Natalie: Fitness routine

Q1. What physical activity do you enjoy doing on a regular basis?

Running! It helps me stay strong and motivated and clears the fog in my mind.

Q2. What makes you motivated to workout/exercise?

The challenges of podiatry school have helped me see the journey, rather than the task at hand. Now more than ever, I see running as a gift and a break. To me, it’s something to look forward to after a long day of studying. Performance in these workouts means little compared to the freedom and joy that time outside gives me. It’s the simple pleasures of listening to my music, seeing the trees dance, and smelling the fresh, crisp air that make me feel like I’m living.

Q3. Are there any workout plans/routines/coaches you follow?

Lockdown has been nothing but helpful for my running. I am firmly on the anti-treadmill team. So when gym rules became stricter, I knew my exercise routine had to change as well. For me, it’s really important to already picture the route in my mind. This saves me time from feeling frustrated−if I were to get lost, or my route takes me longer than expected. I also find that I’m more likely to exercise if I do it first thing in the morning. You can get it out of the way and you have bunches of time to study. On lighter workload weekends, I have my “adventure routes”. I’m free to explore new trails I’ve never gone to before. This, by far, is the best indulgence.

Q4. Describe a time where you pushed yourself to reach a personal workout goal.

Recently, I have been trying to incorporate ab exercises and stretching after my runs. I must admit, I get lazy and forget about those things. Maybe because I think that they don’t do much for me? However, after reading a few running blogs and talking with my doctor, she suggested it helps to incorporate stretching. Especially since the pandemic has forced a lot of us to be sitting the majority of our time.

Q5. How has fitness shaped your life?

Exercise has done more for me than probably any other long-term habit has or ever will do. It encompasses mindfulness, therapy, and free energy all-in-one, and you can’t say that about any medical intervention. It makes me feel strong and makes me feel like I have some form of control in my life. How? I’m actively making a choice to be healthier. I’m in charge of motivating myself, maintaining the discipline, and pushing myself to do it. Doesn’t this sound a lot like being a medical student? Yes. However, the best part is that I’m not doing it for a grade. This has given me so much relief because medical students are naturally data-driven creatures. We love to look for trends, percentages, and ratios. When I am exercising, I forget about making an “A”. I focus on trusting that my time spent exercising is making me sharper, healthier, and happier.

Exercise has done more for me than probably any other long-term habit has or ever will do.

Q6. What advice would you give to someone that wants to get back in shape?

Hard work always beats talent. Just because you’re not in good shape, doesn’t mean you won’t ever be. Back in my boxing days, my coach would always tell me that whenever I’d return after being inactive for weeks. Something that I also use to help me start back up again, is called the “2-day Rule”. People use it to boost their productivity, but I like to use it for running too. Basically, if I miss my daily exercising, I’ll do everything in my power not to miss it two days in a row. At the end of the day, we’re only human. If we can’t do something every single day (which is completely normal)—that’s okay. I have found that applying this rule to my everyday life has made me a more consistent runner.

Q7. When someone has a very demanding schedule, what would be your advice to them as far as an exercise regimen?

I think the most important thing you have to do is ask yourself why you want to start exercising. Is it a fitness goal? Is it to improve your health? Are you feeling groggy, but don’t know why? Whatever form of exercising that you choose, even if it’s just walking outside, you will feel better.

Q8. How do you think regular exercise affects your professional life or job?

No matter what field you’re in, you’re always going to have a checklist as long as your arm. I believe that you should continue to do the things that make you. There’s so much research that talks about the magical wonders of exercising long-term. One should view exercising as a tool that they can use to perform better in their everyday lives. It’s also important that when you exercise, you don’t think about these lists. The more you focus on how much better you’re going to feel after exercising, the less daunting these lists will be. You will feel re-energized and ready to tackle your day.

Author: Jannani Krishnan, California School of Podiatric Medicine
Interviewee: Natalie Leon