Liisa Dewhurst, RN, BSN, MSN, CNP
Her mother, her children, and her own self confidence: Those are the 3 motivators that keep Liisa Dewhurst focused on a healthy lifestyle.
When she was younger, Liisa was active in cheerleading and dance. Both helped her stay petite, but soon, poor nutrition set her on the wrong course.
It was around this time that Liisa witnessed her mother become overweight, unhappy, and riddled with health problems.
Determination set in. She tried eliminating low-nutrient foods (like white bread and pasta) from her diet. But the more foods Liisa eliminated, the more she obsessed over those foods. It was a negative and unhealthy cycle.
“In nursing school, we learn about nutrition so I thought I knew it all,” said Liisa. “It wasn’t until I began to research proper eating with exercise and weight training that it finally clicked.”
With help from a dietitian and personal trainer, she learned about:
- Eating the right foods at the proper time
- Swapping certain foods for more nutrient-dense choices
- How to eat healthy without eliminating all “bad” foods
“I’ve found that health is not about elimination, but about balance and moderation,” said Liisa. “I don’t eliminate anything from my diet now, and I’m a much healthier and happier person.”
The Road Toward Personal Training
At this point in her health journey, Liisa was a registered nurse practitioner. Along with her family, she moved to California and had to wait 6 months for approval on her California nursing license. During the wait, she decided to become a certified personal trainer.
“A trainer really impacts people in a holistic, full-body way,” said Liisa. “We focus on proper body mechanics, healthy eating, confidence, recovery from injuries, and so much more. I was able to impact a person’s health in more ways than a nurse practitioner.”
After going back to her role as a nurse, Liisa stopped working as a personal trainer, but still maintained a habit of exercising almost every day. Why?
“It’s my me-time,” said Liisa. “I get up in the morning to work out, and for me, it’s almost like my form of meditation. It makes me a better wife, mother, and nurse.”
Today, Liisa’s mother is still one of the main motivators for her healthy lifestyle.
“My mom is always telling me, ‘You’re doing the right thing, you’re doing what I should have done,’” said Liisa. “That keeps me going, along with knowing this lifestyle is good for my well-being.”
Liisa also knows the importance of being a role model for her 3 daughters. She educates them on healthy lifestyle choices in hopes that as they grow older, they will make smart decisions.
As a nurse, Liisa understands the health and wellness challenges that healthcare professionals face. Her advice:
- Everything in moderation. You don’t have to exclude your favorite foods, like desserts or breads, from what you eat. It’s OK to treat yourself now and then, but center your diet on nutrient-rich foods.
- It’s not selfish to make time for yourself. Nurses work so hard on everyone else’s health. If you are always giving, you will feel empty because you poured everything out. Make sure to pour back into yourself.
- Find what works for you. Working out and eating nutrient-dense foods, without eliminating all bad foods, works best for Liisa. But everyone is different. Experiment with different lifestyle changes until you find one that sticks.
Liisa Dewhurst, RN, BSN, MSN, CNP, is a Senior Research Nurse Coordinator at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.
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