About Annemarie

About Annemarie

Our founder & CEO

About Annemarie

Annemarie Postma (1969), also known as “The Sitting Chef” , got a spinal cord injury at the age of eleven and ended up in a wheelchair for good. After a lengthy rehabilitation period of 5 years, she finally went back to school, did the gymnasium and studied law.

Not long after that she became the first professional model with a visible disability for Elite models and became a regular columnist for the Algemeen Dagblad for 9 years. In 1995 her first book I love me was published, of which more than 250,000 were sold.

She then published 22 more books about personal growth, transformation and health, of which 3 titles even became international bestsellers: The deeper Secret , The Secret within and The Power of Acceptance.

In 2016 she founded the first center for lifestyle medicine in the Netherlands: AM Lifestyle medicine Center , which grew into The Lifestyle Docs Clinics. She is also founder and editor-in-chief of Annemarie's health and LifestyleRx magazines .

"My lifestyle is my medicine, and after almost 44 years of wheelchair existence, I am still slim, vital and healthy; something that is exceptional with a spinal cord injury".

Why did you set up The Lifestyle Docs Clinics?

"Because as a woman with a spinal cord injury, I have been experiencing the enormous preventive and curative effect of a healthy lifestyle for 43 years.

A disability like this entails enormous health risks and usually causes many secondary complications, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue, depression and accelerated aging. As a result, many people with a spinal cord injury are over-medicalized and often find themselves on the sidelines of life at an early age.

On the other hand, after so many years, despite a permanently sedentary life, I am still on weight and fit and, due to my lifestyle, I am still able to work full time and fully participate in life. By eating and living differently I saved my life and quality of life. I also wish others that, which is why I have been writing books about it since 1996 and have made it my job since 2015".

Annemarie is a true pioneer and a source of inspiration and role model for many. She was the first professional model with a visible disability in the 1990s. This made her a welcome guest in Dutch, Belgian and German talk shows.

Why is lifestyle medicine the medicine of tomorrow?

"A healthy lifestyle, in particular nutritional behavior, is becoming increasingly important in medicine and healthcare. It is also becoming increasingly clear in our personal lives that we can eat ourselves sick but also better.

Where we used to think that our genes were all-determining, we now know that this is not the case, and more than 80% of the most common chronic diseases are lifestyle-related and can therefore be prevented, treated and often completely reversed with exactly what causes them. originated: nutrition and lifestyle”.

  • Excessive sitting (sedentary behaviour), too little exercise
    • Too much processed and animal food
    • Too much stress, too little (self) acceptance and (self) compassion
    • Sleeping too little or badly
    • Unhealthy relationships
    • Lack of meaning

    Is the current healthcare system unsustainable?

    "Absolute. The current healthcare system is unsustainable, unsustainable and unaffordable. Within current diabetes care, type 2 diabetes, for example, is seen as a progressive disease, which often requires more and more medication, which means that healthcare costs in the Netherlands are rising. That is absurd when you consider that medication can never be the solution and that you can often completely reverse type 2 diabetes in a short time with an adjustment to someone's diet and lifestyle”.

    And lifestyle medicine offers the solution?

    "Certainly. A change of lifestyle can have a huge positive influence on that and often even make medication superfluous. Often within a few weeks. Research shows that people with (pre)diabetes type 2 who eat healthier (and mainly unprocessed , plant based) eating, moving more and sleeping better often do not have to take medication Even patients who have been injecting insulin for years can often stop doing this completely after a few months of guidance.

    Eating healthier in particular has such a huge positive impact on overall health and can reduce the severity of combined conditions. All the more reason, therefore, to use nutritional and lifestyle advice earlier and more often in the treatment of patients. In short: less medication, lower healthcare costs and a better quality of life”.

    How does lifestyle medicine get a full place in healthcare?

    “To start with: an adjustment of the financing of care. Health insurers mainly reimburse medication and are geared towards symptom relief and short-term effects.

    "The effect of lifestyle change can only be seen much later", it is often said. But what is overlooked is that the regular treatment of chronic diseases is a costly, long process because they often take months, years or even a lifetime.

    Just look around you how many people are on heart medication, blood thinners, cholesterol lowering drugs, antidiabetics, blood pressure medication, antidepressants, stomach protectors and tranquilizers at the same time and in the meantime often also have an angioplasty and a number of stents.

    That medication is taken for years, often even a lifetime and these people see every expensive specialist in the hospital several times a year and often undergo countless, costly additional examinations a year. Nobody cares about that. And then lifestyle medicine is cut back and a cheap GLI ( Combined Lifestyle Intervention) is introduced that should not cost anything. It's not to be taken seriously.

    And what is also overlooked is that a thorough lifestyle intervention often has an effect within a few weeks, especially with type 2 diabetes, for example, and someone can therefore quickly reduce or stop taking the medication and expensive medical complications - and very expensive treatments. - to prevent.

    Because someone's overall health also often improves permanently. It is therefore a much more sustainable approach, which makes it more logical to give priority to this form of medicine and to reimburse generously. Lifestyle medicine is a costly specialty, just like any other medical specialty. At least: at the front. At the back it generates money because people become healthier and gain more self-management through knowledge and more self-management. It is high time that people started to realize that”.

    Is that the only stumbling block?

    “No, in addition to the outdated way of financing healthcare, there has been another stumbling block to the implementation of lifestyle medicine until now: the lack of a model for directly applicable care. We have been working on this since 2017 and our medical specialist team has developed in recent years. This is a huge step for lifestyle medicine. Not only in the Netherlands, but worldwide”.

    Are you rolling out lifestyle as a medical specialty?

    "That's right. With The Lifestyle Docs Clinics , we are bringing lifestyle medicine to the place and level it belongs to. Lifestyle medicine has always been the neglected child in medicine and has therefore never really got off the ground.

    As mentioned, you do have GLI ( Combined Lifestyle Intervention ), which has also been reimbursed since 2019, but the results lag behind compared to leading international studies in the field of lifestyle medicine. This is because GLI is a “stripped down version” (or: a weak copy) of proven effective interventions, such as DPP or the Ornish Lifestyle intervention , which are essentially different in terms of nutrition and intensity. GLI is actually more of a “part” of lifestyle medicine. It is essentially more lifestyle coaching than lifestyle medicine”.

    Why is lifestyle medicine a medical specialty?

    “Because the problems of patients, especially if they already have complaints or are chronically ill, are extremely complex. The medical problems that arise from unhealthy behaviors fall under the metabolic syndrome. The metabolic syndrome has a range of manifestations (such as obesity, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, insulin resistance/diabetes, sleep apnea, lung problems, fatigue, pain, inflammation, infections, osteoarthritis/arthritis, depression, dementia, intestinal problems and accelerated ageing). unfortunately often occur simultaneously and reinforce each other.

    Where a cardiologist, pulmonologist or internist is good at treating one of these problems, with a more extensive form of the metabolic syndrome it is important to be able to keep an eye on the entire medical picture and therefore have specific knowledge of how this interplay put together and how you can help untangle this tangle for the patient in question. In addition to knowledge about exercise physiology and training programs for people with (morbid) overweight, a great deal of specialist knowledge is needed about good (evidence-based) nutrition. The doctor must also have specific knowledge and skills to be able to guide the patient in these behavioral change processes, but also in reducing medication.

    What conditions does The Lifestyle Docs Clinic focus on?

    “We focus on “The Big 5”: obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis. This is because these are the most common chronic conditions that are all interrelated and each require expensive medication individually. Research from Nordsjaellands University Hospital and the University of Southern Denmark shows that people with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and also rheumatoid arthritis”.

    What are your objectives for the near future?

    “We are now in the process of rolling out The Lifestyle Docs Clinics to Turkey, USA. There are advanced talks and the interest is huge. As a hospital, rehabilitation center, general practice (or as a healthcare entrepreneur who wants to open an independent clinic), people like to be able to purchase ready-to-use lifestyle medicine in this way with the training, back-up and support of the specialists at our Dutch headquarters.

    It is nice to see that when we started this in 2016 (under the name AM Lifestyle Medicine Center ) we were still so ahead of the pack that we always had to explain (and even defend) what we were doing, but that we are now offering exactly what this time demands and for which the current care offer has no answer".

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