Barbara Happ, PhD, RN-BC

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Making healthy eating and exercise a central part of your life

If there are two things Barbara Happ knows how to do, it’s eating healthy and staying active. That’s because both make up a huge chunk of Barbara’s lifestyle.

Her goals:
  • Feel good every day
  • Maintain a proper weight
  • Keep lab results on the healthy side

Barbara’s journey first began when she became vegan 8 years ago. She was always careful about her food selections, but watching a video called “Forks Over Knives” motivated her to move to a vegan diet.

She wasn’t alone in this major life change: Her husband became vegan, too. Together, they prioritized healthier food choices. The couple now focuses on a diet filled with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans.

They cook and grocery shop together, buy cookbooks and search online for vegan recipes, and surround themselves with like-minded individuals. Many of the couple’s friends are also vegan.

By surrounding herself with other people who value the importance of healthy eating, Barbara sets herself up for success.

Staying Active
Not only does Barbara maintain a healthy diet — she also prioritizes exercise. She has been cycling all of her life.

“Even when my children were small, we were always going for bike rides,” said Barbara. “Whether it’s tandems, mountain bikes, or road bikes: We’ve tried it all.”

Today, Barbara’s bicycle of choice is an electric-assisted bike. It’s a conventional bicycle and motor-assisted ride combo that takes some of the effort out of pedaling; but not all.

“You still have to pedal, and it still uses a lot of energy,” said Barbara. “This type of bike allows me to go greater distances and do larger hills.”

Barbara’s love of exercise doesn’t stop with cycling. She also loves walking and swimming, the latter of which she does at least 3 times a week.

Staying Motivated
How does she stay motivated? By measuring her activity.

“In nursing, in order to monitor you have to measure,” said Barbara. “In life, you should also measure what you’re doing.”

She weighs herself often and uses a fitness watch to track her physical activity. The one she uses is waterproof, which allows her to also measure laps as she swims. The app she uses tracks her movements and maps her routes — something she loves to look at post-workout.

Another motivator for Barbara is her community. She lives in a neighborhood filled with active, like-minded individuals, offering continued encouragement and camaraderie. This holds her accountable every day.

Barbara’s Advice
Barbara is a nurse, so she understands the health and wellness challenges that nurses face. Her advice:
  • Be kind to yourself. Spend time with yourself by journaling or meditating, and prioritize your own well-being.
  • Measure what you’re doing. You’re more likely to understand the effect of your efforts if you keep track of your accomplishments.
  • Surround yourself with people who support you. Whether it’s your coworkers, family, friends, spouse, or neighbors — these influences will encourage you to make good choices.
  • Cater your activities to where you are in life. Try exercises most beneficial for your age. Barbara has found that at this stage in her life, swimming and cycling are good cardiovascular activities, while yoga and walking are good for her bones.  

Barbara Happ, PhD, RN-BC, is an instructor and course designer for Nursing Informatics Bootcamp.

Are you a #healthynurse? Share your stories with us in our discussion.

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Posted by Holly E Carpenter, RN, BSN on Mar 24, 2020 2:31 PM America/Chicago

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