Nursing + Stress + Less Sleep = Weight Gain?

It can be a struggle to embrace healthy habits after an exhausting day at work. The reasons are all too familiar: erratic hours, high stress levels, skipped meals, and, lack of motivation. Throw caring for a family into the mix, and it may feel like all bets are off as far as finding the time to work out, eat balanced meals and get enough sleep.

And so you find yourself overweight with plenty of company at work.

A study last year found the work schedule and general stresses of nursing can contribute to extra pounds, especially for females who work long shifts. The common 12-hour shift interrupts sleep patterns and lack of sleep can cause weight gain.

Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Nursing surveyed about 2,100 female nurses and found that about 55% of them were obese. Published in The Journal of Nursing Administration, the findings support changing long nursing shifts.  But until that happens, you can make small changes to live a healthier lifestyle and lose weight. 

To adopt a healthier approach to meals, exercise and sleep, get PREPARED:

Pass on seconds and prepare snacks for work to avoid vending machines. 

Resist eating while watching TV or when feeling stressed or bored. 

Exercise in 10-minute chunks if a longer block of time is unavailable.

Plan your meals, exercise and sleep schedules ahead of time.

Ask colleagues, family and friends to help you stay focused on healthy goals. 

Realize it took time to gain it and it will take time to lose it. Stay focused.

Eliminate 500 calories a day to lose a pound a week. 

Decide that protecting your health is something you will work on daily.

Remember, small changes can make a huge difference. Also, working toward your fitness goals benefits more than just you. Adopting a healthy lifestyle makes you a role model for your patients.