November 16, 2016
When he's not at work as the practice manager for LG Health Physicians Sycamore Square, you may find Ron Baier in the gym...or in the grocery store, checking out food labels.
"I feel healthier now in my 50s than I did when I was 30," said Ron, who is also a paramedic with Lancaster EMS. Ron lost more than 100 pounds since making lifestyle changes in 2009 when his father's passing caused him to take a serious look at his own life.
"I want to be here for my kids and grandkids," said Ron. The father of two grown daughters now watches what he eats and exercises on a regular basis.
A Stress-Filled World
A 34-year EMS veteran, Ron understands better than most the stresses providers face, and emphasizes to colleagues the need to take care of themselves first.
"Someone who takes care of others should first and foremost take care of self. Our own health impacts the care we give," he emphasized.
He points out 12-hour shifts, filled with uncertainty and stress, make it challenging for emergency responders to adopt healthy lifestyle practices.
"It's hard to make time for exercise. You can't plan meals. You normally grab something quick and easy on the go. And those aren't normally healthy choices," said Ron.
Although it’s challenging, adopting a healthier lifestyle is possible. Here are 6 tips for EMS providers, healthcare workers, and all who work long and stressful shifts:
6 Ways To Take Care of You While Helping Others
Plan ahead: Plan your meals in advance and keep healthy ingredients on hand. Bring food from home so it’s ready when you have time to eat. Sandwiches are easy to make and eat on the go. Use whole grain bread and add lean protein. Avoid high-fat condiments like mayonnaise. Throw in fruits and raw vegetables. And don’t forget leftovers from last evening’s dinner.
Eat at regular intervals: Try eating smaller amounts every 2-4 hours throughout the day to avoid become very hungry and making poor choices. Sit down to eat and if possible, try to eat at a relaxed pace.
Stay hydrated: Carry a water bottle with you and fill it often. Your body will thank you and you’ll also save money on unhealthy bottled drinks.
Watch the caffeine: Limit caffeine intake 4-5 hours before the end of your shift so you’re more ready to relax when you arrive home.
Exercise moderately: Take some walks, even up and down stairs, or stretch before or after your shift. On days off, make it a point to get aerobic exercise.
Get the sleep you need: 7-9 hours are recommended for most adults. You can space out sleep with naps if a single period of rest isn’t possible with your schedule.