How do you do it?

September 23, 2010 § 4 Comments

This post will be sort of a hodge-podge but the meat and potatoes are in the middle…it’s my deconstructed Shepherd’s Pie, if you will.

Luckily I’ve had plenty of time to blog over the past few days.  It’s given me an alternative way to unwind in ways that exercise and my daily prancing around the stove have been (unusually) unable to.  Somewhat of a side note – I had initially planned a flight to Sacramento which would allow me about 3 days in Lake Tahoe and 3 days of wine tasting in Napa.  The plan was set but man, I had a VERY difficult time parting with money that I had saved.  So much time, sweat and sleep deprivation had gone into making that money that I couldn’t part with it.  I know, I know. This seems foolish because I know I’ll burn out before my next vaca, but I’ve developed a little bug in me that already wants to start saving for my childrens’ education (mind you, I have ZERO children/pets/nieces/nephews/godchildren/not even a pet cockroach and no potential to have any in the next few years). So I’ve spent some time doing a little local travel and mainly spent my time put-sing around the kitchen, trying out new recipes and taking in as much of the local fare I can.  Festivals and farmer’s markets galore!  With all of this free time and writing also came time to read some blogs that I had never read…

On to the meat

Being a sort of successful weight watcher’s gal, I tend to stick close to home and read the blogs of fellow WW girls.  I can commiserate with their struggle, get ideas on snacks and healthy lunch or dinner items, and get some fab work out ideas.  Overall I find this soothing in a way; knowing that I’m not totally alone in this battle of the bulge.

This time off from work has made me curious  and I’ve been able to read through the blogs that I’ve never visited…I won’t name names – they’re excellent blogs), but what I’m finding is….they’re pretty impressive!  There’s an astounding number of people who can challenge weight loss on their own.  How do they do this?  How/where do they find the motivation?  How do they figure out what’s right for their body and what limitations to set?  In other words, how do they do this on their own?  Many of these “independent” fitbloggers don’t point this out.  I’ve tried elucidating this from the “about me” sections but they seem to be similar to mine – meaning that they basically felt some sign or urge to make a general change and just moved forward.  What made one turn to weight watchers and the other turn to him/her self?

now the potatoes

Eating healthy and exercising seem incredibly simple if you have a little motivation and time but in reality, it’s really not.  Not at all.  I’m sure you’re reading this thinking “Good job, little doctor.  Your 1/4 million dollar education seems to have really paid off (giant eye roll).”, but here’s the thing, medical school doesn’t teach us HOW to be healthy, it actually does quite the opposite.  I will rant about this in a later post.  In all of my years of schooling I of course knew that calories burned must exceed calories consumed, but I could not practice this for a multitude of reasons.

  1. No motivation,
  2. Literally never took the time to take care of myself because I’m disgustingly competitive and felt the need to study for 10-16 hrs/day (and FYI I was no where near as successful as most students who were just as intense and obnoxious as I was…probably because I never took care of myself – didn’t sleep more than 4 hours, didn’t eat well at all, ever, and was just miserable…you get the ugly picture).
  3. I didn’t have a supportive network by any stretch of the imagination,
  4. I wasn’t willing to take the time to prepare healthy meals.  **Message to pathetic old Me, how much time does it REALLY take to make and pack a sandwich, as opposed to the daily nonsense of stopping at Panera/subway/Moe’s, etc  for almost every meal?  Hello – waste of $$$$ that you don’t have!**

Back to my original thought….

If I didn’t pay someone to basically teach me what I already knew about health and wellness, to weigh me weekly, or  to set limits for me in terms of exactly how much I was allowed to eat daily, I would not have lost 35 lbs. I know it.  Not on my own.  I just don’t know if I have that determination in me.

How do you self-propelled people do this?  What triggered your mind to become structured and to stick with it? How did you determine (aside from the clear calculations of kcal/kg/day along with carb/fat/protein breakdowns) how much and what to eat daily? How do you not just give up when you don’t have a monthly WW bill hanging over your head? (Mind, I know WW has helped me to this point and it’s not only about paying to lose weight..some days it is, but 90% is wanting to be healthy and to look/feel like $4 x my tuition).  I really give you all a lot of credit for being so successful on your own.  I wish I could harness an ounce of that determination to succeed on my own.

Another thought. I wonder if long term success rates differ between self-propelled and weightwatchers people.  I wonder if I would have stuck to a plan this long if I hadn’t been shelling out $40/month to get my self in gear.

Any feedback or thoughts? (about that pesky topic of medical school and nutrition, more on that in another post)

Now for something fun and random

Also, I thought if I had time I’d start posting new recipes in the body as opposed to a separate recipe page.   I love my new camera and have been making great use of it (in the kitchen) so why not share the photos and the food?

I had some left over potatoes from a previous meal along with some carrots and a new BAG (hangs head in shame) of butternut squash.  I had been craving butternut squash soup as it’s healthy and nicely accents the new seasonal changes underway.  I typically only use squash and potatoes but having the carrots on hand was a great change.

Spiced Butternut – Carrot Soup


  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp light olive oil
  • 2 cups frozen (preferably fresh) butternut squash, cubed
  • 2 cups carrots (or parsnips), chopped
  • 1 cup peeled boiled potatoes
  • 1 cup LIGHT cream
  • 1 and 1/2 cup fat free, reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger root
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • s/p to taste

*hand held mixer or food processor

My Method

In a 5 quart pot, heat oil and add onions and carrots.  Once onions develop translucency, add squash and potatoes and heat until squash becomes soft.  Add cream, stir to incorporate, and add broth.  Allow to simmer for approximately 15 min.  Carrots should become soft at this point.  Now either remove mixture and add to food processor or blend with hand held.  Consistency should be that of farina o…or to your liking.  At this point add herbs and sugar. Allow to simmer for another 15 min.

I garnished with toasted Thomas’ Bagel Thin (cinnamon raisin- with a light spray of light olivio and sprinkle of cinnamon/sugar) crostini, a dallop of light cream cheese and chives.  It definitely hit the spot.

I also found a great deal on some organic figs and figured the best way to celebrate the season was so preserve them to enjoy all week month long.I ended up making a cinnamon fig/apple/walnut jam as well as a raspberry/nectarine jam infused with orange.

Such beautiful figs

decorating a piece of Manchego

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Here goes nothin’…first post on a shiny new blog!

June 14, 2010 § 9 Comments

Welcome to my brand spankin’ new blog and thank you for reading

Here’s a little lot of insight into what my goals are and why I chose to start throwing my ideas out to the masses. There’s a long-ish story. If you know me, you know there always is a story.

Here’s the gist: MEDICAL SCHOOL -> stress ->eating like I was hibernating->no exercise + super unhealthy BAD relationship -> more stress->self esteem in the crapper->more stress->more eating +energy drinks and coffee = 30 pound weight gain in 2 yrs.  If you’re bored or I’ve piqued an interest, read on…

Now here’s the sort of full exciting story:

I’ll preface this by telling you, interested reader, that I have dreamed of being a physician since I was 12 years old.  I worked my ass off trying to get there.  Words cannot ever express the euphoria I felt when I opened up my acceptance letter – I was finally in.  It was very easy for me (and probably most of  my classmates) to forget that feeling upon being, pardon the cliche, thrown to the wolves, and expected to learn everything on our own from day one.  DAY ONE.   I never once in my first two years took the time to reflect on how lucky I was to be given the opportunity to become a doctor.  Oddly enough, it was literally the night before I took my STEP 1 boards- two years after school started – that I stopped myself to think that my constant worrying and misery was selfish.  There were hundreds if not thousands of kids out there who would have done anything to be in my shoes – taking the boards to progress to third year. But I was stuck feeling miserable.  I stopped “hating” medical school.  That very day I made a valiant effort to stop wishing I never went or wanting to drop out of medical school.  Who drops out of their dreams? Not this fool. I learned to appreciate being a medical student (an appreciation that heightened after my first rotation with my cardiology mentor – the man who moved me to choose his field…tear).  After all, I was going to be able to help bring someone’s beloved mother/grandmother/daughter/son back to health with whatever skill set I develop.  Why should I be miserable….

The dirty deets

After four (two, really) years of diligently paying full attention to my well being hell in medical school I finally graduated last week and entered the realm of “Physician”.  The dream was finally fulfilled after much emotional torture that is something that I can only describe as sadistic and seriously masochistic to the nth degree, minus the sexual pleasure that typically results from such practices (I wouldn’t know..really).  I was taking out a $200,000 loan (OK, pick your jaws up off of the floor) to pay for torture and to be devalued.  Seriously? I could have found more exciting ways to spend $200,000 AND I could have gotten that happy ending at the end of the session….

The first two years were the worst emotional roller coaster I’ve ever ridden and it was as if the damn breaks failed.  After heart break, tears, non-stop diarrhea, sugar-free Red Bull which-PS false advertising – I STILL DON’T have WINGS, multiple uni-ball pen purchases, dead highlighters, practically non-existent sex life,12 plus hours a day studying at Starbucks, USF, and Barney’s, multiple appointments with my gastroenterologist after developing ulcerations from about four-16 oz coffees daily (with the devil Siamese twins I call CREAM and SPLENDA), horrendous back pain from poor reading posture, tears, tears, and more tears, losing friends, sacrificing a social life, feeling alone, developing a nasty sense of competitiveness, driving my family crazy with worry, missing my best friend, wanting to drop out, thinking I made a mistake….and ultimately falling into a pretty bad depression, I can finally say I made it. Yay.  Was I alive? Let’s check some vitals.  Barely there.  But, I’ll tell you, there was nothing like the smile on my little sister’s face after I walked off that stage with my diploma and hood – that ONE look – that made it all worth it.  She was glowing for me and I had NEVER felt so proud of myself.

The events:

It was during these few years that I also lost myself for the sake of feeling smart-compared to my supposedly much smarter and talented classmates/roommates.  I really wanted to know my stuff inside and out, and excel, but excel I did not (at least for the first year).  I was unhappy.  I missed my family.  I missed having free time.  I missed my best friend.  I missed celebrating holidays with my family.  I missed feeling happy.

It was a mixing pot of fear of failure, a terribly unhealthy romantic relationship with a narcissist (that lasted a horrendous 2.5 or so years and killed my sense of self, worth, happiness, zeal for life), and zero physical/emotional health efforts.   I wanted to be the best, but that was at the expense of my well being.  I stopped exercising, ate every meal of every day at a fast food restaurant because I simply felt it was a waste of time to cook.  Exercise took a back seat to everything.  I didn’t even remember what the inside of a gym looked like or what it felt like to take a fun group workout class.  The sad part was that I didn’t even miss it but I knew I needed it for the sanity that I probably lost.

The nutrition was an utter mess.  I would devour anything that was covered in sugar, mayonnaise and, well, I loved anything that was of ZERO substance.  The more fattening the better.  Slather it on, bitches.  (Speaking of slather, a fun fact about my developing one-woman obesity epidemic was that I developed a love for Mexican food, so much so that my cell phone actually accidentally drowned in a heap of tomatillo sauce and had to be relplaced.) I digress. It was my vice.  It was to the point where the awesome husband and wife duo (two of my best cheerleaders) who ran the cafe at school knew how I liked my poached eggs and buttered toast, cashiers at Panera knew my first name and knew what I was going to order before I even walked in, the Starbucks baristas at three different stores knew my drinks based on the season and would prep them the very minute I walked in – and would add my extra caramel.  My favorite sushi restaurant even made up an interesting special order avacado roll for me…ironic…roll.  Here’s the worst, the creepy Pakistani man who managed the gas station near our study spot actually knew my name (luckily I never found his out).  He knew I’d be likely to wander in about 3 days per week and buy some  sour patch kids, teriyaki beef jerky, cajun mix, Rockstar, a sprite zero (duh, I was watching my caloric intake), or a banana.  There was even a point when I looked so nervous about a test with my beautiful dark under eye circles and acne, that he kindly offered me pot.  I should probably have taken it but here’s an interesting side fact: I’ve actually never smoked (or otherwise consumed) the shit.

Food was the ONLY thing that wouldn’t make me feel like an idiot in medical school and made me feel happy  for about 10 minutes.   I devoured it.  Fat=happiness and ultimate sadness.  Tell me you’ve seen Supersize Me; you know how Morgan feels like death? Yes, well that’s how I would feel about an hour after I ate the sugary and fattening poisons – except the feeling never went away…ever.  I grew to despise the way I looked.  Never wanted my ex to see me naked and quite frankly he never wanted to once I gained my weight (because, and I quote from his mouth, that he started to hate my “fat, wide ass, huge gut, enormous saggy tits, and double chin” – charming, right? – trust me, I finally realized the low/no self-esteem I had to have had to date him – and honestly, he was no model of health himself), and avoided fun social situations because (a) that meant less study time and (b) I looked like crap in everything I wore.  All of this fast food added up pretty fast and depleted my student loan account at the end of each semester and I was almost 30 pounds heavier than when I started school.  It was all over my ass, gut, and chin.  My clothes looked terrible, I looked terrible.  Needless to say, I felt it, too.  My vice has destroyed me. Was this all worth it???? (to be answered in subsequent posts)

The stare-down that changed my bad behavior:

Welcome fourth year.  I had been out with my adorable sister having lunch.  She casually happened to ask if I decided what I thought I wanted to ultimately practice.  I dropped it – “EFF yeah, obviously I love interventional cardiology”.  The look I got when I said this felt like a round-house to the heart.  All she did was look me up and down and say “Seriously? YOUUUU want to be a cardiologist? How are you gonna convince your patients that they need to lose weight?” and yes, it sounded just that bitchy.  That was it, folks. I was crushed.  For days I was uneasy.  I thought, well, maybe patients will listen, who cares if I’m obese?  Then it hit me like a ton of cheeseburgers – I need to stop my cycle.  I need to be my patients’ advocate and model.  I was being a hypocrite.  How selfish could I be? How could I say I wanted to be a cardiologist and treat heart disease if I was sitting at Starbucks drinking a grande caramel macchiato with extra caramel with an apple fritter? How could I dare not exercise then turn to a patient and with genuine love tell them they needed to make better choices? I have to start making better choices.  Let me get on that STAT.  we all know what stat means – it means when I feel like it = never.

I was also getting so tired of getting crooked- brow stares from truly concerned family members whenever I ordered that nastiness that is takeout.  I will NEVER forget my dad’s (who might very well be my favorite person on earth and he knows it) birthday dinner about two years ago.  After we had all finished our dinners, mine, of course, was an alfredo-laden pasta, 8000 calorie , total shit fest that curiously left me craving for more…shit.  When the waitress came around donning a charming smile and full dessert menu…who the hell was I to deny that SMILE and additional tip out of my dad’s wallet? Of course I’d take the menu off her hands.  Salivating like a rabid dog and scouring the menu with an appetite that could put sumo wrestlers to shame, I chose my dessert…and if you know me, you’re likely to correctly guess that it involved the trilogy: booze, fat and sugar…YES, TIRAMISU!  I patiently waited for the waitress to come back and when she did, I reciprocated with that friendly smile and nearly screamed my gluttonous desire for tiramisu…and that’s what I looked at my dad’s face.   He was wearing his “angry face”.  $#*^ !  The one where he looks me dead in the eye, head slightly titled as to look at me from the corner of his eyes, lips pursed as if about to spew profanities, and nares flared.  This was not the look I’d hope for.  I shamefully asked what everyone else was ordering and my father blurted out, “NOTHING! We already ate!”  in his little accent, but theu this teeth as if he just wanted to scream.  I shut my mouth and almost cried.  Yikes. I knew why he was so upset.  I knew that every time I came home and he saw the new weight I’d put on he was becoming more and more fearful of the threat of diabetes which two of his sisters died from, which he is also victim of (although he’s a Type 1).  I should also add that he is by far THE HEALTHIEST person I have ever met.  First off, he is rail thin but well built, works out twice daily – both cardio and weight training, eats extremely regimented meals (possibly stemming from his obsessive compulsive -mindset as a hardcore nerdy engineer).  The fact that this specimen of health looked at me like this…MAN I was defeated.  Embarrassed. I felt like the universe had shat on me…great, now I would never hear the end of it.  I had ruined dinner.  But did that stop me from making that tiramisu my bitch? Nope.  That was THE Worst stare-down in the history of stare-downs. Dad-1,Dessert-0

I dragged this out. It was time to find the tools that I thought I would be best able to eventually recommend to my patients. I researched several diets, plans, fads, gyms.  You name it, I read about it.  But that was the problem…I dragged my feet for weeks researching.  In the meantime I started waking up at 5am to head to the hospital’s free gym.  I finally picked the most practical one I knew; WeightWatchers.  This was one, I knew, would be the most sound weight loss tool I could follow and hoped I would be successful.  After all, now I had graduation to look forward to.  Had to show my stuff off on the beach!

I have felt fabulous on WW.  I have lost a total of 28 pounds thus far (8 on my own and 20 with WW) and I feel like a million bucks – unfortunately this million won’t pay off all of my school debt. Bummer. Not only did I start meticulously watching what I was shoving down my gullet, I also began working out about 5 days per week.  I developed a liking (GASP!) for the gym and bought several work out videos for the days I couldn’t make it to the fitness center.  My favorite routine (and bank-buster) thus far has been HOT YOGA!  I started this to teach myself how to focus and outlast a grueling workout.  I am in some serious love.  I will blog more about that later.  I also found myself popping my AM/PM Yoga in the DVD player right before bed every night.  May I just tell you that this was magic.  Magic sprinkles all over.  I found such stress relief with this practice that I may have reversed the lunacy I developed during my first two years of med school. The jury’s still out.

Finally, the reasons I chose to start blogging were many, but most importantly, during my health journey I have found it immensely helpful connecting with fitness and health bloggers via Twitter.  I’ve been introduced to helpful books, websites, more bloggers and even that intro to Bikram Hot Yoga that so enlivened me.  Ergo, I thought I might jump on that band wagon while it’s hot!  Pop it like it’s hot? Getting my fitness goals out to people who are reading my progress  helps me stay focused and accountable.  That’s my reason…love it or leave it.

So that’s where my story begins.  Hopefully it set the tone, giving you and idea of where I’m coming from and events that lead me to blog.

My subsequent posts will focus primarily on:

  • residency- the ups, downs and all arounds *(I will never divulge the name of my training program, fellow residents, or my patients.  I will also NEVER describe details of their intimate stories – trust and faith in character are traits of utmost importance to me (most importantly in medicine) so I take this responsibility with honor and hold it in extremely high regard)*
  • continued weight loss
  • how my first few months on WeightWatchers panned out
  • my weight loss journey
  • pearls of wisdom I learn along the way, both in terms of weight loss and becoming the physician I am destined to be
  • motivational quotes
  • exercise goals I set for myself and tips that I learn along the way
  • pointing out my healthfulness struggles and obstacles along the way
  • finding balance between work, family, and health (both emotional and physical)
  • continuing to develop healthier habits
  • I LOVE FOOD! recipe posts and photos (yes, I’m one of those people)

These blogging goals are important to me but I am more than likely to add some random fun stories in just to shake things up a bit.  I’m also using this as a way to document my personal growth and development over the next three years.  I’m hoping I can inspire, help and motivate a few while doing the same for myself.

And being that I’ve been trained in a world where lawyers set the tone for medical practice, I should add a disclaimer that none of my posts should be taken as medical advice.  Ever. I post and practice only what helps me and what I’ve learned from fellow bloggers or interesting articles.  I also won’t/can’t give specific medical advice. Trust me, at this stage in my training and the nerves built up over impending internship, you wouldn’t want me giving you any advice on anything other than menu recommendations at local restaurants.

I hope I’ve intrigued you to continue following me in my little journey.  Feel free to add comments and pass this on 🙂

happy blogging!

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