Aaron Stuber, RN, BSN, DipACLM
To make a lifestyle change stick, you have to change your behavior.
As a Board Certified Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner, Aaron Stuber, RN, BSN, DipACLM, helps his patients change their behaviors in subtle ways. He focuses on lifestyle medicine — a data-driven approach to preventing or reversing chronic diseases by replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones.
He calls the switches Positive Prescriptions. For example, one of the most powerful things people can do to prevent chronic disease is to examine what they eat. But rather than tell a patient what they should remove from their diet, Aaron discovers which healthy options they like.
“I’ll say, ‘What does your average breakfast look like? Do you enjoy leafy greens like spinach? Let’s find a way to add more of it into your breakfasts,” says Aaron.
It’s a focus on doing more of what’s right rather than doing less of what’s wrong.
Start in the Shallow End
One of the ways Aaron believes many people fail to sustain healthy lifestyle changes is by trying to make drastic changes. For example, the keto diet may lead to significant weight loss, but it requires eliminating many common foods people are used to eating. It’s a radical change from their normal diet. Another example is when people to start a new exercise regimen and do way too much, too fast. The body isn’t prepared for that level of intensity and that often leads to an increased risk of injury.
“It’s all about understanding the general patterns associated with excellent health,” says Aaron. “Lifestyle changes are not about dieting, but about long-term behavior change. Most people aren’t ready to jump in the deep end — changes should be more mellow over time.”
Starting small — putting a toe in the water before you do that cannonball — will give you motivation to keep going. You’ll have more drive to keep going if you see small, attainable results right away.
Knowledge Is Power
While Aaron works as a health coach, he also maintains a part-time presence as a nurse at a local hospital in Boulder, CO. His coworkers often come to him for advice on establishing and maintaining healthy lifestyles, and he guides them by:
- Creating fitness/strength training plans
- Writing meal plans
- Recommending reputable nutrition and wellness resources, like nutritionfacts.org and the Harvard School of Public Health website
- Recommending evidence-based books like How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger and The Truth About Food by Dr. David Katz
Nurses usually have a science background and are hungry for knowledge, so Aaron finds that research-based resources send them in the right direction.
With formal training in nutrition science and health coaching, Aaron works with patients on healthy lifestyles, behavior changes, and managing stress. These are all crucial self-care areas for nurses, too.
Advice from Aaron:
- Don’t believe everything you see in the mass media: Articles and blogs you see on social media and common websites aren’t usually backed by evidence-based research. Be particular when it comes to where you get your nutrition guidance. Stick to primary literature and credible sources like the resources mentioned above.
- Remember that when you’re making lifestyle changes, it’s not about a temporary result: Think of it as a long-term lifestyle change. What activities do you enjoy that keep you active? What healthy foods do you like that you can increase in your diet? Focus on small increases of healthy habits and the changes will be long-lasting.
- Seek help from a board certified health coach: Health coaching is the new frontier of the healthcare industry. These individuals partner with you to focus on the behavior-change aspect of your lifestyle so you can make the adjustments stick.
Aaron Stuber, RN, BSN, DipACLM, is a Board-Certified Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner and a part-time psychiatric unit nurse.
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