Four nurses at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J., lost a combined 207 pounds in the five months leading up to their appearance on the daytime TV show “The Revolution.”
Nursing has one of the highest obesity rates of any profession, and the show was a life-changing experience not only for the nurses chosen to appear on the show but for many of the more than 800 employees at Cooper who shed nearly 4,000 pounds in a hospitalwide weight-loss effort.
After watching the show, which aired April 4 on ABC, the featured ladies wanted to make something clear: It wasnt as easy as it looked.
“We worked out really hard,” said Delia Larson, RN, BSN, who specializes in obstetrics and womens health. “They just showed a couple of snips here and there of us working out. But we really busted our butts in the gym. We were there two to three hours some days. I dont think that enough emphasis was placed on how hard we really worked.”
Not that Larson and her colleagues are complaining about having gone through the rigorous exercise program that accompanied the change to their eating habits. In fact, ICU nurse Ebony Marinnie, RN, is nothing short of grateful.
Marinnie lost 61 pounds before the shows March 21 taping and has continued to shed weight. A former high school basketball standout who played one season in college at Rutgers-Camden, she has regained her athletic drive and lean body.
A single mother of a 2-year-old daughter, Marinnie said she also has regained a sense of self-worth after ending a rocky relationship.
“Its a blessing,” Marinnie said. “I am humbled by this experience. I have people from Arizona to Florida, friends of mine, who are inspired by this.
“From women who have gone through a tumultuous relationship that has left them broken — I have friends who can relate to me on that and have been able to understand their worth again.”
Marinnie lost the most weight of the four leading up to the show, but one pound behind was ICU nurse Stephanie Jennings, who lost 60 pounds, followed by ICU nurse Christina Fox (49 pounds) and Larson (37 pounds).
As explained on the show, one of the reasons nurses are so susceptible to obesity is because grateful patients and their families regularly reward them with food. Larson recalled a perfect example.
“We were taping one day and a visitor walked through the main lobby with two boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. And I was like, ‘Look, right there, I bet you theyre going right to the nurses station,” she said with a laugh.
“We work very long hours, we dont eat or drink properly, we dont take breaks, we do very little to take care of ourselves because we take care of everyone else, and then on top of that the emotional trauma that we endure in one typical workday, its the perfect storm for obesity,” she said.
Senior Vice President for Patient Care Services and CNO Dianne Charsha, RN, MSN, NPP-BC, had been contacted by the producer of “The Revolution” and asked if she thought Cooper nurses would be interested in taking part. Charsha is glad she said yes.
“I was very excited to participate in the project because I knew we could help change some lives and change some programs here within Cooper to provide a healthier atmosphere and a healthier culture around the individuals,” she said. “Its a rare opportunity. Im just grateful we had the opportunity to participate.”
In one scene, the four nurses are brought to a formerly bleak break room that had been transformed by the shows hosts, Ty Pennington and Jennifer Ashton, MD, into a bright “tranquility room,” complete with reclining chairs, plants and other amenities for the nurses and staff. The show also included a visit to the employee cafeteria by celebrity chef Devin Alexander of TVs “The Biggest Loser.”
But the greatest benefit of having “The Revolution” at Cooper may have been the bonding that occurred as staff members supported each others weight-loss efforts.
“Any opportunity like this brings the team together,” Charsha said. “And whenever the team comes together, strengths are built within that team. When teams work smoothly together in a unified fashion, patients get the benefit of that, as well as the staff.”
One benefit for nurses who have lost weight is being able to practice what they preach.
“We are trained to educate people on health and disease prevention,” Marinnie said. “How do I go up to this overweight person and say, ‘Hey honey, you really need to lose weight because heart disease and diabetes kill? Because [the patient is] going to look at me and say, ‘Heart disease and diabetes kill? Have you looked at yourself lately? That is the hypocritical part of what we do. I am not a hypocrite. I can tell you exactly what it takes to lose weight. I can share that with my patients.”
Tom Clegg is a freelance writer.