Ugh. Hearing the word night shift alone makes me cringe. Anyone else despise night shift as much as me? A lot of you have written to me asking how I handle working night shift as a nurse in terms of eating and working out. Well, the answer is, I DON’T. Ha, kidding. Well, kind of. It is a real struggle for me. Luckily, I rarely work nights anymore however I know how hard it can be to stay on track in terms of eating healthy and keeping up with your workouts. However, it is possible! So, here’s the run down of how I go about working them.
Okay, let’s talk about food first. When I work nights, I am always tempted to eat everything in site. In my mind if I keep eating then I will stay awake? I think this is just a cruel trick your mind plays on you–I don’t think it actually helps. Okay, but on a serious note! Since I count macros, I stick to the same macros throughout nightshift as I do during days (even if you don’t count macros…keep reading). HOWEVER! The first night shift can be tricky since you are awake during the day prior to going in. So my approach is this. I sleep in as late as I can during the day (maybe until 10am? I am horrible at sleeping in)! Wake up, go do a fasted workout, then I come home and eat. By this time it’s around lunch time so I’ll eat, and then if I have errands to run, laundry to do, emails to answer…this is when I do all that. Then, around 2pm I will try to go back to sleep until I have to wake up for work. This way, I have gotten in my workout for the day, gotten some things done on my to-do list, and gotten a few more hours of sleep before going into work. This also guarantees that I’m not just eating all day before being awake all night and eating my normal amount. LOL.
After this first day/night is out of the way, it’s pretty much smooth sailing from there. Well, as smooth as it can be considering its night shift. The rest of the shifts, I am sleeping through the entire day so I then just eat my normal macros during the nights. I will say however, if you count macros, don’t count macros, it doesn’t matter! The best way to approach it (IMO) is to just pack the snacks/food that you’re going to eat. If you pack healthy, and fulfilling options you won’t be as likely to get off track. Also, allow yourself some slack! Your schedule gets f*cked up when you work nights, and it sucks. So if you are genuinely hungry, eat. I used to be like, well I already ate “X” amount during the day so I really shouldn’t be eating more. But working nights is not normal for your body, so you have to do what you can to cope/make it work for you! Just don’t go crazy =)
Okay, so in terms of working out. I honestly prefer to workout right when I get off of work. I like doing this because it’s nice to just get it over with and it just makes things easier. For example, if I workout right when I get home then as soon as it’s done I can shower, eat, and sleep–I don’t have to worry about waking up before work that night with enough time to workout prior to going back in. Plus, if I workout after I sleep then that requires two showers! Like, when I first get off of work, before I get into bed I NEED to shower (I’m not getting into bed with god knows what germs are on me from work). And so if I do this, then I will have to shower again after I wake up and workout later in the day. You know? So yeah, it just makes things a lot easier to workout right when I get home. Of course there are days that I’m just too exhausted and that just cant happen. BUT, that is the ideal situation.
Also, I realize that not everyone works their night shifts in a row, but I still think that a lot of these tips apply! If I work nights I like working them back to back because it keeps my routine more “normal.” However, if I just work one night, I still stick to my same eating approach but I usually workout after I sleep. Since I’m not rushed to go back in that following night, I don’t mind getting some rest and then working out later.
For those of you that work nights, was this helpful? Or what are some approaches you guys have? xx