Flexibility, friends, food choices – keys to one RN’s active lifestyle

TMC nurse Karina Bechtold hiking in Sabino Canyon on her day off.

TMC nurse Karina Bechtold hiking in Sabino Canyon on her day off.

When Karina Bechtold was a university student working as a fitness instructor she didn’t understand how people weren’t able to prioritize their lives to make sure they had an active, healthy lifestyle.

Admittedly, the Float Pool nurse had always had a side fun job that focused on fitness. She had an edge to staying active, but still, couldn’t anyone find the time they needed to work out?

“I didn’t get it when I was a college student,” said Bechtold, a five-year RN at TMC. “Why would people give up the workout?”

Then the realities of life set in – a nursing career, a husband, a house and then a baby.

“Fitness is definitely a priority, but I’ve had to change my ideas,” she said. Now she has to be flexible, surround herself with active friends and be more mindful of her eating.

The 28-year-old no longer has the luxury of spending an hour or more at the gym every day. Instead, she’s committed to doing something active on her four days off each week.

Some days it means getting up early before her husband heads off to work. He can watch their 15-month-old son while she spends 45 minutes on the treadmill. “Sometimes the baby is banging on the door the whole time,” said Bechtold, who is also in graduate school to become a doctor of nursing practice.

Other times, it might be a hike up Tumamoc Hill with the now 21-pound baby on her back. “We go slowly, he enjoys the view and my husband runs ahead.” As a nurse and a mom, flexibility is a key to healthy living.

“You have to do whatever works,” she said. “Our schedules fluctuate from week to week, even day to day.” It helps, too, to have a diverse group of workout buddies whom she calls on for exercise dates – some for hiking, some for morning workouts, others for afternoon exercise. “Everyone has friends to go to lunch with, I have friends I can exercise with,” she said, “I have options depending on what my week might look like.”

She has a couple nurses in this group because they also have crazy schedules. “I might know that one of my friends has tomorrow off, too, and could be up for a hike at 2 in the afternoon.”

Exercise is only part of the health equation. Bechtold is also mindful of her eating. “I try to make a good decision at every meal, every day,” she said.

For example, she prefers not to drink her calories and instead water is her drink of choice. “If you don’t get to the exercise, at least you’ve eaten well.”

Bechtold has had to change her mind set with her changing lifestyle, but she’s still committed to her health and she keeps a positive focus. “You don’t want to beat yourself up. If things didn’t work out today, there’s always tomorrow.”

Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461