Dr. Katie Berlin, of The Vet Reset, chats with me about physical fitness and mental resiliency in veterinary medicine. She has some amazing insights, so please check it out below or wherever you listen to podcasts!
See Full Transcript – *Please note* This transcipt is created using Otter.ai so please excuse any typos or errors!
Stacey Cordivano 0:07
Hey there, it’s Dr. Stacey Cordivano. I want veterinarians to learn to be happier, healthier, wealthier and more grateful for the life that we’ve created. On this podcast, I will speak with outside of the box thinkers to hear new ideas on ways to improve our day to day life. Welcome to The Whole Veterinarian.
Stacey Cordivano 0:31
Hey guys, welcome back to The Whole Veterinarian. I’m so excited to be launching season two. I missed you all. Today, we get to do a very January-ish episode, I am excited to share with you my interview with Dr. Katie Berlin. It’s a fun one, she’s got some great insight. So I hope you enjoy. Here’s a little bit about her. Katie Berlin is an optimist, podcast junkie, book nerd and lover of all things running and fitness. She works as an associate veterinarian at Shiloh Veterinary Hospital in York, PA and as a veterinary editor at Clinicians Brief and recently launched The Vet Reset podcast. You can find her full bio in the show notes. But for now, let me introduce you to Dr. Katie Berlin. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Katie Berlin 1:17
Hi, thanks so much for having me.
Stacey Cordivano 1:19
I’m excited to chat, I was hoping you could talk a little bit about how The Vet Reset came about, a little bit about your background, and what got you here today.
Katie Berlin 1:30
Sure, I am a person who’s interested in a lot of things like I have my finger in a lot of pots. I just have always been that way. I think I like to pick up new things and you know, learn new stuff. But it was always intellectual or creative. When I was growing up, you know, I just was not a very athletic kid. I rode horses, which as we all know, is hard work. But that is not seen by the outside world as a sport, really. And so I always thought of myself as like kind of a book nerd and you know, I like to paint and stuff like that, and tried to get out of gym class at any given opportunity. And then I sort of discovered the athlete inside myself later in life. And it changed everything about myself and the way I see life now. So I just feel like that confidence and that sort of feeling that everything is new again. And that there’s all this potential that I didn’t know I had or that life had for me, I want other people to feel that feeling. And I feel like in this field, you know, in vet med right now we’re talking so much more about mental health than we used to. And I think that is amazing. Like, even in that 11 years, whatever that I’ve been out of school is so much different. But for me, a huge component of mental health is physical health. And I think we don’t talk about that as much like as a profession, I think we generally are pretty bad at prioritizing our own physical health. We go for hours and hours and hours without peeing or drinking water, like we’ll skip lunch or eat it while we’re actually like we have a hand on a patient and a sandwich in the other hand, and we stay late at work and we don’t prioritize you know those appointments with ourselves. And so through The Vet Reset, what I really wanted to do is just highlight ways that veterinary professionals are making it work and prioritizing physical health and wellness and the impact that that’s had on their mental health. A lot of the people that I’m talking to have had burnout moments or you know, moments where they just felt like they might need to leave the profession. And in a lot of cases, I think it was at least in part, their physical health, physical wellness, or discovering some kind of athletic pursuit that helps them figure out a way to stay is that’s definitely been the case with me.
Stacey Cordivano 3:51
Interesting. So specifically for you, where were you at mentally and physically before and then you mentioned, you know, you had sort of a switch that flipped for you. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Katie Berlin 4:03
Yeah, I I was pretty burned out. And it was I think I’d been out of school, five years. You know, it’s nothing.
Stacey Cordivano 4:10
But also pretty common.
Katie Berlin 4:12
Yeah, I also know I’m not alone. That’s like the the period where the new grad haze has worn off and you’re not so completely consumed with like, everything is brand new. And then there’s that moment of you’re like is, Is this it? You know, like I’m not happy, and I’ve just spent all this time and all this money. And everybody’s proud of me, you know, and now I’m not happy like what is wrong with me? Around that time, I have a horse he’s quirky. He’s like a dented can.
Stacey Cordivano 4:49
Haha. That’s equine code word for naughty.
Katie Berlin 4:53
And I’m not riding right now but, but he he quirked me right off one day my foot got stuck in the stirrup I tore my ACL, which took a few months to diagnose. And I was going to the gym at that point, like taking classes and stuff. So I liked to do like body pump classes and stuff like that. But, you know, it wasn’t my life, it was just something that I like to do. And when I got diagnosed, finally, with this torn ACL, it was the middle of show season, and I could still ride. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t really walk downhill. I definitely couldn’t jump or do anything with impact, but I could ride a horse without pain. So there was no way I was having surgery in like May. So, horse people will understand. So I put off surgery till January. And then I had my ACL reconstruction done. And that recovery is long and difficult. And there’s a lot of physical therapy involved. But they sent me to a rehab gym, after my physical therapy sessions were out of my insurance, and I met this trainer, and he changed my life. He would say things like, you know, while I was complaining about doing another, or whatever, he would say, well, you’re too good an athlete to sell yourself short like that. And, like you have to understand, that just blew my mind. Like no one had ever called me an athlete before, I really just started to discover how good it made me feel. And around that time, I was also getting back to work, you know, I really didn’t take very much time off because we don’t do that, right. But I had had to cut back my hours a little bit at work. And I discovered that that was making a huge difference, too. So there was a combination of finding this side of myself, this physical ability and drive that I didn’t realize I had while I was very broken. And also, just like a few fewer hours at work, just a little less pressure made such a huge difference in my my mental health and my outlook on on life and work. And it’s just kind of, you know, spiraled from there.
Stacey Cordivano 6:47
Yeah, you got your personal training certification also, right?
Katie Berlin 6:51
I did. I haven’t actually really used it yet. But But I got it because I like certifications
Stacey Cordivano 7:00
We all like to be accomplished. But I think that shows, you know, the commitment that you’re making to yourself and your fitness.
Katie Berlin 7:07
And yeah, you know, I like to know how things work. And I really love teaching fitness. So I’ve been teaching group fitness for I guess about five years, just off and on. And that’s just been a game changer and confidence in like, you know, whatever the pressure situation is, it’s probably not as bad as having to teach dance fitness to a bunch of people, like, in real time in an auditorium.
Stacey Cordivano 7:31
Yeah, I feel like, what I hear a lot out of your story is that in order to find happiness, within veterinary medicine, you’ve really sort of pushed the boundaries of your other parts of your life.
Katie Berlin 7:45
Yes, I think that’s true, I think, you know, there’s a lot to be said, for not viewing your identity, as the same thing as your career. Yeah, I’ve always been a big believer that, you know, while we may have a calling to be in vetmed, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to marry ourselves to the profession and say, Well, I’m gonna sacrifice other things, you know, at the altar of Veterinary Medicine, even if I really want to do those things. And even if that ends up being that you leave the field, and it didn’t turn out to be right for you, like, there’s nothing wrong with that. But I do think that there are a lot of us who felt like there’s only one way to do that med, you know, which is like, you graduate, and you work really hard in a clinic. And then you do that until you you basically can’t do it anymore, physically or mentally.
Stacey Cordivano 8:32
No, I agree. I think I mean, even me, personally, there was only one option, right? Like being an ambulatory equine vet. Maybe buy in or own but like, that’s it. I know, you’ve also expanded, like your work options as well now, right?
Katie Berlin 8:45
Yeah. You know, it’s kind of a cascade of events, I feel like and a lot of it, you know, comes down to connections, I think. Veterinary medicine is so small. So if you have an opportunity to like, go to a conference and sit down at a table with people you’ve never met before, like, do it because you just never know who you’re going to meet and what door that might open. And you’re not doing it to use people for their connections, but because you actually can create meaningful relationships that lead to amazing opportunities that you didn’t even know existed. And that’s definitely been the case. For me, I think fitness, and the confidence that I’ve gained from tackling certain things physically, that I never thought that I could do is given me the confidence to go for some of those other opportunities. So right now, I’m working as a veterinary editor at clinicians brief, which is a amazing job. And I only even found out about it through a connection who was like, hey, there’s this job available, you know, if that’s something you’d be interested in, and I still had to apply and, you know, get picked and then I was a contract employee this year, and now I have a part time position starting in January. So it’s official now, but you know, just that somebody showing me the door was a really, really important step. Otherwise, I would never even have known they were hiring.
Stacey Cordivano 9:59
Yeah, I think that that’s amazing advice. And I think it’s also awesome to see that you are still doing part time clinical medicine. So like that, you know, dream or vision doesn’t have to go out the window, it can just be a little different. Yeah, that’s great. So you’re a little bit laid up right now, I know, after some surgery on your back, but what were the physical limitations and goals you were pushing yourself for recently?
Katie Berlin 10:26
Well, I started out doing a lot of strength training. So that was what that trainer got me into when I was rehabbing my knee. And I realized I really like it, you know, what they call functional strength. So I wasn’t trying to pick up the heaviest barbell or like, you know, do I’ve never done CrossFit or anything like that. But what I was doing was really just like, foundational strength stuff that gets you strong and confident without necessarily being focused on how much you can lift. And then that ended up making the just a overall healthier person, so that I could go out and try other things and not die.
Stacey Cordivano 11:04
That sounds like a good plan!
Katie Berlin 11:05
One day, I just went out and went for a run. And like I, like many people have tried to run other times in my life. And it was like death, you know, like, you get halfway around the block. And you’re like, you know, the Kiva can pick me Yeah, and, and I was like, running stop for me. And I was I dated a guy who’s like, Oh, I don’t think I need to run past 10 miles. And I was like, 10 miles?!?! You know, the idea of someone running 10 miles without stopping was nuts. And now, last year was my sixth marathon. And it just started because I realized I could run around the block. Because I’ve been working in the gym, not on running at all, it just had more ability than I used to, because I’ve been working on on different things than I used to. That was really cool.
Stacey Cordivano 11:50
Six marathons, that is literally amazing. I cannot even imagine the amount of work that takes
Katie Berlin 11:58
Running has been like a saving grace for me over the last few years, for sure. I’ve met some amazing people through it. And there’s nothing like pushing yourself through those moments of just everything hurts. And mentally, you just think of so many reasons why you should stop and why it’s really, really the best possible idea to just stop and sit down on the side of the road, like someone will come and get you. And like the stories you tell yourself are just so good. You know, you’re so convincing. And getting through those moments. And on the other side, realizing how amazing that feels is a feeling that translates into other areas. So like, you know, I think about mile 16 of the Pittsburgh marathon all the time, because that was a dark time for my soul. And I made it and I have some pictures running to the finish line to that day that I just look on my face. You just can’t You can’t buy that. That’s what I think of sometimes if it’s a really long day, or I just am not sure if I can, you know, do one more thing, those feelings get me through because I’m like, Well, I got through that and get through this too.
Stacey Cordivano 13:07
Yeah, that’s a great point, trying to remember the times in life that we have made it through. I guess that speaks a little bit to the tagline on your Instagram account, which is helping veterinary professionals build mental resilience through physical challenge. I think that ties in perfectly. I mean, I have to say all those things in your head, really resonate with me I am, especially at this point in my life not in, you know, a very active state. I also see the benefit and the resilience training. So what do you say to people when they’re like, No, I can’t do that, or I don’t have time? Where do you start?
Katie Berlin 13:48
You and I are both really into habits like the science of why people do things or don’t do things. And I think habits have a lot to do with it. So a lot of people who say I can’t do that, or I don’t have the willpower. I’m not motivated enough. Like you don’t realize that 90% of the time, the things I’m doing are not because I’m so motivated, or I’m super disciplined. It’s because it’s habit now to move. You know, that’s the natural state is everyday to do something that requires movement versus not doing it. And so it’s actually strange not to do that, that took a while. And it took some, you know, took a lot of consistency. But habits where you’re making it almost easier to do the thing than not do it is a huge part of just building certain things into your routine. But the other thing that I would say is, and I’m generalizing here, but many veterinary professionals that I know, myself included, tend to be all or nothing types. And so they’ll say oh, I could never do that. I could never run a marathon or I could never run five days a week or I could never go to the gym consistently. I just get bored and Okay, first of all you you could but second of all, you can’t do it right away. And so throwing yourself in all in and expecting yourself to be perfect and to achieve this major thing in a short amount of time is a recipe for failure. You know, baby steps are the way to go. And sometimes that means like, if you’re used to being in the house the whole day, sometimes that means you take a walk around the block once a day. And that’s it. If you can commit to that, then in my experience, anyway, it’s been really kind of amazing to see what your brain starts to do with that information. And your, you know, might say, Well, I think I might be able to walk a little bit faster, like, let’s see how much faster I can do that walk. Or maybe I’ll just jog like, you know, 10 steps, or I’ll jog to that light pole. And you just never know.
Stacey Cordivano 15:44
I think that’s great. And something that came to mind when you were talking about that. I don’t know how you feel. But I also feel like grace or self compassion in those time periods also kind of fits in there. Because if you don’t do perfectly like we like to do, in my experience, you know, that’s like, Oh, this doesn’t work. Yeah, I’m not gonna be a runner. You know, I feel like that sort of fits in.
Katie Berlin 16:08
Absolutely, yeah, I just posted something yesterday that I like to say food does not have morality, you know, you’re not a good person or a bad person based on what you eat and exercises the same way. Like you’re not a good person, if you’ve gone to the gym five times this week, and a bad person, if you didn’t, you know, it’s not about being a good or bad person, it’s about is this something that is important to you to see if you can make it part of your life because what we’re talking about is not a finite goal, we’re talking about incorporating new challenges physically and mentally into your life, to show yourself that you can do this thing. And sometimes it’s going to be a really small thing that makes you realize you could do more than you are giving yourself credit for.
Stacey Cordivano 16:51
Do you have any resources that are inspirational, as far as things to get started on or, kind of unique, interesting ways to incorporate things in your life?
Katie Berlin 17:03
I mean, if you’re interested in habits, I do have some books that I love.
Stacey Cordivano 17:06
Okay, let’s do it.
Katie Berlin 17:07
So one of them is Atomic Habits, which just came out. So that’s been a hot book this year. And he tackles it in a really, you know, kind of actionable way, basically just taking little bites. And like, he’s got great stories about like, flossing, one tooth, my hand was one too. Yeah. You know, so that’s a good place to start. When it comes to habits. I also really like Gretchen Rubin has created like, what she calls The Four Tendencies. And so it kind of talks about whether you’re going to be most likely to do some because of inner or outer accountability. So, you know, if you tell yourself, you’re going to do something, is that more motivating to get it done than if somebody else is expecting you to get it done? Or vice versa?
Stacey Cordivano 17:49
Okay, now, I have to know what type you are.
Katie Berlin 17:52
You know, this is interesting, because I love this book. And I go back and forth all the time. But I honestly think I probably am more of a questioner. A questioner is the one who needs that inner accountability. So the inner voice that you’re promising, you’re going to get something done. But if other people are expecting it, you’re not as likely to do it unless you really see a good reason why, and then it becomes your personal goal to I initially thought that both inner and outer expectations were important. I’m very type A, goal oriented, like I love a to do list, but I think I might actually be more of a questioner.
Stacey Cordivano 18:31
I was gonna guess one of those two. I don’t know you that well, but I feel like you don’t run a marathon without being one of those.
Katie Berlin 18:37
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think of outer expectations mean a lot to me. But the outer expectations, the outer obligations that I take on, I do, because I’ve decided they’re important. I think that’s a really important distinction, too, when you’re doing things in life is, you know, you can say to yourself, Well, I have to do this thing, or I’ve chosen to do this thing, because it’s part of this overall life that I’ve chosen for myself. And it’s a very empowering way to look at it. You know, I might have to see this after hours emergency, but I’ve chosen that Tuesday is the day that I met the clinic and I could potentially run the risk of having to be here late seeing a walk in, but I’m not going to have that on Wednesday, you know?
Stacey Cordivano 19:21
Yeah, that’s a really good point about, you know, feeling empowered, it’s sort of merges boundaries and self accountability a little bit. I like that, like that point. I am very much an obliger tendency from that book, which means I respond to outer expectations. And that can sometimes feel burdensome a little bit. Like I’m, I get abused by taking on everyone else’s expectations. But I think your point about recognizing what you’ve taken on is very poignant. And I also Yeah, I love those two books. I think those are great resources. So thank you. Maybe we can do a little giveaway on one of those since we both love them so much. This is a little bit of a side note, but I know that we are both podcast junkies and I wanted to ask if you had any favorites or things that you thought people should definitely tune into.
Katie Berlin 20:22
As far as veterinary podcasts, if you’re interested in management stuff like I love the Uncharted podcasts because you know, Andy Roark and Stephanie Goss are really funny. And Stephanie’s laugh will make your day better even if you’re not interested in veterinary management topics. But I love that one just because they always have some something insightful to say. As far as non veterinary podcasts. If you’re interested in running at all, I love Ali On The Run. Ali on the run show has been around a long time. And if you even just like hearing interviews with people who are doing inspiring things, she doesn’t just interview runners, she interviews people from a lot of different professions. And she’s a very good interviewer. She’s very casual and bright. It’s the classic you feel like your friends after you listen to her for a while and I feel like we’re friends and she probably has millions of people that feel that way. And we’ll never actually meet her. So out the alley on the run show if you’re at all interested in in the sport of running or people who run and do other cool things.
Stacey Cordivano 21:25
Great. Yeah, I didn’t know that one. So that’s good.
Katie Berlin 21:27
I mean, I have like 50 more.
Unknown Speaker 21:31
Katie Berlin 21:32
One more. Well, let’s see. I I like Esther Perel, she has two podcasts, one about relationships and one about work. And both of them are amazing. And I can’t remember the name of the work one but that one I really, why can’t remember the name of it. Now.
Stacey Cordivano 21:51
It’s okay. I’ll look it up. Because I don’t know that one. I knew the relationship one. So I will look up the work one and put it in,
Katie Berlin 21:57
In her discussions with couples and counseling with couples. A lot of times they’ll sit there and think oh my god, like how is this woman know that stuff? She It was like, it’s like she can see into their soul. But
Stacey Cordivano 22:09
she’s a little bit like voyeuristic.
Katie Berlin 22:11
Yeah, yeah, she is. But her insights are always just so spot on. That always throws me
Stacey Cordivano 22:17
right. Perfect. I love it. Those are definitely ones that people may not have heard of. So I like to do that. Thank you. I want to talk about your podcast, the vet reset just recently launched?
Katie Berlin 22:29
Stacey Cordivano 22:30
What’s the goal?
Katie Berlin 22:32
So the goal, I think it’s actually evolving a little bit as I talk to more people like, I’m out of the clinic has you alluded to earlier, I had back surgery December 2. And so I’ve been out of the clinic, because of a five pound weight limit, I can’t live. So it’s like a coffee cup. And we all know, like you’re in the clinic. And you might have a schedule set up so that you don’t have to lift anything or like see anybody on the floor. And you know that that’s just not how life goes in a vet clinic. So right? Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to take some time at home. And so I’ve been talking to a lot of people for the podcast. And initially, my goal was to basically provide examples of people in that med, who were making it happen, you know, who were fitting exercise, and around work and family and travel and whatever, and who were just showing all different ways that it could benefit them. And so the focus was really going to be on that, like real people making it work. You know, here’s some use cases why fitness is important. But it’s really already evolving, the more people I talk to, because there’s such a common theme, which is gonna not surprise anyone, I don’t think, which is that almost everybody that I’m talking to has had a burnout moment, or I like to call it the reset moment, where they just suddenly were like, I just can’t do this anymore, or something’s gonna have to change whether it’s me or my situation. A lot of times, that’s not directly related to physical fitness or physical health. But the common denominator is that they’ve all found physical fitness, or ways to make physical wellness a priority. And to a person, they all say, this is not something I would ever allow to be shut out of my life again, for any extended period of time, they might take a few weeks off or get busy. But it’s not the old cycle of like, you go to the gym for six weeks at the beginning of the year, and then you don’t go back. You know, it’s more like if they take a break from prioritizing physical wellness, they know it’s going to be there waiting when they get back, just because circumstances change temporarily. So it’s turning out to be more of the reset story.
Stacey Cordivano 24:43
I think that’s going to be so helpful to other veterinarians to hear and it’s a great resource. So we’ll definitely link all of your information in the show notes.
Katie Berlin 24:54
Stacey Cordivano 24:54
Do you have any other advice to leave listeners with as far as physical fitness and mental resiliency.
Katie Berlin 25:02
You know, I think when it comes to looking at whether physical fitness or exercise can be a part of your life, you have to kind of go into it thinking Yes. Because if you go into it thinking, Well, I’m gonna try this, but I don’t think it’s gonna work, or I’m going to try this, but I’m just not that that’s just not for me, I’m just not this person, then mindset really does make a difference. I really hate when people hire a personal trainer, and they say, I’m going to go in for one or two training sessions, and they go into their first session at the gym, or whatever. And then they’re basically vomiting in the bathroom halfway through, and they’re embarrassed, and they’re sad, I’ve been that person. You know, that’s not fun. Like, that is not the point of this, there are definitely people who work out to the point of vomiting on purpose. But the point of this is to find something that invigorates you, and makes you realize that you have more energy, because you do it, and you’re sleeping better because you do it. And that sometimes it’s gonna be taking a walk, or taking an easy bike ride, or trying a few different things before you settle on maybe trying to get a little bit more into something. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. You know, and so, I think, very small steps, like, you know, maybe I’m going to try one new activity this week, and just see if I can do it three times, even for 10 minutes. You know, just make that commitment to yourself and go in thinking I can do this. But I get to choose if I want to continue doing it.
Stacey Cordivano 26:36
Yeah, I think that’s a great challenge. I think we should challenge listeners to try one new activity three times this week for 10 minutes.
Katie Berlin 26:43
Stacey Cordivano 26:45
Great. So you know, this won’t come out until a little bit later. But we’re wrapping up 2020, the year of all the things. So I feel like this is even more important to think about… what is one small thing that has brought you joy this past week?
Katie Berlin 27:01
Oh my gosh. Lately, there’s been a lot of small moments of joy. But I can say honestly, that walking for one hour on the treadmill was like a huge milestone. I did that this morning. That brought me a lot of joy, because that opens up just being able to get outside and walk again. And I if I get to then the other one would be would be that. I’ve gotten to hang out a little bit more online with people because of the podcast. And it’s kind of gotten me out of my shell, where it was easy to just stay in the house and not talk to anyone.
Stacey Cordivano 27:40
Yeah, you definitely get two moments of joy. I will celebrate them all. I’m so glad we got a chance to connect. I think that the content you put out is awesome. And everyone should go follow you and listen to the podcast. I’m really appreciative of your time.
Katie Berlin 27:55
Thank you so much. This has been so fun. And I’ve followed you for a while on Instagram. It’s really nice to get to know you. Yeah, like and not just a voice on your on your podcast. So thank you so much for having me.
Stacey Cordivano 28:08
Thank you so much to Dr. Katie Berlin for spending some time with me. I personally found that interview really inspiring. And her new podcast is also really inspiring. So I hope you’ll go check that out. I also hope you’ll take us up on our challenge to try three new short activities to move your body this week. I took the challenge right after we recorded and I have to say I did a boot camp video that was super fun, and it was not something I normally would have picked. So I’m excited about that. Let us know what you tried, how it worked, tag both of us. She’s @thevetreset and I am @thewholeveterinarian. If you enjoy this podcast, please hit subscribe. leave a review if you feel so inclined. And also I am starting a new email list. I will send out one monthly summary just recapping the interviews we’ve published and some tidbits that we’ve learned maybe some other articles I’ve seen throughout the month that I find interesting. I promise I will not spam you with a bunch of stuff. So if you’re interested, go to the website and sign up for the newsletter and there’s also a little freebie that you’ll get when you sign up. I hope you guys have a great week and I’ll talk to you again soon!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai