My hipster doctor

I was due to get a checkup from the doctor last month. Having gone to college in a city 7 hours away from my hometown, however, meant that my usual family doctor was also 7 hours away.

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Nah, I’m just joshin’ you. As much as I would have loved to visit home, I decided that it would be better to find a doctor around Boston. Because, you know, 7-hour drive and all.

Of course, this also meant that I had no idea which doctors in the area were reputable. There are so many– how could I choose? I ended up just logging into the my health insurance’s webpage and choosing a practice at random.

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I scheduled an appointment at Visions Healthcare, a relatively new practice with buildings in Wellesley and Dedham. The website was shiny and polished, after all, and they based their methods on “cutting edge biochemical evaluations.”

Therefore, last March, I found myself waiting in the office of a doctor I had never met. I was the first patient of the day, and the doctor had to settle herself down first– so I had a few minutes to look at all the diplomas on her wall.

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Right next to my doctor’s conventional MD diploma was a smaller certificate for an MD in acupuncture. I didn’t even know those existed, so I was taken a bit aback.

My doctor came in and introduced herself and the practice.

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Hmm. I’m a cynic at heart, so I was already a little doubtful. Still, since I had just started Weight Watchers, I figured I would listen to what she had to say. My mom had wanted me to visit a dietitian, but if this lady could give me some pointers, maybe I could save myself some co-pay.

So when she started asking me about my health, I responded in turn. Diet? It wasn’t great before, but getting better. Exercise? Yes, I go to the gym whenever I can. Emotional health?

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Did my doctor just recommend meditation to me?

Yes. Yes she did. In fact, she did it twice.

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She did offer some reasonable advice. I should cut down on sugar. Eat more leafy vegetables. Eat more nuts, and also a little more red meat. (Though she insisted on grass-fed meat only.) She decided that, to know more, I should get a number of tests.

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I was planning on getting some blood work done regardless, so I rolled with it. I was curious, and maybe she knew what she was doing. Most of the tests were covered by my insurance anyway, except

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For some reason, this place didn’t send you your results in the mail. Instead, you had to schedule a follow-up appointment with your doctor a month later to discuss your blood work. Thus, a month later, I found myself back in my doctor’s office.

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My doctor sat down and looked at my results.

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My other results seemed to check out, though. Low cholesterol. No diabetes. A little low on zinc and iron, but nothing a few vegetables and steaks couldn’t fix.

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And that was my visit to Visions Healthcare.

Call me a skeptic, but I think that’s going to be my last visit to my hipster doctor. She gave some solid advice, to be sure– but next time I want a service that’s half good intentions, half advertising, I’ll just go to WebMD.

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Nothing’s more motivating than knowing that the menopausal women at the YMCA could easily kick my butt.

My friend’s friend gave me a long, inspiring rant the other night about how all you need to get fit is running, push-ups, and rock climbing. He told me about how he’s gradually built up his endurance and muscle from simple home exercises. Which is very well and admirable for him.

I have less willpower than that. The only way I can get myself to do push-ups is if someone’s screaming at me to do them, so I decided to start going to classes at my local YMCA. I was already going to the gym, and the classes are free with membership, so why not? Maybe they could make me push myself a little more.

And boy.

They do.

Nothing’s more motivating than doing kickboxing with a tiny 60-year-old woman who not only has more endurance than you, but is also more flexible and more muscular than you.

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The younger people in my classes casually talk about how many half-marathons they’re running this year.

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When you’re lifting weights next to a pregnant woman who looks like she’s ready to burst into labor any second now, you know that there are no excuses.

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These classes can push you hard. In a free weights class I go to, the instructor takes pleasure in her students’ pain.

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It doesn’t help that I was never fit to begin with. I have zero core or upper body strength, a fact that I discovered very quickly.

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These classes are exhausting, but they definitely make me try harder than I ever would on my own. I don’t know if they’re working, but I’ll keep trying! It’s for my health, after all.

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Geez, I’m such a try-hard. Oh, well. Hey, if I keep trying, maybe one day I can look like this!

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(Though I’m willing to settle for less.)

They caught him! Now Boston can go back to partying.

The police caught the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing!

Things were getting tense Friday night. The police had searched all of Watertown and concluded that the suspect might have escaped. The MBTA opened with limited service, and people sheltering at work were encouraged to go home, so I decided to head into Boston.

Right before I left, though, my friends started a message on Facebook:

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Somehow, we all ended up listening to the police scanner. It was obvious something was happening. My friends and I were almost expecting another explosion. The police kept telling other officers to get out of the line of fire, calling officers over to a certain area…

And then: radio silence.

If you’ve seen the news, you know that the rest is history: the police cornered the suspect and captured him alive. The suspect is now in the hospital being treated for his wounds. Boston and its surrounding towns could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

So we did.

Boy, did we.

Shortly after I met up with my buddies at Northeastern, we received a message from one of our friends.

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We complied, walking across campus to see what was going on.

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Well, as The Sun managed to document…

This many.

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Northeastern kids were packing Hemenway Street, despite NUPD’s best efforts to break up the crowd. Well, they weren’t trying that hard. After all, we were celebrating their efforts.

My friends quickly joined the chanting and cheering.

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Yup. I admit, I went there.

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The residents of Hemenway were hanging out their windows, waving flags and blasting music.

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People ran around dressed in patriotic attire.

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A random kid managed to climb up a tree, wave his flag, and lead the crowd in some traditional American songs.

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Some policemen actually drove their motorcycles straight through the crowd. Everyone clapped, cheered, and high-fived them as they drove by.

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My favorite moment was when my friends and I managed to start the whole crowd singing the national anthem. It was a crazy moment– as soon as we started, people joined in, and soon the guy in the tree was conducting the crowd.

Yup, I was in the middle of that fist-pumping mess!

What really surprised me, though, is how non-destructive this rally was. We didn’t flip any cars, start any fights, or break any windows. In fact, the crowd dispersed rather peacefully after concluding that the police didn’t need any more trouble for the night. Though there was a lot of beer, and beer cans, thrown around the crowd.

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I’m no zealous patriot, but I felt pretty proud of my city. Northeastern wasn’t the only place to celebrate. Watertown took to the street as well. Hundreds of Bostonians paraded down Commonwealth Ave, police stopping traffic to allow them to march. In a tamer form of remembrance, flowers, notes, and gifts have been left at the bombing site.

I’m sure that, as the suspect recovers, more details will start to emerge. We don’t know if anyone else was involved. We’re not sure of the brothers’ motives behind the bombing. Investigations will be done, I’m sure, as there are still so many questions still unanswered.

But for now, Boston can feel a bit of relief. I know I do.

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Edit: Cool, there’s video! Below is a video of the Northeastern students cheering on the police:

And here’s the national anthem:

Boston is on lockdown.

My city is locked down right now. Boston and the surrounding suburbs (including where I live) are totally shut down. There are thousands of officers operating out of Watertown, and they’re on a giant manhunt for the second suspect of the Boston Marathon bombing.

The police have been urging all residents to stay indoors, lock the doors, and answer to no one but a uniformed officer. At the moment, I’m sitting at home hoping and praying that nobody else will be hurt.

I apologize for the lack of humorous posts lately– I guess it hasn’t been a humorous week.

The professionals can report it better than I can.

Report from CNN

CBS Livestream

Boston Police

Stay safe, everyone.

Boston

I wish I could write something inspiring and eloquent about what happened yesterday at the Boston Marathon.

I can’t.

I’ve been watching and reading the news all day, but finally had to stop. The blood-splattered concrete and torn limbs were too much. I know I’ve only been in Boston for two years, but I feel like my home has been attacked. I’ve walked down Boylston so many times. Only last year, I was right at the finish line, cheering on the runners with everyone else. My friends were thinking of spectating this year, but didn’t go. We were lucky. Not everyone was.

My heart goes out to everyone affected by the bombing. The injured. The deceased. Their families. The witnesses, crowds, and runners. The brave first responders, volunteers, and their families. I know that they’ll be in my thoughts tonight, and for many, many nights to come.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from my time here, it’s that Boston is a stubborn city. We’ll help each other through this, and come out as strong and resilient as ever.

Thank you to those who messaged me, asking if my friends and I were safe! I was at work at the time, far away from Copley Square and the bombs. 

Dear Sydney: Is there anyone in your city who is ACTUALLY looking for tenants?

Since I’ve been accepted to the University of Sydney, I’ve been looking for a place to stay. Using the university dorms are decidedly expensive (typically they’re 8,000+ a semester, not to mention that you have to pay a fee to apply AND interview to get in AND you might be rejected) so I’ve been browsing other sites for leads.

And am I getting leads? I sure am! For the past few weeks I’ve been rolling in e-mails like this one:

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Dear scammers: I am on to you.

Sincerely,

Me

Guys, I confess: I’m on Weight Watchers.

You know what?

I’m just going to say it.

I’m doing Weight Watchers.

Whew. Okay. It’s out. Now you know.

Yeesh, I can already hear my friends:

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Well, actually, I’ve been on Weight Watchers for about 2 months.

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Um.

Sorry guys.

Here’s the thing:

For the last two years of college, I haven’t been, well, the healthiest. I go to the gym a lot, but I also love to eat. A lot. I don’t eat too poorly (I love fruits and veggies) but I also eat tons of rice and bread and I love pastries.

And so, for the last two years, my weight has been steadily creeping upwards. Not fast, mind you. I didn’t get the freshman fifteen.

More, like, uh. The freshman five?

Last semester particularly wrecked havoc on my health. I had to cook for myself for the first time. I barely went to the gym. I was stressed and sleep deprived.
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My mom became seriously worried. Or maybe she was just being a pretty standard Asian-American mother. But at least she’s concerned for me, which is always comforting to know.
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Most of the time, I just ignore my mom and tell myself that it’s whatever. But I really do eat– a ton— and it was getting hard to ignore.

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I was in denial and I knew it. The irony is that I spent a year writing a ridiculous comic about weight loss. I continued to tell myself I was fine– until one night, at my friend’s dorm…
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I don’t think I’m particularly fat– but I could be. And I was getting there. Then, last February, my doctor told me that I was on the border between normal and overweight. 

It was time to reverse the trend.

So.

I know, I know: I’m paying for a weight-loss service like a chump. I should just eat salads and exercise more, right? I don’t have hundreds of pounds to lose, after all. My problem, though, is that I have no willpower. I’ve tried free calorie-counting tools like MyFitnessPal (which I actually used the entire time I wrote and drew Minus One) but I just couldn’t stick to it. I couldn’t commit.

If I literally put my money where my mouth was, though, maybe I could get some motivation.

That, and the fact that I told my mom.

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Thus I signed up for Weight Watchers.

Not for their weekly meetings, mind you. Only their online tools. I was actually ready and rarin’ to join a Weight Watchers group– but then I went to one as a trial run.

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I guess the meetings just weren’t for me. (They do work for a lot of people, though!)

So now, I have the Weight Watchers online tools on my iPod. I’ll be honest: I’m impressed! The site, in addition to giving you a tool to track your food with, provides recipes, exercise tips, success stories for all ages, general healthy living tips, and… dang, I sound like a paid advertisement. But, I’ve been trying. I really have! For example, instead of cooking

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I’ll make something like

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I used to go to the gym to do this:

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But now, I’m challenging myself. I’ve been going to fitness classes regularly to be schooled by the 60-year old women.

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And you know what? It’s working. It was hard at first, but somehow, Weight Watchers actually seems to work and I’ve actually been able to lose weight without starving myself. I appreciate how the program measures your daily intake of food based on macronutrients, not calories, and how it emphasizes that you can still eat things you like– but in smarter portions.

It’s totally strange, too. I spent 9 months writing a comic about weight loss and the benefits you can get from it. You know, like increased energy, boosted mood, and better sleep.

The comic is fictional. Yet I’m experiencing it in real life.

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I’ve even been experiencing the same problems Max went through.

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It’s a pretty bizarre feeling. 

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I’ll be honest with you: I’m not the strong-woman-who-don’t-care-what-no-one-thinks that I wish I was. Teenage girls tend to obsess over their weight. We also have a tendency to tell our friends to YOLOI’m completely guilty of this.

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Therefore, for the last two months, I’ve kept my Weight Watchers endeavors private. Not because I think trying to lose weight and be healthy is embarrassing– but because I knew I wouldn’t have the willpower to withstand

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But for the past two weeks, I’ve been slipping up a bit. I’ve hit a… plateau? And while these weight-loss plateaus can be attributed to things like slowed metabolism, less lean muscle mass, etc, etc, etc…

I know why it’s happened.

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I’ve concluded, then, that I need to put it out there. I have to increase my accountability. The more people who know, the more people I’ll have to answer to. And now, two months in, I know I should be able to withstand any friend telling me that “I don’t need to do this.”

Because I know I don’t need to do this. I want to. I want to be healthy, and look better, and feel generally good. And I don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed of.

So this is my declaration. This is it. I’m the most confident person– believe it or not, I doubt myself all the time–

But this is one goal that I’m going to achieve.