Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ - #healthynurse Spotlight Series - Karen Laing, MS, BSN, RN, HWNC-BC, CHES, DipACLM
Certified health and wellness nurse coach practices what she preaches. Karen Laing, MS, BSN, RN, HWNC-BC, CHES, DipACLM, is a Health and Wellness Nurse Coach for All Heart Coaching, Inc.
If there’s one person who walks the walk, it’s certified health and wellness nurse coach Karen Laing.
With a history of working with cardiac patients on disease reversal and prevention, Karen has seen firsthand the healing power of one’s lifestyle. She’s such a firm believer in heart-healthy principles that she builds her own lifestyle around them.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Karen looked at health and wellness through a cardiac lens. Today, she looks at it from both a heart-health and an immunity perspective. Luckily, many of the principles of a heart-healthy lifestyle align with the best practices for strong immunity.
Regular physical activity, for example, is critical for both heart health and a strong immune system.
That’s why Karen exercises at least 5 days a week. She belongs to a local gym where she rotates her workouts to keep things fresh. Some days she’ll use the treadmill, other days she’ll get on the rowing machine or stationary bike. Some days she’ll focus on upper body strength training, other days she’ll prioritize lower body exercises.
On the weekends, she remains physically active with less structured activities, like stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), kayaking or biking with her teenage kids.
“We live within walking distance of Tampa Bay,” said Karen. “We moved to this area from Virginia partly because we always wanted to live near the water. My kids and I love going out and seeing the birds, dolphins, manatees, and other marine life.”
A Well-Rounded Healthy Lifestyle
Outside of exercise, Karen prioritizes 3 additional areas:
- Stress management
She makes a daily effort to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, since scientific evidence shows that sleep has powerful effects on immune functioning.
For nutrition, Karen prioritizes drinking enough water each day. She also incorporates plenty of plant-based foods into her diet, since studies show that a plant-based diet can lower cardiovascular risk.
Lastly, Karen ensures her stress is kept to a minimum whenever possible. She uses a meditation app on her smartphone to start her day with a 10-minute breathing exercise. At the end of the day before she goes to sleep, she listens to another short meditation no matter how tired she is.
“I still do my nighttime meditation even if I feel fatigued, because I’ve noticed that it helps me have a better quality of sleep,” said Karen.
Another method that helps Karen destress is yoga, which she usually does at least twice a week.
Karen’s Ongoing Motivation
What keeps her going? Her biggest motivator is her patients. She’s worked with numerous patients over the years who have heart disease, and she knows firsthand that lifestyle is impactful for health.
“As I’m working with patients, I can’t ask them to do something healthy that I’m not doing myself,” said Karen. “That wouldn’t be in alignment with who I am. Doing what they do keeps me honest.”
To stay on track and avoid setbacks, Karen uses a daily planner to chart her progress and schedule time to prioritize herself. Each day, she tracks how much sleep she got and which days she plans to go to the gym.
It’s easy to tell a patient to live a healthy lifestyle while ignoring the advice for yourself. Here’s how Karen recommends approaching your own health and wellness:
- Aim for progress, not perfection: Many times, we’re hard on ourselves — if we can’t do it right, we don’t want to do it at all. Think in terms of baby steps. If you can’t do 30 minutes of exercise a day, aim for 10.
- Focus on 1 healthy habit at a time: It’s easy to overload yourself. Don’t do everything all at once. Start small and build upon it.
- Accept your influence: You are working in the most trusted profession. Recognize how much influence you have by what you say and do and realize that you can have a positive impact.
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I love that Karen knows what helps with her with sleep quality and keeps up with it! I need to find something that works for me too!