a lot. He taught me to smile when I was under stress or unhappy, or if I was bored, and also when I experienced joy. Smiling causes the facial muscles to move in various ways so that it reduces stress. Smiling is an exercise, similar to lifting weights. Every morning, on my way to my office, I practice smiling to “wake up” my face. It is an exercise that actors use to warm up, and I have used it for years to help me get set emotionally for the day ahead. The act of smiling causes one to feel happy, and happiness is a choice. By practicing smiling, one can shake off any bad news that comes her way and get focused.
Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
For optimum spiritual wellness, I’ve found many have experienced success through prayer. Whether silent, or spoken quietly while alone, many people can find solace by connecting with a higher being with which they associate. Also, through organized religion, if one is so inclined, some can confidently connect with god and build a strong spiritual soul. I encourage those that I coach to reach out to a higher being if they associate with one. Prayer can be very powerful, and it gives people something to believe in, and for some, it is something to hope for. Practicing gratitude is also effective in developing optimum spiritual wellness. By simply listing five things each day for which one is grateful, one can empower one’s spirituality. I’ve been told by those who practice gratitude exercises that they feel that “good things come to them.” A third good habit that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness is to take nature hikes. Being in the mountains, surrounded by rocks and trees, grounded in the earth, helps to settle the mind. Without the distraction of cars and noise, it’s easier for one to focus upon one’s spirituality and clear one’s mind. It has been proven that hiking is beneficial for the mind and helps reduce stress and anxiety. In the UK, doctors prescribe hiking for anxiety and depression.
Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?
Being “in nature” can help cultivate spiritual wellness as one reflects upon nature and all the beauty that god has created. By appreciating the trees, the sky, the water, and the air, one can connect with the higher being who has created it all, and become rather spiritual. Noticing the perfection in nature, be it a spider’s web or a beautiful sunset, can build a strong sense of spiritual wellness. Being aware of the world around us, and recognizing it in its natural state, cultivates spiritual wellness also.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, it would be to provide every individual on the planet with adequate food and clean water to help reduce malnutrition. In many developing and third world countries, malnutrition exists due to polluted water and lack of food. In developed countries, there’s often a surplus of food and clean water. It would be great one day if everyone had the nutritional essentials she needs. Hopefully, with the help of many, this becomes a reality one day in the future.
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, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I would love to meet Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. I have followed his story from early life to present day and I have been inspired by his accomplishments. Several times, I was invited to Necker Island, but was not able to attend. Branson is the ultimate leader who has influenced many others about how to run their businesses, recommending, in particular, that business owners should be cheerleaders for their employees. His teachings are voluminous, and I have learned significantly by studying his successes and failures. Meeting him, one of the ultimate entrepreneurs of present day, would be an amazing experience and a huge honor.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Monthly, for over ten tears, I have written a health and wellness newsletter focusing on foot and ankle wellness, which is available on the Facebook page for Progressive Foot Care of White Plains, NY and Nanuet, NY. Readers can also subscribe to our monthly newsletter by contacting us on our website: progressivefootcareny.com
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.