In one of my first post I wrote an article about staying fit in medical school and getting an efficient workout. The post initiated some great discussion among my peers between those who agreed with my approach and those who didn’t.
While that post reached out to students who had some experience with fitness, I’ve dedicated this post to casual or new gym goers. Also, I just didn’t want to write about going to the gym. I wanted to give a 360 attack plan on staying fit in medical school.
In my next fitness related post,I will share my own workout plan and diet for anyone that’s interested.
Prior to posting about specific workouts and diets, I think it’s important to emphasize the keys to getting fit.
There are four important elements of fitness in my opinion. The last one is the most important.
At the end, I also share a personal experience which I hope will encourage you to strive toward your own fitness goals.
What are the Four Key Components to Getting Fit in Medical School?
8 glasses of water seems like an arbitrary number. Each one of us needs an individualized amount of water for our body. Unfortunately very few of us get the right amount.
To make it easier to reach a good daily quota I have specific times in the day where I require myself to drink water.
1. A glass (8 oz) when I wake up
2. At least a full 24oz water bottle during a workout
3. A glass after I finish every task on my to-do list
4. A glass with each major meal
5. One more glass before bed
Asides from these times I will also drink water at other times I’m working and am thirsty! Thus I average about 12 glasses of water a day.
Bottom line, get your water in and stay hydrated!
It’s a common notion that abs are made in the kitchen. Regardless of your abdominal ambitions, your fitness will be determined by what you put into your body.
There are many different kinds of diets and food preferences. It’s not my role to tell you how or what to eat but be sure to evaluate the quality of your nutrition.
I for one am a vegetarian and find it completely doable to reach my fitness goals with the appropriate nutrients.
I do recommend that you have an proper balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in your diet. So no more PB&J and ramen diets. (I’ve been there)
One of the most common excuses I hear about working out is that makes people sleepy, interfering with the rest of a medical school day.
The key to staying fit in medical school is giving your body what it needs. One of the most important things to provide your body is rest.
It may not be 6-8 hours every day but do not sacrifice your well being just to study a little more. You will fall off the fitness wagon if you can’t maintain a steady amount of energy from day to day.
This is the most important in my opinion to becoming fit in medical school. Honestly, this advice will apply to almost anything.
Do not just go through the motions when it comes to your fitness.
I will use the gym for my example, but you can extrapolate this to running, biking, yoga, dancing, or whatever. Don’t go to the gym just to work up a sweat and leave.
No, instead your goal should be to strive to be better than the last time you stepped into the gym.
One of my favorite things about fitness is that it’s so pure. By that I mean you get what you put in. Unlike other aspects of your life where you can be cheated of results, fitness will never cheat you.
If you lift more weight you will be stronger. If you run consistently long distances, your stamina will improve. If your practice your Yoga poses every day, you will be more flexible and mobile.
All your effort will one day reaps its reward. This can’t be said to hold true for everything else.
If you walk in the gym with the mindset of lifting 5-10 more lbs than you did last week, you already are on your way to becoming a better you.
Now if you are exactly the same person you were a week ago, you’ve wasted time.
If you’ve gone to the gym for a month and can’t lift more weight or do more repetitions, you’ve failed to improve.
Don’t get me wrong, working up a sweat and going the gym are both admirable behaviors that a majority of people don’t exhibit. Unfortunately, without a drive to progress and be better, going to the gym and being fit can become boring. I’ve seen many of these same people tell me that they haven’t gone to the gym in 2-3 weeks.
A Personal Experience:
To end on this idea of progress I’d like to share a personal experience. When I first became interested in fitness I found myself progress in the exercises I enjoyed and stayed away from those that I didn’t.
What ended up happening was that I had some clear weakness.
My shoulders, back, and legs were all weak. In addition, my lower mobility was nonexistent.
A year ago, during my first semester in medical school, I wasn’t able to squat my body weight to parallel, much less below.
But I wanted to improve on these body parts and exercises I originally didn’t master. In particular, I wanted to be able to squat my own body weight at the least with proper form.
I went through numerous weeks of just trying to improve my hip mobility to allow my body to squat below parallel. I was nowhere near ready to add any weight.
Week by week I noticed some improvements. I decided to add some weight. I first added 10 lbs to each side of the 45 lb bar. The next week I tried 15. Then a few weeks later I was up to 30.
It’s been a full year since I truly dedicated my training to improve my squat and mobility. Today I’m comfortably able to squat 255lbs for 2-3 reps below parallel!
By no means am I trying to brag. There are many other individuals that are stronger than me, but I want to highlight the idea of progress. A year ago I couldn’t squat my body weight, now I’m able to do move a much greater amount!
Moral of the story is do not be content with being stagnant. Use this advice in staying fit in medical school, managing your studies, and growing in your personal development.
So there are the four key elements of staying fit in medical school (hydration, diet, sleep, progress). Without any one of these elements, you’re severely limiting your growth.
I hope my story is able to get some of you excited about reaching your own goals and progressing from day to day. As promised I will write a future post about my own workout plan and diet for anyone interested. I hope this post served as a good base for future topics.
Interested in more medical school tips or want to read more about other challenges? Here are some of the most popular posts from the last month.
Finally – do you want to learn how to study faster? If so you’re in luck!
Check out my FREE 9-part video course on how I cut my study time in half! I show you my exact method!
Until next time…