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A doctor's journey from fat to fit: Following my own advice

A friend recently asked me what spurred my decision to get healthier, I gave the easiest answer: "Oh, I just want to get back to a size X." This vague answer is partially true, but didn't reveal everything. If I was honest with my friend I would say, "I am ashamed of how I treat my body, especially because people come to me looking for advice on how to lead healthier lives." After all, how am I supposed to educate others on what they need to do when I don't even follow my own advice?  

I have been thinner in the past, but even during those periods, I would never have considered myself truly healthy. Even when I was a medical student running 15 miles per week and ten dress sizes smaller, the only healthy thing in my life was the exercise. I was surviving on less than eight hours of sleep every night, taking blood pressure medication for the high stress in my life and eating things that either came frozen in a box, plopped out of a can or found in the doctor's lounge at 3 a.m. (Yes, the food in the doctor's lounge is just as unhealthy as the food found around your office).  

From the lack of regular physical activity, to the abundance of processed food in my diet, I was on an unhealthy path. Ultimately, I've created one unhealthy doctor. So, I have set a wide-reaching goal for myself: I will lead a healthier life. And I've got a plan to take the advice I give my own patients!  

Better nutrition

  • I will replace a large portion of processed foods in my diet with better options, like fresh fruit, vegetables and lean proteins.
  • I will not deprive myself of the foods I crave, especially potato chips and gelato. I have proven to myself time and time again that I can't completely erase them from my life without binges that end in shame, guilt and some very sticky fingers.

 More exercise

  • I will get back into the habit of breaking a sweat and feeling the burn by going to the gym three days per week.
  • I will not over-commit myself to more because it is not realistic with my work schedule. I may need to spend a longer time at the gym those three days, but ultimately, it will be worth it.

Less stress

  • I will lead a more mindful life by paying attention to how I handle stress and how I treat my body. I only get one body and I want it to last!
  • I will not make promises to myself that are unrealistic and will only result in shame and more stress in my life.
  • I will celebrate my accomplishments, no matter how small, and anticipate a few missteps here and there.
  • I will not berate and bash myself for missteps because I am only human.  

I'm excited for this journey that will lead me to a new, healthier lifestyle. I will learn from my failures and successes and come out the other side smarter and better able to make good decisions when it comes to my long-term health and well-being.

During the next six months, I will be journaling my healthy living changes, progress and weight loss. I will also dive a bit deeper into topics like nutrition, exercise, healthy weight, body composition testing and the links between stress and your overall health. I'm excited to lead a new, healthier lifestyle, and I look forward to sharing my journey with you again next month.

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