Monday, June 18, 2012

Making Progress

The MCAT looms close, and as it gets closer I get more worried.  Lately I have been averaging a 30 on the practice exams.  This is a very solid score, but it is still not at my goal score of 35+.  Strangely the difference between a 30 and a 35 isn't that much.  Missing just 2 or 3 difficult questions is all it takes.  My biggest concern is coming in under the average on actual test day.  This happened to me last year, and in a big way.  I came in 4 points below the average that I was marking on the practice exams.  Even though last year I wasn't ready, and I took the test more to see how it would turn out, it is still a major concern.

As for my physical training I have stopped completely to focus on my studies.  This has been a trying decision, but I know it is the correct one.  Although I am very interested in maintaining my overall health, I believe that this short time sacrifice is necessary in order to secure a very real long term benefit.  Medical School represents and entire shift in my life.  I will be throwing everything I have been doing for the last ten years away, and starting a completely new adventure.  I am not interested in broken, failed, or half-fulfilled dreams so it makes sense to me to go all out while I still can.

My No-Dig bed with Tobacco plants
I am very interested in horticulture.  In my very limited free time I managed to put together a no-dig garden bend and plant some tobacco plants.  This may seem counter-intuitive to many of you, especially after having read my fitness and life goals, but hear me out.  For some reason I have a love affair with exotic and strange plants.  Tobacco falls into that category, especially since it just isn't grown out in my part of the country.  I decided to see if I could actually do it, and if I am successful I have several friends that just might appreciate a home-grown cigar.

I decided to make a small investment in a company called Synacor Inc. on the recommendation of a friend.  He forwarded me to the website of a company called National Inflation Association who have provided analysis on this company.  After reading their analysis I decided to take some of my "throw away" money and give it a try.  What is "throw away" money you ask?  This is a certain amount of money that I am willing to risk and if I never see it again I won't be upset.  Since I am no investment guru, and i have heard the horror stories of people dumping their life saving on a "tip from a friend" I decided on a cautious approach.  I initially invested at $12.50 and in two days the price of the stock has already gone up to $13.42.  What does this tell me?  Nothing really, because I intend to see how the stock behaves over several months.  The natural human impulse, when seeing such a magnificent increase is to drop more money in, but my rule for investing is "be not emotional", so I will stick with my "throw away" investment.  I'll provide an update on this in the near future.  At that point I may look like a total fool or a remarkable genius :)

Finally I have been stricken by an odd interest in luthiery.  What is that you may ask?  It is the construction of stringed instruments.  I have loved and played classical guitar since I was about 15 years old, but I have never owned a proper classical guitar.  I don't want to drop the serious money required for a quality instrument so I have toyed around with the idea of building one for several years.  The first time I approached it was probably 10 years ago while I was in college.  At that point in time I could not find the resources to instruct myself so I abandoned the idea.  Now the interwebs has come through in a big way and I see that this is a very doable hobby.  Immediately after the MCAT I will be diving into this and seeing what I can come up with.  I will post pictures, rants and advice accordingly.  Having spent the last year pouring MCAT related information into my brain, a monotonous non-thought provoking hobby sounds like a dream right now.

As always thanks for reading

Monday, March 26, 2012

Getting Back to It

So I have neglected my posting on this blog, but happily I haven't necessarily neglected my training. With this post I want to give a progress report, and then extend the scope of this blog. Since it won't only be about fitness, but about becoming a better person in general.

Let's start with the progress report. From that initial post back in 2010 until January of 2011, I trained hard and consistently. I did change my approach, somewhat, to avoid injuries but I saw noticeable improvement as well as a dramatic weight loss. After January, I stopped training for the rest of the year. It was against my wishes, but there were personal issues involved so I did it in the best interest of my family and our peace of mind.

I proceeded to pack on an amazing 35 pounds which was even more than I weighed before I started training the first time. After gradually hating myself more and more I decided to start up the training once again. Since December of 2011 I decided to have a regiment of running and Chen Taijiquan. The running is for my cardio and the Taijiquan is for leg strength. I will probably return to full Tri training when I have the time, but I am currently reduced to training 1.5 hours a day 3 - 4 times a week maximum. I don't always reach that goal :(

The second part of this post is to outline new goals I have set for myself and to set up a forum where I can maintain public accountability. One of the reasons my training did not go as smoothly as I wanted to is because I had made the decision to try and start Medical 32 years old.

You see what I did there? I like to make huge goals for myself. I have to go big or not at all. How can I get motivated if the challenge isn't worthy enough? Anybody can buy a book and get a computer certification, but medical school. Now there is a beastly challenge that I can test myself against!

Don't get me wrong, this decision wasn't made on the spur of the moment. I might as well give you the whole story, since you asked. My undergrad degree is in EECS, which stands for "Electrical Engineering and Computer Science". I put the emphasis in CS and thought that all my worries were over when I graduated in 2003. Monetarily my worries have been over. The job pays well and has endless avenues for improvement and exploration. Unfortunately I made a grave miscalculation. I didn't realize how boring and meaningless the work in this field would be.

I look like this when I am depressed
After years of coming home unfulfilled I decided I couldn't take it anymore. I was faced with a decision. I could either let myself go insane, dragged down by the monotony of the work and the severe depression as a result of the tremendous waste my life was going to, or I could do something radical! The crux of the matter was that I could not see how my life was making a difference by pounding out code every day for some faceless corporation. That feeling was exacerbated when I realized that ALL the work I had done would be re-done in a matter of 2 years or less. So even the footprint of my body of work would disappear and no record of what I had done would even endure as a testament to my "brilliance", collaboration, or contribution.

These realizations made me start searching. At first I thought I could find peace in starting my own company so that I stood at the top of the ladder and would be able to have an impact on how the business ran and grew. It didn't take me long to realize I am not a business man. I don't think like one, I am not motivated by monetary gain enough to really push for things. I only care about a sexy idea, and once I have developed it I lose interest and want to move on to something else. This is not a good way to grow a business. I was stuck at this point, but after I started volunteering at a free medical clinic as an interpreter the light bulb suddenly flashed on. I could be a doctor! I love to help people, and making their lives better has a much greater impact than writing some faceless computer program.

Chalk it down friends! My decision was made and Medical School has become my goal. That decision was made roughly 5 years ago. This year, it is finally coming down to the wire. I have finished all of the prerequisites (by taking one night class a semester) and the MCAT is looming in July. The MCAT is my first true hurdle to getting accepted. This test is like the Triathlon of the academic world. You must take everything you have learned about Biology, Organic Chemistry, General Chemistry, and Physics and apply it one 4 hour test.

Join me as I continue to post my journey to improve both my mind and body. I will keep you updated on my fitness, and my struggles to accrue the necessary knowledge for a future career as a Physician.