At the Crossroads of Feet & Fitness

Special Edition


Ready to get a great start on 2021 and reach your health and fitness goals?

The key to a successful year of movement comes down to understanding and planning. While fitness and wellness centers are starting to open up in many areas of the country, it is up to us to have a daily regime while we balance our personal and work life. You may not be able to control all of life’s challenging circumstances, but you can control how you respond to them. This special edition focuses on personal health, wellness, diet, and exercise to get you motivated for 2021.

Special thanks to Elizabeth Ansert,  Jannani Krishnan, Alexandra Brown, and Roberto De Los Santos for this Special Edition titled At the Crossroads of Feet & Fitness.

Chapter 1

Exercise, Nutrition, Mental Health for Medical Students

In mid-November of 2020, students at TUSPM participated in an informal survey on, “Health & Wellness in Med School.” The goal was to identify the specific topics that students were interested in and then seek specific guidance and advice from a health guru to share with Hallux Magazine readers. The three topics that were of greatest interest to TUSPM students included: exercise, mental health, and nutrition.  

With our respective coffees in hand, I connected over FaceTime with Christine Sturgis, the founder and owner of MovementRx Studio in Wynnewood, PA. I specifically invited Ms. Sturgis for this interview as I have been taking her studio’s virtual class offerings and admire how she integrates her physical therapy background and science-based evidence within her classes. Her classes focus on overall wellbeing including: movement, nutrition, meditation practices, and more. Accessing online classes has been instrumental in maintaining my personal mental health through 2020. 

Q & A

Hallux Magazine: First, thank you for taking the time to speak with me! Our readers are interested in learning how to incorporate exercise, mental health, and nutrition within our already limited time while balancing medical school. Exercise, specifically, has been made even more complicated with people being isolated in their homes as a result of the pandemic. What would you recommend for medical students who don’t have a ton of time or resources?

Christine Sturgis: Thanks for having me! It can really hard to get motivated to exercise if you live alone – you can always find reasons not to. Things like, “I have to empty the dishwasher,” or “I have to shower because I haven’t in a few days” – there’s always something we feel like we should be doing.

With the limited time you have, it might be hard to set aside 30 or 45 minutes to exercise. My advice is to do smaller increments of exercise throughout the day- I call them, “Movement Snacks.” After these smaller “digestible” breaks to get movement and air in your body, you are able to go back to your desk and studies, and your mind has had time to relax and calm your nervous system.

If you benefit from more instruction, there are many online classes that guide students on specific exercises. Our studio offers a wide selection of online classes, and there are many free resources online as well.

Recommended Exercises

  • Start your day with a few stretches, loosen up your joints with movements like leg circles
  • Do some planks or push ups on the counter while making your morning coffee
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator in your apartment or class buildings
  • Go for a 15-minute walk around the block, or choose a route with more hills to get your heart rate up (Leave the phone at home if you feel safe – this is important to help reset your mind!)

HM: What equipment do you recommend for people participating in online exercise programs?

CS: Definitely a resistance band – it is probably the most functional and practical exercise item. You can use this for strengthening, stability, and stretching. If you’re working on strengthening, you want to add load. It’s also important to focus on deep diaphragmatic breathing to strengthen and stabilize your core. Body weight exercises can also be modified to reduce the force. For example, if you’re getting started, you might do push ups against the counter or stairs and build your way to full push ups.

Christine’s recommended weights and at-home objects:

  • Toning exercises for upper body: 1-3 pounds
    • Water bottle, canned goods
  • Strength and conditioning for upper body: 5-10 pounds
    • Laundry detergent bottle
  • Strength and conditioning for lower body:  10-20 pounds
    • Heavy flower pot or similar heavy item

HM: Mental health is another huge focus. What advice or guidance would you offer for students?

CS: Try to find moments of quiet time for yourself. And use that time to reflect. This may be a mantra, a walking meditation, prayer, or other mindfulness exercise. If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, close your eyes and take 20 deep diaphragmatic breaths to help calm your nervous system.

Sleep is also a huge component of mental health. Turn off electronics before bed! I’m guilty of not following my own rule on this, but I sleep so much better when I do turn them off early. It’s helpful to have an evening routine, do it in the same order every night. That may include a relaxing activity like reading or listening to calm music, lighting a scented candle, or a mindfulness exercise. Develop a routine, slow down, and this will all help to downregulate the brain in preparation to sleep. Another tip! Cover the clock, TV, or any device in your room that has digital lights. It’s best to sleep in a completely dark room.

HM: Nutrition is something that I personally struggled with my first year of medical school, feeling like I didn’t have a ton of time. What do you recommend for students when there’s limited time and money?

CS: The biggest thing I suggest is sticking to a whole food diet. Dedicate a day or half-day to prepare for the week: shop for food, wash and prep produce, and put them in bags to cook quick, easy, and nutritious meals. Simply sauté some veggies and add your protein! You can stock up on individually packaged frozen salmon or cod filets—it makes it easy to cook smaller portions. Or, make some soup or stew in advance and you can eat it throughout the week. The easiest meal I swear by is fresh greens, a little bit of lemon juice, a little bit of oil, a little bit of salt, and an egg on top. Maybe add tomatoes, avocado, or nuts. It is simple, fast, and nutritious. Another quick meal is yogurt with fruit, nuts, and some plant-based protein, like chia or hemp seeds.

HM: Any closing thoughts for our readers?

CS: Find little moments throughout your day to give your body and your mind attention. You won’t be able to retain the information as easily or be as productive if you’re working on an empty tank. I also suggest cat naps! Sleep is critical. If you aren’t sleeping well at night or staying up ‘til 3 am studying, you may start hitting a wall between 2 and 4 pm. Set your alarm for 20 minutes and just close your eyes and rest. This is another mental health tip that is really helpful – I do it a few times a week. A quick 20-minute nap allows to your reset and re-center, providing both mental rest and physical rest.

About Christine Sturgis

Christine Sturgis, mother of five, outdoor enthusiast and yoga practitioner of 20+ years, has spent the last 11 years developing a career applying two of her greatest passions: helping others and movement. She is a licensed PTA, having treated patients in an outpatient orthopedic setting for 4+ years and home health care physical therapy at Mainline Health Systems for 3+ years. During that time, she completed her FMS certification (Functional Movement Screen), SFMA training (Selective Functional Movement Screen), 250+ hours certified yoga teacher training program and Level 1 Myofascial Release certification under John Barnes, giving her a wide range of knowledge and experience in movement synergies, biomechanics and manual therapy.  She used this knowledge and experience to found PhyToga, which combines the best of all these movement principles in one exercise program. She brings her wide range of experience to her students and private clients, creating a safe environment to grow stable and balanced bodies with increased vitality.

  • Licensed PTA (Physical Therapist Assistant – 7+ years in outpatient orthopedic and home health care physical therapy), 2010
  • PhyToga, Founder and Creator, 2010
  • SFMA trained, Selective Functional Movement Assessment, 2011
  • FMS certified, Functional Movement Systems, 2011
  • RYT-250+ hours through Yoga Life Institute, 2012
  • MovementRx Studio, Founder and Owner, 2018
  • Barre Intensity Certification, 2019

Interview by Alexandra Brown

Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine, Class of 2022.

Interviewee: Christine Sturgis

Chapter 2

Q&A: Gina on Nutrition

This is a Q&A with Gina Palazi, a current 4th year podiatry student from Barry University School of Podiatric Medicine. Interview by Lizz Ansert.

Q1. Do you have any specialized degrees with regards to nutrition?

I started my Masters in Nutrition online at NC State, but it is on pause as I finish podiatry school. I have been an athlete my entire life, playing Division 3 basketball and participating in a professional combine overseas in Italy. I have been working in health and fitness for the past 6 years, completed my Certification in Personal Training from NASM, Group Fitness and Kickboxing certifications, and have been to a number of talks and conferences catered to nutrition, weightlifting, mobility, etc. I also read a ton of nutritional books and listen to podcasts about health, fitness, and nutrition. I’m definitely a nerd when it comes to this area, but it is because I always like to stay informed and up to date on the newest trends in the field.

Q2. Do you think it will be helpful for DPMs or DPM students to get advanced degrees or take courses in nutrition and why?

YES. Absolutely! Just think about the majority of our patients! DIABETICS! I think we could do a world of difference with just being about to provide some degree of nutritional advice instead of just telling someone to “eat healthy and exercise”. To most of our patients, they don’t even know where to begin and also may have skewed ideas on what “healthy” even is. There are so many forums and conferences and now webinars with online resources where information is readily available for both patients and doctors. We should do our part to take advantage of it. I think it is important for everyone in this profession to be well-versed in nutrition because it not only will help patients, but it will allow us as doctors to be able to maintain our own health and wellness with hectic schedules.

Q3. What advice do you have for students and residents with regards to their nutrition in a high demand schedule?

Prepare, prepare, prepare. From what I’ve seen on rotations and externships, a lot of students and residents are so busy all day and don’t give themselves time for a quick meal. Sometimes throughout the day, their schedule doesn’t allow it. On all my externships/rotations, I made sure I got up early and ate a big breakfast before the day started just in case I didn’t have time to eat throughout the day. I also made sure I brought a meal and snacks for the day. Even if I wasn’t able to sit down and eat, I was at least prepared. Some quick and healthy snacks I’d bring were protein shakes, protein bars, almonds, and other things like that. Most of the time, I would stash these goodies in my white coat or leave them in a resident room.

Prepare, prepare, prepare.

I also always keep a lot of food prepared in my fridge for when I get home as well. This is so I never revert to buying a pizza or buying food, which can add up on the body and the budget. This helps after you have a long day and may not feel like cooking because you have food readily available to heat up. I would recommend trying your best not to starve yourself throughout the day and get SOMETHING more than just a coffee or energy drink to eat. It will help keep you sharp as a student and a physician.

Nowadays, there are also healthy meal plan services out there that deliver meals for relatively decent prices. You just need to store them in your fridge, and they are ready to be eaten the next day. Look up some meal delivery places around where you live and see if this is an option if you don’t love to cook. A lot of them come with macro counts on the packaging if you’re very strict with your diet.

Q4. When your schedule has been very hectic, how have you managed your nutrition goals while keeping that schedule?

When my schedule gets hectic, I try to remain committed to my personal goals and body goals because they help me stay committed to my career goals. I try to maintain my workout regimen 5-6 times a week, with my weekly breakdown of working out specific muscle groups on different days combined with a hybrid of High Intensity Interval Training and daily steps. When I workout, I maintain my hunger so that helps me stay on point with feeding myself. Like I said previously, I always have food prepared in the fridge so I can never make excuses. For example, I usually have a protein, a starch, and a vegetable cooked up and stored in the fridge so I can easily put together a meal before I run out the door for work or when I come home.

Don’t try to overthink your meals, keep it simple. Don’t think cooking or meal prep has to be some lavish meal with all these wild ingredients. Sometimes just throwing a few chicken breasts in the air fryer with a little salt and pepper is all it takes. It looks different for everyone, but always being prepared and keeping food readily available will help keep you on a solid path with your nutrition. In our day and age, we don’t have too many excuses not to get proper food between grocery delivery services, meal plan deliveries, and everything in between. Utilize these resources if you’re too busy not to get to the grocery store yourself. I’m a weirdo and find grocery shopping very therapeutic, haha!

Q5. If someone is trying to lose weight, what are some nutrition goals they should keep in mind?

I’m a firm believer in calories in, calories out AND consistency. I know students and residents are all tight with money, but I recommend getting a nutritionist or a coach who knows what they are talking about to help with this process. It’s just nice to have someone keep you accountable as you’re trying to lose weight. They may help you get to know your body better and just learn more about nutrition in general. When I wanted to lose weight, my friend who’s a nutritionist set me up with a great meal plan outlining my macros and was always available for questions and alterations in my diet whenever I needed her. Most people will give you a discount as a student or resident. You may even be able to submit your appointment to your insurance to get reimbursed.

If you can’t go to a nutritionist or dietician, focus on being consistent in what you’re eating daily and don’t waiver from it. People don’t realize that one stray meal or one stray weekend binge really adds up. If you are committed to losing weight, you can’t just stick to it 5 days a week or 6 days a week. It is really a commitment, and the faster you want results, the more you need to adhere to a strict diet. Losing weight is really not glamorous, but it’s doable with a strict plan and a determined individual. 

Q6. If someone is trying to gain healthy weight or muscle build, what are some nutrition goals they should keep in mind?

Similar to losing weight: its calories in, calories out. If you want to build, you need to eat more good stuff; don’t consume a pizza every day haha! From my experience, I’ve built my legs and my booty from doing a conscious surplus of food in my diet while also lifting weights and lifting HEAVY. Again, seek out help from a knowledgeable coach or nutritionist so you can do this correctly and not hurt yourself. I’m a big believer in making sure you have adequate protein daily to build muscle, so start with trying to hit your protein goals daily of at least 1g per 1lb of your body weight.

Q7. What do you think is a good way to approach patients about their diet? Anything the practitioner should make sure they discuss?

First off, I think the reason I am so strict with my diet and fitness is so I can feel comfortable talking to my patients about their diet. If I look healthy, a patient will be more apt to listen to my advice, and I always want to practice what I preach. I think talking with the patients and asking them questions about their current diet and exercise routine is an easy segway to bring up concerns regarding their nutrition, especially if they’re diabetic and just reported a high Hemoglobin A1C.

I think a big issue with our diabetic patient population that we definitely need to emphasize is their sugar intake and consumption of rich foods as a whole. I think the best advice to give them without a ton of nutritional experience is ease off processed foods that don’t come from the earth and focus on more whole, natural foods. Also, if they need sweets, try using a sugar-free substitute (although these are not great in excess either), or a natural form of sugar like fruit.

Q8. What motivates you to keep a good nutrition regimen and how do you feel that affects your physical and mental performance?

I want to be the best possible student, resident, and physician I can be. I think to be able to perform at a high level, my machine needs to always be running smoothly. As corny as that sounds, when I stick to my meal plan and workout plan, I feel like I can run around the hospital all day. I make the analogy, as most fitness professionals do, that food should be looked at as fuel. If you’re not providing your body with fuel, how do you expect it to last and at peak condition at that?

I think a big part of nutrition that we tend to also put at the very bottom of our priority list is SLEEP. I know it is tough sometimes for students with exams and residents with long cases, but SLEEP is one of the most important ways to keep your body running at high capacity for long periods of time. Put down the phone/turn off Netflix at the end of the night and prioritize sleep. Your body will thank you.

Knock on wood, because of my adherence to my lifestyle, I rarely get sick. With the combination of hitting my macro and micro (supplements and vitamins) goals daily, along with sweating it out on the regular, I keep myself healthy and functioning without ever having to miss days. That in itself is a testament to living this way.

I am a big advocate of mental health and before I embarked in therapy, I utilized working out as a means of therapy. The way working out and eating correctly makes you feel from a mental standpoint is so hard to explain, but it is euphoric. It also helps that with it comes the physical benefits, which make you feel that much better internally and externally. I think after a bad day or rough exam, there’s nothing like grinding through a workout at the gym to feel centered and ready to take on the next task at hand.

Q9. For someone who is trying to start taking better care of themselves (diet, exercise, mental health, etc), what advice would you give them?

Baby steps. Everyone has been in the beginning stages. Don’t try to do too much too quickly. I may act like I know a lot, but it comes from YEARS of trial and error. I am still learning. Trust me, I have tried all the fads and done all the weird exercises. The one thing I can say is to just take the leap and get started. You’re going to fail sometimes, and I would be lying to say I don’t enjoy some cheat meals and a glass of wine (or two) here and there. Even when these moments happen, always be strong enough to bring yourself back to the plan.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Just like anything in life, you might need to ask for help and that’s okay! You all should be well-versed at that because I’m sure you haven’t gotten through med school without asking for a little help here and there. There are a ton of outlets to get help out there, just make sure they seem legitimate. I know it is COVID, and that may concern a great number of you. However, even going to a gym nearby and asking for their class schedule or if they have personal trainers might be a start to point you in the right direction. There are a lot of online trainers as well that can help you with nutrition and fitness in the comfort of your own home. I am also available to give advice and suggestions to steer you in the right direction! The podiatric field is a tight knit family, and I always want to see my colleagues crush it in all aspects of their life!

Interview by Lizz Ansert.

Chapter 3

Diksha: Diet & Dance

This is a health and fitness interview with Diksha Mohapatra, a current 3rd year podiatry student from California School of Podiatric Medicine. For further information visit their channel @thepodiatryjourney on YouTube. Interview by Roberto De Los Santos.


Q1. What kind of diet regime are you on? What motivated you to do this?

I take my nutrition very seriously. I follow my macros to eat a plant-based diet. I am vegan, so I avoid dairy, meat/seafood, and highly processed (packaged, not fresh) foods. I began aiming for my macros back in the fall of 2019, because, even though I was vegetarian, I wanted to do the best I could do for my health, all of the living, and the planet. And, in order to be a walking example of the benefits, I grew interested in bodybuilding and counting macros. When I began, I had trouble with eating out sometimes, because everything I felt that was worth purchasing (that I couldn’t prepare myself) was fried food or had a high sodium content.

I struggled with my sugar cravings, but adding in fruits helped. And I also had no idea what to eat for the right amount of food for my macros, but gradually, I became accustomed to using an app to plug in the daily macros in meal form (Fat Secret). The biggest issue is when I visit family for an extended period of time and don’t want them to have to make me any special meals but also realize people eat carb-heavy foods if they are not accustomed to macros (way more carbs than I can handle for my goals). My friend, Yona, is a huge driving factor for me learning how to strictly navigate the bodybuilding world (lifting, nutrition, sleep, hydration).

Q2. What type of exercise plan do you follow? how often do you exercise and for how long?

I lift everyday with one day of a break during the week. I try to keep my workout sessions to 30-45 minutes. I lift a specific amount about 4 sets for two parts of my upper body every other day and do the same for my lower body on alternate days. I have an Apple Watch which I use to help me walk 10,000 steps a day as my cardio. I like to stack books up to study while walking in place. After the gyms closed down, I wanted to stay active and love to dance. I like to teach dance classes, and if I don’t, then I do 30-minute dance workouts I find on YouTube. In all honesty, when I am originally returning back into the flow of things, it helps me to have a gym partner who also likes to lift.

…I wanted to stay active and love to dance

Q3. How important is meal prepping, or choosing what you eat?

My favorite non-macro-compliant food (for me) is sushi. Otherwise, I enjoy playing with vital wheat gluten (breakfast protein breads, protein nuggets, protein patties, etc.). Meal prepping is incredibly important to me, because I am less likely to eat outside of my given macros nor do I have to think about cooking with the limited time I have with studying and clinic.

Q4. What personal health plan do you have for 2021?

I want to return to strictly following everything I listed previously so that I can build a stronger, bulkier body and lose the fat. I am finally prioritizing staying hydrated In fact, I believe mental health goes hand-in-hand with physical health for me, so I hope to continue my daily practice of gratitude, meditation day and night, journaling, and affirmations.

Q5. How do you cope with stress from school?

I meditate, focus on positive affirmations, watch comedy shows, exercise, and talk to loved ones on my walks. Being outside is critical for my mental health, so I ensure that I spend at least 20 minutes outside getting my Vitamin D.

Q6. What advice do you have for a 1st year managing school, health, and stress?

Have a self-care schedule set, no matter what it is that you need. Schedule your studying around that. That was one of my most important lessons I learned. Do whatever it takes maintain your equanimity during school, and practice not comparing yourself to others around you. This is your unique journey. Study a bit everyday, even if it means scanning over a lecture for 10 minutes, because even that little amount can help you when you have to review later down the road. That will minimize stress in those situations in which everything seems to be due or occur at once.

I know students who went through difficult times due to their health deteriorating, so remember, as future physicians, we have to learn not to pour from empty cups. It’s a constant process, but you will grow accustomed to all of this with practice. I am certainly still learning myself.

Diksha Mohapatra, California School of Podiatric Medicine

By Roberto De Los Santos.

Chapter 4

Mentally, Spiritually & Physically

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

I enjoy weight lifting and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). I try to exercise 6-7x/week when I can for about an hour. Then I recently started swimming 2-3x/week in the evening for cardio. I used to play basketball often, but with age, I’m just a very recreational weekend warrior haha. The next physical activity I would like to start is yoga.

Q2.What makes you motivated to workout/exercise?

I always want to be the best version of myself, mentally, spiritually and physically and try to push my limits and improve everyday.

I started working out and taking fitness seriously about 8 years ago when my life spiraled into the darkest moments of my life. At that moment, I made a mental lifelong decision to make the most out of the situation, and a big aspect of that was to push myself physically by exercising. It became an escape/de-stressor and overtime just made me a happier person. I learned then it’s not about hitting goal weights or lifting a certain weight, but a metaphor for life about being patient and trusting life will get better with hard work. Since then, it’s been my “why”. Even though Podiatry education and residency is tough and time constraining, things will get better with hard work. Having the mental discipline to be a better version of myself physically also carries over to other aspects of my life to make me better as a person and physician.

“Once you know what failure feels like, determination chases success.”

Kobe Bryant

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

Before pursuing Podiatry, I actually received my Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science. So, I have a background in exercise physiology, principles of weight lifting and sports psychology. I am actually pretty critical to who I follow- unless they are CSCS certified, athletic trainers, physical therapists, or essentially someone who really understands anatomy and function. However, whoever is trying to make a change to be more active finding an online/Instagram workout I’m all about it- just make sure you don’t hurt yourself by jumping into strenuous activities and take it slow.

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

Last year during my birthday, I feel like I had a life crisis (turned 31 years old haha, even changed my hairstyle). So, I decided to push myself with a 50 Day Fitness Challenge, my first ever challenge. The challenge entitled daily exercise approximately 70 minutes that included 60 minute HIIT/10 minute minimal cardio and abs, low carb diet with only a cheat meal once every 13 days, no alcohol. The results were amazing. Really keeping strict and holding myself accountable with the diet was the biggest accomplishment. I love food; never did I think I could keep myself to a strict diet to be honest.

Q5. How has fitness shaped your life?

I don’t think I would be where I am without fitness. Basketball was my #1 passion of mine growing up. Living in Orange County California, Kobe Bryant was my guy. Playing basketball all my life, Kobe has been my idol and inspired me on-and-off the court to elevate my standards of preparation, competition, tenacity and desire. He had that “first one at the gym, last one to leave” mentality to be the hardest worker out there. Basketball taught me a lot of lessons that were a loud metaphor to life. For example “Nothing is given, you have to earn it” means having to make sacrifices and that life isn’t fair. During college, things turned for the worst where I was living in my car. I sacrificed and continued to live in my car with high aspirations of being accepted to Podiatry school. I adjusted the mentality to ‘first one to the library, last one to leave’ when studying for MCAT and trusting the process that things would be better once I was admitted to Podiatry school. Once I was accepted, that mentality stayed with being the first one right when the library opened, and the last one to leave. Fitness to me has a huge metaphor for life. With determination, you will reach goals that you didn’t think you could reach.

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

Find an activity that’s FUN. Whether it’s with friends, being alone to escape, in silence, or loud blasting music like it’s Ultra Music Festival, this should be fun. It’ll keep you motivated

Find your ‘why?”, write it down, and read it daily. Especially on days where you don’t feel like exercising, or lost motivation. You’re not going to have an amazing workout daily, but remembering why you started will allow you to push yourself on days when you struggle. A bad day is better than nothing and still a step towards the goal

To begin, find a workout buddy. They’ll help keeping you accountable for your workout and push you to find motivation on days you need them

Once you find something fun, push yourself! One more step. One more lift. Pushing your limit a little more every time until you forget you really have limits. That’s where it becomes fun. Accomplishing goals you thought you never could because you took that extra, little step!

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

Don’t make excuses and hold yourself accountable. It’s easy to hit snooze. It’s easy to get lazy in the evening. So remember why you started and write it down. Anytime you don’t feel like working out, read it to yourself. Set yourself up with a schedule that you know you won’t make excuses and have a workout buddy to keep you accountable for the first 2 weeks. For me, in the evening I realized I get lazy and want to eat anything in sight. So, I made an effort to wake up early and exercise first in the morning to get it out of the way. I realized that it propelled me for the rest of the day by having more energy, increased focus, faster metabolism, and overall allowed me to become mentally strong and disciplined. I think even with a demanding schedule, squeezing exercise daily will actually allow you to study more efficiently and provide you more energy.

Author: Jannani Krishnan
Interviewee: Edgar Sy, PGY2

Chapter 5

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

Chapter 6

Yona: 2021 fit goals

This is a Q&A interview with Yona Mizrahi, a current podiatry student at the California School of Podiatric Medicine. For further content visit @thepodiatryjourney on YouTube. Interview by Roberto De Los Santos.


Q1.What kind of diet regime are you on? What motivated you to do this?

I am Pescatarian but slowly transitioning into being fully plant-based. I eat solely plant-based 2-3 times a week. My diet consists of salmon, tuna, tofu, tempeh, and lots of greens (spinach, broccoli, and kale mainly). I try to maintain a high protein and low carb diet. I started incorporating
this type of lifestyle around February of 2020. I turned pescatarian around that time, because my friend, Diksha, introduced me to the documentary on Netflix called “Game Changers.” It talked about some of the adverse effects that meats had on your body, and it promoted eating a plant-based lifestyle. I did not want to sacrifice every meat I ate, so I preserved fish in my diet, while also being plant-based on certain days of the week.

In the beginning, it was not tough at all. Diksha was along my side introducing me to the vast array of plant-based sources that are surprisingly delicious and enjoyable. This satisfied me to the point at which I did not really think much about meat! Additionally, still maintaining the ability to eat fish helped balance everything out as I transition!

Q2. What type of exercise plan do you follow? how often do you exercise and for how long?

I do a 5-day split-workout routine:
Monday: Chest and triceps.
Tuesday: Back and biceps.
Wednesday: Rest day.
Thursday: Shoulders and triceps.
Friday: Legs and biceps.
Saturday: Rest day.
Sunday: Core and cardio.

I usually workout for 30-45 minutes. Due to the gyms being closed, I like to do bodyweight workouts, such as pull-ups, push-ups, planks, and squats. I have also been using an app called, “Centr”, which has great HIIT workouts that are guided by coaches. My favorite exercise is jump-roping, and I sometimes workout alone or in a group!

Q3. How important is meal prepping, or choosing what you eat? What is your favorite meal?

Meal prepping is essential for my routine! It helps me balance out my protein-to-carb-to-fat ratios for foods that I eat throughout the day. It also helps save me time on days that I have clinic. What made me more aware was when I realized that certain foods would make me feel sluggish and tired which ultimately slowed down my exercise progress. My favorite meal is Cajun-seasoned tempeh w/ sauteed mushrooms, onions, and spinach topped off with Sriracha.

Q4. What personal health plan do you have for 2021? gain muscle? lose fat? run farther?

For 2021, I plan to gain more muscle and lose more fat. I feel like I just need to stay on top of what I eat, quality of sleep, and the quality of my exercises.

Q5. How do you cope with stress from school?

I do multiple things to cope with stress from school. I think exercising is my number 1 way of relieving stress, especially now when a lot of our time is spent in front of a computer. I also enjoy talking to friends and family. Additionally, I have been hiking more often, because there are quite a few hiking trails around the Oakland and San Jose area!

Q6. What advice do you have for a 1st year managing school, health, and stress?

My biggest advice is to sit down and set up a schedule with your various priorities each month. 1st year is a tough year, because you are adjusting to the rigorous load of medical school. You should stay on top of your classes, but make sure to find time to set aside for yourself. That can be going out with friends, watching movies, exercising, etc. You need to find a balance between academic and social life, or else you will burn out quickly.

Interview with Yona Mizrahi, California School of Podiatric Medicine

By Roberto De Los Santos