On Trying New Things…

In the academic medicine world, every two weeks we have a lecture called “Grand Rounds,” which is usually when an expert on something comes to lecture the department on that…something.

One of our speakers last year specialized in surgical education.

Learning to operate is a rather humbling experience. After eight years spent in college and med school, you still go into a surgical residency being an absolute beginner, which can be very unsettling when you have a fancy degree behind your name and feel like a fool and a fake.

Bright-eyed, matched, newly minted MD with no idea how to even sew two towels together...

Bright-eyed, matched, newly minted MD with no idea how to even sew two towels together…

After some time and a few hundred C-sections (if you’re in OB/GYN), certain things start to become second nature and you forgot how you never knew how to load a needle, call for an instrument at a certain step, or throw a stitch.

To be a better teacher, the speaker said she tried one new activity every year that she was a complete beginner at so she could remember how humbling and scary it could be. Waterskiing, improv class, stand up comedy, dance… her list went on and on.

Even though I’m still very much a beginner at many things surgically related, I thought this was a great idea.

Fortunately, there are 500 new things  you could try in NYC on any given day, especially if you’re into exercise. So, I’ve given a few new things “a go,” some of which were rather scary for me, and some of which weren’t.

Trying new things has been pleasantly uncomfortable and empowering at the same time.

Here’s what the were and why you should try something new, too!

YOGA: 

I’ve written previously on my experiences with yoga and how I’m sort of turning a corner with the whole yoga “thing.”

I don’t go regularly so I’d still consider yoga “new” to me. I’ve hit the mat maybe 5 times this year, besting last year’s record of one class.

Yoga was scary for me for two specific reasons.

First, it has become very apparent that I am not good at relaxing or sitting still. I either like to be in a constant state of motion/doing or asleep. Call it adult onset ADHD, fear of complacency or my own thoughts, or just a case of the typical New Yorker mentality, but it makes me uncomfortable to not be doing something.

One reason why I didn’t like yoga in the past was that it might force me to stop for a second and NOT do something. And, what if I didn’t like what I was thinking or feeling while I was NOT doing? THE HORROR. And, then I’d be trapped in a class of other people who enjoyed not doing and just being with no escape.

Second, I have a hard time at letting go of the “I’m good at this, bad at that” mentality. And, truthfully, I’m not good at yoga. I can’t do side crow or go into a handstand without kicking like a gymnast.  I know that every yogi reading this is thinking, “its a practice- no good and bad!” I’m too results oriented and focused on getting “X” right. It is going to take a lot of yoga and maybe a small exorcism to release my inner competitive, self judging self into a yoga mindset. Maybe a trip to the South of France, too, if someone out there would conveniently like to pay for that…

Standing on one's head…doctor approved! Don't ask to see anything else…its not pretty.

Standing on one’s head…doctor approved! Don’t ask to see anything else…its not pretty.

Fortunately, I’ve found yoga that is a bit more playful and fun (thanks to Bethany, Lyon’s Den, and Jessica), and I actually like it and, even more shocking, look forward to it. I know, its weird for me, too, to say that.

The best part about giving yoga a try (again) was actually learning the above things about myself and that it is ok to not be good at something as long as you’re still enthusiastic and working toward that certain something.

Moving on…

BOXING: 

To be fair, “boxing” for me did not mean actually boxing someone. I will not be entering a fight anytime soon. That is, truly, terrifying.

Boxing – meaning that not directed at another person but rather shadowboxing or on a bag – is quite the fitness trend lately. Being the fitness class enthusiast that I am, I wanted to give it a try.

I’ve tried Overthrow, Mendez Boxing, and Shadowbox, my favorites being Mendez (for the legit boxing gym experience) and Shadowbox (for the group fitness class experience).

Boom boom…pow!

Boom boom…pow!

My general take on any fitness class that I haven’t tried is that nothing bad can actually happen to you in a group fitness class. So, why not give it a go?

I'm going to Shadowbox tmw at 8pm -- who wants to join?!

I’m going to Shadowbox tmw at 8pm — who wants to join?!

Boxing is, actually, really fun. Like any fitness class, it can be as hard or as easy as you want it to be and my entire body has never felt as sore as it did after boxing the first few times. But, there’s something very cathartic about hitting a 140 lb bag no matter how technically correct your jabs or crosses are.

Just kidding…I've been boxing since 1990.

Just kidding…I’ve been boxing since 1990.

Boxing is empowering; it helps you realize your own strength and toughness. Its helped me walk a little taller and feel more confident.

If you’re tired of spin or bootcamp, give this one a go.

It’s a damn good workout, too. Giselle is on to something. I will what I want, too!

[PS: My all-time favorite boxing workout is with Jaws at Shadowbox — check it out! She even has a FREE event at Athleta this Sunday. I’ll be working. Go for me!]

BURLESQUE DANCING:

This one I could’ve used an Ativan for prior to going.

Going to a dance class for me is somewhat intimidating because I haven’t danced since I was eight. That’s a 21 year leave of absence if anyone is counting.

But, I always liked dance (and gymnastics, natch). I bug Jaws to teach me dance all the time (sorry, dude). I love learning choreography because its a bit like a game to me (i.e. the “How fast can you pick it up and memorize it?” game.) I will not divulge the number of times I’ve spent trying to learn different dances on YouTube.

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 6.38.01 PM

Toddlers and Tiaras? Nope, just a dance recital in Alabama. #grandsupreme

Toddlers and Tiaras? Nope, just a dance recital in Alabama. #grandsupreme

Burlesque dancing, however….

Well, let’s just say the nuns in the Sister Act can shake it more than I can.

It appears even at 29 years old, I have not yet rid myself of the “omg, is everyone looking at me” adolescent mentality.

This was the most uncomfortable and, therefore, probably most important thing I did of the three. I had to pretend a little bit to be something that I’m not (I’d be a terrible actress). I had to push myself out of my comfort zone. I had to, again, be ok with not being so good at what I was doing, but trying my best anyways.

In the end, I actually had a lot of fun and gave the left shark a really good run for his or her money. I’d 100% do this again. (And, a big thanks to Mallory for being so patient and encouraging.) No matter reserved or uncoordinated you are, try dance.

Giving the left shark a run for his money. @mmmallory #fishoutofwater

A video posted by Meggie (@mbsthinks) on Jun 26, 2015 at 6:40pm PDT

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The best part about all of this has been learning how adaptable I can be (if I want to), how you can teach an old dog new tricks (with some limitations), and pushing my the limits of my comfort zone to realize that, truly, there are no limits unless you set them.

Pleasantly uncomfortable and empowering.

Go try something new!

TELL ME: SOMETHING NEW YOU’VE TRIED IN THE LAST 6 MONTHS – WHY YOU DID IT AND HOW YOU LIKED IT. 

[And, if you’re really digging around for something new — come box tomorrow – 8 pm at Shadowbox. I’ll be there!]

Until next time…

The X Factor

An alternate title for this post could be “…and other ways to lie to yourself.”

Lying to yourself can be a very powerful thing.

I remember a sports psychologist telling me when I was 17 that our minds (or, rather active imaginations) make up a lot of stories that we end up telling ourself. As it was pertaining to tennis, “my opponent is mean – I don’t like her” or “I’m terrible, I can’t do anything right!” when I was losing. The more you repeat these things to yourself – true or false – the more they become true because your have now made them your truth, your belief, made it into a real story that you believe (even if no one else does).

I’ve always remembered this and kept it in my back pocket when I realize my mind is working against itself.

[See Exhibit A – mental breakdown over laparoscopy every single day — “I’ll NEVER BE ABLE TO DO THIS! THEY’RE GOING TO REMEDIATE ME IN THIS RESIDENCY! LIFE IS OVER! I SHOULD GET A JOB A STARBUCKS OR FOLDING JEANS AT THE GAP!]

Anyways, training for the NYC Half marathon started off with a bang – 10 miles on New Year’s Day!

And, then, winter happened (and continues to do so, it seems).

It was cold. There was snow. Lots of it. And there were indoor activities, too – like SoulCycle, Barry’s, and Pilates.

Each time I chose something other than running, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into it. I always had some intention of doing a long run. But, it just never happened. Two spin classes in a row is like a long run, right? I told myself that and I believed it.

The week of the NYC Half Marathon I did realize that I had put myself in a tad hole having not run more than 6 miles since 1/1/15.

And, this is where lying to yourself comes in handy. I really like to think of it as spinning the truth, enhancing the positives, but it’s probably a bit more delusional than anything.

Despite not running so much, I told myself I was still in pretty good shape. I [quite literally] run around all day as part of my work description and do exercise 5-6 days a week on top of that. I do a lot of “doubles” on my days off — spin + pilates, double spin, run + pilates, run + spin — so I knew my body could take the amount of time it takes to run a half marathon. The only question would be whether my legs could hold up to that pounding.

And, this is where I came up with this ridiculous idea that I had “the X factor.”

The “X factor” is as follows: working 24 hours straight on a busy labor floor as the lone resident.

If I could do that, 2 hours or so of running was nothing.

I convinced myself that I was this warrior, hardened by the rigors of residency, with the endurance of an….energizer bunny? Someone on steroids? I’m tired and running out of good metaphors.

Somehow (likely a little bit of luck) things worked out and I finished! In 1:50 and change and I couldn’t be happier.

The take home point of all of this can be summed up by one of my favorite quotes of all time:

“The mind is the athlete; the body is simply the means it uses to run faster or longer, jump higher, shoot straighter, kick better, swim harder, hit further, or box better. Hoppie’s dictum to me, ‘First with the head and then with the heart,”‘ was more than simply mixing brains with guts. It meant thinking well beyond the powers of normal concentration and then daring your courage to follow your thoughts.” – Bryce Courtenay, “The Power of One”

Now, if I could just translate this mental toughness into residency and operating we’d be golden (reference back to above daily breakdown over laparoscopy).

In the mean time, there’s ice cream.

Until next time….

PS – Special shout out to JMK for running with me!

Kidneys: Your Body’s All-Natural Daily Juice Cleanse

And other ways your body is actually amazing.

First, let me qualify this post with a few caveats:

Caveat #1:

I am not a registered dietician, health coach, nutrition mad-scientist, guru, Jedi master, or the Dalai Lama. I have not received any specific training in nutrition. I am also not Dr. Oz.

Addendum to Caveat #1:

What I can say about myself is the following: I have a B.A in Chemistry and a MD, both from NYU, which hopefully did something productive with all of that tuition money I paid them. Given these two degrees, I would consider myself to have at least a basic fund of knowledge and critical thinking skills to evaluate and interpret scientific literature on health “fads” and trends.

Caveat #2:

I am allopathically (“Western”) physician. However, what I will say about myself is that I’m very open-minded when it comes to complementary and alternative medicine as well as nutrition and fitness, the latter of which greatly impacts my everyday working life (diabetes, anyone? Can SoulCycle be a prescription?).

I’ve tried acupuncture (LOVE, I’d still go if I had time), cupping (interesting), Graston (ow), and Active Release Therapy (super ow). I swear my chiropractor and acupuncturist kept me from getting injured while doing two marathons in one year. That being said, if I have cramps, I’m going straight for ibuprofen and not an herb.

Caveat #3:

Despite degrees mentioned in #1, I can just as easily be fooled by great marketing, which is what inspired me to write this post. I’ve bought alkaline water (I mean, I drink a lot of coffee so I should balance that, right?), thought I was intolerant to gluten (turns out, no one can actually digest gluten), and used to drink more green juices than my bank account could handle. Turns out, doctors, too, can be suckers for good marketing.

Caveat #4:

This post is not an extensive review on every single piece of literature of what I’m going to talk about. It is, however, a review of facts and some literature. I don’t have the time to do an entire thesis on alkaline water or activated charcoal, but, hopefully, a few paragraphs with be sufficient.

So, let’s get to it…

THE TOPIC: ALKALINE WATER 

THE CLAIM: BALANCING THE BODY’S PH, “DETOXIFICATION,” COMBATING ACIDOSIS, ENHANCED IMMUNITY

THE REAL SCOOP: YOUR BODY ALREADY DOES THIS FOR YOU! 

THE SHORT STORY: That is to say that every day your kidneys, liver, digestive system, and lungs are exquisitely controlling your blood’s pH (to a very narrow range) and ridding your body of the toxins you put into it. You are, in fact, “cleansing” every day. 

 

The claims make sense, right? We terrible Americans are drinking all this acidic coffee so why not just wash it down with a little alkaline water for, not only, neutralizing your body’s pH, but also ridding your body of toxins leading to better skin, fewer headaches, easier respiration (what?), a better functioning heart, and more stable and regular bowel movements (which, if you’ve worked in health care, you know everyone loves this).

QUICK LET’S ALL BUY AN IONIZER!!!

Not so fast…

First, let’s answer “what is alkaline water?”

Alkaline water is water whose pH is more basic than that of “regular” water and human blood. The pH of the delicious water I’m drinking right now is 7.0. The pH of my blood is controlled by my body to be between 7.35 and 7.45.

How does my body do this? It appears that when God made Adam and Eve, he put in our own natural Brita filters and pH regulating systems so we would all survive until we were able to create, market, and sell alkaline water (which I admit, I have bought).

Your body tightly regulates your blood’s pH through both the digestive system, your kidneys, and your lungs.

First, let’s give a big shout out to the pancreas.

You see, when you eat, your food travels to your stomach, where the pH is a brutal 2 due to hydrochloric acid secreted from these little guys called parietal cells in your stomach. The function of this is two fold: the acidic pH both starts digestion and is anti-microbial. This is why the “5 second rule” when you drop food on the floor totally works (just kidding).

Once your food has been adequately churned, its released to the good ol’ duodenum where the pancreas then squirts a bunch of juice into. This magic pancreatic secret sauce has a bunch of bicarbonate in it to neutralize the aforementioned acid. Your gall bladder also helps out in the cause, too, so the sum effect is that you are neutralizing what you’re about to absorb to a more physiologic pH.

But, what if some acid does get into your blood. WHAT NOW?

Take your hands and put them behind your back right under neath the edge of your ribs. Now, give that little spot a love tap. That’s your kidneys. Thank them.

If you have functioning kidneys, which I hope you do, then your kidneys take care of any imbalances in pH for you. I’ll leave it at that because otherwise we’d have to go into a long discussion about the nephron and loop of Henle. Unless you’re a medical student, spare yourself and just know that it works.

Your lungs help out, too. For instance, if your blood is too acidic, you’ll breathe off more carbon dioxide to, in essence, breathe out excess acid. Again, I’m leaving it at that as a discussion of this entire process is too lengthy (and, likely for you, boring).

On a brief review of medical literature, there does not appear to be any purported health benefit of drinking alkaline water. I did read one study where alkaline water may be an adjunct to treatment of reflux as alkaline water may inactive tissue bound pepsin (an enzyme) that plays a key role in the pathogenesis of reflux disease.

However, if you want better skin, a better heart, clearer thinking, easier respiration (what?), or any of the other aforementioned benefits, then you should be drinking water – alkaline or not. For your body to do all of the amazing things it can do, it needs water. Your body is approximately 70% water, after all, unless you just ate a entire bag of tortilla chips (then maybe slightly more).

THE TOPIC: “V-STEAMING”

THE CLAIM: HORMONE BALANCE, “PROTECTING” THE UTERUS, FERTILITY, DIGESTION, INFECTION, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN 

THE SCOOP: I’M NOT SURE WHERE TO START WITH THIS ONE

Let me just say that I think if you are putting anything in your vagina it should be a) because you are on your period, b) because you’re at the gynecologist, or c) you’re with your significant other.

There has been nothing that has gotten be more fired up lately than “V-steaming.” (Pun intended).

It came to my attention that on Goop there was a post recently about, what else, but detoxing, but this time including a “V-steam.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 2.51.36 PM

Apparently, you can sit on some tiny throne that then steam cleanses your V as well as your uterus using a concoction of herbs, including Mugwort, which legitimately sounds like it is from Harry Potter.

I looked into Mugwort, out of curiosity. Mugwort is used in some Traditional Chinese Medicine therapies, like moxibustion with mugwort to turn breech babies to head down position or to bring about uterine contractions. It brings “heat,” and I know a lot of TCM focuses on heat/cold and blood flow or stagnation. Mugwort was also used to ward off ghosts by Native Americans so I’m definitely giving it out at Halloween next year (get some education with your candy!)

A few things on the V-steam…

First, let’s suffice it to say that the vagina has a lot of bacteria, more than you’d want to know. However, thanks be to God, when He made Eve from Adam’s rib (right?), he made this “system” to be a self cleaning oven, if you will. You do not need Stanley Steamer a few times a year for down there. It does the job itself and, if not, you’ll know and, hopefully, be going to see a gynecologist.

Second, your female “system” is built to protect things from ascending into the uterus (see cervix, mucus, etc). Otherwise, we gynecologists call this an ascending infection and, in fact, this is how people infected with certain bacteria get pelvic inflammatory disease (see Chlamydia). Therefore, I would hope the Mugwort isn’t making it into your uterus, as cool (or hot?) as it may sound.

Third, this sounds like a set up for burning your V and disrupting the normal vaginal flora. That sounds horrifying, painful, and like the world’s most interesting ER consult I’m sure I’ll get one day.

Fourth, maybe the steam helps stimulate circulation, or something, but this seems like an awfully expensive and potentially weird way to do so.

Fifth, if your hormones are “off balance,” please see an endocrinologist and not the V-steam.

Sixth, I don’t know what a uterine ulcer even is….(see ad above)…and I’m an OB/GYN resident…so take the ad with that in mind.

So, instead of the V-steam, go get a pap smear. 

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If you have any data that refutes the above, please do let me know. Science is always a debate and I know I don’t have all the answers, knowledge, or time in the world to scour all of the information that is available to us today.

And, I also get that sometimes people just like certain things, even if they don’t work according to the medical literature. I’m currently drinking Aloe Water from Juice Press because I think it calms my stomach. It probably doesn’t, but the placebo effect on me is mighty strong with this one, so I’ll keep throwing down $2.50 for it…

Anything else the 5 of your who read this want to hear about?

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Say Never

The title might also be the same name as a Justin Bieber song, but I’m not certain. I’m terribly behind on popular culture. Case in point: something happened with Kim Kardashian last year, but I’m not entirely sure what – a photo or something. I don’t understand, however, how a picture of Kim K was big news, but I digress…

Let’s go back in time.

2007. After a workout with my tennis team. The NYC Marathon is on TV and I had no idea it was even happening that weekend. Lance Armstrong is running it, again, and I remember thinking “if someone who has won the Tour de France 7 times thinks the marathon is hard [he also ran it in 2006] then I am never doing one.”

In fact, at the time, I didn’t even like running. 3 miles was an ETERNITY to me. You can ask anyone who played tennis with me. I even dreaded the warm up jog each day and that was only a half a mile max. I always told people that I “just wasn’t a runner.”

Fast forward to 2009 and my now former teammate, Erika, proceeded to make a giant liar out of me by getting me hooked on running. I’m now six marathons deep and can’t imagine my life without running, which seems more of part of me rather than something I do.

Fast forward to present day. New scenario: yoga.

I’ve tried yoga a handful of times in my life. So few, in fact, that I could probably count the times I’ve tried yoga on one hand.

Yoga and I never really vibed. I don’t know if it was the general silence, the perceived seriousness, my lack of flexibility or knowledge, or that Mercury was in retrograde or something, but I just never enjoyed it. As such, I was never really compelled to go back because I already had enough outlets that were fun for me. Spin! Running! Pilates! Instagramacizing! I could easily fill a day and empty a bank account with exercise.

And, I like being introspective, but not terribly introspective. I mean, I’m not the Dalai Lama. And, I sort of like my life and didn’t like how yoga always made me think I had to not like something and “let go of it” or something like that.  I like what I do outside of work to be fun, playful, and, truthfully, slightly aggressive and challenging. And, yoga was just never those things to me like running was.

Until Friday.

My friend, Ali, has been talking up a storm about Lyon’s Den Power Yoga, which was started by one of my favorite SoulCycle instructors, Bethany. Ali even went so far as to say it changed her life and that she, too, wasn’t a yogi before. Ali’s claims were corroborated by several other friends (Dani, Jaws, GB) or Twitter friends (Meaghan) so I thought about giving it a shot.

I’m on this beautiful 2nd year rotation right now, called the Magical World Of Ultrasound (ok, just “ultrasound,” but it truly is a magical 4 weeks with Dr. Timor, who is the Dumbledore of Ultrasound, if you will), and work “only” 40 hours a week or so. So, what better time to try something new?

So, Friday night, I took myself down Tribeca to give it a go.

And, I loved it.

Bethany started class saying something along the lines of “who gives a shit” and “the worst thing is that you fall on your mat trying something new” and I immediately thought “this is yoga for me.”

Come to find out, Bethany’s studio is Baptiste  Power Vinyasa Yoga. I’m sure there’s a better, more formal definition of what this is but, to me, its fast and athletic. You move from one pose to the next quickly. And, I’m not sure if its the style or the culture Bethany is creating, but, at Lyon’s Den, you kick up into that dancer’s pose like you own it and don’t care if you look like a decrepit dancer or slightly squashed bug while doing it. Flip your dog (or whatever its called) into a backbend and, if you fall, that’s actually the worst thing that can happen and its ok. And, I loved that.

I liked it so much, I went back on Saturday to take Terri’s class (that’s two days in a row, for anyone keeping count – more than I went to yoga in all of 2014). Bethany was taking that class and even still she was pushing people to try something new. I was floored by how she’s really committed to helping other people push themselves even if she’s not teaching.

Moreover, I learned that maybe I’m just not one of those people where slowing down physically also slows my mind down. I’m frenetic at baseline – its probably why I was drawn to obstetrics and gynecology. For me, moving quickly – like running, spinning, etc – helps to slow my mind down and focus. And, I found the same at Lyon’s Den.

Maybe it’s a quarter life crisis. Maybe its the start of seasonal affective disorder. Maybe its just a case of the New Year’s resolutions. But, dare I say, I like yoga?

I know, its weird for me, too.

TELL ME: SOMETHING NEW YOU’VE TRIED IN THE LAST 5 YEARS THAT YOU NOW CAN’T IMAGINE LIVING WITHOUT.

And, for the record, I’m going back tomorrow.

I’m also going to start entering the lottery more often, because I need to win it to pay for all of this.

Until next time…

To Do List For 2015

Some people call them resolutions, but I’m not really into the whole resolution thing. It seems so stern and, well, resolute. That’s a lot of pressure. A list of little check boxes just seems so much more attainable, most likely because my life revolves around the almighty list of holy resident checkboxes.

So, here’s are some things that would be nice to achieve in 2015. But, let’s get real, no one is going to die if these don’t happen.

Or so I think.

[Also, none of these are work related as those would probably be incredibly boring to you. All 5 of you reading this. Suffice it to say my attitude towards work goals for myself for 2015 can be best summed up by Britney Spears, “You better work, bitch.” Fellowships don’t match themselves and/or jobs don’t’ find themselves, either. And the same can be said for the robot[ic surgery] training.]

Anyways, here goes:

1. CONTACTS – FOR REAL THIS TIME.

C-section? Easy. Contacts? HARD.

I said I’d do this in 2014. And, then I went on isotretinoin (the drug f.k.a. accutane) during which it is not recommended to try contacts since your eyes are so dry (and, if I’m not mistaken, make you a bit more prone to eye infections – yikes!). So, I had a very convenient excuse not to get this one done.

Let’s try again this year. And, its no wonder I wasn’t interested in ophthalmology – I can’t even touch my own eye, let alone operate on one!

2. RUN THE NYC HALF UNDER 1:50.

In old Meggie running land, this would have been pretty achievable on most days.

In resident Meggie running land, I have no idea how fast or slow I can or do run.

I run sometimes. I spin sometimes. I go to Barry’s sometimes. I pilates sometimes. I do as the spirit moves me.

To commit to a training plan or a lofty time goal is fairly unrealistic for me given the day job that I have.

1:50 seems like a time I can achieve using my non-training training plan. It’s respectable and its at a pace where I’m not jogging.

Sure, it’d be nice to run under 1:40 some day. But, I’m not sure residency is the best time for that.

If the spirit moves me a little faster than 1:50 (1:45 even!) that’d be nice, but I have bigger fish to fry at the moment than a PR.

3. TRY A KOREAN BODY SCRUB

As if I didn’t put my skin through its paces with the almost total body (or at least face) desquamation brought on by accutane (see #1, also side note – very worth it), I want to try a Korean Body Scrub.

As far as my internet research as led me to believe, these are slightly aggressive, yet effective body scrubs in which your skin will feel like Valentino suede boots.

Apparently, you have to be entirely nude in front of other people, but seeing as I’m a OB/GYN resident, I feel like maybe its only fair for me to be stark naked in front of someone else after I’ve done that to so many women while simultaneously enthusiastically counting to 10 or yelling, “PUSH!”

I might have to do some more research on this one.

4. USE SELF TANNER MORE FREQUENTLY.

Sometimes I look in the mirror and think “has that person seen the sun in a while?”

The answer is likely no, but, like many things in life, I feel like I should start faking it until I make it on this one.

5. GO TO YOGA MORE THAN ONCE

I went once last year (thanks, Jaws!)

It won’t take much to beat last year.

I don’t stretch – ever – so I should probably get addicted to yet another workout class that will at least bring about some flexibility into my life.

Because I need another fitness craze like I need a hole in my head. But, there are worse things to be addicted to, right?

[Ali, I’m counting on you!]

6. TRY A DANCE CLASS

I feel like its important to try something new everyone once in a while. Something that makes you feel like a complete beginner and/or completely incompetent. I think it makes you appreciate what you do know how to do a bit more.

And, like Justin Bieber (or was it Zach Efron?) said – YOLO.

7. EAT LESS SUGAR. EAT MORE FAT.

According to everything I read or watch lately, sugar is addictive and its killing us. The sugar industry is like the tobacco industry of the 1960s – contributing to significant public health crisis and not owning up to it.

It would be unfathomable to not eat sugar entirely. It is, of course, in fruits and vegetables and I eat at least six apples and a bag of baby carrots a week. And, giving up chocolate for good is entirely unrealistic for me. I mean, my collection of dark chocolate bars from Mast Brothers can’t go to waste!

I think what I’m more interested in becoming more cognizant of is that added sugar that is so pervasive in our food industry. Go read labels at the grocery store. Its alarming how high sugar (or some derivative of it) is on most ingredient lists and how many grams there are total in some items (sometimes more than 20 g!)

In regard to fat, I read (meaning I skimmed the highlights) part of a book called “Grain Brain” written by a neurologist. Apparently, we are doing a disservice to our brains by not eating egg yolks and using skim milk. I need to read a bit more on this, but that’s the gist I got from very briefly reading parts of that book.

Two changes I’ve made are cutting down on some bars (when I’m not in a huge rush and can actually grab real food), juice, and fake sugars (like Vitamin Water Zero, sadly; it increases threshold of real sugar needed to attain sweet taste) and changing from 0% Greek Yogurt to 2%. [I already used whole milk in coffee– its just so much better.]

I know, I lead a supremely exciting life. 2%. Really living on the wild side.

8. READ A BOOK THAT IS NOT RELATED TO WORK AT ALL.

Just one book. Over an entire year. If I pick a book that is 365 pages, that’s one page a day. Which is about what I average at night before promptly falling asleep.

9. RUN A RACE WITH A FRIEND/PACE SOMEONE IN THEIR FIRST HALF MARATHON

I did this for the NYC Marathon in 2013 with Gia and paced my friend, Meagan, to her first half marathon finish last May.

Running a race with a training buddy and pacing someone to their first half marathon finish were both fun and special. The showed me how much running has impacted my life and maybe how I can use it to affect another.

I’d like to do both again.

[Jocelyn, you in?! I’ll bring the camera for the photo-ops.]

And, who out there wants to run their first half marathon?!

So, in sum and in a form that is far more familiar to me:

[ ] contacts

[ ] NYC Half < 1:50

[ ] Korean Body Scrub

[ ] Self Tanner

[ ] Yoga > 1x
[ ] Dance Class
[ ] Less Sugar, More Fat
[ ] A book

[ ] race with friend/pace a friend

I probably won’t get all of these done. But, let’s try…

TELL ME: ON YOUR TO DO LIST FOR THE NEW YEAR IS….

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

What It’s Like Being A Resident

A lot of people ask me “how is residency” or “what do you do as a resident? Are you a doctor? Are you in school?”

First question: yes, I am a doctor or so says this diploma. Not an "attending" which is what you might think of when you think of "doctor."

Yes, I am a doctor or so says this diploma. Not an “attending” which is what you might think of when you think of doctors in practice. 

Let me tell you what it’s like to be a resident. At least, from my perspective. And we know no two of those are the same. But, anyways….

Being a resident is both special and suffocating.

Special in the fact that, I think, it’s a very seminal point in your life where you learn your potential craft, what you’re truly passionate about, and start to get to do what you worked 8+ years to do.

Special in the fact that, if you’re lucky, you’re thrust into a family of people that, if you like them, become people you look forward to seeing, miss on vacation, and don’t mind spending 80+ hours a week with. People that even when the shit hits the fan at 3 am and everyone is hemorrhaging, delivering, needing their ER consult, or just all decided to roll into triage at once, you can still laugh about it the next morning over egg wraps and hot sauce (the hot sauce is truly crucial in this scenario).

My NYU family, who I see more than my real family.

My NYU family, who I see more than my real family.

Residency is also suffocating. When you work 60-80 hours a week, it can start to feel like you live from one extended nap to the next and really never venture all the far from work or your work brain.

[Side note: I think that’s why I like exercise classes so much – it helps me to get out of my work world and into, well, the other world? real world? boy meets world?]

But, it’s very special to get to do what you wanted to do in life even if it is slightly suffocating for a four year period.

Residency is also terrifying.

As an intern (your first year), everything is terrifying – from being terrified that you’re going to hurt a patient, to attendings and senior residents you’re afraid to screw up in front of (which you always do), to figuring how to do a C-section, to figuring out just how to stay afloat and do anything, something RIGHT. I think I spent the first 6 months of my intern year with a heart rate above 100 bpm and a cortisol level higher than someone on “Naked and Afraid.”

Residency then becomes even more terrifying as you realize that you really had little responsibility as an intern and, as you progress, you get more responsibility. And, then you’re worried you don’t study or read enough, know enough, do enough….that you sleep too much or exercise too much….and that this all this responsibility is going to one day fall on you and you’re going to be one of “those doctors” that doesn’t know what they are doing. And, that thought is truly terrifying.

However, there are some days – brief, shining moments in time – where you do realize that maybe, just maybe you do know something….even with that 7 hours of sleep you got and that 6 mile run you went on instead of reading. You can explain an induction of labor to your friend. You know a thing or two about pre-eclampsia and birth control. You can practically do an (uncomplicated, primary) C-section in your sleep.

And, then you think that you may make it out of the 4 year vortex of residency ok.

On to the next extended nap and then back into the vortex…

Until next time…

 

 

ATM: “After The Marathon”

ATM was coined by my #bff/brf Jocelyn – that glorious period all marathoners wait for when they get 3-4 hours of their weekend back and, presumably, a bit more time and energy to do things that you’ve put off because of running.

When I was “training” and “racing” (put in quotations as, let’s get real, I wasn’t vying for an Olympic medal or anything), the ATM period was one of my favorites. Free from any prescribed training plan, I could do what I pleased and, gasp, REST.

Here’s what I’ve learned after 6 marathons about this golden period:

1) Marathon Hunger Strikes One To Two Days Later: The day of the marathon I’m not super hungry. The day after and the day after that – CLEAR THE BUFFET.

I'll take two...

I’ll take two…

2) Motrin Is Your Friend: I only discovered this last year. I was in the OR all day the day after NYCM last year and was manipulating the uterus during robot cases (you can google that if not sure what it is), which involves sitting in small spaces (if you’re me and they are center docking the robot). I got stiff. I took 600 mg motrin and I was a new person. I did this every 6 hours for a few days thereafter. Just don’t do this if you have kidney problems…

2013 Finish

2013 Finish

3) Your Return To Exercise Is Really Up To You: And, how you feel. After 6 marathons, I’ve run the gamut in terms of time off. I’ve taken anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks off.

After Eugene, I ran the Wednesday thereafter because it was a most beautiful spring day and I couldn’t NOT go outside. So, I ran-walked 3 miles with lots of breaks. After New Jersey in 2011, I took 3 weeks off (2 planned then 1 extra because I got sick). After NYCM last year, I went to spin one week later (I mean, Charlee, who had yet to move back, was in town – how could I not go?).

Happiness is grapefruit candles...

They really get you with those grapefruit candles…

What I would recommend is this: do not sit completely still. This will make things worse. Go on a walk tomorrow and another time this week. It will help loosen things up and make your return to running, spin, or whatever it is you choose to do a bit easier when that time comes.

Whatever you do, don’t go run or spin just because you see people on twitter or instagram back running again. They aren’t you. You are you. Do you.

Just being me back in 1990. And, Ally, just being herself, too.

Just being me back in 1990. And, Ally, just being herself, too.

4) You Are Likely To Get Sick: I’ve gotten sick after 3/6 marathons I’ve done – a viral illness. Your immune system gets slightly depressed after the stress of a marathon and BOOM! – you’ve got yourself a nice little virus.

[This may have also happened to me as some of my marathons were near tests in medical school so I would come back and basically study for a couple days straight i.e. not exactly ideal rest/recovery.]

 

5) You May Have No Motivation To Run OR You May Have All The Motivation In the World: I’ve had times where I didn’t want to run again for another month and I’ve had others where I ran 12 miles two weeks later (again, after Eugene, when running and I were on the most beautiful honeymoon in Fiji together).

During the running honeymoon period of 2013…I was doing an 18 mile "workout" here -- WHO WAS I?

During the running honeymoon period of 2013…I was doing an 18 mile “workout” here — WHO WAS I?

If you’re not into running, that’s ok. You just dedicated your spare time to it for the last 12-18 weeks. Take a break! Try something different!

If you’re still into it, then you go girl (or boy).

If you’re wanting to try new things, check out my two favorites: SoulCycle (faves are Jaws, Charlee, Akin, Emma L, Bethany, Sydney, Madison, LB) and Flex Studios.

6) Beware The Endorphin Fueled Next Race Sign Up: Its bound to happen. You feel so buzzed now that you give your credit card over to active.com for race entry fees. Just beware this phenomenon.

TELL ME: HOW’D YOUR RACE GO? HOW WAS IT WATCHING? 

It looked cold from the confines of my bed where I slept 16 hours last night, just 10 shy of a sleep marathon.

Until next time…