Achieving and maintaining good health can look a bit different for everyone, including health care providers. In this series, we spotlight a Polyclinic providers approach to their physical and mental health.
A Q & A with Dr. Jim Hsu, an orthopedic surgeon with a special interest in sports medicine at The Polyclinic
What are your go-to healthy foods?
“As a long-distance runner, I try to eat in ways that help me feel and perform better quickly. Simple foods like whole fruit to replenish the carbohydrate fuel I have expended, and yogurt for the proteins to help my muscles and tendons recover. I trust these simple items more than ‘recovery formulas’ widely touted in sports nutrition circles. I try to take in the food shortly after the exercise because the body benefits from rapid replenishment after a hard workout.”
What are your splurge foods?
“In Seattle, there are those times when you simply have to pull into a Dick’s Drive-In and have a DeLuxe cheeseburger, fries, and a shake. After I cross the finish line of a race that I’ve been training for for months, I allow myself a day of splurging. Sometimes it’s pizza, more burgers, fried chicken, or, all of the above—especially if it’s a big race like a marathon and I just burned close to 2,500 calories!”
What are some of your favorite ways to move (and how often)?
“I run just about every day. Once I got over the ‘running is boring’ and ‘running is tough’ barriers, I have found it to be an immensely rewarding pursuit, for my physical and mental health.
Some days it’s just a short 30-minute run if I am in a hurry. On most weekends, I take advantage of the extra time and run far, often for more than two hours at a time, seeing the city up close and literally at the ground level.
Running also has a built-in endless list of goals: particular races to run, new distances to train for, and new personal-best results to chase after. For me, having that tangible goal is important. I find it far more motivating to work toward that target than to work out in the abstract (i.e. Stairmaster for 45 minutes, three days a week).”
What is some favorite healthful advice you received and why?
“Be patient. Don’t try to ramp up your exercise regimen too quickly. Build in some down weeks so that your body can recover and move forward again.”
What is some healthful advice you give to your patients and why?
What did you learn in your medical training that inspires or reminds you to take care of your health?
“In looking back at my medical school and residency training years, I realize how easy it is to exercise less and less, and pretty soon it’s easy to not exercise at all. Yes, I can be busy, and often exhausted, making exercise easy to ignore. Knowing this, I find an extra incentive to stay consistent with my activities so I don’t have to start from scratch again."
What are some of your favorite ways to practice self-care?
“I try to keep up with all the facets that make me who I am, of which one’s work/profession is an important part but not the entirety. No matter what one’s profession and work situation is, there will always be challenges and difficult moments, and often out of your control. For mental health sake, it is best to not let the work define your entire being!
I connect to music. I am lucky that my wife is a musician in the Seattle Symphony; we actually met as violin students at college. Through her profession, I am able to stay in touch with that part of my life, by attending Seattle Symphony concerts and listening to and talking about music with her and her colleagues.
I am curious about the visual arts, music, film, and literature. I also was fortunate in my childhood and youth to have spent time with other peers in the arts, so I still have a curiosity for these subjects. I make a point to seek out art museums and exhibits and concerts when I am traveling.”
Learn more about Dr. Hsu and his orthopedics practice.