By Dr. Yael “Dr. V” Varnado
Every day we’re bombarded with messages about what we should and shouldn’t do as women for our health and wellness. Let’s cut through all that noise and clutter and let me give you my own, doctor recommended, list of health habits you need to master – the sooner the better! Trends and fads come and go, but these rules should remain part of your life forever!
1. Regular Work-Outs: Pencil these babies in just like you would any meeting during your day, and do them regularly – once or twice a week does not a regular work out schedule make! This is not only vital to your physical health, but it is directly related to your mental health as well. Not only do I recommend scheduling it regularly but make sure everyone in your life – friends, lover, spouse, children – respects this habit of yours as well.
2. Learn what vitamins and nutrients are essential to your body: There are specifics you need at every age, why you need them and how to get ‘em. A woman in her thirties needs different vitamins than a woman in her fifties, from her multivitamin to her supplements. Educate yourself about what you need in terms of your lifestyle and age, and figure out what you need to get that amount. The more you can get from natural sources the better!
3. Sleeping Enough: I can tell a woman until I’m blue in the face that she needs to get a good night’s sleep regularly in order for her mind and body to be healthy and happy, but that isn’t always enough. Well how about this: studies show that people who are sleep deprived tend to weigh more than those who sleep enough. Not getting enough sleep throws your hunger hormones off and leads to overeating. Nobody wants to be a crabby, sleep-deprived overeater, so get those zzzz’s!
4. Drinking Water: If you’re working out you’re often remembering to drink water while on the elliptical or in a class, but drinking your eight glasses of water daily should be a focus from sun up to sun down, not just when you’re at the gym. Make true hydration a part of your daily schedule – from a glass when you wake up every morning (before your coffee) through your last glass before bed. There are even apps now that can help you keep track if you need some extra support. Don’t forget: juice, soda and coffee are not the same as water.
5. Stop Sitting At Your Desk All Day: Doctors orders – get up at least every hour, walk a bit, stretch a bit and don’t let your body settle into an often unnatural position. Whether you can do a walk around your floor or the block – some of you may even go as far as opting for a treadmill desk – the key is to remember that your body wasn’t created to be cramped into a desk all day long!
6. Master Your Stress Before it Masters You: To be your best at work, gym and home you must first be your best inside. Stress is the cause of many physical ailments and learning to manage it will be one of the best things you do for yourself. How can you make that happen? Communication in work and personal relationships, meditation, journaling, yoga, working out – the opportunities to lower your stress are endless. Figure out what works for you and master that stress!
7. Understand your birth control and family planning options: Whether you have kids now or never want them in your life, understanding your options in terms of prevention and sexual health is vital to you as a woman. Don’t leave it to anyone else to manage, and don’t sweep it under the rug! Talk to your doctor, review your options, and find out which one works for your individual body, lifestyle and goals.
8. Speaking of your physician…find a doctor who you can grow an honest and communicative relationship: Look for a physician just like you look for a mate or friend! From weight loss and work out advice to whatever else pops up, you want someone you trust and respect in your health corner!
9. Know Your Family’s Health History! This can be a map and key into your own present and future health and wellness. Talk to your parents, learn about your grandparents, look at the heath of your aunts and uncles. Research their medical history including what illnesses they may have dealt with, how long they lived, and anything else health or medical-wise that could give you insight into your own body or health.
Dr. Yael “Dr. V” Varnado is a Cornell-educated physician and a medical and health expert, known for her ability to deliver straight, relatable and relevant information on timely topics that matter most.
She is passionate about women’s health issues and teaching all those she reaches about preventative care, helping to stop heath problems before they start. Dr. V is the creator of the Live Right at Night Campaign focusing on women’s sexual and physical health and safety between the hours of 5 pm and 9 am.
She is also the founder of the Get Checked for Life non-profit that assists members of underserved communities, improving their quality of life by educating and giving them access to the necessary tools and medical resources. You can find Dr. V on Facebook and Twitter via @AskDrV and online at www.AskDoctorV.com