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Nurturing Your Inner Super Hero

Did you know there was a week devoted to shining a light on Women’s Health?  National Women’s Health Week starts on Mother’s Day, May 8th and runs through the 14th.   It’s a week dedicated towards educating women on the steps they can take to improve their mental and physical health.  What a great way to honor yourself and your mother – by taking care of your health!

It’s a topic I feel very strongly about writing about.  So often as women our mental health can be linked to our physical health.  A low self-esteem can come from not looking or feeling like what we see in the movies or the tabloids.  The pressure to be rail thin and go full tilt through life is a lot to live up to.  Being the champion of everyone else’s needs can make you lose perspective.

I suppose I bought into the hype – living my life as large as I could, working up to 70 hours a week at points.  Not exercising and not eating properly, and crashing when time would allow.  I suspect there are many of us out there like that, and on top of their own schedules they have their families to think about as well.

But then my very carefully constructed house of cards collapsed and I found out I was sick. I had a non-malignant brain tumor that was removed a year ago, but the road to recovery has been long and hard.  I can’t go full tilt.  I have medications that make me bloated.  In short all the external filters that told me I was a good woman have all flown right out the window.  And frankly that’s ok.

I’ve replaced my old ideas of what made a good woman with a whole new set of rules.  Take time to look after yourself – you can’t help others if you can’t help yourself.  I got a free pass this time and it was a wake-up call to take myself a little more seriously and evaluate what is really important.

My wish for everyone this National Women’s Health Week is to educate yourselves when it comes to overall health.  We are all trying to do the right thing with exercise and diet, but is that enough?  Did you know that the leading killers in women are heart disease, cancer, and stroke respectively?  Do you know your risk factors or what to do if you think you might be in danger?

This month, take the time to visit your doctor – get a check-up and get educated about these diseases and where you might stand.  Make sure you are ok by realistic standards and not what retail store slogans or magazine ads tell you.  Book your appointment with the doctor and make sure you prepare to get the most out of your time with them by being a smart patient:

  • Write down a list of any symptoms or concerns
  • Ask about heart disease, cancer and stroke.  Be sure to let the doctor know of your family history with these diseases.  Filling out a family health history can be incredibly helpful.  You can find one here: https://familyhistory.hhs.gov/fhh-web/home.action
  • Write down any known vaccinations or shots you may need – and bring any medical records and prescriptions the doctor might need to know about
  • Make sure you inquire about tests which are appropriate for your age and your visit (Pap smear?  Mammogram?  BMI? High Blood Pressure? Stress tests?)
  • Make sure your doctor has an accurate picture of your lifestyle and habits (smoking, eating etc.)
  • Ask about any plans you might have coming up – pregnancy, change of jobs, moving etc. so they can help you mentally and physically prepare for big steps in your life
  • If you have questions about anything they tell you, make sure you ask

Establishing a” good health baseline” with your doctor can be invaluable.  Once you are armed with the knowledge of what is needed, it will be easier to keep yourself on the right track moving forward.  Starting to make small changes in such areas as diet, sodium intake, drinking more water and moving more are just the first steps in lowering your risk for disease – and they can also simply make you feel better and more able to get out and enjoy your life.  Getting your doctor’s wisdom on what to expect from our bodies and minds is empowering, and educating yourself on how to take control of a situation gives you much more self-esteem than if you starved yourself to look like a supermodel.

Let’s all go out and celebrate National Women’s Health Week as a way of honoring our inner super-heroes and the super women in our lives!

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