You are working too hard, exhausted and just completely out of shape! Does this sound or feel familiar?

I found myself in this state after having my fourth child. I am a busy general surgeon and mother of four active kids. I was exhausted, unhappy with my body, and having pain. The pain was limiting my ability to do surgery and I was miserable at night with neck pain—it turned into a vicious cycle. This affected my work, my family, and my relationships.

My neck and shoulders hurt every day making me irritable and short tempered. The heating pad was my best friend. While I was able to be professional and manage a full practice, my children and husband suffered. I was in pain. I stopped talking and doing the things that I loved.

Then, one day, I took a yoga class on a whim. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Yoga challenges me both physically and mentally. I became stronger, toned, flexible and calm. My pain virtually disappeared. I felt good about my body again. I felt strong. I incorporated cardio classes with yoga and built endurance.

I didn’t want this energy or excitement to disappear! I needed it to fuel my life forward. I took back my power and it was here to stay. To keep up my routine, I brought a yoga mat to the office. My partners were curious and I found them often making fun of me and the new lifestyle that I created for myself.

Amazingly, it drew a lot of attention. I didn’t let that stop me or change my course. Bringing my new yoga mat to the office gave me courage, packing healthy snacks gave me fuel, and inspirational messages that I left myself on my desk inspired me.

 

So, how do you get started?

It’s difficult to find the time and a place to simply start for a busy physician—or any working parent for that matter. We are all wired that our patient’s and job come first. We put our children’s needs before our own. Once you’ve finally finished your long day, you still have 20 charts to complete, and your kids need to be picked up from soccer. Oh, and what about dinner?

Step 1: Find time each day for you.

Find a time each day for yourself, even if it is only 15 minutes. Schedule this into your work and home calendars. The key is to make it practical. If you can’t find a spot, bring your yoga mat to work or put it on the floor in front of the television. Your family and staff will quickly realize that a happier you means a happier day for all!

Step 2: Find a flexible yoga studio.

After I made time for myself, I needed to find a flexible yoga studio and teacher. I’m a surgeon. If my pager goes off, I need to head out at a moment’s notice. I may be running late or have to leave early. That is just how the cookie crumbles in the world of a surgeon. I knew how important it was to communicate this with my teachers, as some studios are not accommodating to late arrivals, pagers, etc.

Then, I needed to try a few places to find a great fit for me. Finally, I needed a studio that worked into my schedule. I am grateful to Ryanne Cunningham at Flow Yoga Studio and Jaci Stempski at Grace Yoga Studio for being so flexible with me.

Step 3: Find dedication in the journey.

Starting this new yoga journey was not easy at first. I was not flexible, I did not know the sequences and sometimes it was god awful dragging myself out of bed in the mornings. I had to be okay with judgment, and I had to be open for this new process.

I scheduled some private classes to learn and “catch up” with the class.

As I got stronger, I took more challenging classes. I incorporated cardio into my routine and began to make friends outside of work. I started to love my body again.

The results are clear:

By investing in myself, I was able to break a vicious cycle. By establishing a fitness routine, I became a much happier surgeon, wife, and mother. As a result, my friends and family started to come along.

My sister and I attend classes together once or twice a week. My three boys, who are all athletes, come to a cardio sculpt class with me for cross training. We have scheduled family group classes on weekends or holidays.

Getting back in shape opened the door to exciting fitness activities such as hiking, biking, and skiing. These are all activities I can incorporate into quality time with my family. I can’t believe that I once missed out on this!

Yoga gave me a vehicle to clear my mind. Before yoga, my patient’s, charts, kids and homework filled my mind all the time. Yoga allowed me to find the calm during the storm and helped me let go of my worries and fears. Yoga helped me find the peace within myself that I never knew how much I needed.