Connect Live

Connect Live @ Adventist Health | October 28, 2021
Story 56

In this week's episode, Chief Culture Officer Joyce Newmyer and Medical Director and Provider for Inspire Health Center Dr. Jeffrey Egler talk about the connection between Blue Zones concepts and lifestyle medicine. We also learn why Lindy Regan, a nurse at Mendocino Coast, dives into wellness and shark -infested waters.

Joyce Newmyer: How do we talk to and with each other? How do we maybe do less telling? Because communication isn't just about sharing information. It's a two-way street. How do we ask more questions?

Welcome to Connect Live at Adventist Health. I'm Joyce Newmyer, the chief culture officer at Adventist Health and your host for Connect Live. Live this week, Mission Week goes local, functional medicine and diving into wellness.

Mission Week goes local. This year, every hospital will be hosting their own local Mission Week led by their mission and spiritual care directors. They know their associates, the frontline nurses and providers who live God's love, giving hope to everyone they care for. Each director has planned unique experiences with online and onsite moments to remind all of us that the story of our mission is why we exist and will continue to bring hope to all.

Find out locally what is going to take place in your market November 1 through 5, and join in each day for a beautiful reminder of our mission to live God's love.

Today I'm delighted to welcome our guest, Dr. Jeff Egler. Jeff, thank you for joining me. So glad you're here.

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: Joyce, thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here with you.

Joyce Newmyer: So you're the medical director for the Inspire Health Center at our system office in Roseville. What exactly is this center?

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: Good question, Joyce. So the Inspire Health Center is, very simply, it's a primary care center for our population here at the Roseville system center campus. So our mission is to take care of our associates, our executives and their supporting teams here, as well as their families that are on the health plan.

But the Inspire Health Center, when we asked the associates when they were consolidating the buildings to build this beautiful center, what do you want in the center, how can we serve you in and through the center, the number one that they said was not the Inspire Health Center, it was light. And actually they delivered on that, tons of windows, beautiful spaces, but the second thing was that they wanted medical care. And so the directors thought, "Well, I think we could do a better job. Let's give them a medical center, but let's make it a wellness center and let's get back to those Adventist principles and heritage and start really teaching and practicing lifestyle that helps people be more well."

Joyce Newmyer: It is a beautiful clinic space. So you have training in functional medicine. What exactly is that and how is it the same or different from family medicine?

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: Sure, the same and different. So what we do is so think of family medicine as this big piece of the pie, and in family medicine, we take care of all ages, all people, all conditions, male, female health, and in the center of that, right in the middle, is lifestyle medicine. So as family medicine providers, we can utilize all the resources that we have in Western medicine, but focusing on lifestyle medicine, we can really help people get to root cause issues and really help them reverse change or prevent disease.

And then functional medicine is actually this bullseye really in the middle. And I really refer to myself as a lifestyle medicine provider now for two reasons: number one, that meets people where they are, and number two, people don't know what functional medicine is, but lifestyle, it's right there in the name.

So functional medicine is really more precision. So when lifestyle changes aren't really helping certain people, and this is a smaller group of people, we can delve in a little bit deeper. It's macro versus micro. You can start looking at more nutrients and other more microscopic factors that might be important, but the lifestyle medicine really helps us to meet most people where they are and to help them reverse their problems.

Joyce Newmyer:  So I know you're passionate about lifestyle medicine. This is not the first time you and I have talked about this. So why is it so important to you and why should it be important to all of us?

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: Well, it's really important to me because, Joyce, it saved my life, to be honest, and it definitely saved my career. Before I found lifestyle medicine, practicing as a busy provider in a traditional medicine role and in academics, quite frankly, I found myself after years unhappy, unfulfilled and discontent. And it wasn't until I found a different pathway really through my pursuit of psychology that introduced me to lifestyle and helped me to be a healthier person, and through that, to be able to incorporate that into my practice.

So it changed my life. It made me happy, content and fulfilled. And there's actually joy in my life now, which wasn't actually even on the table before. But why it should be important to everyone else is because that's available to everyone else, as well. And what's really important to know is that 80% of chronic disease, 80% of our hypertension or diabetes or whatever it might be, even cancer, most of this is due to our choices. It's due to our lifestyle. And so we are literally making ourselves sick with our choices.

Joyce Newmyer: So choices. It seems that everyone knows that we should make better choices and we should live healthier lives, but it's another thing entirely to actually do it. So what are some of the small changes we can all make to live healthier lives?

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: Well, yeah, you're absolutely right. And this is the crux of the matter, right? Because like you said, we kind of all know what we could or should be doing, but mining that gap between what we say we want to do and what we actually do, that's the opportunity for this work in this space.

What I've learned, what I'm trying to learn for myself, is that someday, as we've talked about before, is not a day of the week. The only day that we really have to affect change is today, so we have to take those opportunities. But let me tell you a story, a quick story that I think is really important in terms of how we can really make a difference.

When I was in my psychology master's program, a spiritual psychology program actually, there was an exercise that they had us do where 200 people were in this room in this program. And we pushed all the chairs out of the way. And there was a big beam 33 feet away and then there was a little ring three feet ahead. And you could choose, do I want to go for the ring, one toss, get it on the beam 33 feet away, or you could go for the three-foot toss. But the trick was if you got it on the three-foot toss, then you got to go again.

And so there was a very small group of people that wanted to go for the gold, right? They wanted to go for the big win, I'm going to throw the hoop and get it on there. And then a much bigger group went for more of the sure thing, which I thought was interesting because it's just a game. I thought more people would be risky and kind of go for it, but most people went to the safe bet.

And what we saw was that when people took the 33-foot toss and they fired off this ring, most of them missed, right? There were one or two people that actually got it on. And when they did, the crowd went crazy. People were high-fiving back when that was a thing, and everybody got really excited because that's the story that we all love, right? We love that like big win story. And that's the story that we have in our heads when we see ourselves. We get the gym membership. We lie to ourselves and we say we're going to get the six-pack back, right?

But that's not actually what typically happens. And what actually does work is you take the three-foot toss. You throw the ring over the little beam three feet ahead of you and then you get walk up to that and then do another three-foot toss, and another one and another one, and soon, you're 33 feet ahead. And you know how many people were successfully able to do that? Almost all of them. So that's how we make change, three-foot tosses, small changes more consistently.

Joyce Newmyer: Boy, as a baseball fan, I love that because sometimes it's the singles and the doubles and the triples that win the game, not always the home runs, right?

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: Right. Right. And I'm not suggesting you don't take your big swings. Sure, I just don't think it should be your main strategy.

Joyce Newmyer: Got it. Well, it seems like there are a lot of consistencies between your approach to lifestyle medicine and the Blue Zone Power 9. Do you see synergies between the work you do and the work that the Blue Zones team is doing at Adventist Health?

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: Absolutely. I've been through a lot of paradigms now and fortunately they all fit. A lot of this is it's not rocket science, right? This is a lot of people, like you said, they kind of know what to do, but Blue Zones and lifestyle medicine, they are one and the same basically. And so while we're integrating Blue Zones and Blue Zones concepts into our clinic, we're also hoping to be able to share this with our communities, and I think it's a great match.

To me, Blue Zones is more sort of an intuitive process where you see these cultures and these communities that have evolved in a certain way through natural selection and their choices to demonstrate to us what works, whereas lifestyle medicine is us sort of observing what's really not working and helping people to try to do things differently. And so Blue Zones gives us a map for that.

Joyce Newmyer: Well, that's great. It's a one-two punch, right?

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: That's right.

Joyce Newmyer: Well, thank you so much for joining us today. It's been inspiring to hear more about lifestyle medicine and what you're passionate about. So I sure appreciate you being here.

Dr. Jeffrey Egler: Thanks again for having me, Joyce. It was a pleasure spending some time with you.

Joyce Newmyer: Take care. Our final story today is diving into wellness. One nurse followed her dreams right into open waters and found joy and wellness along the way.

In addition to serving in the Emergency Department at Mendocino Coast, Lindy Regan recently fought the swells of San Francisco Bay to place third in her age group at the annual Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim. My goodness. Lindy has combined her competitive nature with a love for nature to pursue a hobby that in her own words is helping her live a great later half. You can read her story and many others at

Friends, thanks for connecting live. We'll see you here again next week. Until then, let's be a force for good.