Train Like an Olympian with Amanda Russell

Being an Olympian might be the highest badge of honor bestowed upon an athlete. It signifies much more than just talent (though there’s no denying that’s a key component), it represents perseverance, commitment, and sacrifice.

When my own Olympic aspirations were cut dramatically short by a devastating and career ending injury it wasn’t athletic ability that brought me back to fighting form, it was the mental conditioning I’d been developing from my very first race in my home country of Canada to my last time competing on the world stage.

It’s this “take no prisoners” attitude that you…yup, I’m talking to you: the sisters, the best friends, the girlfriends, the fashionistas, the leaders of today and tomorrow…can apply to your own training and fitness regime.

Using the worldwide energy and excitement, only present during the Olympic Games, for inspiration I have created the Train Like an Olympian Workout. This workout is designed to get you into serious shape while instilling in you the mental focus needed to achieve your personal fitness goals. Because, the old adage is true: it’s 90% mental. Together we’ll become stronger, leaner, and healthier. All you need is 20-minutes and a can do attitude.

The Train Like an Olympian features step-by-step instructions to every exercise ensure you’ll get the maximum benefit and really feel the burn – nothing better than a little day after workout soreness!

Leave your comments, questions, and challenges on my Facebook or shoot me a tweet @arfit…because we’re in this together and I want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workout experience. Checkout my PokitDok page for other workouts and some great offers to help you get in and keep in killer shape!




The XX Factor: What it Means to be Women in Healthcare

Health. There is no topic more personal, more influential, or often, more baffling in life. But, it is above all the great equalizer. Lisa Maki, the CEO of PokitDok and Lydia Genner, PokitDok’s Director of Marketing share their personal journeys and the role women are playing in shaping the modern face of Healthcare.

Lisa’s Story

I’ve always been healthy, really healthy. I’ve competed in sports forever and even took time off in the middle of my career to live in Utah, teach snowboarding, and mountain bike.  The only serious medical issue I’ve faced was a blown out ACL.  Then, just a few years ago, it felt like the wheels came off.

In 2007, chronic lower back pain became so severe I couldn’t make a bed without resting halfway through.  I saw GPs, PTs, and pain specialists and no one knew what was wrong.  Finally, an MRI revealed a large synovial cyst on my lower spine and an orthopedic surgeon removed it.  There’s nothing like waking up from anesthesia and willing your toes to wiggle.

After two months of bliss the pain was back and so were the cysts.  The surgeon said my only recourse was to have rods inserted to support my spine ending my active life, as I knew it, forever.  I postponed, (ok, I panicked) and researched other options.  A few months later, at a loss, I posted a plea for information on Facebook and got a referral for a chiropractor who suggested a nearby study using HGH.  The physician conducting the study was in the same hospital—two halls over—as the surgeon who’d told me I needed the rods.  It had taken me six months to go 100 yards.

Another six months, three rounds of HGH injections and a lot of functional movement training later I was pain free and have remained so.  Neither the treatment nor the training was covered by insurance.  My path to that outcome was long and full of mountains of information, a lot of dead ends, and finally one random Facebook post that led to the answer that was right for me

My co-founder, Ted Tanner, watched me go through this ordeal and suggested we try to make it easier.  As a technologist, he knew it was possible to make the path to health I’d taken shorter but that the data we needed was contained as much in my social interactions as it was in the available clinical evidence.  With my experience as our guide we built a very different health site called PokitDok that uses the powers of social commerce to help people like you and me find options and make health choices.

In PokitDok you can ask questions of the community, get professional information as well as community experience and find out how much a treatment or product will cost, and even purchase it, often at a significant discount. PokitDok is what I wish I’d had; now, I hope it helps you.

Lydia’s Story

Healthcare has always been one of those topics that I know I should pay attention to…I really should…but it’s all just so complicated, and a little boring, not to mention discussed using words I haven’t heard since the SAT exam. I’d much rather surf the internet in the direction of than the Mayo Clinic. After all I’m young, how much does it really matter right now?  I have plenty of time to figure out what those cholesterol numbers really mean, right? At least that’s how I felt until the day I noticed a highly suspect mole on my back.

Suddenly healthcare was not boring. It wasn’t boring at all. In fact, it was downright riveting. I found myself spending long hours researching the various medical terms my doctor was throwing around during my steady stream of appointments and before I knew it I was down the rabbit hole emerging the only place any medical condition on the internet leads…cancer.

Sufficiently scared, I did what any rational 30-year old would do, I curled up on my couch eating ice cream and mentally finding new homes for all of my shoes. And then I got the biopsy results. Negative. Phew! What a relief.  I was free to go about my business. But then my doctor started talking about mole mapping and semi-annual body check I felt the anxiety rising again. There’s got to be someone, somewhere that I could go to discuss all of this that wouldn’t leave me feeling like it was time to tell my mom I love her.

It was about this time that I reconnected with Lisa Maki and she told me about her latest venture. It was so simple and so obvious it made me sit back and think surely someone has already done this…I mean aren’t all the good ideas already taken? But it wasn’t. It was for grabs and Lisa and Ted were making it happen.

Women and Healthcare


Over 90% of women between the ages of 25 and 34 research health related topics on the internet at least once a week. Fifty percent of these women are searching for information for someone other than themselves. Women care about health. Period. And who understands the way women do things better than other women.

Women led health businesses asuch as PokitDok are revolutionizing the way health is researched, discussed, and purchased.  Leading the charge are women like Lisa Maki and Lydia Genner who want to see health become less of a dictatorship and more of a collaborative open forum where personal experience is held in the highest regard, practitioners have a safe way to connect with and inform us, and it’s possible to get as least as much information before making a health choice as you do before  choosing a pair of shoes. The goal of making healthcare accessible, understandable, and affordable is not a pipe dream; it’s within everyone’s grasp.

Behind Closed Doors: When do the Training Wheels Come Off?

With apologies to T.S. Eliot, and the American taxpayer, April is not the “cruelest month.” That dubious distinction most certainly belongs to July, the month that newly minted interns and residents are loosed upon the populace. In the world of medical education July is the beginning of the fiscal year. Fresh out of medical school, or far less fresh out of internship, the first year of postgraduate medical training, new doctors begin the arduous process that will refine them into specialists in their given field.

Many patients I have taken care of over the years have asked me questions about this transition. Several have expressed fears about having operations in July, certain that they will be guinea pigs for some new anesthesiologist or surgeon. TV doctor shows like House, or Gray’s Anatomy do not assuage these fears. Quite the opposite, my family and friends can attest to the one sided shouting matches with the television I have had when some particularly obnoxious and stupid storyline has an intern shouting at a cowering patient, or even more unforgivably at a cringing nurse. (Note to prospective interns: if you shout at a patient, you will be fired. If you shout at a nurse, you will die. Or even worse, you will wish you were dead, as nurses can make an intern’s life unbelievably miserable. Imagine 3:00 AM calls every night to tell you that your patient needs to talk to you about their bowel movement.).

Interns and new residents in TV doctor shows are portrayed as having way too much power and knowledge for their level of training. Visualize a sexy Athena springing fully formed from the head of Zeus with a stethoscope draped casually around her neck. Now imagine a dumbed down Doogie Howser….naked. Yes, that’s more like it.

It takes a long time, and a lot of observing, reading, and being pimped, before a new doctor gets any significant responsibility. Sure there are apocryphal stories about the third-year medical student with his own medicine ward service at the V.A. hospital, or the new surgical intern with a textbook in one hand and a scalpel in the other, draining pus from a black tar shooter’s swollen arm at the county hospital. But for the most part, learning in medicine is an orderly process of graded responsibility. So to my patient, who nervously asks me if a doctor-in-training will be in charge of them, the answer is no. There may be a medical student scrubbed in and watching the surgery, or a first year surgery resident learning how to guide and focus the camera in a laparoscopic gall bladder removal and learning to suture the port incisions closed at the end of an operation, or a senior surgery resident operating under the watchful eye of the attending. There is no other way to learn than by doing; but this takes a long time, under the supervision of many highly experienced eyes and guiding hands.

As an anesthesiologist, I have always taken great exception to the portrayal of my chosen profession in the media. Next time you see a comic strip portraying the operating room,

Whoa! Watch where this thing lands…we’ll probably need it.

look for the anesthesiologist. Not there, eh? Nine times out of ten we are simply an IV and a machine with squiggly lines, or tanks with a mask attached.  Anesthesiologists are typically portrayed in movies as helpless bystanders in surgery “He’s flatlining…I’m losing him!!” as they look pleadingly at the surgeon to “do something, anything!” Believe me, unless the patient is bleeding to death on the table, the first thing the surgeon does in an unstable patient is fold their hands across their chest to remain sterile, and step away from the patient while the anesthesiologist scrambles to treat the arrhythmia, hypotension, or other metabolic crisis. Even when a patient is bleeding a lot and the surgeon works like hell to stanch it, it’s the anesthesiologist who transfuses blood cells, or plasma, or platelets, or a combination of all three to help stabilize the situation.

Despite these heroic efforts, the anesthesiologist is often portrayed as the bad guy in movies. Remember Richard Widmark in Coma? He was the evil doctor who masterminded the scheme to give healthy patients lethal doses of carbon monoxide during surgery to kill them and sell their organs on the black market. I saw this movie as a teenager, and aside from lusting after Genevieve Bujold who starred in it,  I wondered who in their right mind would want to be an anesthesiologist?  Well… as it turns out…me. My dad was an anesthesiologist who was decidedly not evil, so out of curiosity and a desire to see what his life was like, I took my first elective rotation in medical school in anesthesia, and I was hooked.

It’s a mystery as to what makes a person choose what to be, to make such eventful decisions at such a young age. For me, I like to think it was more my Dad and Genevieve than Richard Widmark.

Jeffrey L. Swisher, M.D.

San Francisco, CA

Dr. Jeff Swisher is an anesthesiologist who practices in San Francisco. He graduated from Stanford University with degrees in International Relations and Medicine, and lives in Marin County with his wife Dana, three teenagers, two large dogs, and a merciless take-no-prisoners black Bombay cat named Gin. He also plays in a middle-aged-guy rock band named “Blatant Malpractice”.

Behind Closed Doors: Inside the Operating Room with Dr. Jeffrey Swisher

Welcome to my first post for PokitDok! Despite having a sister who is of one of the most prolific tech journalists on the net, I am a first time blogger. But bear with me, perhaps this is genetic, so I will give it my best shot. When Lisa Maki, my old college and Stanford Sierra Camp pal tracked me down after many years to invite me to be part of her new health/medical information venture “PokitDok”, I was intrigued. I also couldn’t get the image out of my mind of those little pastel colored sugar candy dots glued to the roll of three-inch wide ticker tape. I think they were called Candy Buttons, but I called them “Pocket Dots”. They were the perfect “pills” for playing doctor, and undoubtedly launched me on my career as a physician.

Lisa and I talked over the course of a long hike in the canyons of Mt. Tamalpais near my home in Marin. Our discussion ranged widely, and as is typical for Lisa, was engaging and insightful. We caught up on our respective lives and careers, our health issues that invariably ensue as you hit middle age, and our mutual fascination and frustration with the complexity, politics, and economics of health care delivery in our society.

I am an anesthesiologist who works in a large tertiary care hospital in San Francisco. My group of 53 physicians provides comprehensive anesthesia care for a wide variety of medical procedures and surgeries. From epidurals for relief of labor pain, to surgeries on tiny premature babies, to liver and heart transplants, and the whole range of surgeries and procedures in between, my practice is interwoven with the complex tapestry that is modern medical care. And believe me, “complex” is an understatement.

It is said that one should befriend a sharp accountant, a trustworthy mechanic, a relentless attorney, and a good butcher. I would add a well-trained anesthesiologist to that list. There are few doctors who are as present and responsible and as little known about as
anesthesiologists. Prior to your operation, we review your health history and current medical issues, as well as your medications and their various interactions. We perform a rapid and comprehensive physical exam, explain the myriad risks and benefits of the anesthetic procedure tailored specifically for you, then put you to sleep using powerful sedatives such as propofol, the “Michael Jackson” drug.

Or we can render parts of your body numb with local anesthetic drugs injected through precisely placed needles in your back, or arm, or leg. And then we stay right next to you for the entire duration of your procedure, watching you. We carefully monitor your vital signs, and oxygen, carbon dioxide, and anesthetic gas concentrations using complex machinery, tweaking here, and adjusting them as needed. We tally and replace fluids and blood loss. The latter surprises a lot of people. “You give blood during surgery?!” As opposed to whom, the blood fairy perhaps? We keep you stable, and alive, in a state of suspended animation while the surgeons do their job. Then we bring you back. Putting you to sleep is only a small part of what we do. It’s keeping you there and then getting you back—awake, safe sound and comfortable—that’s tricky.

What’s unique about anesthesiologists aside from our particular expertise, and good looks, is that we are always in the middle of things. We meet a lot of people, we listen a lot, and we have a lot of time to ponder. Operations are often long affairs involving a wide variety of folks: surgeons, nurses, scrub-techs, physician assistants, equipment reps, etc., all confined to the small space of the operating room. Conversations are lively, often about politics, economics, and the modern realities of medical care. We talk about Obamacare, death panels, HMO’s, PPO’s, mandated insurance, rising costs, decreased reimbursements, drug shortages, the list of new topics continues to grow.

So, exclusively on PokitDok, I will share with you medicine from the inside of this small room - conversations and stories accumulated over the years from encounters with my patients and my colleagues. Stories that highlight many of the issues we are all facing today with our new world of decisions and choices we must make about our health and our medical care.

Jeffrey L. Swisher, M.D.

San Francisco, CA

Dr. Jeff Swisher is an anesthesiologist who practices in San Francisco. He graduated from Stanford University with degrees in International Relations and Medicine, and lives in Marin County with his wife Dana, three teenagers, two large dogs, and a merciless take-no-prisoners black Bombay cat named Gin. He also plays in a middle-aged-guy rock band named “Blatant Malpractice”.

Welcome to PokitDok!

We are so glad you’re here! The PokitDok team is comprised of college students, moms, dads, 20-somethings, athletes facing surgery and women wondering if menopause is ever going to end. In short, we’re you and we’re building the health and wellness site we want and that we think you’ll want too.

Why did we build PokitDok? Increasingly, people are paying more out of pocket for health and wellness services, but it’s near impossible to find the kind of information needed to make these expensive and potentially life impacting decisions. There is no shortage of websites and widgets dedicated to helping you secure the very best price on a pair of Jimmy Choos, but try and find the cost of an x-ray and it’s crickets. Moreover, while we will choose to buy the most expensive shoes we can afford we often won’t choose a life changing new procedure simply because our insurance doesn’t cover it or we’re not sure how much it will cost. Here at PokitDok we think that’s crazy and we decided to do something about it.

Should paying for health be different? Great question! We asked ourselves the very same thing: What makes a health and wellness purchase different from any other? After clearing away all the election year rhetoric, finger pointing, and Supreme Court decisions we were left with one simple answer: Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Whoa! Shouldn’t health be different? Health and wellness purchase decisions are hard, sometimes risky, often scary, and pretty darned important. Sometimes we consult experts to help advise us and in the most serious of situations, unfortunately, we may not have any choices. But, for routine health and planned procedures where options abound why wouldn’t we demand access to the same information we’ve come to expect when making any other important purchase in our lives? After all, it’s our health.

But what can we as consumers do? We can demand to know what we’re paying for and give our business to practitioners who are willing to openly state a cash price. We can also demand to know what all our options are (not just those our plan will cover). Pair that with professional recommendations and the experience of others who’ve been in a similar situations and you have a health and wellness marketplace where we can shop for our health, just like anything else.

How can PokitDok help? PokitDok provides the first-ever health and wellness marketplace. In PokitDok you will find information, recommendations, shared experiences from people like you, and a place to shop for a combination of price and value that’s not some predetermined notion of what’s best, but what’s best for you.

What kind of practitioners can I expect to find on PokitDok? An amazing group of medical, alternative, and fitness professionals from across the country—as varied in their specialties as they are in their opinions of what works and what doesn’t—have agreed to participate in PokitDok because they share one common goal: contributing to your health transparently. As part of the PokitDok community these practitioners agree to share their expertise, services, and pricing so you can worry less about the cost of care and focus more on the results.

Why is it cash (charge) only? To provide you with true health and wellness price transparency we knew we needed to connect you directly to the practitioner providing the service so they could quote their prices directly to you. That meant eliminating all layers that hide true cost from you, including insurance. Here at PokitDok we think it makes a lot of sense to have a form of insurance to cover you in the event something serious happens and you should certainly submit purchases for reimbursement to your insurance company if that makes sense for you.

Is it private? While you have the opportunity to share experiences and useful information with others in the PokitDok community, all your searches and purchases are 100% private, all the time, no exceptions.

Here, at PokitDok, you won’t find “experts” telling you what to do; you’ll find a community of professionals and people who believe sharing information and experience is the fastest way for you to find what’s best for your health, your way. We’re inviting you to join us now and help create something new the world of health has never seen before.
Share the health. It’s time.

Lisa Maki
CEO, PokitDok