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. 

——-

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…

 

 

 

 

About That Marathon…

So, yeah, I’m not running it.

I’ve become an exercise class junkie (can I get some sort of sponsorship to pay for these?) and running long distances has gone on the back burner.

Working 80 hrs a week will do that to do.

At first, I felt guilty about NOT wanting to run a marathon and thought “something must be wrong with me” since I’ve been head over heels in love with long distance running for the past few years.

When I finally “gave it up,” as they say, it was a huge relief. Someone actually congratulated me on NOT doing something (there’s a first for everything I guess).  And then I realized that running marathons all the time is not entirely normal. It’s a huge strain on your body and a lot to ask of yourself week after week, long run after long run. I just happen to be socialize in a community where weekend marathons are a normal thing.

And, to be honest, it’s nice to say “no” to something. To realize that saying “no” takes a lot more courage than saying “yes” sometimes.

So, for now, I’m trying to figure out how to print money in the basement I don’t have to fund my quotidian, average daily exercise need – 45 min to 1 hr usually about 5 times a week, 3-4 minimum (sanity minimum that is), and 6 if I’m lucky.

BUT, for those of you who ARE running the NYC Marathon or another marathon in the next few weeks, here are my ever so humble amateur runner tips. These are now tempered by my residency glasses, meaning I don’t get too worked up about too much outside of the hospital (I mean, besides get wait listed at SoulCycle or FlexStudios).

1. STRATEGY: Having a marathon pacing plan is fine. But, here’s the meat and potatoes of it all. It’s about putting one foot in front of the other, speeding up if you feel good, slowing down if you don’t. If you want the simplest race plan, it is as follows:

A. Smile as much as you can the first 10 miles. Don’t be an idiot. Don’t run too fast. Don’t waste emotional energy on anything. Have fun ONLY.

B. Once you get to 13-14, if you feel good, you can run faster.

C. Once you get to 21, it’s going to hurt no matter how well trained you are. At this point, employ the “if you feel good, speed up and, if not, then            slow down” plan. And, if you’re in pain, that’s normal.

2. TAPER: Don’t hate it. Use this time to do things you didn’t have time to do while training and running 3 hours each weekend. I highly recommend starting a new TV series. Netflix can be really useful. Or a book.

3. IF YOU’RE STRUGGLING WITH YOUR MENTAL GAME: Purchase “Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect” by Bob Rotella or “Run: The Mind Body Method of Running By Feel” by Matt Fitzgerald. You will not regret it. I’d read these anyway, even if you’re brimming full of confidence.

4. THE MORNING OF: The morning of a marathon, I like to repeat something really cheesy and positive to myself. Something like, “You’re doing something amazing today! You’re going to run 26 miles! That is awesome. Not everyone can do that. You are amazing.” It will help make you excited about the race rather than fearful, dreadful, or thinking about mile 21.

When in doubt, repeat “You’re doing something amazing today!” Cheesy works, guys.

5. YOU BURN 2600 CALORIES NO MATTER WHAT: You can have that DQ Blizzard no matter what. That’s really what we all do marathons for, right?

SOME NYC MARATHON SPECIFIC TIPS:

1. WAITING ON STATEN ISLAND: It can be cold on Staten Island. TAKE LOTS OF EXTRA LAYERS TO WEAR while you wait around for a few hours to start running. I highly recommend going to Kmart and buying extremely large and warm clothing to wear. I have been known to wear a snowsuit (go look in the boy’s section). I did not regret this.

NYRR donates all of then clothing “shed” to charity.  Warm win-win.

Also, bring the following: a snack and water, toilet paper, an old heat sheet if you have it.

The latter two you will need when you inevitably pee on the bridge when you wait there for like 30 minutes. Like the good runner you are, you will be trying to stay well hydrated before the start. Don’t hate the bridge pee, embrace it. Everyone does it. Even [professional runner] Lauren Fleshman.

2. THERE ARE MORE HILLS THAN YOU THINK: So just be aware of that. Specifically, there are hills at miles 8-10, mile 13-14 (Pulaski bridge), The Queensboro Bridge, and the uphill grind from apprx 110th street to 89th street….and, of course the finish. :)

3. TAKE IT IN. There’s absolutely nothing like the crowds of the NYC Marathon. It MAKES the marathon. It would’ve been the whole reason I was running it this year (if I did). The crowds will get you through the race. Trust me, from last year’s experience. Even if you’re having a “bad” race, things are going as planned, so on and so forth, please enjoy the crowds and people. It’s really special if you let it be.

In the end, here’s my parting advice on marathons that should be taken with a grain of salt seeing as I’m not a professional runner nor psychologist nor Ghandi.

Of the 6 marathons I’ve run, my best and most enjoyable marathons have come when I was running for a reason bigger than a result.

When I ran the NYC-turned-Richmond marathon, I wanted to (as I wrote at the time) “express my appreciation for my health and ability to run” and to actually enjoy a marathon. And, it was. 

When I ran the Eugene Marathon (where I qualified for Boston and probably the fastest marathon I will ever run), I was so in love with running and the training process that I almost thought of my running that marathon as a performance, a ballet of sorts – something so memorable and moving that anyone who saw me run could tell that I loved what I was doing.

And, when I ran the NYC Marathon last year I wanted to prove to myself that as long as you loved what you were doing, you could do anything, no matter how many hours you were working or how many people told you it was a “bad idea.”

So, that’s my biggest tip – figure out WHY you’re running that isn’t a goal time. And, run for that.

Race happy – enjoy!

TELL ME: RACING A MARATHON? YOUR GOAL? LIKE ME AND SKIPPING OUT THIS YEAR?

Until next time…

 

 

Musings

If you want to know what my life has been like since age 18, I refer you to this - “The 7-Stage Life Cycle of a Doctor.” http://www.edocc.com/the-life-cycle-of-a-doctor/

If you ask anyone who knew me in college or med school, they’d probably say all of this is true. Living in the depths of the library? Yep, I was there. The amount of time I spent on LL2 of Bobst Library might approach that of “Bobst Boy.”

And, this got me thinking. [I know, this is shocking.]

Thinking about all that has changed in the 10 years I’ve spent studying to become a doctor and being a doctor (albeit as an intern and now resident). And, moreover, how much I’ve learned about myself through the process and, most specifically, residency.

Residency is an arduous, 4 year semi-indentured servitude. To put it in numbers, its an approximately 80 hr per week gig for four years.  The rigors of residency force you to adapt your lifestyle to levels of sleep deprivation you never thought possible. They also make you become fairly introspective on a regular basis because, in my opinion, before you can improve you have to know yourself and what you’re good at (or, sometimes, have some one tell you — you know, constructive criticism.)

So, here’s what I’ve learned in what is apparently stage 5 in my 7 stage life cycle. Categorized, like any good, type -A, four color pen using, check box obsessed person would do.

1. FRIENDS:

I spent most of my 20s saying “no” to friends all the time, usually being “No, I have to study because I have X test soon.” There was always another test.

Now, I spend any waking hour I have off from the usual 70 hour work week figuring out how I can spend time with friends. I’ll even skip sleep to see people (see #2).

Life’s weird like that.

2. SLEEP

Prior to residency I was fiercely protective of my sleep. I had to get 7-8 hours. OR ELSE.

Now, sleep is sort of this figment of my imagination. A beautiful thing, in theory,  but you never get quite enough of it no matter how hard you try.

As a resident, I’ve pushed the boundaries of abnormal sleep patterns more than I ever thought I could. When push come to shove, sometimes sleep is more important (exhibit a: the time I slept 18 hours in a row) and sometimes going to that pilates class you are stoked about or seeing a friend (or doing both at the same time) is more important.

And thankfully, there is always coffee.

3. POSITION / ROLE

After 24 hours of work, you can become fairly introspective. For instance, I realized that I don’t like being the center of attention but do like being “the favorite.” I always wanted to be the teacher’s pet. I don’t want the approval of all, just the approval of the “expert.”

And, now I’ve admitted this on the internet. I was totally the somewhat passive aggressive first grader that REALLY wanted to be line leader. If it wasn’t about line leader, I was totally relaxed and nice. Line leader? STEP ASIDE, kids, I’m in it to win this.

4. THOSE BELOW YOU

Let’s get real here, there aren’t too many people below me. I’m a 2nd year resident.

But, I always find it funny when the med students say “oh, you guys [the residents] are nice.” And, then I forget that as a student, your residents are intimidating to you. It is inconceivable to me how I could be intimidating to anyone. But, hearing that is always a nice reminder that you should remember what it was like to be the person below you and how you liked to be treated when you were that person.

But, really, you should just be nice to everyone. Unless, its about being line leader. Then, STEP ASIDE.

5. STRUCTURE, HABITS, COMPULSIONS

I’ve been an athlete my entire life. And, prior to residency, skipping practice or a workout was like Christmas came early. A day off? I’ll take it!

Now, I hold on to my “exercise schedule” with a kung foo grip not unlike that of Ben Stiller and his suitcase in “Meet the Parents.”

I think it’s because my work life can be somewhat unpredictable (who knows when the ER will page with a consult or a new triage will roll in) and, in turn, I like the rest of my life to be structured. I like to know I’m going to get in a weekly pilates class. Or a run. Or my favorite spin class. And it upsets me that I get upset when these things don’t happen. Because, really, its silly to get upset over something that isn’t really all that important.

Its keeping hold of a constant, which is all we sometimes want in life, right? Something that doesn’t change. Like vanilla wafers and saltines.

6. SANITY/HAPPINESS

Stage #5 of the physician life cycle really makes you distill your life down to only the essentials. With so few hours to myself, whenever I do have spare time, I usually just think “what is going to make me super happy at this moment in time.” And, I do just that. And then I go to sleep or go back to work.

Its kind of  a nice way to live, actually.

7. NEWS

What is the news? Who even anchors the news these days?

I’ve accepted that I won’t know most of what goes on the world from the years 2013-2017. Except for what comes up on The Skimm daily email (and, thank God for that).

I mean, did Kim and Kanye actually get married or was that a publicity stunt? I’ll never know. Is Khloe actually divorced?

Oh wait, that’s not the actual news.

8. THE CHILD IS THE FATHER OF THE MAN 

This is just a fancy way of saying that some things about your never really change.

My mom has always said that I remind her a lot of her mom. Mostly, in that I can’t put things together, am clumsy, and like structure or schedules.

And, this is still true.

I still cannot put the blade on the scalpel without looking like a fool (thank God for scrub techs and those handy ready made scalpels). But, I can talk to people for 45 minutes about their inductions and every fear in the world they have about cytotec, pitocin, and their birth plans.

I’m a good talker/listener (I think). Just don’t ask me how to use your can opener or put together that Ikea furniture.

That’s enough rambling for now.

I’ll leave you with that.

Because what is about to make me the happiest person in the world is a 10 pm bedtime.

Night!

TELL ME: SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF YOU LEARNED IN THE PAST YEAR. 

Until next time…