When it comes to creating a healthy, balanced and purposeful life – Dr. Mark Menolascino knows his stuff. Professionally, he’s an Integrative Physician and Internal Medicine Specialist with over 35 years of healthcare experience. Outside of his professional life, Dr. Mark is the proud father of two children who are currently in college. He’s also a passionate outdoor enthusiast who spends much of his spare time hiking, biking, fishing and skiing with friends and family.
We caught up with Dr. Mark to learn about how he applies health and wellness to his day-to-day life, and how you can too.
Tip #1 – Start your day in an environment that inspires you
Dr. Mark: I am an early morning person - that first part of the morning seems fresh and reminds me that today is a new day. Living in the mountains of Jackson Hole, Wyoming with the Teton Mountain range as my backdrop - every day shows new light and images. We also have an abundance of wildlife: the morning will usually have a moose, elk, deer or even bear in our backyard - or I’ll see them on the way to work.
Tip #2 - Keep your body in a routine
Dr. Mark: I find keeping my body in a routine helps everything. For me, this means going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time.
I’m usually up at 5am. I start my day with a few minutes of intention - I use this time to recall an event or personal interaction that inspired me and start my day with this inspiration. I keep my phone turned off during this time. After some meditative time, I do some full-body stretching and a light workout to wake up my body. 99% of the time, my morning meal is a clean protein shake - this keeps my muscle mass on and also keeps me lean. It’s easy, I get antioxidants with the fruit and it staves hunger till lunch.
My clinic days are consistent: same start, break and end times each day. This consistency keeps it easy for my staff - and me - to stay predictable.
Tip #3 - Put your health first
Dr. Mark: I tell my clients, my family (and myself): my health is first, my family's health is second and my patient’s health is third in my priorities. You cannot take care of people if you are first not taking care of yourself. Though it sounds selfish, self-care is my first priority: eating clean, moving my body, taking some quiet time, getting good rest and, of course, taking my MitoQ!
MitoQ is the one supplement I never miss. What I have found is the 10 mg capsule with water before my smoothie every morning seems to give me more energy than taking it later in the morning. I will vary my supplements depending on the season, my training and my workload but this is the one item I do not vary - it is daily for me.
Tip #4 - Find work that energizes you
Dr. Mark: My father was a doctor and he used to tell me he could work a long day and still come home energized due to the interactions with his patients - it inspired him and energized him. In today’s world of doctor burnout, this is still true for me. I leave work with more energy and inspiration due to the shared moments, goals, wishes and dreams of my clients. This is key in any profession but especially in a caregiving profession: be inspired and energized by those you care for, don’t get burnt out!
Tip #5 - Figure out your ‘purpose’
Dr. Mark: My purpose was to raise healthy, kind, empowered children - and that has worked out well: they are both in college and doing well. My professional purpose is to provide my clients with information to empower them with the knowledge to help them make good healthy choices that fit good health goals. I have written a book on women’s health called the Heart Solution for Women, and my indirect mission is to help women be empowered to recapture their health and achieve optimal wellness.
I see many clients that are lost after a life change/divorce/death of a loved one/job loss/ etc. and are struggling to find that ‘zest of life’ they see in me. One exercise I ask them to do is go back in time to the last time they felt really good and excited about life. Everyone has that ‘sweet spot’ from their past and the key is to find pictures of it or find other memories or internet search pictures of that place and time and use this with some deep breathing guided imagery/meditation/intention. Rediscover what that passion was and find that zest that helped you achieve what you thought was not possible in the past. Everyone is a unique and amazing part of the whole, and can contribute.
Tip #6 - Work exercise into your daily routine
Dr. Mark: First, just take a walk every day. Do it with someone you care about and that cares about you, ideally someone with like-minded health goals - even if it is your dog! If you’re just starting, make it 10 minutes with the family after dinner. Start low and go slow if you’re a beginner - but START. Keep a calendar and check each day off as you go. Park at a safe end of the lot location to walk farther. When shopping, do several laps around the outer ring of big stores before you shop. Take the stairs ALWAYS. Add that little extra every day.
More advanced exercise suggestions:
- Work with a trainer to get some tips/direction/information for personalization
- Set realistic expectations and use tracking information so you don’t overtrain
- Protect the Achilles tendon and all joints: avoid overextension, rapid surges, over steep down and uphill running; make sure you stretch your muscles and warm up/cool down appropriately
- Use mindfulness and breathing techniques to help get through the tougher workouts
- Focus on muscle building, joint protection, tendon/ligament health
- Get some endurance training in as well as the muscle building/power-based activities
Tip #7 - Make meals a social occasion
Dr. Mark: My favorite family/friend activity is to eat together and to play together. I rarely exercise or eat alone. Having friends or family over for dinner is my social life. Everyone brings something for dinner (we do the main course) and every dinner is different and fun. Never eat alone, remember that your desk is not a dining table, and find people that share similar health values to share meals with. Find a ‘nutrition partner’ at work, in your neighborhood or in your family that you can have fun finding new recipes with. Make food the passion that it should be!
Tip #8 - Lead by example
Dr. Mark: We all have the ability to create downtime for ourselves. Remember, you can’t be a great leader if you are not strong yourself. Find a rhythm that works for you that you can be consistent with - and guard that time. I tell CEOs that if their team sees them take 30 minutes at lunch for a workout, they will be inspired because they see that self-care - and then they know that their CEO values health and will be a better leader.
Tip #9 - Focus on the positive
Dr. Mark: Before I leave work, I think of that interaction/moment/thought that I will start the next day with and write it down to remember. I also make a point to thank my staff and share appreciation every single day. I point out at least one thing they did that day that was a gamechanger for a client. I also take a moment to jot a note, send an email, make a call or facetime someone that I care about. Do this every day!
Tip #10 - Value your time
Dr. Mark: Find ways to reduce what I call ‘waste time’. Minimize unneeded screen time and reduce the interactions with people that hold you back: find a way to move around them. Just say no to those things you are asked to do that waste your time. “If your gut says no, don’t let yes come out of your mouth”.
Taking a bike ride, hike/run, ski with my brother is my favorite activity. We help push each other, but we don’t compete with each other. Everything is a balance and time is precious, so don’t waste it doing unhealthy things.
Tip #11 - Create healthy sleeping habits
Dr. Mark: A relaxing meal with family and friends is the perfect end to a long day. I also prepare for rest to get optimal sleep.
- Keep sleep goals to around 7-8 hours per night
- No blue lights or screen/TV/phone time at night, if possible
- Ensure your room is dark and the temperature is optimal
- Dim lights about 30 min before bedtime
- Use meditative techniques to induce relaxation