Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ - #healthynurse Spotlight Series - Trey Bennett, MSN, BSN, RN, NP, DipACLM
Nurse practitioner finds career fulfillment and health improvement in lifestyle medicine. Trey Bennett, NP, is the founder of Vitality Lifestyle Medicine and is double board certified in Lifestyle Medicine and Adult Gerontology.
Don’t underestimate your health potential!
That’s the main message Trey Bennett, Kansas City's only Board-Certified Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner, has for himself, as well as for his patients.
Growing up, Trey and his family consumed what’s known as the standard American diet (SAD), which consists of meat, potatoes, and processed foods. He witnessed his father, who had high cholesterol, struggle with medication side effects, Syndrome X (also called metabolic syndrome, which is a group of risk factors including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, etc.), and prediabetes. As a bedside nurse, Trey also witnessed plenty of his patients struggling with preventable conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
Trey’s observations formed a clear connection between the SAD and preventable diseases. He became curious about his own health, so he attended a biometric screening. The results shocked Trey — even though he exercised regularly, his cholesterol and glucose results came back much higher than he expected.
Trey then watched the documentary "Forks Over Knives," which explores the interplay between diet and health. He learned that brown rice, beans, potatoes, and other plant-based foods have sufficient levels of protein for optimal health. Over the next month, Trey began fueling his body with fewer animal proteins and processed foods, and more plant-based options like:
- Whole grains
- Raw nuts and seeds
Trey soon realized how much better he felt after adjusting his diet to more wholesome foods. His next biometric screening came back normal, and he felt healthier than ever. This lifestyle shift eventually led him to find his new calling in healthcare: Lifestyle Medicine.
“I realized when I was working in the hospital that I wanted to prevent the most common American diseases in myself, and today that has translated to helping my patients do the same,” said Trey.
Today, Trey continues to improve his lifestyle. He’s currently focused on boosting immunity by fine-tuning his nutrition with increased antioxidants to lower inflammation. Over the past year, he has also increased the frequency of his physical activity with family walks. Additionally, Trey turned to regular meditation for stress management.
Inspiring Healthy Habits in Others
Trey believes that as the most-trusted profession, nurses need to know how to be healthy themselves. A healthy lifestyle pays dividends — it may seem that health takes time or money, but it’s more about realigning your time and funds to support your health goals.
“A healthy lifestyle will give back to you down the road with lower healthcare costs and longer productive years of life, not to mention boosting your immunity,” said Trey.
He also believes there’s more to a healthy lifestyle than nutrition — mental health plays a huge role, too. If stress management is a challenge for you lately, Trey offers a few tips:
“If you’re stressed or overwhelmed, take time to write down 3 positives from your day or your life experience before going to sleep each night for at least a week,” said Trey. “This will help you rewire your brain to think more positively and improve your optimistic outlook. Share this tip with your patients, too. Research ‘3 good things’ for more information about this method.”
Nurses set an example for their patients. To take better care of yourself, Trey encourages you to:
- Know the state of your own health: Trey’s career (and health) took a beneficial turn when he realized he was at risk for heart disease. He sought evidence-based information, and now he helps his patients do the same every day.
- Start with small, achievable steps: For example, eat more wholesome fruits, vegetables, and other foods that grow on a plant and don’t come from a processing plant.
- Focus on the positive changes you see: Once you get going, hold on and ride the wave of improved health and wellness as you incorporate more healthy lifestyle modifications.
- Find your tribe: Trey found his tribe in the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM). Search within nursing until you find your tribe and your job satisfaction will soar.
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I will definitely start this 3 Good Things practice!!