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Seven Ways to Lose Weight When You Don’t Have a Lot of Time

Salimah Jones APRN, FNP-C

When you are a busy nurse working long, tiring shifts or a nursing student spending countless hours studying, it can be extremely difficult to stay healthy. Throw in the demands of kids, friends, your spouse, and any hobbies that you have, and the average person will find themselves frequently needing to choose between equally important things that are often in conflict with one another. For many people, the things we take pleasure in, such as whipping up a batch of cookies with our kiddos, enjoying some cocktails with our partner, or sitting down to enjoy our favorite television program don’t do much for our health and fitness. If you are wanting to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle, these activities are likely to sabotage your progress.

Being no stranger to this dilemma,  I can tell you that losing weight and maintaining your health is no walk in the park. As a mom, wife, graduate student, and employee, for me it seems impossible to find the time to exercise. It’s difficult to stay motivated to a health routine when you feel as if you are just trying to keep your head above water each day. When you do take the time to exercise, you may have guilt for not spending that time with your family. Then you have to overcome things like like losing out on sleep, or simply just missing out on other things that you’d much rather be doing.

Don’t even get me started with those annoying “friends” on social media who are constantly posting their workouts, their diets, and their selfies showing how awesome they look. Having been bombarded with these posts from others, and admittedly, even being guilty of doing them myself; I can tell you that Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are some of the best ways to kill your self-esteem. You may be motivated for a little while, but once you discover you are unable to live up to that unrealistic image of perfection, you are ready to throw in the towel.

Finally you have the challenge of eating healthy when your entire family, friends and co-workers are eating crap. As soon as you decide that you want to go on a diet, you can bet your bottom dollar that this is precisely the time when there will be Krispy Kreme donuts at the office, your friends will invite you out to the restaurant that serves your favorite cheesecake, and your kids will be begging you to order pizza. Don’t plan on making healthy meals because you will be eating salads while the rest of the members in your household demand the “real food”.

Believe me these are things that I struggle with daily and being the overweight nurse is definitely no fun. Fortunately I have found some “go to” strategies that have helped me lose weight and get back into my health routine when I do fall off the wagon. These are things that I can fit into my hectic schedule and allow me to still enjoy my life and family. These weight loss strategies are common diet and exercise plans that in my experience have offered the greatest results with the least amount of time and effort.


There are hundreds of thousands of detox programs out there for you to choose from. Detoxing consists of eliminating toxins from the body by consuming a diet free from artificial hormones, fillers, additives and anything processed. Instead you consume foods and beverages that are all natural. Many detox programs incorporate drinking lots of water and some may call for drinking Tea or taking supplements. My favorite detox method by far has been drinking green smoothies (I follow JJ Smith’s 10-day Green Smoothie Cleanse) as this has been the easiest and quickest method for me to implement. The nice thing about green smoothies are that you can make them taste good, by just adding your favorite fruits. They are quick to make, and you can easily use them as meal replacements. When I had to lose 65 pounds after my 3rd child, this was a method that helped me lose a lot of it.

Fitbit Challenges

You will be amazed at how many calories you can burn just from taking more steps, and the best thing is you can do them throughout your day. You can do steps during times when you would normally be sitting, such as while watching your favorite program, or even while completing tasks at work. Nurses often take a lot of steps at work but you can get more by stepping during your breaks or making it a point to arrive to work 10 minutes early to walk around your facility before your shift. If you don’t have a Fitbit you can use your smart watch or even apps on your smart phone to monitor your steps. The challenges are also a great way to stay motivated.


Walking with your kids and/or your spouse is a great way to get exercise and spend some quality time with them. Another option would be to go for a walk or run while you listen to a recorded lecture if you are in school so that you can study simultaneously!

Low Carb Diet

Although this can be difficult to keep up with long-term, it is undisputable that going low carb can help you lose a lot of weight very quickly in the short-term. This is always a good way to jump-start a new weight loss routine since shedding pounds quickly can really inspire you to get back on track.

Facebook Challenges

These are great for motivation and accountability more so than time savings, but connecting with a friend or group is a great way to combine social interaction with your fitness routine.

Intermittent Fasting

Fasting is a great way to reduce your weekly caloric intake which can help you lose weight pretty effortlessly, as long as when you do eat you do not over-consume. A method I like to use is skipping 1-2 meals a day 3 days out of the week. You can do this for 3 days in a row or scatter the days throughout the week. The best meals to skip are lunch and dinner since fat storage is more likely to occur later in the day.

Home Workout DVDs

High intensity workouts that combine cardio with strength training that you can do at home can help you burn maximum calories in a short amount of time. There are many options available but my favorites are Beachbody  and Jillian Michaels. Some of the workouts are as short as 15 minutes and since they can be done right in your living room this can be more time efficient than going to the gym.

The methods mentioned above are all strategies that work, but it is important to keep in mind that consistency is key. Pick an exercise routine and nutrition plan that you can realistically stick with and that fits best within your lifestyle. If you fall off the wagon and need a jumpstart, try low-carbing for a week or completing a detox  to help you get back in the game. Remember acheiving good health and fitness is a journey, not a race, and the most important thing is to do something, rather than nothing.


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About the Author

Hi I’m Salimah Jones, I am a Family Nurse Practitioner, author, and Founder of The Nursing Guide, an online community dedicated to helping aspiring and current nurses overcome life’s challenges to achieve their professional goals. Coming from a disadvantaged background, and having experienced the struggles of pursuing a career while working and raising a family, I am now dedicated to helping others find ways to make their dreams a reality. I provide practical solutions to help those who are struggling with finances, learning difficulties, motivation, work-life-balance, or lack of a social support system. I want to show you how to conquer any challenge so that you can become your own success story. Please subscribe to this blog and don’t forget to sign up for your free membership on The Nursing Guide Website. Connect with me on twitter @salimahjones.

2 thoughts on “Seven Ways to Lose Weight When You Don’t Have a Lot of Time

  1. Weight loss can be difficult for everyone. The following are a couple of tricks I share with my patients. Keep a food diary of everything you eat for 2 weeks. When you analyze the record it is often easy to see areas you can make changes in what and how much you are eating. Packing a lunch and snacks is another way to prevent over eating and prevents you from eating out. Remember weight loss takes time. Safe weight loss is 2-3 lbs a week.

  2. I recommend the food diary too…especially if notes are made before or when you start eating. The other thing I advocate for is planning. With time I’ve come up with quite a few tried & true recipes that fit my desired daily calorie intake as well as snacks that are “safe.” If I take 5 minutes a week to write down what recipes I’ll use for the week I can make sure I have the necessary ingredients. There’s only two of us so a recipe usually gets us a meal for 2 or 3 days. I notice I make unhealthy choices when my four year old is hungry & I can’t think of WHAT to make never mind actually starting to make it. If I can look at a paper & be assured the ingredients are there I have more success.

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