Thursday, June 24, 2010

Work in Progress

Tony from The Anti-Jared posed a question today that got me thinking about my journey. He simply asked, what do you do for a living?

I simply answered: I'm a fire/EMS emergency dispatcher.

But then it got me thinking about my job and my weight struggle. So let me give you all a little back story.

My dad was a firefighter. I grew up in the town that he worked in, my dad was (and still is) my hero. He helped many people. He was an ultimate example for my brother and I growing up. Everyone in town respected him. I also couldn't get away with ANYTHING without him knowing. But my brother can attest to that better than I.

The fire service was in my blood. I enjoyed helping people. I went to college and got a degree in business administration, I went to work in the hotel industry in human resources. I loved helping people, but the hotel/hospitality industry wasn't for me. I then went to work in healthcare, working as a front line employee for HCA, which is a large business with locations all over the country. I figured it was a step in the right direction and I was still helping people with something very important to them; their health.

I then got the call from the fire chief, a position had opened up to serve as a Fire Alarm Operator (fancy job title, basically Fire/EMS emergency dispatcher) I had tested previously and was at the top of the list now. I thought about it, was it what I wanted? Could I be happy with my career there? I wasn't going to make fistfuls of money, but the potential to make a difference was great. My dad, having retired from the force only a few years before, was thrilled to hear about the opportunity, I didn't want to let him down, but it had to be my decision.

I obviously, accepted the position, and in September it will be 4 years that I've been with the department. I love my job, I love helping people, especially in their most dire time of need. I've been introduced into a world I never would have imagined I would have been in, but I'm enjoying my time here. My dad is thrilled that I work for the same department/town that he did. I work with several guys who worked with my dad, they all remember me as a little girl.

I still work for HCA, per diem, they were so good to me, and in this economy, the extra money helps.

So that is a little ditty about my employment history. My weight problems grew out of control my first two years of being employed at the fire department. I gained 50 pounds in the first two years. I was so embarrassed that I let it get so out of control. I went from a doctor's office setting where I was running around looking for charts and talking to patients/doctors; to sitting at a desk and answering a phone and talking on a radio. The long shifts didn't help either it took me about two years to get used to the schedule of shift work (days and nights).

Last year at my yearly physical my doctor and I had a heart to heart, and she didn't sugar coat it at all, 50 pounds in 2 years is a lot of weight to gain and puts a lot of stress on your body that was already taxed from being obese my whole life. Thankfully, I was young(er) and if I could work hard and take the weight off, my body should recover.

I joined Weight Watchers with some friends in October and although I am still trying to loose that 50+ pounds, I am more aware of what I am doing and the changes I need to make in my job environment.

I work some long shifts, up to 38 hours straight, which can be quite a strain on your body alone, but complicate that with trying to plan for food and exercise, is tough. When I'm working a long stretch, I tend to focus more on the food aspect rather than the exercise. I can't really work out, since I am in a uniform and I still have to be able to do my job. But I can walk laps around the apparatus bay, it's better than just sitting on my ass all day. Instead of bringing water bottles to work, I can walk up the stairs to the kitchen and refill my water bottle throughout the day.

Food wise I try to plan as best as I can. However working in a field were emergencies are a way of life, it's hard to plan accordingly (ummm, can you have your house fire at 3:00pm so I can have my snack before hand?) it just doesn't work like that. I've always been told, eat and pee when you can, you don't know when you'll get the chance to do it again. So you're eating not when your hungry, but out of a time constraint. Thankfully in my office we have a small dorm fridge and a microwave, so I do have the ability to store and heat food up here. And I do have some stashes in my locker for the occasions that I get stuck at work.

Pre-planning really helps out and a lot of what I do now, I learned from trial and error, learning from my successes and failures.

I'm pretty thrilled with the changes I've made so far, I knew that my work environment was going to be one of the hardest to change in my quest for a healthy lifestyle, I spend a large majority of my time/life there. But it's a work in progress, just like me.

What environment are you most concerned about when it comes to your weight loss journey?

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