1. Donnelly, Gloria F. PhD, RN, FAAN

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Stop making excuses!! Technological gadgets will put you squarely on the path to self-monitoring, relaxation, fitness, well-being, and image improvement. I know how busy you are, working in stressful healthcare environments; caring for family; maintaining loving relationships; and managing your car, computer, and all of the other tech tools that enrich our lives. However, there is mounting evidence that tracking your own health data, for example, steps walked, calories consumed, and blood pressure at rest and during exercise, will motivate you to improve your overall health status.1

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Let's begin with fitness gadgetry. You can now have a pair of "smart" customizable Nike walking/running shoes in which you can insert a chip that connects wirelessly to your iPod. Not only does this Nike and iPod system supply your most motivational music but it also summarizes and uploads your workout data: time, distance, and calories burned, that is, you can decide instantly if eating that cinnamon bun is worth the 3-mile run that will burn those calories. If you are a swimmer instead of a walker, there is a wireless, waterproof watch that can also track your personal, health metrics. It is now possible to easily and simply track your personal health metrics over time to determine improvement patterns and remove barriers to success.


There are many methods of weight loss; the bottom line, however, is burning more calories than you consume. And there are gadgets to help. Just Google the term "calorie tracker" and you will find products that make counting calories easier than walking in those smart shoes. There are huge databases of foods and their caloric value available on a variety of purse-sized trackers. Just enter the data, summarize your intake, and adjust accordingly. There is a fitness application for the iPod that tells you how much you need to exercise to burn what you have consumed. And there are wireless super scales that measure pounds and percentage of body and visceral fat, bone, and muscle mass and then transport the data wirelessly to your computer for tracking over time. And for your iPod or iPhone, there are applications that track blood pressure and pulse rate and enable you to send data to your health provider.


The Greek philosopher Socrates observed, "The unexamined life is not worth living." Were he alive today, he might have added, "The examined life leads to healthy living." Think of all the patient care data we are obliged to collect, report, and improve upon: infection rates, falls, pain management incidents, and other adverse events. Why not apply this process to our own lives. There is plenty of help out there to enhance our success. So, put on your acupressure headband that shoots puffs of aromatherapy and emits sounds of the sea. Consider that $900 wrist watch that claims to create energy patterns to keep you calm in the face of daily stress-but most of all, join the personal metrics movement to improve your health. Technology is now giving us simple, inexpensive tools to track our health. Self-observation is at the heart of self-care. I cannot think of a better self-care strategy for nurses!!


Gloria F. Donnelly, PhD, RN, FAAN






1. Popp J. Living by the numbers. Wired. 2009:80-126. [Context Link]