I am a paramedic at Austin/Travis County EMS, and I wanted to share my story with you all. I have been in EMS for just over 3 years, two as an EMT, and one as a paramedic at ATCEMS. I love this career, we do something different almost every shift, and when put in the proper context, we really can make a difference in people's lives.
We all know though, that proper nutrition and exercise aren't always possible while working, and that life stressors outside of this job don't make it any easier. For the majority of my time in EMS, I did what many of us do, eat on the run, whatever I could, however I could and without paying too much attention to nutritional information. We all know the easiest thing to do is clear a call and stop at the closest fast food place and load up on 1000 calories and feel instantly full, or worse, swing by the EMS break room and load up on Snickers and Dr. Pepper... not the healthiest lifestyle!
For me, in my off days, I was usually so concerned with getting things done before I had to report back to work, that I had stopped taking the time to work out and eat properly. After 3 years, the toll this was taking on my body was noticed by not only myself, but my friends, coworkers and yes, even the patients I was serving. Climbing 3 flights of stairs while carrying a cardiac monitor, primary bag, tablet computer and any other various equipment, plus a duty belt loaded with 13 lbs. of extra equipment, I would find myself out of breath and generally an embarassment to myself and my department, taking time to catch my breath before beginning an assessment and interview while fit looking fireman and police officers looked on. I had to make a change.
What I decided to do was P90X, I set a goal to complete the program no matter what, and also to eat as healthy as I could, all the time. I started working out for about an hour a day, 6 days a week, and on days that I worked, I would work out before shift; twice I took my TV, DVDs and DVD player, dumb bells and workout clothes and did a workout in the ambulance bay. I also started tracking everything I ate, most of us have smart phones, so this was very easy for me to do using the free app. called myfitnesspal. When I started tracking what I was eating, I was amazed at just how unhealthy I was being and the sad part was, I didn't even have a clue! So, I got a custom nutrition plan from my BeachBody coach and followed it almost to the letter, whatever it took. I started cooking meals for the week ahead of time and put them in containers for grabbing on the go. Instead of a Snickers at work, I would throw a few protein bars on the truck and eat them when I couldn't make it back to the station. What I am trying to get at is that, with a little bit of extra effort on my part, I was able to change my body and my life for the better.
At the end of my 90 days of P90X, I had decreased my body fat from 24% to 9% and my weight from 193 lbs to 171 lbs. I look lean, I feel great, my confidence is improved! Also, when talking to patients about health, I don't have to suck my gut in. The values of being healthy and fit don't stop there, back injuries, and injuries in general, plague EMS, and lets face it, we do a lot of lifting, bending, stooping, standing, crawling and putting our bodies into some unnatural positions. Since I have made my changes, I feel much better about preventing injuries to myself. Also, the immune system boost I have received from working out and feeling great and eating right has prevented me from becoming sick. I used to get strep. throat at least twice a year! Not anymore!
I have made a video detailing what I did to change my body and my life. I hope that you will watch it and enjoy it. If you feel like making change, please contact me. I can help you out and tell you what worked with me so that we can all start to improve not only our personal lives, but also extend our careers, prevent injury and illness to ourselves, and project a more healthy and professional image to the people we serve!
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope I can inspire some of you to make necessary change!