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New year healthAfter years of clinical practice, I pride myself on being quite good in anticipating the whimsical demands of my patients.

Mrs X has been coming to me for almost two years with diversified complaints, nothing serious. She is a high-maintenance woman, the kind who goes for all fad diets because of her ‘weight issues’ and falls in the category of obese. Her favourite activity is visiting the latest upscale eatery. (Salons come in a close second).

I was totally stumped when she asked me last week what her ‘health resolutions’ should be for the New Year. Whoa! Now this was a new one for me as even the most frivolous of my patients usually ask what the latest is in multivitamins.

I came up with “Quit smoking” but quickly decided against it as she doesn’t smoke. The second one hit the mark: “Lose weight!”

Pat came the reply: “But, Doctor sahab, I go to the gym regularly!”

I explained what I meant: Walk, exercise and eat a little less. Or as Michelle Obama puts it, “Move!”

“Something else?” she prodded, much to my chagrin.

I replied: “Yeah, how about taking medicines regularly and exercising, getting annual check-ups done and exercising, following the physician’s advice and exercising.” I said all this because three   10-minute bouts of walking a day are transformative for the mind, body and soul.

She seemed exasperated by my reply, but didn’t react, so I asked her to maintain a log of the ‘feel good’ deeds of the day. This, I reasoned, would help her immensely as she is quite prone to feeling out-of-sorts with the world. She immediately seemed happier.

I forgot to tell her that the most important resolution would be to actually stick to resolutions!

– Dr Tariq Sohail Mir
The writer is a physician at the Al-Mustafa Medical Centre, Karachi

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on December 22, 2013.