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How can I lose weight?

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Ah, it’s the all-American question. Countless articles and books have been written to solve the problem of the unwanted “spare tire” of flab. Here in the USA, companies make billions of dollars from weight loss products and strategies! So how can this article help you, a nurse with long days and high-stress environments, lose weight? Review these simple tips for tweaking the way you think about your daily food intake.

1. Think of it as a reconstruction project.
Did you know that the face you have today is not the same face you had six months ago? That’s right. Your body “remakes” itself (with a few exceptions) over the course of time. You are probably aware that red blood cells have a “life” of about 120 days. Other cells have lifespans, too, and require replacement.

Think about construction for a minute. If you built a house, and the plumbing went to pot (pun intended!) in only two years, would you use the same brand of sewer pipe or find a more reliable brand? If the bricks started falling off the porch three months after you built the porch, would you use the same mortar when repairing? Of course not!

In addition, reconstruction takes sweat! You may be weary and sore after long shifts on your feet. The last thing you want to do is go and pound your feet on a treadmill! How about trying low-impact exercises that have been proven to relieve stress and strengthen at the same time? Try yoga, Pilates, Zumba, elastic band workouts or swimming, or ask a trainer for recommendations for your specific needs.

So, if you find your body is looking decrepit or bulging in all the wrong places, commit yourself to reconstruction with sweat and quality materials!

2. Want quality materials for reconstruction? Use the rainbow to make food choices.
If you’re thinking Yellow #5, Blue #1 and Red #40, that would be the wrong rainbow!
I’m talking yellow as in yellow bell peppers, blue as in blueberries and red as in Red Delicious apples! Even white has its place, when it’s white onions and garlic, and not white rice, flour or potatoes!

Here’s the catch: Access to quality food choices often requires preplanning. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in front of the vending machine, which, aside from maybe a low-salt trail mix, typically doesn’t have many healthy food options. Work cafeteria? Well, maybe…if you’re lucky enough to have time in your shift to grab salad materials and wait in the checkout line. Usually the choices of hot foods in hospital cafeterias are not of high quality.

One of the best ways to preplan is to cook extra servings of meals during the week and save the leftovers to pack for work. Portion out fresh, raw veggies in individual serving containers to use when the snacking urge hits.

But let’s be real. Is your shift so crazy that you don’t even have time to heat up a meal? Find a high-quality, low-sugar protein shake powder that can be mixed with water, and stock a can of that with a shaker in your locker. You could also measure individual portions into small, purse-friendly containers, and carry one or two in your purse for emergencies. In less than five minutes, you can get a “meal” without having to resort to candy bars, a coworker’s leftover birthday cake or a patient’s unwanted pudding.

BONUS: You will burn calories shaking up the protein drink!

3. Think outside the box…the processed food box, that is.
Food so far removed from its original state is not good for any living creature. Often, the body interprets these highly processed boxed and packaged convenience foods as alien or toxic, and retains fat to provide a “buffer” to those foreign materials.

Have you heard that a calorie is just a calorie, and to lose weight, you just have to reduce calories or burn more? Not so. That’s like saying kerosene works the same as gasoline…it will provide energy, but only if the engine is designed to burn it!

Eat your quota of calories in UFOs (unidentifiable food objects), and your body’s engine will sputter, leading to decreased metabolism and weight gain.

Eat whole, unprocessed meats, fruits or vegetables, and your body’s engine will operate more cleanly and efficiently, reducing overall stress to your internal organs. Rev up that engine with some reasonable daily exercise and you’ll see the weight drop off!

How are you progressing with your body’s reconstruction project? Tell us in the comments section what foods you’re using as your building blocks today!

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Jessica Ellis

With experience in multiple specialties such as ER, ICU, CVICU, PACU, NICU and case management, Jessica has also been a key contributor for several of the world’s leading healthcare publishers. Jessica has been certified in CPR, BLS Instructor, PHTLS, ACLS, TNCC, CFRN, NRP, PALS and CPS. She previously functioned as an editor and contributor for NursesNetwork.com, and an author/editor of numerous online nursing CEU courses for Coursepark. Jessica accepts ongoing professional nursing writing contracts for both authoring and editing from major textbook and online education publishers internationally.
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