Health and Wellness

Everyday EMS Athlete Profile: Keeping Fit Through Hard Work

Shortly after the New Year I shared with Everyday EMS Tips newsletter subscribers that I was using the My Fitness Pal app to track my meals and snacks. That small share led to a great exchange with an EMT that offered these thoughts about health and fitness.

Q: What is your EMS job?

I am currently an EMT-B, will be doing the advanced class starting next week and probably start a paramedic program via distance learning in August. My EMS involvement is all volunteer. In my day job I am a nurse practitioner.

Q: What are your athletic pursuits?

I’m not an athlete, exactly.  I am a 55 year old grandma who is a crazy horse girl who never really grew up. The horse crazy thing accounts for most of my fitness goals. No longer being 20 (not clearly remembering being 20, truth be told), the principle of use it or lose it is in full force in my life. My husband is really good to help me with the stuff I physically can’t do, but the horses are really not his passion. My horses range from an American Mini to a Percheron stallion, with various sizes between. The harness for the big horses weighs about 60 pound without the collar, and that has to be hoisted above my head just to get it on the horse. Moving around hay and grain, and doing other chores for the horse keeping end of things all require a bit more fitness that would probably occur to most people.

Q: What are your athletic goals?

My current goal is to actually RUN a 5K. I am also planning on an obstacle course run. Running at 6500 feet (my home elevation) also takes more oomph than a lot of people realize. In addition, my fitness goals include bettering my stamina and my strength. I firmly believe that age is no excuse. In my practice I have observed that the older folks who remain active not only have fewer physical problems, but their quality of life is much better than that of the couch potatoes. Among my favorite very elderly patients is a lady who at 104 yrs of age came into urgent care because she had run a nail into her foot (through her shoe) while turning over her garden spot with a shovel. I want to be like that lady when I grow up!

Q: How do you maintain a healthy weight? 

I joined Weight Watchers some years ago. Lost a lot of weight. Also lost all my strength and felt so deprived I couldn’t stand it. I got to my goal weight, and then packed on 50 lbs. That was about 10 years ago. Since then, I have slowly lost 25 lbs by cleaning up my diet and exercising more. I also took care of some health issues that were preventing me from working out consistently. So, I have a really bad association with food journals, because that’s what Weight Watchers uses and that made me feel so deprived.

What I do pay attention to is getting at least 5 servings of fruits/veggies daily and eating at least 2 whole grains daily. Works for me.

Readers, what works for you? How do you get enough exercise, eat well, and ensure that you can not only do your job, but the activities you enjoy? Share your ideas and tips in the comments or email me (greg at everyday ems tips dot com) to be featured as an Everyday EMS Athlete. 

By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.