I am Dr. Antony Robert, Emergency Medicine Resident: How I Stay Healthy in EM
Dr. Antony Robert is currently a second year emergency medicine resident at McGill University. Despite the multiple demands of residency, Antony still tries to keep well by staying active and keeping in touch with his family. He uses a number of apps to keep track of his day, diet and exercise. He’s even tried to eat well by experimenting with some super foods. So if you’re curious about kale smoothies, quinoa, and overnight oats, you’ll want to check out this post. Here’s how he stays healthy in EM!
- Name: Antony Robert
- Location: Montreal, Quebec
- Current job(s): PGY-2, Emergency Medicine
- One word that describes how you stay healthy: Balance
- Primary behavior/activity for destressing: Playing sports or hanging out with my nieces and nephews.
What are the top 3 ways you keep healthy?
- Eating healthy. It may sound cliché, but I routinely remind myself and find ways to eat healthy. I’m definitely not a great cook, but I do like experimenting with the latest and greatest buzz words in the kitchen: “quinoa”, “kale smoothie”, “overnight oats”. It keeps me excited, and fuels my body with good nutrients. Eating right can go a long way. I have also been trying to reduce the amount of coffee that I drink, (now down to 2 to 3 cups a week) and find energizing foods as a substitute. I am currently reading “The Thrive Diet” by Brendan Brazier.
- Staying active. I dislike the idea of going to the gym and performing carved out routines. I much rather play Tennis and Squash with friends. I also try to organize outdoor summer sporting events, such as soccer or ultimate Frisbee, with family and various groups of friends. If all fails, I have my backup plan which is a lovely run around Mount Royal, or the local streets of Montreal.
- Mental health breaks. There’s nothing better than going back to visit the family in Laval. We meet up regularly every month for birthdays, and seeing my nieces and nephews brightens up my day. A good hug from the little ones that are happy to see me, or complain that I don’t visit enough, really reminds me that the greatest treasures in life come in all shapes and sizes. Nothing beats time with family!
What’s your ideal workout?
I don’t have an ideal workout, but I have my ideal run routines. I would love to say that I run every day or weekly; however, that just isn’t feasible. So there’ll be weeks where I run regularly and some weeks where I don’t. Whenever I start running though, I have my Fitbit and my Nike run apps on board. I use them to constantly improve on my previous timing. It’s one way that I can push myself to constantly reach for faster times, longer distances, and more frequent runs.
Do you track your fitness? How?
I decided on getting the Fitbit Charge HR when I got my new Samsung S6. It allows me to keep track of the number of steps I do during a week. When my weekly performance lags, I go for that extra run that will get me to increase the total amount of activity I do. It really becomes addictive to the point that when the week’s schedule allows for it, I’ll be fully motivated. There’s also a community side to the Fitbit, so I get to compare my results with my friends who have a Fitbit, and stay motivated!
How do you prepare for a night shift? How do you recover from one?
Preparation: I’ve read up on this, and had discussions with various staff and colleagues. I prepare for a night shift by trying to shift my sleeping schedule. So the day one of my night shifts, I’ll take a 2 or 4 hour nap. This ensures that I can start the shift strong. During my shift I’ll have a good meal in the middle, and some snacks towards the morning hours.
Recovery: Right after my shift, I’m usually drained, so I’ll go to bed as soon as I get home, for about 6-8 hours. When I wake, I’m usually fully energized, and ready to do errands or reading. On the last night shift, I go to bed as soon as I get home, but I’ll try to wake up after 4 to 6 hours of sleep, that way I know I’ll be tired during the day, and be ready to go to bed as if I’m on day routines.
How do you avoid getting “hangry” (angry due to hunger) on shift?
I’m usually a happy person, so when it comes to getting hungry during a shift, I can usually sense that I am low in energy. So I quickly try to grab a snack; I usually bring a yogurt, a bottle of juice, or a smoothie as a snack during the shift. Recently I’ve progressed to a “full meal 2 hours” before the shift, followed by a mid-shift kale-based smoothie. It’s not about taste, it’s about eating healthy!
How do you ensure you are mentally in check?
Lists, lists, and lists: I use the app Google Keep on my phone, its accessible from my tablet and the internet, so I can constantly update my list. It has elements pertaining to work, projects, research, meetings, and so on. It even includes calling my nieces or nephews, as well as reminders to meet up with long lost friends. With these lists, I can offload the cognitive load of remembering things to do, while still being able to get them done. Nothing is more satisfying than checking off an item on the list. When the list goes unmaintained, it’s my little alarm that I’m not keeping up and need to recuperate.
What are the biggest challenges you face in maintaining a longstanding career in EM? How do you address these challenges?
I think the biggest challenge will be to keep up with the breadth of knowledge base. I believe that in order to provide safe and effective care, it’s important to speak the same language as the rest of our colleagues in hospital. This includes knowing what the latest guidelines are in the different consulting specialties, and being able to incorporate them into our ED environment. I find, that the best way to stay on top of this progressing knowledge base is to forge great friendships with different specialties, and be involved with medical education.
Best advice you have received for maintaining health?
“To meet the rigors of the emergency department, you have to physically work out as athletes do.”
This is true. The months where I can regularly enjoy physical activities are the months where I excel.
Who would you love for us to track down to answer these questions?
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