Tag Archives: advice

Dr. M’s Women and Children First Podcast #9 – Dr. Tracy Shafizadeh, Evivo Probiotic for Babies

Dr. Tracy Shafizadeh is a nutritional scientist, speaker, and author with over 15 years of experience in scientific communications and life science research. Prior to serving as the Director of Scientific Communications at Evolve BioSystems, she led both product development and research services at various start-up life science companies, including Lipomics Technologies, Tethys Bioscience and Metabolon, Inc. Dr. Shafizadeh received her PhD in nutritional biology from UC Davis, studying intestinal development and folate metabolism in newborns.

Today, we spend the hour discussing the maternal and infant microbiome with respect to maternal breastmilk, human milk sugars and childhood outcome. Evolve Biosystems has produced a probiotic with excellent science to help guide us in new therapeutic discovery. We head to the beginnings of disease onset when the infant is only starting to take his or her first breaths.

I hope that you enjoy my conversation with Dr. Tracy Shafizadeh,

Dr. M


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens: ( Book Review Pedcast)

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens

The 7 Habits of highly Effective Teens:

By Sean Covey

1998,  Simon and Schuster


Welcome. Thanks for joining me today.  I am your pedcast host, Dr. Paul Smolen.  One of the great things about producing a podcast is that I read and explore a lot of material in preparation.  Recently I decided that giving parents my impressions of some of the books that address parenting and childhood issues might be useful.  Maybe I will peak your interest in reading a book, or maybe I can just sum it up for you and you can gain from my reading.  Whichever it may be, here is my second book review in this special edition of DocSmo.com.  Today’s book is by Sean Covey, the son of the famous author Stephen Covey of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People fame. Sean has written a teen equivalent called …of all things… 7 Habits of Highly Successful Teens!  Talk about following in Dad’s footsteps!

This book offers self-help for teens to improve their lives, whether their lives are on track or not.  The book is written in the spirit of a personal coach for teens.  It demands some self-reflection and when appropriate, guides teens through baby steps toward change with concrete examples and exercises.  As Mr. Covey puts it, improvement demands that we “look at the man in the mirror.”

Here are two of my favorite of Mr Covey’s habits:

1. Be proactive—By that he means that you are the master of your own fate.   Take control.  Don’t be passive and react to events.  Stand up for yourself when appropriate.

2. Think Win-Win mentality—Try to solve problems and conflict with solutions that let both parties win.  This habit requires keeping promises, being kind, listening to others’ points of view, being loyal, setting clear expectations and compromising.  Sean Covey’s father made this habit famous in the original book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,  by Stephen Covey.

Well, you get the idea.  Please take the time to read the rest of Mr. covey’s book to explore all 7 habits he suggests for your teen.

Now for my comments.  Let’s start with the pros of this book.  Here are what I see as it’s strengths:

a. Teens of various reading abilities will be able to read the book.


b. The book is peppered with stories and cartoons with messages which keep it entertaining, especially for teens.


c.  Many of the habits have exercises encouraging self-reflection and ultimately, learning new healthy habits.


d. The book is motivational.


e.  One thing I particularly like about the book is the 50 reasons for teens not to be sexually active.  If you read nothing else, read this section.  Mr. Covey has obviously given this a lot of thought…50 reasons!


f.  I also like the rubric of Habit 3 (First things first) about time management.


g.  Finally, I think that the book could provide a jumping-off point for conversation between teen and parent.

Now for the Cons:

a.  I think the book is unnecessarily long and, frankly, gets bogged down in spots.


b.  Additionally, I found some spelling errors—inexcusable in my opinion.


c.  I think some of the exercises (e.g., the personal mission statement) assume a level of maturity that many teens don’t have.


d.  I think the author believes that teens with serious depression, eating disorders, and drug problems can simply learn the habits and solve their life problems.  I think this assumption is naïve and possibly dangerous.  Mental illness is not something that the 7 habits will cure.

My Overall impression:

Despite being a little choppy in presentation, I think the book could be useful for many teens and their families. I actually think it might be more useful for parents to read than teens.  I think a parent who reads the book may be able to help his or her children form effective habits.  I also think that the book may help parents of children with low motivation.   Overall, I give the book 3.5 out of 5 Doc Smo stars.  I would love to hear your perspective on the book.   As always, thanks, and I look forward to you joining me again in the future. This is Dr. Paul Smolen hoping you are able to raise a keen teen. Until next time.


A doctor’s advice: harsh or life changing? (Pedcast)


-Welcome to another edition of DocSmo.com.  I am your host, Dr. Paul Smolen, the hardest working pediatrician east of the Mississippi, bringing you pedcasts… short, informative, entertaining mp3’s discussing everything kid:  subjects ranging from the crib to the country club , from the play pen to the prom….from diapers to the dorm.   Well, you get the idea. With his permission, I am going to tell you a story about one of my patients who we call Drew that I think you might find interesting.  I did.  So sit back and listen to how a visit to the pediatrician changed Drew’s life for the better.

-Drew’s story starts at a party at the University of North Carolina a few years back…when my daughter was an undergraduate there.  Sarah, my daughter and …the web master of this blog, was introduced to Drew at this party. When introduced, he asked Sarah was she related to a  Dr. Smolen, and of course Sarah answered yes. Smolen is an unusual name and I happened to have been Derek’s doctor growing up in Charlotte.  Derek then spontaneously goes into the story of how I changed his life…  you heard me right…changed his life.  As he tells it, he was in for his routine physical where, of course,  we discuss all the routine subjects… height, weight, BP, BMI, exercise, diet etc.  It turns out that Derek was overweight at the time of this physical and his diet was very poor… lots of sweet drinks and processed food.

–His recollection of our conversation was that I was rather blunt about his weight problem and his poor diet.  I told him he had to change his diet or he might well go into the adult world being overweight and in poor health I told him that men generally reach their peak physical capacity at age 17 years and if he wasn’t healthy then, when would he be?  I strongly encouraged him to stop drinking soda, sports drinks, sweet tea, and processed foods so that his weight would normalize.  He informed me that “he was a football player and that he burned plenty of calories.”  “Everyone drank these drinks”, he explained.   At that point we had a short discussion about calorie balance I explained to him that unless one runs marathons, keeping a normal healthy weight with excess calorie intake is almost impossible. “Our weight is much more about what we eat than how much we burn. “  I explained.

-You need to understand, I have these conversations all the time with teens.  I see about 5-8 teens everyday and diet is a big part of a checkup.  I don’t remember him getting upset or angry during the visit but apparently I struck a cord.  As he tells it, “ he was very angry when I left that day.  He felt that I had been overly critical of him and he resented it.”…buuuut , the message got through.  He said the other doctors just danced around his weight but I was direct and he heard it.  Maybe he was just ready to hear it or maybe he understood that I cared about him and really wanted him to change… but for whatever reason, he decided to take action.

– After that visit, he stopped drinking soda and processed foods and his weight quickly normalized.  Activity was not his problem since he was quite athletic… it was his diet.  The short conversation we had at his checkup had truly changed his life.

-So here is what I learned from Derek’s experience:

People hear messages when they are ready to hear them…Derek was ready the day I saw him

Showing concern for someone’s well being, even if what you tell them is painful, is worth the effort.

Direct communication is the most effective way to connect with young people. My rule is, listen first, then speak.

And finally, people in positions of authority need not be afraid to use their influence in a positive way.  Children respond to honesty and direct communication.  We owe it to our kids to help them with direction and guidance when we can.  Remember, someone did it for us.

-Thanks for joining me today for this edition of DocSmo.com.  If you enjoyed this podcast, fell free to check out the myriad of other topics discussed in this blog.  And if you really get excited, write a comment about this story or any others you find interesting.  Don’t forget to “like” DocSmo on Facebook, or to subscribe on either my website www.docsmo.com, or on iTunes. This is Dr. Paul Smolen, hoping you won’t find it too strange, to adjust to inevitable life change.

Until next time