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  1. Mee, Cheryl L. RN,BC, CMSRN, MSN

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Christine smokes like a chimney[horizontal ellipsis]. Joe has to ride the elevator because he gets winded dragging all that extra weight up the stairs. They're nurses; they should know better.

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Shame on us when we think that way. In a perfect world, nurses lead the public by example, but nurses are human. Those whose health habits fall short need support rather than harsh judgment.


As health care providers, nurses know about the harms of smoking and the benefits of healthy eating and exercise. Yet from my own experience I can tell you that "book knowledge" doesn't guarantee healthy behavior. Two years ago, I understood the principles of maintaining a healthy weight and didn't think I needed education on the subject. If I wanted to, I thought, I could shed those extra pounds by myself. That mind-set was my biggest obstacle to slimming down.


When some colleagues joined a weight-loss program at work, I tagged along. Within 12 weeks, I dropped two clothing sizes and learned a valuable lesson about myself. Although I'd known what behaviors would help me lose weight, knowledge alone didn't do it. I needed the group support.


I realized too that I became lax about exercising when I did it solo. Now my greatest motivator to run is knowing that my friend Emily will meet me at the park and we'll run together. Even in freezing weather, Emily knows I won't stand her up; we're a team.


You teach patients about the value of support groups, but do you heed your own advice? If you're pondering a change to healthier behavior or need to sort out a difficult life issue, knowledge may not be enough. Remember how you feel when you're working alone and a member of your team comes along to give you a hand. Together, you get the job done and the most difficult tasks become lighter.


"Self" needn't be the key ingredient of self-help or self-improvement. Psychiatric nurses witness the benefits of working in a group. Consider joining a group or investing in a program that'll help you improve your health or your outlook on life. You may find strength in numbers.


I've signed up for another weight-loss program because I've gained a few pounds and need the group's help to shed them. See you there?


Cheryl L. Mee, RN, BC, CMSRN, MSN


Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2005