Tracey Tannparker is busy! She is a full-time nurse in the coronary care unit of Beth Israel Medical Center and a part-time, dual-degree nursing and public health student at Hunter College. Here, Tracey explains how she increased her physical activity without going to the gym.
Q: Did you make any changes in your physical activity?
A: I didn't go to the gym or anything like that. Like I said before I wasn't really thinking about it all that much, but once I realized that I had lost a substantial amount of weight I noticed that I was walking a whole lot more and taking a lot of stairs.At that time I lived in New Jersey. I took the PATH train that left me off in at 23rd Street and 6th Avenue. My school is on 25th and 1st. Have you ever taken the cross town bus on 23rd Street? Forget it! It's the slowest! I thought the 15 here on 125th Street was slow, but this was pure molasses! It just didn't move, and I didn't have much time. So, I would walk. Then when I got to school, my class was on the 2nd floor, so I thought, "I'll just walk up."
These were all small steps that were kind of accidental but, since I was changing slowly, it was really easy.
Q: Before your lifestyle change you told me you were smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. What did you do to cut back?
A: My company changed. I went from a group of people who smoked all the time to people who didn't smoke at all. At work everyone was always running downstairs for cigarette breaks. At school, no one was smoking, so I would just wait until later. But since my days were so long, later would be when I got home at 10:00 or 11:00 pm. When I focused on when I was actually smoking I realized that I was smoking a lot, but not really enjoying any of the cigarettes. I smoked after meals and ran back and forth for smoke breaks during work, so I starting thinking stuff like-I don't really need to smoke a cigarette after breakfast, why don't I just wait until I can actually enjoy it. I also realized I was smoking a lot in the car, so I thought-maybe if I walk more I'll smoke less. Sure enough, it worked. Instead of smoking 20 cigarettes a day, I'm down to two. I slowly weaned myself off of smoking, making realistic goals that worked for me instead of adhering to some strict zero tolerance plan. That seems to be key in making life changes that last. Also, it's important to surround yourself with people living the way you want to live if you really want to make successful lifestyle changes.