My weight was out of control. At my heaviest I was 274 pounds. My blood pressure was in the 180s to 190s range, and I was on two medications, Amlodipine and Lisinopril. My HbA1c (blood test to measure glucose control over the last three months) was in pre-diabetes range of 6.2 percent. My cholesterol was high also, and I was just not feeling myself. I was tired all of the time and had aching joints in my hips, knees, and ankles.
My sleep pattern was out of sync and I generally didn’t feel like myself. What makes it worse is that I’m a fourth year medical student, soon to be a doctor. I want to go into primary care, and I asked myself how can I be a doctor about to council patients on weight, diet, and exercise when I can’t even practice what I preach. So I vowed to make that change May of 2017.
I had no intention of starting to run. I just wanted to lose weight and decided cardio respiratory training was the best place to start, but eventually that decision to start running would turn into one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
When I started my weight loss journey it was strictly treadmill walking at slow speeds but with increased inclines each day. Week by week, I increased the incline, the speed, and the length of time. After about three months of this, with sporadic weight training in between, one day I decided to leave the incline on zero and cranked the speed up to 5.5 miles per hour. To my surprise, I held that pace for about 30 minutes. Mind = blown.
I had no idea that my cardiovascular endurance had improved to that level. I was never athletic in my life, so this was huge deal for me. And like I progressed with the treadmill and inclines, I started to experiment with running now. Now I basically run between six and 10 miles each day.
I also changed my dietary habits. I cut out soda completely and I have juice probably once a week. I started choosing healthier options, and I ate out much less. I started preparing most of my meals, and with healthier dietary choices and increased physical activity the weight came off. My current weight is 178 pounds.
As it’s winter now and I’m still learning about layering up and on a student budget, most of my runs are inside. (I run outside when it’s warm.) Monday and Thursdays I do treadmill speed intervals. Tuesday is my slow long run. Wednesday I do a short run and core circuits. Friday is an easy pace run with a leg workout. Saturdays I've been trying to make up my own circuits from incorporating ideas from around the internet. Sunday is my easy run.
I stay motivated with a mixture of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsically I do it because I love it. Extrinsically I do it because I want to keep the weight off, I want to keep being an external source of motivation for others, for my soon to be patients, and for my own improved health and well-being.
In the short-term, I want to graduate from medical school with my M.D., complete my certification as a certified fitness trainer, start documenting my fitness journey more thoroughly, and join a running group. Long-term I want to become a sports medicine physician, run my first marathon, and start a Men’s Health Initiative.