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 Rick Stotts.
What is your EMS job?
Work as a full-time paramedic for North Runnels Hospital EMS in Winters, Texas and part-time for Fisher County Hospital EMS in Rotan, Texas.
What are your athletic pursuits and goals?
Mainly I am a runner; however I did a triathlon sprint last year and have begun doing adventure races and plan to do the Tough Mudder in Dallas in October 2013.
Do you have an accomplishment you are particularly proud of?
In December of 2010 I weighed 380 lbs, was a pack a day smoker, and in general was in poor health. My primary care physician had me on Lovastatin, and HCTZ for lower extremity edema. I grew up an asthmatic, and was using my rescue inhaler daily even without strenuous exertion. I also had sleep apnea and utilized C-PAP. In January of 2011, I made a life decision to get healthy which has taken me on a great journey. Today I weigh 210 lbs, do not suffer from asthma or sleep apnea. I have run three half marathons, and two full marathons. I work out or run almost every day even when I am at work. I have been a non-smoker for almost two years now. My health is for the most part impeccable. No cholesterol problems, and a resting heart rate in the 40’s and 50’s. An overall 180 degree change from my previous and really lifelong battle with obesity.
What are your fitness tips for other EMS professionals?
1. The goal must be an overall health goal
2. Don’t read too much on the internet, there are so many different opinions and it is hard to decipher what is true.
3. Start with eating healthier, cut portions in half, and allow your stomach to shrink if you have been overeating
4. Water, drink a lot of it, stay away from soda
5. Eat as slowly as possible. It takes your brain 20 minutes (I have read) to receive the signals that your blood sugar is increasing so that it tells your body to you’ve had enough
6. Use your instincts, it doesn’t take rocket science to know that a small handful of almonds is healthier than a bag of chips.
7. Begin a regular exercise plan that you start slowly and build as soon as it seems easy. I began walking for 20 minutes then I slowly added 30 seconds of jogging every 2-3 minutes, then I went to the local high school track and I would run the straight legs and walk the curves. I slowly added distance and more jogging. Trust me it does get easier.
8. Resistance training is as important as cardio activity.
9. Make yourself exercise until you begin to feel bad if you miss out on getting to, that’s the zone you want to stay in.
10. Remember you will never stick with a plan that doesn’t allow you to cheat some and eat cake and ice cream, etc. Just do this in moderation and get right back on the horse.
11. The way you feel after you’ve had some success will keep you going
12. Most important thing: There is NOT a magic pill or a fad diet that will give you sustainable weight loss and health benefits. You have to eat less and better food and exercise, simple as that.
Are there an organizations you would like to promote?
JeffGalloway.com – Marathon Training that uses a walk/run method…very good.
LoseIt.com – Food journaling and exercise tracking is a must
Note: I am not a nutritionist or a personal trainer but I have had successes in overall health. I’ve been a paramedic for 23 years and I am very familiar with the challenges in the area of fitness and health that faces us in this profession; however these are excuses and you can live healthy and work as an EMS professional. It’s better for you and better for your patients. Like I said I am no professional but I would be glad to share my story or insight with anyone who would benefit.
Connect with Rick:
Rick Stotts on facebook
@rickmedic38 on Twitter