Article
  • 3 Steps to Being a Healthcare Role Model for Fitness

    Author(s): By Thomas Davis, CRNA, MAE  Lt. Col (ret)

    Throw out the stress and excuses and focus on improving your health. Do something every day to support that goal.


    Obesity is today’s smoking. In an article published in USAToday, authors O’Donnell, Barry and Covington make the case that obesity and inactivity could outpace smoking as a cause of cancer in the upcoming decades. Further, a video accompanying the article presents evidence that childhood obesity greatly increases the probability of depression as an adult. Connecting the dots, if you are inactive and obese with an elevated risk of cancer, and if your children are also obese, their risk for adult depression greatly increases as well as their risk for cancer. Nobody would consciously wish cancer or depression upon themselves or their families and yet the bad news is that obesity with its co-morbidity is rampant in our profession and our society. The good news is that you are the one who can change the course of your personal history with three simple steps: Get motivated, change your behaviors and use technology to stay on track.

    Get motivated

    If you’re obese, you have more than a few extra pounds to lose, a task which you may view as a daunting. Make it manageable by tuning into your thoughts and becoming aware of your inner dialogue. Are you thinking I Can or I Can’t? I Hate exercise or I Can Learn Some Exercises I like? Thinking I should is not a call to action; however, thinking I will sets you up for success.

    Here are some tips for motivating yourself to reclaim a healthy body,

    • Have a reason Write down a purpose for changing your lifestyle and read it every morning and evening. Use affirming words like can and will and focus on what you know you get out of it, not what feel you’re giving up. Make it your goal to gain health and avoid focusing your attention on losing weight.
    • Get a buddy. Share the accountability with a friend who has a similar desire to improve his/her health. Team up, check in frequently and support one another.
    • Keep a Journal. Writing a daily entry in a journal helps you track your success while providing a frequent reminder of your goal and the many reasons it’s important to you.

    Change your behavior

    Behavior that is repeated becomes a habit. Here are some behavior changes that you can make today and when repeated daily for eight weeks will become healthy habits.

    • Morning workout/stretch. Wake up your body by getting in motion in the morning. An early-morning gym workout is optimal, however many people don’t have the time or resources to make it happen. That’s OK but it’s not an excuse for inactivity. Develop a plan to do a short home workout, stretch and crunch every day before you start your morning routine. Check out the 7 Minute Workout.
    • Park at far end of lot. Every step you take counts so park where you can take the most steps. While walking in from the lot, think about why you’re doing it and what other things you can do that day to support your goal.
    • Take stairs. Take the stairs whenever possible. Only take the elevator if the distance is more than your legs will tolerate, in which case, take one set of stairs and then the elevator.
    • Drink water. Your body needs water to function properly. In addition, when you are well hydrated salt is cleared from your system which reduces water retention. Your digestion and metabolism both improve when you are well hydrated.
    • Eliminate sugary drinks. Sugary drinks will sabotage your wellness efforts. It only takes a few high-sugar drinks to double your calorie intake for the day and consuming them diverts you from what your body really needs — water.
    • Bring your lunch. Control the number and quality of calories that you eat by bringing your own food. Pack a high-nutrient, low-fat, low-sugar lunch and do not eat anything that you do not bring with you. Avoid the temptation of making your lunch an appetizer before eating lounge food.
    • Ban lounge junk food. It’s not always possible to control the behavior of others, however banning junk food from the lounge raises the level of awareness of your colleagues and may motivate some of them to join the new healthier you. At the very least, don’t be the one bringing the junk.

    Use technology

    Harness and use to digital technology to your advantage when developing a healthy lifestyle. Texting and social media connect you with friends who can offer support as you share your progress. There are countless apps you can use to develop your exercise and nutrition program and track your progress.  Following are some apps as described by their advertisements.

    Fitbit Live a healthier, more active life with the world’s leading app for tracking all-day activity, workouts, sleep and more. Track basic activity and runs on your phone or connect with one of the many activity trackers to get a complete picture of your health, including steps, distance, calories burned, sleep, weight, and more.

    Endomondo Track workouts using GPS, check your stats and reach fitness goals.

    My Fitness Pal Makes it easy to log food and activity. The more you log, the more you’ll learn about your habits and how to make healthier choices.

    Daily Burn A new workout streamed to your mobile device every day.

    7 Minute Workout Become your own personal trainer to lose weight and get fit with fast, simple daily workouts. Twelve high-intensity bodyweight exercises of 30 seconds per exercise, 10 seconds rest in between.

    Fooducate A diet coach for people who want to lose weight and keep it off by eating healthy, real food. Track your food, activity, sleep, hunger, and mood. 

    Map My Run Track and map every run and get feedback and stats to improve your performance. Discover the best running routes, save and share your favorites, and get inspired to reach new running goals.

    Shop Well Free app that tells you what’s in the food you’re buying and offers suggestions of new foods to try that fit with your lifestyle.

    Meditation Studio An award-winning, 5-star app with over 300 guided meditations from more than 30 leading experts, whether you want to relieve stress, ease anxiety, improve sleep, ease confidence or simply feel a bit more calm and peaceful.

    We are an obese society, rapidly expanding. A large number of us in healthcare need to be wide awake and ready to roll as early as 6:30 a.m. and obesity is not society’s best friend. Throw out the stress and the excuses and focus on improving your health. Do something every day to support that goal. Get a buddy to have some fun and share the load. Adopt new behaviors two-at-a-time until good health is a habit. Be a healthcare role model for the respect we have for society, for our careers, for ourselves and our children.

    Special thanks to Liz Sanner Davis for editing and collaboration.

    Tom S. Davis, DNAP, CRNA, MAE, is the former Chief of the Division of Nurse Anesthesia at The Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, and former Chief CRNA at (Baylor) Scott and White, Main OR in Temple, TX. Col. Davis, USAF (Ret.), is well-known throughout the Nurse Anesthesia community for his leadership in clinical anesthesia, including developing the first distance education model while on the graduate faculty at Kansas University Medical Center. Recognized for his expertise in team-building across department lines, Tom is a sought-after speaker, educator, author, and leadership trainer. Follow @procrnatom on Twitter.