Jane Flowers, MSN, RN, CNOR, NEA-BC, CRCST
A lot can happen when your daily steps go from 1,500 to 25,000.
Jane Flowers is proof. Two years ago, she received a Fitbit® activity band as a gift from a friend. She was reluctant to use it at first, but decided to give it a try. Even though she was overweight, she felt like she lived an active lifestyle. But the data recorded on her Fitbit told her otherwise.
“I learned that on a good day I was doing about 1,500 steps,” she said. “And I saw from friends and family the effects of weight gain and worsening health. I knew I had to make a change.”
Instead of joining a gym or exercise class, Jane opted for walking around the block. She knew it was something maintainable, and soon an extra 500 steps turned into 1,000, then 2,000, and so on.
A few months later, her clothes became baggy and far too large. She weighed herself for the first time and saw she’d lost 30 pounds.
That first initial weight loss gave Jane a boost of motivation. The encouragement continued from a close friend who often inspired her to keep going. Soon she no longer had to force herself to go for a walk — she started to want to.
Weight loss also gave Jane a desire to improve her diet. Rather than cut out her favorite foods, she reduced her portion sizes. For example, instead of drinking multiple soft drinks per day — her source of caffeine instead of coffee — she cut back to one. She tries not to go back for seconds, and she always opts for smaller plates. She also tries to cut down on starchy foods like bread and potatoes.
Two years later, Jane has lost a total of 130 pounds and walks on average 25,000 steps per day. She went from a size 22 to a size 10. And fully conscious of the effects of walking, she uses her time wisely. Instead of sitting during a conference call, she walks and talks. When she goes to the grocery store, she’ll do an extra lap before checking out.
“It’s easy to sit in a recliner with your legs propped up,” said Jane. “I’m conscious of it now. I’ve walked 4,000 miles since I started two years ago.”
Feeling the Benefits
The benefits of walking have stretched further than Jane ever thought possible, and she’s feeling much better. Jane has:
- More energy and motivation to stay active
- Made friends with people she sees while she’s out walking
- Improved her community by cleaning up trash while she’s walking
- An easier time keeping up with her dog, a Jack Russell terrier
- Reduced the pain she used to feel in her knees
You don’t have to go big or go home. Jane started out small, and those small achievements added up to monumental success. She urges everyone, including other nurses, to remember:
- It starts with the first step: With long shifts and busy lives, it’s hard to find time to exercise. But you’ve got to get out there and do it. For most people, minor changes will add up.
- Find a friend to encourage you: Jane’s close friend was a huge cheerleader who motivated her from the beginning. Who is your cheerleader? Lean on them for support and reassurance.
- Be conscious of your choices: Should you sit at your desk during a conference call, or can you do a few laps around your unit? Become more aware of the opportunities to improve your health, and you are more apt to do so.
Jane Flowers, MSN, RN, CNOR, NEA-BC, CRCST, is a former registered nurse at University of Maryland Shore Regional Health.
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