Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Journey to Health

We all start somewhere.

This is where I started at age 18, an overweight college freshman who ate way too much pizza and ice cream, drank too much soda, and barely exercised.

If you scroll down to any post on this blog, you'll see pictures of me now.  It's a big difference, not only in how I look, but also how I feel.
 
I share this because I talk about lifestyle change all the time with my patients.  Diet and exercise are such important parts of heart health.  Patients have said in various manners, and others have silently thought, how can a slender cardiologist who eats healthy and exercises regularly relate to me?
 
I can relate because, as you can see above, I've been where you are.  I made my own journey from overweight unhealthy college student to fit and healthy cardiologist.
 
Just before starting medical school, I began exercising.  And over the course of medical school, my eating habits improved.  I ditched regular soda during my first year of residency.  During my second year of residency, I ran my first marathon -- slowly -- in just under six hours. 
 
Then, I started incorporating more vegetables into my diet.  During the second year of my cardiology fellowship, I went vegan.  And, over the past five years, through triathlon training and working with excellent coaches and personal trainers, I've become a better athlete, far exceeding my running times from when I was ten years younger.
 
In the meantime, I've struggled with my eating habits, particularly at night, when I have had tendencies to overeat.  A couple of years ago, I worked with a nutritionist to help get some of my eating habits in check.
 
I'm certainly not perfect in how I eat, but I've come a long way.  And I understand from my own experience that lifestyle change comes in baby steps.  It doesn't happen overnight.  But with time and with effort, we can all adopt healthier lifestyles.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vegan Doesn't Necessarily Mean Healthy!!!

I was reminded of this recently.  A patient with high triglycerides told me of her intent to become a vegan.  She ate two meals and usually one smoothie every day from a local vegan restaurant.  While she was completely vegan at this point, her repeat blood work looked no better -- her triglycerides were still very high.

Why is this???

Not everything that is vegan is healthy.  Salt and oil are vegan.  So are avocadoes.  And coconut milk.  And white bread.  So, even on a diet that is vegan, we can still be unhealthy.

And, it's important to remember that when you eat at a restaurant, you don't know what has been added to your food for flavor.  Vegan or not, the chef usually does not care about your long-term health; he or she just wants you to love the food so you come back and buy more.

While I love a good restaurant meal, most of my meals are prepared at home.  I usually pack a salad loaded with veggies and tofu slices or lentils and a piece of fruit for dessert.

Remember:  A healthful vegan diet consists of plant-based foods that are unprocessed (or minimally processed), with lots of fruits and vegetables, with minimal (if any) oil, and low in salt.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Team

To provide excellent care, it takes more than one person.  These are some of the people whom I am fortunate to work with every day.

From left:  Ashley our office manager, me, Lizzy our receptionist, and Keely my medical assistant.

They're a great team who care about our patients.  Lizzy is the friendly face that greets you when you enter the office and when you are leaving.  Keely is the person who brings you to the exam room and takes your vital signs.  And, Ashley works behind the scenes to schedule tests and keep the office running smoothly.

Going to a cardiologist can be and intimidating experience, and my wonderful staff helps to make our office a welcoming environment.  Without them, I could not do everything that I do every day, and I am so grateful to have them.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Off-Season Training

It's been a long off-season, or at least that's what I consider it, as I've been without a coach or a specific training plan since Ironman Lake Placid in July.

I still exercise most days, with three days of weights, three runs, and the occasional bike ride.

I was about to blog about "excuses" and the reason why we might stop exercising, with the premise of suggesting that we all get off our collective tuchus, stop coming up with reasons why we shouldn't break a sweat, and just get it done.  But then Tuesday morning came -- I woke up, ate breakfast, drank my pre-workout green tea, watched the news to hear that it was 38 degrees outside, and then went upstairs and crawled back into bed for another hour and a half.  I guess we all have our moments of inertia, and that was mine.

My running has consisted of three runs per week.  Tuesday is a tempo run, Thursday is a hill run either on my own or by doing hill repeats with my triathlon girl friends, and Saturday is a long run.  Yesterday's run was twelve miles.

Today I ran the Walk of Ages 5K.  At the start, a man in front of me tripped, and I in turn tripped over him scraping up my left knee.  But, we both got up and ran the race.  In spite of the rough beginning, I finished third place woman overall (first and second place were teenagers!) and first place woman ages 30-39.  My friend Miriam took first place in her age group 25-29.

Miriam and I and our gold medals!!!

Right now, I'm enjoying myself.  While I am training for a half marathon in January, I am maintaining my fitness and not pushing myself too hard.