Sunday, April 10, 2016

March/April Goals - Eat Food

Once again, I'm late with reflecting on last month's goals and setting out this month's goals.  Perhaps my goal for this month should be to be on time with my next post about goals?

Anyway...for March, I made a very vague commitment to "recognize what I need and to meet those needs".  I was feeling in a bit of a slump at the time, and I couldn't quite figure out what would make me feel better, so my goal was essentially an attempt to identify anything that would make me feel better and do it.  After a few days of self reflection, I realized that one of my biggest sources of unhappiness was feeling like I was spending all of my time doing the tedious parts of my job (dictating, editing dictations, reviewing labs) without ever being finished with it.  In response to this, I made it my priority to get all the stuff done, and I did.  (As I wrote about here).

In getting caught up on my work, and even more so in trying to prevent the work from reaccumulating, I have come to realize that I was making the fatal mistake of letting my work expand to fill the time available to me.  I'm usually in clinic only about 50% of the time, leaving me with more than enough time for office work when I'm not on call, and I was allowing the tedious work to unnecessarily fill up all of my non-clinic time.  I would come in a bit late, have a nice long coffee break, check Facebook, and do all kinds of things to procrastinate getting the work done because there wasn't a real urgency to doing it.  When I had another project to work on, such as a presentation with a firm deadline, then I would get more efficient at the tedious work to make time for the other project, but otherwise I was dawdling.  And feeling trapped in paperwork hell.

Forcing myself to finish my tedious work on a daily basis (as much as possible) has made me much more efficient.  I come in on time, I minimize non-work activities, and I use even the random five- or ten-minute chunks of available time between events to be productive.  There is absolutely no way that I want to stay later than I need to because I've been scrolling through Facebook instead of signing off on dictations.  By making much better use of my time, I've finally freed up some of the big chunks of time that I need for bigger projects.  Which feels awesome.

So, March goal?  Let's call it a success.

April Goal - Eat Food:

A lot of my time with patients is spent counseling them on living a healthy lifestyle.  Many of them hope that I hold a magical secret to living better, but in reality, my advice to them is always pretty basic:  Get exercise (30 minutes per time, 3-5 times per week).  Eat more healthy food (fruits, vegetables, lower-fat dairy, lower-fat meat/meat alternatives, whole-grain products).  Eat less unhealthy food (pop, chips, fast food, processed food, sugar).  Simple in theory, frustratingly difficult in practice.

After spending my days giving (what I think is) fundamentally sound advice, I unfortunately often go home and sit on my couch eating precisely the things I tell my patients not to.  I love pop.  And chocolate.  And ice cream.  And eating out in almost any restaurant, including the greasiest of greasy spoons.  I am an extraordinary hypocrite, and I know it's something I need to work on. 

About a week ago, my girlfriend and I watched an excellent documentary featuring Michael Pollan, an author who has written books about the problems with the industrial food system and with our current approach to eating healthily.  The documentary focuses around Pollan's simple advice on how to eat:

As I was watching the documentary, I was struck by how simple the advice was, and by how horribly I fail to live up to it.  Even though I actually like real, unprocessed, healthy foods.  The main reason I eat so much bad food is laziness and accessibility, both of which I can change.  So...I'm making two commitments for the months that fall under the heading of "Eat Food". 

1)  No pop.  It's something I don't need, and it's one of the worst things I can possibly consume.  So for this month (if not longer), I'm done with it. 

2)  Take one fruit and one vegetable in my lunch every day.  It's a small start, but it is at least a start.  I bought an assortment of vegetables at the grocery store today, I've cut up a bunch of vegetables to take in my lunches, and I'm ready to be successful at this one.

Now I'm off to Red Lobster for dinner.  I wonder if they sell any real food....


  1. That is an amazing success - you getting caught up with your work and being more efficient! I am so proud of you! :-)

  2. Great goals for the month... But are they realistic? No pop at all? How many are you drinking everyday? When patients are setting goals like this, I am always thinking it is not going to work...
    Hope you succeed! (Because I need to set pretty much the same, except the pop, plus the exercice)

  3. DH cut soda cold-turkey back in grad school when the dentist told him he needed to stop (and we were spending so much $ filling his cavities!) It was hard at first, but he switched to tea and then coffee (which he used to hate but now loves like a connoisseur). (Now he will occasionally get a small amount of really expensive high quality soda, like bundaberg-- it's a true treat.)

    Similarly, I do the fruit thing, and it really does work. If I have fruit in my office, I snack on it instead of on candy. On weekends I'm often nowhere near as healthy!

  4. If I bring something in my lunch to work I WILL eat it. We always buy plenty of fruit, and I prep it so its ready to grab in the morning. We also buy veggies we can eat raw and cut them up on the weekend so we can bring a container or carrots/celery/peppers/etc... or we pre-pack salads with chicken.
    I am not a super-healthy eater otherwise but my lunch/snacks are the epitome of "clean eating" because its just so easy to eat what is there and i'm cheap/lazy to go buy something else most times. If I'm feeling snacky, I reach in my bag and just eat what's there, even if its not super-appealing.
    In terms of the soda, I quit diet coke cold turkey because it got expensive and I stopped buying it. now it tastes weird to me.
    I am also very impressed with how you got on top of your charting. ummm...time to stop reading blogs & get to it I suppose.