Home Well-BeingEmotional Well-Being Your Post-Pandemic Health and Fitness

Your Post-Pandemic Health and Fitness


by Uche Odiatu DMD

Article co-authored by Mahas Bakshandeh, RDH. 

There are many compelling reasons for wanting to get back your pre-pandemic fitness. You know the science. A regular healthy habit is good for the body. “Eat your vegetables and go outside and play.” Eight hours sleep is a must. But, why don’t you have this optimum habits? What’s missing? Is it a character flaw? No one chooses to be unhealthy. It isn’t a conscious choice not to be happy. What gives? How do so many of us end up exhausted, stressed, overweight with chronic diseases? There are 34 million diabetics in North America , another 659,000 yearly dying from cardiovascular disease, and 200 million people overweight or obese. Is it a lack of information? Is knowledge power? The internet has millions of sites sharing insider strategies to lose weight, tone and energize in 30ꟷ60ꟷ90 days. If the information is everywhere, why aren’t we all looking lean, toned, and energized? There must be something more to it. Acting on the very available information appears to be in short supply. 

Dental professionals know the value of prevention when it comes to the oral cavity. We know the cost of neglect. The high cost of treatment. We lecture patients all the time about taking care of their teeth and gums. Can we extrapolate this to our own overall health? Should we not have an easier time getting healthy or staying there? We are trained in the biochemistry and physiology of the human body. Dentists and hygienists take anywhere from 10ꟷ32 hours of nutrition in our training. That being said, where is the result of the abundant information on human physiology, biochemistry and nutrition? 

Why do some of us fall for the donuts that tantalize us in the ads and others can ignore them and say “I am fasting today” Are some of us just born with the ability to say “No”? 

The National Institute of Health’s first (2012), second (2019) and third phase (2020) of the Human Microbiome Project revealed our intestinal flora has system wide effects. With the new science of the human microbiome and the role of nutrition being the number one way, it can be supported – gave me an “aha” – If it has been proposed that our microbiome influences our health as much as our genes. And the number one way to boost microbiome health is have a healthy diet. Who helps people chew better? Which health care provider takes care of the masticatory apparatus? Yes, the dental professional. By sharing with dentists, the new science, reigniting their passion for self-care, they can become influencers chair-side and help patients see that having the healthiest mouth – teeth, gums, saliva and jaws – can help them chew, eat, digest and support a healthy microbiome and in turn enjoy total health. This is the mouth-body connection! 

It appears that everyone wants to get in shape as fast as possible. It doesn’t matter it took a lifetime to get here. Well this isn’t like Naloxone. It can’t reverse your wayward ways in a single injection. It is going to take some time.  

However, it can move very quickly. You see there are physiological processes and metabolic magic at work that are in your favor. Yes, I hacked into them myself. You see your body wants to be your friend again. It doesn’t enjoy you sleeping with the enemy. You wouldn’t abuse your best friend, would you? Treat them badly and they will go away but be kind and they will be there for you again. The human body is the same…. You can get it back on your side with nurturing. 

Epidemiologist Tim Spector wrote of his operational study of one. He took a microbial assay of his son’s gut flora and then put him on a strict fast-food diet for three days. At the end of the 72-hour junk food binge the second microbial assay showed he had lost 40% of his resident gut species. This was a major shock to his father because he realized just how fast the body gets out of balance! 

Okay…enough said. A major part of this is looking at things differently. Seeing your physical body in a new way, shifting your stale old beliefs about exercise or nutrition – if they were working well you would be in the condition you wanted -is to let go of old beliefs and preconceived notions of how the body works. It’s old beliefs about nutrition that keep people stuck using outdated dieting ideas that no longer hold water. Calories in versus calories out. This was solid in people’s minds for years and still lingers for many. How do I know this old dogma doesn’t work? Well obesity has gone from 8% of population in 1985 to 33% of the population in 2020. It is the definition of insanity to keep using the same tools to combat a health crisis. 

Our obsession is the concept with calories is misplaced. There is more to it. It is reductionistic in its foundation. To label a high calorie food as bad on the surface seems like a good idea. However, there is more to it. So much depends on who is eating it? If it is an athlete and they have just down an intense Cross Fit session in the morning the food item gets sucked into their muscles. You see your muscles store glucose as glycogen and there is a huge glucose debt created by a combined cardiovascular and resistance training session and for two days the person will be like a loofah sponge after a big spill on a kitchen counter – soaking up the liquid easily and efficiently. How old the person is. So the older we get the less able a person is to handle a blood sugar challenge. They have less muscle mass. Their pancreas might be tired after years of high calorie sweet treats and they might allow elevated blood sugar as its normal. Is there person eating it stressed or anxious. Sleep deprived people have less ability to handle the metabolic challenges of overindulgence. People who are stressed have slower digestions due to the body mobilizing forces for the imminent fight that never usually happens and the food item isn’t processed well. This is why the Canadian Obesity Network came out saying that managing sleep and stress was more important than diet and exercise when it comes to prevention and treatment (1) 

You see how many calories a food item doesn’t quite cut it when you look deeper into it. The body, depending on whose, has an inherent wisdom that can handle a deluge if it has been treated well. But a lack of a regular exercise regimen, deficient sleep, stressed 24/7 living gets challenged by any caloric intake.  

Jason Fung, author of the Obesity Code writes that it isn’t just about the calories(2). The type of calories is also key and is left out of the calorie is a calorie dogma. The 100 calories in an avocado is handled very differently by the body than 100 calories in a donut.  

What’s the fallout? A 7-week study involving monkeys being fed 2000 calories of day of trans fats vs 2000 calories or good fats showed that trans fats let to more fat deposition around the midsection (visceral fat is the most dangerous location) and elevated blood sugar levels(3). I loved reading about this study because it shows calories alone aren’t the thing you must obsess over. I posted an image online with a glass of red wine and a sandwich of arugula, avocado, egg and feta cheese and asked which item in this image is fattening. And the answers were varied. My goal was to share that any food item in itself isn’t fattening.  

“A person’s relationship with food is one of their most important relationships” – Ned Vizzini 

No matter what I eat, as soon as I look at food I gain weight. Looking closer at this I see you are likely telling the truth. If you suffer from anxiety, chronic or situational, when they eat anything, they have a slower digestion as the body’s ancient messaging of stress is that there must be a famine and so metabolism slows. See where I am going with this. To get back to your high school weight you might have to adjust your thoughts and emotions with food so your autonomic nervous system doesn’t kick in and hijack your good intentions. 

Why do we not tap into our potential? World performance champion David Goggins says the average person operates at 40 percent of their potential physically and mentally. A lot gets left on the table with our self-sabotaging habits that create daily obstacles to enjoying high level health and fitness (4). Once we learn to dig deep into our untapped reserves and push harder we can become unstoppable. 

“If you’re going to do something, attack it” – David Goggins 

How bad do you want it? We are motivated by different things. But esthetics drives most of us to go for that “look” – does this work? No. If it did we all would look like we have our dream body. Health? Well I have never heard anyone say carrying too much weight is good for us. Henry Lodge has shown that carrying more body fat makes us more inflamed. How does this impact us? Inflammation is a key player in every modern degenerative illness from heart disease to cancer. Just how does extra adipose tissue affect the fires stoking in the body. Well if someone is obese they have 5 times more inflammatory surging though their body than someone of healthy weight. 

This must scare you? How can it not? One of my goals in writing this book is to help you take action and move toward health. Many people get inspired but few can sustain that initial excitement. Just look at New Year’s. Just look at any of the new diets plans started and the almost religious zeal by which people undertake them.  

New Year Resolutions for weight loss are commonplace. Why do the same people make the same resolution to lose the same five or ten pounds each year? Because the weight is lost in those first few enthusiastic weeks and then found in the following months shortly after the excitement of a new year wears off. This is one of the massive reasons for the return of the weight within one year. Less than five percent of people are successful with weight loss. It is often done with will power (5). It can work but it takes tremendous energy to force oneself to do anything. It’s like holding a beachball under water with one hand. It can be done but it takes constant vigilance. And as soon as one grows tired or slack up it leaps out of the water… like the return of the pounds. 

Key to not needing will power is a shift in perception. A shift in how one looks at food. At exercise. At sleep. At stress management. “When we change the way we look at things the very things we look at change,” said NYT best-selling author and psychologist Wayne Dyer.(6)  

 Most of us want more information. The blasted “How’s.” There are million ways to lose weight, get in shape and stay there. There are 100’s of ways to do healthy meal prep. There are 100’s of really healthy fruits and vegetables. I get asked all the time, “What is the best way?” why the concern with the best? You’ve waited 30 years. Gotten to the point that you’re so used to weighting this much or having this much energy. Now you want to know what to do to get fit int eh fastest possible time. What’s the rush? Please tell me. No. You have really waited this long. 

I feel dental professionals have something practice management coach Peter Barry calls “intellectual disease”. It’s sort of a compliment but also not really. It means your too smart for your own good. You want to know it all. Master it all. Want to know the evidence or the references behind all exercise programs or how the microbiome works. As if this is going to make any difference? If simply knowing more about  vitamins or exercise made us fit we would all be fit and healthy because the Internet gives us instant access to the culmination of all the health tips in the world. Why aren’t we all at our optimal weight?  

Why appears to be the key. Motivational speaker Les Brown says ‘When one discovers their why, the HOW doesn’t matter.” (7). Why is like the fire in your belly. It is the fuel of desire. It is fundamental to getting us off our butts and into the gym. It is fundamental for getting us to now keep looking in the fridge for food in the evening when we aren’t even hungry. Simon Sinek says successful businesses start with WHY. What’s your driving reason for your company to be on this earth? What’s the story behind why you do what you do? However most business talk about how they are different? The features of their new engine. Who their founder is. Meanwhile the consumer wants to know what makes you do what you do. What’s the driving force behind your #1 advantage.  

I believe success anywhere can be transferred to another area. If sharing WHY can make a company stand out and be number one. WHY can stoke your fires and get you up early to go the gym or make you push back from the table after a meal and say, “no I am done.”  

Why stirs the juices of what makes you tic. It embroils your thoughts and pushes you on long after your muscles have said they want to quit. The same powerful forces that got you through dental school or dental hygiene will support you in getting in shape in 2022 and beyond. 


  1. Chaput JP, Tremblay A Dec 11,2012. 184 (18)1975-1976; DOI; “Adequate sleep to Improve the Treatment of Obesity” 
  2. Fung J. The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss © 2016 Greystone Books  
  3. Kavanagh K., Obesity (July 2007);15(7): 1675-84. Transfat diet induces abdominal obesity and changes in insulin sensitivity in monkeys” 
  4. Goggins D., Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds. © 2018 Lioncrest Publishing. USA 
  5. Clear J., Atomic Habits © 2020 Penquin Random House 
  6. Dyer W. I Can See Clearly Now © Hayhouse 
  7. Brown L., Live Your Dreams Not Your Fears. © 1994 William Morrow. USA  

Article co-authored by Mahas Bakshandeh, RDH.  Find Mahas on Instagram:  @tooth_boss

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