Big news on the Passion Planner front!


First off, I have mentioned in an earlier post that I am a big advocate of using a planner, my personal preference is the Passion Planner. There are other brands out there such as the happy planner and the erin condren planner, but passion planner is my favorite for a couple reasons.

    1. Passion planner has both monthly and weekly layouts where you can plan hourly. Makes is awesome for keeping track of the hours you are in class, writing in what is due, and being able to write those exam dates into the monthly layout so you can see just how much time you don’t have to study. haha. 31191903552_8f3f146289_o


  1. It is a goal oriented planner! monthly reflections, help creating goals with a focus, etc.
  2. It has so much possibility for personalization! SO many sticker sellers on Etsy, tons of downloadable sheets on their website to use and add to your planner. They even give you access to a FREE PDF version of the planner! what company does that!?!7b76a61196accca04d63e721e1c0ad55--planner-ideas-journaling
  3. They give back! They have a program for every planner they sell, they give one to someone in need! They are a mid range priced planner, and they can still give back to the community.

No, I am not a representative of this planner, I have just had a lot of success with adherence to it and love recommending it to people so that they can be successful too!

So, the Planner currently has 2 sizes, a classic (8.5″x11″) and the classic (exactly half that size). Today they have announced that they are discontinuing both sizes and have made a mid sized planner to replace both of them!

As you can guess, lots of tears are being shed by die hard classic size and compact size fans, but it is a great reminder that being able to adapt to change is so important to learn and grow. Change can be a good thing!


This also relates to physical therapy! We have to be able to convince patients that changing their habits can be a good thing. We have to be able to accept that what we learn in school may not be the right thing to do once we are in clinic and we have to stay up to date with current research. Being able to adapt and evolve is so important in life and in practice.

(Also, I have 8 days of this term left, and I am SO excited for a break!)


The Mindset of PT school

Sorry I have been MIA. PT school overtakes your life. It does not help that I am the type of person who likes to take on a heavy load of activities and it is hard for me to focus on just one thing at a time. So I not only am taking on the heavy load of grad school,  but I am trying to keep up with writing on here, landscape my backyard (with absolutely no money or help, so it is a very slow process), and I am thinking of starting an Esty shop. Yes, I know I am crazy. I blame my parents.

A little backstory, I grew up participating in many activities. I started dancing when I was 2.5 years old, then throughout the years I participated in years of Girl Scouts, Soccer (both recreational and high school), catechism, track and field, sports medicine, getting a part time job in high school,…So throughout my childhood I had to focus on more than just school. Then, I went to a community college for three years, commuting about 30 min there, then working 30+ hours a week in the opposite direction of my house. I did not have a social life. Then I transferred to a four year college in San Francisco, CA. At one point I was working 3 part time jobs while taking on extra classes in order to make ends meet. So, essentially, I am used to overworking and overloading myself. It feels very weird to only have to focus on school. So directing my focus is something I need to work on, and it is very VERY hard for me since I have been programmed to overwork myself my entire life.

Edit: This isn’t a bad thing, I love my parents for it, and it has shaped me into the hard working, dedicated, and motivated person I am today. I forgot to get that point across. haha!


So, this post was not supposed to be about how crazy I am and that I cannot focus (apparently). I wanted this post to be about how important it is to change your mindset in PT school. So I will just go over a couple things that I have learned so far that I deem important advice to live by.

1. It is no longer a competition. SO IMPORTANT. Your classmates are not there to beat you in some sort of race. Your classmates are your friends, your future colleagues, and they are there to HELP you. Do not come into PT school thinking you will be the best and you are better or need to be better than your classmates. My cohort is amazing and I feel like I can go to any of them for help, even if I never talk to them. We are so supportive of each other. There is another cohort at my school that is the exact opposite. They put each other down for asking questions, they keep to their own groups and do not venture out, they are very serious and do not handle jokes very well. It is important to be studious and dedicated to your work, but you need to loosen up and use your classmates as resources!

2. The main thing you should be asking yourself when practicing for exams or practicals is: “Am I capable of working safely with this patient population?” My neuro professor told me this. That is what a practical is about. That is what exam questions should be directed towards. Remember, it is more than just passing the exam and moving onto the next one. This is about if you can eventually be on your own with patients and be able to safely work with them.

3. The last and final thing that has really stuck with me is what my musculoskeletal professor told me in his office hours. Don’t sit there and try to memorize information. When studying, think about what is going to be important for you to know to work with your patient. This will change your studying, and it will help you perform better on exams and practicals.

The last two points go hand in hand, and both are important to remember when studying. The information can feel overwhelming. Some of the textbooks you will use are not necessarily directed towards physical therapists and may give you too much information. Just keep these 3 things in mind as you go through your studies to focus on what you need to know to work with patients and don’t be afraid to ask for help from your classmates.



The Diet: Hitting the Plateau


So I am finally at this point where I have not been losing weight. I knew it was coming, but adjusting to it is difficult. It does not help that I have just started the second half of the term and have completed most of my midterms the last couple weeks.

Then again…you pretty much have a test or practical almost every week in grad school.


After Spring “Blink” (our spring break that is 2 days long haha) I did gain a pound. I treated myself to eating out on my very short vacation to Los Angeles. I REGRET NOTHING! Went to this restaurant where the chef picked out most of the meal and it was AMAZING. I am a very picky eater, so having someone else pick food for me can be a very disappointing experience. I faced those fears and this time, it was completely worth it. Things I would have never ordered myself were placed in front of me and I loved it!


Anyways, back to me gaining an extra pound. I am at my halfway point of my goal to lose 40 pounds this year. Pretty crazy to think about since it is only March. I know the second half will be harder to lose though. Up until this point, I have only changed my diet. I have been eating less and eating home cooked meals more often (thanks to my handy dandy slow cooker!).

I told myself that once I hit my halfway goal, phase II would begin. Phase II consists of incorporating more exercise into my daily routine. And so far, I am failing. I wrote in my very amazing Passion Planner when I would be working out, and I just have not been able to keep up with my ambition. School is suddenly in “push those grades up!” mode and it is so hard to sit there and say “I am going to work out instead of studying for this practical that I am scared of.”

I know that exercise helps your brain function. I know the benefits. I know the stress relief and extra energy that I get from exercise, but it is so hard to get my mind around having enough time in the day to do it.


There are things that I could cut out of my day, like my evening TV time. The real reason why I still have that evening TV time though is because it is the only time of the day that I get to spend with my boyfriend. If I take that away from myself, I am taking away my time with him and that is not going to happen.

So, the take away here is that it has been a difficult start to Phase II compared to just changing my diet in Phase I. I just need to find my flexibility and figure it out. The biggest part of grad school is time management; a skill that keeps on changing and growing. I will figure it out, but I just wanted to write about this experience because I am sure that many other students are probably facing similar road blocks in their life trying to balance all aspects of life. The goal is to not give up, and find a way to make it work.


Also, if you have any advice or amazing motivational quotes, please leave them in the comments below!

Regaining the Drive

Recently, I have felt like I am just not in the moment. My body is there, but my mind is somewhere else. I sit in class, I study, I do everything I am supposed to do, and yet I feel like I know absolutely nothing. I walk into exams thinking, did I even study for this? I don’t know what I know, and I don’t know what I don’t know. And I don’t know what I need to do to stop it. It is a little worrisome.

I feel like I am losing my drive, getting lost in my own self, doubts start to form…

I call it drive instead of motivation for a reason.


Mel Robbins is a great speaker who explains that motivation does not exist, you have to push yourself to make things happen.  It resonated with me, and maybe it will for you too. You can watch the video down below.

How did I get myself out of this doubt and lack of drive? Talk to your professors. I felt like I was completely failing a class and decided to talk to all of the professors involved in the class to gain insight on what I could do better on and what I needed to do to know everything…and that was just it. My professor, who is a very down to earth understanding guy, told me something that I am going to work on while studying; Think about what is important to know as a clinician and not about trying to know everything. There is ALOT of information thrown at you, and he said when he was a student that his grades started improving when he changed his mindset, and information also started to become more interesting. He also told me that I am doing fine in the class and that he was not worried about me, which was also reassuring.

CSM 2018!

So I just got back from CSM New Orleans, my very first PT conference. It is so exciting being around 17,000 PTs and exploring my options. I was finally able to sit in educational sessions that I was interested in. I followed up with a couple of the speakers and it helped me so much in regaining my drive in PT school.


One speaker told me that everything is important in school. If you want to work with a particular group of people, you have to know everything else as well because every single patient is different and they could have comorbidities that you need to address or work around. Having knowledge on different aspects of physical therapy can help you become more innovative in your interventions. Notice that I did not use the words “well rounded”.

Another speaker mentioned that everyone pushes you to be well rounded while in school, which is very true, but that being well rounded is not necessarily a good thing all the time. Focusing on the skills that you excel at can make you a very great physical therapist rather than just okay at many things. I think the takeaway between the two speakers is to find the balance that works for you. Having an understanding of all systems that can be involved is very good. Having excellent skills focused on improving a certain population is great. You will not be the best physical therapist at everything. You will not be absolutely perfect at working with geriatrics, pediatrics, athletes, amputees, spinal cord injuries, AND cardiac patients. Maybe you excel at geriatric athletes, or pediatric amputees, so you should know all systems involved with those diagnoses, but you shouldn’t and won’t know everything about every population.

Overall, CSM was an amazing experience that really helped me gain drive and confirmation that I am in the right field. As a third term (end of my first year), I thought it was a great way to get my feet wet on the possibilities and areas of practice that are out there. I recommend going to CSM towards the end of your first year just to learn and explore the possibilities. I plan on going again in 2019 before I graduate to really network and meet more people in the field.



Physical Therapy School: The Interview

Today one of my close old coworkers had an interview for the DPT program at my school. I was beyond excited because I know she will make a great physical therapist and she will do great in this program. I thought I would take the time to talk about my experience through the interview process and what to expect if you have an interview to PT school.

Many schools do not do in person interviews anymore which is extremely disappointing. I do not look good on paper. I am not a 4.0 student and never have been. If you are applying to a school that does not have in person interviews, you have to have above a 3.5, preferably a 4.0. The sad thing about this is that just because someone has an outstanding GPA does not mean that they have the personality or personal skills needed for physical therapy (which is crucial!!!). Lets just say I didn’t get into 5 out of 6 schools I applied to, and this happens very frequently. The school that required an in person interview was the one I got into. To be completely honest, I don’t want to go to a school that can’t see my potential! Do not take it personally, they have to make decisions and not all of them make the right decision. haha.


The school I am currently going to takes students 3x a year: fall, spring, and summer. I had applied for the fall term, but got an email asking if I would like to push my application up to the summer term because they had spots available and I had finished all of my prerequisites. I took that opportunity and got an email a week (this was in Feb 2017) later saying that I was going to have an interview in 2 weeks! A complete mix of excitement and nerves bundled into one!

How I prepared was by researching more information about the school. What did they have that other schools did not have? This particular school was not research based so they had a primary focus on clinical skills, and they have a huge focus on professionalism to get you prepared for a work environment. Keep a couple of facts about the school that interest you on hand because they may ask you why you want to go to their school instead of another PT school. DO NOT say “location” or “because everyone else rejected me.”

You can also look up questions on different forums and prepare answers in advance. Running the scenario of yourself talking to the interviewer in your head and thinking about what you would say is very helpful as well.

And think about your outfit in advance!!! Make sure it is not wrinkled, dress professionally, try on the outfit and make sure it is comfortable and not something you have to keep tugging at or tucking in. Wear a little pop of color! Why not? I wore a royal blue button up top that made me stand out in the sea of 100 black suits.

The day of the interview, go to bed early and wake up early. Give yourself time to get ready and don’t rush yourself. Eat a good breakfast because who knows when lunch will be. Leave your house early so if you get lost or if parking is tough you have time to figure it out without stressing yourself out. Make sure you know the game plan when you get there. If they say do not arrive before a certain time, sit in your car for a little bit. Bring the documents that you are told to bring. Things run smoothly for people who are prepared, and yes, they take into consideration if you are late or not prepared.

Once checked in, I sat in a classroom and met some of my potential classmates until everyone had arrived. They had a couple of speakers come in to talk about what to expect from the program, about the campus, etc. They then placed you into groups of 2-3 people to be interviewed in front of one of the staff members, mostly professors. This is where you get questioned and you have a chance to ask them questions. ASK THEM QUESTIONS. Ask them about what volunteer opportunities they have or what the clinical experience will be like. Ask them about their research or areas they work always want to ask them questions.

I was asked only like 3 or 4 questions total. When she said that she did not have anymore questions for us, I felt really disappointed. I felt like she did not hear my whole story or knew anything about why I would be great in this program. So I started asking questions like, “I am very interested in working in low income communities, are there volunteer opportunities at this school where I can get experience in the community?” and things like “I am also interested in working with amputations, is there staff on this campus that are experienced in this area?” See how that works? I am asking questions and adding things about myself to show that I am right for this school.

Questions that commonly come up include:

What would you do if you had an argument or disagreement with another PT?

How do you relieve stress?

What is your learning style?

What is your past experience with physical therapy?

What is the hardest class you have taken and how did you handle it?

There are many many more out there that you can look up on forums, but the important thing is to just be yourself!

In the end, you walk out of there feeling like you do not know what happened, you don’t know if you did well or not. About 2 or 3 days later you sit there panicking that maybe it went terrible and they hated you and you did not read their facial expressions correctly. And then you suddenly get an email saying congratulations, you made it into the program and you have exactly 7 weeks till your first day of school. At least it was for me since they pushed up my application and was part of the last interview group. Some people found out 6 months earlier and had more time to prepare themselves.


And before you start school, take a trip! I mean it! Take some time for yourself. Take a month off from work and spend some extra time with your family! As soon as I found out I got in, I put in my two weeks and we went on a week long trip to Cancun, Mexico. When I am stressed at school I close my eyes and think about sitting by that pool on the beach…and about that time that I tried snuba diving (its a little different than scuba diving because you don’t have a tank on your back) and went into underwater caves. It was the scariest experience of my life. I bought the super expensive $50 for 2 8×10 photos of me swimming in those caves just so I can frame them and put them over my desk and say “If I can do that scary shit, I can get through grad school.”


Whatever works right?




Present day: The Diet

So, as I have mentioned before, you will not have time to do the activities you love in PT school. You will become sedentary and suddenly find aches and pains in areas you never knew you could get aches and pains…you need PT for PT school, no joke.

So, it might take a couple terms (it did for me) to realize you’ve gained 10 extra unwanted pounds and the only thing that fits comfortably is yoga pants.


So, at the beginning of January, I decided that I did not like how I felt, and I needed a change. I am sure you’ve heard of “new years resolutions” and made some yourself, but this was different. It could have been any month that I started, but just so happens that I started in January. (It could have been all the yummy things I ate over the holidays that turned into belly fat.) Pretty much what I am trying to say is don’t wait to start dieting, just start now. Don’t give yourself that excuse!


The first thing I did was sit down and figure out my game plan. How do I start? Well I need to eat better foods, so make a grocery list? But what do I buy? And how do I know how much to eat?

Start with downloading MyFitnessPal (username Liva760 if you want to follow my journey with me). It is free, it is amazing, and once you get the foods you normally eat into the app, it takes about a min to upload your calories. I started with just uploading my calories of a day with what I normally eat. This is a great way to see what you are doing to your body and give yourself the WHY component of dieting. I think people forget that part alot. It is very hard to stick to a diet if you don’t understand why you need to change what you eat. “I want to be skinny” is not going to cut it for you.

The second thing I did was look for slow cooker meal recipes. 30 to be exact. As a PT student, I don’t have time to cook!!! And it doesn’t help that I HATE cooking. My boyfriend does not cook either. So the slow cooker is my solution. The easier the recipe, the better. You may be asking why I decided on 30 recipes; I wanted to try a months worth of recipes to throw out ones I did not like and keep ones that worked out well. It is all trial and error. Needless to say I had a ton of errors…bad recipes, my measuring skills being terrible, terrible substitutions of ingredients (I’m not a perfectionist by any means…and I like a lot of garlic….) I think I finally have down a schedule that works for me.

Need help finding recipes? Pinterest is amazing. Many of the recipes I found came from Skinny Ms and Creme de la Crumb.

So now that I had my dinner schedule in check, and I am counting calories.. I needed to figure out my lunch. I absolutely HATE meal prepping. I just don’t like eating the same (or very similar) things everyday. I also hate leftovers. And I also don’t have time to cook a lunch in the morning, so my substitute is snacking. I eat “nuts and berries” as my boyfriend calls it. Seriously. Nuts, berries, cheeses, applesauce, salami, yogurt, carrots, celery…I grab easy snacking foods that I can munch on throughout the day, making sure that each type of snack is about 100 calories or less. Easy to pack, easy to eat, foods that I like, and no prep needed.

Breakfast includes 1 package of instant oatmeal, 2 eggs, and a Vietnamese coffee (about 1 tbl of sweetened condensed milk in a cup of coffee. I have a major sweet tooth and this has helped so much on cutting down my sugary coffee habits).

So there you have it. It has been easy to keep my diet going and I have lost 13 lbs in about 5 weeks.

The first 2 weeks you feel a constant lingering hunger, but that goes away once your stomach shrinks. If you have a craving for something sweet, Angie’s sweet and salty kettle corn is great. If you are craving something, you can either eat it in moderation or find a healthy substitute. Don’t deprive yourself! It takes 21 days to change your taste buds, so if you can make it the first month, it is easy sailing from there!


Dieting is hard, you have to want it. Kinda like PT school. But it is worth it.

And remember, I am in no way a dietitian, this is my personal experience with dieting and weight loss. 😉

A Summary of Term 1



Starting physical therapy school is exciting and terrifying. You do not know what to expect. Most of the time, you do not know anyone. You may even be in a completely different city or part of the country. Luckily for me, I got into a school 5 min from my house, and I recognized one face from a class I took at a nearby community college, and she became my “boo”.

Tangent: Almost everyone gets a “boo” in PT school. Everyone seems to find their person and you are seen most frequently with that person. in other words, your PT school bestie. haha.

I started school in the summer 2017 term. I had originally applied for the fall term, but they asked if I wanted to bump my application up to the summer and start early since my prerequisites were completed, so I agreed, got an interview, and got in. Maybe I will talk about the interview process in another post.

The first 2-3 weeks of school, you feel like you are drowning. I would spend an hour everyday just looking at all 7 of my syllabi trying to figure out what I should be working on and what was due. I finally got my rhythm about a month into school. The important thing was to get my schedule organized in some fashion. Another thing that I learned as the term went by was to organize my notes in a fashion that worked for me.

I use a Passion Planner (Compact) for my scheduling, it is the BEST planner you could ever buy because it is so customizable to whatever you need.

I use OneNote for ALL of my school notes. It makes it so much easier to record lectures, upload PDFs and lecture notes into one place. I use it with my Microsoft Surface Pro and Microsoft Pen so I can still hand write my notes onto the slides. I bought mine refurbished (since I know how expensive a new one is), but I will be honest, it is a game changer in PT school. Not only for the capabilities but also a lightweight computer is so helpful on your back!


The first practical is always the scariest. You work up your nerves and things can either go well, or they don’t. Unfortunately, not everyone passes on the first try. Don’t fret because you know what happens then? You get a second chance. You get a chance to work on your weaknesses and try again. Never give up.

In summary, it will be an adjustment, but you find your way. Your body and mind adapts to the new stresses you put on it. You don’t realize how much your brain can hold. It is important to stay organized. Figure out a system to remember deadlines and find your notes easily. And the last, and probably most important thing that I have not mentioned yet is to use your classmates as resources. You are not alone in feeling overwhelmed and on the verge of a breakdown. We all breakdown during the term. First term alone I probably broke down 3 or 4 times. IT IS NORMAL. It is normal to question if you belong here, it is normal to question if you are smart enough, and it is normal to just be frustrated and overwhelmed and stressed out of your mind. Your classmates are going through the same thing, so reach out and cry together if you need to. haha. And just remember, it is going to be worth it. The lives that you will change and the light you will bring into the profession is priceless.