As a cancer survivor and a Pathologist, I have experienced firsthand the effort, long days and sleepless nights that come with being a medical professional. Not to mention in today’s environment where nurses and doctors are needed more than ever. It’s easy to feel mentally drained and emotionally exhausted. Thankfully, as a professional rock climber, I’m constantly reminded to push myself to new heights and test the limits of my body and mind.
I get asked all the time “how do I do it?” How do I manage two jobs, being a wife, and a fur mom to five cats and a dog? I like to answer that question with the following four steps:
Step 1: Love what you do
In the summer of 2012, a group of hematopathologists saved my life and I wanted to do the same for others– help people overcome their lymphomas.
You might be wondering “what is a hematopathologist?” Well, where many doctors focus on treating diseases, I study the origins of those diseases and examine what happens at a cellular level to determine what the cause is and to figure out how to diagnose them. In my case, I specifically diagnose diseases that occur in the blood stream and lymph node. Pretty cool, huh?
Step 2: Find your passion
I went to a climbing gym while visiting my family in Tennessee, and fell in love! Rock climbing has become a huge passion of mine and ultimately led me to my experience appearing on seasons 10 and 11 of American Ninja Warrior.
My training is varied and includes weightlifting, hangboarding/campusing (tools that climbers use to strengthen their fingers), climbing in a gym, and climbing outside. Before COVID, I climbed in a gym during the week and then outside on the weekends. When the gyms closed, I was unsure of how I was going to keep up my training. My garage had most of the weights I needed as well as finger training tools, but no good way for me to climb. I climbed our white picket fence for endurance, but it wasn’t enough.
I started to go outside for my climbing workouts, and I couldn’t get enough! Although the gyms are back open, I still mainly do my workouts outside – even in below freezing temperatures. This is why I love climbing–nearly every time I do it, I experience maximum joy.
Always remember, it’s never too late to find your calling in life. If you haven’t figured out what your passion is, I suggest trying as many activities possible. Even things you think you’ll hate, because you never know what’s going to be your jam. I hated being outdoors before I discovered climbing and now its where I spend a majority of my time!
Step 3: Schedule is key
My schedule as a physician and professional rock climber is pretty regimented. I wake up thirty minutes before I have to go into the hospital. I feed all the fur-babies. Then I hurry over to the hospital that is less than 2 miles from my house.
My day at the hospital is anywhere between 9-13 hours long, 5-6 days a week. After I’m done at the hospital, I start my second “job” – rock climbing. I work out five days a week, taking rest days on Mondays and Fridays. Each training session is between 3-4 hours during the week and 4-8 hours on the weekend.
The key to a maintaining a crazy schedule is making a plan and sticking to it. Every week, I plan out my week and no matter how many curve balls get thrown my way, I still follow my schedule. My calendar is my best friend. I also keep a regular schedule. I see my chiropractors every Monday. I climb outside every Tuesday and Thursday and go to the gym every Wednesday. Keeping a routine from week to week makes it easier to ensure I fit everything in and do not miss anything.
Step 4: Prioritizing and finding balance
At the end of the day, it all comes down to prioritization. I know my work and training schedule several months in advance, and I plan out each day in 15-minute blocks on my Lenovo laptop. There are many other things I enjoy in life like shopping, sniping on Call of Duty, and going to the movies that I can’t just do regularly anymore. Those activities are now saved for special occasions to prioritize the most important aspects of my life.