Karaoke Dance Party! My family and I love singing and dancing to our favorite music! It can be a great way to relieve stress, bond, and let go. You can have a mini solo party or join with others! Finding time to let loose and lose yourself in music and movement is a great way to boost your mood, energy, and state of mind.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Bita Nasseri
Dr. Bita Nasseri is an Anesthesiologist with over 22 years of medical experience. Her training spans across the Mayo Clinic, USC, and UCLA, with cardiac, transplant, airway, and outpatient anesthesia expertise. In addition to consulting for numerous news programs, Dr. Bita has overseen her own successful surgical centers throughout her career. As a proud parent to three children, she has a passion for preventive and holistic care.
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?
While my daily routine is packed with responsibilities from being a mom of three and working as a busy anesthesiologist, I always try to find half an hour for myself. In this time, I block out outside noises and stress — I focus on myself, my breathing, and raising my heart rate by performing some form of physical activity. With social distancing regulations in place, my favorite ways to get active are walking outside, on the treadmill, or playing tennis. I find this practice of 30 minutes of physical activity most rejuvenating and most effective in resetting my brain and my body. I can credit my vigorous academic years during medical school in forcing me to become focused and a self-advocate for health and wellness. I wholeheartedly believe that if your body feels energized and well exercised, then your mind will feel much clearer, energized, and relaxed.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
In the middle of July in Scottsdale, Arizona — I was seven months pregnant with my first child and about to go to dinner for my second anniversary with my husband, Shawn.
Suddenly, I was paged to asses a patient in the ER who had complaints of chest pain. When I arrived to the ER, the patient was more concerned with my pregnancy! He told me that he was concerned that I could have slept through lectures on pregnancy prevention and women’s health while I was in school and that I could have avoided getting myself pregnant! It turns out he had
just put too much hot chili sauce on his burrito that did not sit well with his digestion. Heart attack averted! While he was happy on Tums and Zantac, I gave him a long lecture on female physicians and empowerment. This experience further ignited my passion to champion inclusivity and equity for women in healthcare.
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?
It was easy to make a preconceived diagnosis based on a summary or synopsis. It was almost a defensive mechanism for my lack of knowledge and experience. With time I learned to be more receptive when listening to patients, and that they gave all of us the clues to their diagnosis.
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 like to self-educate on wellness and health. As much as my background and training as a physician was a good foundation, continuing self-education in both Western approaches and Eastern holistic ways to treat the body and mind guides me in self-care and that of my patients. Having had exposure to Ayurvedic approaches to nutrition and health, which involved balancing heat / sugar, acid and base balance, and nutritional diversity gave me a separate grounding for approaching health. In my nearly 20 years of practicing anesthesiology, I have seen that very much translate into how “clean” a person’s system in terms of what they require to achieve anesthesia. For example, a six-foot five inch 240 pound athlete who eats well, exercises, and limits a lot of alcohol, sugar and inflammatory foods will frequently require much less anesthetic gas and narcotics to achieve anesthesia “sleep.” In contrast, many youth in their early twenties who are “partying hard” at five-foot two and literally half the weight of the athlete will literally require twice as much propofol, anesthetic gas and narcotics. That easily reflects their overall health and nutrition. In the same way, people who come in with a calm sense and comfort system will have a much more smooth “sleep” with anesthesia and awaken calmly and refreshed in comparison with those who come for surgery stressed out and extremely anxious.
Overall health, nutrition, exercise and mood reflect and interact in complex but understandable ways.
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?
As a first generation immigrant with all the wonderful opportunities this land of the free offered me, I am most grateful for all the sacrifices my parents endured and the hardships they faced to bring me here and to raise me as an independent-minded young woman. They believed in me and taught me to believe in myself, value my self-worth and presence, and to persevere.
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?
With all the busy daily distractions in life, it is difficult to be fully and daily committed to a ritual. It is easy to slack off and fall of the band wagon. It’s easy to give up when we don’t see swift changes in our body and our health. It is easy to simply forget what we promise ourselves to do on a daily basis. So in simple terms: commit, don’t forget, and don’t give up. And when you give up, get back into any routine which is healthy but also give you comfort! Walk, hike, get on the elliptical, play tennis, or just meditate!
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.)
- Smell can trigger positive responses and boost mood. I love to use a shower bomb and essential oils when I shower to make my bathroom feel like my own personal spa. I love taking this time for myself and using essential oils helps me decompress through using aromatherapy. Menthol shower bombs also help open up sinuses and help me release tension.
- Self-care! Feeling confident and like your body is in pristine condition can have profound effects on your confidence and how you present yourself to others. I like getting my nails done as a way to help me feel more confident in my physical appearance which in turn makes me feel more confident.
- Karaoke Dance Party! My family and I love singing and dancing to our favorite music! It can be a great way to relieve stress, bond, and let go. You can have a mini solo party or join with others! Finding time to let loose and lose yourself in music and movement is a great way to boost your mood, energy, and state of mind.
- Take time for yourself. Going back to what I said earlier, I like to block out 30 minutes a day for myself. In these thirty minutes I engage in some form of physical activity and unplug from the outside world.
- Clean your nose! I love using saline sprays to make sure that I am taking care of an easily neglected part of our bodies: the inside of our nose! Saline sprays help flush out bacteria and pathogens from the inside of our noses. This simple act is refreshing and is a very easy step to add to any wellness regimen.
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?
MOOD. Exercise on a regular basis can tremendous boost your morale, overall mood, and improve your outlook. Particularly during stressful times like the Pandemic, 30–40 minutes of simple aerobic exercise, zoom yoga, or hiking a trail can impact much more than your cardiovascular system. This reflects not just from natural endorphins (feel good hormones released during vigorous exercise) but also a variety of other neurotransmitters (brain and body signal hormones) which regulate and work better as a result of consistent exercise.
SLEEP. Physicians have always known that regular exercise can smooth out the challenges of getting to sleep, maintaining sleep, and benefitting from restful sleep.
SUGAR. Regular exercise improves out appetite, sugar cravings, and how our bodies process glucose and use Insulin, the hormone which regulates sugar and which fails in Diabetes. Nearly 50% of all Americans are insulin resistant (pre-diabetic) or diabetic by middle age. However, exercise naturally protects us from insulin resistance and how our metabolism functions.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
I love constant movement. I love my morning hikes during the weekends with my two college- age daughters. I get a great work out trying to keep up with them and it is a great time focused on my daughters without any outside buzz, screen-time or distractions.
Next is a simple walking plan — literally 1 mile of flat walking is enough for most people to get into an exercise routine. If you belong to a gym or athletic club, 1–2 miles on a treadmill will mild incline is also a great start, while building up to 2–4 miles at higher incline to create a vigorous workout with minimal impact on the joints or back.
Finally, I am not super coordinated and definitely can’t memorize choreography but I love my Zumba lessons. It checks all my boxes. It is full of cardio at my pace with a fun social gathering with friends and my daughters. Tennis is another great sport. It requires good core and coordination and the fact that it’s outdoors is of great benefit during the pandemic. I get a good dose of Vitamin D and I can still follow good social distancing.
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?
Arnica creams, a good aromatherapy (lavender and eucalyptus are my personal favorites) shower or bath bombs, hydrating during and after exercise, and, most importantly, resting / getting plenty of sleep!
Don’t forget a solid multivitamin with anti-oxidants, immune boost and minerals to help with recovery.
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?
My diet focuses on moderation and nourishing my body. With COVID-19, boosting my immune system takes a major priority which is why I make sure that I eat green leafy vegetables, fruits
with vitamin C, whole grains, and a good source of protein daily. I prefer to have a salad around lunch time to make sure that I am getting a good source of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals that come from vegetables and greens. Apart from eating essential nutrients, I do let myself indulge in brownies or chocolate, but in moderation! One piece of chocolate or a brownie won’t hurt! I make sure to supplement my diet, however, with multivitamins to ensure that my body and immune system can function optimally.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
I am a big fan of history. Julie Baird’s Victoria, The Queen is an incredible read that highlights female power. Queen Victoria is one of my favorite historical figures because she demonstrates the strength of women as she lead an entire nation and championed efforts to increase access to art. My favorite museum is the Victoria and Albert Museum in London so it was great to see her work immortalized.
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. 🙂
Wellness, self-empowerment, opportunity for people to talk about wellness rituals wellness should not be monopolized, wellness and health should be a human right and not a privilege, should not be determined by socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, or gender.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Ghandi’s words: “Be the change you want to see in the world,” resonate with me profoundly. I try to live my life to the best of my abilities and be an example for not only my two daughters, but for all young women that if you are discontent with the status quo or a circumstance, you have the agency within yourself to spark positive, sustainable, and impactful change. Often times, driving change can be abstract and we assume that other people will lead changes in the world. I want to show my daughters and young women that, just as Ghandi said, you can be the change in the world. You are capable of whatever you put your mind to and will accomplish whatever you desire if you are strong willed. For example, when I came to the United States at age 13, I failed health class because I couldn’t speak English. Forty years later, I own a surgery center and am a practicing anesthesiologist having graduated an accelerated MD biotechnology program.
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 🙂
Queen Victoria, had a lot of responsibility at a young age, modernized her world, paved way for women’s rights and equal opportunity, demonstrated that motherhood and success in work are not exclusive.
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!