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At Last: A PLAN to achieve your weight loss breakthrough

nurse-on-scaleYou’re ready to give your weight loss plan a good, hard, realistic look. You want to make this year the year you take the age-old resolution off your list for good. So how do you do it?

Vicki Piper, Employee Wellness Dietitian at Children’s Cancer Hospital at M. D. Anderson, has helped nurses shed weight…even those seemingly-impossible stubborn pounds. In this interview, she attests it’s not enough just to set goals to lose weight.

To see real results, you have to back up those goals with a strategic PLAN to stay ahead of your appetite. Once you’ve picked your workout regimen, follow Vicki’s smart nutrition strategy to fuel and replenish your body and get the most out of your weight loss efforts.

Scrubs: What are some real expectations that nurses should keep in mind to help them stay motivated?

Vicki: In these days of frequent meals out, bagels as big as Frisbees and pasta bowls so deep your fork gets lost, weight management is difficult—but it’s not impossible. PLAN, PLAN and PLAN some more. Prepare meals and snacks at home and bring them to work. If you need to lose weight, remember that 1 to 2 pounds lost per week is a great rate. If you fall off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up—just climb back into your wagon on the next meal.

Scrubs: Could you provide an example of a “small meal” that a nurse could have several times throughout the day? Is there an easy way to calculate what’s right for each individual?

Vicki: A few ideas for small meals would be a meat sandwich on whole-wheat bread with a piece of fruit, a baked chicken breast with ½ cup brown rice and carrot sticks, or a bowl of vegetable soup with half a sandwich. To calculate your individual needs, check out and

Scrubs: What are some tips for optimal nutrition to help your body recover faster from a big workout?

Vicki: Three key elements come into play when replenishing the body post-workout: fluids, carbohydrates and protein. The best fluid is water, of course! Next, muscles need carbohydrates to replace the carbs that were stored as glycogen and used during exercise. Fruits, legumes (beans) and whole-grain bread products are complex carbohydrates that will replenish muscles; they’re also loaded with fiber and other nutrients.

Preliminary studies suggest that a protein-carb combination may enhance muscle recovery and muscle refueling after exercise more effectively than carbs alone. Protein-carbohydrate combinations like skim milk, low-fat and low-sugar yogurt, low-fat chocolate milk and legumes will aid in recovery. A little bit of protein after a workout may help keep you feeling full. Remember, a quick 30-minute walk does NOT usually require refueling. Darn! Keep those snacks after workouts small so those calories you burned while exercising can help you with weight maintenance.

Read our previous interview with Vicki Piper in “The Hardest Weight to Lose—How These Nurses Did It” and learn how three nurses achieved their weight loss goals.

Sign up for our health tips newsletter! Here’s why. Every once in a while, we write a great article about your health (usually it’s by resident expert Sean Dent). Maybe it’s about how an amazing way a nurse team lost weight together. Maybe it’s a series of easy-to-make brown bag lunch recipes that’ll knock your socks off. Maybe it’s a whole new method of dealing with back pain. We’ll only send you a tip when it’s super great.
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