Women’s Health Week: Taking Control of Your Health

A woman’s health is her capital

-Harriet Beecher Stowe

The business of our (women’s) health is expansive and sometimes confusing.  There is no shortage of information; however, the information is frequently contradictive.  One reason the message, although factual, is confusing is that we receive it at different ages and at various stages in our life. Sometimes the information is new while other times, you feel like, you’ve been there done that. 

A 20-year-old’s conversation with her gynecologist is not the same as a 30, 50, or 60-year-old.  Questions, conversations, and needs are not the same. My chat with my MD’s aren’t even close to my 29-year-old daughter’s discussion with her doctors.

So when I learned that National Women’s Health Week was this week (May 13th – 19th), I felt the need to share the info with you.

By the time, I break down all the facts, the week will be over. Instead of doing that, I am providing the link here for you.

Make it a priority this week or weekend to visit the website of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.  Read the article, What steps can you take for better health?

Once you visit the website, select your age group and read the post to learn what you can do daily to maintain good health, conversations to have with your doctor, and a helpful list of test to ask your physician about.

An important topic to also review with your doctor is nutrition.  Most general practitioners are not nutritionists, but they should be able to refer you to one.

If you follow this blog, you know that October last year, I decided to convert to a Vegan lifestyle.

My recent blood test was mostly normal except my cholesterol was slightly high.  I am hoping the doctor, a nutritionist, and some research (on my part) will help me to make sense of this surprise.  My high cholesterol could be hereditary, my age, or perhaps a problem with my diet.  I don’t know yet.

Recently I read a blurb that suggested a possible relationship between gluten and high cholesterol, but I am not ready to jump on that bandwagon yet.  I need to do my research. Remember, anyone can publish anything on the net.  Do your research.

If you or someone you love suffer from high cholesterol, heart disease, or related, I urge you to also visit the sites below.  Doctors are trained professionals but I am also a firm believer in empowering one’s self.   The more informed you are about your health, the better you are able to communicate with your doctor, which will result in you making well-informed decisions about your health.

American Heart Association

Cardio Smart American College of Cardiology Foundation

FH Foundation (Familial hypercholesterolemia)

Mended Hearts

Women Heart Foundation

Wellness includes your physical health. Throughout our days, weeks, months, etc…, we play multiple roles.  Please don’t allow your busy schedule to validate neglecting your health.  Cross an item or two off of your to-do list and add your health to the top of your list. You matter and your health matters most.

 

 

 

 

 


Small Change Net Big Results

While browsing the frozen section of the grocery store for my son for real ice cream as opposed to my liking for natural homemade natural ice cream, I stumbled on, a blast from my past.  🙂

At age 23 Chunky Monkey was my prescribed best friend! Who doesn’t know about Ben & Jerry’s delicious, unorthodox, and addictive flavored ice cream!  I was pregnant with my daughter and was under doctor’s orders to gain weight, which was an enormous challenge for me.  My Obstetrician, Dr. Chong, told me that I was too skinny.  Dr. Chong wrapped his child-sized hand completely around my upper arm and pointed to my branch like boney limbs,

“You need to eat.!  You too skinny!”

Since supersized servings of collard greens weren’t doing the trick, I resorted to fudge sundaes during the daytime at work and Chunky Monkey ice cream at night.  :).  I still didn’t gain weight but continued on with my love for the fatty delectable dessert.

Until recently, when I saw my old treat in the freezer, I had forgotten all about it.  I was curious about the nutritional label and had to sneak a peek at the label.  Back then, I don’t think I noticed food labels. My girl Oprah says it best.  “When you know better, you do better.”  She’s right.

Twenty-nine years later, I finally read the jaw-dropping label. Hoooooly Moly!!

28 grams of sugar X  4  servings is 112 grams of sugar!!!!

300 calories per servings X  4 servings = 1,200 calories!!

300 grams of fat per servings X 4 servings – 112 grams of fat!!!

I’m dying thinking about this… mouth wide open…. thinking about how many times I ate a full pint and what the contents were doing to my body.  It makes me wanna barf.  Ugh!

Looking at me then, I appeared to be the epitome of health, and for the most part, I was healthy, or so I think.  However, my metabolism was high, my body processed the food quickly and at almost 5’9, I weighed 125-130 pounds.   Surely had I continued to eat Chunky Money at this pace with a few other bad food habits, I was on my way to being overweight and dealing with health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease and more.

Back then, even though I overindulged in sugary treats like this, I also balanced out my diet with daily servings of fruits and vegetables.   A high metabolism and good genetics kept me slim and trim, and I did not have any health issues. But the fact is, my diet exceeded the daily recommendation for… well. Everything.

Today I thank God for putting me on a path to a better place where I learned to make smarter choices about my health and well-being.

Too frequently though many people wait until a medical condition dictates a lifestyle change.  Particularly women.  Women of color.

In 2014, the CDC (Center For Disease Control and Prevention) reported the leading causes of death in ALL black females ALL ages were:

Heart disease – 23.2%

Cancer – 22.5%

Stroke – 6.2%

Diabetes – 4.6%

Chronic lower respiratory disease – 3.2%

Alzheimer’s disease – 3.1%

Unintentional injuries – 3.0%

Kidney disease – 2.0%

Septicemia – 2.3%

Hypertension – 1.9%

Heart disease (22.3%) and cancer (21.6%) remained at the top of the list for ALL females, ALL ages.

When you consider the fact that lifestyle behaviors can significantly reduce women’s risk factors for these illnesses it is disturbing.

If you have prediabetes, research shows that losing 5%-7% of your body weight and getting at least 150 minutes each week of physical activity like brisk walking can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.

(CDC)

Why do women wait until a doctor tells them that a lifestyle change is in order?  If we learn to listen to our body, it usually sends signals by responding to the food we eat, the beverages we drink, and other behaviors. If you walk up a flight of stairs and you are out of breath, that means something.  When was the last time you had an annual check up?

Take a pledge to live a healthier lifestyle.  Even better, commit to a better lifestyle with a family member, a friend, or a colleague. Try a new recipe, join or start a walking club, take a yoga class, take a strength training class, or something else, just get busy moving.   Please!

Oh and… if you’re gonna get down with Ben & Jerry’s, remember portion control or better yet, try making your own healthy chocolate ice creamAvocado Ice Cream or a quick frozen strawberry yogurt. Making your own is healthier and more fun.

Making small changes in your life can net significant health benefits. Instead of attacking your health with major changes, start with minor changes like drinking more water and less juice or soda, reducing the amount of sugar you put in your coffee or substituting one high-fat food item with a lower fat food item. Take the stairs instead of escalators and elevators or do jumping jacks or pushups during commercials of your favorite TV show.  Over time, you will experience big gains. Whatever you do, don’t give up on yourself because I won’t give up on you.

Grad school is slowing my posts, but I’m still here.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Smooches!  🙂


4 Tips for Finding Balance, Peace and Success

frog

Are you a “Broke Brand” struggling to find balance in your life?   Chances are you might be a BB and you are unaware of your status or are too busy immersed in your daily routine to realize it.

A self-described “former Broke Brand,” Adrienne Graham wrote an informative piece on Finding Balance, Peace and Success.  I had to share this with you and hope that it does help you in some way.

4 Tips for Finding Balance, Peace and Success.

Enjoy!


How To Stay Fit And Motivated

pose2

Posing in the backyard after the run.

A great way to stay fit, have fun, and to meet new people is to take part in local sporting events.  I find events by talking to other fitness fanatics and from one of my favorite sites, Active.

Yesterday, I participated in Atlantic City’s first ever, Insane Inflatable 5K.

Inflatable what?  I know!  Lol!!   I thought the same.  But once I visited the website, back in March, I knew I had to do this crazy looking event. You can see pics of yesterday’s run here.

start

I took this picture just before the start.  The folks at the top are event organizers getting us all pumped up.

Climbing, crawling, bouncing, running, sliding up, down, under and through ginormous inflatables is something I never imagined myself doing.  But it was worth every aching muscle that I feel this morning! :0)

Crazy-Air

Look at the size of this baby! Lol!!

I do not have my own pics because I ended up running solo because hubby and B’Dazzle were still sleeping when I left the house.  Next year, the entire family is participating!  And yes, I already put them on notice.  Our son will love it; I am not certain about hubby, but it is a perfect family “active” event.  Lol!   Oh… it’s definitely ON for next year.

Though I ran solo, I really did not feel alone.  Along the course, I met an awesome 10-year old asthmatic that kicked butt!  He didn’t allow his asthma to stop him as he led the pack of the 9 o’clock wave half way through the course.   I told him that he rocked.  His reply, “You too!”

One group of women I met drove nearly two-hours for the challenge.  The course was set up at an old airport.  Parts of the course were paved, other sections included two-foot high weeds; we laughed at the “battlefield” and dodged potholes through most of the run.

I have always lacked a sense of direction and was thankful to run through an insane maze following some girl.  We ran through only to find that we were at the start of the maze.  Sigh! Back in again. Of course, I ran right on her heels.  I really thought we were running in circles, but she got us through… I thanked her!  Lol!

I got lost in this for sure!

This is where we got lost!   Image courtesy of Inflatable.com

This morning, I feel like I weight trained yesterday.  My hamstrings, quads, and shoulders are sore.  No longer do I feel guilty about not hitting the gym yesterday.

With your doctor’s blessings, this is an ideal way to get started.  Just do it!  The run is not timed.  There are no losers.  Everyone wins by showing up and having fun.

I am asked all the time about how I stay on course to stay fit.  It’s pretty simple, I do everything on this list:

  1. My number one goal is to have fun. Be silly and laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself so serious.
  2. Be open-minded to try something new.  There are many ways to      exercise, dabble in something completely different. This inflatable run was different for me.
  3. Seek new challenges and set new goals.  Ex: A mud run is on my to-do list. Confidence grows steadily with accomplishments.
  4. Stay away from the scale; it is not an accurate measurement of your overall fitness level.
  5. Be aware of what you eat and drink. Read labels! Drink water!
  6. Set your mind to try new recipes. I eat foods today that I did not know existed a few years ago. I continue to add new healthier foods to my diet and subtract foods that I discover are unhealthy.
  7. Connect (In person or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc..) with other fitness fanatics. We will encourage and inspire you and help to keep you motivated.
  8. Educate yourself.  Read about nutrition and fitness every opportunity you get. The social networks are saturated with fitness guru’s who are eager to share what they know.  Of course, everything you read is not true or accurate, so do your research. Right now by favorites are bodybuilding.com and fitnessrx for women.  I follow a few good boards on Pinterest; you can follow me there at Lexa82.
  9. Don’t give up.  If something does not work for you, move on.
  10. Remember, there is no such thing as perfection.  Don’t compare your body to someone else’s. Just work to be YOUR best.
  11. Don’t be afraid to participate in an event by yourself. You will make new self discoveries and gain lots self-confidence.

After the run and later in the afternoon, we (hubby and B’Dazzle) met other family and friends at a free outdoor concert at Gardner’s Basin in Atlantic City. The weather was beautiful! I sat in my beach chair, chilled, ate, drank two well-earned margaritas, danced to a DJ and to the sounds of S.O.S. Band. Remember them?

 post workout meanPost workout meal at 10:30 a.m. — Leftover broiled chicken breast and freshly sautéed broccoli.  Mmm… See all that minced garlic? I Love it!!

Personally for me, eating well and exercising makes me feel amazingly well. Increased energy, better productivity, and an overall happier mental and physical state of being are some of the benefits of living a healthier lifestyle.

49 feels way better than I ever thought possible!

I cannot stress the importance of making fun a part of your fitness regimen. This is how I do it!

Happy Sunday and enjoy the day!  :0)