Before commencing my undergraduate degree in adult nursing I was understandably nervous about a lot of things to do with the field of healthcare. However, one of my biggest concerns was my ever-expanding waistline
I had always been slim in my teens and well into my twenties but suddenly my luck began to run out. My well-defined cheekbones were replaced with clumps of fat and my once slender waist was now a tearaway muffin top constantly exploding the buttons of my jeans. However, I was determined that the commencing of this degree would be a new start for me and the perfect path to healthy weight loss.
”I selected a smaller than usual size for my trousers as I hoped I could somehow squeeze into them. Big mistake.”
I was dreading the day when we had to try on sample uniforms so that an appropriate size could be ordered for us. I selected a smaller than usual size for my trousers as I hoped I could somehow squeeze into them. Big mistake. After a few painful minutes of sucking in my stomach and wrestling the trousers down to the floor, to my horror the button went flying across the changing room and landed near the bin.
I then accepted the reality that I was going to have to select nothing smaller than an XL. You would think this rude awakening would have sent me on an intensive year long fat busting bootcamp; however that is far from what happened.
”It was during my first placement of year two when I had my rude awakening.”
As semesters went on and the assignments piled up the pounds piled on. During winter placements the fattening (albeit hearty) fish and chips were my regular lunches, I suppose the mushy peas counted towards one of my five-a-day. During summer placements it was frothy iced coffees with lashings of fresh cream accompanied by sundried tomato and melting mozzarella Paninis and copious quantities of crunchy, cheesy crisps.
It was during my first placement of year two when I had my rude awakening.
My mentor asked me to give some leaflets and healthy eating advice to a post-surgery patient who was being discharged.
Never had I been left so red-faced.
”We wouldn’t expect someone to give advice to stop smoking whilst puffing away on a cigarette so why should we expect the general public to take diet and lifestyle advice from nurses who themselves could do with losing a few pounds?”
I was sitting there giving advice about eating more fruit and vegetables and the importance of keeping a healthy weight when it was evident I should be practising what I was preaching. I did not feel confident giving this advice to the patient and they could see this. After that incident I learnt the importance of the role of a nurse in the promotion of public health.
I believe in order to successfully give advice a nurse must be a good role model. We wouldn’t expect someone to give advice to stop smoking whilst puffing away on a cigarette so why should we expect the general public to take diet and lifestyle advice from nurses who themselves could do with losing a few pounds?
I have since begun implementing lifestyle changes which are making a big difference. I’m not quite ready for my catwalk debut just yet but at least I can feel confident as a positive role model for my patients both now and in the future.
Amina Minhas is a current second-year adult nursing student nurse.