Crossfit: A Physician’s Perspective
This post is geared towards those who already know what Crossfit is and are curious about what an M.D. graduate thinks about it.
In the past 7 years I have read articles FOR and AGAINST Crossfit, written so passionately you would think it was a religion or a political stance. People have opinions over this ‘fad’ that hasn’t gone away and I’m here to contribute mine.
I started in medical school in anticipation of going to Dive School. I caught the bug immediately as it paralleled my competitive spirit and masochistic tendencies. I’ve been to over 30 gyms across the nation as I traveled the US for medical school rotations. I’ve seen kids Crossfit classes and I’ve seen 80 year olds with personal training DOING Crossfit.
Gomer Blog is ‘The Onion’ for Doctors and a popular headline is: ‘Orthopedic Surgeon Creates Crossfit to fund child’s tuition’ Yes, there are certainly a great deal of orthopedic injuries in CF, just like any other sport. However, if people look past the elite athletes you will see the average American just trying to stay in shape.
The following reasons encompass why I think CF is good for the AVERAGE American.
- Builds Healthy Habits. If you catch the bug and make a ton of friends and go to the gym 4-5 times a week, that is a solid habit. Even if you’re not working out the ENTIRE hour, you get your socializing in, your endorphins going and challenges you.
- Rekindles Athletic Abilities. A lot of middle aged people were once high school athletes and have SOME athletic ability. This experience can rekindle what you thought was limited to ‘the best years of your life.’
- Makes Adults Functional. The biggest fear I see in clinic with elderly patients is losing their independence. Whether that be driving privileges or the inability to stand up on their own. Going to the gym combats the trend Americans have built in becoming so sedentary they can’t hold themselves up.
These changes can set off a domino effect that everyone can benefit from. Of course people tend to stray away because CF seems too dangerous or too competitive. That’s OK. I do respect CF’s goals to fight chronic disease because that IS America’s biggest downfall in the healthcare system. Letting Diabetes and Obesity run our healthcare system is a huge deal.
Graduating from medical school I looked back thinking, Adult Medicine isn’t that difficult. The main diseases we combat everyday in the hospital can be PREVENTED. They’re not rare, they’re not House-provoking diagnoses, they are run by two main diseases: Obesity and Diabetes. That is where our efforts should lie and honestly once you get to the hospital because of complications from these diseases it’s too late.
There is no fancy drug, quick fix or easy answer. Building good habits and making sure adults have functionality will improve their QUALITY and QUANTITY of life. CF happens to meet a lot of these goals all in one.
Basic Principles of Meal Prep-Lose weight, save money.
It seems that everyone is trying to save money and lose weight. These are TWO of the biggest challenges for Americans today. What is a strategy to combat both at the same time? A habit that will save money and be good for your waist line?? TELL ME MORE!
Meal Prep. It’s simple, easy and it also saves you TIME, the most important asset any of us have. Now the fitness community is ALL ABOUT meal prep. This is a way to be very specific about the protein, carbs and fat ratio you are consuming every day to reach aesthetic or strength goals. I’m not going into the nitty gritty about this because there are books and businesses ALL about meal prep and how to do it. You don’t need to be a nutritionist to meal prep, you just have to have basic fitness goals.
Start with the protein you want to eat for that week. Good, low fat options are: turkey, chicken and fish. One fist full is about one standard serving. Eat one of these 3-4 times/day so grill up an entire batch of meat and you have 3-4 days worth of food. Next, get your favorite veggie without a lot of carbs. These include: asparagus, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower. Stir fry everything and eat 1-2 cups with each meal. Lastly, and my favorite part: CARBOHYDRATES. Make a pot full or cooker full of pasta and rice. Depending on how much you work out depends on how much carbs you consume IN GENERAL. Most Americans do not get to eat cups and cups of carbs so if you are just walking around and being sedentary you probably earn about 1-2 cups through out the entire DAY. If you are an Olympic athlete, you get 2 cups almost EVERY MEAL.
This will all take about 2-3 hours on the weekend but will save you weekday evenings of prepping each dinner, making lunches, etc… Additionally, you will have BROUGHT your lunch with you to work so you save money. This is the way to control your finances and your fitness. In a matter of months you will see the pounds slipping away and the savings adding up. Save your cash for the weekend nights where you can go out and enjoy a meal out on the town. Obviously, don’t go overboard but you’ll appreciate the food more because you didn’t make it and it’s probably something VERY different from what you just prepped.
First Net Worth Report SEP 2017
As I preached in a prior post it’s extremely important to gauge where you are with your goals and where you want to be in the future. Thus, this is my ‘starting point’ which is very much ahead for most Millennials.
I participated in the NROTC program which paid for my tuition while I got my degree in Biochemistry. I also became a Resident Assistant 1) to stay on campus and 2) get free room and board (which can be worth $10-15,000). I wouldn’t say I was ‘lucky’ that I don’t have student loans I incurred a huge time commitment to the US Military.
I don’t regret my choice to join however I think there are other ways to not have a ton of student debt. My best friends are/were all in the Navy and they still are today. I wouldn’t have met my partner if I weren’t in San Diego at the time, etc… I wouldn’t have access to the VA loan if I were not in part of the military. And obviously, I get the opportunity to serve America and the active duty personnel that make sacrifices throughout their life for our country.
So…you won’t see any student loans on these spreadsheets and I’m thankful for that. I got a $55,000/year scholarship from my commitment to the Navy. I do believe though that college in America is overpriced and that I would’ve gotten the same amount of ‘education’ and knowledge if I went to a state school and worked my butt off.
Ideally, if I didn’t have moving away from my parents as a huge goal at the age of 18 I would’ve stayed in Denver/Boulder, CO gotten a bunch of credits for my AP classes (equivalent to freshman year), still become an RA and then maybe have taken out some student loans.
However, after college I went to USUHS, the military medical school. Got paid as an Ensign or O-1 and started putting money into my TSP, going into the most aggressive fund plus saving some money into Mutual Funds. That was about all the time I had to dedicate to personal finance in the midst of biochemistry, pharmacology, anatomy, etc…
My two rental properties are duplexes. I live in one currently and the other is in Southern California (thus the huge loan). Most real estate investors stay far away from SoCal to invest in because 1) its hella expensive to enter the market 2) No cash flow 3)Tenant Friendly AF
I have weighed the pros and cons and I’m holding on to this property because I saw 13% appreciation just holding onto it for a couple of years, plus I want to move back there, it has a yard for me and my dogs, I have awesome tenants, and I have an emotional attachment to it. That is NOT how to conduct yourself purchasing rental properties however it was my first purchase and I’m allowed to make mistakes in my twenties right?
I came so close to selling the place and even accepted an offer but backed out because I realized these things. I did not put a ton of cash down, I’m building equity and I have really good insurance to mitigate some of the risks.
My second property was much more of a ‘better investment,’ also a duplex. It is in the ‘business district’ of an area centered around three big companies (including the US military), recently renovated and convenient on the East Coast. I actually purchased this property from a distance and was kind of crazy, but that’s what you do when you’re 26! I have a great tenant in here now who has been paying my mortgage for the past 6-8 months while I figure out my next move.
There’s a brief summary of my big purchases and assets thus far.
How Medical School taught me how not to give a F***
Medical students are the most type A people to walk this earth. Not only did we get 4.0s, we excelled as leaders, we volunteered AND we excelled at sports. We proved to be the best in the system in addition to incurring the most delayed satisfaction compared to any field.
One of the habits most medical students pick up is being anal retentive. This is required to be a detailed physician because one number, one medication, one document could change the outcome of a patient’s life. The documentation has to be correct, the orders have to be correct, what you say to the patient and other doctors have to be 100% correct.
However, we make mistakes. We are human. Obviously, there is a spectrum of mistakes. Ones that don’t mean anything and ones that can kill.
While doctors are demanded to be personable, efficient and brilliant all at the same time you’ll find a lot of physicians have anxiety. It’s almost fostered because we can’t make any mistakes. But if you were to compound the anxiety of the mistakes you made, in addition to the problems of everyday life you would go insane. That’s why after a while I created a couple personal questions to keep things in perspective.
- Is someone dying because of this mistake? Maybe this is more applicable to my job than to your everyday life however, it is still a good thing to think about. Did running that red light result in someone dying? No, OK ill try not to do it again, but no one is dead. If someone is dead than yes you have the right to be extremely anxious.
- If I spend more time thinking about this issue will it change the outcome? Usually, if you end up sitting somewhere just stressing out about something that just happened and you can take no action to change what happened, than it’s not worth the brain power.
These two simple questions have helped me compartmentalize the stress and anxiety that can flow through one’s brain after an embarrassing conversation or an acutely stressful situation.
The 2 Most Important Topics that No One Teaches You
There’s been lots of talk about how Millennial’s aren’t saving money and they fawn over avocado toast without batting an eye. Millennial’s are different because we’re putting off marriage, putting off kids and focusing more on wellness. ‘Entitled’ may be most common descriptor, but is that such a bad thing?
Our own happiness, our relationships and our well-being. Gone are the days working 9-5 for 50 years, moving up the corporate ladder. With the internet at our tips we can work from home, go to every music festival and maybe start a lucrative Instagram lifestyle business. But what can we learn from previous generations about investing and retirement if we do everything else differently?
With life expectancy increasing and government pensions becoming a thing of the past as we pass the 20 trillion US Debt we need to be aggressive about our finances. The Millennial trend is to not trust the system, don’t ‘pay the man’ just because someone told you to.
Starting to track monthly expenses and your net worth builds your financial framework. Where are you now? What are your habits? What do you need in your life? What brings you the most enjoyment? This also helps illicit what you want/need for the future. Do you want to live in Hawaii and will require 3-4,000 of passive income for housing? Start figuring out how you’re going to get there now.
This is the same plan as investing in health. Write down what you eat on a day to day basis and your current weight. See what causes you to binge out or cause stressful eating. What is your goal weight? What type of food is non-negotiable?
This all may seem overly meticulous but it’s all required for preventative maintenance. One thing the generation before us did not do well is preventative health care. This all starts with personal knowledge of what is harmful for your body BEFORE you make it a habit. Drinking 3 beers a night, smoking a pack a day in addition to eating tons of processed sugar are the building blocks to obesity and diabetes which plague our nation.
Personal Finance and Nutrition are extremely important to living a balanced, healthy lifestyle and you have to invest the time to learn about it because it’s not emphasized enough in our general education.
4 Tricks to Memorize Anything
Do you want to memorize all the Presidents? Do you want to learn a new language? Do you want to become an expert? What is the most efficient way to get knowledge into a brain?
- See One, Do One, Teach One. The old medical adage of how to do literally anything.
This technique is applied to anything from: performing a vasectomy, delivering a baby or interviewing a patient. It instills the fear of God in you that you will be doing this procedure in 5 seconds. As you are doing said procedure you are learning muscle memory and as you teach the next person you reflect on your mistakes.
- Write it Down.
As laptops become the norm and note-taking becomes a thing of the past, it is important to realize how re-writing information will imprint in your brain no matter what.
- Think of Funny Images.
Learning new names is some people’s biggest struggle! Imagine someone with very prominent eyebrows as bushy mountains and associate that with Mt. McKinley aka Mr. McKinley!
- Questions, Questions, Questions.
What’s the biggest waste of time? Passive Learning. For some reading an article once imprints into their photographic memory. However, most of us are not as gifted. If there is a question bank involved do ALL of the questions, write down the write answer and WHY. Active learning is the most efficient way to get large amounts of volume into your head.
As I gasped for breath and kicked my bulky legs violently against the water, I thought to myself one goal: Do not get out of the water. As yelling traversed the pool deck and I looked on to my classmates equally struggling for air, I secretly kicked the side of the wall for just a second of reprieve. “This is side Over, this side Under,” the dreaded command to swim to the bottom of the 9 ft pool touch the bottom and continue to swim without goggles across the deep end in one breath. As the foggy black lines came closer and left and as I felt that undeniable yearning to breathe I climbed my way up to the surface, gasping for breath. Loud voices yelling to ‘Leave Surface’ were all around me as I saw I was the only one on surface. Another breath and more ineffective kicking as I returned to the dreaded black lines beneath me.
What supersedes money, nepotism, beauty, talent, strength and intelligence? Even with all of these positive attributes, what can overcome the unfair advantages of our competitors? Quite simply it is one personality trait. One trait that can be applied to any field in any country and in any system.
That is Grit. The combination of courage, perseverance, excellence, resilience and long term follow through. Nowadays there’s lots of talk about wanting to become a SEAL, a Green Beret, Physician, Lawyers, etc…but what is the best measure to see if people succeed? It is the day in, day out grind. The ability to take the ups and the downs, and to not necessarily be a perfectionist or the best at one thing but to be appreciate one’s own excellence. To do something with integrity and to do it correctly every day.
For me, this particular swimming exercise was part of training. A test of one’s grit. Every day for weeks, I performed ‘over-unders’ with extreme dread deep down in my heart. By no means was I a talented swimmer and there was no way any financial gain or legacy would help me in this situation. My book smarts were useless and any athletic prowess I had was a hindrance to helping me float in the water.
Now would I say I’m the best Navy Diver? The best in my Dive School Class? Certainly not by any means. But I never got out of the water and that was the best for me and I graduated right on time. If you’d like to learn more about the research behind this fascinating personality trait read Angela Duckworth’s book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. (See Sidebar if link doesn’t work)