5 Things You Should Do To Optimize Your Wellness After Retirement
As a part of my series about the “5 Things You Should Do to Optimize Your Wellness After Retirement” I had the pleasure of interviewing Cory Rice.
Cory graduated from Baylor University with a bachelor’s degree in forensic science and then completed medical school at the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine in Glendale, Arizona. He attended Methodist Medical Center of Dallas for his internship, residency, and chief resident year in internal medicine. Dr. Rice’s professional interests include nutrition-based chronic disease management, thyroid optimization, and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, or BHRT, for men and women. His clinical expertise is in most areas of chronic disease and, ultimately, the treatment and reversal of some of the more commonly encountered conditions in clinical practice today. He is passionate about helping patients reach their health goals while, in many cases, helping them get off prescription medication. His practice locations are a blend of both functional medicine and lifestyle medicine. Dr. Rice is an expert in the area of advanced bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, including pellet therapy as a Biote Certified Provider.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I graduated from Baylor University with a bachelor’s degree in forensic science and then completed medical school at the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine in Glendale, Arizona. I went on to attend Methodist Medical Center of Dallas for my internship, residency and chief resident year in internal medicine. After spending two years in traditional outpatient internal medicine, including outpatient care in critical care and hospitalist medicine, I founded Modern Medicine. Modern Medicine is a network of practices that provide progressive, yet personalized, patient care using the most comprehensive lab work and medical therapies available today.
I am passionate about educating young medical professionals and established healthcare practitioners on the benefits of lifestyle medicine and hormone optimization as it relates to 21st-century chronic disease. I am a certified physician mentor through Biote, a bioidentical hormone and medical training company. At Biote, I mentor in-state and out-of-state medical physicians from a variety of specialties who are looking to implement similar treatment philosophies at their respective practices.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Early on in my career, I found myself working in forensic science, specifically in the field of human remains retrieval. Part of this job was trying to properly identify who these remains belonged to (age, sex, race, possible manner of death) so as to reunite the remains with their loved ones. Every case I worked on was its own jigsaw puzzle, as they were all different and challenging. I decided to leave forensic science because I learned two realities about myself professionally very early on. One, I like to talk. Two, I enjoy working with people. Working with the deceased gave me neither. Fast forward to where I am now; I practice functional medicine, which is getting to the root cause of why someone feels the way that they do. My puzzle-solving, forensics brain has not changed. The difference is that I am working on a live human being who can talk back to me. However, the “jigsaw puzzle” hasn’t changed. This area of medicine is just as individually unique and challenging and is also quite rewarding when you figure it all out. That, to me, is very interesting.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
Years ago, I was so sure that some of the treatment programs we introduced at our practice would be successful that I selected six of my higher-profile patients who had health issues but who were also in front of a lot of people in their professional lives and gave them one of our treatment programs at no cost. The only thing I asked is that in return, after they were successful, please spread the message about my programs and my practice. This particular program was three months long and involved them changing some of their habits and behaviors to achieve success. At the end of the three months, two of the patients did not show back up after the first two weeks, two of them only completed half of the program and two of them finished the program. The two who finished did beautifully, felt great, got off their medications and were very happy. What I learned is that people MUST have some skin in the game, or they will not value what you are offering them. This was a very important lesson for me and has served me well with our current business structure.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would like to credit my patients with my success. This journey for me has been in complete partnership with my patients. I especially want to recognize the patients who were with me back when I was a conventional internist. I, regrettably, was not the doctor then that I am today. To be blunt, it was the patterns of poor clinical outcomes that I witnessed back then in my patients that led me to look for something different on their behalf. That journey led me to figure out the “why” behind the medical illness. For 7+ years after college, I went through formal medical training that taught me to diagnose “what” disease a patient had and “what” drug(s) treated that condition. The irony is that I was never taught “why” someone got sick. It’s a glaring deficiency in how doctors are trained. Helping patients understand why they might have a certain condition is the first step in helping them undo and remedy the problem. Knowing what you have is only part of the narrative. The true art of medicine is in explaining the why behind the problem.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
Always put your patients first. Your patients’ needs should always be prioritized first and foremost over the needs of insurance companies, professional societies/organizations or your peers. Don’t get comfortable, get better. Always strive to improve your clinical knowledge. And maybe, most importantly, listen. Listen to your patients. They will tell you if they are better from what you are doing for them. Measure and quantify outcomes in them, so you know if they are improving and achieving their goals. Clinical success is infectious. Once you see true clinical success, you want more. Stay hungry and humble.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Create clear expectations within your workspace and have a goal sheet that you can always refer back to. Recognize and empower your employees to want to be the best version of themselves for you professionally. Be a good listener, stay diplomatic and tactful while also maintaining your humility. They will notice.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In some cases, retirement can reduce health, and in others it can improve health. From your point of view or experience, what are a few of the reasons that retirement can reduce one’s health?
Retirement can negatively impact one’s health for several reasons. While working, we have our set routines: getting up at the same time every day for work, commuting and bustling around our offices and workspaces throughout the day. In retirement, we tend to shift to a more sedentary and inactive lifestyle. Being regularly physically active supports your body and mind’s overall wellness and lack thereof can have devastating effects on one’s health.
Another factor is age itself. As we age, most of our hormone levels start to drop while some may stay stagnant and some may even increase. Even when hormone levels do not decrease, the receptors where hormones bind may become less sensitive. A few of the hormones that commonly decrease in aging adults are estrogen and testosterone, which are sex hormones. These hormones are often vital not only to our reproductive organs but our other organs and body systems as well. What most people characterize as signs of aging, including hot flashes, sleep deprivation, low energy, decrease in libido, among others, are actually signs of hormone decrease or imbalance. Those who are experiencing these common symptoms may benefit from consulting a physician who can evaluate their hormone levels and develop a plan to get them back on track.
Can you share with our readers 5 things that one should do to optimize their physical wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Optimize Hormone Levels — First, it’s important for both men and women to maintain optimal hormone levels. Hormones are vital chemical messengers that affect the function of other cells and organ systems. Various symptoms, from weight gain to low energy, can signal an imbalance or deficiency in hormones. By balancing and optimizing hormone levels, you can better support a strong immune system, overall wellness and feel healthier and happier long term.
- Optimize the Thyroid — The thyroid is vital to your body’s normal function. The thyroid gland produces hormones responsible for regulating metabolism. When the thyroid doesn’t function properly, it can produce too little or too much hormone, which can lead to a variety of diseases and increased health risks. For this reason, it’s important to have your thyroid regularly assessed by your physician, who can evaluate your hormone levels and, if need be, optimize your thyroid.
- Add Probiotics — Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that are good for you, especially your digestive system. Often referred to as “good” bacteria, probiotics can help improve gastrointestinal health by up-regulating immune function. Some clinical trials have shown that probiotics may reduce acute respiratory infections, many of which are caused by viruses.
- Supplement with Nutraceuticals — While a healthy, well-balanced diet goes a long way towards our general wellbeing, it is also important to supplement our diets with essential vitamins and nutrients that may be difficult to attain from food alone. Clinical-grade nutraceuticals are often a necessary component of healthier aging and provide additional nutritional support for vitamin and mineral deficiencies that may contribute to health deficits that often accumulate for years. That’s where vital nutraceuticals like Iodine or Curcumin come into play.
- Stay Active — While relaxing and doing the things you love are important to life after retirement, it’s important to remember to stay active. Physical exercise, even moderate, can help elevate mood, keep your immune system strong and your mind sharp. It’s never too late to shake up an existing exercise routine or start a new one. Create a regular routine that fits your lifestyle and keeps you motivated.
In your experience, what are 3 or 4 things that people wish someone told them before they retired?
- Your Life and Health Don’t End After Retirement — When your career era ends, that doesn’t mean that your life and health go with it. It’s important to prioritize your personal health and wellness after retirement to feel your best. Eat well-balanced meals, make sure to support your diet with probiotics, vitamins, nutrients and get a full night’s rest every night. If you’re feeling sluggish or “off,” consult your doctor who can give you a physical evaluation and do a blood test to determine your hormone levels. If your hormone levels are imbalanced or low, your physician can consult you on options for hormone replacement, including BHRT.
- You May Need Some Time to Adjust to Retirement — When you retire, you essentially are making a huge life transition that affects your daily lifestyle. There’s a common misconception that everyone has an easy transition into retirement where they feel consistently relaxed and worry-free. But for many, this simply isn’t the case and one might experience high levels of stress and anxiety associated with not going into work anymore and sticking to the routine they’ve followed for decades. Stress can have devastating effects on the body, including its hormone levels, which can lead to the development of chronic diseases.
- Build a Routine to Feel Your Best at Any Age — Establishing a routine is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle post-retirement. Try to wake up at the same time every day and make time for regular light exercise and stretching. Plan out time to do the things you love, whether it’s biking, hiking, reading, cooking, etc. It’s important to find time to destress and partake in the activities you’re passionate about and that brings you joy. In addition to personal interests, try to make time for social interests as well. Whether it’s catching up with family, neighbors or community members, socialization is an important aspect of physical and mental wellbeing.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
The UltraMind Solution by Mark Hyman, MD. I was a conventional doctor when a close colleague recommended I read this book. It changed the way I looked at healthcare and was the kindling that ignited the spark of my interest in what I now do. It was a real eye-opener. It also made me look at my health differently. I started to shift my thinking about health after reading this book, and I started with my own health.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
My movement would be the worldwide accessibility to personalized, precision healthcare. People today are craving individualized approaches to modern medicine and want innovative options that meet their unique needs and wellness goals. Unfortunately, there are some that want to limit patients into a one-size-fits-all form of healthcare, which often relies solely on pharmaceuticals that can result in harsh side effects, even addiction. I feel that people, in general, need to know that there are other options out there outside of pharmaceuticals that can help them feel better and live happier lives. BHRT is just one medical therapy that has developed out of this need and will continue to positively impact patients.