Having been a primary care physician for over 15 years now, I still get asked a lot of questions about how people can really learn to feel well. I also believe that the way we feel is foundational to our wellbeing.So I decided to take this opportunity to revisit some important issues that I feel every woman needs to pay attention to in order to enhance her overall wellbeing.So here we go!1. I DON’T LIKE DIETS, WHAT ELSE CAN I DO TO LOSE WEIGHT?A lot of what I counsel my patients and clients on is that rather than focus on a diet, look at incorporating sustainable lifestyle changes that lead to healthy eating. A frequent down side to diets is that not only are they usually are temporary and some diets on the market may restrict your intake of calories so rigidly, that you may actually look like your losing weight but what is happening is that you are losing muscle and not fat! When you get off the diet, you gain all the weight back. So as part of adapting long term lifestyle changes look at ways that you can adapt ideas to include more healthy recipes.2. I’M GOING THROUGH MENOPAUSE AND MY DOCTOR WILL NOT PRESCRIBE HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY. WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?This was a question that is a hot topic around the ‘water cooler’ and was asked a lot by my female patients. Especially after a lot of them had to be suddenly taken off their Premarin® after the results of the ‘Women’s Health Study’ in 2002 showed an increase in heart attacks, strokes and blood clots for women who had been on hormone replacement therapy for a long period of time.The main reason that a lot of women may seek medical attention during menopause is due to the bothersome symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness or mood swings that affect her overall wellbeing. I usually recommend that women start preparing for menopause and beyond in her younger years. This is why women’s health is an issue that is very dear to my heart. For those women who may require hormone replacement therapy there are bioidentical hormones. I would recommend these for as short a period of time as possible whilst emphasizing lifestyle modifications such as healthy eating and health fitness.3. I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO EXERCISE WHAT IS THE BEST KIND OF EXERCISE- CARDIO OR RESISTANCE TRAINING?Here’s what I think- there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question. It really depends on what your overall fitness goals are and also what stage of life you are in. For instance being a woman over 40 myself at this stage of life, I am focusing on resistance training in order to gain muscle mass and strengthen my bones in order to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. There are 5 components of health fitness, but the two main types that we commonly focus on is cardio and strength (or resistance training). I usually recommend alternating cardio days with resistance days. It’s a great idea to review fitness articles to keep you up to date on creative ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily life.4. I HAVE A FAMILY HISTORY OF HEART DISEASE WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR TO MAKE SURE I AM HEART HEALTHY?I get really passionate about the answer to this question, because there has been a myth out there that due to the fact that the female hormone estrogen helps to protect us against heart disease and so a woman we do not need to be worried about heart attacks. Women’s heart health is an issue that requires that we as women be proactive in our own health and wellbeing. Do not discount any worrisome symptoms as the persistent heartburn may not just be heartburn. And if you do go to see your physician and it gets brushed off as just ‘stress’, then please seek a second opinion! As women we are gifted with an ‘inner knowingness’ and I encourage you to begin to listen to that voice as your guide toward total wellbeing.5. I WORK IN A VERY STRESSFUL ENVIRONMENT, WHAT CAN I DO TO REDUCE MY STRESS LEVEL?
Granted stress is inevitable in our lives. However, it is more important how we relate to and handle stress. Stress and stress related issues, in my estimation are responsible for close to 80 % of visits to a physician’s office. And I can say that professional women especially tend to have a higher burden of stress related not only to work but also other competing dynamics such as child rearing, relationships and societal expectations and demands to name but a few. There are healthy ways we can adapt to protect our emotional health. In her book, ‘Anatomy of the Spirit’ Caroline Myss made a very powerful statement that ‘our biography becomes our biology’. It points to the power that our emotions have to color not only our moods but also our physical bodies. Guard your thoughts and with that you will guard the temple of your soul-the physical self.Next issue, I’ll review things we need to do for our family members and then simple steps you can take immediately to improve health and wellbeing.