Does YOUR Doc or Nurse even Lift??
We are looking to share short bios of docs, nurses and other health professionals who preach and practice exercise (and overall lifestyle) as medicine. Help us spread the emphasis and have some fun celebrating health care professionals who are good role models. If interested, please share a one page story of what you do, how you got into what you do, and how emphasizing lifestyle as medicine was molded in your life and any tips for patients you have. Share your links, a headshot, and perhaps an action shot of working out or cooking, etc. I want it to be similar for something I did for Endocrine News but personalize it!
Dr. Angela Baldwin, fellow DocWhoLifts and fellow former Naval Medical Officer
Some of my earliest memories are of working out with my father, a police officer at the time, who in addition to doing martial arts, was a competitive bodybuilder in the Police and Fireman Olympics. I wanted to join him in his garage gym lifting weights, so he attached two 5lbs plastic plates on the ends of a section of PVC pipe so I could bench press, just like him. Growing up in San Jose, California, the weather was perfect for outdoor activities and sports almost yearlong, so I was a very active child. By high school I was lifting weights regularly to supplement my training in track and field, basketball and softball. I was also heavily involved in music in high school as the drum major, 1st clarinetist in concert band and 1st tenor saxophone in jazz band. Consequently, when I arrived at Stanford my freshman year, I didn’t know whether to continue pursing sports or be a part of the wacky Stanford marching band. I knew I couldn’t do both while being a pre-med majoring in human biology. In the end I decided to combine athletics and music by dancing in Dv8, a competitive hip-hop/performance dance team. Meanwhile, I also worked at the gym, got to work out with Olympic caliber athletes and helped train friends.
I continued to work out regularly while at Howard University College of Medicine. I led regular lunch time runs around DC and joined with my roommate who was in the Army, in running a boot camp after classes. The first two years of medical school my routine every day after class when we weren’t doing boot camp, was to walk to the gym, run on the treadmill for 20-30 minutes, lift weights for 30-45 minutes, clean up, and then study in the library until it closed. As a medical student on a budget, I made sure to pack my food for the day, which also made it easier to ensure I was eating healthy.
I joined the Navy through the Health Professions Scholarship Program and completed my intern year at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. One of my proudest personal athletic achievements was prior to the start of my intern year at Officer Indoctrination School, when I completed 108 push-ups and 105 sit-ups each in 2 minutes, during the Physical Readiness Test. I remembered a time where I could barely complete 20 push-ups in a row, so it was quite an accomplishment for me. After my intern year, I attended the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute, where I earned my designation as a Flight Surgeon.
I really enjoyed how fitness was an important part of life on the base and in the Flight Medicine Clinic. My co-workers were supportive in letting me go the gym during my lunch breaks since I had an hour and half commute to and from work every day. I also loved having resources like a nutritionist on base to refer my patients to and having time to talk about life style modifications, including proper diet and exercise. It was important to me to be an example of a healthy lifestyle and it was great to run into patients in the base gym and show them new exercises and work-out routines.
Following my time in the Navy as a Flight Surgeon, I entered reserve status and re-located with my husband to San Francisco to be closer to home. I worked as a Clinical Research Fellow in the Ophthalmology Department at UCSF and concurrently earned my Masters in Public Health (MPH) at UC Berkeley. It was at this time that I started training for my first fitness competition. But as luck would have it, while zooming downhill on the sidewalks of the UC Berkley campus on my Razor kick scooter, I jumped off a curb and fractured my distal tibia. It was a tough break and a disappointment at first. But once I was off crutches and in a walking boot, I was right back at the gym, doing cardio on a recumbent bike and doing upper body focused weight lifting. One of my favorite exercises was decline push-ups with one foot on a bench and the broken leg in the air.
I am now a chief resident in the Pathology Department at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Upon completion of my residency, I will do a fellowship in Forensic Pathology at the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. I continue to workout 5-7 days a week and am still considering competing in a fitness competition in the future. Considering my father’s first show wasn’t until he was in his 40s I feel like there’s no rush. I continue to give fitness and nutrition advice as well as provide exercise routines to family and friends. I enjoy passing along any knowledge I’ve gained from reading or experience. One piece of advice I always pass along is that every BODY is different. What works for me, may not work for you and vice versa. Make incremental changes at first that you can stick with. Finding exercise that you enjoy is imperative in creating consistency in the long term. When you plateau or get bored, be creative in setting new challenges. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. It’s a journey, a life-time commitment to yourself. If you skip a work-out here or there, or have an unhealthy meal every once in awhile, it’s fine. Focus on what is sustainable in the long-run and enjoy the ride!
Follow her on Facebook here
Dr. Noel Blanco graduated from University of California, Riverside with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2006. Three years later, he was selected for the US Army Health Professions Scholarship to attend AT Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona.
After graduating medical school in 2013, he started his medical training at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in Family Medicine and resigned from the program after the first year. His first military assignment was with 1st Calvary Division, 1st Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas as a General Medical Officer. In 2015, he became an ACLS instructor, which he actively volunteers his time to train his fellow medical peers. In 2016, he deployed to Korea with the unit and provided yoga classes for pregnancy physical training and soldier’s in his unit. Upon returning, he trained to become a Sexual Assault Clinical Provider.
In the summer of 2017, he trained at Fort Rucker to become a flight surgeon, and he, his wife, and dog relocated to Fort Bliss. In March 2018, he became credentialed in providing Dry Needling for Neuromuscular Dysfunctions by the physical therapists at Mendoza Clinic of Fort Bliss. Weekly, he trains his medics in acute primary care pathology.
For his athletic feats, he has completed two marathons (2009 Los Angeles and 2010 Honolulu), multiple 5k’s (1st place finishes), multiple 10k’s (1st place finish), obstacle course races (1st place in Insandity of El Paso September 2017), trail races (2nd place finish for instance), and many others. His most interesting feat was competing in American Ninja Warrior Season 10 in Dallas, which will air May 30th. With his wife, he practices yoga several times a week and has gone from not being able to touch his knees with forward folds to touching his toes.
In the fall, he will be applying for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency to further provide care for neuromusculoskeletal pathology and alternative pain modality treatment options.
Follow him on twitter & instagram via @DrNoelBlanco!
Dr. Jesse Shaw graduated from Juniata College with a BS in Biology with a secondary emphasis in Psychology in 2007. He was then selected for a US Navy Health Professions Scholarship to attend Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
After graduating medical school, his initial medical training was at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth where he completed a Transitional Internship. His first military assignment was with Naval Special Warfare Group 2 where he served as the General Medical Officer for SEAL Teams 2, 4, 8, 10 and Unit 2 & 10. While embedded at the “Tip of the Spear” he created an Osteopathic Manipulation Clinic and served as one of the ‘in-house’ Human Performance physiologists. Here he specialized in operational medicine and the optimization of fitness and performance of his SEALs. This is where Dr. Shaw developed his strong background in exercise science and sports nutrition. The goal was to improve his SEALs, prepare them for austere deployments and ensure optimal performance for any mission.
He was then selected to complete US Navy Undersea Medical Officer (UMO) training at Naval Undersea Medical Institute and Naval Diving Salvage and Training Command. Here he learned the fundamentals of performing medicine on multiple naval floating and submerged platforms as well as received his rating as a US Navy Diver. This training program cumulated with his receiving designation as a Diving Medical Officer (DMO) which allowed him to complete diving operations/missions with his sailors. His UMO tour consisted of treating Navy divers/EOD/Army Special Forces/ and Submariners in undersea, hyperbaric and submarine medicine.
He is currently finishing his Family Medicine Residency at St Petersburg General Hospital, St Petersburg FL.
His experience as a Naval Officer and Physician with high tempo operational units has transitioned into his current pursuit of “optimizing wellness through the relationship of medicine, health, fitness and nutrition.” As an active member of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, American Medical Society of Sports Medicine and the American College of Sports Medicine he is involved in local and national development of sports medicine and patient care focused on healthy lifestyle modification highlighting fitness and nutritional strategies.
Dr. Shaw approaches each patient with the same goal; to increased longevity, to improve health and wellness and to educate on the importance of a proper diet and fitness level. He will continue to do so next year as a Sports Medicine Fellow at Auburn University, AL.
Amanda Deniger is a Nurse Practitioner in Internal Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
I had a very active childhood growing up in South Florida with a large family. My parents chased us out of the house and we would swim, ride bikes, and play outside hanging from trees or kicking a ball around for hours each day. In high school, I ran track, swam, and was on the dance team. I went to college to study nursing (taking after my mother who was a RN) and consistently worked out to stay in shape.
After graduating from college, I married an Army officer and my fitness took off from there. My husband had to stay in shape, so I thought I better as well. I started running more regularly and signed up for races to hold myself accountable. I’ve run 5ks to a full marathon and several triathlons, placing in the top 5 in several races and qualified for the USA Age Group Triathlon Championship (I was unable to participate in as we were moving for the military). Around this time, I was starting to get bored with my routine, so my husband suggested I try out CrossFit. Man, was I hooked. I couldn’t believe how strong the women were and here I thought I was in good shape! It made me realize I had no idea what I was doing when it came to lifting!
I started to learn about lifting correctly from the help of my husband, reading magazines, books and online research about weight lifting. We built a garage gym to lift at home to work more intensely on weight lifting and also continue to do CrossFit workouts. I changed my diet to counting macros see if it would make a difference in my physique and performance–and the hard work paid off months later.
Diet plays a huge role! It has been a learning process, but a good one because I can understand how patients struggle with weight loss and help them stay on track with my own helpful tips from personal experience. At work, my coworkers like to tease me and ask me to “flex” my arms. So many want to know what my “secret” is but honestly, it is a lot of consistency, sacrifice, and hard work! I believe in leading by example and practicing what I preach to my patients. Why should I tell someone to exercise and eat right if I don’t do it myself? I strongly believe exercise is medicine and the best one we have! I enjoy talking about my own exercise habits with patients and feel they appreciate a provider who understands mechanism of injury from an exercise or what CrossFit actually is, or how devastating it can be when injured and can’t participate in the sport you love. My favorite question is, “What do you enjoy doing for exercise,” in which I always get an interesting look back as it doesn’t seem like a routine question asked at visits.
As a family, we have adopted exercise and healthy eating into our lifestyle. My husband and I meal prep on Sundays, preparing breakfast and lunches for the week. Suppers are planned out at this time as well. Weekends we spend together as a family at parks, playing soccer, swimming, or running around the track at the gym. Our children see that exercise is important to us and routine. They now want to join us doing pull ups, sit-ups, jumps, or running and are active kids as well. By having the whole family invested in exercise and healthy eating, it naturally becomes a lifestyle for all of us!
Christy Blankenship is a Registered Nurse at a small hospital in Missouri.
I have been in the healthcare field for about 12 years. I have worked in the state’s largest hospital & in a variety of specialties. One thing that is common among every hospital, every location, every patient population, & co-worker environment is the epidemic of obesity and chronic illnesses. There is SO much misinformation out there that I decided I wanted better… Better for myself as a mom, wife, & coach but ultimately better for my patients. I started to incorporate strength training into my life just over 3 years ago and then fell in love with nutrition.
I now feel the best I ever have but also can be an example to others and share life changing education with my patients to begin a healthy and fit lifestyle!
Dr. Kris Hunt is an Emergency Physician practicing in Indianapolis, IN. He is a 2004 graduate from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology with a Mechanical Engineering degree, a 2008 graduate from Indiana University School of Medicine, and a 2011 graduate from an Emergency Medicine residency from Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan, NY. While completing his residency, he was elected to Chief Resident and completed a study on creatine which was named one of the “most newsworthy” studies at the American College of Emergency Physicians national conference in 2010. He is presently the Therapeutic Use Exemption committee chair for USA powerlifting as well as Sports Medicine director.
Dr. Hunt has been a competitive powerlifter for over 17 years, competing at the national level for the last 12 of those. He holds the retired American Record in the raw squat with 622lbs at the 198lb weight class. Most recently, he won Best Lifter of all weight classes at the USAPL Midwest Regional Championships in Columbus, OH with a 650lb raw squat, 370lb raw bench, and 650lb raw deadlift at the 205lb weight class.
Dr. Hunt is extremely interested in the advancement of drug-free strength sport, as well as improving the process by which supplements are screened so that honest athletes can remain clean.
Joseph Zucchi is a Physician Assistant student at MCPHS in Manchester, NH. He graduated from St. Anselm College and has a BA in Natural Science.
I am also an ACE-certified personal trainer and the owner of JPZfitness.com where I offer online fitness and nutrition plans to clients across the world. I have experience working as a fitness and nutritional advisor of a medical weight loss center and also as a research coordinator at the Nutrition, Exercise, Physiology & Sarcopenia laboratory at Tufts University. I look forward to completing my studies and becoming a PA-C with dreams of working in the field of bariatrics and endocrinology. Fitness and nutrition are two of my passions and I enjoy bodybuilding, lifting weights, and playing tennis. I strive to promote exercise as one of the best forms of medicine and hope to inspire my patients to become the best that they can be!
Christina Holzwarth currently works as a registered nurse in the cath lab at the Mayo Clinic. Earned her bachelors of Science in Nursing degree from Grand Canyon Univery in Phoenix, Az, in 2012.
Soon after graduation from nursing school, I passed my state board exam and became licensed as an RN and went on to specialize in cardiac care!
I began my fitness journey as a night RN who had been functioning on little to no sleep, lots of stress as I was a new nurse, & eating habits that were very poor. Knowing that I needed to make a change to my habits I signed up for a challenge a personal trainer was promoting! Fast forward 3 years later and I own a meal prep service called Alphafoodsaz, I’ve become an online coach with Northington Fitness & Nutrition, I competed in my first bikini bodybuilding show, & I still work as an RN! I lift weights 5-6 times a week; all types of deadlifts and shoulders are my favorite training sessions and I really enjoy spin class or HIIT as my cardio!
I believe mental health is just as important as physical health and I strive for my clients and patients to focus on habits, goal setting, and behavior changes. Being flexible with foods and experimenting with workouts they truly enjoy so this lifestyle can be sustained for the long-term! My coaching method focus’ on personalizing a plan that my clients can adhere to and making changes as needed to make this lifestyle transition possible!
Tips for patients and clients: decide on a goal and implement small changes so you don’t become overwhelmed and give up. Maybe make it a point to hit a certain amount of steps per day, or going for 2-3 walks a week, finding new recipes to try and meal prep instead of eating out for the work week. Don’t restrict your favorite foods, instead, monitor the portion size and incorporate your favorite donut into your diet plan, in moderation. Most importantly – be nice to yourself, don’t beat yourself up or give up on your goals if you over ate or missed a workout. We are human and we are all trying to do our best! Just pick yourself up and get right back on the plan! Make this process fun and you will stick with it – if you are really lost – hire a coach! It’s their job to design a plan specifically for you and help you along your fitness journey!
My name is Ryan Bergren I am currently a PGY-2 MD resident in psychiatry. I have a long history of athletics through high-school and then began recreationally lifting in college. I became more serious with this towards the end of undergraduate studies. I started to learn as much as I possibly could about lifting and nutrition. This did not stop when I entered medical school. I found we are not well trained formally in nutrition for health or for nutrition and exercise for weight loss. Luckily I had plenty of learning on my own but I felt my profession lacked this foundation and constantly hear bad advice given to patients. So, at the end of my 3rd year of medical school, I created a website (www.TheWhiteCoatFitness.com) to help disseminate information that I feel is more accurate and more research driven so that when I asked by my colleagues I have a resource for them. I continue to lift and train 5-7 days a week and now I also train, for a fee, some of my co residents on the side either making them workout programs or helping them with diet. I also do this for medical students or anyone else who is interested. It is an area I look forward to expanding.
Dr Hawkes did undergraduate training at Brigham Young University (Provo, UT), medical school at Ross University SOM (Dominica, West Indies), and residency at University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT). Currently licensed in Nevada, Idaho, Utah, and Montana. Board certified in internal medicine and diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine.
Dr. DonDiego is board certified in Family Medicine and as a diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. She graduated from Florida State University with a BS in biology (2007) then earned her osteopathic medicine degree from Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2013. She also received her MBA in 2013 simultaneously. She completed family medicine residency through Memorial University Medical Center, Savannah, Ga in 2016 and passed her obesity medicine boards that same year. Follow her on Facebook or Instagram and she is available via SteadyMD.
I am a board certified Family Practice physician specializing in Obesity Medicine in Savannah, GA. I grew up an athlete playing competitive sports such as track, basketball, soccer and even earned my Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. I played competitive club volleyball throughout college, then moved on to lifting weights and bodybuilding. I promote lifestyle in my medical practice to prevent and treat disease every day. Not everyone has to be a competitive athlete to live a healthy life, and I try to show patients how to incorporate lifestyle changes to prevent disease and live a less medicated life without feeling intimidated by the fitness industry.