If you look at the statistics, and look around you, the fact is that most people are not in good shape. The usual excuses are a lack of time, money or something similar. While there is some legitimacy in these reasons, more often than not it comes down to a lack of planning, discipline and commitment. No one is telling you to be a bodybuilder or bikini model but it is vital that you take care of your health in medical school.
Yes you are busy. Yes funds are tight. But the fact of the matter is, this is the most free time you will likely ever have for a long time. Money maybe tight, but think about the things you buy that you don’t need; are they really more important than your health?Invest in a gym membership or a yoga studio, rock climbing gym, whatever floats your boat. Invest in healthy foods and I promise you this move will pay dividends for years to come.
Exercise and healthy eating will not only make you feel good about yourself and look good, it will keep you energized and focused on school. Having a physical activity to look forward to after a long day of studying is also encouraging and keeps you positive.
Personally, I enjoy going to the gym and don’t mind the taste of healthy food so it doesn’t take much discipline. If you are new to fitness or don’t particularly enjoy it, start slow and make it fun. Don’t start a “diet” of salads and water if you’re used to eating twinkies and chips. It won’t last and you will inevitably be disappointed. Start small, drink more water, some more vegetables and try to eat out less. If your physical activity consists of walking from the couch to your bed, start small. Do some pushups at home everyday before signing up for a gym membership. Just take baby steps.
1) Meal Prep
Preparing your meals will not only save you a ton of money but also keep you on track with your goals. I prepare all my meals on Sunday for the coming week. I use slow-cooker recipes consisting of a meat source and a carb source such as rice or quinoa. Look up recipes on YouTube that you would enjoy and give it a shot. It takes me about 2 hours on Sunday from start to finish and then I don’t have to worry about what to eat the rest of the week. I keep 4 days worth in the fridge and the remaining 3 in the freezer.
2) Mindful Eating
No one is telling you to never eat out or have any fun. Go out to eat and drink with your classmates but just be honest about it. Look at the menu and pick things that are similar to what you usually eat or those that are healthy, wholesome food. Enjoy a couple of post-exam beers but there’s no need to be at happy hour all the time or doing shots every weekend.
3) Counting Calories (Optional)
This step is optional for most people, but if you are OCD like me, you may want to try it.
Multiply your weight in lbs by 15. This is the amount of calories for you to maintain your weight. Eat 500 less if you want to lose weight and 300 more to gain weight. Just eat good, whole foods and don’t worry too much about specific protein, carb and fat requirements.
*This is not licensed advice. Talk to your doctor before making changes to your diet.
This will vary heavily based on experience and goals. Look up beginner workouts on youtube and try to do it 3-4 days a week at minimum. Your goals can be focused around things like strength, endurance or even just to get some movement in. I personally like rock climbing and cycling so I make sure to fit those in at least 5 days a week.
If you don’t want to workout in a structured way, you can make activity a part of your normal day. Try to walk around as a break from studying or sign up for an intramural sport.
Staying healthy in medical school is very important. You will not have more time than now or flexibility with your choices. Use this time wisely and develop the right habits. Don’t obsess over it, but be sure to get in some physical activity and try to eat healthy.