12 hour shifts and weight/exercise. - page 2

by NurseFrustrated 19,314 Views | 24 Comments

I was wondering if any other nurses have advice on how to work these long shifts and still be at a healthy weight. How do you fit in exercise? How do you eat regular, healthy meals? I always read that we must work out at least 5... Read More


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    Thank you all for your comments and tips. It's good to know that there are ways to get and stay fit while working these crazy long hours. I admire those of you who make your health a priority and don't letting the stress of nursing hours ruin your fitness. I have pretty much let it ruin mine through stress eating, gaining some weight, not exercising regularly (thinking it wasn't possible) and feel sluggish all the time. I see the effects of poor lifestyle choices by some of my patients on my job every day. I don't want to wind up in the same condition. I need to make some changes ASAP.
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    I want to do P90X so bad but I know it's hard and it only allows for one rest day. I can work out after work but I won't if I'm back that night because then I'm too wired to sleep (and I work out at least 1 hr so it eats up good sleeping time). I don't want to work out before work because then I'm all sweaty (and tired!) and don't have time to shower and get dressed before work (hey, I REALLY value my sleep). I have gained weight since I started nursing but I was pretty underweight to start with so you'd never know.
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    Quote from SarahUFVsn
    I am now im my 3rd year of nursing school... and I have been losing weight! I feel during my 12 hour shifts that I dont want to eat, and then I come home and pass out right away after a total scrub down. I have always been small, I weight around 110 lbs. And for someone like me I lose weight when I am stressed because I do not eat properly.

    Does anyone else have this problem?...

    I am in the same boat as you. I have always been small, and I have wanted to gain some weight, but working these long, busy shifts, I do not have time to eat at work most days...I do good to get some fluids in me. I try to eat a bagel or something before work, but I am not a big breakfast person. When I get off work, some nights I pig out, but other nights I am too exhausted to eat a big meal to make up for what I have not been able to eat. I even tried to start weight lifting and strength training for muscle mass and a little cardio--not too much though because I do not want to burn too many calories (although we do enough of that at work running around). I find myself too tired to do it or too busy to fit it in. I have recently started on a very high calorie shake at night before bed. And, I take my multivitamin. I am working on making myself do better. Nurses forget to take care of #1, themselves! We work so hard to take of care others though....
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    I try to eat a bagel or something before work, but I am not a big breakfast person. When I get off work, some nights I pig out, but other nights I am too exhausted to eat a big meal to make up for what I have not been able to eat
    YES this is exactly what i mean. I go all day without eating, and even when I do have a break I cannot just sit and let everything go for 30 mins to have something to eat. I come home, usually have some form of dinner that was saved for me from when the rest of my family had dinner, other than that I can go all day without eating... or peeing... etc etc. This week I am going to focus on drinking a cup of water here and there, and getting up early to have breakfast!
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    I'm so glad that I found this topic, I've been wondering how people keep in shape with the 12 hour schedule.
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    Lots of great advice. Fitness is my life and I will always make time for it. But, after 12 hour clinicals (I'm still in school), it's not gonna happen. So, I get up at 4 am, run the fastest 2 miles I can, and get ready for clinicals. I save the "real workouts" for days when I'm not doing 12s. My theory is that I'm going to be exhausted after 12 hours, whether I got up 30 minutes early or not, so what difference does it make? Then, I will do longer runs, zumba classes and lifting on the other days of the week.

    Eating has been my nemesis, but I'm learning. Now, I cook a lot on Sundays, and freeze individual meals to take with me. I have lots of healthy snacks throughout the day, and drink tons of water. It's helping me stay on track.
    lovinmymac and shannarini71 like this.
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    Quote from rubato
    LEating has been my nemesis, but I'm learning. Now, I cook a lot on Sundays, and freeze individual meals to take with me. I have lots of healthy snacks throughout the day, and drink tons of water. It's helping me stay on track.
    This is what I do -- cook a big homemade meal and freeze it into meal portions. Saves money as well as you can better control what you are eating. Avoiding cafeteria food or pre packaged meals is a good thing to do.
    lovinmymac likes this.
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    Quote from SaoirseRN
    This is what I do -- cook a big homemade meal and freeze it into meal portions. Saves money as well as you can better control what you are eating. Avoiding cafeteria food or pre packaged meals is a good thing to do.
    Agree completely. If you find yourself still gaining weight after eating healthy, pre-packaged food then look at your portions and food choices. Check out Mediterranean diet of fish, whole grains and natural food. All of the success stories here definitely include plenty of water but I find working 12-13 hour busy shifts on Med/Surge floor is not conducive to frequent bathroom trips. So I drink at least 1L during shift and make up the rest on my nights off.

    Not sure if you can do this but I maintain my night schedule on my nights off. I work out at home and at a 24hr gym. Best part of going to the gym at 2am is no one there I've been depressed working nights and found meditation with posting on this board is preventing me from stress eating.

    Good luck with your efforts!
    lovinmymac likes this.
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    Work 16-hr shifts on the weekend, and off Mon thru Fri. Walk close to 10 miles on the job!

    Workout in the gym Tues & Fri for 30 min, and walk 30 min outside on Wed & Thur. Light activity around the house on Mon & Fri.
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    Quote from NurseFrustrated
    I was wondering if any other nurses have advice on how to work these long shifts and still be at a healthy weight. How do you fit in exercise? How do you eat regular, healthy meals? I always read that we must work out at least 5 days a week doing cardiovascular exercise along with 2 days a week of strength-training for weight loss. For me, this seems impossible to do. I am so tired after my 12 hour shifts (which usually turn into 13 to 14 hour shifts) with sore feet that it is very hard to exercise after work. I have to get up so early and have such a long day ahead of me, there is no chance of exercising before work. On my days off I still feel exhausted a lot of the time. Then I have to catch up on errands, housework, shopping, family, etc.

    For those of you who do work out, do you fit it in before work? After work? On your days off? How long do you work out? Do you do walk? Do weight-training? Before I was a nurse and started working 12 hours shifts, I worked a job that had 8 hour shifts and I exercised at least 30 minutes a day and was in much better shape, but I am having such a hard time keeping a regular eating and exercise schedule with these shifts. I'm in my 30s and I know I need to strength-train and do cardio exercise as well. I just don't know how to fit enough exercise for weight loss in on my days off. Has working 12 hour shifts affected your weight positively or negatively? For me, it's been negatively.
    Okay for starters, you sound like me when I was working 12 to 16 hours a day over a year ago. I was at first only working on weekends then I switched to the 12 hour days that was mandatory. So I was lifting weights every other day, I was doing cardio every day, but more on other days, and I was having to eat every 2 hours. So when I switched back to working on 12 hours for 3 to 4 days in a row, that was very very challenging. So I belonged to a body building forum back then, and I read a few tips. First thing is, you have to make time, no matter how tired you are. Next, keep something in your pocket like nuts or dried fruit. Always drink lots of water. Be sure to not skip meals, which I did in the end and was not good. I eventually stopped exercising because I had so much stress, and I had problems with arthritis, and so I wanted to go back to nursing school to further my career. Well, in the end, I quit because of all of the drama and stress at work. I just couldn't take it any longer. I also finished school. Now I just got my RN back in March. I don't have a job yet, but since I've been off, I've been so depressed that I haven't been exercising faithfully. But I have started. And I switched my diet again, but being pennyless, has left me not buying the proper foods I should have in my home to eat. I have to eat whenever and whatever. And so that makes me even more depressed and stressed. The bottom line is, if you don't make time for yourself, then who will? You must organize your meals and menus, you must take portable foods to eat on the run. Like for breakfast a low fat muffin and a small cup of coffee and maybe some fresh fruit. For lunch, if you get it, eat something like finger foods like peanut butter and crackers, nuts, vegetable sticks and hummus or something. There are ways to eat healthier. Also, make sure you are eating high fiber foods like oatmeal and beans because they will stick with you longer during the day. What about high fiber protein bars? Figure out what you can afford, and what you like, and plan for it.


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