A year ago, on the cusp of graduating from college and preparing to start medical school, Lindsay White decided she was ready to make another big change in her life.
The University of Wyoming graduate and first-year student in the WWAMI Medical Education Program was tired of not being able to enjoy the activities she loved, such as hiking with her family or mountain biking.
“My fitness level was holding me back from doing those things that I like,” she said.
She grew up playing sports year-round, but the busy schedule of college and the pressure of preparing for medical school pushed those activities to the side.
“I had gotten to the point where I wasn’t doing those things, and I wasn’t as happy,” she said.
During the past 12 months, she joined a local gym, started working out on a regular basis and adopted healthier eating habits. She now finds herself 75 pounds lighter, with a new mindset about healthy living she hopes to share with future patients.
White graduated from Douglas High School before moving to Laramie to attend the University of Wyoming, where she studied physiology and Spanish. Her aim since she was young was to become a physician, following the path of her dad and grandfather, both surgeons.
“I think that’s where the initial inspiration came from,” she said of her father. “I’ve always looked to him, and that’s how I initially saw medicine as a future career.”
While other little girls were playing with dolls, she was bandaging up teddy bears.
“It’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” she said.
The WWAMI program is a regional medical school for students living in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. Students spend the first year in their home states before finishing school at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.
White said she doesn’t know for sure what she wants to specialize in, but she’s considering obstetrics and gynecology.
“I like the combination of surgery and patient interaction,” she said.
“I like getting that continuity of care with a patient.”
Tim Robinson, who directs the Wyoming branch of the WWAMI program, works with White in her capacity as class president, where she acts as a liaison between the Wyoming group and the rest of the school. Robinson said he’s impressed by White’s leadership skills and organizational ability.
“Her classmates think very highly of her, and for good reason,” he said.
When the program sought feedback after implementing a new curriculum, Robinson said White solicited input from classmates and submitted it in a humble fashion.
“There have been changes this year directly impact by the constructive feedback that Lindsay offered,” he said.
Rachel Carr, who owns CrossFit Laramie, said White is also a leader at the gym.
“She’s super supportive of everyone she comes in contact with and a good example of how it can be done,” Carr said.
When White started working out at the gym in May, she had big goals in mind, but they were far away. She adopted a few strategies to help maintain motivation.
For example, she found a supportive community at the place she goes to work out almost every day. She tried working out on her own but wasn’t able to keep up with it the same way.
“That helped with the motivation and sticking with it,” she said.
Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight, and fitness comes slowly, but White made goals along the way that would allow her to measure progress. As fall approached, she anticipated her suddenly busy schedule might make it hard to stick with her new routine, so she signed up for a competition in Denver with a couple friends.
“It’s that balance of giving yourself credit for the things you have done so you can stay motivated to do new things,” she said.
Carr said behavior goals, instead of outcome goals, allow a person to turn a long-term dream into a series of steps that will take them there.
“The sticking points is figuring out the behavior that can make the big goal a reality,” she said.
These days, White is working on improving skills where she’s not as strong, such as pull-ups and hand-stand push-ups. She has also changed her diet, trading fast food and junk for more vegetables and lean protein.
White plans to spend the summer in Cody learning about rural medicine before moving to Seattle to finish school. She hopes she can be an example for people around her, and for her future patients, about how to make long-term lifestyle changes.
“I know what that experience is like, and I do hope that it will make me a better doctor in the long run,” she said.