MENTORSHIP, STRENGTH, AND SELF-CARE WITH DR. DIANAH LAKE
The Fabled blog brings together diverse women in medicine to inspire uplifting conversations about life as a medical practitioner. We want to create an empowered community through open discussions about traditionally off-limits topics such as self-care and non-linear career paths. We hope that by participating in these conversations, our readers will go on to live more fulfilling lives. Our new interview series shines a light on the power of personal style, mindfulness, and more.
This month’s Women in Medicine series features Dr. Dianah Lake (aka “Dr. Di”), an independent emergency room physician based in Laurel, Maryland. Dr. Lake’s commitment and passion for wellness extends from the hospital to the gym and beyond: She’s the founder and one-woman force behind Dr. Di Fit Life, a comprehensive fitness, nutrition, and wellness brand that includes everything from a signature 90-day exercise program to one-on-one coaching. Read on to find out more about her personal wellness transformation, her love of travel, and her favorite skincare products.
Why did you become a doctor? We want to hear it all: The good, the bad, and yes, even the ugly.
When I was 14-years-old, I remember sitting in my parents’ bedroom chatting with my mom about what I would major in when I started college the following year. Yes, I finished high school early! I knew then that I was great in the sciences, and I wanted a career that would allow me to travel to new places, help a multitude of people, and be financially stable. My mom dreamed of being a nurse in the early 1970s, but she got pregnant with me. She suggested that day that I consider being a physician. It would meet all of my career requirements, and also surpass her dream of becoming a nurse. I considered it, and went on the premed path the next year.
What have been some of the most exciting moments or proudest achievements of your career?
Leading the frontlines for the last 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic with other brave, talented, selfless, diligent emergency medicine physicians. Being away from our families for extended periods of time in the earlier months was incredibly difficult, but we managed to keep it together, save as many lives as we could, and continue to educate, correct misinformation, support our communities, and be there for our families. I think that’s quite a feat! I’m proud to have been a member of the emergency readiness teams in several hospitals during this very difficult time.
Representation is so important, particularly in healthcare. What do you hope your patients will feel when you walk into the room?
I am an African woman and a special needs mom to two boys with autism and ADHD. When I walk into the room, I hope that my compassion shines through, and that my patients feel seen, heard, and properly cared for. I also hope that my patients feel comfortable enough to share their true feelings and experiences with me, so that I can adequately treat them and bring them comfort. I sometimes share my own story to make my patients feel at ease and safe—particularly for my patients with special needs, their parents, or patients of color. I hope that I empower them to be fully engaged in advocating for their medical needs.
What’s your #1 tip for young women entering a career in medicine today?
Mentorship is so important. Create genuine connections with mentors who can guide and support you during the rough patches, and celebrate your wins with you. Self-care is essential to your well-being. Carve out time to rest, release stress, rejuvenate, and connect with friends and family. Remember to plan for retirement—especially if you are an independent contractor, locum tenens, or self-employed. Also, make sure to get a very knowledgeable tax preparer! That’s more than one tip, but I feel that they’re all super important.
Can you tell us how your personal wellness journey impacted your mental health?
From 2012-2014, I went through a divorce, and experienced quite a bit of guilt and shame. During this time, I mourned the passing of my father, whom I was very close to. My younger son was also diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Managing all of this put me in a very distressed emotional state. I started exercising, and found that fitness saved me from depression. First, I pulled myself up with every brisk walk or run. Then, I started lifting weights to improve my strength and stamina. Soon I switched to a mostly organic meal plan, and focused on proper sleep and hydration. I started to feel incredible energy and vitality, and my stress level dramatically decreased. In 2016, I decided to enroll in a bodybuilding competition, and through that experience my love for fitness and fitness coaching evolved even further. It’s truly been the best self-care gift I could ever give myself.
What inspired your decision to start Fit Boss?
After the bodybuilding competition, I became quite keen to lose the baby weight and belly fat that I’d been carrying around for over five years. I learned about healthier and more efficient ways to strength train, eat well, lose weight, and sculpt and tone my body. I also did a good amount of coaching, training, and emotional intelligence work to purge my past traumas, shame, hurt, and pain. I wanted to share this valuable knowledge and the transformative power of the experience with women around me. As I began working with small groups of women, they shared their wins with their friends and colleagues. That’s how the Fit Boss 90-Day Transformation Fitness Program was created. Over the years, I’ve expanded my services to include corporate wellness, fitness boot camps, and menopause wellness.
What’s one thing you learned running your business that helps you build rapport with your patients?
It’s important to create a genuine connection that makes people feel seen, heard, and appreciated. Being 100% present in every moment is a gift. It makes my fitness clients and patients in the emergency department feel supported in a meaningful way.
What do you love to do outside of your medical work, and how does your favorite hobby help you be more present or confident at work?
I’m a spa and beach junkie! I love gardening and Caribbean carnivals. I also enjoy traveling to exotic locales. I look forward to my excursions as various forms of self-care. These experiences bring me immense joy, and help me recharge so I can be my best self when I’m working clinically. Taking care of myself prevents burnout, and keeps me centered and focused when I’m working.
Talk us through your favorite self-care ritual. Beauty regimens, affirmations, and date-nights are all fair game!
Sleep and hydration are a big part of my skincare ritual. I use Neora day and night cream, Neora eye patches and under eye serum, and the NeoraFit collagen and probiotics. I also love Neora sunscreen, which protects against the blue light emitted by digital devices as well as UV rays. It feels like a smooth primer on my skin. Last but not least, the Neora IllumaBoost Vitamin C gives my skin a gorgeous glow. Aside from beauty products, I’m a huge fan of affirmations. I say them with my son at bedtime every night. Affirmations are incorporated in the Mindset Mastery module of my Fit Boss Best Body Ever Fitness Transformation online course.
What does the idea of personal style mean to you, and how do you think your sense of style empowers you?
My style is an expression of my beauty and confidence: I absolutely love bright colors against my brown skin. I love stylish-but-comfortable boots and mules. I also love bathing suits—I can't get enough of them! I think my personal style empowers me to be authentic, unique, powerful, and free.
Fill in the blank: Women physicians are ___.
Warriors, powerful, smart, sexy, bold, courageous, and loving.
What’s the #1 item in your self-care toolkit?
What’s your go-to move for turning around a bad day?
Dancing to Afrobeats or Soca music.
What TV show are you currently binging?
I don’t watch TV, but I do read magazines: Essence and O, The Oprah Magazine are my favorites.
What skill do you most want to master?
I want to become a master enroller in my business, and life in general.
What song can you not stop listening to right now?
Anything by Davido!
What are three things that you can’t live without?
Love, my boys, and the beach.
Photos courtesy of Dr. Lake.
We love talking with women in medicine who manifest self-care and self-expression. If you know someone who can teach us a thing or two, email us their details!