Less stress and better health: a cardiac nurse’s road to the summit of Mount Fuji
Cardiac nurses deal with life and death daily. They have front row seats to the long-term effects of poor nutritional choices and sedentary lifestyles. Much of their time is spent supporting patients on their road to better health. Nurses understand the difficulty in losing weight and getting back in shape. Their work is exciting, challenging and stressful.
Michelle, 44 has been a cardiac nurse for twenty years. Devoted to her patients, working long hours, she too was neglecting her own health. What could she do to get back in shape?
“It’s either sit on your butt for hours at work, go home and watch TV, or you could choose to be more active, which helps with stress and makes you feel more energetic. For me, I knew what I had to do- I had to get more fit, rebuild my strength and endurance; I needed to get healthy” she said.
Confiding in her friends, Michelle realized that they were all having the same issues. Life gets complicated for everyone as you get older. Mark and Nancy, friends from high school, had a suggestion. Mark, 46, a businessman, was an avid hiker and was looking to form a group to hike tall mountains. Nancy, 48, a dental assistant, had been a marathon runner and was keen on getting fit.
They decided to pick up hiking together and to first tackle Mt. Fuji. This picturesque mountain was the perfect choice as Michelle’s first climb, as it was always her dream to visit Japan. Forming a team made sense, confronting challenges would be better with encouragement from a group.
Training included climbing staircases, trekking in nature preserves and watching their diet closely. Michelle recounted, “the workouts were definitely tedious, I felt that my friends were in better shape and it made me feel uncertain that I would be able to do this climb.”
By tracking their health parameters with the help of Halza, the team trained more efficiently and were able to observe trends. Michelle began to lose weight which was a great motivation to continue.
By the time the group arrived at Mt Fuji, they were unsure of what to expect, but ready to conquer the mountain. It’s a two-day climb, including an overnight in a mountain hut. Fortunately, they were lucky; the weather was good at the start of the climb. The terrain was steep and rocky. As they climbed higher, the air became thinner, making it necessary to keep a slow pace.
On the way to the mountain hut at the eighth station, Michelle pulled a calf muscle. “At 11 O’clock at night, my leg cramped up and I wanted to give up. I sat in the hut and I couldn’t think about the summit, I just wanted to head back. I was exhausted. It was really with the help of my friends who pushed me on that I actually continued the next day”
“At times I felt breathless. I needed to rest frequently and drink a lot of water. It was also very rocky. For some areas, it was like climbing a wall. You had to choose each step carefully or else you’d fall off.”
Michelle listened to her friends and continued. She was the first to reach the summit. “The best part of the climb was definitely seeing the sun rise above the clouds. It was an unbelievable moment for me. I felt like, wow, I have reached the summit and I have conquered the mountain.”
What did Michelle learn from her experience?
“I’ve learned that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Just persevere, don’t limit yourself. Many people think that physical decline is an inevitable effect of aging and that we are bound to slow down and do less. Many health difficulties can be eased or even reversed by changing your diet and exercising. Physical activity helps elevate stress and provides protection against coronary heart disease.”
Michelle, Mark and Nancy continue to train and track their progress using Halza. Busy preparing for their next summit, Michelle now understands that fearing the unknown is unnecessary. Stepping out of your comfort zone and confronting challenges can lead to good health and may be the easiest way to fight stress.