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Hanging In The Balance

Hanging In The Balance

Lynda StoodleyA perfect harmony of team sports, good nutrition and gym time is the ticket to the healthiest of lifestyles for Lynda Stoodley, MSN, NP-C, cardiothoracic surgery nurse practitioner at Torrance Memorial Medical Center. Stoodley plays on three women's soccer teams weekly, in addition to working full-time at Torrance Memorial, raising a 16-year-old daughter and studying as a full-time doctoral student.

Stoodley landed her job as a registered nurse (RN) at Torrance Memorial directly after her college graduation and has happily stayed for 23 years. Now, as a cardiothoracic surgery nurse practitioner, Stoodley's main role is coordination of care for all cardiothoracic surgery patients throughout their hospitaliza­tion. (Cardiothoracic surgery is the surgical treatment of health problems of organs in the chest, mainly the heart and lungs.) This job entails collaborating with many physi­cians, such as surgeons, cardiologists, hospi­talists and pulmonologists, and the nursing staff. She also functions as a resource, educa­tor and mentor for the nursing staff.

Organization and balance are the keys to success for Stoodley-at work and outside of Torrance Memorial. "I am passionate about improving patient care and outcomes and advancing nursing practice. My role allows me to do both," says Stoodley.

PULSE: Have you always lived such an active and healthy lifestyle?

Lynda Stoodley (LS): Since I was a child, I have always played some type of competitive sport, but I have not always been healthy. In my teens and early 20s, I smoked cigarettes, but once I became a nurse, I quit. I took care of many patients who were on ventilators and had emphysema and knew I did not want to end up the same way. I also felt like a hypocrite, teaching patients about the dan­gers of smoking while I was not taking my own advice. How could I be a credible edu­cator/RN? I believe I have a responsibility to my patients to educate them and assist them to the optimal level of health regardless of their situation. I could not expect my patients to do something that I was not doing, which was to take care of yourself, lead a healthy lifestyle and reduce any risk factors that you may have. When I started as a RN 23 years ago, I was very overweight. Within the first year of working, I lost nearly 50 pounds by dieting and exercising. I have never gained it back, because I have remained extremely active and follow a pretty healthy diet.

PULSE: What is your workout routine now?

LS: It is varied. Currently I play on three women's soccer teams: one indoor game one night a week (one-hour games) and two outdoor games a week on Sundays (90-minute games each). I play in a number of soccer tournaments every year, including our annual tournament in Las Vegas in April. I just finished the Torrance Memorial Medical Center PIYO class one night a week, and I am starting a boot camp workout two nights a week. I also try to jog one or two times a week. When soccer season breaks, I go to the gym to work on my strength training.

PULSE: How do you balance a full work schedule and a family along with a serious workout regimen?

LS: I am also a full-time doctoral student! I am getting a doctoral degree in nursing, so between work, raising my daughter and school, I really have to balance everything. With my schedule, I need to stay extremely organized. All of my responsibilities are extremely important to me, but I find if I am not exercising, especially playing soccer, I am more fatigued and stressed. I just do not feel as well when I am not exercising. Soccer definitely helps me stay balanced. I do wish I could exercise more, but I realize I only have so much time, and raising my daughter and school need my time and attention, too.

PULSE: What is your nutrition program like?

LS: My diet consists of mostly lower-fat foods. The key to nutrition is moderation. If higher-fat foods are eaten excessively one day, increase the workout and eat lower-calo­rie foods the next day. It is all about balance.

PULSE: How do you creatively keep your teenage daughter interested in exercise and healthy eating?

LS: I have been talking to my daughter about healthy eating and exercising since she was a baby. I always come from the perspective of health, not body size or weight. I have been very cognizant about the body image distortions girls may have, so I have taught her to eat healthy foods and that everything is about moderation. You never want to say, "Never eat this food or that food," as human nature will want you to eat it all the time. Everything is okay in moderation. As far as exercise, I have been a role model for my daughter in this area and stressed the importance of it. She also played many sports growing up.

PULSE: Do you have any tips for busy moth­ers and fathers who feel they do not have time to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

LS: You cannot just take care of your children, spouses, etc. To be the most effective par­ent, take some time for yourself too. Start slow, with five minutes a day of walking, and gradually increase your time. Choose some­thing you love to do, and then it is not hard to make time to do it, because you enjoy it. You will feel better if exercise is added to your life. It is a great stress reliever.

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