Nurses work in a very critical and stressful environments every day. Meaning, we should always be at our best since we are handling lives out there and a simple error may cost us one. Believe it or not, the food that we eat has an effect on the way our minds and our bodies work throughout the day. When the experts say “you are what you eat” they just don’t mean it metaphorically, they also mean it literally. It’s always best to know how to stay healthy while we deal with our hectic schedules and long hours of shifts.
What really is the simplest, most elaborated, fastest, and most convenient way of achieving a healthy lifestyle? Well, there is a simple way, there is an elaborated way, there’s the fastest way, there is the most convenient way, but what’s not there is the EASY way – that does not exist. If it ain’t obvious by now, you don’t feel healthy because you are not healthy at all and your body is telling you that. We can’t just put our bodies in all these stressful situations while we feed it with junk and expect it won’t complain – of course, it’ll definitely give you aches.
Most of the time we complain about our sore backs and our headaches and all the negative feels that we experience but most of these things root from unhealthy lifestyle. We are no different than people who works extended hours per week. We are no different than the entrepreneurs who sleep in their offices to keep their businesses afloat. Meaning, we are not the only ones who have long and extended periods of work hours so it’s not the long hours that are causing us all these troubles. It’s what we do in the in-betweens. The habits we have and the way we look into ourselves. In keeping our bodies in shape, we only need 4 things:
- Nutritious Diet
The D-PEND strategy
This is a strategy that’s formulated to help keep our bodies in good shape while we work through our busy schedules.
These are the only 4 things that you need to DEPEND on in order for you to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Before anything, please know that there is no easy way out of our bad habits. A lifestyle is not a one-day process, not even a week nor a month. It’s a continuous process of self-improvement where there’ll be days that you’ll question yourself why you are even doing it. We love to pleasure ourselves through good food and expensive lattes, but the problem here is the misidentification of what “good food” really is. If you really want to change, if you have come to think of your individual health and wellness, then you should do this correctly. As healthcare professionals we were taught about strategic problem solving and analytical skills, we are just applying these skills in our lifestyle. After all, it has proven to be effective in our work, let’s execute these strategies in order to start living healthy.
There is simply no “fit” person who doesn’t have this in their repertoire. Discipline is what will keep you from straying in your path to fitness. Without it, no good thing will be achieved. In our workplace, we are very strict with the disciplines of our crafts and we practice them religiously; hence there is no reason not to be disciplined when we are dealing with our lifestyle. Let’s go for some of the influential people who somehow used “discipline” in achieving an amazing lifestyle.
“Success on any level requires one thing.. Discipline. “ – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Just by reading this statement, we can have a very clear picture that this guy lives by the bounds of his self-discipline in order to stay in shape and function at his best round-the-clock. Discipline is also the perseverance of doing something repeatedly without quitting – and that’s what many of us will encounter when pursuing a healthy lifestyle or staying fit. We often quit when the going gets rough. But think about this, when our patients are critical, do we quit on them? No, because we value their lives right. That’s one thing about human nature, especially us medical workers when we see life in danger, we always do our best to help, we never quit on them. The relationship is, just because your life is not in danger now, doesn’t mean you are well. Every bad food or drinks or habit that you put into your body will come knocking on your door someday and will make you pay – because you lacked the DISCIPLINE you need to be healthy. You don’t want that do you?
Yes, aside from it being a virtue, patience is a key factor in acquiring or maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Without patience, you will just go back and forth between your old and bad habits. Patience works side by side with discipline, these two are always working hand in hand with each other. Medical workers always have their patience stretched to the limit, whether it’s dealing with the patients or their angry relatives – we always try to understand their situation and be empathetic. So, we know how to be patient, all we need to do is apply it to ourselves as well. It is being patient when you are craving for junk food, but you choose not to. It is being patient when you’d rather slice up veggies and real meat and actually making a meal instead of just ordering a high sodium fast food take out. It’s being patient to restrain yourself from the urge to eat refined sugars. These things aren’t easy but if we only think to contemplate about it, it was also not easy to make our bodies unhealthy. It is the result of years of unhealthy habits and lifestyle that led us to that path. Now, changing it will not be as easy as well. It will also take time so be patient about it.
We’ve now come into our generation’s archenemy, exercise – the word that symbolizes torture, and the activity that breaks the spirit of an individual. Well, maybe you are aware that a healthy lifestyle is 80% diet and 20% exercise? But the importance of exercise is that it invigorates the processes in your body like blood flow and it keeps your body going by the day. The reason why we sometimes are sluggish and sloppy during our shift is that our bodies weren’t unable to start properly. And by starting properly, it means that somehow, we need to warm up our bodies just like we warm up our cars. A simple 20-minute exercise will not eat a chunk of your day. A 5-minute High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) will not affect your schedule. If you don’t have 20 minutes or 5 minutes for yourself, then you have a big problem.
Time management is very important to stay fit and healthy. And in order for one to manage his/her time properly, discipline is needed. That’s why it’s on top of the list. Most of us think that all these things are difficult, well the truth of the matter is, it’s more difficult when you’re in a hospital bed with high cholesterol and a heart block – this scenario will just be a hundred folds worse than just following a 5-letter acronym. Do not wait for the day, when all the normal daily stuff that you can easily do, can no longer be done because you’re debilitated by your heart problems, or diabetes, or other deadly diseases connected to a lack of discipline about your lifestyle that could’ve been completely reversible. We know these things; we deal with these illnesses every day.
We know it’s the root cause, the pathophysiology, in fact, we are so smart that we should really know better – and we do know better. All we have to do is apply it and be the role models to people, to our communities, and our family. We amongst all people value life to the fullest. Let’s not put ourselves in a situation where we jeopardize our health. Don’t wait for things to be too late. Let’s pity ourselves now, and let’s start to do something about it. While we still can.
Here we are, in the last part of the strategy – Nutritious Diet. Nutritious Diet is 80% of achieving a healthy lifestyle. It doesn’t matter if you exercise every day if you are eating poorly, then it wouldn’t give you any results. This is the big chunk of the lifestyle – a nutritious diet. Nutritious, because anything can be a diet, even coke has a “diet” version. So, it needs to be nutritious. For the first two parts of this strategy, we focused on mindset – discipline and patience. These next two parts are the actions we need to take to make it happen. Many of us may make the alibi of “I don’t have enough time to cook!”. Well, we are all given 24 hours a day, no soul that ever lived ever had more or less of the time that what you and I have. To cut it short, you’re not short on time, you’re short on time-management. And as long as you don’t commit to it, you’ll never find the time to do the right thing for yourself. Here is where discipline matters, your self-discipline. You need to discipline yourself from choosing the things that you put inside your body.
Let’s start with simple things like chips or fruits, takeout meals or real food. These things will always test your self-discipline. Do you remember patience? Yes, here is the part where you need to be patient in knowing stuffs that are good for your health, the foods that can accelerate your metabolism, the foods that can suppress hunger, the foods that can increase immunity, the foods that can boost your energy, it’s all here – all you need to do is look for them. During nursing school, we had “nutrition and dietetics” as one of our subjects in our curriculum. All we have to do is review them. As I said, we really know better.
With regards to our “work-life balance” problem, I get it, we get home sometimes too tired to cook so it’s always preferable to go “instant”. Instant noodles, microwave food, express deliveries, etc. Sometimes the shift gets really hectic that we just prefer to sleep than to eat. Well, the first reason why we are very low with energy is that we didn’t have enough energy in the first place when we started our day. Hence, right at the beginning of the day, we were already at loss. One way to solve this is to do a 3-day meal prep. It’s very easy, all you need is 9 glass containers and you’re good to go.
A meal prep is a method where you prepare what you will eat for the corresponding days to come – so the trick here is to reduce the preparation you need to eat REAL, and NUTRITIOUS FOOD. On-off day, prep your meals for 3 days, put it into 9 containers and you can bring them wherever you want. When you want to eat them, just pop them into the microwave and there you have it – real, nutritious good food. Now we don’t have any reason not to eat good food and maintain a nutritious diet. There are tons of recipes out there that we can follow regardless of what the preference is.
Exercise plays a role too in choosing the food we eat. We know how hard it is to exercise, to do push up or sit-ups or jog or whatever kind of exercise they are difficult to do. Each time you are tempted to eat unhealthy foods, think of how hard it is to do one push up, think of how embarrassing it looked when we were doing crunches, or how low we felt when we can’t even do a single pull-up. Every time we go back to our unhealthy habits, we throw away all the things that we work hard for and go back to zero.
Everything has its own play, all that’s lacking – is YOU. Now let me ask you, how badly do you want to live healthy? Because all of these tips are nothing. Everything DPENDs on you.