Change is Good

I think I’m about to get on my soapbox, my appologies for that. I promise there are two recipes at the bottom.

Sometime over the past couple weeks, I had a lecture on helping people change in my psychiatry class. I found it really interesting to listen to the things that serve as barriers for someone trying to make changes in their life.  The topic applies to just about anything, whether you’re trying to quit a bad habit (like smoking), or start a good habit (like dieting and exercising), it can be hard to make changes. A few of the barriers that the professor listed were: foresight, motivation, time constraints, self esteem, cost, support, and direction. As an up and coming physician, it’s important to understand why my future patients may not want follow my suggestions to loose weight and eat healthier. Most people who want to take that advice find it challenging for many reasons. People typically find it difficult to focus on their long term health; instead, they focus on what is bothering them here and now. If nothing is bothering them, they often think nothing is wrong, even though they may be 30 pounds overweight and will likely develop cardiovascular disease and/or diabetes. People also find it difficult to make changes if they feel like they can’t do it, don’t have enough time, or feel that they have no support from family and friends. Another factor that plays a role in making lifestyle changes is a patient’s physician. If an overweight physician who doesn’t exercise tells their patient that they need to loose weight and start exercising, how likely do you think it is that the patient will follow through with the physician’s suggestions? It’s pretty unlikely.

While listening to the lecture, I thought back to what it was like when I made the decision to start living a healthier life. Throughout college, I knew that I needed to exercise more often than I was, and that the food I ate in the cafeteria wasn’t healthy, but I continued to live that lifestyle. I continued until I went to the doctor to get a physical as part of my paper work for medical school. When I stepped onto the scale and realized that I almost weighed 160 pounds, I had an overwhelming realization that I was on my way to becoming overweight. Thankfully  I had the ability to realize that I was heading down a road that would lead me to a number of possible health problems. That was a road that I did not want to make it to the end of, so I decided to make some changes.

I came up with a plan and stuck to it. It was hard at first, and there were definitely times that I did not want to stick to it, but I did. My motivation came from several sources. First, I didn’t want to end up like the majority of Mississippi’s citizens who are obese and have long lists of health problems, mostly due to their weight. Second, I didn’t want to become a physician that preached something I didn’t practice. Third, I wanted to set and example for my family, friends, and most importantly, my future patients. I guess that’s why I started this whole blog thing. I want to make it easier for the people around me to make better choices and give them advice from my personal experience. Change is hard, but it’s also good. It’s been almost a year since I started my health kick, and I’m honestly surprised that it’s lasted this long. In the beginning, I didn’t think that I could do it, but I wanted to prove myself wrong. I was pretty hard core with my diet and exercise when I began, but now I’m able to maintain my weight by exercising and eating healthy, properly portioned food as often as I can. Sometimes I go out to eat, some days I don’t exercise, and sometimes my addiction to ice cream gets the best of me. But, for the most part, all the hard work I put in at the beginning has helped me learn how to control my diet and exercise habits. I’ve officially lost just under 25 pounds, which is more than I set out to do, but I feel great! I don’t just feel good because I feel better about how I look, I feel good because I made a change for the better; I’m healthier and it feels great.  I’m not going to let myself become overweight or unhealthy and I plan to continue to try  to set the best example I can for my future patients. So, I encourage you to make some changes for the better in your life. Whether it’s to quit smoking or start being healthy, give it a try. You might find that it’s easier than you think, especially once you come up with a plan that works for you. If you think you can’t do it, prove yourself wrong, and you’ll be glad that you did.

Pesto Shrimp Pasta and Pesto Pizza
A few weeks ago, I made my first veggie lasagna using pesto sauce instead of tomato sauce. I often have leftover ingredients, so I try to find ways that I can use them instead of throw them away. This recipe was no different; I had a little less than half a jar of pesto sauce left after making the lasagna.  I came up with two ways to use it the following week. One night I used it as sauce for one of my personal tortilla pizzas that I make when I’m in a hurry and in the mood for something light but satisfying.  Another night, I hadn’t had time to go to the store, so I used the rest of the pesto to make a shrimp pesto pasta. I had shrimp in the freezer and I always keep pasta on hand as a back up. I also added some frozen peas to my pasta while it cooked so that I would have some veggies. Both recipes were easy, fast, and delicious, plus I came up with them all on my own. Coming up with quick and tasty recipes has been one of my favorite things about starting to cook. Once you become familiar with certain foods, it’s easy to come up with things that go well together. Last week was definitely one of those weeks when keeping things on hand in the pantry and in the freezer came in handy. Sometimes we just get too busy to go to the store and make a nice fresh meal. It’s good to keep some relatively healthy things on hand so you don’t end up in line at McDonald’s one night when you haven’t had time to go to the grocery store.

Chicken Scallopine With Broccoli Rabe
While I can’t say that I know what the words scallopine or rabe mean, I can say that what I ended up with after making this was good. As usual I didn’t follow the recipe word for word, so I’m sure if you do that, this dish would be even better. I think the only things I left out were the white wine and the capers. I’m not much for buying a whole bottle of wine just to use half a cup and not be able to drink the rest before it goes bad since I’m studying all the time, that’s why I left that out. As for the capers, I just don’t like them, so whenever I have a recipe that calls for them I either leave them out or replace them with something that is naturally salty (like Kalamata olives). I also just used regular ole’ broccoli, I figured it wouldn’t be much of a difference. I would say this is a good staple dish to have every now and then. Pan frying the chicken doesn’t take long, nor does pan sauteing or boiling broccoli. Having a salad, rice, or quinoa tabuleh (which is what I had) on the side would definitely make it a complete healthy meal, as long as you keep your chicken portions appropriate (about 4-5 ounces, which is the size of your palm). Adding different herbs to the italian breadcrumbs could help personalize the recipe to your liking. I think I’ve added parsely to this one before, but you could really choose anything you like. Click here for this recipe. 

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One thought on “Change is Good

  1. How inspiring sweet Emily! You are going to make an amazing doctor. I am going to try the pesto pasta sometime this week! Love.

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