As my 24th birthday grew nearer (Did I not do a birthday post?!! It was Dec 13th) and 2014 came closer, I decided I need to check where I’m at. I went to Student Health and had appointments with a doctor, nutritionist, and psychiatrist.
At this time, I was in a rut of all sorts…I hadn’t lost any weight (goal has been to lose 5 lbs since June 2013), I was having a tough few weeks in school, and negative thoughts about myself were destroying my focus. I wasn’t in the worst of shape, but I felt like everyone around me was achieving their goals and I couldn’t even make any headway with mine. Anyways, I learned very crucial information from my check-ups!
Doctor’s appointment/Physical check-up:
Me: Dr., I’ve been a strict vegan for a couple years, and am concerned about my Vitamin B12 levels.
My Vitamin B12 levels were low! The normal range is 200-1000 pg/ml. Older adults can have symptoms from deficiency at levels 200-500 pg/ml. I was sitting at 250 pg/ml! It’s not a huge surprise because I’ve been vegan for a couple years and don’t take regular supplements. But this was so crucial to know because if I had kept going, I would have become deficient. So now I take a Vitamin B12 pill 4x a week. Vegan-friendly sources of B12 include nutritional yeast and apple cider vinegar. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia, and chronic deficiency damages nerves (I was not anemic). So please please, if you are also vegan, request a Vitamin B12 blood test next time you’re at the doctor’s!
Me: I’m vegan, and I haven’t been losing weight.
The student health nutritionist told me that, “Vegan is not her favorite diet,” and “she was vegan for a while and gained a ton of weight.” She looked at my food diary and basically told me I was eating too many carbs. She didn’t emphasize counting calories or anything because fats, carbs, and proteins do entirely different things in your body. Basically, all calories are not created equal. She advised me to focus on proteins and healthy fats. For example, I could give myself a big serving of peanut butter and a piece of toast for breakfast. Or a salad with beans and a whole avocado for lunch.
She also said that I was working out too much. I work out 5-6 days a week with a day of yoga. She advised me to take a couple rest days which allows your mind and body to relax. If you’re working out constantly, more cortisol (stress hormone) is released causing you to feel anxious and tense.
Although I found her difficult to talk to, I still took most of her advice. Since December, I’ve been eating A LOT more healthy fats. I feel less bloated, a little weight loss, and feel full for longer. Some easy changes I’ve made include eating nuts for snacks instead of crackers, bread, or crisps. I’ll have nuts twice a day, about 200 calories each serving. I also avoid putting grains in my salad. and instead flavor it generously with avocado, olive oil, and sunflower seeds. I also can eat dark chocolate as a snack too! Try flavors that only have around 5g of sugar per serving. I eat SO much peanut butter and almond butter, it’s great. I literally go through a jar in 7 days.
Psychiatrist/Med Student Well-being counselor:
Me: Dr., I keep comparing myself to other people, have cried 4x in the last month, and need to focus and study for Step 1 better than I’ve been doing.
He basically told me that I needed to indulge in relaxing activities more. But I was like, “No Dr, I can relax fine…I need to FOCUS and WORK more!” Funny concept…relax more, to get more done =). The take home messages for me were:
I’m really glad I took the time to meet with all these professionals who helped me determine my baseline for mind and body health as I move forward. I have more direction and tools handy to deal with stress and to make better decisions.
Have you had your regular check-ups or check-ins this year?
All the best,
No problem! I’m going for a 45 minute tempo run in the morning (10 minutes easy, 25 minutes at 10k speed, and 10 minutes easy), then 100 push-ups, and 2 sets of 3 core exercises. All starts at 6:30am!
What’s your plan? Don’t let the holidays weigh you down!
Try and do something active each day, you’ll feel really proud, have more energy to mingle with your friends and family, and do something great for your body. Let’s keep each other motivated through the holidays. No extra holiday weight for us!
Common question I get is: “Do I plan rest days?”
Not really. I plan active rest days. I think of a yoga-only day as a rest day. Some weeks, my schedule is more packed so I’ll skip one work-out day so I can have more time to study. Last weekend, we went out for Ben’s birthday till 3am. After only 5-6 hours of sleep, I was still tired and wanted to read so I skipped my long run.
This is what my ideal exercise routine has been like for the last couple months:
Monday: Bikram yoga, cardio-kickboxing
Tuesday: strength training, core, elliptical (30-45 min.)
Wednesday: strength training, swim technique class
Thursday: Running (4-5 miles), strength training
Friday: Bikram yoga
Saturday: 4x1 mile intervals, strength
Sunday: 6-10 mile run
I spend about 1-2 hours exercising 6-7x week. Strength training includes alternates between back, arms, and lower body.
Goals: unassisted pull-ups, get in more long runs, weight loss (I’m at 109 lbs right now and aiming for 104lbs-will discuss more in another post)
Achievements: consistent yoga, push-ups, more lifting, swimming!