Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween is a little less scary now...

yeah, that's right. That's a real human skull for my homework.
I named him Fred the Head. No big deal.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

An exercise in discipline

I recently gave a presentation at Wauwatosa East High School to a 10th grade health class about obesity in America and about childhood obesity in particular. The presentation ended with a challenge to the class to make a change in their lifestyle for 30 days that will help to keep them fit and healthy. Some of the options included: Eating smaller portions, walking/bike riding to school, doubling your water intake, sleeping 8-9 hours per night, not drinking soda etc.

I left thinking it was funny to challenge them and then not accept a similar challenge on my part. Studies have shown the impact that a community or social network have on the health of individuals in that network. It means that if two people in a group of 10 friends decide to quit smoking, the other 8 are more likely to quit smoking. Likewise if you are in a high school and 30 people in a class decide to stop drinking soda at lunch, the rest of the class is more likely to stop drinking soda. The opposite is true as well. It means that our community has profound effects on our health.

I decided that it would be silly to challenge them to improve their health and community's health without contributing to my own. So I chose two changes to make as well. The first is to drink 2 L of water a day. After the first couple days, during which I am sure I took at least 10 different trips to the bathroom, my body has gotten a little more used to it and it's going well. I actually noticed that I get less hungry during the day when I manage to reasonably space my portions out through the day. Additionally--and this may be pure coincidence--I am two pounds lighter than when I started this a week and a half ago or so. I've heard that staying hydrated actually keeps your body from storing excess water weight. It makes sense, but I didn't know if I actually believed it. So far, that seems to be true.

The other challenge I decided to accept was keeping a food journal. Talk about a Challenge with a capital 'C.' I did this for two months at the beginning of the year and counted calories in order to try and drop 5 pounds before starting the cycling season. And having done it once, I can honestly say that it is a very rewarding exercise no matter how demanding. You have the opportunity to go back and shine a light on your habits which can be a little embarrassing, but helpful regardless. For instance, I am learning right now that I have started eating dessert a bit more often than I used to (I wonder why...). However, I haven't been riding or exercising as much. Hmmm.... In my first journal I discovered that I don't eat veggies nearly as much as I should. It didn't have as much to do with my eating preferences as much as it did with when and where I would eat. Working in the evenings left me with fewer opportunities to cook dinner and in turn I ate fewer vegetables. Oops.

All this to say that we talk a lot about being healthy without ever taking the steps to become more healthy. As an amateur athlete and a future physician I would hate to be one talking about all the great strategies to be healthy without ever trying or employing them. So for now, I'm on the 30 day challenge along with several Milwaukee County high schoolers. Here's to making a positive change!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What you eat and what your body does with it...

Just a few weeks in a medical biochemistry class and it's hard not to think about what's going on inside of me and with my metabolism every time I sit down to eat. Better yet, though, it's hard not to think about how to better fuel myself when I ride/race/exercise.

With that said, I think that you will be in for some Biochemistry lessons over the course of the next several posts. I'll try to address carb metabolism, lipids (fats), a bit about protein and any other golden nuggets that I come along...and if you thought of McDonald's chicken nuggets when I said that, you might just want to tune in for more.

Nutrition science is pretty cool and I'll be sharing as I learn. Hopefully it's as cool to anyone who feels like reading as it is to me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The coolest social network application ever!

One of my recent diversions from hard core science studying is to study Chinese. I know that doesn't sound like a break, but it's a good way to switch gears for a little while without completely shutting down my brain. My biggest challenge is finding people who speak Chinese that can help me learn. Do you find you have the same problem? I thought so...

Search no further! My favorite new website can help you out. It's called LiveMocha. It's genius. The idea is that you sign up to learn a language (there are tons of languages with 30-40 lessons to learn from) and at the same time designate any languages that you speak. Someone like me for instance signs up to learn Chinese and tells everyone else that I am a native English speaker.
Now here's the REALLY cool part. As I do my lessons I have two assignments to submit, a speaking and a writing exercise. After I submit them they go out to the native/fluent Mandarin Chinese speakers to correct. Within a couple hours I can have anywhere from 2-5 different reviews from other users. The same works in reverse. Members learning English submit their lessons and I have the opportunity to grade them. It's way cool! As you go and contribute to the community, you earn points that give you further access to more learning tools.

Check it out. You never know, maybe you'll be speaking Bangladeshi by the end of the week.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Things I've learned in medical school

After having been here for a month I thought I'd let all my faithful readers know some of the important things that I've learned since coming to medical school...

1. How to take blood pressure (kind of cool, I'll take yours if you have a sphigmomanometer I can borrow)
2. How to draw blood (again I'd be happy to practice if you have the needle and the tubes)
3. How to remove the top of a skull...d0n't worry it was the cadaver (I'd offer, but I don't think you'd be interested)
4. That even though we're all aiming at being doctors here, we're all using different ammunition.
5. Surgeons really are a lot like everyone says they are and yes we can pick out the future surgeons from our class already....
6. Even though doctors would like you to think that they are normal or at least once were normal like their patients, it's not true. We're all freaks.
7. I don't get to ride my bike nearly as much as I thought it might be possible to squeeze into my schedule, but it really is still possible to have a life while in medical school (it's just a very full one).
8. I like tea
9. Drivers in Milwaukee are not very good...
10. The students from California here at MCW have no idea what they signed up for when they agreed to come to a school with winters.

So far so good. I'm actually half way through my first semester which means I only have 15/16 of the way left to go before I am Dr. Anderson. Cool? Scary? Nigh on unbelievable? I'll go with D. All of the above.

Most importantly though, I've relearned the beauty of weekends. After working the past two years in a job where weekends don't have any meaning, my week once again has a beginning and an end. Woohoo! Bring on the weekend.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Medical School is a lot of Stamp Collecting

All science is either physics or stamp collecting.
Ernest Rutherford, in J. B. Birks "Rutherford at Manchester" (1962)
British chemist & physicist (1871 - 1937)

So maybe I'm the only one who finds this amusing because I'm a big nerd, but after my past three weeks of Human Development which is basically a class based on "We know that this is this and that turns into that, but how it really works we're not so sure" I can sympathize with old Ernie, there. Now, I was a Chemistry major in college and will make my argument for Chemistry given the difficulty of chemistry concepts, but I'm willing to hand over most Biology courses to the stamp collecting side.

...just a side note, Lord Rutherford went on to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Ironic, no?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Or should I say "dont txt and drive"? I can't believe the number of morons out there who are tapping away at their cell phone while on the road. You know who I'm talking about, the ones who forget to go at the green light because they're too busy having their conversation with 1000+ different people at once. The scariest one to me is the drivers I notice in rush hour who are doing it. The most frightening situations being when I look at the driver behind me in the rear view mirror and they are clearly split between the road and something in their hand or lap.

It has to stop! Recently, the Washington Post reported that 28% of traffic accidents involve drivers using cell phones (either texting or talking). That's worse than the number of accidents caused by drunk driving (5-10%). It's not just drivers who are having this problem. What about those pilots last year? The ones who went cruising past their destination because they weren't paying attention while they checked out "work schedules" on their laptops. Yeah, right.

Texting scares me as a driver, a passenger, a cyclist, a walker, or even just someone sitting on the side of the road. Although I'm more scared standing on the side of the road when someone is listening to their GPS without thinking about what they are actually doing.

The bottom line, think about what you're doing now and not about something that you're connected to through your latest electronic gadget. It'll be better for all of us.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's Official

As of today I am a bona fide commuter.

I made it safe and sound and in one piece from home to school and back again. It's not a long commute, but not too short either. It's about 6 miles. The best part is that with goofy traffic patterns around here it only takes me 5-10 minutes longer than driving in rush hour. Woohoo! Hopefully that makes for some regular riding.

Now, though, it means that I have a little work to do on my new steed. After his first true trial run I can see a little where he is lacking. New tires and tubes are in order...and maybe a new saddle. Good thing those can be cheap. The biggest trouble at this point is still a little difficulty truing the front wheel. I've made some improvements, but nothing phenomenal. I'm trying not to give in and bring it to a shop but I'm wondering if it needs a total rebuild. I have exams next week, so we'll see what happens during the weekend after that.

Monday, October 4, 2010

And the world has a new Champion

Thor Hushovd (Norway) is the 2010 world champion.

It sounds like it was a great race too! I wish I could have seen it. Great to see it go to a guy like Thor. It'll be interesting to see where is career goes from here. He may be done contesting the points jersey at the grand tours, but after a solid win on a 262.7 km parcours at worlds this weekend I think is aspirations as a classics rider may just be realized before too long.