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by Cherie T. Buisson, DVM, CHPV
Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Veterinarian
Originally published on DrAndyRoark.com

Here are four words I never thought I’d hear myself say: “I am a cyclist.” I’ve always detested exercise. If you ever saw me running, there was probably something chasing me.

When I started dating my husband, he introduced me to cycling. I bought an entry level bike, thinking it would have been much less work to just set the money on fire. I bought pants that made my butt look bigger on purpose. I bought pedals that fastened to my shoes. The first few times we did any climbing, I thought I would die before we finished the ride. Slowly, the climbing got easier, the pedals turned faster, and my butt got smaller. I was in love – with the guy and the bike

Before long, I was screaming at Le Tour de France on TV, looking for bigger hills and longer rides and coveting a bike that cost more than my first car. When I don’t ride, my coworkers can tell. There’s something about the circular motion that clears my mind and makes me more positive. Over the last eight years, I’ve learned a lot about cycling and myself. I’ve also learned how to better manage my veterinary career using lessons I learned while pushing pedals.

1 – When there is an obstacle in your path, look to the left or right of it. Where your eye goes, your bike will follow. Focus not on what’s in your way, but how to get beyond it.

2 – Balance is the key. If you want to move, you have to stay balanced. If you lean too hard in any one direction, there’s a good chance you’ll crash. Avoid leaning hard into work all the time instead of spending time with family or taking care of yourself.

3 – WEAR A HELMET. Know that the ground is harder than your head. Protect yourself all around – have insurance, protect your license, practice good medicine, listen to your gut, write it down.

4 – ALWAYS fill your tires. It’s much easier to get a flat when your tire is soft and susceptible to puncture. If you keep yourself filled with diet, exercise and positive thoughts, it will be harder for anyone or anything to deflate you.

5 – Have a great team. One unsafe, low-concentration, bad-attitude team member can make everyone kiss the pavement. If someone isn’t pulling their weight, put them on notice. If they can’t be a positive influence on the team, get rid of them.

6 – Everyone on the team needs to be healthy and well-rested. If you or your team are working hung over, sick or overtired, you endanger your patients and your license. Sometimes not being at your best is unavoidable, but if it’s becoming a frequent occurrence, address it.

7 – If you’re pedaling so hard that you lose your form, slow down. There is a point where you are seeing so many patients that you are practicing medicine beneath your skills. Figure out what that point is and avoid getting near it. Remember that if someone pushes you into practicing fast rather than good medicine, they will disappear the second it comes back to bite you.

8 – Respect the machine. The bike can’t ride without you and vice versa. Maintain your equipment, practice good self-care. Above all, listen to your body. Know when something just isn’t right and address it before things fall apart.

– Clip into your pedals. It’s scary being committed to anything. You don’t reach your full power until you tie your feet to the pedals. Not only do they push down, but they lift up, using the full potential of your legs. Commit yourself to being the best professional you can be. Utilize all your skills and learn new ones. Leave work at work and home at home as much as possible. Concentrate on the patient, family member or problem in front of you. Don’t forget to concentrate on the person in the mirror regularly.

10 – You can climb the mountain. It may be hard. It may hurt. It may make you cry – but getting to the top is like no other feeling in the world.