Staying Healthy In Medical School and Residency

****I love all your comments on yesterday’s post!  Thank you so much for all the great post suggestions- I will get to work on them!


It’s not easy to be super healthy when you’re a brand new intern.  Days are super busy (because I’m ridiculously inefficient) and when I come home, I’m hungry, tired, and just want to relax.  I know life is a balance, and I don’t have to be the #1-most-healthiest-person-ever, but I do still want to eat well, exercise often, sleep as much as possible, and be happy.


Let’s start with eating well:

Even though Mayo provides lunch for residents every day, I still pack and bring my own lunch.  I think it’s one of the little but powerful things I can do to stay healthy this year.  I will eat more veggies, less processed carbs, less sugar, and more protein if I bring my own lunch.  That’s basically guaranteed.  I’ve been bringing lots of salads:


These had fresh mozzarella cheese, bacon, lettuce, cucumbers, parsley, carrots, radishes, celery, tomatoes, and avocado,


I have to shout out to Tara from Treble in the Kitchen for gifting me these amazing Tupperware.  I love them so much!  (your thank you note is coming soon I promise!!)



I try to pack enough for lunch and dinner if I’m there on a call day which goes until 7 or 8 pm.


Sometimes lunch is totally random like this mix of veggies, egg, chicken sausage, avocado, and sriracha.



I’ve also made a few KILLER smoothies in the past few days:


I blended up a peach, a frozen banana, kale, 1/4 avocado, almond milk, and 1/2 scoop protein powder.   I was reluctant to try adding avocado, but after hearing so many people rave about it, I gave it a go.  You really can’t taste the avocado, but it does help make the smoothie thicker.  And, the extra fat keeps you full for longer.

****Smoothie TIP:  Let your bananas ripen a bit longer than usual before you freeze them.  I think super ripe bananas make for creamier and sweeter smoothies :-)


Since it’s summer, I’ve strayed away from my beloved oatmeal and favored greek yogurt with fruit.


I really think Fage should sponsor my blog because I am their biggest fan ever.  It’s my absolute favorite greek yogurt :-)


Exercise often:

Before residency I almost always worked out 5-6 times per week.  Certainly, there were weeks that I would go without exercise, but in general I did something 5-6 times each week.  This month, I’ve made it my goal to get at least 4 good workouts in every week.  I don’t want to stress out about not making it to the gym every day, and I feel like 4 is a decent number.  Maybe once I get the hang of this residency thing I will be able to fit in another day or two.


There have been multiple mornings that I’ve worked out before work and gotten ready at the gym.  I really love this routine because I get ready so much faster at the gym!  Plus, my workout is already done for the day so when I get home from work I can really relax.

The only thing I don’t like about it is that I have to have my breakfast pre-made so that I can eat it at work after the gym.  Greek yogurt and fruit works well but I don’t like my smoothies or oatmeal to sit around too long… so I have to find some other breakfast options that I can make the night before and eat later.




I love going to the gym because it’s an excuse to watch TV!  I have a hard time making it to the classes at the gym; they are never early enough in the morning or late enough in the afternoon for me to get there in time!  But, I have done several spin classes which I LOVE.  Days off and days on night call are perfect for fitting in a spin class :-) 


Since the weather has been so wonderful, I’ve forgone the gym for the past few days and run outside.  There is a nice 4 mile loop by my house and I’ve run 3.5 miles and walked the last 1/2 twice now- I really like that routine!  When get home I do a few pushups and ab exercises (we’re talking 10 push-up and 20 crunches- but hey! that’s something!!)  I even saw a little bunny on my run!


Sleep as much as possible:

This one is HARD!!  I am normally a champion sleeper, but I’ve been struggling lately.  I really function best with 7.5-8 hours of sleep each night.  When I start getting less than that, I am notably fatigued throughout the day and often turn to extra caffeine or food to give me some energy.  Getting enough sleep is such a priority for me, but I’ve noticed that even if I’m in bed for 8 hours, I only get about 7 hours of actual sleep.

I’ve been wearing my FitBit to track my sleep and it keeps telling me that for the first hour after I go to bed, I alternate between periods of being restless and awake.  Kyle can attest to this as well.  He says that I toss and turn for a while before finally  going into a deeper sleep.  Hmmmm.  What’s my deal?




This is unacceptable.


I want my sleep to be as efficient as possible.  Meaning, that if I’m in bed for 8 hours, I want 7 hours and 55 minutes of solid, restorative sleep.  For the last few nights I took a melatonin before bed, and I think that helped a bit.  I will keep trying and report back if I figure anything out! 

And lastly, Be Happy:

I’m all for treating myself with afternoon coffees, frozen yogurt, manicures, and whatever else I need mentally/emotionally/spiritually.

So there is it!  Residency so far!

Any tips on good breakfasts to go?  Does anyone else get ready at the gym in the morning?  I’d love those tips too!


  1. says

    I would 110% recommend overnight oats/muesli as a substitute to a smoothie or yogurt for the mornings you go to the gym. It’s so easy to make and I just put it in a mason jar and into the fridge for the next day. Usually I add a combo of seasonal fruits with a serving of oats/muesli, stevia or honey to add some sweetness, and almond milk. Then in the morning I add a dollop of Greek yogurt and eat it on the way to uni. Definitely try it out :) x

  2. says

    I just got my FitBit last week, and I can’t believe how restless of a sleeper I am! I usually have 10 to 13 periods of restlessness :/! I never understood why I was so tired after getting 8 hours of sleep, but now I know why!

    • Marianne says

      How do you guys do this with FitBit?! I would LOVE to do it as well. I am married and I think I probably move a lot more than I realize due to having a sleep partner who is also a bit restless hehe 😀

  3. Elisha says

    Check out Advocare and their spark energy drink! It is wonderful, has the caffeine but no added sugar!! I just love reading your blog, you have grown into a beautiful woman. All of my New Harmony “kidds” have!!!

  4. says

    What are your thoughts on Niacin when it comes to helping with sleep. I sleep like a rock so I haven’t had the need to try it for sleep purposes, but I’ve heard that it can be a natural way to help insomnia.

    Also, as for blog post ideas perhaps you could discuss your personal journey to healthy, balanced living. You might have discussed it in blog posts past, but for the new readers (I’ve been reading for about 6 months now) it would be interesting to see if there was a transition for you and what you had to overcome to get to where you are. I’m guessing like every other kid and teenager, you once ate chicken fingers, nachos, etc. right?! :)

  5. says

    Since I’m not a big fan of shakes other than post-workout, but can’t stomach hot oats in the summer either, I’ve been cooking my oatmeal the night before and mixing in a scoop of vanilla (add water- plant-based protein absorbs more) then set it in fridge overnight. It’s so yummy in the morning and I usually eat it in the car on my way from the studio to the gym. Not soupy like oatmeal and so haven’t wound up “wearing” it.. yet!

  6. Jen says

    I’m a new first-year resident as well (in Canada)! I’m having a bit of trouble getting into a routine and it’s so great to read your posts and see how amazingly you’re handling things :) I’m also getting up at 5 am and getting to sleep early (when it’s practically still bright out) is a tough one. For breakfasts I’m sticking with overnight oats with a scoop of protein powder, which keeps me going on those days where it’ll be 7 or 8 hours before I can sneak away to have lunch. Lunches have been salads (though not nearly as pretty as yours!) — I also throw almonds into them for extra protein.

    Post-call days, as glorious as they are, are something I’d love to get “better” at. After a cup (or two) of coffee I convince myself that I don’t need to nap away a gorgeous sunny day. I run a few errands, watch TV, and eat EVERYTHING. Then inevitably I crash in the afternoon and can’t sleep the following night! I think I’ll have to force myself to nap as soon as I get home then wake up and try to be productive. How do you manage on your post-call days?

  7. Lauren says

    I think you’re doing an absolutely wonderful job thus far with being healthy and balanced!! You’re such an energetic go-getter:) Also, I think it’s totally neat that you’re able to track your sleep. It stinks that it’s so restless, though.

  8. says

    I go to the gym at 0500 most mornings and usually go straight to class/placement/clinical skills etc. One of my favourite easy to pack brekkies is to make a big vegetarian egg/egg white frittata on Sunday and cut it up into individual servings for the week, or sometimes I make egg muffins instead those also travel well! It keeps really well and I usually include a piece of fruit or something on the side.

    I also like making protein/oat/banana muffins, the recipe varies every time but generally includes some vanilla whey, a smashed banana, almond flour, egg whites and various other delicious things like seeds, nuts, flax, psyllium… you name it! I take 2 or 3 depending on the size, to class with me and pop them in the microwave for a second so they are all warm and squishy!

  9. Jamie says

    Any recommendations for adjusting your sleep schedule to erratic hours like overnight call? How do you adjust back to bed at 8:30 after sleeping during the day post call??

  10. George says

    Just a fun idea – maybe setup a Fitbit group with your followers to try to compete and compare steps against? I’m hitting between 6-10k a day but seeing other people be active helps keep me walking!

  11. Heather says

    Andrea, LOVE your post about internship! As an MS3 who’s interested in ophtho it’s lovely to get a glimpse at day-to-day lives of interns. I’m really impressed you’ve been able to work out 4 days a week, actually – I know how hard interns work and so w/ their limited free time, 4x sounds like a dream!

    I’m still into oatmeal right now, but I concur w/ others’ suggestions on overnight oats. Otherwise, you could make oatmeal granola bars; that would be dry and thus a little easier to pack, no?

    p.s. Would love to hear your thoughts on the pros/cons/necessity(?) of taking a year off for research before applying to ophtho. I’m just afraid I won’t be able to pump out papers and be properly productive, and also don’t want to take a year off, but I know how competitive the field is…

    • aawenzel says

      Hey Heather!! Thanks for your comment!!! We can talk about this more if you have more questions, but I didn’t have any publications when I applied to ophtho. I had a few posters and 2 papers that had been submitted, but nothing published. Hope that helps!!

  12. nikki says

    Hey Andrea! First of all, you are such an inspiration and have taught me a lot about making the most of my time and being productive! I understand how busy it must be to be a resident at Mayo but do you think you could make a video on meal prepping? I have tried but I just don’t know what to pack most of the time! (Mainly because I don’t know if the food will spoil later in the week if I prepare it early in the week)

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