TLC—when I was growing up, that meant tender loving care. Now, the initials TLC also stand for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes. This TLC is the latest term to describe medically based, structured, supportive programs to help people lower their risk of and to reverse life-threatening conditions such as hypertension, stroke, diabetes and heart disease. The purpose of this program is to help people improve eating habits, exercise, manage stress, quit smoking, and learn how to lead an active lifestyle.
Unfortunately, because they are inundated with patients and lack time, the medical profession often ignores TLC. That is something that is very costly to both the patient and to the economy as a whole. It is much cheaper to improve your health without drugs or surgery.
Dr. Neil Gordon, M.D., PhD, who is a preventive cardiologist, headed a study published in 2004 in the Journal of Cardiology, which reported the effectiveness of a 12-week community-based lifestyle management program. This particular program was geared toward people with hypertension, abnormal cholesterol, and diabetes. Dr. Gordon and his team found that many of the patients achieved their goals–without medication. Specifically:
• 67% of people lowered their blood pressure to their stated goals
• 39% of people lowered their blood sugar to acceptable levels
• 21% of people lowered the LDL Cholesterol to their goal level
It is important when beginning a TLC program that you are first evaluated to assess your current health status and to see what your risk of disease is. Then you need to state your outcome goals for the program. Do you want to lower cholesterol, blood pressure or blood sugar? Do you need to quit smoking? How are you going to reach those goals? You may choose a combination of dietary changes along with a well-rounded exercise program. You may also need to add some behavioral therapy into the equation. Each program needs to be set up individually, keeping in mind the patient’s abilities to exercise, their daily schedule, and their capacity to stick to a program.
TLC doesn’t just treat the symptoms; it treats the underlying problems and works to prevent you from becoming unhealthy. TLC is so effective that 54% of US Corporations have incorporated it into their work place. It’s resulted in more productivity in the workplace as workers take less sick-days, and workers get more tasks accomplished each day.
There is no doubt that there are times when drug therapy is the only recourse. But always ask you doctor if you can try TLC first. Go and see a lifestyle coach or personal trainer and try it first. Be in contact with the American Heart Association and Medlineplus at for some help and guidance. Even if it doesn’t work completely, it can lower your drug dosages substantially and make the medication more effective. Take a moment and think of the savings both financially and in terms of side effects.
And even if you are perfectly healthy, TLC is the best preventative medicine around.
Alan Freishtat is an A.C.E. certified personal trainer and a lifestyle fitness coach with over 17 years of professional experience. He is the co-director of the Jerusalem-based weight loss and stress reduction center Lose It! He can be reached at (U.S. Line) 516-568-5027, 02-651-8502 or by email at email@example.com.