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Top 10 weight management tips for nurses

Hemera | Thinkstock + Scrubs
Hemera | Thinkstock + Scrubs

The message is all around us: To maintain a healthy heart, we need to maintain a healthy weight. As nurses, though, it’s sometimes easier to teach this to others than it is to work on the message ourselves.

Managing your weight doesn’t necessarily mean losing weight. Some nurses are at a good, comfortable weight and only need to be sure it stays at that level. Here are 10 tips to help you manage your weight.

1. Get together with like-minded people.
You may want to join an established weight-loss group or form your own, but whatever group you join, the group mind-set is often helpful to people who are working on losing weight. Setting up a group at work may seem daunting—but a work group has its advantages, the main one being having people around to be accountable to during your work hours.

2. Get your employer on board.

Between working shift work and crazy weather, going out to exercise is not always an appealing option for anyone, let alone tired nurses. What if you could get your employer on board and your workplace became more health-friendly for the employees? After all, healthy employees are generally happier employees. At-work health initiatives can range from holding weekly weight-loss meetings to incentives and room to exercise.

3. Sneak in some at-work exercises.
You may have read some articles geared toward office workers about how they can do some exercises at their desks. As nurses, we do get a good bit of walking done, but we can also squeeze some exercises into our daily routine by taking advantage of our environment. One example is to do toe-rises if you chart while standing. Clench your glutes together while you rise up on your toes, then relax as you go back down. It may not seem like a lot while you’re doing it, but if you steal a few minutes here and there throughout your shift, every shift, there will be a difference down the road.

4. Read Your Care Plan: A Nurse’s Guide to Healthy Living.

The book  Your Care Plan: A Nurse’s Guide to Healthy Living was written by a nurse for nurses. Who better to help advise us on working and living in a healthy way? The book reviews health challenges faced by nurses and offers solutions.

5. Share healthy recipes with other nurses.
Most of us have a favorite recipe or two that we enjoy making and sharing. How about doing a recipe exchange with other nurses—with the challenge that the recipes have to be for healthy, low-fat meals or treats? Who knows? You may end up finding healthier versions of your favorite “naughty” foods. In some workplaces, nurses and other employees have put together cookbooks of their favorite recipes. This initiative is not only helpful for sharing great ideas, but it may also double as a fundraiser for a favorite cause.

6. Lose the self-consciousness.

While this isn’t a verifiable research statistic, it’s likely safe to say that many overweight people who want to go to a gym feel too self-conscious to end up making that commitment of actually joining a gym or group class. If you want to lose weight, it’s important to understand that this goal is about you and only you. Others may notice you in a gym or class, but they’re there for the same thing—so it’s not exactly in their best interest to snicker if they’re in the same situation! Don’t be too embarrassed to go to a gym. Look out for yourself and to heck with what anyone else thinks, if anyone does notice you.

7. Ditch the chaotic eater lifestyle.

If you’re a chaotic eater—eating on the run, grabbing whatever is handy—you will likely have a more difficult time reaching and maintaining a healthy weight than if you have a more scheduled, less chaotic approach to meals. See if you’re a chaotic eater and what you can do about it.

8. Stop thinking of it as dieting.
Dieting has a negative connotation. Dieting feels as if you’re depriving yourself of something. So stop thinking about dieting. In order to lose weight—and to keep it off—we usually need to make some lifestyle changes. This could be cooking healthy meals instead of grabbing what’s available, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and so on. These are changes that we weave into our lives as we go about our day-to-day living. They’re add-ons, not take-aways!

9. Be realistic in your weight loss goals.
You know you need to lose weight. You’ve vowed to lose weight. So why are you this close to failing? Could it be because you set an impossible goal to begin with? You can’t meet an impossible goal, and if you set such goals, you will feel as if you’ve failed. So set realistic weight-loss goals. Either alone or with an expert, calculate the safe and acceptable amount of weight you need to lose. Then look at safe ways to do this. Slow but sure, rather than fast and frantic, will likely help you see you reach your goals.

10. Plan ahead.
Whether you were in the Scouts or not, you likely have heard the phrase “Be prepared.” If you want to lose weight, this is what you need to do. You need to prepare your meal plans, your exercise plans and what to do if your situation or environment changes (vacations, invitations to dinner, etc). By planning ahead, you may avoid many of the pitfalls that affect people who are trying to lose weight.

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Marijke Durning

Marijke is a professional writer who began her working career as a registered nurse over 25 years ago. After working in clinical areas ranging from rehab to intensive care, as a floor nurse to a supervisor, she found she could combine her extensive health knowledge with her love of writing. Although she has been published in a wide variety of publications for professionals and the general public, her passion is writing for the every day person to promote health literacy.
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