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Journey of a DPT Student

Practice What You Preach

Published April 9, 2012 4:18 PM by Lauren Rosso

Since I started school last June, my fitness levels have been steadily declining. I can confidently say that at this point, I'm at an all-time low. Prior to starting school, I worked a normal full-time job and for the most part, work was over when I walked out of the building. This meant that I had a lot more time to devote to fitness and hobbies, and while I didn't always do the best job, it was much easier to stay in shape.

Fast forward nine months, and I find myself in the worst shape I have been in within the past 10 years. Never in my life did I think I would consider walking my dogs a form of exercise. And yes, of course, there is time to do more than study in PT school. However, by starting a job and getting involved in as many opportunities as possible, I think I ate up a lot of that time. Exercise has become secondary to a lot of other things, and I'm not proud of it.

I find it ironic that by pursuing a profession that promotes fitness and well-being, I have lost touch with my personal drive for each of those things. I sometimes feel like a hypocrite when I'm educating a patient about the importance of exercise. I hear myself say the words, and when I have time to reflect on them later, I realize that I need to take my own advice. Unfortunately, it's just not that easy. (And who's to say patients don't feel the same way. Maybe this is a useful life lesson). Either way, I can't help but feel slightly embarrassed about my current physical state knowing that I am supposed to represent a profession that encourages a healthy lifestyle.

I'm confident that I will have more time to devote to getting back in shape once this semester ends. And to be honest, there really isn't anywhere to go but up at this point. So my new goal is not to feel this way four months from now.


This post really resonates with me, as my fitness level plummeted my first year of PT school. After a year of late night studying filled with poor nutritional choices and almost no consistent exercise, I finally decided I was fed up with how bad my body felt & signed up for a half marathon. Having that concrete goal with a regimented schedule forced me to write runs into my weekly schedule. With this new goal came better eating habits and after a wonderful first 1/2 marathon running had become habit once more. As PT school progressed, managing my time became easier & I was able to incorporate different forms of exercise such as pilates, yoga, and group exercise classes. On my first clinical I was in the midst of the unhealthy first year & like you felt almost ashamed promoting healthy living when I was not living it. After getting everything back on track nutritionally and physically, I was much more excited to promote healthy living to patients. Many patients have even taken what I did to heart and signed up for a 5k or fun run/walk in order to have a concrete goal to work toward. Having overcome my own fitness slump seems to make patients more willing to listen to my advice, as opposed to someone who has never struggled with this sort of thing. While I didn't enjoy my first year habits, I think that experience makes it easier for me to understand where my patients are coming from & find ways for each of them to incorporate healthy living in their daily life.

Hannah March 27, 2013 9:48 AM
Greenville NC

Hey Lauren!  Reading your post I can definitely relate to how you feel.  Our PT school started last May and the first semester is Gross and Functional Anatomy every day, almost all day.  Between classes, studying, and trying to get to know my new classmates there was almost no time to drive to campus for a gym workout.  Also, it was summer and much more enticing to sit by the pool with new friends!  Last semester a few of my classmates and I started doing Just Dance on the Wii for a study break, which turned out to be fun and a pretty good workout.  This semester I started swimming several days a week and have found that I enjoy that much more than running on a treadmill or elliptical for 30 minutes.  I also have done part of the Insanity workout program to mix up my exercise routine.  I realized that if I do the same exercise for a work out over and over I get bored and just eventually stop exercising all together!  This really opened my eyes that our patients probably feel the same way if they are asked to do exercises that are not interesting to them.  After my experience I will definitely think more about different ways for my patients to perform exercises that will be beneficial, but also relevant to their interests!  

Kristen Garrison March 5, 2013 4:15 PM

Molly, that's a great idea for a post.  I can tell you what I did- I took a trip to Italy.  So obviously I was in the "take it easy" mindset.  If I were to go back and do it again, I don't think I would have done anything differently.  I'll have to think about it though.Thanks for the idea!

Lauren Rosso April 12, 2012 10:47 AM

Actually, is there anything you would have done differently leading up to your first semester...or any advice you can give? My program starts in the fall, so I have this summer "off." I was advised to relax and make the most of it since it will be my last summer without schools or clinicals. Any thoughts? Perhaps you've mentioned this before and I missed it. That might make a great post.

Molly Katherine Kineke April 11, 2012 11:32 PM

Hey Molly,

Glad I'm not the only one!  PT school has been a major lifestyle adjustment in a lot of different ways.  I have a lot of internal battles about what's more important- studying about working out, or actually going to work out myself.  Sometimes it's just hard to find a balance.  And thanks for reading.  It's nice to know that I'm not just rambling on about things that don't matter to anyone.  Where are you headed for school next year?  

Good luck with everything!  If there's anything you'd like to know about, let me know.  I'm always looking for new blog ideas.



Lauren Rosso April 10, 2012 7:07 PM

Hi Lauren! A few things:

1) AMEN! Thanks for posting this. I'm a senior undergrad now, going to PT school this fall, and I just came to this realization myself last week. Last semester I ran a half marathon, but with my crazy schedule this semester I'm lucky if I work out twice a week! I'm right there with you. I just started implementing a half hour of pilates every day as a studying break to help get me back into shape, and already I'm starting to feel much better. Just wanted to say you're not alone...and I'm glad I'm not either! To be a hypocritical PT would be ineffective, and I'd feel so guilty! I'm so glad we both realized that.

2) I've been following your posts for a while, and I just wanted to say thanks. As a soon-to-be-PT student, I really appreciate your perspective; you're preparing me to face these next three years!

All the Best,


Molly Katherine April 10, 2012 6:50 PM

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