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How Dr. Hsu stays healthy

We talk to a provider about physical and mental health.

June 26, 2020

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A Q&A with Jim Hsu, MD

Having and keeping good health can look a bit different for everyone, including health care providers. In this series, we spotlight a Polyclinic provider’s approach to their physical and mental health.

Dr. Jim Hsu is an orthopedic surgeon at The Polyclinic with a special interest in sports. Orthopedics is a field of medicine that focuses on bone and muscle problems.

What are your go-to healthy foods?

As a long-distance runner, I try to eat in ways that help me feel and perform better quickly. Simple foods like whole fruit to replenish the carbohydrate fuel I have expended, and yogurt for the proteins to help my muscles and tendons recover.

I trust these simple items more than ‘recovery formulas’ widely touted in sports nutrition circles. I try to take in the food shortly after the exercise because the body benefits from rapid replenishment after a hard workout.

What are your splurge foods?

In Seattle, there are those times when you simply have to pull into a Dick’s Drive-In and have a Deluxe cheeseburger, fries and a shake. 

After I cross the finish line of a race that I’ve been training for over many months, I allow myself a day of splurging. 

Sometimes it’s pizza, more burgers, fried chicken, or, all of the above — especially if it’s a big race like a marathon and I just burned close to 2,500 calories.

What are your favorite ways to move?

I run just about every day. Once I got over the ‘running is boring’ and ‘running is tough’ barriers, I found it to be an immensely rewarding pursuit for my physical and mental health.

Some days it’s just a short 30-minute run if I am in a hurry. On most weekends, I take advantage of the extra time and run further, often for more than two hours at a time, seeing the city up close and literally at the ground level.

Running also has an endless list of built-in goals — particular races to run, new distances to train for and new personal-best results to chase after. For me, having tangible goals is important.

I find them far more motivating than working out in the abstract — for example, using the Stairmaster for 45 minutes, three days a week.

What health-related advice have you received and given?

Be patient. Don’t try to ramp up your exercise routine too quickly. Build in some down weeks so that your body can recover and move forward again.

What about being a doctor inspires health?

In looking back at my medical school and residency training years, I realize how easy it is to exercise less and less, and pretty soon it’s easy to not exercise at all. 

Yes, I can be busy, and often exhausted, making exercise easy to ignore. Knowing this, I try to stay on track with my activities so I don't have to start from scratch again.

How do you practice self-care?

I try to keep up with all the facets that make me who I am, of which one’s work or profession is an important part but not the entirety. 

No matter what one’s profession and work situation is, there will always be challenges and difficult moments, and often out of your control. For mental health sake, it is best to not let the work define your entire being.

I connect to music. I am lucky that my wife is a musician in the Seattle Symphony; we actually met as violin students at college. 

Through her profession, I stay in touch with that part of my life. I attend Seattle Symphony concerts and listen to and talk about music with my wife and her colleagues.

I am curious about the visual arts, music, film and literature. I also was fortunate in my childhood and youth to have spent time with other peers in the arts, so I still have a curiosity for these subjects.

I make a point to seek out art museums and exhibits and concerts when I am traveling.

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The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.