I Actually Learned Something in Physiology Lab

Our physiology lab this past week dealt with the cardiovascular system. The experiment we conducted was essentially making observations from an EKG. I hooked my lab partner up to the machine and made measurements after various stages of exertion. I chided my friend a little bit since his resting heart rate was 97 bpm. I told him that his resting heart rate was twice what mine used to be. This got me to wondering what mine was. I checked and it was 95. We shared a chuckle that ever since we had decided we wanted to go to medical school, each of us had become far less healthy than we used to be.

I’d known this for a while, but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve been able to see it. I’m really unhealthy and, at 34, am not an invincible adolescent anymore. I was 29 when I finished undergrad and weighed about 180 lbs. At the time, I was riding something like 10,000 miles a year and had a resting heart rate of about 42 bpm. I now spend something like 40 hours a week hunched over a computer in a cubicle along with 20 hours or so studying for my classes. As if my sedentary lifestyle weren’t enough, my diet has become the very definition of unhealthy, especially when coupled with the amount of beer that I drink. Add it all up, and I’ve gained almost 50 lbs in the past couple of years, since I decided to apply to medical school two years ago. This is ridiculous – how am I ever going to be able to convince an obese diabetic guy to change his life if I’m living as unhealthy as I am?!

I had a suit made in early 2007 for interviews that spring. The summer and fall before I had been riding a lot and was pretty fit. I don’t even want to know how it fits right now. Enough. I’m tired of not making exercise and a healthy diet priorities. I’m tired of climbing a single flight of stairs and being out of breath. I’m tired of eating food that came out of box.

Everything I’ve read about success in medical school, as well as practice, has always mentioned the need to maintain balance and priorities. I’ve realized that if I don’t make this a priority now, I’ll never make it a priority at all. I don’t want to get into and complete medical school and residency, only to find myself 10 years from now sitting in another doctor’s office telling me that I need to start a statin regimin.  Fuck that.

I have no excuse. Exercise? I started riding bikes after I graduated from high school. Cooking? Please. Years spent slaving away in restaurants. Time? I have time to sit on the couch, drink beer, and watch The Wire ?  I have time to exercise and cook real food. Motivation? If I’m lucky, I’ll get a couple of interviews when I apply and I don’t want to buy a new suit.

So, 50 weeks. 50 lbs. That’s the deal. America is an obese nation and I’m tired of being a fucking statistic.


3 Responses

  1. Can you cut out the beer? I know, blasphemy, right…. but each one is at least 200 calories. I haven’t had EtOH in months, and while occasionally I find myself wanting a glass of wine, we don’t have any in the house so it just doesn’t happen. That would help you a TON.

    Keeping from overeating during pregnancy has been really challenging for me, but there are a couple of things that have helped. 1) If I feel full… EVER… then I know I just overate.
    2) I started making an actual tally of the number of calories I consumed, and was shocked to find that I was up around 2500 a day for a while. No wonder I was packing on the lbs.
    3) I stopped buying my lunch. Instead I make a sandwich for lunch (egg salad, grilled cheese, PB&J, tuna occasionally) and have a piece of fruit. That takes me down from around 1200 calories to about 800 for that meal.
    4) I don’t snack. Or, if I do snack, I’m allowed to eat a piece of fruit.
    5) If I have ice cream, I have to scoop it out of the container and eat it out of a coffee mug (not a bowl). It makes it seem like more food that way.
    6) I make myself wait until after 12 before I eat lunch. This has been really difficult for me, since I’m usually hungry by 10. But after I did this for a week, I stopped feeling so hungry. This enabled me to push back dinner until 7 or so, and reduced the mid-afternoon snacking.

    Not sure what your particular vices are (besides beer), but seriously try tallying up your daily calories in an honest way, figure out the worst offenders, and come up with rules to trim those down. The only way this works is if you make changes that you can live with.

    • Yeah, you totally have it. I can handle a normal, healthy diet – that isn’t all that difficult. It’s the beer. I decided that’s exactly what I have to do. It sucks, because I live in a beer snob’s paradise, but I decided it was the only thing that made sense if I wanted to be normal. For the next six months or so at least, I really need to just eliminate that stuff entirely and when I do introduce it again, it can’t be in my refrigerator.

  2. Kudos to you for even wanting to make a difference in your diet and health. I’ve been meaning to fit an exercise routine into my schedule for too long now.

    Good luck with your weight loss goals! 50 in 50 sounds very reasonable.

    I should note that I do take the LONG WAY to the kitchen, if that counts.

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