The way Deborah Murray, M.D., remembers it, her residency nearly did her in. During much of her 23 years in the Air Force, the now retired lieutenant colonel maintained a fairly lean form, but during her three-year residency in internal medicine, it was high stress, no exercise and bad eating. “I gained a lot of weight,” she admits.
While in her endocrinology fellowship, she suddenly found herself face to face with diabetes patients. “I had to tell them every single day that they had to follow a healthy lifestyle, to eat right and get into shape. I couldn’t be a hypocrite,” she says matter-of-factly.
And so Dr. Murray, a physician of NorthBay Center for Endocrinology and Diabetes in Vacaville, began to walk. At first it was just a little, then the distance grew.
“That’s what I tell all my patients,” she says. “Just walk. Get outside. Enjoy the sunlight.”
Before long, she wanted to make it more challenging, so she started running. That, combined with healthier eating, did wonders. Buoyed by her healthy condition, she decided to compete in a short race.
“It turns out that I’m actually somewhat competitive in my age group,” she recalls. “There’s nothing like winning a trophy for a 5k.”
After that, her goal became clear. She wanted to run the Boston Marathon by the time she was 50.
“I had to add gym work, because I needed to be stronger. But I found that the healthier you become, the healthier you want to become. I was a late bloomer, but you know what? It’s never too late.”
She went on to run the Boston Marathon at 50, and plans to run it again when she’s 60, a good five years off. In the meantime, there are other races to be run, including San Diego’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, and the Tour de Cure bicycle race in Napa to benefit the American Diabetes Association. She and her husband also get as much downhill skiing in as they can, before the snow is gone.
“The more you exercise, the more you can eat, and I love to eat,” she admits with a smile. “I’m a real foodie— the Food Channel is my favorite. ” And in October, she’ll be attending a cooking school in Tuscany, Italy. So in the meantime, she’ll be doing a lot of exercise.
“I figure I can lead by example,” she says. “You can enjoy wonderful food and even some alcohol in moderation and still be healthy. Being healthy doesn’t mean we give up the good stuff.”
Dr. Murray’s Workout Tips
- Walk, and gradually build up your time.
- Walk outside—enjoy the sunlight; you can use the Vitamin D.
- Do something aerobic for 30 minutes a day, five times a week. Make those workouts even longer, if you want to lose weight. Consider walking, running, rowing, cycling.
- You don’t need a gym—you can do strength training just by using natural resistance. Consider: pushups, lunges, squats, tricep dips.
- Consider using a personal trainer, just to get started. A trainer can offer good exercises that will help you make the best use of your time and equipment.
- Take classes. It can be fun and get you into shape.
- Want to run marathons someday? Consider joining the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Couch to Marathon team. Visit www.teamintraining.org. “They’ll teach you how to train and how to gradually build up so you can do it. It’s a great cause and a great way to train.”