Interview: Dr. Wendy Cicek


As a regular monthly feature, we will be publishing interviews with people in various areas related to health in North America - from healthcare providers to food suppliers, all in an effort to have more dialogue about change in the way we perceive health care and the role each of us plays to improve it.


2A: As a classically trained doctor, how do you see your role changing with the patient empowerment movement and the rise of Dr. Google?

WC: First of all, I think educated patients are a benefit to medicine.  I have always seen my role as a guide not as a director.  Ultimately, we are all responsible for our own health.  As a physician, I can help patients decide when testing is appropriate and when it is not.  I can help them determine when medication is a must and when we can "wait things out".  I can direct people to healthy diets and lifestyles and trick to incorporate these things into daily living.  When patients are empowered with knowledge, we can work together toward shared decision making.  This takes the power out of the hands of the provider and puts it in the hand of the patient.  What better way for a patient to be invested in themselves?


2A: Do you feel that pills and supplements mirror themselves as wonder fixes? Do we simply like easy answers?

WC: Yes and yes, but I think most people realize that "quick fixes" are nothing more than a temporary bandage.  Pills and supplements may be necessary in many situations, but I tell my patients that if they do not change the way they live, the day is going to come when I don't have any more pills to offer.  I think most people don't like taking a handful of pills daily, and at some point, the pain of taking the pills, paying for the pills and dealing with the side effects are more difficulty than changing the way one lives.


2A: You are evolving/changing your role? Tell us about that and your inspiration for the move?

WC: Currently I am working as a Hospitalist, which means I take care of a panel of patients who are in the hospital, most often for exacerbations of chronic diseases.  (Diabetes, heart failure, COPD, etc.)  Unfortunately I see many of my patients spending the last years of their lives in the hospital.  I have always felt strongly about promoting health, mainly diet and exercise, but also emotional and spiritual health.  I was recruited to join a new office that is opening which will focus on drug and alcohol detox and treatment, using a mix of conventional medicine along with nutraceuticals and action based psychotherapy, Reiki and neurofeedback.  I am very excited to pursue this and watch people change their lives!


2A: Healthcare is broken both here in Canada and in the US. Should patients lower their expectations?  What can be done for the future?

WC: To say healthcare is broken is being kind.  Healthcare needs a total overhaul.   We need to truly FOCUS ON PREVENTION.  We need to teach parents HOW to feed their children, we need to break old myths and habits.  We health care providers need to be up front with patients, while remaining non-judgemental.  We cannot be afraid to talk to people about the way they eat, how much they drink and how they live.  We need to change what is in school cafeterias and get the juice and soda (and Gatorade) out of our schools.  Instead of having a "snack" in the middle of the day, we need to have Physical Education---EVERYDAY in school.  You can probably tell I feel strongly about this, but it is time to address the problem at the core, and stop trying to work in disaster mode.  Until healthcare, government and business stop focusing on money and start focusing on people and what is right, we will continue to be sick.


2A: What are the keys to good health?

 It all starts with what goes in the mouth, be it food, drink or smoke.  If there is one thing people can do to make a difference, when the hand goes to the mouth STOP and think, is this good for me or bad for me.  90% of the people I care for in the hospital are there as a result of what has gone into their mouths. 


2A: How are you a living example to your family and patients?

 I try to practice what I preach.  How can I expect others to do what I say, if I am not doing it myself.  At work, I take the steps.  I run or work out daily. I get enough sleep. I meditate.  I have a strong sense of community and purpose.  I cook healthy food for my family.  My 18 month old grandson eats kale, lentils, quinoa and fruit--and he loves them. 


2A: Who are your health mentors?

 Wow, this is a tough one.  There have been many people through the years but the people who come to mind today are my running coach, Angie Spencer; my favorite podcaster, Rich Roll who piqued my interest in the plant based movement and meditation; Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous who saw the importance of spirituality in wellness and Jeff Galloway who at 70 years old still runs a marathon a month and stays healthy.


2A: What is the one meal you go to that makes you feel the best?

My morning green smoothie.  I have the same thing (with small variations) every morning.  A handful of kale, a handful of spinach, a little plain organic kefir, homemade cashew milk, 1/2 avocado, a few slices of frozen organic peaches, 1 brazil nut and a teaspoon of maca powder--all in the Vitamix and voila, a yummy, delicious treat.  When I am feeling particularly sentimental, my comfort food is chicken paprikash (MAYBE once a year) because it reminds me of my grandmother, the best cook I knew!

Lifestyle: Planning a Productive Year


If one of your resolutions is time management you are not alone. In fact, a lot of the reason that efforts at weight loss, happiness, career development, health improvement fail is that people simply do not manage their time well. This is a habit. It becomes a reflex.

We are just starting to understand the impact of lifestyle on our genetics – Epigenetics. They are significant. Time management is a big part of that.

One of the most important leaders in this field was Steven Covey. He made it simple and effortless, and no matter if you are a Mother of 4, an Olympic Athlete, or a single career girl in NYC, learning and making sense of this, will make 2016 your best year yet.

We use this matrix behind all of our health programs for our Professional Athletes, and decided when we reviewed our new programs, to make it a backbone for everyone.

So, as Steven says, “Put First Things First.” Download the overview and study the principal which is applicable to every faucet of life – not just a job or profession. (5 minutes)

All done? Awesome. Now put practice into principal using whatever method is best for you.

In our experience, and in no order people use:
-one index card a day
-google calendar
-day planner

Here is one strategy that works great for our clients and patients at this time of year.

Take your resolution list. What are the 3 most important things you want to achieve?

Write those in Quadrant 1.

Every day – now when you plan and block out your priorities – you need to include action steps on these before everything else. The smallest step is the biggest action over time.

As we suggest in the document follow this for 1 week – simply using a printout method of the quadrant page and add reminders in your daily calendar after you fill in each day. At the end of 1 week – review these pages, and you can see clearly where you had success, and failure and why.
Reassess your time accordingly. Notice, how your brain shifts to accomplish the priorities.

After one week – your to-do list will change dramatically.

Hint: If health is your priority this year – then scale actionable steps daily. If being happy is your priority this year – scale actionable steps that affect mood – start of the day, mid-day and end of day.

No one is too busy to accomplish better time management.

You may decide to do one of these for your Professional Life in addition to your Personal. Athletes use a separate one to focus on training goals. Some couples have a separate and joint plan. You get the idea!

We will be doing a series on various areas of lifestyle throughout the first 2 months of 2016 so we help you achieve your January 1st resolutions, dreams, success, which are all great for your genetics!