25 Oct Working Out As A Medical Professional – How I fit healthy meals and exercise into my hectic schedule
When people find out I only work three shifts per week as a Registered Nurse, they are often envious and say how lucky I am to have such a wonderful schedule. “You ONLY work three shifts per week?! You’re so lucky! I wish I could do that!” These ‘envious’ people, however, don’t realize it’s not just three days. These three days are long and I mean very long. If I’m working a day shift, I get up at 5am to start my 7 am shift and while I’m supposed to get out at 7:30pm, it rarely happens. I typically don’t get home until 8:30pm or so and I’m so tired and ready for bed by then. This comes out to be almost 18 hours and there’s still work to be done including a shower, getting a bite to eat, preparing for the next day of work, etc. Don’t get me started on working the night shift. Night shift is a completely different lifestyle and my sleep cycle is never consistent. This, in turn, makes life definitely more difficult to fit in my health and fitness goals. So, how do we fit in our exercise and healthy meals with such long shifts (day or night) and other obligations when working these types of hours as a full-time nurse or medical professional?
It comes down to two things: motivation and time management. What are your goals? How many days do you workout? Are you willing to sacrifice sleep to obtain something you really want to accomplish? You must ask yourself these questions first in order to develop an action plan. Many nurses are not willing to work out after work because they are just too exhausted or don’t even know what to do. But what if you have a training plan you want to follow that’s five days per week? We must then focus on time management. This means the days we don’t work, we HAVE to work out. NO EXCUSES! So the four days we have off will be four of our workouts. The last workout we have to do will ultimately fall on one of the days we work. This is where meticulous time management comes into play. Are you a morning person and willing to wake up a few hours before work to get the workout in? Or are you like me where I prefer to workout after work and get my rest in the morning?
Here are some steps for getting in a great workout on the days you have to work:
*Be sure you’re not wasting valuable time commuting to a gym that is far away. I make sure the gym I use is in close proximity to my residence, since I workout several times per week. This also saves money on gas! If you don’t prefer a gym, there are many at-home workouts you can perform (I’ll touch on this in a later blog).
*Be prepared. Have your gym bag in the car with a change of clothes, work out journal, water bottle, protein bar, headphones, etc.
*Eat a healthy meal some time before your workout. Proper nutrition is key for your energy levels and will ensure that you have a great workout and provide nutrients to the muscles you are working.
*Try to make sure you sleep at least 7 hours.
*Make sure the workout you do on the day you’re working is a shorter workout. I NEVER do leg day on the day I work because it’s one of the longer workouts. Keep your rest periods short and your intensity high.
*When working multiple shifts, try to schedule the workouts on days where you do not work the next day.
*Start practicing positive self-talk. I’m not always motivated and have the energy to workout. So in order to keep myself accountable and ensure I complete my workout, I tell myself things like, “Once I get to the gym and start moving, I’ll feel a new sense of energy.” “I will regret not doing this workout”. “It’s only 30-60 minutes of my day.” “Don’t be lazy. My goals are important to me.” You must control your thoughts because they become your actions.
*If you are comfortable, try a pre-workout supplement or coffee. I know many say avoid caffeine after a certain time of day, but it personally does not affect my sleep, so I use it occasionally as a little “pick-me-up” when I feel that my energy is low.
*Get an accountability partner or coach. I have found in the past, my motivation is much higher because someone is monitoring my progress and the last thing I want to do is disappoint them. Getting a friend to workout with you will also “force” you to meet them at the gym when you planned on working out. This accountability factor is huge for long-term success.
I hope these tips help and let me know how it goes once you start incorporating them. If you have any questions or concerns, you can email me at: email@example.com !
xoxo, Beverly 🙂