(All images in this post via Ryan Phelan)
I have one of the fittest doctors ever, and it can be both aspirational and intimidating. I wonder how I'd react to a GP like Ryan Phelan, who was chosen by BuzzFeed as one of the country's hottest docs?
Ryan is not only physically fit, he's a show-off; you'll find him all over social media, usually with most of his clothes off ... which at times is just what the doctor ordered. The openly gay student wants to be anesthesiologist, and he's already a knockout.
I wanted to get to the bottom of Ryan's Internet fame, his social media supremacy and his fitness tips, so I sent him some questions and he sent me some answers and, well, here ya go!
Boy Culture: What was the first image you posted on your Instagram, and what got you into physique selfies?
Ryan Phelan: The very first picture I posted on Instagram was on top of Eyjafjallajökull, a glacier in Iceland. I was on a trip with my father. I made a “duck face,” naturally. Traveling is by far my favorite hobby—to date I've been to 41 countries and six of the seven continents! My goal is to visit all the countries before I die!
Fitness has always been a priority in my life. Playing sports throughout high school and college required me to stay in shape and work hard. In today’s society, I guess the natural flow of things is to then post selfies about it.
BC: What have been some of your favorite responses?
RP: One of my favorite things about Instagram is its ability to bring a huge variety of people together. This leads to some pretty interesting comments. I think my favorite are the ones that call me out on my nonsense. It’s important to be kept honest and humble. Plus, I love sarcasm!
Think he has no sense of humor about his online selfies? He says he loves smart-assed comments. “I think my favorite are the ones that call me out on my nonsense.”
BC: What's your favorite image you've posted?
RP: My favorite image was taken in Mykonos on a trip to Greece last summer. I’m in a Speedo leaning against a church. I like the contrast, both of color and ideas. Often times my favorite images aren’t the ones that get the most likes.
BC: What's your favorite part of your body, and is there a part that's hardest to work out/to achieve the look you want?
RP: To avoid being cliché and giving an answer about loving your whole self, I’d have to say my chest—mainly because I don’t have to work very hard on it. I thank my father for the genetics.
Ultimately I want to get my physique to a level that is pretty hard to attain while in medical school: 24-hour calls, studying, long days, etc., make dieting and working out as often as I need to very hard.
BC: What's your advice for people who want to be fit and look good but hate the gym?
RP: The gym isn’t the only place to get fit. Fitness starts with diet. “Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.” There are many alternatives to the gym—running, cycling, yoga, boot camps, etc. I would offer that once you start going more and more, the gym starts to become a place to relieve stress and achieve your goals, and thus becomes much more enjoyable.
Thinking of trying steroids to get the Ryan Phelan look fast? “The potential acute problems and unavoidable long-term effects are not worth the gain.”
BC: Common saying among people ogling bodies online: “Isn't everyone on steroids?” Do you think testosterone boosts/HGH are to be avoided, or okay in moderation, and what supplements do you use/recommend?
RP: Many, MANY, MANY people use illegal supplements, be it HGH/testosterone/steroids, etc., to get to where they want to be physically. I have never, and never plan on, using them myself. The potential acute problems and unavoidable long-term effects are not worth the gain.
I use whey protein, BCAAs, and pre-work energy in addition to a diet that is generally mainly chicken, ground turkey, veggies and salads. Butter pecan Häagen-Dazs, pizza, and onion rings get me sometimes!
BC: Would you ever do a video fitness series on YouTube?
RP: I’ve often considered this, as well as combining general health information that many young people are missing out on. There are a lot of misconceptions about fitness and health that are propagated in the younger generations that I wish could be fixed. Health and fitness in our country is severely lacking, with 1/3 of all people being obese. It's an epidemic that needs to be worked on from as many angles as possible.
Asked if posting provocative selfies online could affect his future employment, Ryan is confident it won't: “This is becoming less pertinent as our generation is taking over.”
BC: A recent hit piece (on a blog devoted to pictures of musclebound social-media stars!) attacked people like Bryan Hawn and Steve Grand for relying too heavily on their bodies and being narcissistic, concluding with a hope that people like them would just go away. What's the harm in doing what you're doing, and/or how would you respond to that kind of criticism?
RP: I try to avoid criticizing people for things they clearly enjoy doing. Fitness and physique are two things that take A LOT of work and people should be proud of the work that they have done. Your physical image is only one piece of the puzzle.
BC: As a third-year med student, have you ever had any concerns that your online presence would turn off patients or make potential employers/co-workers uncomfortable?
RP: Like all people, doctors and medical students have social lives. My Instagram merely is a look into my life outside of the hours of studying, library time, mock exams, or clerkships I do all day. I’ve spent the last several years studying and working nonstop to be able to be in a position to dedicate my professional life to my patients and their health. Seeing me on vacation, working on fitness, at festivals with friends, etc., shouldn’t concern employers or patients, with my intellect or ability to care for patients. This is becoming less pertinent as our generation is taking over.
BC: When I was a kid, my doctor had a limp and literally smoked while examining me. (It was the '70s.) I was never intimidated by his physicality/perfect health/looks. As an adult, my doc is very handsome and fit. Do you think being seen by a very fit health professional helps (inspires) or can intimidate patients, and how do you expect you'll handle patients who need to be in better shape?
RP: I think it’s important that doctors and med students should be healthy. They/we are leaders in the health community and need to guide patients accordingly. I often see doctors/medical students that smoke or are overweight and I find it odd that they could then go to a patient and tell them that they need to stop smoking or lose weight. We ought to lead by example and by word, not by word alone.
Ryan thinks doctors should look and act the part: “We ought to lead by example and by word, not by word alone.”
BC: What are your future professional goals?
RP: Professionally I would love to be an anesthesiologist. I love procedural-based medicine, the ability to comfort patients in pain, and the science behind the medications. Next March will be my match year, though, so I wont know till then!
BC: What are your goals as a social-media personality?
RP: Social media is a hobby! I try not to put too much thought into it and just go with the flow!