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Mother, Plastic Surgeon, Entrepreneur: Is There Anything Dr. Lara Devgan Can't Do?

4 Min Read
People

Having a successful career and a happy home life can prove to be a difficult goal for a lot of working mothers, but Yale-educated and Columbia-trained plastic surgeon Dr. Lara Devgan proves that through determination, hard work, and a lot of organization, working moms really can have the best of both worlds.

It wasn't always an easy road for this award-winning surgeon, as becoming a successful female surgeon in a male-dominated field (statistics say 90& of board-certified plastic surgeons are men) definitely came with its fair share of roadblocks and challenges.

“I think that anytime a woman is entering a field that is dominated by men, there is set up for needing to work twice as hard and be twice as good in order to be taken seriously," says Devgan. “And so, in a way, this teaches you good work ethic and the drive to succeed."

Through her own motivation and personal work ethic, Dr. Devgan definitely achieved her goal in becoming a successful surgeon, as she currently has been ranked the "#1 female cosmetic surgeon" in New York by RateMDs, and has been featured as a "Super Doctors Rising Star" plastic surgeon in The New York Times Magazine. She also is an attending plastic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital, Greenwich Hospital, and Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Infirmary, where she teaches plastic surgery residents and fellows.

But in addition to her very successful (and not to mention busy) career, Devgan also says her family is one of her biggest achievements in life, as she is currently a mother of five (with another baby on the way) living in the Upper East Side with her husband. However, she admits that balancing her time at home with her busy workload can be quite challenging. But, through planning and a lot of organization, she does her best to make sure she spends time on both her professional and home lives.

“In terms of balancing, I have a really supportive husband and we have a lot of help, but I also know my limits," she says. “For example, I am not someone who you are going to find cooking and cleaning around the house. And while there is a little part of me that likes the idea of baking cookies at home, to me, I feel that is just not something I am able to do at this time. However, I do think that my kids get something out of seeing me as someone who works hard and cares about other things outside of our living room."

Although work and family play a big part of Devgan's life, she also finds to time to indulge in her passion for beauty with a podcast called Beauty Bosses, which features industry leaders in fashion, wellness, art, and media. The podcast (which she finds time to record on Tuesday afternoons) is currently number five on the iTunes global top charts for beauty and fashion, and has featured guests such as interior designers, artists, writers, and actresses.

And of course, as beauty is her business, Devgan has also tapped into her entrepreneurial side and has launched a new skincare line called Dr. Devgan Scientific Beauty, which has been sold at pop-up shops at Bergdorf Goodman and Blushington. The new line, which she formulated (and tested on) herself, uses active ingredients that have been clinically validated in large-scale randomized control studies. Products inside the line include lip plumpers, lash serums, and creams, which have already received a lot of buzz in the press and have proven to be quite popular among certain celebrity clientele. Devgan only hopes the line grows even more in the coming year, especially since she says each product in the line has demonstrated scientific efficacy.

But with so many successes already under her belt, it may seem impossible to become a multitasking triple-threat like Dr. Devgan. However, she says the best advice she can give working mothers is to not be afraid to get support (no woman, man, or family is an island!) whenever possible, and always appreciate the little things, even on those mundane or super challenging days. Most importantly, she stresses the importance of working mothers not beating themselves up about any limitations they may have in their lives, especially since most working parents won't always be apart of every single special moment of their child's life.

“Don't beat yourself up over the guilt of not being there for every little moment because your kids are getting something out of witnessing you having this work ethic and being passionate and working towards a goal," she says.

And professionally, she advises that while there is always room for extremely talented people, there are certainly always going to be hurdles to overcome along the way. She should know, as she was an English major and exhibited artist before even going to medical school. However, she says, good things always take time, and while people may say you can't have it all, you really can, but maybe not altogether at once.

“One piece of advice I got when I was younger was that you can have it all, but not necessarily at the same time," she says. “There will be different times in your life when you'll focus on one thing more than another thing and that's OK. It's important to remember that it's a long game, not necessarily a short one."


This piece was originally published May 20, 2018.

3 Min Read
Health

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.