Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fit & Healthy Friday Blog-hop


I decided to participate in a blog link-up. Woo-woooo. I've listed my general goals in March and how well I've been fulfilling each one. My schedule is kind of all over the place. The great thing about listing things like this is that I can then look at what I'm doing and fine-tune my schedule. I'm hoping to have more specific goals for April.

Goal One: Learn how to swim. Improve breast stroke, learn how to tread. Learn freestyle.
Goal Two: Fit in time for running somehow.

Week 1: 

Pass! Ran 12.5 miles, about 2.5 miles/day. Also did 45 minutes of weight-lifting over the span of 4 days. Two days of upper body, 2 days of lower-body. Core workouts combined with upper/lower body workouts. Used 10 and 12 lb weights.

Week 2: 

Pass! Ran 15 miles, about 3 miles/day. Same amount of time spent weight-lifting but increased the range of weights. Used 12, 15, and 17.5lb weights. Had my first swim lesson on Saturday.

Week 3: 
Pass! Swim 4 days each week for 1 hour. If flopping like a fish can be called swimming. Second swim lesson on Saturday. Learned how to tread! Kind of. Also learned freestyle. Attended first day of a friend's running workshop. Ran 4 miles in the sand. Died. 

Week 4: 
Planned to swim four days this week, but I overslept on Thursday and stayed home to take care of personal paperwork. Will have to cut swimming-time down to 3 days this week. Went swimming on Wednesday - working on freestyle, endurance, and breathing (note to self, remember to exhale under water).

Running: Pass. Day two of my running workshop. 4 miles in the park. 3 hill-sprints. Died. 
4-minute circuit: 10 push-ups, 5 frog-jumps, side-step in squat position about 10 meters, 10 crunches, side-step again 10 meters, 5 frog jumps, 10 burpies*.

On Saturday, coach will have us run a timed mile. I'll have a better idea of how I'm doing and can set a more specific goal for pacing after that. 

*Burpies = start from a crouch, jump up as high as possible, come back down for a push-up, start over. 

I think I'll start adding weight-lifting again in April. My arms and shoulders were fairly sore from swimming these last two weeks, but now that soreness is going away, which means I can consider being more rigorous in my workouts. 

If I'm going to be running this much, it would help to lose weight - something I never bothered keeping track of before. I'm going to start writing down what I eat and when so that I can re-evaluate my eating habits. According to my coach, we burned about 550 calories on yesterday's run. I'm not sure how many calories I'm burning during my swimming sessions...Hopefully 200? I'm hoping to continue this routine through May. In June, I'll have to figure out my gym membership situation. Blegh. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Break!

Spring break has begun for the San Francisco school system, which means I get time off too! Woooot.

I kicked off Day 1 with the most intense work out day. A 40-minute, 4 mile run on sand, cool down, home for a few hours, then a two hour swim lesson. I haven't run on sand in a long, long time. A friend/athletic trainer is leading a running workshop to prepare for the San Francisco Marathon in June. It's costing me about $100 for 24 running sessions, which is actually a really good rate. The whole idea of paying-to-run is kind of silly, I'll admit, but I'll be able to improve my time and running form. At the very least, running with other people will motivate me to run faster (I was dead last, yay me!!). When I run alone, I tend to settle into a comfort zone that lets me coast along nicely. I'd like to be able to run faster than a 10-minute mile - which I only do when I try really hard.

In reality, I'm doing alright for someone who spent most of February on a plane, eating airport food and drinking airport cocktails.

A few hours after that, I had my second swimming lesson with another friend. I learned that I don't know how to use a kickboard. I can kick just fine at the wall, but kick while holding onto a kickboard? Nope! Today I worked on my breast stroke form and learned freestyle. Once I learned how to kick, freestyle was pretty easy, and much more efficient as a swimming form than breast stroke. Even the lifeguard said I was doing pretty know, swimming the 11 meters from the wall to the guard bench before I got tired.

Now that I can swim, though, I can work on my form and eventually swim longer distances.

I also learned how to tread. The biggest challenge was learning not to panic if my head sinks underwater.

I'm happy with my progress. My goal last week was to learn how to do all these things in the water before the end of this week, and I did!

Next goal: swim well enough to swim in the pool during lap-swim times. Also tread for 30 seconds without letting my head sink into the water.

I'm taking tomorrow off from any kind of exercise. My legs are killing me. Getting up hurts.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Communication Styles

I used to think that work-related training sessions were a boring waste of time. Sometimes they are a waste. Lately though, at my current job, I find most of the material interesting. Maybe it's because a lot of these took place when I was in the midst of applications and interviews. I was doing a lot of self-reflection during that time, and these training sessions made me rethink how I interact with people.

We recently did a personality-color test/communicator-style test at work. There are four categories:

I belong in the "Just Do It" style of communicating (Brown group, for short). I like to be direct. I like to stay on task and multi-task during meetings. I hate meetings that drag on for too long because people are arguing tiny points or going off on tangents. I don't need to know every little detail about things. I see a goal and will work towards it or have other people work towards it.

Some of my coworkers are the "Let's Work Together" types (Blue group). They like to form personal connections, try to sympathize with others, and present things in terms of their personal feelings towards a subject.

 A few ended up in the "Planner" group (Green). They like to have all the information and to take time to properly review all that info before making decisions.

No one ended up in the "Make Your Own Kind of Music" aka spontaneous category (Red group).

I was wavering between being a Brown or Green. I wish we had conducted this activity prior to my interviews, because someone did ask me how I lead and I didn't really phrase it as well as I would have liked. I said something to the effect of preferring to lead by example and being a leader who sets a goal and relies on the team to plan and facilitate. In retrospect, I am like that now. Back then, I was more of a micro-manager. It took time before I realized that I can still be in control even if I step back and let other people think for themselves.

I also noticed that, as a Brownie, I don't ask my students to do things unless it's a kid who is generally very docile. I tend to command them, and somehow most of them end up obeying. Sometimes I'm surprised that certain kids still sign up for my workshops, especially the more rebellious ones, despite knowing how I work. I'm not sure if they think I'm still a lot of fun in spite of my rules, if they really desperately want to play video games so they behave (occurs rarely, but does happen), or if they just didn't read the workshop sign-up list clearly.

Oh well.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Just Keep Swimming

I never actually learned how to swim or passed the high school swim test in America because of my SLAP tear. I was one of the few with a legitimate reason not to take the swim test, hehe.

Learning how to swim is one of my goals in the next month. Actually - learning how to tread is my goal. Technically I can already swim, just very poorly. I don't know why I'm having so much trouble learning how to tread. My multi-limb coordination is actually very terrible.

Paddle, kick and breathe? Okay I can do that....oops...uh oh....sinking!sinking!!Sin-blubblubblub

I have no idea how I managed to wrestle for two years with such terrible coordination.

I'm practicing my breast stroke. It was going well until I started getting tired. Really tired. Good thing rec swim was over. Did not know swimming was that difficult. You'd think running 3 miles on a daily basis and doing a lot of lunges, squats, and other leg work outs would help - NOPE!

I've also realized my nose is useless. My nose can't exhale underwater if my life depended on it. Stupid nose.

Since I'm planning to swim regularly now, I have to cut back on my weight-lifting for the time being to make sure I don't wear out my shoulder too quickly. The arm motions involved in swimming still makes me nervous  because my shoulder was so screwed up for so many years.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Interview Days - Downtime

I've been lucky in that *most* of the time, I had a pretty fun group of people to hang out with during interviews.

We talked a little bit about snowboarding:
"Oh yeah, I suck at getting off the chair lifts. I just gave up. I would fall just to get it out of the way and then crawl off to the side."

We made jokes:
"If I don't get into medical school, I'll just be a doorman."

I've always been a people-watcher so I also had the chance to get a sense of what people were like when they started opening up. The experience made me realize that I'm pretty spoiled by being in a major city in California.

There was one girl who was very, very eager to take a picture with an individual who is an ethnic minority in the U.S. because she also had a friend whose family is from that part of the world. I thought that was really rude...but that's because I grew up in a place where that kind of behavior, even thought it's not violent or intentionally harmful, is frowned upon. I also took a few humanities courses in college that focused exclusively on race/racism and how they affect communities in various ways, so I'm also more sensitive.

At one interview, there was one group that I traveled with to/from the hotel and campus. We just happened to use the same shuttle service. That group was really fun - we shared a round of drinks and food afterwards and talked about our college life and whatnot.

Interviews are interesting. After my first round, my friend asked, "So what did you think of your potential classmates?" I had never thought of interviews that way. It kind of makes sense to think that way, and it kind of doesn't. The group of 20-25 people I meet are people who are chosen by the university as potential students - we probably share numerous qualities that the university likes while retaining other qualities that are unique to ourselves. My ability to mesh with an interview group might indicate whether or not I would get along with my fellow classmates. If I didn't like anyone in my group, it might be an indication that I may not mesh very well with the class.

Then again, these 20 people do not necessarily represent the matriculating group. I also tried to keep in mind that "beggars can't be choosers."

At any rate, it was nice to have people to unwind with before and after our interviews. There were always a few unlucky individuals who had very aggressive, tough interviewers and they would commiserate while we sympathized. I think it made the day much more bearable.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Accepted - First Choice!!

Received my acceptance letter via e-mail today for my first choice medical school.

I read my e-mail twice before turning around and yelling it to my coworkers. Then texted all my friends. I'm fortunate to have been one of those people to have been offered a choice in schools to attend. I'm trying to be objective and fairly evaluate both schools, but I think my mind has been made up on what I want. I'm lucky to be offered a spot and not a waitlist position. A part of me is waiting for my brain to de-fog and for the words 'we are pleased to offer you a position at this school' to turn into 'sorry next time pal kthxbye.'

I informed the ex to let him know and thanked him for his help through the process. It's a little saddening to know that I wasn't able to share the moment with him like I used to do.

I e-mailed my letter-of-recommendation writers to tell them the good news (and update some of them, because I've been out of touch). One of my letter writers was really happy, because the school was one of his favorites before he ultimately decided to attend Tulane.

I also really, really have to complete my financial aid application now.

Another part of me is really relieved I don't have to apply for another cycle. This process is very expensive.

It's kind of funny because I was having anxiety dreams this morning about getting rejection letters in my e-mail. Last week was around the time that the schools I interviewed at would notify us, so I was pretty mopey all weekend. The gym saved me. I'm glad to know that all my undergrad and post-undergrad work paid off. Eight years is a long time, and I've only reached one milestone in my goal.

Now I get a little bit of respite before I work even harder. I still feel like I should be bouncing off the walls with joy...or celebrating in some fashion. Honestly, I'm just very relieved. And very tired.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


My hope is that if I make a list of things to do here, I'll actually go and get them done and avoid suffering the humiliation of being a bum-who-doesn't-follow-through.

I decided against running in the Tough Mudder race  at this time. I know one group of friends running it in July, but I'll be uninsured this summer and I have enough sports injuries as it is to risk doing an obstacle-course/marathon without insurance. I plan to run half of the San Francisco Marathon though. My friend's brother, who works as a personal trainer and nutrition specialist at a gym, will be leading a training workshop starting next week.

Now that I'm sitting here and thinking about it, I don't know if I can run 12 miles at an average pace of 10 minute per mile. The great thing about this marathon is that there will be a pacing team I can follow for free - I'll need it. The running workshop will be good for me, too. On the bright side, the second-to-last mile is mostly downhill and the final mile is flat. Woohoo!

This past week, I've been pretty good about going to the gym regularly. I'm happy with my progress this week, after a month of being sedentary at home/on planes/eating airport food. I'm able to go three miles on a treadmill at a 10-minute pace, which is up from struggling to hit the 2-mile mark last Sunday. I also spend about 30-45 minutes lifting weights each time, although I admit I slow down considerably after the 30-minute mark.

I split my upper body routine over two days, otherwise I'll be at the gym for over two hours (including waiting for people to finish their stuff). Free weights, except for the rowing exercise, because the proportion of most of the machines don't work for my size. Arms: incline and flat dumbbell (the little weights, not the big bar) bench press, shoulder press, bent over lateral rows, bicep curls, flat dumbbell flies, rowing, and front and lateral raises. I just realized I've been missing a few exercises in my routine because I've been too tired after I finish those. Oops. I also have to be careful with a lot of them, in the interest of not screwing up my shoulder. For legs and core, I do squats, deadlifts and lunges. I need to expand on my core-body workouts though.

I've come to terms with the fact that I'll never be petite and slim like the vast majority of young Asian girls; I'll just be petite and stocky. It used to be a point of insecurity with me, but then I realized that it creates unhealthy perceptions of weight and body image. Hence my current fascination with building muscle. I don't really want to be beefy though...just proportionally fit!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Trouble with Kids

The thing with working with kids is that I probably see this kids much more often than any parent or teacher does in a day at this age. I see all their quirks, their bad habits, their behavioral issues, and hear about all their pre-teen drama because I see them in a space when they are the most relaxed - talking with friends in a classroom. The most frustrating part is when I work with a girl with some type of behavioral/psychological issue that I don't have the training to tackle. Something is really off with one of my students, P, and I don't think the school social worker is equipped to handle her either. I'm not a psych person, but I've worked with kids for so long that I can identify behavior that is a-typical for an age group. It's intuitive now, even if I can't label it with the appropriate terminology.

Most kids outgrow their Disneyland phase by middle school (at least until they go to college in LA, then they buy season passes), but P had an unusual obsession with Disney princesses. At this age, kids either become really serious about what they want to be (my studious kids want to be doctors-AH! SO CUTE!), or aren't thinking about it at all. Until now, I've only ever had five year old girls tell me they want to be Disney princesses.

P also has paranoia issues. In middle school, some kids will walk past an open door and make faces because that's what kids do. No matter how much I try to reassure her, P thinks it's directed at her. Last year, P also became obsessed with one of our program volunteers, a high school kid and former program participant. P freaked out that he knew her name (he probably learned it by listening to one of us talk to her) and then somehow this developed into a crush. But then, P noticed him talking to another female staff member, and thought they were flirting and was "weirded out." P confided that to me, and I thought nothing of it, but then she would bring it up every day for weeks and weeks.

I was starting to get worried, and started documenting everything and telling my supervisor as well. Other children started finding out as well, even though P promised not to tell anyone ("Oh but, I only told M, and he promised not to tell anyone"). The worst thing would be for someone to accuse an innocent coworker of child abuse. The school social worker was informed, who set up meetings with P and a group meeting with P and my colleague. Eventually, P figured out that I reported this to the bosses, and asked me why. I tried to explain in the simplest way possible that she was telling everyone a story that could be misunderstood and could get staff members in trouble.

"Oh but I only told M and he promised not to tell anyone."
"Yeah, but now G came up to me and told me about it, and so did N. Who told them, then?"

Now I've noticed that she remembers the gist of what I say, but has a tendency to twist my words around.

"Last time, you said that Ms. S would be arrested."
"Uh...No. I said the program and all the staff could get in trouble with [our parent organization].

It seems like a benign rewording, except whatever P repeats sounds way worse than what was said to her, and could potentially cause further misunderstandings down the road. Now, I'm worried that she'll eventually learn that this could be used as a tool to manipulate people.

I really think she should be evaluated by a mental health professional. Someone that is trained and licensed to provide the counseling or other course of action that she needs. I know that P's parents were brought into a meeting, but I think they're in denial that P has some real issue and the social worker isn't emphasizing the problem enough. The sad thing is, P is also a low-priority case.

In the beginning, I tried to be sympathetic with P and listen. I wanted to be supportive, but it was driving me crazy. I also don't think that being sympathetic is effective or advisable anymore, because it just encourages her behavior. Sometimes, I shut her down immediately: "P, you are being very rude by talking to me about so-and-so behind their backs. You do this all the time. If you have a problem, talk to them directly. You're talking about my coworkers/students behind their backs and I don't like that. You need to learn to talk to people directly."

I still want to tear my hair out though, some days.

Monday, March 4, 2013

My Life! It's Back!!!

For the most part.

Did I mention flying is exhausting? I can't imagine how people do that for business. Note to self: never go into consulting work that requires travel. Two times in a row, I landed in Chicago's O'Hare airport only to have to run from the end of terminal B to the end of terminal C. I was out of breath, sweating, and in no mood for the boarding attendant's cheesy smile. If I was just on vacation, I wouldn't mind missing a flight, but I wasn't :T

I spent the weekend sleeping 12-13 hours per night. And then wandering around the house in a daze.

But now it's back to reality. I have to fill out my tax return forms and also my financial aid application. I also recently checked my credit report, and while it looks good, apparently I have a bill (which I have no knowledge of ever receiving) that was sent to a collections agency. When I called this supposed agency, it just transfers to a dude's cell phone. For a local district hospital that's not very busy, this is kinda sketchy.

I also have to plan an activity for work.

I'm not ready to switch gears into work mode!!

I'm currently debating if I want to work over the summer at a summer camp. It's low stress and a good chance to save up some more money before school. I absolutely do not want to do research in the summer before medical skewl. It wouldn't hurt to apply, just 'cause.

I'm thinking of training for the Tough Mudder marathon. I have one former acquaintance that has a team and will be running it in July, and one or two more friends who are interested but aren't sure of their commitment. I'd love to join in, but the smart thing to do is to check with my doctor (and possibly my orthopedic surgeon)  to determine whether my shoulder can safely get through obstacles like wall-climbing, monkey-bar-swinging, and swinging Tarzan-style before I pay to register. I will also have to build up my upper-body strength dramatically. And maybe invest in a pull-up bar.

I'd also love to be in shape before med school. I'd like to start a new page in life with a killer body. So then I can screw it up over the next 4 years. hehe.

Friday, March 1, 2013


I am officially done. Now, the waiting game :(
Luckily, I have a life, so I don't sit around refreshing my e-mail and whining in forums like a small minority of people on SDN like to do. I understand, I really do. But...get a life, people. Threads would be twice as informative and half as long if people just quit making whiny posts every day. Watch tv. There's so many shows. Game of Thrones, Homeland, Portlandia, The Walking Dead. SO MANY.

Round 4 went alright. My medical student interviewer was a stony-faced person. Conversation my butt. You lie, admissions office! I loved my faculty interviewer though. He was funny and awesome. I would love to have him as my instructor. Overall, I left with a very lukewarm feeling of the school. Maybe our tour guides were just very deadpan. Or they just had a test. The staff were very welcoming and enthusiastic but the students didn't seem like that at all.

This has nothing to do with my impression of the school, but I was also really put off by one of the students. I'm a fastidious eater, and this was one of those types that gobbles everything and flings utensils and crumbs around (at me, in fact), all while talking with food in mouth, leaving trash around. I walked away from lunch feeling gross.

Round 5 went well. I was debating whether or not to go to my interview, but I'm glad I did. I bumped into my friend who was a second year there, so it was nice to catch up to him for a bit. I wasn't expecting to see him at all, since it was spring break, but he is one of Those. The Smart Ones.

So far, I've enjoyed talking to fellow interviewees on the interview trail. Some people are very funny and fun to talk to. I met a couple weirdos that I'll save for another day.

However, I will say that I get really annoyed when kids fresh out of college declare that they feel "omigosh, like, so old!!" Statements like that stem from a powerful naivety that I honestly think can only come from a life spent living in too much comfort. I wanted to tell these people to shut up and try living the kind of life where you evaluate every penny spent to get the most out of every dollar, as I did. Or working multiple jobs shifts to cover living expenses and rising school tuition, as a lot of my classmates and close friends have done, sacrificing the A's they could have achieved in favor of being able to survive and attend college in the first place. People like that don't admit they feel old. They're too busy to think about it.

People joke all the time about how working at Starbucks, or some other service job, would be so much preferable to medical school or residency. But there are people who do that just to be able to apply for medical school. Or undergraduate school. It's not something to joke about. It's life.


I broke off on a tangent, probably cuz I'm tired.

I got dropped off at the airport right after my interview and celebrated with a nice, tall, cold glass of beer. And chili cheese fries. And frozen yogurt. I tried to nap on the plane but the flight attendants wake me up every time they came around asking about drinks or garbage.

Things I look forward to doing now that I'm done:
-Working out