Achieving Your Goals During COVID-19
Adam Martin, PharmD, discusses how to remain healthy and motivated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aislinn Antrim: Hi, this is Aislinn Antrim from Pharmacy Times. Before we get started, one of our top stories right now is about a study which found that COVID-19 patients with diabetes or uncontrolled hyperglycemia have significantly higher mortality rates. So there's more about that on Pharmacy Times. Adam Martin is back today with us. He's the founder of The Fit Pharmacist and today we're going to be discussing techniques for being successful and taking care of your physical health in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, Adam, many pharmacists are obviously working really long hours, they're on their feet—how can they take care of themselves
when they're so busy?
Adam Martin, PharmD: Absolutely. Thank you again for having me back on. Yeah, I think I come to this from practicing what I preach. I just worked a 13-hour shift yesterday before coming into this interview, so I am in the trenches. I get it, guys. I'm a frontline pharmacist working in the community setting so I know it's a struggle, I know it's difficult, but this is why you need to make your physical health such an important priority, because it's during these times when we are strained both physically and mentally that the investment in yourself is really going to pay off because it's that unexpected stress that often gets the best of us, not the stuff we see coming but the stuff that slips in—like a pandemic that came out of nowhere. Our whole world is turned upside down, so this is why it's so essential. But with social distancing and respecting that, and now with so many states being on a really stringent lockdowns, it's more important than ever to really be mindful of that and stay compliant because, yes, we're working frontlines, but we want to also lead by example when we're not there, to stay home. So finding ways to enact in-home exercises are crucial. I actually host a workout on Instagram stories once a week—it's just a push-up workout called Navy SEAL push-ups where you look to do a 15-minute window of really maximizing your time with that. Well push-ups are one super simple example. You can also do a lot of core exercises like ab work and so forth, but there's a lot of great content out
there on social media and other reputable accounts for people that are trained in this. In addition to being a pharmacist I'm also a certified personal trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine, so this is something I help people with as well as designing what is practical. So not that you have to be crazy about it but what you can be resourceful with what you have in
your home to really get a good workout that will help you say stay consistent with your physical fitness.
Aislinn Antrim: Definitely. I know we've heard from a lot of pharmacists that taking a lunch break is almost impossible, they're so busy. Do you have any tips for quick snacks or quick
Adam Martin, PharmD: Yes. So, first question: what's a lunch break? Yeah, I don't get one. I don't get one although I’m thirteen hours on my feet, no break. That's the reality that we face in pharmacy. I've been doing this since 2012, so it's something I've adapted to. So a lot of times when pharmacists are looking to get healthier and they look at their nutrition. they hire a nutritionist or something else and they say things like, “Chew 23 times before you eat” or “Have a nice balanced salad.” That's not practical when you're working on front lines and you get no break, right? So, you have to adapt—again, being resourceful with where you are and what
you have to work with. So, with that, you want portable things that are healthy and nutritious but aren't going to take a lot of chew time. And I know that sounds slightly pathetic but guys, that's
the reality of our world, so you've got to roll with that. So, some things that I do is I have protein bars, and I only have one a day so I'm not eating bars all day. I create my own protein shake and
I do it as a whole meal replacement, so I'll just have that. My simple recipe is a hot half cup of oats, microwave it—and I do all this at home to prep it so that when I get to work it's all there and ready—so I'd take a half a cup of oats, microwave it so it's cooked through. Add that in a
blender with 8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk, a scoop of protein, half a banana, and actually some cocoa powder. And I slip in a shot of espresso because, you know, no coffee no worky. So that's literally my go-to meal that's on-the-go, and I can literally have that fully nutritious meal while I'm on hold with the doctor's office, in between counseling and running to the drive-through for a drop-off and typing scripts and everything else that we do. So that's some way that I adapted and that will keep me full for a good three-plus hours. So adapting to your environment and finding simple solutions that are realistic—that's what the key is. And for everyone it's going to be different. We all have different diets, we all have different goals with our eating strategies, and that's really what I mean when I say the word “diet.” It's not restriction, it just simply refers to the method of eating that you would like to adhere to.
Aislinn Antrim: Interesting. Are there any quick exercises that they could do while they're on their feet?
Adam Martin, PharmD: Yes, and that's an excellent question. So, again, being resourceful with what you have. A lot of you feel like—and I've been told that—you're like a chicken with their head cut off, running around like a crazy person, and that's actually reality. So instead of trying to fit in group workouts and take people all over the place, think about this. You're in an environment where you're all together, you're trying to provide excellent service to your patients, you want to get them their medication as accurately and quickly as possible, so you're going to
be doing a lot of running and walking around. Why not use that to your advantage? So I wrote an article actually for Pharmacy Times all about why every pharmacy should have a step challenge, and I did this experiment just by happenstance a couple years ago and the results were crazy. So, we're all walking around, we're all running around the pharmacy, so use that to your advantage. A lot of us have competitive streaks, a lot of our techs want to be recognized, they want to be an
excellent contributor to the team, so if you hold just a simple step challenge of, you know, getting 10,000 steps a day or having a leaderboard if you've got a Fitbit like I do—use that as a free way to add some sort of competition to what you're doing anyway. And the results from this were astounding. People, whenever patients came and they wanted to find an item, an over-the-counter product, literally the techs would rush like, “I want to take them!” because they wanted more steps. If you run out of vials or you run out of paper, you need to go to the stockroom, “I want to go!” because they want more steps, and it was amazing how the simple little thing of using what you already have going on in your pharmacy could totally transform your environment into a healthful one that will drive customer service. It will drive productivity and really add just a friendly competition to take your mind off of, you know, the doom and gloom. It's a reality of what we're facing but have kind of a positive twist on it. Yes, we're running around, yes, we have to do these things, but at the same time there's something good that we can get out of this. And that's driving our physical fitness and feeling accomplished by not only doing our jobs to the best of our potential but using that as a way to increase our physical
Aislinn Antrim: Switching gears a little bit, to a little bit more mental health, isolation is certainly a struggle we've heard from many pharmacists saying they feel very isolated. What recommendations do you have for handling that?
Adam Martin, PharmD: So that's huge and that's not something to take lightly. So, real talk, guys, we are literally going through a traumatic experience, and I talked about this in our first interview segment. And with that, it's not something to be taken lightly, it's not something to blow off and put under the rug, it's something to acknowledge. And with that, when you can't
physically be with people, again, be resourceful with what you do have. You now have the gift of time, okay? You have time to connect with old friends, you have time, if you're a pharmacist that's graduated, to connect with people that you were good friends with in your pharmacy graduating class, but since you graduated life kind of happened and you haven't really talked to them. Send them a text, reach out to them on Facebook, see if you can set up a zoom call like we're doing right now. Talk with them, okay? Look at your friends and family—and I say this, too, a lot of times when you're at a holiday event, like, once a year—let's say a big gathering when it's Thanksgiving or Christmas. A lot of times you see friends and family that you genuinely like, they're good people, but just because life happens you don't really see them more than that one event a year. So, think about the people that you do see annually and you like them, you enjoy them, they're good people, but you just want to see, like, “Hey, it's been a while, you know, literally since last Christmas, and I probably won't see you again until Christmas, so I just
wanted to reach out and see how you're doing.” And this is something that's so huge. A lot of times right now we feel isolated, and with that we feel helpless. The best way to overcome being helpless is becoming helpful, and we do that as frontline pharmacists literally risking our health to provide optimal care for our patients. But if you take this a step further and realize that you actually have an opportunity to be out with the public—yes, it's a risk, but you are able to be social, even though it's, you know, high risk, you're able to be social with your patients and with your colleagues. And that's not something a lot of people have. So think about friends, family that, you know, that are laid off, they lost their jobs, or they're working from home. And this is a big thing. If someone's working from home and they have kids, now their life is really stressful. Not only do they have to change their work environment and work at home, which they're not used to, but amidst that they have to now become teachers for their kids, so that's a lot of chaos and a lot of stress. So those would be the people I would recommend reaching out to and
trying to be helpful, because when you become that, when you offer that, that's when you feel less helpless because you're giving help to those who need it and don't know how to deal with these kinds of things. Because let's be real, guys, none of us have ever gone through this before.
No one is an expert, no one knows how to optimally deal with this, but if you extend an offer to be helpful that's how you can really feel more unified instead of isolated.
Aislinn Antrim: Definitely, that's wonderful. You frequently discuss reaching your goals as a pharmacist, and I know right now it feels like we're in this holding pattern, we're just trying to make it through this period. But do you have advice for continuing to move forward and keep those goals in mind?
Adam Martin, PhrmD: Excellent question, thank you for asking that. So this is a huge question and the biggest crux for anxiety and fear. All the negative emotions that's going on right
now boils down to two things: the first being that there's no end in sight. We don't know when this is going to end, when the social isolation, when the closing of businesses, we don't know when it can end. There's a lot of uncertainty, okay? That's the first thing. The other is that there's so much change in every area so quickly, all at once, so what are you supposed to do with all of the change? And the answer to the question is actually the question. How to handle all the change is to change, that's it. So, when I say that, what I mean is coming to your goals, okay, again, we have the gift of time. Everything is like literally the world has hit pause and we have all this time to do all this stuff because we have more time. Use that as a time to reflect and say, “Are my goals my own?” And this is something huge, and we can get really deep here. So a lot of people are pharmacists, a lot of people are going after goals—accolades, whatever it may be—because they feel like by achieving that it will make their spouse happy or it will make their parents proud or something like that. So the question you need to ask yourself is, are your goals your own or are you trying to please other people? And I find that as pharmacists, because we're givers, a lot of times we fall into this trap. And while it might make others happy and initially make us feel good because we're making other people feel good, long term this can actually lead us to feel empty and lacking our purpose because we're not being true to what we want. So the first thing is really looking at what do you want? Not your friends, not your family, not your kids not your parents—what do you want for your life? What's the impact you want to have on the profession? On your patients? On students, if you're a preceptor? On your pharmacy technicians that you work with? What do you want to do, and then when you really get honest with yourself, come up with some sort of plan to go after that on a consistent basis. So, this is actually a fun exercise I'm going to give you guys. Okay, I want you to get out a piece of paper, and if you're driving obviously don't do this, so common sense required. So, get a piece of paper and a pen—not your phone, not your iPad. There's power in physically writing things down, and I want you to think with this. Okay, right now, just imagine this: The world is your catalog. When I say the world, I mean things. So, like, cars, money, whatever. Experiences, jumping out of a plane, whatever. People, living situations, vacations—there are no limits. Everything costs one dollar and you have ten million. Everything—so when I say a house I'm not saying the house is a dollar and then there's the insurance. No, no, don't overthink. The world is your catalog, anything you want—having an experience, having like the Lamborghini, a dollar. If you want to live and own an island it's a dollar. There are no financial limits, there is no logistical limits, you don't have to get this degree to get that. Literally, you look at the catalog, being your mind, your imagination, and you pick something and it's yours for $1 and you have ten million, right now. Think of
that and write down, if there was no financial limit, there is no limit to what you want, there's no limit, none of that. No limitations, what would you want your life to look like if there was nothing holding you back? Physically write that down. So I would love a beach house and a house in the mountains, and I would like seven cars—one for each day of the week. And I really like this car but I also have three favorite colors, so I want those. I'm serious, write this down. Go bananas, look at what do you want. Look at experiences. Do you want to have taught a class in pharmacy school? Do you want to have created a scholarship? Do you want to have written a book about your passion? Literally nothing is holding you back, you can do whatever you want. And something that might be helpful is, before you write this down, close your eyes and imagine what you would like to do, have, and experience if there was no limit to cost, to time. None of that. You name it and it's yours instantly. Okay, imagine that with your eyes closed, think about that, put yourself in the situation of sitting on that beach and feeling the surf, calm, and the waves riding up against you. Think of riding in your convertible with the wind blowing your hair. Think of being in a pharmacy school with pharmacy students coming up and asking you questions. Whatever your experience ideally looks like, imagine yourself in that moment. Open your eyes and write it down, and I want you to give yourself a good 30 minutes to write down every single thing that you want. Once that's done and you have every single thing that you would like to accomplish, have, and experience in your life, look at your list and start thinking, “How can I make this happen?” Because now you’re back in reality. You let your mind, your imagination go nuts—that's a good thing. Now it's on paper, these things now exist. What was once in your mind is now physically on paper. You just proved to yourself that you can take something in your mind and make it a reality. And I'm not making this up. Look at your paper,
it's right there, it's staring you in the face. How can we take that thing on paper and make it something that's in your life? That's how you get after your goals.
Aislinn Antrim: Definitely. Well, thank you so much for joining us. I know you're going to be back another time, so now we're going to hear from some of our other MJH Life Sciences brands on their latest headlines.