Many nurses struggle with their weight. In fact, a study found in the National Library of Medicine reported that 54 percent of nurses surveyed were overweight. When asked about attempts to lose weight, 53 percent responded that they lack the motivation to do so. Another 43 percent responded that they have been unable to lose weight, despite their best efforts. Many aspects of the job may actually contribute to this inability to maintain a healthy weight. Keep reading to learn about what might cause nurses to gain weight and what you can do to manage your weight while traveling from one contract to the next:
Why are many nurses overweight?
To the layperson, it might seem odd that a majority of nurses should be overweight.After all, nurses are health care professionals with lots of training and experience. It’s part of their daily duties to help others make healthy decisions.
Nurse Together identified four specific reasons why many nurses struggle with their weight: diet, sleep, exercise and stress. Although nurses advocate for healthier diets, they often don’t have the best options at the hospital. Many times, nurses are forced to grab a quick snack from a vending machine between seeing patients. And though there may indeed be healthier options available from the hospital cafeteria, nurses rarely get a chance to enjoy a meal there. Additionally, nurses are unable to get much daily exercise. Although the average nurse walks three miles a day according to another study found in the National Library of Medicine, they still might not expend as many calories as they eat.
High amounts of stress and lack of sleep can also contribute to weight gain. As Nurse Together noted, a lack of proper sleep can lead nurses to eat more calories in a quest for energy – but then they aren’t able to burn those calories off. Stress can lead to further overeating and may even lead to anxiety and depression. That’s why a focus on self-care is extremely important.
How can travel nurses manage their weight?
Travel nurses have an extra hurdle to overcome – road food. Anyone who has been stuck in an airport on a long layover or driven across the country only to find fast food and gas stations knows how unhealthy road food can be. When traveling between contracts, nurses should be aware of this and plan accordingly. If you’re on the road and fast food is your only option, Fitness Magazine suggested finding something on the menu that’s lower in sodium, fat and calories – if you’re at a Starbucks or McDonalds, yogurt is your friend. Both establishments offer healthy yogurt and fruit options that will leave you feeling light and full rather than tired and sluggish.
On the job, watching your caloric intake is just as important. NurseBuff suggested that staying hydrated is another simple way to feel full and flush out toxins. Water and 100 percent fruit juice are your best options. You can also try a smoothie for some extra fiber.
If you’re trying to lose weight, but just don’t have the time to visit the gym, consider wearing ankle weights or bringing some small dumbbells into work with you. When you have a break, do a few reps of arm curls. Over time these small actions can add up to a healthier lifestyle. As with any diet or exercise regimen, it’s easier to create a habit if you’re working with others – ask the other nurses if they want to work together on becoming healthier. That way, you’ll connect with your coworkers in a positive way and you’ll be more likely to stick with your fitness goals.