Prior to law school, I was the epitome of a healthy person. I ate right, I exercised almost every day, I slept well, and I was well hydrated. I ate all the colors of the rainbow with mostly a plant-based diet and with very little, if any, meat or dairy. I drank about a hundred ounces of water every day, I never drank coffee, and I very rarely drank soda. My vitals were excellent, with no problems with cholesterol, heart rate, or blood pressure. I exercised at least six days a week. I ran, lifted weights, swam, or practiced yoga. I loved my running community, and I participated in several long-distance races, including several triathlons, and a marathon.
During the first year of law school, a group of other law students and I would go on weekly runs, but all other aspects of my healthy lifestyle quickly went to the back burner. I needed caffeine to keep me focused on the hours upon hours of reading needed for class. I started skipping workouts to make time for projects and homework. Further, I would eat anything that was put in front of me because I did not have time to plan for meals or to cook.
In my second year of law school, I don’t think I worked out a total of five times during the entire school year. I tried to stick to lunches consisting of soup or salad, but I then mostly ate frozen meals for dinner. My caffeine intake was increased to about three large cups of coffee per day. My water intake? Unfortunately, it did not increase at the same rate as my coffee consumption.
By my third year of law school, any trace of a healthy lifestyle was gone. I don’t even remember what I ate. I might as well have had an IV injected into my arm for caffeine. I certainly did not have time to exercise. I wasn’t sleeping well, my stress levels were at an all-time high, my blood pressure was elevated, and I’m sure my other vitals were nothing to be proud of. I felt pretty gross, and I disliked being in my own skin– my clothes didn’t fit right, my skin looked lifeless, and my hair was dull.
When it was time to start studying for the Bar, I was able to start exercising in the mornings, I did eat a little better, and I was able to cut down on some caffeine. However, just because of the sheer stress of studying for the Bar, I still felt like I was crawling to the finish line.
But then, the day after the exam was over, the sun came out. I already had a job with a law firm lined up, so I moved into a new house, in a new city, where my new office was located. My job wouldn’t start for six weeks, so I had time to join a gym, work out every day, go for runs and bike rides with my husband, take the dog for a couple walks a day, plan for meals, and do some healthy cooking each day. By the time I reported for my first day of work, I was full of energy and ready to perform.
My house, the gym, and my office are all within one-and-a-half miles of each other. Since I started working again, I’ve been able to continue working out five to six days a week. I also meet up with the Greenville Fleet Feet running group once a week to run around uptown Greenville, NC.
The gym I joined is Fit Body Boot Camp, also in Greenville, NC, and the workouts are pretty conducive for life as an attorney. The workouts have bursts of high intensity exercises combined with strength training. They only last thirty minutes, which is perfect for a person with a busy schedule. The workouts are effective because although the workout is short, one will continue to burn calories for the rest of the day, even while working in an office.
It has been a little more than five months since I’ve taken the Bar exam. I am back to my healthy pre-law school weight, I only have 22% body fat, my vitals are back to normal, and all my clothes fit again. I still drink a cup or two of coffee each day, but in the grand scheme of things, that’s not so bad! I find that a healthy lifestyle directly relates to my ability to produce quality work at the office and in my other endeavors. I’m healthy, happy, and energetic, and I am looking forward to a long career as an attorney who is able to effectively serve many clients!
Kristin Mitcham is a Commercial Real Estate Attorney for the Ward and Smith, P.A. law firm in North Carolina.