Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lessons Learned!

The Fray-Wherever this goes

Some quick ones from this week:

(1) Keeping health together should always be a priority. I've been so off kilter from the H. pylori antibiotics and I'm glad to finally be feeling better (after 3 weeks of misery) and getting back on track.

(2) I really really like the OR and everything about surgery (so much engineering+medicine!)

(3) Pediatric medicine is NOT at all what I expected and I'm surprised to admit that I kind of like it.

(4) Most people do not have the right to know your personal business. On that note, some people are just inherently nosy and it is entirely uncouth.

(5) My comeback (previous post) has, I believe, 110% prepared me to be a doctor.

Friday, March 14, 2014

How Swimming got her groove back

I've decided it's time I posted a list of things that helped me get my groove back. My Comeback started in 2012 October during the evening of Hurricane Sandy. PK and I used the storm to generate a plan to excel in all areas of our life and operate at a very high efficiency level. Thus began the journey of 430am wake-ups, standing all day, cold showers, working out/eating clean, being hyper-productive. Yes, the ride is really rough and we keep having to reinvent ourselves since we're both still on it, but the important thing is to never get off the path. After 18 months, I am about mid-way through graduate school, building up my medical school apps and wholeheartedly have my chutzpah back and am on track to continuous improvement. PK will be med school bound in just a few months (congrats PK)!! Point is that being resilient and determined is key and definitely remain positive especially because she and I were both trying to achieve this goal for many years now. Here is my credo. If you never quit you will achieve your goals, it's only a matter of time. Most of what I listed here is taken either from Stoicism, Harvard Business Review, Buddhism, military/Navy SEAL ethos, and weight loss motivation. There is a single thread that connects all these ideologies: at the end of the day your mind is the only thing standing in your way! If you can recognize that and learn to conquer it then you are golden.

(1) Your mind can destroy you or it can make you stronger. Your choice.
(2) Your thoughts shape reality
(3) Responsibility=having the ability to respond.
(4) If your life is sinking, look to yourself to find a way to make it better!
(5) "What matters is not the little things, but whether you have the inner strength to realize how little such things matter." Stoicism: Live it. Learn it.
(6) “Where life is possible, it is possible to live well.” -Marcus Aurelius
(7) The single most freeing asset is genuine self-awareness
(8) "I can deal with whatever happens and I can handle it." -more stoicism
(9) Resilience
-adopt a mindset of growth:Focus on how you can grow, especially during setbacks
-invest the time and energy to develop and maintain healthy habits
-bring yourself back to an emotional and physical state where you can constructively confront your problems
(10) Become a fierce lady
(11) 14 habits to make you stronger
and 21 ways to earn the respect of others
(12) Make a vow to become mentally tough. Here, use this to lay out your plan.
The Big 4 of mental Toughness: part 1, 2-Breathe, and 3
The Basics: The first fight is in your mind.  You must win in the mind, before stepping foot onto the battleground. Overcome your fears, steel your resolve, maintain an offensive mind set, develop skills, knowledge and personal power, and do NOT succumb to mediocrity. Develop a winner's attitude and a non-quitting spirit. Eat weakness for breakfast. Use the energy to drive you to greatness. Control your mind. Do not wait around to be told what to do. Stride forth with courage and confidence do not be not the object of a weak mind.

GOALS: single point focus, uncommon resolve, a positive mind, discernment, high pain tolerance, unflappability, heightened awareness, 
(I'll give you the links to read the details but I'm just copying and pasting the essential elements.)
-Positive mind: maintain a vigilant watch over their mental state, control [your] minds and channel  thoughts to positive and purposeful things. When things go wrong, seek the silver lining and act on it. Don't dwell on the negative, instead re-frame it to the positive so that it can serve you.

 -Single point focus and uncommon resolve: Masters are unflappable, unfazed and dead certain in the midst of the most intense, chaotic and grim circumstances. Humbly accept your responsibility.  Use disciplined training and practice of a worthy pursuit, [to] gain mastery over [your] body, mind and emotions. Masters reduce their mental attention to a single point focus regardless of what is going on around them. Clear the clutter in our minds and focus with intensity on the task that must be done right now but do not lose awareness of surroundings. Masters develop this resolve by developing confidence through training, and courage through a faith-based humility. If our actions are aligned and in integrity with our purpose (as our belief and faith tells us), then we know we are doing the right thing, regardless of the outcome. Any purpose worth living for is also worth dying for. 
Examining your beliefs, then taking action to upgrade your beliefs about yourself and your purpose in the world, will lead to uncommon resolve in your missions. 
Inoculate yourself against failure: How? Desire: you must desire the outcome as if your hair was on fire. Belief: you must believe in your purpose, your mission, and yourself. Attitude: you must have a positive attitude, drive and be able to mobilize a team with it. Discipline: you must be willing to give up unnecessary attachments and commitments, and put in the right amount of daily effort toward your goal. Determination: you must have an unwavering commitment to finish the job, stay the course, and never, ever quit.

-Discernment: The path to mastery is often a lonely pursuit requiring long hours of training and sacrificing many pleasures as one remains focused on a narrow lane of highly important tasks. Further, as one progresses toward mastery their ego is tempered with humility, and the spotlight is not very alluring. Avoid faulty thinking and start to cultivate right thinking through trial and error. Develop a greater ability to ascertain truth, and apply wisdom in our lives.

-Awareness: Develop an uncanny 6th sense of your environment and what those around you are thinking. Long periods of silence/meditation/yoga will heighten your awareness. 3 Techniques-concentration, meditation and contemplation. Fox Walk!

-Be unflappable: gain control over your physiology with breathing practices such as Box Breathing.

-Develop a high Pain tolerance: Suffer in silence. Look for actions and goals that require an unusual element of suffering to succeed. You will come to appreciate and enjoy the hard won rewards of your personal growth earned through this trial by fire. Develop this through the deliberate internalization of any expression of pain or discomfort during periods of suffering. Swallow the natural yearning to wince, cry out in pain, whimper and project weakness…all acts that will undermine your mental toughness. You can only make life better for yourself and others by embracing the suck and being helpful rather than selfishly think you are the only one suffering. Smile in the middle of a challenge--this will give you strength and train your pain tolerance to a new level.  
-The Winning Mindset:
  • Stay focused and relaxed, adaptable to the changing situation.
  • Know that you are going to succeed – there will be no wondering.
  • Tap into energy that lies deep inside, allowing you to be capable of at least 20 times what you think you are.
  • Control fear and turn stress into success.
  • Keep goals very short, and be prepared for whatever comes your way.
  • Find humor in the challenge through a positive attitude that keeps you and your team motivated.
  • Be decisive and confident, a true leader.
 Use this quiz to assess your start and end points.

-Don’t be put off from your past failures. Welcome them, and then destroy them.
-Push past plateaus
-Nothing worth having comes easy
-Eat clean, train hard, and results will follow.
-Let go of the people who don’t support you. You should still have a social life and enjoy yourself, but don’t feel pressured into things you don’t want to do, or if they don’t complement your decision to get healthy.
-People who can, overcome obstacles. People who can’t, make up excuses.
-Don’t lose sight of what you really want, for what you want right now.

(14) Become an expert (in anything) through deliberate practice.
Here the the outlined steps.
-Have a rage to master!
(Here's their HBR Article)

(15) 4 Books that are a must: The Alchemist, The Little Book of Talent, The Art of War, The Art of Living

(16) Never stop trying to get better.

(17) Find authentic happiness now (whatever your current situation is.)

(18) Do it or die trying. Basically, cultivate grit.

(19) Find a way to make your life work. Never give up. Never give in.

(20) Have an Undefeated Mind. (A very important book to read. Also a must.)

Here are some essential websites:
Asian Efficiency
UPenn Positive Psychology-Building Resilience
Expert Enough
One Thing Today-PK's blog on gratitude and learning, we should all do this everyday!
The Positivity Blog 
Marc and Angel Hack Life 
Life hacker
3 Quarks Daily
The Energy Project
The Bulletproof musician
Tiger Mom Says (This is a good one to whip you into shape)
Tiger Dad
Zen Habits
Mind Hacks
The School of Life

Here's just a great overview of Stoicism. It is really not what most people think it is (stoic=no emotion). It's more about ignoring negative thoughts and focusing on the good to get better and taking ownership of what you can control. Here is a comprehensive site on the ideology including basic principles.  I've posted this post before too but here it is again. Anyone interested in learning more about how Stoicism can be applied to daily life I highly recommend Irvine's book.

More details are provided in the series/label "The Comeback" and here are some of the key posts:
Conquering pain and being limitless
No Excuses Play like a Champion
2012 Lessons/Summary
It is in the power of the mind to be unconquerable
Articles on performing at your personal best, Excellence, and expertise (Also there is an article on the stigma of working hard to achieve means you can't hack it on natural talent--a point I find atrocious and utter nonsense. Per #13 above, Nothing worth having comes easy.)
Think Different
This is your life, do what you love and do it often.
Victorious Warriors Win First and then go to War
Your Desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same
Every morning we are born again. A summary of 2013 and being reborn.
Building Confidence

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you
really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived
through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the
thing you think you cannot do."
-Eleanore Roosevelet

Monday, March 10, 2014

Swimming's sentiments on missing airplane

Although extremely perplexed with many questions on where this plane is, Swimming sincerely hopes that the plane and it's passengers have somehow made it to an island and it's only a matter of time until they are rescued. Swimming is holding out for survivors! In the mean time, let's all try to find them through this.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

This week's lessons learned

Haven't done this series in a while but lots of reflecting this week:

(1)Dismissing people is one of the best ways to make someone feel worthless and anyone who has the capacity to do that is inherently not a good, kind person.
(2)  There are two types of people in the world: Revolutionary Thinkers and the pessimists that find fault and discourage their ideas.
(3) Know exactly what you want.
(4) It is extremely hard to read people. Especially those who have every intention of screwing you over!
(5) Take control of your health and be proactive about doing what is right for you.
(6) Be smart about altering something in your daily routine and anticipate setbacks and whether you have the time for them (so thankful I started my ulcer antibiotics after my exams last week--I am currently miserable nauseous and have a constant metal taste in my mouth. YUCK!)
(7) When you operate with the end-goal of service you find that you have a place anywhere in this world.
(8) Take strategic breaks and utilize holidays to advance yourself in other aspects of life. (Spring break here I Come.)
(9) Resolve to be better every single day!
(10) Anyone can be anything if they are strategic in their approach to getting better and have kind intentions at heart.
(11) Worrying about other people's business is the last thing on my mind and I think expending energy getting up in someone else's stuff is a total waste of time. I'm so so lucky that my closest friends feel the same way and never forget that great minds talk about ideas!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Let's forget about moderation

The Fray-Our Last Days

For quite some time now the buzz word for diet decisions has been "moderation." Suggest to others that you want to eliminate something and you'll get the usual scoff and token (unsolicited and unverified) comment that "everything's ok in moderation." Everything is most certainly not acceptable in moderation.

One should never tolerate in moderation or at all things like cigarette smoking, heroin, cocaine, abusive boyfriends, drinking and driving. The aforementioned examples are extremes, however, let's wax inquisitive about moderation when it comes to things like alcohol, fat, and sugar consumption. For those who experience addiction with alcohol and sugar, consumption in moderation is not plausible. The more we find out about sugar's negative effects the more we recognize the truth in this. I've posted these articles/studies before on how sugar is just as addictive as cocaine. Thus, there needs to be a sound basis for the suggestion of moderation when longitudinal studies are dictating otherwise. We would never suggest moderation to former drug addicts, so why are sugar and alcohol treated differently?

Addiction medicine is still relatively an undiscovered field. More research is required to understand why and how some people are just not able to moderate certain things. If the use of cocaine was as prevalent as sugar consumption we would most likely find the same story that addiction affects certain populations disproportionately. We find it so easy to judge sugar abstinence (and even alcohol abstinence) because these are both legal substances and also because the problems they cause are not immediately apparent (diabetes progression is slow, but it does directly correlate with sugar consumption) or are deemed as lack of impulse control. Addiction, like cancer, is a disease.

There's a lack of understanding and a lack of publicity of the findings that substantiate a person's aversion to sugar/alcohol. More introspectively, we may feel secretly judged/morally inferior to the individuals who have found, read, and utilize the hard evidence of science and correlate their own bodies' responses to these toxic substances and choose to alter their lifestyle. Thus, we may feel guilty for not doing the same, but their choice is a physiological one rather than a moral one. Let's just start by showing them support for making the choice.

Not too long back I used to be one of those individuals who thought dieters were weird; the practice seemed unnatural and I was under the veil of ignorance where I never questioned the world, my food habits, the food industry, the (very little and highly misinformed) food education, or even the FDA regulations. As I'm more embedded in academic medicine I realize that what we know now should always be subject to scrutiny. What I'm really asking for is a shift from the mindset that we have been conditioned to accept what is "general knowledge" without question. Instead, empower yourself by taking control of seeking answers and the truth through all the amazing resources that the technological age has offered at our fingertips, truly making informed decisions for yourself, and celebrating and learning from those who already do!
Let's hop to it!