STAY IN SHAPE BY FOLLOWING THIS ICU DOCTOR’S LEAD

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Ursa Mikuz is a Medical ICU Doctor who deals with the devastating effects of heart attacks daily. Seeing first-hand the link between unhealthy lifestyles and ill-health has made her a true fitness advocate – and she’s pretty motivational too.

Tell us about a typical day?

I am doing my cardiology fellowship. I am not quite a cardiologist yet, but I just have about three years to go. I currently work as a specialist in Medical ICU, which is the highest intensive care unit in Slovenia. It seems like a stressful job, but I love it because it’s so me – it’s fast paced and you’re always on the go. You get in a patient, you do whatever you can and then you’re on to the next.

On a typical day I start work at 7.15am and finish at around 3.30pm. I pick up my two-year-old boy from kindergarten and then in the evening my partner and I juggle childcare and exercise. It’s in the evenings that I do my other job – I’m certified to teach five different LES MILLS programs, but it’s just BODYATTACK and CXWORX that I teach regularly.

Is this mix of medicine and fitness the career you always planned?

I have a father who’s a physicist – he’s a lunatic who will work all night – and because of that I always knew that I don’t share such a special talent or passion for raw science. I went into medicine because it satisfies my love of science, but it’s very broad – and I wanted to keep my options open. At the beginning, I didn’t even know if I wanted to work with patients. I thought I might work in a lab or for a pharmaceutical company. But during med school I realized that working with patients is pretty cool and rewarding.

It was also during med school that I got into group fitness. I was looking to replicate the group dynamic I enjoyed when I was a dancer in my younger years. Training to be an instructor has helped a lot in my medical profession – you learn how to step up and perform, you know, to be loud, to be heard and be clear.

What have you experienced in medicine that drives your commitment to fitness?

Every day I am surrounded reminders of the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Working as an ICU doctor we deal with heart attacks on a daily basis. Our unit covers around 1000 myocardial infarctions [heart attacks] every year. We see so many unhealthy people, mostly obese, mostly smokers, and often pretty young. Whenever a young person with a myocardial infarction comes in it reminds you how critical a healthy lifestyle is.

So what’s the secret to a healthy lifestyle?

Eat well and move. It’s that simple. However, there is no short cut, you have to do both, just one is not enough.

What do you think is the best type of training and why?

For years I have been a cardio chick – I love cardio training, particularly running. Weight training was never something I was interested in, but that’s changed. I now realize the importance of balance and how weight training is something everyone should do. Be warned, when you first start out, the first few sessions of weight training can sometimes feel a little boring. But then you find a challenge and you get hooked. And when you start weight training it transforms your physique!

What’s your eating philosophy? Do you follow a diet?

Just like exercise, healthy eating is all about balance, and listening to your body.

I eat everything in balance, but I’ve figured out that for me carbohydrates usually make me really tired. I know that if I have pasta I will need to go straight to bed, and that I’ll feel shitty afterwards, so I steer clear of carbs. Sugar is something I eat from time to time, but I’ve always been someone who prefers salty food over sweat treats.

You work full time, teach group fitness classes, train six times a week, and have a young child … Where do you get your motivation?

I think it’s very important that exercise becomes a way of life. I am very thankful to my parents that they introduced exercise, specifically dance, into my life from a young age, and now I feel the motivation to exercise is within me.

I know how good I feel after exercise, I have more energy and I feel great. My partner will tell you that if I don’t do exercise I’m grumpy!

So what’s your best piece of advice for someone seeking your resolve?

Just start moving regularly. Regularity is the key. Once you do it regularly that’s when you start to feel all the psychological and mental benefits. If you only exercise once a week you will just end up tired for a few days afterwards. If you do it three to four times a week you will really notice the difference. You will start to feel so much better.

 

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