Academics were always an easy accomplishment for me, but then I met the beast called nursing school, where life just plain got messy. By messy I mean, sometimes my dishes would sit for over a week, and my organized, structured, clean life was occasionally disordered while juggling home life with school life. Life was anything but perfect. Nursing school humbled me, taught me how to be flexible, and showed me that there is always more than one way to accomplish a task.
Most importantly, as a child from poverty and a first-generation college student, nursing school taught me that I was capable of achieving anything I believed I could. I started working as soon as I had my LPN, was then hired right into an ICU after graduating with my RN and am currently in the middle of an RN to BSN program. Over the last three years, I have learned that very little that I accomplish in life will ever be perfect. If my accomplishments were perfect, there would never be any room for improvement, and I would never grow.
I learned that I can always be a better version of myself not only as a nurse but as a person, a mom, a friend, or whatever path I choose to walk down, or in my case, run down! I took this mindset of, moving forward is forward and progress is progress no matter how small or slow, and implemented it into my life and health.
Initially, my goal was to lose weight and be heart healthy, though it has evolved remarkably. Some of the patients I care for in the ICU are there due to repeated poor life choices. I try to imagine myself in their position. I read reports that the patient was warned over and over to make an appointment for a heart catheterization because a heart attack could happen any day, they refused to do so.
I imagine myself as the family member of that patient who suffered the heart attack, as the doctor informs them that their loved one's heart went without oxygen for too long, they are now brain dead, and will never recover. I thought to myself how can I possibly provide proper health education to my patients if I am not willing to take and implement my advice into my life? So, I set off into my journey, which is where I stumbled upon Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation.
While being heart healthy and losing weight are still very much my goals, my aspirations and appetite for better health have grown! I took on the ketogenic diet; I eat veggies, healthy fats, and meats primarily. I absolutely love finding, cooking and then sharing healthy, delicious, recipes on Facebook, Twitter and with all my friends. I use an apple watch to track my activity and cheer on my friends when they complete exercises. I started running, something I have always wanted to do but when I was unable to run as fast or as far as I thought I should be able to, I gave up. Not only did I start running but I made a promise to myself I would run one mile, then two miles, then three miles, so I could compete in my first ever 5k! The mental clarity and overall boost of energy that accompanies this journey are so breathtakingly beautiful that I would not trade it for anything! I believe that I cannot wholeheartedly care for others unless I practice self-care. Being healthy makes me a better nurse!
With a new outlook my only goal is, try and keep trying! With that mindset, for the first time in my life, I ran my first three miles straight on September 16, 2018 and I ran just a little bit farther on September 18, 2018. My journey to better health is not perfect, and I am so thankful for that! I feel that I can better connect with every patient that I encounter who are trying but falls. I believe my journey expresses the message that it is okay to make a mistake, to fail, to fall but it is not okay to stay there. My mission is an example to my patients, not only to better connect with them but to improve their lives and health simultaneously. My health journey is also an example I hope my daughter proudly views someday. If I can do this, so can others and my purpose is to be an inspiration for all of those that follow behind me and allow me to support them on their journey!
Alexa Blake, RN
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