Choose to Live a Healthier Lifestyle: The Medical Student Way

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Long before I graduated from college, I made a promise to take care of myself despite the demanding life of being a medical student. I believed that if you're healthy and you're eating the right meals, your body will function well (or so my mom said). Instead of counting calories, I decided to work on developing a habit first that would fit the fast-paced life of a medical student and of course, that would fit my student budget. Just so you know, this was solely based on a personal experience. I did not have any personal trainer and most of the time, my only exercise is brisk walking. I did a lot of research to look for what fits me best and after several readings, I came up with this 6-step plan (for starters) on how to live a healthier lifestyle: the medical student way. Before anything else, I calculated my BMI and discovered that I am almost overweight for my height. I highly suggest that you do the same so you would know where to focus more.

NEVER skip breakfast. This might be a little hard especially if you're 'living the dorm life' and 'always-on-the-go' as my friends would put it into words, BUT I strongly believe that if there's a will, there's a way. There is a reason why breakfast is called as such and that is, "to break the fasting period of the prior night". But before indulging in my food, I usually drink a freshly squeezed warm lemon water. Just that. No added sugar or honey or any sweetener. Anyway, just make it a habit to not skip breakfast. It might be a little time consuming because it means you have to wake up extra early, but it can be as simple as toasting a piece of bread, frying an egg and having your morning coffee. It's the first meal of the day. Enjoy it!

As much as possible, cook your own meals. If you can't or you don't know how to, opt for home-cooked meals when eating outside. It doesn't have to be expensive and fancy. Filipino home-cooked meals are usually the easiest to cook because it is not that complicated. Ask your mom, tita or lola how-to and you will eventually learn how to cook. Topics in med school are more complicated than cooking. Trust me. Anyway, I always have a packed lunch, killing two birds with one stone - I can eat a healthy and well-prepared meal that I enjoy and save money. Be wise in choosing which food to eat. Think about what will happen if you eat this and that. Just some thoughts to ponder on.

Never eat in excess. Complete your daily meals, may it be 3 or 5 meals a day, it's up to you, but always eat in moderation. Eat just enough for the next meal. It's a way of telling your body to burn more and use up your energy than storing it as fat. It's a way of 'boosting your metabolism'. Listen to your body. Your satiety hormones are there for a reason.

Find time to exercise and please don't tell me that you don't have the time. Exercising can be as simple as walking, brisk walking, running, or dancing. You don't have to pay for expensive membership fees every month. You just have to make yourself busy and you have to make it a habit.

Enjoy what you are eating. You have to put your heart in it if you want it to work. I never really believed in crash (and crazy!) fad diets and we, medical students, don't really have time for that especially to those whose coping mechanism for stress is eating. I'm not telling you to stop eating in your favorite fast-food chain nor eat your favorite sweets. I am not telling you to give up french fries or anything fried, but try to avoid eating (unhealthy) processed food. Do you want french fries? Go get some potatoes and fry it using healthy oils. Look it up on the internet and you can find which is which but if you're too lazy to do that, then look for oils that don't solidify at room temperature. You may feel some 'withdrawal' but that's perfectly normal. You'll get over it after some time.

Get enough sleep. This might be a little hard given the huge pile of TBR because I am guilty of this. It depends on a person's study habit, but rest if you must. Recharge your body.

As you would notice, I did not include cutting the sweets or carbs or salty foods, etc because what I want to emphasize here is to program your body first. Choosing to live a healthier life starts with learning to discipline yourself. It does not happen overnight, but once you get through with the crucial baby steps, it would pay off for a long time. The first week is usually the hardest but once you "programmed" it in your system, it will get easier. It's never really about how many, but how long can you keep up with this kind of lifestyle? It doesn't have to be expensive. You just have to use your common sense and be smart in choosing which food to eat. In our generation where everything's in fast-forward mode, it's hard to find foods that aren't really processed but there are better alternatives, you just have to do your research and look for it.

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