First Day Back at Medical School…Year 2

Today was the first day back at medical school and I am excited to have started on the next block…Reproduction! From looking ahead at the schedule for the next month, we will be covering plenty of topics that interest me such as prenatal diagnosis, obstetrics and breastfeeding. The block will be heavy in anatomy and histology which is a big challenge! Although it takes me time to master anatomy names, I do enjoy this part of the medical curriculum. Histology has been one of my favorite areas since the beginning of medical school. I feel like my brain just gets it which is very rewarding!

This afternoon, I had my first session for my Community Health Alliance Project (CHAP). This is where we each get to volunteer with an organization out in the community in order to give us more exposure. My community organization is in the area of Mental Health. I chose this because I do not know much about mental health issues yet I have seen it affect people around me. I am curious to know more about it, how it is managed and how I can help to break the stigma around it. The people at the organization were very welcoming and seem extremely passionate about what they do. I was very inspired by the inter-professionalism and I am excited to be a part of the team for the next few months.

I am hoping to try and keep a balanced approach to life during this second year of medical school. I know it will not be easy but it is my sincere wish to keep God and my family as my top priorities, to make time for exercise and rest, as I give my best effort to my school work!

PS… If you love to read as much as I do, or if you’re simply looking for something new to read, please do visit my “Books to Read” page. I have updated it with several new titles that I read over the summer. I hope you will find them as useful or inspirational as I did! Enjoy!

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10 Tips for Embarking on a New Adventure

Excited to share with you my first guest post over at The Zeit which is a blog with great information on healthy living for your mind and body. My guest post is about tips for embarking on a new adventure. Hope you enjoy reading it!

10 Tips for Embarking on a New Adventure

Image courtesy of chai biscuit.com
Image courtesy of chai biscuit.com

Building Your Cooking Confidence…New Recipe of the Week

One secret to eating healthily is finding delicious and nutritious recipes that are easy to make. I have been amazed by the sheer diversity of flavor that you can find in recipes, none of which have to be complicated or time-consuming. Cooking can seem intimidating but it doesn’t have to be! With time and practice, we can build our confidence in the kitchen and boost cooking skills to a new level.

Trying at least one new recipe each week is my latest goal towards eating healthily. Experimenting with new recipes is a great way to build your cooking confidence and has multiple benefits:

  • Improved cooking skills: My former roommates still tease me to this day about the ‘delicacies’ I used to prepare during our university days, namely, rice with ketchup. I really had very few cooking skills! The only way to improve was for me to roll up my sleeves, be willing to experiment and launch myself into the kitchen. Before long, I fell in love with cooking. Food is a great way to connect with people. It breaks down barriers and provides endless topics of conversation! Take your cooking one step further by learning one new recipe each week.
  • Increased confidence in hosting guests: I remember when my husband and I got married and I was nervous about having our first couple over for supper. I realized that I needed to build my confidence in the kitchen. The only way to do that was to practice! Fortunately my husband was willing to eat just about anything and was very patient as I found my way in the kitchen. The more I cooked, the more confident I felt and it wasn’t long before having a group of 30 people over to our house didn’t phase me. Keep trying something new in the kitchen. Even if it fails, you can always try again!
  • A wider variety of nutrients: I cringe when I think about how I used to eat in the past. I can remember a phase when vegetables were optional. I knew they were important but somehow I just didn’t know what to do with them. By trying a new recipe every week, this will provide the opportunity to try a wider variety of foods (vegetables included!) with a greater selection of healthy nutrients.
  • Sustained motivation: I personally am more motivated to cook when I am trying something new or tweaking an existing recipe. The same cycle of meals can be boring so keep it fresh by adding some diversity and expanding your repertoire!
  • Happy family: I have to say that when I try new recipes, the energy at our dining table is tangible. The husband and kids get excited and I feel a great sense of satisfaction in seeing them enjoy what they are eating. Make your cooking journey a shared experience where others can enjoy your new creations!

Without further ado, here is the new recipe of the week, courtesy of Closet Cooking.

Broccoli and Cheddar Quinoa Bites

A freshly baked broccoli and cheddar quinoa bite (image courtesy of potentialdoctor.com)
A freshly baked broccoli and cheddar quinoa bite (image courtesy of potentialdoctor.com)

I made a quick dip for this meal that consisted of soy-sauce, honey, dijon mustard and freshly grated ginger.

  • My review: Very simple to make, fast, nutritious and delicious.
  • Options: I used cajun spices instead of cayenne alone.
  • Kid-friendly? A resounding yes! My kids gobbled this up before I had time to sit down at the table
  • Tip 1: If you have babies or toddlers, you may want to steam the broccoli slightly before baking the mixture in the oven because the baking process does not soften the broccoli completely.
  • Tip 2: Cook a double portion of the quinoa, freeze half of it (prior to mixing with the other ingredients) and use it in subsequent meals such as salads, soups, stews etc.

If you are nervous or unsure about cooking, don’t despair! There is a wonderful world of cooking out there to discover. Take it one step at a time and soon you will have improved cooking skills and more confidence in the kitchen!

Five Tips for Living a Healthier Lifestyle

When deciding to live a healthier lifestyle, it can be difficult to know what changes to make and how. When I look back at my attempts to live more healthily, the approach that worked best for me was tackling my goals in small increments and doing the things that I truly enjoyed.

So whether your goal is to eat more healthy food, exercise more, reduce stress levels or simply have more fun, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Start small: our bodies and minds have learning curves and need time to adjust to new changes. It will be easier to sustain a healthier lifestyle by starting with a small goal and increasing our threshold over time. For example, if you have done no exercise lately and want to start exercising, you could begin with just a 10 minute walk 3 times a week and build up from there. You’ll be amazed how your body becomes stronger with time and soon 10 minutes will become easier and you will be able to go for longer. Although the general guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week, this can be daunting for some people. It is certainly a worthy goal to eventually get to but it can help to just start small until you build up the habit.
  2. Do something you enjoy: There are many shapes and forms of exercise and it’s important to find one that you truly enjoy otherwise it can be difficult to keep up the stamina and motivation. Some people find it hard to exercise alone and need the company of others. Challenge your friends to join you for some weekly exercise! Some people have sensitive knees (like me) and cannot accommodate high impact exercise. This does not mean that there is no hope of getting fit! Even with physical limitations, there are ways to strengthen our bodies through yoga, swimming, weight training, walking, and more.
  3. Rest and refill regularly: It can be difficult to sustain a healthy lifestyle if we are running on empty. It’s important to find ways to filter out the stress of daily life and to do activities that fill up our souls. This could be through our hobbies, exercise, spending time with family or friends, a change of scenery, and through getting enough sleep to rejuvenate our minds and bodies.
  4. Get creative: When it comes to eating, it can be easy to find ourselves in a rut eating the same foods over and over (this happens to me sometimes!). You don’t have to have perfect cooking skills to come up with some delicious, healthy meals. I personally had no idea how to cook until I was in my twenties and it took some experimentation and some generous ‘guinea pigs’ willing to try my food to give me some experience with cooking. My goal is to try at least one new recipe each week. Yummly, my favorite site for finding new recipes is user-friendly and recommends recipes based on your tastes, preferences and diet type. It will even populate a shopping list of ingredients based on the recipe you choose.
  5. Find a balance: Living a healthy lifestyle does not mean we have to always be on the go or never eat certain foods. It’s about finding the right balance (easier said than done sometimes!) that accommodates nutritious foods, our own tastes and that gets us active while allowing time to rest and de-stress. Every individual is different and it takes time to achieve a balance and determine what works for you.

Living a healthy lifestyle does not happen overnight. It has its challenges and victories like anything else in life. It doesn’t matter if you have fallen by the wayside on your journey to becoming more healthy. There is always a new day, a fresh start, another opportunity to try again. Your body and mind will thank you!

Image courtesy of samsung.com
Image courtesy of samsung.com

A Fruit a Day Keeps the Doctor Away…Let’s Start with Love

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. I remember hearing this often when I was growing up.  At the time, it didn’t really convince me to eat more fruits and vegetables but now that I’m older, I have come to appreciate the benefits of eating healthily. This gets me thinking not only about my physical health but also my mental and spiritual health. Healthy food and physical exercise are good for our bodies. What sorts of things are good for our mind and soul?

I leafed through my Bible and came across this familiar verse on “Fruits of the Spirit”. To me, these are virtues that keep me spiritually healthy, partly because they require some action on my part. They are not just a state of mind but something that I can consciously decide to do.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”. Galations 5:22-23.

I decided to take a look at some of the Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions of these words and compare them to how I feel they can be applied to daily life. I will tackle this over a series of posts just so we can take a detailed look at these words. Let’s start with love.

Love

There are so many forms and definitions of love but the ones I like in particular are these two: “strong affection for another; unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”. I like these two definitions because they acknowledge that love has a component of “feeling” and emotion as well as a conscious decision to care about someone else solely for their good. Therefore I choose to behave in such a way as to bring out the best in them. In the Bible, Jesus spoke of loving our “neighbor”. When asked “but who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29, Jesus went on to talk about the Parable of the Good Samaritan. A selfless individual who decided to help a battered and bruised stranger at the side of the road, who had been brutally attacked by robbers.

When I was growing up, we passed by beggars in the street as quickly as possible. They were considered unsafe, it made us uncomfortable and we just didn’t really know how to respond. When I think about those moments, I really cringe at myself. How thoughtless and selfish of me! Jesus’ words to love our neighbor challenges me to find ways to help those who are hurting and suffering. This is one of the reasons I am passionate about pursuing a career in medicine. Just the idea of being able to heal someone’s diseases, offer them counsel, and alleviate their worries really gets me excited. One of my friends who is a first-time mom often calls me with motherhood questions (“White noise or no white noise? or “My baby is breastfeeding around the clock…help!”) I absolutely love these conversations because I can draw from my own experiences and alleviate some of her concerns. 

There is so much that can be said about the concept of love but what I have learned from my interactions with people and from observing my friends and family is that love in its truest sense is selfless and unconditional. The “feeling” of love may come and go. There are times when our significant others, children, brothers, sisters, parents may annoy us, make us angry, make us want to give up on them. Yet, we decide to still love them. We may see someone suffering who is perhaps not from our culture, not in our income bracket, who has differing opinions, or who we may not be able to relate to. Yet, we decide to still love them. Love is a powerful thing. Love erases fear, love erases prejudice, love erases judgement. The Bible itself said the greatest gift of all is love.

Image courtesy of maya picture at freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of maya picture at freedigitalphotos.net