THE WELL Editors
Myles Spar, MD, MPH, is an integrative and functional medicine doctor in New York. He received his medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School and completed fellowships in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona and Health Services at UCLA, where he also earned a master’s in public health.
RELATED: All About Functional Medicine
While working with the humanitarian group, Doctors without Borders, Dr. Spar became fascinated with the innate power we have to heal and stay healthy when given the right tools and resources. After spending a couple of years working abroad, he returned to the US determined to better understand how people could benefit from avoiding processed foods, having strong connections and spiritual practices and staying physically active. That led him to train in integrative and functional medicine — and ultimately, to use that education to work with underserved populations, such as low-income communities and men, in general, as they often don’t voluntarily engage with healthcare providers enough when it comes to prevention. Overtime, Dr. Spar began to primarily focus on men’s health and developed a personalized and practical approach to helping patients work toward optimal health and better performance — sexually, physically and cognitively.
What brought you to functional medicine?
I was trained in academic medicine and quickly became disillusioned by the pharmaceutical Band-aid approach of Western medicine. It was a great model for acute disease, but offered nothing with which to help patients who were looking for optimal performance or illness prevention. Functional and integrative medicine made my doctor’s bag much bigger and more holistic.
What does wellness mean to you?
Wellness means your health is dialed-in so that you can pursue your purpose for waking up each morning — your ikigai, as the Japanese say — with the most physical, mental and spiritual strength.
Name three non-negotiables in your life.
Exercise: I am a triathlete and have a need to regularly train.
Being outside: “Find your wild” is important. I need some wildness everyday in the form of nature.
Putting family first: My spouse and children are my everything.
What is something that’s changed your approach to health and wellness?
Having kids. Before that, I pursued health in order to perform in the short-term, but didn’t worry about the future so much. I wasn’t focused on prevention, but having children changes that.
Describe your approach to treating patients in one sentence.
Utilizing a holistic lens, my personalized approach includes clarifying the purpose of having good health, identifying risks to achieving optimal health, incorporating community and healthy competition, incorporating objective measurable markers of health outcomes and behaviors and holding myself and the patient accountable.
What does “peak performance” mean to you?
It means one’s sexual, physical and cognitive function are in line with one’s goals.
Walk the dogs, then 20 minutes of transcendental meditation, followed by 10 minutes of writing out my goals for the day — what brings me joy, what beauty I notice and three things for which I am grateful (with one being something about my spouse).
The key to a good night's sleep?
Cold. I need the room or the bed to be chilly. Next in line is covering those pesky lights, especially the blue ones.
When you really need to chill out, you…
Go for a run, swim or meditate.
Instant mood lifter?
In the words of Michael Pollan, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Preferred mode of movement?
What’s one way you take care of your mind every day?
Matcha and meditation
Words to live by?
“Build your life as if it were a work of art." - Abraham Joshua Heschel
How do you reboot?
I’d like to say I add electrolytes to my water because I think that’s a smart thing to do, but I forget most of the time.
The book you own that is the most dog-eared?
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
How do you take your coffee or tea?
Matcha with honey
Weirdest wellness trend you've ever tried?
The gong sound bath at THE WELL New York is a little weird but awesome!
What's sacred to you?
Sleep. If I don’t get enough sleep, everything else falls apart — I can’t think clearly and I get very reactive.
Last time you laughed — and at what?
When my Bernese Mountain Dog, Rex, had something caught in his tail and was just running in circles.