Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ - #healthynurse Spotlight Series - Pamela Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
Recently, HNHN had the opportunity to chat with Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN about all things wellness, including her recent past presidency at the American Nurses Association (ANA), her current role as first vice president at the International Council of Nurses (ICN), and her personal health journey.
HNHN: You made several health changes during your ANA presidency. Any that you would care to comment upon?
PC: After years of gradual weight gain, I wanted to get back in shape. There can be a lot of travel and eating out with the ANA presidency which has its challenges. I also have chronic lower back pain due to an arthritic spine and degenerative disc disease. I resolved to eat better and be more active. I lost 30 pounds in a year’s time and have managed to keep most of it off. I had several goals for my weight loss: encourage my children in their own health, act as a role model for other nurses, and relieve my back pain.
I believe that each of us must pursue our own plan to lose weight and be healthier. What worked best for me was to journal my daily food intake and try to do some type of exercise five days a week. Being aware of exactly what I’m eating makes me mindful of my calories and nutrients. I use MyFitnessPal which is a free app that allows me to track my food. For my 5-day exercise regimen, I alternate between exercise videos and just plain walking. I can do both even when traveling. The exercise videos I enjoy are on JessicaSmithTV (also free). They include videos both with and without gym equipment.
HNHN: What challenges are there in maintaining your own personal health and wellness; and how do you overcome them?
PC: I could happily live on bread and wine for the rest of my life! So I have had to find a way to curb my carb love and healthily indulge in just a bit of wine. To achieve my weight loss, I followed the Dukan diet, which is basically protein, non-fat dairy, and veggies. Eventually you add whole grains, and only after reaching your goal weight can you add corn, potatoes, rice, and pasta back into your diet. Oat bran is consumed daily, which helps with satiation. I love to cook, so this diet also encouraged me to experiment with lesser known whole grains like farro and retrain my eating habits so I consume less healthy carbs in moderation.
Regarding wine….I either enjoy cherry or berry flavored zero calorie sparkling water instead or I use a very small glass and only fill it with about 2 ounces of wine and savor each sip. Another easy way I limit wine is to reserve it for only weekend nights.
HNHN: Is there an aspect of HNHN that you have found helpful? (challenges, newsletter, blog, Facebook group, discussion boards, HealthyNurse Survey results, resources, et cetera?)
PC : One of my favorite parts of HNHN is reading the comments on the discussion board from nurses participating in the various challenges. I also go back to my HealthyNurse survey results to see if I have made any other positive changes.
HNHN: What other things do you do to maintain wellness: nutrition, sleep, other physical activity, meditation, yoga, et cetera?
PC: Sleep, right now, is a real challenge. Due to this stage in my life and the chronic lower back pain, satisfying rest can be quite a struggle. Sadly, my weight loss did not help with my back pain. I am doing core exercises to strengthen my back and found that eliminating white flour from my diet has also decreased the pain. Must be something to that anti-inflammatory food buzz after all!
I tend to be a stress eater, so I found a better substitute for empty snacking. When deadlines are looming, I now reach for a cup of hot tea, which I find soothing.
HNHN: What do you think are the top wellness challenges nurses face today?
PC: Definitely stress and sleep! Nurses face so many competing demands that they sacrifice their own wellness. They are not accustomed to putting themselves first and this must change.
HNHN: How do you envision HNHN increasing nurse wellness? Any hopes for future HNHN initiatives?
PC: I would like to see more offerings and stratification by age group, and then within those age groups, more sharing with one another. I am not one to go Facebook, so I would like the discussion boards to have more photos, recipes, exercise regimens, and stress reduction strategies that members themselves post.
Additionally, I would like the international nursing community to have more exposure to HNHN. An article on HNHN would be great to see in an international publication like International Nursing Review.
HNHN: Speaking of which, with your role as first VP of ICN, what do you see as international nurse health issues?
PC: Adequate nurse staffing and a safe work environment continue to be global issues. Domestically and abroad, these remain top concerns, particularly with workplace violence.
A critical international nurse health concern is treating obesity while being sensitive to and respectful of cultural differences. Obesity can lead to so many non-communicable diseases like diabetes and hypertension. That’s why a focus of ICN is on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly #3 Good Health and Well-Being.
HNHN: Any final words?
PC: Find what works for you, wellness-wise, and do it. We must work with our employers and each other to get and stay healthy. Let’s take care of ourselves, no excuses!
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