How To Stay Healthy In Nursing School


Cathy shares some strategies on how you can eat healthy and exercise while you're working around the clock in nursing school.

Full Transcript: How To Stay Healthy In Nursing School

Alright! Recently, we got the following message on Instagram. It says, "All I do is go to class, study, go to clinical, eat, do my chores, study, sleep and repeat. Every day."

I hear you.

That's kind of the life of a nursing student, unfortunately.

"Do you have any strategies to lose some weight or find balance with school and weight?"

So I'm not going to proclaim to be a weight loss and nutrition expert. I actually have to work pretty hard to maintain my weight. I love to eat and I have a sweet tooth so that definitely presents some challenges. But I can offer you my two cents about weight loss or weight control during nursing school.

So first of all, I think trying to lose weight while going to nursing school might be a little much because getting through nursing school is a really big deal. It's a ton of work.

And trying to lose weight is also a really big deal. It takes a lot of discipline about eating, about exercise, and I think trying to do both of those things at once can be really challenging. So perhaps a goal of just maintaining your weight during nursing school would be more realistic and more appropriate.

So when it comes to maintaining your weight, really there's two big things you have to look at. One is exercise and the other is eating, with eating probably being the more important of the two things because there's a saying that I've heard that is, "You cannot exercise your way out of a bad diet," and it's totally true.

If I could exercise my way out of my bad diet, I would absolutely do that. If someone said, "Hey. If you exercise two hours a day, you can eat whatever you want," I'd be like sign me up. Where do I sign for that? But that's just not how it goes.

You really have to manage both and really the eating part is probably the most impactful in terms of weight loss.

But let's first talk about exercise a little bit during nursing school. So when I was in nursing school, I used flashcards, of course. That was my secret weapon. But I used to take those flashcards on walks. Most days of the week I would take 15 to 20 cards. I would go walking with them.

Sometimes I'd do one-minute sprints without reading my cards. And then as I was kind of recovering from that sprint, I would review my cards and then do the next sprint.

Anyway, I learned a lot on those walks. Somehow reviewing those cards while I was exercising helped the information to sink into my head better than if I was just reviewing those same cards while sitting down at my desk.

So I definitely recommend taking cards on a walk or to the gym. Like when you're on an elliptical machine or a recumbent bike, etc., you can review those cards and that way you're killing two birds with one stone.

You're exercising and you're studying and I feel like the studying is better and more effective when you are exercising.

In terms of eating, so this is probably, at least it's the harder side of things for me. So when I was in nursing school, I did try to pack my lunch when I came to class or to clinicals and I would try to run by Trader Joe's and get some pre-made salads and that type of thing and add a piece of fruit with that and a little piece of chocolate or something because again I have a sweet tooth. So that helps me not feel deprived to have that little sweet dessert after lunch. So on those days, I did pretty well.

When I wasn't able to pack my lunch, it was a little harder because right by our school, we had just a few restaurants. One was a Mexican restaurant and the other was a pizza place. But the other thing that was near our school was a Vons grocery store.

So there were a couple of my classmates who were really healthy and fit who used to go to the Vons and just make a salad on the salad bar. They would eat really healthy.

So I did join them sometimes for a salad and I always felt good about myself when I did that. I will admit that there were days I went to the Mexican restaurant or to the pizza place with my other friends.

So if you are really focused on trying to maintain your weight and your health during nursing school, if you can go to a grocery store for lunch or pack your lunch, that's definitely going to be better for you and I would definitely recommend that.

I'd also try to link up with some classmates who were in a similar situation. They're either super fit and healthy and disciplined or they're trying to lose or maintain weight like you. So if you can have that support system and other people who are trying to do the same thing, then that can make it better and easier to stick to your plan.

But throughout it all, nursing school is brutal and you just need to give yourself some grace and some patience. If you can maintain your weight, I think that's a pretty good thing. And then once you graduate, then you can maybe exert more energy and focus on losing the rest of the weight that you need to lose.

And then the last piece of advice I have here is try to find ways to reward yourself that do not include eating. I know it's kind of ingrained in our culture and in our society, is when we want to celebrate or we've done something well, we go out to eat. We get a dessert. We get a drink, that type of thing.

If you can try to find other ways to reward yourself, I think it would be great. So whether that's going to see a movie or reading a non-nursing textbook for a little bit, or going on a walk somewhere with your significant other, something that brings you joy and is a treat that is not an actual dessert or food that isn't necessarily good for you.

So that's my two cents.

Again, not the expert here. I definitely have work to do on my own eating as well. So I wish you the best.

And again, be patient with yourself and keep some realistic expectations about what you're going to be able to do during nursing school!

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I like to buy the Viola frozen family meals and make 1/2 of a bag for a couple of the meals on Sundays and container them to eat during the week. It really helps me to pack my own food, and have some healthier food so I’m not spending more than $20 a week on lunch. I also have one of those under desk peddle things from Walmart to get me moving a bit when studying is cumbersome.


This is great advice, however, a lot of us (including me) are trying to get rid of that COVID weight by being online. It’s doable if you do a bit of exercise when you take a break during studying. Getting the blood flowing re-establishes that focus you need to keep going.


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