As doctors, residents, healthcare workers, and students, our schedules are busy! We spend so much time studying and working that adding even one more daily task into our hectic schedules can seem overwhelming. It can feel like we’re already stuck in a whirlwind — how are we supposed to make time for self-care?
Have you ever felt that way? I know I have! As a resident, it can feel like I spend all of my time studying or working, and being a mamma adds to the chaos. But one thing I’ve learned — especially in my pregnancy — is that self-care is essential. I know it feels like taking even just ten minutes out of your day to meditate or exercise is a waste of time, but I promise that the value it will bring to your life is worth it.
No one knows that better than my guest today, Dr. Julie Smith, DPT! Julie is an incredible physical therapist, but her journey to becoming a physical therapist wasn’t always smooth and easy. While she was still in school, Julie was taking 18 credit hours per semester and playing Division I soccer at the same time. She was living in the whirlwind and not practicing any self-care.
Since then, however, she’s learned how essential self-care actually is. Today, as a full-time physical therapist, fitness coach, and mamma, Julie knows the importance of taking care of herself first thing in the morning. She is prioritizing her needs, and she’s helping countless other women do the same. Julie has some incredible wisdom to share about the power of self-care, and I’m excited to get into it! Let’s get started!
Who Is Dr. Julie Smith, DPT?
Julie is an incredible testament to the power of self-love and self-care, but she wasn’t always that way. Growing up, Julie experienced a lot of body insecurity. As early as eighth grade, she remembers wishing for the perfect body she saw on TV and in the movies, despite being a slim, athletic child. She constantly compared herself to the other girls around her, and it took a toll on her self-confidence.
When Julie reached college, she was working hard and loving life! She played Division I soccer at the University of Evansville on top of pursuing her Doctorate in Physical Therapy, she had amazing friends, and she even met her future husband. But she still struggled in the self-love department — she’d never learned to love herself well, and she continued to struggle with comparison and body insecurity. As a result, she didn’t find the time to take care of herself, and her body insecurity continued to linger in her mind.
After college, life continued to be mostly good. Julie married the love of her life, and in 2015, she gave birth to her precious son Wyatt. Julie had everything she’d ever hoped for — except the perfect body. But then, something traumatic and scary happened: Julie’s mom was diagnosed with cancer.
Initial treatments for her mom’s Stage 4 melanoma didn’t work, so they had to start pursuing alternative treatment plans. They transitioned her to a plant-based diet, removed sugar from her diet, started her on an exercise plan, and even convinced her to start meditating! And all the while, Julie took up these practices alongside her mom. Together, the two started working to become healthier, and the results were astounding.
Julie’s mom recovered her energy. She was even able to watch Wyatt a few days a week! She felt much better, and even though she passed away shortly after, the last months of her life were happy and active. At the same time, Julie finally learned how to take care of herself. She emerged from the experience saddened by her mother’s passing but much healthier in her own mind.
Ever since going through that experience, Julie has been an incredible advocate for self-care and self-love! She is coaching women everywhere to help them accomplish their health and fitness goals and learn to love themselves along the way. I truly admire Julie for the incredible service she provides, and I’m excited for you to hear her wisdom today! So, without any further ado, let’s dive into the interview!
Experiencing Imposter Syndrome in the Whirlwind
I know I’ve already said this, but it bears repeating — as healthcare professionals, our lives can get pretty crazy! School and residency are some of the busiest and most stressful experiences of our lives. It can be hard to think beyond these few years we spend in really intense work and study, but in hindsight, Julie definitely wished she had made the time for self-care:
“Me and my friend who I went to college with, we [were] on the phone today, and we literally had this conversation: We said, ‘What if we took as much time and energy as we do now taking care of ourselves? What if we [had] done that while we were in college?’ [We wondered] how much better athletes would we have been or how much we would have just enjoyed the learning process rather than just … stressing out about every assignment and project there ever was.” – Dr. Julie Smith, DPT
As healthcare professionals, we tend to be a competitive group, don’t we? We work hard and push ourselves to work even harder. We’re constantly thinking about what we need to do to level-up, get the highest scores on our exams, and study more or work harder than the person next to us. I think we often compare ourselves to others, and we make ourselves feel guilty when we take the time to do anything that doesn’t directly give us a leg-up over our competitors.
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever thought about doing something just to take care of yourself, only to feel guilty about not studying or working? Do you compare yourself to others around you and drive yourself crazy trying to measure up to what you think they’re doing?
I totally understand that feeling, and so does Julie! It’s called Imposter Syndrome, and it happens when we compare ourselves to others and make ourselves feel less worthy of our success.
How Do We Overcome Imposter Syndrome?
But here’s the thing: The cure for Imposter Syndrome isn’t working harder, studying more, or reaching greater success than the people around us. The cure for Imposter Syndrome is self-love! We can only overcome the temptation to compare ourselves to others by learning to love ourselves first and foremost. And how do we do that? By consistently engaging in self-love and self-care practices.
I asked Julie to share the ways she’s overcome her Imposter Syndrome, and her answer was golden:
“It was definitely removing people on social media that I was comparing myself to, … and then secondly [it] was getting to the root of … what even that feeling was and where it was coming from and why I was having that.” – Dr. Julie Smith, DPT
I think there are two great pieces of wisdom in there: The first is that you should remove people you compare yourself to from your social media. Do you ever find yourself scrolling through Instagram or Facebook and feeling worse and worse about yourself? People tend to post the very best versions of their lives on social media, and while we may not be seeing the messier sides of things, those kinds of idealized posts can still make us feel discouraged about our own lives. If you’re consistently seeing posts that make you feel down, remove those people from your feed! There’s nothing wrong with blocking posts that make you feel less worthy of self-love, and it will help you develop confidence in yourself.
The second great piece of advice is that it’s important to look for the root of why you’re feeling insecure about yourself. When you notice that something is triggering those negative feelings in you, take a step back and think about why you’re feeling that way. Did you have an experience in your childhood that created insecurity in your mind? Once you find the root of those negative emotional reactions, it’s much easier to overcome them!
Develop a Morning Routine
One of the best ways to incorporate some self-care into our busy lives is to develop a morning routine. Too often, we tend to wake up and immediately start scrolling through social media, which can lead to those feelings of comparison and insecurity we talked about a minute ago. That doesn’t set us up for a successful day! But if we create positive habits and a morning routine that sets us up for success, we’re much more likely to approach the day with the right mindset.
I asked Julie about her morning routine, and I loved what she had to say. First, Julie starts every day by getting up at 5:00 AM:
“I wake up at 5:00 AM. I have to start getting ready at 6:00 AM, so I literally give myself one hour for [my] morning routine, and just getting Julie awake for the day, which is a feat because I am not a morning person.” – Dr. Julie Smith, DPT
I’ve read it over and over — some of the most successful people in the world wake up at 5:00 AM. Getting up so early ensures that they have ample time to go through their full morning routine and get into a mindset of positivity and productivity.
Of course, you don’t have to get up that early to have a morning routine! But giving yourself even ten minutes at the beginning of your day to intentionally focus on yourself and your goals for the day can shift your whole mindset.
After Julie wakes up, she spends time praying and meditating:
“I start by praying in bed. So I’m awake, but I’m not moving yet. … I have an app on my phone, the Bible app, and I usually read a verse or two from that, and then that gets my brain awake enough to actually get out of bed. And I go down to my office, which is in the basement. I will then meditate for ten to 15 minutes. I envision how I want the day to go.” – Dr. Julie Smith, DPT
Do you have a meditation practice in your life? Meditation is a great way to focus your mind on your beliefs about yourself and your life as well as visualize everything you want to do in a day. Julie likes to read a few Bible verses in the morning, but even if you’re not religious, you can still get a lot out of meditation! It’s great to spend a few minutes reading something meaningful and meditating on the positive thoughts you want to carry into your day.
Finally, Julie spends a few minutes planning and goal-setting:
“And then I will plan. … If I have anything specific that I need done that day, I write it in my planner. And then I will post a social media post, and then I go about … my way.” – Dr. Julie Smith, DPT
Do you have a place where you write down the tasks you want to accomplish each day? I like to use a Passion Planner, and Julie has a simple paper planner, but you can use whatever you want! Taking the time to write down your goals for each day can be a powerful practice. It gives you a little visual reminder of everything you want to accomplish, and that can help you stay on track when your day gets busy!
Exercise Is Important, Too!
Going through a morning routine is an incredible self-care practice, but it’s not the only thing we can do to take care of ourselves. Exercising and moving our bodies is essential for good health, but we often don’t make time for it.
“I think when people say they don’t have time, it’s rooted in a deep belief that they don’t think they’re worthy. … I think they have to get to the root of why don’t they want to move their body. … It’s a gift to have a body and to be able to move it, and the fact that you don’t think you’re worthy enough to do that is not okay. … Why do you not think you’re good enough to move your body? Or why do you now think you deserve movement or exercise?” – Dr. Julie Smith, DPT
Do you feel like you’re unworthy of exercise? Tribe, I’m here to tell you that you ARE worthy! You are worthy of exercising the bodies you have been given, and you are worthy of keeping those bodies healthy! If you haven’t been taking the time to exercise, I want to encourage you today: You are worthy of that time. You deserve to take a little time out of your day to move your body and exercise.
Once you accept that you are worthy and deserve to make time for exercise, finding a workout routine is as simple as finding something you’ll enjoy!
“Okay, so, tips to love your body and love moving your body: I think for starters, you need to find something you enjoy. If you don’t like to lift weights, forcing yourself to go lift weights is not the way to do it. Find a type of exercise that you genuinely enjoy to do. … Secondly, … I find a lot of people are afraid of movement, or they’re afraid of working out because they get hurt. But if they learn and educate … their minds on proper warmup and proper cool-down and using your body the right way, [they] can actually enjoy movement.” – Dr. Julie Smith, DPT
What do you love to do? It doesn’t have to be a specific exercise, and it doesn’t have to be the type of exercise your friends or family like. Do you hate running? That’s okay! You could try swimming, cycling, or kickboxing. There are tons of options out there — find something that works for you!
And if you feel unsure of how to create a healthy workout routine that will help you get the benefits of exercise without injuring yourself, there are plenty of resources available to help you figure it all out. I’d encourage you to check out Julie’s coaching service! Julie provides personalized workout plans as well as coaching services for her clients — she provides a ton of value, and most importantly, she teaches her clients how to love and take excellent care of themselves. If you need a little extra boost to get started on a workout plan, Julie is here to help!
Step Out with Confidence® with Dr. Julie Smith, DPT
I truly enjoyed this conversation with Julie! I admire the way she has learned to take care of herself, and I’m so grateful that she has a passion for sharing her wisdom with others. I learned a lot about self-love and the importance of truly accepting your worth, and I hope you learned something too!
Before I go, I want to share with you Julie’s definition of success. I think it speaks to her beautiful, servant heart:
“Success, for me, is changing someone’s life. When someone messages me or comes to me and says, ‘You have changed my life’ — that, to me, is a success. And it could be the smallest little thing, but that’s what I’m here to do … to change lives.” – Dr. Julie Smith, DPT
Julie is so sincere in her desire to change as many lives as possible — nothing lights her up more than to help someone learn to love themselves and take care of their physical fitness! That’s why I recommend checking out her wonderful coaching service. If you think you would benefit from having a coach who can help personalize your workouts and help you get into the best shape of your life, Julie would love to work with you!
Thank you so much for joining me for this incredible episode of the Millennial Doc podcast! I hope you loved it as much as I did. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with your friends on Instagram! And don’t forget to tag Julie, @dr.julie_fitsmith, and me, @drnikoleta, and share your biggest takeaways with us. We’d love to hear from you!
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Until next time — remember that you deserve self-care. Try to find just a few minutes in your day to meditate or exercise — you’ll be amazing at the difference it makes!
I love you all!
Disclaimer: The Millennial Doc® Podcast is advertising/marketing material. It is not medical advice. Please consult with your doctor on these topics. Copyright Dr. Nikoleta 2019.