Sonya L. Clayton DNP, MSN, RN, IBCLC, CCE
Everyone experiences their own peaks and valleys. It’s a natural part of life. Sonya Clayton knows this, which is why she made changes to set herself up for more peaks.
It all began about two years ago when Sonya went on a trip with her husband and son. The family took pictures and, upon looking at the photos later, Sonya didn’t like what she saw in herself.
Back at home, her son started training for basketball by running and exercising regularly. Sonya decided this was the perfect time to make a change. She could exercise with her son, lose weight, and feel better.
At first, she focused on a combination of walking and jogging, or what she calls “wogging.” Then she also incorporated a dance exercise video she could do at home. Since she felt like she was dancing and not exercising, she noticed she was more inclined to keep going.
One Change After Another
When Sonya noticed the positive effects of exercise on her lifestyle, like feeling energized and losing weight, she took it a step further. She changed her diet by cutting out sodas and drinking fruit-infused water instead. Her go-to breakfast became smoothies made with fresh fruit.
As Sonya’s physical health improved, she turned her attention to her mental health. As a nurse, her job is demanding. The days are constant hustle and bustle. Some calm and quiet is essential.
“At night I try to have at least 30 minutes of quiet time reading or doing something calming,” said Sonya. “I also talk to my prayer partner every day, and that connection is so reassuring.”
Another way Sonya incorporates prayer is through a daily Bible passage. An app on her phone gives her an inspirational passage to read each morning when she wakes up. This helps Sonya start every day on a positive note with a clear mind.
“It’s so important to start with a clean canvas each day,” said Sonya. “People depend on me, so I have to try to be as positive as I can.”
That positivity and daily quiet time keeps Sonya’s mental health in check, since it’s not all about diet and exercise.
“Mentally if you’re not healthy, it can have an effect on your body,” said Sonya.
Best of all, Sonya hasn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic stop her from incorporating and maintaining these healthy lifestyle changes. She can do all of this safely while social distancing.
Today, Sonya feels better than ever. She hasn’t reached her weight loss goal yet, but she’s motivated to keep going. Here’s what Sonya wants other nurses to know:
- Take care of you. As nurses, we’re caring, giving, and constantly helping others. Make sure you maintain yourself. If you don’t take care of you, you can’t take care of others.
- Perseverance isn’t just for your job. You need to have that same perseverance and tenaciousness for your own health.
- Balance it out. Some weeks you’re going to do really well, and others you won’t. Just get refocused and tell yourself, “I’ve got to do better tomorrow.”
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