Jump to content

Physical Fit Failure!


Specializes in ED, ICU, Trauma ICU, Pre-op/PACU. Has 6 years experience.

I am an athlete! Well, I once was. After nursing graduation, NCLEX, new grad employment followed by marriage and two children ... my athletic prowess dwindled over the past five years. However, I still feel athletic. You are only as young as you feel! Right?

Physical Fit Failure!

After convincing myself that I will "get back into the swing of things one of these days," I met a behavior challenge project as any ICU RN would. I became compassionate about my cause. The challenge came by the way of a Kaplan University MSN professor. It was simple! I had to complete a three-week behavioral change engagement to prove my athletic abilities. Of course, within an MSN program, a seven-page paper was produced spotlighting an ego-bruised physically fit failure. Yikes!

Armed with the knowledge that a physically fit lifestyle yields high health rewards, I set forth on modifying my sedentary lifestyle. My goal was to increase my aerobic exercise via a treadmill to forty-minutes, three times per week for three weeks. The 2008 American physical activity guidelines recommend two hours and thirty minutes a week of moderately intensive activity or seventy-five minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity with muscle strengthening twice a week. No problem! Or so, I thought.

I was lucky to fit in twenty-minutes once a week. One limitation I was unprepared for was my lack of current physical fitness. I began my forty-minute treadmill workout and just about flew off the conveyor belt. As a result, I lowered my starting threshold to twenty minutes, three times per week, equaling one hour weekly.

Baseline assessment is key to anything. I should have better assessed my health to include functional health patterns, physical fitness, nutrition, life stress, spiritual health, social support systems, health beliefs and lifestyle (Parsons, Pender & Murdaugh, 2011). I only assessed five out of the eight recommended. This set me up for disappointment, depression and failure.

Time was my biggest challenge. I simply could not fit in any more time in to my assiduous life. I was working, cooking, cleaning, mothering and schooling every day. Some days I would rise at four in the morning completing my day at eight o'clock in the evening. My sixteen-hour days did not end there. I had educational activities to complete with the kids or on my own. I would fall in exhaustion as the hour struck nine, ten, or sometimes, eleven o'clock at night. So, I began to reassess where my time was impacted the most: commutes to work, household chores and child-rearing requirements.

My work-around included finding other "aerobic" activities. I found that many things qualified as aerobic, which I was already doing within my busy lifestyle. Usually every other Friday I treat the kids to an indoor bounce house experience. I promised myself to participate in all activities my children engaged in for one hour. Which I did! I even was a little out of breath! Boy was I sore the next day too. When our family went to the pool, I swam laps. My children now want to be "swimmers like mommy." My children raced me on their bikes, trikes. I lost, but it was fun. Cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming the hall burns more calories than using Wii Fit! I already do that for an hour or more! No need to buy a Wii. Other moderate to vigorous exercises include washing the car, playing with children, having a party, and working outside.

Work is not void of exercise either! I began muscle strengthening with gluteus exercises. I chose to stand at my workstation on wheels (WOW), rather than opting to sit (some employers demand standing while using a WOW/COW). I would take the stairs. I became a great stair climber! I would run them on occasion or skip a stair during my climb. Some nurse at-work exercises could be, glute squeezes, leg lifts, squats, desk push-ups, and water bottle weights. I can now tell my employer that the water I am drinking at the nurse's station is now apart of a work out program ... well, maybe not.

Although I failed my initial goals of a Masters in nursing lifestyle change challenge by attempting to apply traditional exercise activities into a 5-year highly evolved and ever-changing lifestyle; I learned that changed lifestyles need a third-dimensional viewpoint. As nurses, we are masters at thinking or finding alternatives. I found that by thinking outside the box I could incorporate my daily activities to meet everyday life goals.

Tailored interventions increase (my) participation. This message can be reverberated. Empower anyone starting an exercise regimen or a lifestyle change after years of putting priorities elsewhere. It can be done. We all (nurses or clients) can achieve physical fitness one glute squeeze or water bottle arm curl at a time.

Deena Dooley, BSN


Floridian ER, ICU and Trauma ICU experienced BSN, mother of two and wife to a retired US Marine all while completing an MSN-FNP.

1 Article   2 Posts

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

7 Comment(s)

OP, I wish I could shake your hand! Its always a good thing when a sedentary person chooses to become more active (and follows through with it, anyway...). I'm not sure exactly how long you have been doing so, but I can promise you that in a few months you will see that you will actually have MORE time during the day! This will be due to your new found fitness. You will have a (much) larger daily reservoir of energy than you had before starting the program.

I have to caution you though-when that time comes, you're also going to get very upset as you realize that you could have had all of that energy even sooner if you had started sooner. So when that day comes, try not to be too hard on yourself :)

But seriously, congratulations!


Has 5 years experience.

Great write. It's so true that working out does not have to be a section of our lives instead it can be infiltrated into daily living. I too, have found this as time becomes more scarce.

Thank you for sharing and for the great tips!


Specializes in Trauma SICU. Has 1 years experience.

I'm trying to transition over to a bike as my primary mode of transportation on my commutes as I live in a bike friendly city, but boy is it hard to get out of bed an extra hour early!

Also, ever try biking home after a 12.5 hour shift where you didn't get to sit down? Oi!


Specializes in Endocrinology, hopefully.

Great thread (which I read as I'm sitting here taking a break from studying while my kids play on the inflatables at a local play place). I think I need to get up and join my kids!


Specializes in leadership, corrections. Has 7 years experience.


Hats off to you!!!

Nurses do rock and we are the leaders in terms of improvising and brainstorming.

When I was working on the unit as a nurse manager, I found no time for me to exercise. Between work, meetings, going to our 3 sons practice and games, preparing meals everyday, and doing my classwork and clinicals; it felt as though my day was 36 hours long. Yes I am a sedentary nurse now and have put on 30lbs over 3 yrs that don't want to leave. At 216, and after reading your post, I am committed to making a change. I will keep you updated.


Specializes in leadership, corrections. Has 7 years experience.

I taught our sons to ride a bike and to swim and I cannot do either. My first step is to join the swimming class and also to buy a bike with the training wheels and practice to ride in the backyard. At least this will also be some activity and it will be a good start for me. God knows the lifestyle modification is a journey and I am ready. Thanks for sharing.

our bodies are designed for activities, so I guess we really have to move a lot so we wont feel sluggish..nice story though,