10 Ways Nurses Can Take Control Of Their Health
Hey friends! Men's Health Month is upon us and I thought this would be the PERFECT opportunity to discuss ways we, as healthcare professionals, can lead by example when it comes to our health. It's our most important asset, right? We know how bad it can get. We see it everyday. We know the stats. We've heard the studies. We've read the books. It's what we do! However, we still see overweight, out of shape co-workers, right?
I have to say, my weight fluctuates quite a bit. Sometimes I'm on it and sometimes I really miss the mark. I'm human. I succumb to the donuts, the bagels, the potlucks, and all that other junk that is at arms reach on the unit. I'm sure most of you who are reading this probably does too. Convenience almost always wins when time is of the essence. I work in the emergency room most nights. There's VERY little time to stop and eat that healthy meal I prepared before work. Any other person out there who works at the bedside knows exactly what I mean. But we have to figure this out folks. Obesity increases our risks for A LOT of bad stuff.
Did you know that the size of your waist is a determinant in whether or not you have a higher risk for heart disease and diabetes? Yep. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), if your waist size is greater than 35 inches in females or 40 inches in males it's time to rethink things...quickly.
I don't have to tell all of you this stuff. We're actual health professionals! Still, many of us don't take it as serious as we should. That being said, after thinking about it, I've compiled a list of things we can do to get our health in check. Just knowing this list isn't going to help, though. You've got to take action, friends. This isn't some esoteric list of "To Do's". This is simple stuff we all know we should do. And maybe, JUST MAYBE this will spur some of you out there to get started taking the steps in the right direction. We HAVE to set the example, friends.
Let's get into it, shall we?
1. Meal Prepping- Meal prepping is probably one of the best things you can do to set yourself up for success when taking control of your diet. I heard it once said, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Instead of falling victim to having to eat whatever you can get your hands on during your shift, try prepping some meals for the day or even for the whole week. Here's a previous post I did on "How to Meal Prep" that may be helpful.
2. Start or Join a Walking Group-Dr. Steve Maraboli once said "If you hang out with chickens you're going to cluck. If you hang out with eagles you're going to fly." I sincerely believe that hanging out with other health-conscious people will cause you to become and stay health-conscious. Joining a walking group or even STARTING a walking group is a great way to hang out with other people who want to make some real changes in their health. In addition, it will also hold you accountable.
3. Hit the Gym-Don't let excuses keep you from joining the gym. Even if you can only go 1 hour a day, 3 days a week, that is still way better than not going at all. Once you start seeing the changes that come with consistent gym time, you'll make the time to go even more. It's worth it friends. Oh, and get a gym partner if possible. It will 10x your progress.
4. Put DOWN The Junk Food- I would go NUTS if I couldn't have at least one day where I allow myself a little bit of junk in my diet. As a matter of fact, that's exactly what I give myself-ONE day. On all the other days, I make it a consistent effort to abide by my diet. 80% of reaching your ideal physique is diet-related. It REALLY IS that important. Give yourself 1 cheat day, and don't over do it. This will be far easier if you follow Tip #1.
5. Drink More Water- A lot of times when we feel hungry we are, in fact, thirsty. It's been shown that most of us are walking around dehydrated. Our body needs water for a variety of reasons, but not the least being ridding our bodies of toxins and increasing the efficiency of our digestive processes. So instead of grabbing some food the next time you feel a little hungry, grab a tall glass of water or a bottle of sparkling water. It make provide the satiety you're hoping for, especially the sparkling water. The carbonation will fill your belly up a little bit more.
6. Take the Stairs- It's so difficult to avoid the elevator when you're pressed for time at work. However, it takes less time than you think to walk a few flights of stairs. You'll be amazed how much better you feel AND if you implement a few other tips here, how much slimmer you look if you avoid the elevator for a few months. This is probably one of the best changes I can think one can make that is SUPER easy, other than the next one. This week, take the stairs!
7. Park Farther Away- If you get to work three minutes earlier, you can't use the excuse that it takes too much time. Parking farther away increases your steps to and from work. This isn't going to be life-changing, but combined with other items from this list, over time, will cause big changes in your health.
8. Chart Standing Up- Do you have COWs in your hospital? Computers On Wheels are a common fixture in many hospital units. If you have some where you work, instead of sitting down charting, spend a majority of your charting time standing up at a COW. Just the sole act of standing burns far more calories than sitting. This is just another feather in your hat, friends! I'm not saying you should stand up the whole shift. I GET IT. We all need to sit and give the dogs a rest throughout the shift. However, if you're on those units where you tend to sit a bit more, take the opportunity to stand and chart at times throughout your shift. It'll really help.
9. Begin an Outdoor Hobby- This doesn't necessarily apply to work, but you can apply it to your days off. Take it outdoors, friends. There are so many healthy hobbies you can take up that will get you outside and moving. I'm sure you can think of a ton of them. Anything to get you moving is going to be better than sitting up on your couch watching TV or playing video games. The summer is here and I enjoy taking my boys fishing, bike-riding, swimming, playing in the park, etc. What are some ideas you could implement?
10. See Your Doctor/Nurse Practitioner- One can't talk about health prevention without advising you to see your doctor or NP at least once a year. You don't know what you don't know. It's really important to get your labs drawn, as well as other routine exams. This is paramount folks. Ironically, we healthcare providers are the absolute worse at this part, right? As healthcare providers, though, we all know how important this is. Do it for your family if not for yourself.
I hope this list helps all of you out there that are fed up with being fed up and that it spurs you to begin making some positive changes in your work life that will positively effect your personal life. You may not have considered, but little changes you make compounded over time will bring you to a totally different endpoint. You get to choose if those are going to be positive changes or negative changes. And don't let inexperience, negative self-talk, or analysis-
paralysis keep you from moving forward. As I've said, your health is your most precious asset. Guard it as if your life depended on it, because it does.
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