Day in the Life:
Elizabeth Morris, M.D.
Elizabeth Morris, M.D., is a Family and Lifestyle Medicine physician with Greenville Health System in Greenville, South Carolina. As a competitive figure skater growing up, she was always interested in nutrition as a means of optimizing performance, and earned herself a spot on Team USA in 2005. She then moved on to study biomedical engineering at University of Virginia. It wasn’t until her medical training that she realized her competitive interest in nutrition could be a career, and she then dedicated her elective time to working with various lifestyle medicine physicians around the U.S., including John McDougall, M.D., Neal Barnard, M.D., Ron Weiss, M.D., and Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D.
After her training, Elizabeth had no doubt that Lifestyle Medicine is the key to addressing our chronic disease epidemic. She originally thought she was giving up engineering when she switched to medicine, but now sees Lifestyle Medicine as a different type of engineering. Elizabeth is faculty at USC School of Medicine Greenville, a leader of the Lifestyle Medicine Education Collaborative, and an active member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.
“We are reframing the question. Rather than asking, ‘How do we treat the symptoms?’, we must ask why the disease state developed in the first place, our root cause analysis. We must use creativity to work with patients and help them overcome their obstacles, and we must use our problem solving skills to develop practice models that are sustainable and supported in our communities.”
Greenville, South Carolina
What’s your favorite vegetable?
Sweet potatoes… that’s an easy one.
What’s your motto?
The grass is greener where you water it.
What’s your favorite book?
Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food
What’s your favorite exercise?
Step aerobics. And also, I’m bringing rollerblading back in fashion.
What’s your favorite way to center?
A strenuous hike.
Elizabeth’s Daily Routine:
- 6AM — Exercise (of various sorts)
- 7AM – Eat some oatmeal
- 8AM – Clinic starts
- 1PM – Lunch
- 2PM – Work with patients
- 4PM – I finish up work
- 6PM – Get together with my family, family friends, or my girlfriends
- 8PM – Wind down, maybe a glass of wine, and hit the hay
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Knowing that my work is meaningful. And my family! And black coffee.
What is the most important part of your daily routine?
Well, I have what I call a “15 minute guarantee”. I can get ready for any event in 15 minutes or less. It’s really just my way of minimizing fluff time, so that I have more time to spend with the people I love. (Luckily, my hair is pretty tame.)
What is your #1 wellness habit?
I’d have to say my diet. Diet is 90% of our health. In line with the majority of Lifestyle Medicine doctors, I follow a plant-based diet… that means fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. (And I haven’t had a dessert since 2008!) Most people see this as “strict”, but to me, it’s freeing. It’s just like school uniforms. They may seem “strict” on the surface, but really, they remove that decision making step each morning and free us from distraction.
What is the best piece of health advice you’ve ever received?
“A strong body makes the mind strong.” – Thomas Jefferson
Tell us about a time you were stuck in an unhealthy cycle and how you got out of it. What was the main inspiration for positive change?
Medical school… I graduated. I’m not an anxious person by nature, but man, medical school was a trying experience. There are times in our lives when things will be out of our control. What kept me sane was focusing on the things that I could control. Stress controlled me, but I controlled my diet, physical activity, and sleep habits. What was my main inspiration? Well, I knew I wanted that MD! And I knew I had to be healthy to be successful.
If you could give one piece of health advice to your child or children in general, what would it be and why?
Invest in your health while you are young. Too many young people just equate health with being a normal body weight, but there is so much more to the picture. Social support, sleep, physical activity, and diet work in sync to prevent the vast majority of chronic disease. Too often, it takes a heart attack or a cancer diagnosis to really motivate someone to pursue lifestyle change. Start early, and you will thank yourself later!
Elizabeth Morris, MD is a Family and Lifestyle Medicine Physician, Figure Skater and Member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. For more tips from Elizabeth, check out her web sites: Greenville Health System and USC School of Medicine, Greenville, and follow her on Facebook. To learn more about the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, click here.
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