Weight loss for nurses

  1. I will be a newly graduated nurse come May and am probably 100 lbs overweight. I was hoping to be working out and eating healthier and have lost some weight by the time I start my career but nursing school has proven to be a horrible time to try and focus on healthy eating and cardio...go figure.
    Does anyone have any special tips for trying to lose weight and focus on one's own health while helping others heal? Here's to hoping a physically demanding profession will help my endeavors!
    Additionally, for others overweight, do you notice patients question your education or work ethic and if so how do you overcome that?
    Thanks!
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  2. 95 Comments

  3. by   NurseCard
    This is a sensitive topic. Tread lightly.

    I sympathize with you though. I'm very overweight
    as well and have been for over 10 years now. I've had
    a serious issue with my weight every since my son was
    born. Just never have been able to shake the, oh, 100
    or so extra pounds.

    Now, a couple of years after I graduated nursing school,
    I did manage to lose about 67 pounds, all while working
    night shifts. Gained it all back with plenty of interest
    though.

    The only thing I can say is that I have VERY VERY seldom
    had any patient comment about my weight. Practically
    never.
  4. by   Purple_roses
    I haven't started my first job yet, so I have yet to discover how to fit in a healthy lifestyle while actually working as a nurse. My friend and I work similar hours and have agreed that instead of going out for drinks after shifts (which is what we would much rather do), we're going to go running together...we know we'll hate it, especially after those 12+ hour shifts, but a buddy system adds accountability and we're hoping we'll stick to our goals.

    One of my pet peeves is people expecting nurses to be a healthy weight simply because they know a lot about the body and health. If a patient ever infers that you're not fit to be a nurse because of your size tell him or her that you obtained your nursing license because you went through years of difficult schooling and testing. Your brain is worth far more than your weight, and if you ever need assistance with lifting or something like that, you'll have coworkers who can help you out.
  5. by   HeySis
    No tips on how to lose weight, it's getting harder to take off pounds as I get older and seems when I lose 5 I gain back 10. I am also overweight. I'm not sure how after 10 years of being this weight it's still a shock every time I get a look in a full length mirror. I have at times wondered what my patients thought of it, but no-one has ever remarked on my weight (at least to my face) and I certainly am not alone in my circumstances.

    MY patients tend to care more about the fact they woke up after surgery, what their pain level is and how I've treated them, rather then my looks. (which is good, because I'm no beauty queen either.)
  6. by   HelloWish
    I gained weight in nursing school too! I found that walking a lot while working bedside (I wear a fit bit) and adding exercise that I LOVE and will stick with is what helps me. I do Zumba, however every person has the exercise they love. I still have extra weight, but I think moving is one of the keys to youth after taking care of so many people who refuse to move in the hospital and watching their health decline.

    Nobody has ever mentioned my weight! I could stand to lose 40 pounds.

    Ultimately, I care less about being skinny and care more about moving and keeping mobile and self sufficient as I get older.
  7. by   Emergent
    If you only eat home cooked food, and don't eat pre-packaged food, you will be on the right track. Absolutely no soda pop. Keep your cupboards simple and devoid of snack foods. Easy on the alcoholic beverages too! Cook from scratch.

    Over the years, as Americans have eaten out more and lost the ability to cook, they've gotten fatter. Also, always park far away from the store and use stairs instead of elevators. Our reliance on the automobile is a big part of our problem.
  8. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from Emergent
    If you only eat home cooked food, and don't eat pre-packaged food, you will be on the right track. Absolutely no soda pop. Keep your cupboards simple and devoid of snack foods. Easy on the alcoholic beverages too! Cook from scratch.

    Over the years, as Americans have eaten out more and lost the ability to cook, they've gotten fatter. Also, always park far away from the store and use stairs instead of elevators. Our reliance on the automobile is a big part of our problem.
    This is good advice. Recent research is showing that cutting calories or carbs, not exercise, is the key to losing weight so making healthier choices is important.

    Not that it isn't good to exercise, but weight loss is tied to food choices more than exercise. At least according to recent research as noted.

    The science is in: Exercise isn’t the best way to lose weight - YouTube

    But, it also help our overall health to exercise; including mental health.

    Our hospital started a 3 month challenge for employees. It included paying for one month at all local gyms/workout centers. There are also times during the work day when employees will walk together around the hospital. There are also health-related classes once a week. And incentives for weight loss or inches lost. We were given one of those "Fitbit" type wrist devices and share the results on a private FB page for the employees, as well as diet tips, etc.

    You have to find something you will enjoy doing because it is very hard to keep up with something for a lifetime.

    I love to hike.

    I've jogged off and on for 30 years and I trained for a half-marathon a few years ago and ran it. But I don't do this on a regular basis.

    So, I find local places to hike or I take a walk every day in my own neighborhood. (I hate treadmills - too boring).

    Good luck. I'd start with a check up with your physician first. Get blood tests, etc.
    Last edit by Spidey's mom on Mar 19
  9. by   Libby1987
    I have sequential steps when starting weight loss or just improving my health in general.

    *First I start out not by cutting anything but by adding in the super foods..Blueberries, wild salmon, greens, organic eggs etc.
    *I start walking for pleasure.
    *Then I replace the refined carbs with the better carbs..Sweet potato instead of convenient processed foods.
    *Then I replace the better carbs with whole protein and fats..Scrambled eggs with good cheese (when I'm *depriving* I buy the good stuff, it feels more like an indulgence than deprivation) and full fat cream in my tea and coffee.
    *My pleasure walking has morphed into aerobic walking.
    *Then when I've developed appetite blunting (it's the best feeling, comes with keeping your blood glucose and insulin levels consistently in the basement) I switch out a few things, like half and half for cream, chicken for ribeye.
    *My aerobic walking has morphed into lunging intervals. I've picked up the weights. I'm going to the gym.
    *When I've hit my weight loss goals and my focus changes to strength, I add back some carbs before and after workouts, brown rice, banana.

    When I fall off for a short period, say a vacation or the holidays, I pick up somewhere in the middle. When I fall off for extended periods of time, I start over.
  10. by   TheCommuter
    Here is an invigorating blurb from an obesity medicine physician who insists that no one is ever cured of obesity. Obesity can go into remission with weight loss to a normal size, but the once-obese person's body will always fight to regain.

    Those of us who were once fat have different biochemistries in the context that our bodies almost always fight to regain weight once we lose it. This is why 90+ percent of obese people who lose weight regain it all.

    In other words, the struggle is lifelong. For instance, let's assume we have two 40-year-old women who are both exactly 130 pounds with similar body fat percentages and activity levels. One of the women has been weight-stable her entire adult life while the other woman once weighed 300 pounds.

    The formerly obese woman will need to be more watchful about weight maintenance because her body is primed to regain. Also, it is not about "calories in & calories out." The woman who has always been 130 pounds can eat 500 more calories a day than the weight-reduced woman who weighs 130 pounds.

    The struggle is lifelong. Most obese people can lose weight, but what matters is keeping off the 100+ pounds you lost. Weight maintenance is the hardest part.
    We can also cure many forms of cancer, where surgery or a bout of chemotherapy removes the tumour forever. Those conditions we can “cure” – obesity we cannot!

    For all practical purposes, obesity behaves exactly like every other chronic disease – yes, we can modify the course or even ameliorate the condition with the help of behavioural, medical or surgical treatments to the point that it may no longer pose a health threat, but it is at best in “remission” – when the treatment stops, the weight comes back – sometimes with a vengeance.

    And yes, behavioural treatments are treatments, because the behaviours we are talking about that lead to ‘remission’ are far more intense than the behaviours that non-obese people have to adopt to not gain weight in the first place.

    This is how I explained this to someone, who recently told me that about five years ago he had lost a substantial amount of weight (over 50 pounds) simply by watching what he eats and maintaining a regular exercise program. He argued that he had “conquered” his obesity and would now consider himself “cured”. I explained to him, that I would at best consider him in “remission”, because his biology is still that of someone living with obesity.

    And this is how I would prove my point.

    Imagine he and I tried to put on 50 pounds in the next 6 weeks – I would face a real upward battle and may not be able to put on that weight at all – he, in contrast, would have absolutely no problem putting the weight back on. In fact, if he were to simply live the way I do, eating the amount of food I do, those 50 lbs would be back before he knows it.

    His body is just waiting to put the weight back on whereas my biology will actually make it difficult for me simply put that weight on. This is because his “set-point”, even 5 years after losing the weight, is still 50 lbs higher than my “set-point”, which is around my current weight (the heaviest I have ever been).

    Whereas, he is currently working hard against his set-point, by doing what he is doing (watching what he eats, following a strict exercise routine), I would be working against my set-point by having to force myself to eat substantially more than my body needs or wants.

    That is the difference! By virtue of having had 50 lb heavier, his biology has been permanently altered in that it now defends a weight that is substantially higher than mine. His post-weight loss biology is very different from mine, although we are currently at about the same weight. This is what I mean by saying he is in “remission”, thanks to his ongoing behavioural therapy.

    Today, we understand much of this biology. We understand what happens when people try to lose weight and how hard the body fights to resist weight loss and to put the weight back on. This is why, for all practical purposes, obesity behaves just like every other chronic disease and requires ongoing treatment to control – no one is ever “cured” of their obesity.
    Arguments For Calling Obesity A Disease #3: Once Established It Becomes A Lifelong Problem | Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes
  11. by   Libby1987
    H
    Quote from TheCommuter
    Here is an invigorating blurb from an obesity medicine physician who insists that no one is ever cured of obesity. Obesity can go into remission with weight loss to a normal size, but the once-obese person's body will always fight to regain.

    Those of us who were once fat have different biochemistries in the context that our bodies almost always fight to regain weight once we lose it. This is why 90+ percent of obese people who lose weight regain it all.

    In other words, the struggle is lifelong. For instance, let's assume we have two 40-year-old women who are both exactly 130 pounds with similar body fat percentages and activity levels. One of the women has been weight-stable her entire adult life while the other woman once weighed 300 pounds.

    The formerly obese woman will need to be more watchful about weight maintenance because her body is primed to regain. Also, it is not about "calories in & calories out." The woman who has always been 130 pounds can eat 500 more calories a day than the weight-reduced woman who weighs 130 pounds.

    The struggle is lifelong. Most obese people can lose weight, but what matters is keeping off the 100+ pounds you lost. Weight maintenance is the hardest part.

    Arguments For Calling Obesity A Disease #3: Once Established It Becomes A Lifelong Problem | Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes
    Completely agree, and will add that though it's to a lesser degree, for some a much lesser degree, it's lifelong for almost everyone. Especially once at midlife, most women cannot take weight and fitness for granted but I wish it were more equitable.
    Last edit by Libby1987 on Mar 19
  12. by   TriciaJ
    Quote from Libby1987
    I have sequential steps when starting weight loss or just improving my health in general.

    *First I start out not by cutting anything but by adding in the super foods..Blueberries, wild salmon, greens, organic eggs etc.
    *I start walking for pleasure.
    *Then I replace the refined carbs with the better carbs..Sweet potato instead of convenient processed foods.
    *Then I replace the better carbs with whole protein and fats..Scrambled eggs with good cheese (when I'm *depriving* I buy the good stuff, it feels more like an indulgence than deprivation) and full fat cream in my tea and coffee.
    *My pleasure walking has morphed into aerobic walking.
    *Then when I've developed appetite blunting (it's the best feeling, comes with keeping your blood glucose and insulin levels consistently in the basement) I switch out a few things, like half and half for cream, chicken for ribeye.
    *My aerobic walking has morphed into lunging intervals. I've picked up the weights. I'm going to the gym.
    *When I've hit my weight loss goals and my focus changes to strength, I add back some carbs before and after workouts, brown rice, banana.

    When I fall off for a short period, say a vacation or the holidays, I pick up somewhere in the middle. When I fall off for extended periods of time, I start over.
    This is a fantastic plan. Thanks for helping me fine-tune my own system.
  13. by   Sour Lemon
    When I eat high-fat (nuts/avocados) and low sugar (bread/rice/pasta), I become rail thin, have tons of energy, and feel wonderful. Writing down everything I eat (and drink) helps keep me on track because I stay aware of what I'm doing. It's very easy to forget how much sugar is in a handful of M&M's!! I don't exercise except for the occasional bike ride or walk along the beach. I've found that although exercise is very healthy, it does nothing to affect my weight.
    Disclaimer: I am pregnant and eating macaroni and cheese with orange soda at the moment ...not my best eating habits, but I just don't care right now. And as soon as I start eating sugar and drinking anything that's not water, I gain 40 pounds- almost instantly.
  14. by   Julius Seizure
    I've seen great success (myself and others) with using the Whole30 concept to start making better choices about food (and to lose weight!). It's a great way to break those bad eating habits that happen while going to college.

    It's not always easy, but you can consider it a person challenge and also tell yourself its only 30 days....

    Basically, the idea is this:
    YES: eat real food instead of processed packaged junk.
    NO: added sugar, artificial sweeteners, grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol.

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