A woman is walking around the lobby of a campus building.

UA Dean of Nursing Sets Example for Healthy Lifestyle

By Melissa Parker

A woman is walking around the lobby of a campus building
Dr. Prevost walks a lap around the Capstone College of Nursing

Dr. Suzanne Prevost, dean of UA’s Capstone College of Nursing, spends much of her lengthy workdays sitting down, whether in a meeting or at her desk. Add that to a very busy schedule, and she used to find herself making far too many quick and unhealthy food choices.

Prevost spent year after year starting a diet program, stalling after a few months, losing steam, then giving up.

Sound familiar? It’s safe to say, many of us can relate.

But last year, Prevost knew her weight and overall wellness wasn’t where it needed to be and it was past time to make a permanent change.

“Particularly in my job, I think I have a responsibility to be as healthy as possible,” she said. “If I’m living an unhealthy life, that’s not being a very good role model for student nurses and our patients.”

So after an especially stressful semester last spring, Prevost came across a few ways to finally get past her weight loss plateau, and to make lasting improvement to her health.

One of the first things she did was sign up for an online wellness program, which helped change her eating patterns. The program, called Noom, requires members to enter their weight and every item they eat, every single day.

“I think the most helpful thing about it, for me, is the conscientiousness of having to write down everything you eat,” Prevost said. “I’m a nurse, so I know what foods are healthy, but when I get busy, I don’t pay attention. So being attentive and conscious about what I’m putting in my mouth has helped me.”

Another factor in her healthy lifestyle success has been setting for herself realistic exercise goals.

“Last summer, I was trying to do what everyone recommends with trying to get 10,000 steps a day,” Prevost said. “Then I came across a research study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, which demonstrated that getting 7,500 steps a day has the same health benefit as getting 10,000. That saves me about 20 minutes per day.”

So Prevost switched from a goal she was struggling to attain, to focusing on a more achievable goal. And that has helped her keep momentum and stay on track.

“With my work schedule, I don’t really have time to go to the gym,” Prevost said. “But several times a day, I’ll walk a lap around the school, and I use the treadmill at home in the evenings.”

For others looking to get healthy, Prevost, who’s lost 25 pounds, says her number one tip is to keep track of food intake and exercise.

“Having a goal, in terms of how much you’re going to eat and exercise, is very important,” Prevost said. “And it’s important not only to stick to that goal, but to also write it down every day so that you have a visual reference that you are achieving your goal.”

Prevost also suggests faculty and staff take advantage of UA’s resources, particularly the WellBama program, in which she has long been a participant.

“The biggest encouragement I would give to other faculty and staff is to be actively engaged in the WellBama program,” said Prevost. “It’s an excellent program in terms of the various components it has, including the free health screening and educational classes.”