Don't let the demands of life in veterinary practice stand in the way of your fitness and health goals. Learn how to carve out more quality time for you and reap the benefits both in and outside of practice.
More than half of the veterinarians and practice managers who responded to the 2012 Veterinary Economics Business Issues Survey said they don’t get enough exercise and are worried about the effect of work on their personal health. That’s scary to Dr. Ernie Ward, Veterinary Economics’ resident fitness expert. But he’s got plenty of solutions to help you get on track and reclaim the most important part of your life—you!
“If vets want to be better vets, they need to find time to exercise,” Dr. Ward says. “Exercise impacts every aspect of your being. When I’m in good shape, that’s when I’m at my best—the best dad, husband, and veterinarian. That’s when I have the most energy and focus, and that’s when I’m most emotionally connected to my clients and family. People need to make fitness a priority and make time for it everyday.”
Of course, anyone who’s tried to start eating better, exercising more, or making personal time a priority knows it takes more than just saying you’re going to do it. Even Dr. Ward knows that it takes more than willpower—that’s a finite resource and won’t help you accomplish your goals in the long run. What works for Dr. Ward and his staff is the concept of accomplishing what’s important to you. And realizing that your health is important is the first step.
So if you’re ready to combat the stress of practice life by making some positive changes to your daily routine, Dr. Ward has a few tips to get you started:
Dig deep. Unless you understand your true motivation, you won’t have any chance of sustaining your goals. It has to be more than just because your physician said so or because you want to look better in a swimsuit. Find something meaningful, like being a healthy example for your children, and use that as motivation.
Find joy. Find one thing that makes you happy and always make it a priority each and every day—go for a walk, read a book, listen to music. Whatever it is, carve out time each day to focus on that joy.
Be a mindful eater. Think about what you’re eating. Slow down and appreciate your food. At least one day a week, eat without the distraction of TV, your iPad, or a magazine.
Start small. People often go wrong by starting with big goals. Ask yourself what you can do today to incorporate exercise into your life. Can you walk around the block? Take a 10-minute walk over your lunch break? Make a goal that’s easy to accomplish and build from there.