Time to come clean
The past few years have been a bit of a challenge for me. I had a job that wasn’t what I expected. My daughter had a health scare (she’s fine). And I traveled 2 weeks out of the month to work as a physician in underserved locations from 2014-2016, leaving my family and routine behind.
Everyone has challenges, I’m no different. But what was different for me was the fact that I was supposed to be an expert on diet, lifestyle, and generally taking proper care of oneself. I confess – I was barely hanging on. I won’t even go into stress or mental health – that’s an entirely different blog post! But, I will go into my struggle to maintain my own weight through all of this – and how it continues to be quite challenging…..despite all the knowledge in my head.
Traveling isn’t easy on the body
I’ll start with the traveling. I actually did relatively well for a really long time. I hardly ever ate out, I traveled with meal replacements, and I stocked my hotel with real foods. I generally did well with my eating unless I was working nights – then all bets were off and I made horrible decisions.
But, working out wasn’t what I was used to. Hotel gyms aren’t usually motivating and I struggled to find outdoor fitness in areas I didn’t know. I had to take long breaks from crossfit, which made it just not worth going as I’d get so sore when I “started again” when I got home. Still – I made it work. I found a place I loved to trail run and that lasted until I was informed there were rattlesnakes up there. I then stopped running there unless it was really cold outside. It was also challenging because I’d be homesick and very tired after working all day. Coming home to a hotel every night isn’t fun, and many nights I went right to bed.
Still, I didn’t do too badly. The real challenge didn’t start until I stopped traveling….and started working nights.
Working overnight takes its toll
I’ve now been working exclusively nights for over 2 years. As the time has passed, I’ve noticed that it’s getting harder and harder to maintain my weight. It’s actually been very challenging.
But, it’s not supposed to be challenging for ME! I’m the weight loss doctor! If I can coach other people, I should surely be able to handle my own weight, right?
Working nights, for me, works for many reasons. And someday I hope to not have to do them, but for now – this is the way that works for me and my family. However, as time has gone one, I find I don’t recover from the shifts as easily and it’s easier than ever to make suboptimal decisions….particularly about food.
Don’t get me wrong – I still eat very well. Just not as well as I used to. The thing is, night shifts set a person up for weight gain just by staying up all night and disrupting the circadian rhythm. This causes cortisol (your stress hormone) to be all out of whack and leads to an inherently higher risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.
You guys…. I had my wellness check a couple months ago and, to my horror, my fasting blood glucose was….101!! It’s never been above 70 before.
And cue the reality check!
A realistic assessment & solution
So, I was forced to take a good hard look at what the heck I was doing to myself. I recommitted to a low-carb food plan, but it was far from “clean.” I knew I needed some help with this.
So, I’ve hired a trainer that put me on a strict meal plan and training program. That’s right – I, the weight loss doc, needed help – professional help. I admitted to this woman who I was and what I did…and the fact that I just wasn’t being who I wanted to be from a health and fitness standpoint.
The exact day she handed me my plan, it was like a switch was flipped. I was all in. I drove to the store, bought what I needed. I ordered a few small additional pieces of gym equipment from amazon. And I started the next day.
I’m going to have to keep you posted on how this progresses. I’m already wearing my jeans more comfortably and I’ve lost a few pounds. But, even more than that – I’m having a feeling that I’ve not had in a long time…PRIDE.
That’s right – one of the things I missed most about myself was the feeling of pride I’d have when I had a good workout, or ran a good race. I’d always been able to self-regulate and make myself do all these things from intrinsic motivation alone. (I once ran 16 miles on the treadmill because the weather was just too bad to go outside and I had a marathon coming up!) But, stress, work, lack of sleep….it all affected my motivation. I kept telling myself that I’d get back on track “next week” or “tomorrow.” And, I did an okay job of attempting it. But, it was never to the degree that made me proud of myself.
Of all the benefits clean eating and a good training program can have, feeling a sense of accomplishment is a big one for me.
Feeling like a fraud
The other thing that has bothered me me throughout this struggle is my ability to identify problems and help others, but I wasn’t able to help myself.
I felt like a big, fat fraud.
I’m trying to think of this a bit differently because I know I’m being hard on myself when I say that. After all – there are plenty of athletic coaches who are geniuses, but never played the sport they coach. Some people just have the ability to motivate others or have an eye for technique. I’d like to think I’m one of those individuals.
But, the bottom line is…. I wasn’t doing what I knew I should be doing! And that’s the part that bothered me. It would be one thing if I was running 40 miles a week and eating strictly clean paleo 100% of the time, but I wasn’t.
Now, I am. (Well….not with running and paleo….but I am 100% on a strict plan.)
Why bother disclosing?
As I considered writing this post – I kept being reminded of how vulnerable people are with me on a daily basis. Thinking about that, I knew I wanted to be just as vulnerable to anyone who trusts me. I also know I can better serve others as a physician and coach if I’m at my own best.
We all have different bodies, chemical physiology, schedules, and mental hangups. And none of us are “on” all the time. I struggle…a lot. I know many of you do too. And, when it comes to needing help – none of us are immune to it. I resisted admitting this to myself for a long time. But, finally, common sense kicked back in and I knew taking better care of myself means I can take better care of others.
I’m not going to pledge or promise anything to you.
My promise is only to myself – that I will do what it takes to be the best possible version of me, that I will do things the make me proud of myself and give me a sense of accomplishment.
By extension – this makes me a better clinician for YOU.
Stay tuned for updates!
My ebook Weight Loss that Works: Secrets to Restoring Confidence and Reclaiming Your Body is now available here! Coming in 2019….an intensive, online program!