As a medical professional, your job is to take care of others. And not just your patients. There are children, spouses, aging parents, households to run – and the list goes on. Many work long, crazy hours: some consistent, some not so consistent, 12 hour shifts and weekends on call. It probably seems like there is never enough time and everyone and everything else comes first. But, taking care of yourself by staying in shape will not only be good for you, but will make you feel better about yourself, give you more energy, decrease stress and give you a great feeling of accomplishment.
Take the advice you would give your patients and take an active role in your health and fitness. Here are some tips, and not all are diet and exercise, that have made a difference in how to work and stay fit:
- QUIT SMOKING – Many employers and their insurance carriers provide smoking cessation programs. Quitting will not only be good for you, but sets an example for your patients.
- GET YOUR MEDICAL EXAMS AND SCREENINGS – Don’t be like the plumber with the leaking faucet. When was your last annual check-up, mammogram or prostate exam? Do you know your numbers – cholesterol, blood pressure or BMI?
- WATER, WATER, WATER – Stay hydrated and we all know water is the best way. If you’re “addicted” to caffeine, try to get it from healthy sources – black coffee or green tea. Those empty calories from energy drinks, sodas and super-duper lattes really add up. With more exercise, you will find you need less caffeine.
- MAKING TIME TO EXERCISE – Most medical professionals do not have sedentary jobs and get a decent amount of exercise. But, can we really exercise too much? And, scheduled exercise can make you feel so disciplined and accomplished. If you work a schedule with long or overnight shifts look for gyms in your area that are open 24 hours. Many hospitals have gyms and classes available to employees at no cost. Some employers will pay for memberships for weight loss programs and even hold them on site. Exercise with a coworker immediately after work – make it part of your day and it becomes a habit. And if you’ve made a commitment, you’re more likely to keep it. If you can’t make this commitment because of other obligations, make it a habit to exercise on your days off. If you get a lot of cardio by walking and climbing stairs at work, schedule weight training or Pilates or try something new like Zumba or belly dancing.
- PLAN YOUR WORK MEALS AND SNACKS – Healthy meals and snacks don’t have to be difficult. They just take some planning. It starts with shopping. Remember, the better choices are on the outside aisles of the grocery stores. Read labels. Pass up the “BOGOS” on the cookies, chips and sugar filled cereals. Stock up on fresh fruits, salad ingredients and vegetables. Cook chicken and fish in advance. Or double up when cooking dinner. Healthy soups and stews can be made in batches and frozen. Be sure to have appropriate containers to keep them hot if you don’t have access to a stove or microwave. If the vending machines and the cafeteria keep calling your name, don’t carry money or debit/credit cards with you. You’ll also save money!
- GET IN SOME QUALITY “ME” TIME – Everyone needs it. Read, garden, meditate, play golf – whatever takes you away to a place that is all yours. You want it, you need it and you deserve it!
Remember every little change adds up!
We would love to hear from you on what you are doing so we can learn from you as well!