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Winded After Five Measly Minutes May 13, 2010

Posted by Emily in : Health, Photo Shoots, Running, Shoes , add a comment

Hi!  It’s me!  Emily!  You know, the one who is “too busy and important” to write a little bio?


I thought I would take a minute to share my experience with Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs).

Here’s the thing, I don’t like textures on my feet, so I’m not sure I will ever go completely barefoot (plus, I love well manicured feet too much to scruff them up running).  I’m the kind of girl that has to take deep breaths before walking onto the sandy beach.  I think to myself over and over, “The sand will rinse off, the sand will rinse off, the sand will rinse off . . .”  I’m not exactly the kind of girl that likes to get my feet dirty on a daily basis either, so I hope you understand.  I am happy to be a “minimalist” and maybe over time my husband will convince me to throw all caution to the wind and I’ll let my bare feet hang out (literally).  We’ll see.

I started running in my VFF’s a few weeks ago.  Sadly,  sitting in front of my computer for hours on end, editing photos, writing, and studying, has done nothing to increase my lung capacity.


I’m suffering from lateral spread at the moment, and I know all you women out there know exactly what I’m talking about!

When I first got on the treadmill, I thought, “Great!  I’m ONLY allowed to run five minutes a day for the first week!”

Hallalujah.  This is my kind of work out!

Sadly, my lungs were ready to give up before my feet were, and that is just pathetic all around.  I mean, who gets winded after FIVE MEASLY MINUTES!?

OK, so it happened to me.

I’ve been running here and there, but really, consistency in exercise is not my strong suit, (What gave it away?  The 20 pounds of baby weight I’ve been carrying around the last two years?) so VFF’s are worn on a casual everyday basis.

Mostly, I wear them on walks with the kids, to photo shoots,  out shopping, and to family gatherings.

I love them.  They are really comfy.

They are also a great conversation starter, and without a doubt, I end up talking about barefoot running with my clients at every shoot.

Take this for example: (her foot wear is about as opposite from barefoot as you can get)

I got into this box and demonstrated this pose for her (so she could clearly see my vision for the image) in my VFF’s.

Then, she pointed out the obvious and asked me about my “crazy socks.”  What you don’t see in this picture are four more ballerina’s and their mothers who were at the shoot,  all actively listening in.

You KNOW their feet are just CRYING for a pair!

Increasing Distance May 12, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Health, Running , add a comment

I’m trying to increase my distance.  Tonight I ran 2.4 miles . . . 100% barefoot.  My feet aren’t quite there yet.  The balls of my feet are a little tender, but I didn’t cut my feet open or get a blister.  The soleus muscle in both legs is letting me know I worked them harder than I’ve worked them previously.  It feels good.  My endurance is increasing and I feel like I’m getting in better shape.

When I decided running was going to be my main exercise, I was worried about the impact and chronic running injuries.  Again, I’ve never been much of a long distance runner.  My events in track consisted of the 100, 200, and 400.  Kicking off the shoes has changed all that.  I took notice tonight as I ran of the lack of impact throughout my body.  It’s amazing how much shock absorption the arches, achilles, calf muscles, and quad muscles give.  I’m eagerly anticipating the time when my feet are adequately toughened up and appropriately strengthened.

1.5 Miles 100% Barefoot May 7, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Health, Running , 1 comment so far

I went running around the neighborhood tonight. I ran 1.5 miles completely without shoes. It was awesome! My body wanted to run further, but I listened to my skin and stopped. It’s a good feeling . . . getting in and staying in shape.

Quality of Life May 6, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Health , add a comment

In addition to my mortality, I’ve been thinking about the quality of my life.  I’m sure this has much to do with the information I’ve accumulated along the trail of becoming a doctor.  I’ve determined a couple of things as I’ve survived med school:

  1. I must maintain a “normal” body size throughout my life, if for no other reason, than to make it less of a difficulty for the surgeon who may need to operate on me at any point in my life.  During my surgery rotation, the only time the surgeon had a difficult time was when the patient was obese.  I made this decision while standing at the side of the operating table watching the surgeon struggle for over an hour on a part of a surgery that should have taken less than ten minutes . . . simply due to the size of the patient on the table.  Of course, maintaining a normal body size for my height has many other advantages, but this reason was poignant.
  2. I must keep my body in shape so I’m not inhibited in my movement by the side effects of decrepitude.  Our bodies function according to the “use it or lose it” principle.  Utilize what you have and enjoy it or give it away to atrophy.

I shared my first point with someone in the operating room the other day and he said, “What’s your definition of normal?”  Good question.  There is a measurement widely used to determine whether or not a body size is normal.  Body Mass Index or BME.  While this is a useful measurement for a population, much the same as certainly health policies, it doesn’t take into account individual variability.  BME can be an inaccurate measurement of body mass if the person has a large quantity of muscle.  As muscle weighs more than fat, a very muscular person would have a higher BMI than someone the same weight and a higher percentage of fat.  Here’s the calculation for BMI: Weight (kg) / (Height (m) x Height (m))

If you’d like to find out your BMI, try this link: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/

My current BMI is 25.2 which puts me just into the overweight category.  Like I said before, you need to consider a little more about your personal body makeup before you take the category too seriously.  I know I need to lose a few pounds and get more in shape.  My plan is that this will happen as I transition into running barefoot/minimalist and continue my effort to eat the Mediterranean diet (more about this later).  Maintaining a healthy body really won’t extend your life any more than the time you put into exercising, but what you will gain from living a healthy lifestyle is an increase in the quality of your life while you are alive.

Would you rather live a long life while being limited in your physical activity due to the poor choices you made on a daily basis or would you rather be able to enjoy life to its fullest?  Simple choice . . . now go do it . . . barefoot!

Why Barefoot? May 3, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Health, Running , add a comment

I’ll admit my shoes are somewhat . . . different.  They are certainly eye catching and always a conversation starter.  It’s no surprise I’ve been asked about them many times.  I try and wear them whenever I need to wear shoes and don’t have to be “dressy”.  I took the opportunity to wear my Vibrams on casual Friday on the radiology service I just completed.  Besides the radiologist telling me they creep him out, one of the patients asked me about my shoes.  Unfortunately I didn’t have a long time to explain all the benefits of wearing these shoes;  so, I’ll touch on that here.

My interest in going barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes stemmed from hearing about the Tarahumara in conjunction with my desire to incorporate a type of exercise I can do anywhere, anytime . . . an exercise I could enjoy.  The Tarahumara are a super athletic tribe of Indians found in the Copper Canyons of Mexico.  They have remarkably good health and are not plagued by the common Western maladies.  They run, and run, and run . . . sometimes hundreds of miles at a time.  Everything I have learned about the Tarahumara came from the book Born to Run.  I loved the book and thought it was well written.  Not so much of an instruction manual as it was an inspiring and educational read.

I ran track in junior high and my sophomore year of high school.  I was mostly interested in sprints.  Long distance running, in my opinion, was for crazy people . . . I never understood the desire.  I’m not reticent to admit I was wrong . . . or maybe I’m just crazy now.  I think another contribution to my distaste of long distance running was the fact that I was doing it the most incorrect and painful way . . . with shoes.  The next time you’re passed by a runner wearing shoes, notice the look on their face.  It’s painful.  The reason Chris McDougall, the author of Born to Run, wrote his book was the combination of his desire to run and trying to figure out why he was plagued with injury.  His investigation ultimately lead him to the Copper Canyons of Mexico and introduced him to their way of running.  Essentially barefoot.  The stride is completely different when you ditch the shoes.  When our feet aren’t shielded from the ground, our nerves do their jobs and let us know what’s right and wrong.  We have an incredibly powerful computer in our heads and when we have shoes on, we eliminate it’s ability to interpret the world beneath and tell us what we’re doing wrong.  The thicker soles on our shoes, the increased impact on our heel strike.  We are subconsciously looking for steady ground. In essence, the answer to the question as to why I wear these shoes or why I run barefoot is simple, it doesn’t hurt.

Your Health is in YOUR Hands May 1, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Health , 3comments

The more I have learned about the human body, the more respect I gain for the marvel which it is.  I graduate from medical school in four weeks.  It’s been a long road thus far and I’ve got another four years of residency ahead of me, but the information I’ve learned and the information I continue to learn is amazing.

I’ve reached a point in my life where I have been thinking more seriously about my mortality.  Being privileged to know the most sacred details of so many people’s health care has opened my eyes.  Life is indeed, fragile.  In an instant, life can change in such a way never before imagined.  Whether it is a function of an accident or a lifelong insult of poor lifestyle choices, when life changes for the worse . . . we are not ensured a second chance.  While rotating at the VA hospital in Kansas City, patient after patient was admitted to the hospital for one reason or another.  However, many of the patients had something in common . . . an unhealthy life.  These men who served our country and sacrificed for the freedom and liberty of their fellow countrymen and women had quite often lived in a way that aged them earlier than they should have.  Alcohol, tobacco, drugs, poorly chosen diets, and an unhealthy life combined to a point where they were fighting for their lives.  Diabetes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Hypertension, Congestive Heart Failure, Obesity, Chronic Renal Failure . . . these were some of the most common problems listed on patient files.  Sadly, these problems are found throughout our country and many places in the world.  I recall looking into the eyes of one particular vet and telling him that he should give up smoking.  His response almost knocked me off my chair.

He said, “You guys have taken away women and alcohol.  Now you want me to give up smoking too?”

I said, “Sir, you have come here today seeking our help in your health.  You are the CEO of your health care, we’re simply the board of directors and will give you our best advice.  What you do with that advice is completely up to you.”

It made me sad to see so many people wasting their lives . . . seemingly trying to slowly kill themselves by the lifestyle choices they made.  Then, when their bodies could take it no more, they would come to the hospital expecting the doctors to fix everything they had done over a lifetime.  We all need to wake up.

Your health is in YOUR hands.  The choices you make on a daily basis, while small, will ultimately affect the quality of your life.  What you decide to take into your body will either help or hurt you.  Whether you decide to get up and exercise or just sit there and watch TV will, after a while, determine if you experience atrophy and injury or health and energy.  Of course, you cannot determine if you are involved in a life changing accident that will leave you changed forever, but the rest of your life is in your hands.

This blog is where we will chronicle our family’s trail to a happy and healthy life . . . barefoot style.