How do you manage to be healthy with 12 hr shifts?

  1. I am a new grad RN and my goal now that school is finished, other than finding a job, is getting back in shape. It seems like healthy eating and regular exercise are a challenge when you are working 12 hr shifts, especially night shifts. I have had a really hard time during school and working night shift as a nurse intern. I do pack a healthy lunch before I go, but this is difficult to do when I barely have time to sleep (with a little one at home). I am so exhausted at the end of the night that the idea of working out makes me want to cry.

    So, anyhow, how do you make time to exercise? Days off only? Before work? After work? What kinds of quick healthy things do you make for work? I also know that the irregular sleep pattern is only inhibiting weight loss, but there is not much I can do about that at this point.
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   shanyone
    I usually only work out on my days off. I figure I'm walking an awful lot on my days at work. I lift weights pretty heavy and I do some type of cardio on most days off. This, combined with healthy eating, makes it easier to stay in shape. I find that the easiest meal to make is chicken in the crock pot with a little water, a chopped up onion, and some type of seasoning or half a bottle of marinade thrown in. I then slow cook it until it's tender and make either brown rice or quinoa to go with it. I usually add in a fruit, yogurt, diet soda (my vice), dessert and I'm good to go. This is such an easy meal to throw together and I'm not hungry for a long time due to the protein. I should eat more veggies but I'm not good at adding them in there. I try to make sure I get some veggies in throughout the rest of the week and I'll sometimes add frozen mixed veggies to the mix of chicken and rice/quinoa.

    Good luck to you
  4. by   thekid
    let me know when you figure it out, I work five 8hr shifts, have a toddler and still can't find the time good luck though..get enough sleep!
  5. by   LouisVRN
    Well I've been able to lose about 60lbs (that I gained having a child in nursing school) so far since graduating and working night shifts so I consider myself pretty successful at it. I am now at a healthy weight, but would like to lose another 20lbs or so until I feel better about myself. I try to group my night shifts together, so I do as little switching back and forth as possible. I will either go to the gym on the way home from work, if I'm not too tired, or if I'm tired I will go home sleep, get up half an hour early and run a few miles on the treadmill before work. Also on the day before I go into work I make food for the time I will be there. Usually, nothing fancy, just grilling either chicken breasts or some fish. I usually leave it pretty plain and then season it differently when I package it into portions. I then make a large portion of brown rice and divide that into portions with my protein and then cook a large bag of broccolli in the microwave, or prepare a simple salad and put croutons in baggies and dressing in measured containers. I buy pre-packaged fruit, or else make a large fruit salad and individually portion that. I also buy the 100 calorie puddings as I find those make an excellent dessert. Then when I'm ready to leave to work I just choose one from each category, pudding, whole grain/protein, veggie, fruit and I'm good to go. Honestly everyone at work is jealous of my seemingly "gourmet" meals I pull out night after night but as long as I'm prepared it is really easy. I will occasionally eat food at work if I pick up an extra shift but limit myself to soup/salad and the weight watcher's crabcakes they all to rarely have on nights. :redpinkhe When I am not at work I do try to work out everyday, I've also been trying to take my son for hour plus long bike rides, which definitely helps burn some calories while having fun and he actually will take a nap.

    Good luck! It can be done!!
  6. by   happy2learn
    I would be tempted to just bring some lean cuisine/weight watchers/healthy choice meals to eat while I am at work for my meal. The above posters have good advice in regards to meals and snacks. I've seen a lot of pre-packaged fruits and veggies lately. A little pricey, but worth it I think. The 100 cal puddings are good. Kashi makes some good granola bar type things too. Those will help fill you up.

    I love the crock pot when I'm home. But I also buy whole wheat pizza crusts and make homemade pizza. Even turning the oven down low and roasting a whole chicken is good and easy. You really only need to put salt and pepper on it, maybe some garlic won't hurt. Plus the leftover chicken makes good sandwiches the next day. I also love those Green Giant frozen veggies. Just heat them in the microwave and they have quite a few healthy ones. I'm horrible about cooking vegetables, so those make it easy on me.

    As far as working out, I have a dvd from that Jillian Michaels that only takes 20 minutes and its the hardest thing. Its a very intense 20 minute workout, but I'd rather do an intense 20 than 60 minutes or so. And definitely only on the days off. You are walking a lot at work so that does count.
  7. by   LouisVRN
    Quote from happy2learn
    I would be tempted to just bring some lean cuisine/weight watchers/healthy choice meals to eat while I am at work for my meal. The above posters have good advice in regards to meals and snacks. I've seen a lot of pre-packaged fruits and veggies lately. A little pricey, but worth it I think. The 100 cal puddings are good. Kashi makes some good granola bar type things too. Those will help fill you up.

    I love the crock pot when I'm home. But I also buy whole wheat pizza crusts and make homemade pizza. Even turning the oven down low and roasting a whole chicken is good and easy. You really only need to put salt and pepper on it, maybe some garlic won't hurt. Plus the leftover chicken makes good sandwiches the next day. I also love those Green Giant frozen veggies. Just heat them in the microwave and they have quite a few healthy ones. I'm horrible about cooking vegetables, so those make it easy on me.

    As far as working out, I have a dvd from that Jillian Michaels that only takes 20 minutes and its the hardest thing. Its a very intense 20 minute workout, but I'd rather do an intense 20 than 60 minutes or so. And definitely only on the days off. You are walking a lot at work so that does count.
    Oh, I totally forgot about pizza!! I love whole wheat pizza done on the grill with lots of veggies and a skim ricotta cheese, yummy! And everyone will ask where you got it from!
  8. by   kcochrane
    I work out the day after I have the night off. I get up by 12ish and the kids are still in school. I have treadmill and 5lbs weights. I also started eating low carb. So it ends up being about 3 times per week/40-50 minutes per workout. I've lost 12 pounds in the last few months. Slow by steady.

    On occasion I do the walking CD by Leslie Sasone.
  9. by   Bionic Woman
    Instead of working out six days a week, I now work out 4 days a week when I am off. I added an additional 15 minutes of cardio to those days that I do work out. Less days of working out means longer work-outs. Like someone said, the days that I do work I get plenty of walking done!
  10. by   LouisVRN
    Oh also, take the stairs while you are at work. It is a hell of a workout. Some of my co-workers and I will take a five minute break to "run the stairs" in the middle of the night and it really does wake you up.
  11. by   itsmejuli
    I work ( I should say run) 12 hour days shifts on the weekends. I barely have time to eat. I pack cottage cheese and pineapple, lots of veggies, and a few low cal snacks to get me through the day. I also pack along a 32 oz bottle of water.

    I also got into the habit of preparing meals ahead of time for the weekend. I'm ravenous when I get home from a long day.

    I'm very statisfied following Weight Watchers. I learned how to eat healthy
  12. by   Meredith09
    Quote from itsmejuli
    I work ( I should say run) 12 hour days shifts on the weekends. I barely have time to eat. I pack cottage cheese and pineapple, lots of veggies, and a few low cal snacks to get me through the day. I also pack along a 32 oz bottle of water.

    I also got into the habit of preparing meals ahead of time for the weekend. I'm ravenous when I get home from a long day.

    I'm very statisfied following Weight Watchers. I learned how to eat healthy
    Agreed, WW rocks! And taking the time to plan meals and pack lunch/ dinner or whatever on the days you work will absolutely pay off--I've finally managed to balance school and the eating healthy/ working-out thing simply by planning my meals the night before. Can't do it perfectly all the time, but on the whole, it's definitely doable. Good luck to ya.
  13. by   morphed
    I tend to workout afterwards because then I can take a shower at the gym too. The thought of bringing germs into my home and shower really disgusts me. After the gym and shower I can just put on some comfy clothes and come home and relax.

    For healthy food, I like to bring hummus (w/o garlic) and pita chips, pasta or chicken with some vegetables, or tuna. I usually bring a tea bag or two, too, and just steep it there.
  14. by   Work in Progress
    Thanks for the awesome advice everyone! I think it is great to talk about this, because it is definitely a challenge to keep ourselves healthy with inherently unhealthy working hours and huge amounts of stress. I think I will get a good start on being healthy while I am looking for that elusive first job and then I will be better set with healthy habits when I start.

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