Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ - #healthynurse Spotlight Series - Mary Ellen Levine
We are pleased to shine the #healthynurse Spotlight on Mary Ellen Levine, MSN/Ed, RN CPHN. While helping her dog lose weight, Mary Ellen took a hard look at her own health. Although her dog has now passed, Mary Ellen maintains her exercise and good nutrition regimen, as well as active HNHN participation.
My name is Mary Ellen Levine and I’m from New Jersey. I have lived here my whole life and for as far back as I can remember (thanks to my elementary school nurse, Mrs. Corso) I have always wanted to be a nurse. I have practiced in many realms, including school nursing, but found my niche as a hospice nurse and nurse faculty. At this time, I am also a DNP student at William Paterson University. My involvement in the New Jersey State Nurses Association as Vice President, member of the Healthy Nurse Healthy New Jersey committee, and my interest in becoming involved with Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation initiative fuels my passion to advocate for and empower patients, nurses, and the nursing community.
A little about my interest in overall health. True story. I began to seriously consider physical activity when the vet said my dog was fat. Now mind you, I had not lost much weight after my second child was born and that was about 15 years before! So, I set out to help my dog get into shape and lose some extra weight that I was told was detrimental to her health. Ironically, she and I were trying to make our way around the block walking, then walking and jogging, then plain jogging, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Four months later, we decided that before the tumor was so big she couldn’t walk, we put her down. On the day my husband and I tearfully took her to the vet, I promised her I’d keep going and maybe "one day I will run a marathon for you."
Visiting my own doctor about my weight and increasing fatigue, I also consulted a nutritionist. I began to really watch my diet (boy was I over-eating and had no idea), using the Fitness Pal app to focus on healthier options, and had increased my running. I entered short events, such as 5Ks. Why? Because I could now! I was in my 40’s and nearing 50 when I decided to make good on my promise, not only to my dog, but to myself. At the age of 49, I entered and ran my first marathon. I would go on to run a second marathon and compete in two triathlons in the next few years. Now, well into my 50’s, I continue to run short distances, as they fit best into my schedule, and I find it hard to resist starting my day with a run, walk, or bike ride. Truthfully, all of those can be accomplished in about 30 minutes, my litmus test to how early I am willing to get up or put off dinner, depends on my schedule.
My daily routine consists of watching carbs, making sure I have adequate protein and healthy fats, and that I don’t overeat. I use yoga to help with my running, flexibility, and toning (a 7-minute routine I found online is perfect post-run), and use pointers from HNHN, like infusing the water I drink with fruits or vegetables, getting enough sleep and rest, and short meditations daily (5 minute ones are great). If I ever wonder how to fit it all in my day, I just find an app! Reminders are a great addition to my busy life.
As nurses, we can continue to be involved in our own health through sharing and empowering others. Through my involvement with HNHN, I find inspiration. Best of health to everyone! Carry on.
Mary Ellen Levine, MSN/Ed, RN CPHN
Vice President, New Jersey State Nurses Association
Are you a #HealthyNurse? Would you like to be highlighted in our next #HealthyNurse Spotlight? Share your stories with us in our discussion.
Have you joined the Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation (HNHN) Grand Challenge yet? Join us today!