Wouldn’t it be odd to walk into a gym and see that most of the personal trainers and fitness instructors were overweight? How about walking into a hair salon and seeing all of the stylists with hair that was not brushed or cut in any type of fashionable style? Or going to see a dentist who had rotten teeth? There are certain things you expect when you visit a professional for a service.
On a recent visit to a hospital ER (I won’t bore you with details; I’m fine), I looked around and noticed that most of the workers were overweight and obese. I’m not exaggerating, either. The majority of nurses, doctors and technicians looked like they were carrying around a significant amount of extra weight.
I had mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I was a little bit irritated. This is not the first time I have been in a medical facility and witnessed weight issues among the staff. I have also seen doctors and nurses outside of hospitals and clinics smoking. Seriously! Why should anyone be expected to take healthcare advice from providers who don’t seem to be able to follow the advice they are giving? It would be like me telling some of my clients to exercise more and eat healthier and then going home and having doughnuts and watching TV. Not acceptable.
On the other hand, what became glaringly obvious when I was talking to one of the technicians, was how important every aspect of your lifestyle is. This particular lady was telling me how excited she was because she was almost done with her 12-hour shift. Since it was about 5 a.m., she had been working since the previous evening. She shared that her schedule is fairly crazy, with different days off each week and very long hours. I asked her when she would sleep and she said that she might get to sleep around noon, since she had to go straight to a dentist appointment.
In settings such as hospitals, where workers are expected to be there for 12 hours, sleep is inconsistent, and food choices are limited, it isn't surprising that so many of the employees are unhealthy. Not that it is impossible to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it just takes some planning and preparation.
Through my past articles, I have tried to emphasize the importance of not only exercise and nutrition, but also sleep and recovery as part of a well-rounded program. All of these things go together. Without one component, other parts will suffer. For instance, poor food choices can make it difficult to complete a challenging workout. Lack of sleep affects decision-making and people tend to gravitate toward unhealthy food choices when they are tired. It becomes a vicious cycle that is difficult to break.
What is the answer, then, for those with crazy work schedules and busy families? Planning ahead! I would recommend taking a couple of hours each week to sit down and schedule your fitness and plan a menu for the week. Find a day when you can consistently do this and make it a habit. Do your grocery shopping for the week, maybe planning one extra shopping trip during the week for fresh produce. Clean and prepare your produce so you have readily available snacks. When nothing is prepared and you have to think about what you want to eat, those are often the times when bad choices are made. Pack a small cooler to take to work with you with all of your meals and snacks. Schedule your workouts and try your best to stick to that schedule. Get plenty of rest and allow yourself a day off from working out if you need it.
I hope healthy living is something you are striving for, for the rest of your life! It’s not a temporary “just until I lose the weight” thing. Be aware of all the choices you are making, both good and bad, and be willing to plan ahead for success!