Thrive by IU Health

June 02, 2021

Nurse down 75 pounds: ‘Self-care is vital, especially during a pandemic’

IU Health University Hospital

Nurse down 75 pounds: ‘Self-care is vital, especially during a pandemic’

As a progressive critical care nurse, Kristy Fields sees many patients treated for symptoms stemming from being overweight. The influence helped put her on a path to better health.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

High blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, arthritis – Kristy Fields knows the risks of obesity. She experiences it through her family’s history and through medical progressive care patients at IU Health University Hospital.

“Self-care if vital for everyone, especially during a pandemic,” said Fields, who celebrated her 40th birthday this month. In a COVID-19 Mental Health and Wellness survey by the American Nurses Foundation, some participants indicated they felt they had more trouble sleeping, were overeating, or had poor appetites as a result of the pandemic. Over half of the respondents said they felt overwhelmed and nearly half indicated they were anxious and unable to relax.

For Fields, her decision to make healthier choices started in September of 2019. In a matter of months she lost 75 pounds and 100 inches. She wanted to focus on what she could control in her life.

“I was overweight and not living an active life. I commuted for two hours and I stopped for a lot of fast food on the way to work. The shifts were busy and I didn’t feel like I was able to maintain a proper diet,” said Fields, who is married to Jason Fields, and the mother of two daughters, Taylor, 12 and Ava, 10. A graduate of Rochester High School, she was active in softball, volleyball, and basketball and pursued nursing at the University of Indianapolis on a softball scholarship. She started at IU Heath in 2004 and serves as shift coordinator.

Fields family photo

“When I started my health journey I had no clue where it would take me in my life mentally, physically, and emotionally. I was looking to get healthy and break the chains of obesity that have plagued my family for several generations,” said Fields. “I was living the time of my life in college with friends and family. Then at the age of 24, this brave nursing student became a patient,” said Fields. She had open-heart surgery to repair a mitral valve and also had back surgery.

“I had always been an energetic person but then after I started my career, marriage and motherhood, I was sitting on the sidelines,” said Fields. “I didn’t want my girls to see that. I wanted them to see that health is important to me.”

She started her journey laser focused on nutrition, fueling her body with small meals throughout the day. She relied on a network of like-minded people to encourage her. Meals were planned in advance and included healthy alternatives. For instance, if she prepared spaghetti, she would use vegetable-based zoodles, rather than pasta.

“The key was to plan ahead and stop eating out. If I did eat out I looked at the menu in advance to plan what I would eat so I wasn’t in the position to make a bad choice,” said Fields. She also worked on getting proper sleep, refraining from soda, and instead increasing her water intake. At work, she takes the stairs and also tries to increase her activity when she’s at home.

“I don’t tell myself I’m ‘dieting.’ Instead, I prefer to look at it as the things I need to do to be healthy,” said Fields. “You need to ask yourself why you are doing this. For me the answer was ‘my kids.’ I want to make memories rather than sit on the sidelines.”