Sunday, August 30, 2009

Gotta start somewhere

They told me over and over again. Don’t let get sucked into too many commitments. Stay away from committee servitude. Learn to say NO! I was listening, really I was... but no woman-in-medicine can truly prevent another woman-in-medicine from making the mistakes that perhaps need to be made to learn for ones self.

This is my rumination as I walk the several block course across campus to spend the afternoon wasting away on a thankless large university committee. Making matters worse the temperature is 100 degrees, 80% humidity (why did we want to live in the South?) Packed between my office (within the ivory towers of Heart and Vascular) and the administrative fortress where I am headed there are, I kid you not, six fast food restaurants. Who would ever need to eat a 1/3 pound beef burger, covered in roast beef, jacked up with liquid cheese and dipped in au jus? Since when did they start selling KFC and Taco Bell in the same building? Exactly what does it smell like in there, I cannot even imagine. It is lunch hour and cars are wrapped around the drive-thrus. I am a heart doctor, I see patients who need heart transplant. These are the sickest and youngest people adult cardiologists take care of. Seriously I think America is completely unconscious of what we are doing with food. Granted my position is from an extreme perspective- recent Weight Watching, point-counting exercise worshiping alertness. It is so hard (seriously as working mom or anyone) to navigate healthy choices for regular meals. Working people will rush over lunch hour, eat a 1400 calorie value meal, finish without pause, lack satisfaction and ultimately feel hungry four hours later. It is so easy, almost necessary, but a trap that so many people are stuck in. Finally arriving at my meeting I find the provided lunch, deep dish pizza and chocolate chip cookies- just wonderful.

Few hours later I survived the session- and have a one track mind headed to Subway for a 345 calorie 6-inch sub. I am behind a tall 350 pound man in line. He looks at me, smiles and shares, “It’s my birthday I should get what I want but I will be good and choose a salad.” He then requests the sandwich maker to go light on the lettuce, add two scoops of tuna salad, cheese, pickles and extra thousand-island dressing. Waiting patiently for my turn in line a grin sneaks across my face. The birthday boy and struggling young cardiologist share a moment, and I recognize the lesson offered to me. As with my slow progress learning to say no, you’ve gotta start somewhere.


  1. Welcome to MIM, JC!! Having dropped my daughter off for her first day of kindergarten this morning, I thought a lot about her lunch and snack options, what I'd provide and what they'd expose her to! You can only control so much, but modeling positive eating and exercise behaviors and attitudes are a good first step.

    FYI: see this Sunday's NYTimes piece at

  2. this is a pretty cool blog. i am just starting out on the medical education journey.

  3. It's scary, the American food landscape. So much. So excessive. Really? Deep dish pizza for a committee meeting?

  4. Have you read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food? I think you would find it interesting.


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