Thursday, December 23, 2010

The semester of imbalance

As I wind down post exams, it's hard to not to reflect on this past semester. It was pointed out to me the other day by a beloved professor that it was impressive that I pulled off a wedding mid-semester. It was also insane, stressful, and deliriously awesome. Besides the wedding, I had class (2 days/week) and clinical (2 days/week) and work (2 days/week), with scattered freak outs (more than 2 days/week towards the end of the semester).

Academically and intellectually, this has been a productively challenging and thought provoking few months. I have had MANY lightbulb moments around pathophysiology and treatment around different conditions I have seen. I have been constantly pushed, challenged, supported and encouraged by instructors and ultimately, I am grateful for that. I have discovered a love for primary care that surprised me greatly. And I had many confirmations of my love for women's health. To top it all off, this semester's grades and GPA are the highest I've had yet in this program, which considering how much work I put in on top of a busy schedule/wedding prep, makes very happy and proud.

Emotionally, this has been quite a tumultuous time for me. The wedding and its surrounding months, but specifically days, were hands down some of the happiest moments of my life. But what flies up must come down and there were some rough days where I thought I had taken on too much and, as I've shared on here before, my sense of life balance was thrown by some fairly minuscule things.

Physically, this has been a tremendously rough time for me. Last year, I balanced school, wedding planning, NCLEX prep, and 4-5 trips to the gym weekly. By the end of last semester, I had developed a back ache that would not go away, and then got worse. In all the hours of class and studying for my license exam, slouched over a table or on the couch, I caused some minor damage that, not surprisingly, was not loving my frequent gym trips. So I stopped working out over the summer as I let my back heal and improve (thanks to an awesome chiropractor). By the time this semester was about to start I came to realize that I had gained a couple pounds (nothing detrimental but still annoying) and had not been to the gym regularly in 2+months, which was a long time for me to go without.

Then the semester started and POOF! No free time. At all.

I had a gym membership that 1) was not cheap, and 2) I was not using. The guilt brought on by that compounding with the "I should go because it is good for me" self debilitating mantra nagged me for months.

I reached a point where I decided that financially I couldn't afford a gym membership I wasn't using and that I truly, no matter how hard I tried to juggle my schedule, did not have time for.

So here I am at the end of my semester- feeling academically AWESOME, emotionally/spiritually drained, and physically fairly blech.

It is very easy at this point to make grand sweeping declarations around new health/fitness regimens only to have them be highly unattainable and discouraging when I don't meet them.

So I am going to take a different, hopefully saner and more attainable approach.

First, I am not going to drown myself in self inflicted guilt. I fully acknowledge that I am in a place with more time to get back in shape and will not beat myself up about what I 'should have done' last week/month/etc.

Second, I will acknowledge the small positive changes I have already made. I have been walking more and avoiding escalators at the subway stations. I am slowly transitioning away from sugar. I went from Splenda to blue agave, and will soon drop that too. I am drinking less coffee, and am going pursue more mornings without it over the next few weeks of break.

Third, I will pursue realistic activity goals. My youngest brother has recently starting taking his health more seriously and lost a lot of weight just using the world around him for his workouts- running, calisthenics, etc. I am totally inspired by him. At a recent family dinner he and I were talking and he pointed out that one doesn't need a gym to workout. He's dressing up warmly and running daily and watching what he is eating. James set up my bike on a trainer so I can bike inside while it is gross weather outside. It occurred to me last night that I can bike and watch movies! Don't know about you, but that sounds like a little piece of heaven to me:)

Fourth, I will start slowly with food changes and track what I am eating to begin with before spinning out about what I should NOT be eating. I will be realistic about moderation instead of complete avoidance of certain foods (which just makes not eating whatever it is that much more challenging).

Fifth, I will let myself be. I will breathe deeply and meditate, reflect and just chill the %$#& out. Especially these next couple of days. I deserve some relaxation:)

It will be interesting to see how this break goes, and how next semester will be. Something tells me it will be busy, but not like this past one. That is alright by me:)


  1. Amen, Ariel. I feel like LAST fall was the most challenging in terms of managing all the assignments with a paper due every single week, and our crazy clinicals and the emotions around that. But this semester was definitely the toughest schedule-wise (and the time outside clinical spent logging and doing notes). I'm *very* impressed that you had such a lovely (and emotional!) wedding in there too! And I'm just tickled that you found a love for primary care. I really hope at some point we end up in practices where we can share our experiences. :) Want to set up shop?

  2. At this point, I want to set up shop with a lot of school people:) We'll have to have our own network or something!