EMS professionals are challenged to balance work, family, and other obligations while also staying or striving for mental and physical fitness. The Everyday EMS Athlete is a regular column to recognize and learn from other EMS professionals that are setting and meeting fitness goals. This edition was contributed by Paramedic and EKG geek Nick Nudell.
Q: What is your EMS job?
I have maintained National Registry and licensure as a Paramedic in California and Montana. Although it has been a while, I do occasionally return to Cut Bank, MT to work as a paramedic for Glacier County EMS.
My full-time day job is as a ‘System Integration Manager’ for FirstWatch Solutions in Encintas, CA and am a partner with PrioriHealth, an EMS consulting firm.
Many evenings and most weekends of the last five years have been occupied first with undergrad classes and now with graduate school, from Boston University.
Q: What are your athletic pursuits and goals?
First and foremost I want to be healthy. The standard charts indicate that for my height (6’0″”) a healthy weight should be between 140-180 pounds and around 15-19% of that as fat. I don’t think I’ve been that size in more than 20 years, when I was very active and lifting weights in High School so at first it seemed unattainable and unrealistic.
Q: Do you have a race or accomplishments you are particularly proud of?
About ten years ago, I worked many back to back shifts, nearly 24/7 for a year straight. As a result of not (finding the time or making the effort to) taking care of myself, I reached my maximum ‘paramedic weight’ of 286 pounds without really recognizing it as a problem although it was more than 100 pounds more than ‘healthy’ for me.
I took care of an infant with hand, foot, and mouth disease and became severely affected myself but it was a blessing in disguise. With a mouth and tongue full of painful blisters I was prescribed viscous lidocaine in an attempt to relieve the pain of eating & drinking but it did not work very well. As a result, for about six weeks I could only drink Ensure through a straw.
As a result I lost 80 pounds, was no longer hypertensive, and did not rely on sugary snacks to get through long days and felt great, better than I could ever remember.
Over the last ten years, despite having much healthier eating and exercise habits, working behind a desk during the week and behind textbooks on the weekends, I had gained some of that back.
Inspired by my coworkers at FirstWatch, on May 1st I began a low carb low calories ketogenic diet that I will follow to reach my goal weight (170 pounds) and then will transition to a normal healthy diet. I eat six times, every three hours, and drink about 90 ounces of water a day. After a month and half, I am 1/3 of the way to that goal and feeling great!
Q: What are your tips for other EMS professionals to balance work and fitness?
I am a visual learner and have found that by tracking my activities (sleep quality, weight, and daily activity) has helped me to stick with my long term goals.When faced with needing to lose 50+ pounds it can seem like a daunting or unrealistic goal but seeing daily progress in a graph really has contributed to my success.I have used a couple of apps and sensors that help provide the information used for this positive reinforcement. You can see how this works and my success by visiting my FitBit profile.A digital WiFi scale uploads my weight every morning, the FitBit syncs throughout the day, a Polar H7 (amazon affiliate link) sends my heart rate information to the DigiFit App for workout tracking.
Q: Are there any organizations or sponsors you want to share with readers?
I don’t have any sponsors 🙂 but for more information on my diet visit http://coachstevens.tsfl.com/
Q: How can readers connect with you?
I’ve started a FitBit group for paramedics, EMTs, First Responders, and their friends and families
All Everyday EMS Athletes featured in this column receive an e-gift card from Road ID. Check out the Road ID information for First Responders. View past columns and submit your profile at the Everyday EMS Athlete page.