Friday, October 31, 2014

Sara "You take risks" Schultz

I walked around all day after hearing that rolling it around in my head, holding it in my heart, thinking, "I take risks". "I'm a risk-taker." "I think I am." "I'm so surprised."

No one has ever said that to me.

Here I was thinking I was a sturdy boring person all these years, doing the right thing and what was expected. Well, not exactly. But I've never thought of myself as a risk taker. Risk takers are people who go skiing on double black diamonds or people who kiteboard over the ocean or people who quit their jobs and travel with nothing, starting a new life.

I think I've grown a couple inches in size since that compliment.

This Wednesday, I had a review with Kaiser. It was my one year "Senior Review", something that usually occurs after three years of employment, but when you take a hiatus or move regions, they have you do a one year of probation and decide whether to make you permanent.

This past year was a roller-coaster of emotions as I returned. For the most part, it was very positive. The Kaiser family is so much love. The patient care was so much better than anywhere I worked. It finally made sense again. I was learning again, which was a great joy and relief.

But it wasn't easy. It took a lot of relearning. I felt slow. I wondered if I was smart enough. I covered clinics all over the region, driving in my car. After bike commuting for a year, this was a harsh change. Working full time with a heavy patient load was exhausting at times.

So I was a little anxious about my review. I wondered what they would say. I wondered what I'd be told I needed to fix.

I won't summarize it here, but it was the nicest review I've ever had. And, it was a different experience than the last time I was at Kaiser. I'm hopeful for the future.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

How to be Vegetarian

Nine years ago this fall, I took a trip to India with my good friend, Laura. We arrived to a land which had quite a lot of errant trash scattered about the streets and hillsides, as well as chickens running around who also appeared to be eating up that trash. It didn't take a lot of deep thinking to decide that maybe it was best to stick with the non-chicken, vegetarian plan. For three weeks, I didn't touch meat. It wasn't hard. In India, about 50% of the population is vegetarian so we were in good company.

When I returned to the States, I didn't have a particular plan to stay vegetarian, but at the time was dating a guy who was vegetarian for mostly ethical reasons. He fed me tasty meat-free food like roasted beets with goat cheese, marcona almonds, and more. After a while, I decided to try out the vegetarian lifestyle. He left the picture but continues to have an impact on me.

I'd never been a big meat eater, so it was a fairly natural transition. Years of being a student with limited funds meant that meat was low on the totem pole of affordable foods. I'd always been not very fond of the texture/gristle, not so good at cooking it, and not keen on handling raw meat.

My early years, I spent a lot of time with fancy vegetarian cookbooks making things that took a long time, ingredients and caused a fair amount of digestive distress (gas!). It was not until I moved overseas that I learned to simplify my diet for the better all around. I no longer include much beans, tempeh, or heavy grains as dietary staples, but instead feature vegetables as the main course.

Rather than complicated recipes, I rely on salad in the summer (mostly arugula, mixed greens, spinach) and cooked veggies (mostly broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus) in the winter. Or winter salads, which means cook some veggies and throw them on a bed of cold greens and drizzle with pumpkin seed oil or cheese, and you have a meal. Most days I have an apple and some nuts as well. Decaf coffee with a tiny splash of half & half is how we start our day.

I've experimented with veganism but I don't think dropping the small amount of cheese, butter and cream that I consume would be beneficial enough for health reasons to go that route. As well, drawing black and white lines in the sand can make it harder to get through life and enjoy food and social activities, which are something we all should do.

So my nine year anniversary is coming up this month. If you're thinking about going vegetarian, I'd say go for it. And if you don't think you are sure, well just try to be mostly vegetarian. There's nothing wrong with that and you'll still benefit healthwise and help improve animal welfare and the environment.

I personally find it easier to just be vegetarian, and have that particular line drawn. I feel great and as well have completely normal blood work, in case you were wondering - low cholesterol, normal iron, normal cbc, and normal blood sugar/HbA1C.