‘Healthy eating’, ‘fitness’, ‘wellness’; all words that student nurses are well aware of, but how easy is it to maintain your own healthy lifestyle as a student nurse?
Before I started my course I lost a considerable amount of weight, knowing I couldn’t preach to patients about being morbidly obese, terribly unfit and unhealthy when in was in the same boat.
Losing the weight was hard, but over a year I lost nearly eight stone and once I’d reached my goal weight I found all my health problems vanished, I had so much more energy and enthusiasm for life. I enrolled onto an access course and then onto my nursing course.
“I wanted to be as healthy as I could possibly be, knowing the nursing role would take its toll both physically and mentally.”
However during the last 18 months I have put on a few stone, then lost a stone and this has carried on for a while. I have found it increasingly hard to loose or maintain weight. Working shifts, particularly nights, all I crave is sweet foods, just to keep me going through the shift. When I’m studying I find I pick and munch at anything at hand, be it a bowl or grapes or a bag of sweets.
How can I change my habits and promote wellness to my patients when I’m so unhealthy myself?
I spent some time with a pre-op nurse on placement and found her advice on how she promotes health with her clients beneficial. Taking small steps with your weight for instance. Just make one small change, such as swapping that bag of sweets or the bowl of grapes, but having a degree of willpower as well.
I feel if I stop worrying so much about myself as I am now and make small changes, then hopefully things will fall into place and I can regain my healthy eating and willpower will return.
I hear so many student nurses and qualified nurses struggling with their weight, wouldn’t it be great to have a drop in session for nurses where they can get healthy eating advice, smoking cessation, lifestyle advice? Once they have helped themselves they would have the tools to help their patients too.
You see vending machines on a night shift full of chocolate and fizzy drinks and no canteen open to offer healthy options such porridge, fruit, nuts and seeds, which would be ideal for energy levels to keep us going through the shift.
I hope once I qualify I can regain a nice balance with my own healthy living and be able to support my patients, let them see I have been through a journey and understand how hard it can be to change. Change can be achieved with the right support.
Louise Goodyear is Student NT’s adult branch student editor