staying healthy and fit - Meredith - obgyn resident and health coach

Taking a break from the "how to be a super gunner" posts to introduce our new series on staying healthy and fit while balancing a demanding and time consuming career. Meredith was the perfect person to kick off this series because she is a super busy ob/gyn resident AND a health coach. like, what?? She was kind enough to answer my questions below, but ask more! This is a new series and the only way I know what you want to know is if you tell me what you want to know or just ask it yourself!

with love,

elyse love


 ob/gyn resident and health coach Meredith Carbone on how she stays healthy and fit with a busy schedule

Tell me a little about yourself. When did you decide on a career in medicine and when did you decide on ob/gyn? I fell in love with biology in high school and was either going to pursue a career in medicine or teaching. I loved learning about how the body systems work, so I gravitated towards medicine. It's funny, the first week of my obgyn rotation in medical school I texted my [now] husband and said "do NOT let me choose this!!" because of how time consuming the specialty is... but over the next 6 weeks I fell in love with taking care of women and doing procedures, and no matter how hard I tried to like other specialties, nothing ever compared. 
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What about life outside of medicine? Where do you live? Are you married? Kids or kids? Hobbies? Favorite thing to do on the weekend? I live in Grand Rapids, MI, and have been married to my husband for a little over 1 year.  He is also a resident [psychiatry].  No kids, but we have black cat named Gucci!  My hobbies include cooking, especially with vegetables, and working out. I am a part time health coach as well, so my weekends off are usually filled with coaching activities, spending time with my team, and working out. 
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 ob/gyn resident on how she stays healthy and fit despite her crazy busy residency schedule

Have you always lived a generally healthy life? If not, when did you become interested in health and fitness? I was not athletic growing up, and my family wasn't too adventurous with food either. In college, I started running longer distances and working out often - I even rowed 1 year on the crew team.  I took a course on food ecology and my whole world changed-- what we eat and where it comes from became my greatest hobby.  By the time I got to medical school I had started a cooking blog and training for marathons. 
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What made you become a vegetarian and how long have you been vegetarian? I'm actually not a vegetarian!  It's a common misconception because my company is called The Veggie Doc, but I eat everything.  I just believe that veggies are the most beneficial foods for our bodies and that a diet that is heavily based on plants is best!

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How did you become a personal health coach? Tell me a little more about what that means. By the time I got to residency, I needed more of a leadership role in food and fitness, other than my blog. I became a coach in October 2014 after meeting my coach on Instagram through our similar interests.  We run a team together, and she's become one of my best friends. 

As a virtual health coach, I run monthly groups dedicated to fitness + nutrition. I host these groups on Facebook where I provide daily recipes, motivation, and healthy living tips. The group does the same workout program and is encouraged to share their successes and struggles with the group throughout the month. I offer personalized nutrition coaching to each member of the group, where I work to build a meal plan around someone's own specific lifestyle, likes, and dislikes. Each month I also mentor several new coaches who want to join my team. We have a lot of fun and get very creative with the groups we run!  I love helping people learn how to incorporate eating well and working out into their lives and getting to know them along the way.  

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Take me through your typical day of work, fitness, and nutrition. Wake up at 4:30 am, shower, pack lunches, make coffee and leave for the hospital.  I round on patients from 6-7 am, then we sign out the OB patients as a team.  Most days I'm inpatient doing C-sections and admitting preterm and high risk patients as the second year resident.  We sign out at 5:30 pm, but I'm often here wrapping up until 6 or 6:30 pm.  The meals I pack for work are small and easy to grab and eat quickly, because I don't get a lunch break or specific breaks.  I eat when I can, and I make it a point to eat well and eat often.  When I get home, I get a 30 minute workout in, usually whatever program I'm coaching that month for other people.  Then I make dinner, eat with my husband, then get to working on my coaching business for an hour or two.  I aim to be asleep no later than 10 pm, earlier if possible!

 ob/gyn resident and personal health coach on how she stays healthy despite her busy schedule

Do you meal prep? Every Sunday like clockwork.  If you don't, eating healthy as a resident is near impossible unless your hospital has really great options. 

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What tips do you have to balance residency or medical school with a healthy and fit life?

Consistency is key, in every part of your day. 

  • Have a morning and nightly routine to prepare for the next day. 
  • Schedule your workouts -- or else you will make excuses not to do them.  I'm often tired and sore from work, but I still get the workouts in. 
  • Surround yourself with positive people who support you and motivate you - residency is stressful, and negative conversations and thoughts will only build resent for the field of medicine. 
  • Get involved in something outside of medicine, with people who aren't docs - your mind needs a break from medical talk. 
  • Figure out what healthy foods you like that work with your body.  You don't have to be paleo, or vegan, or low carb, or anything specific - everyone's body works different with different foods. Do what works for you. That's the basis of the meal plans I build with people who I coach.  You're much more likely to eat the healthy food you packed for lunch if it tastes good and doesn't mess with your digestive system. 
 ob/gyn resident on how she stays healthy and fit despite her crazy busy residency schedule

What do you struggle with in maintaining that balance? I really struggle with maintaining a consistent routine.  My weeks are so different from one to the next, it's why I preach consistency. Once I find something that works well, I just continue to do it, but that's not always easy. When I'm on my game and eating healthy and setting aside time for workouts, I do really well. But one busy call weekend can throw me off.  This is the reason I've taken such a liking to coaching residents and medical students on lifestyle during residency. I want to share my failures and successes with others to make their time in residency that much easier.  

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What are a few of your favorite go to healthy snacks?

  • plain Greek yogurt with berries + granola
  • apple with peanut butter
  • hardboiled eggs and half a grapefruit
  • carrots and almond butter
  • broccoli and cucumbers with hummus
  • Larabars

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What's more important - fitness or nutrition? I think everyone has their own perfect balance of fitness and nutrition.  A lot of people swear by the 80% food 20% fitness idea.  Me personally?  I'm 50/50.  Even when I'm eating healthy I need to move a LOT to be the best version of me.  But if I had to pick one to focus on?  Nutrition.  Many of the people I train say they have no trouble pushing themselves to workout, but it's much harder to commit to eating well. 

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Leave additional questions (and advice) for Meredith below! Be sure to check out her blog her facebook page and/or instagram to follow along with her and her healthy journey (and maybe join her!). You can email her at theveggiedoc@gmail.com if you're interested in her health coaching services.