Being a multifaceted woman is no simple feat. It takes great discipline, strength, and attention to your specific needs. We’ve broken down five ways that you can stay on top of your health that have a direct impact on your quality of life.
Being particular about what you put into your body is a cornerstone of health. Developing balanced eating patterns can transform your life from the inside out. Diet affects mood, energy level, and ability to combat illness.
Women should enjoy healthful foods from the main food groups: Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, low-fat or fat-free dairy, and lean protein. Women also have nutrient needs that are special and specific to themselves as individuals, and these needs can change at different stages of life.
Nutrient-rich foods energize professional women for their busy lives. Another bonus is that healthy foods reduce the risk of disease. A healthy eating plan not only involves all of the aforementioned food groups, but also the correct amounts of each as well:
- At least three ounces of whole grains
- Whole-grain bread, pasta, cereal, brown rice or oats
- Three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy
- Milk, cheese, yogurt, calcium-fortified soymilk
- For those who do not consume dairy: Calcium-fortified foods and beverages, leafy greens, canned fish
- Five to five and a half ounces of protein
- Meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, lentils, beans, tofu, seeds, and nuts
- One and a half to two cups of fruit
- Fresh, canned, frozen or dried without additives or sugar
- Two to two and a half cups or colorful vegetables
- Fresh, canned or frozen without added salt
2. Check in with your healthcare provider regularly
Every woman needs to make time for regular screenings. Scheduling these can lead to the detection of potential threats early and could even lead to saving one’s life. “When you detect disease early you can prevent complications and improve quality of life,” says Keri Peterson, MD, who specializes in internal medicine in New York City.
So, which screenings are the most important to get?
- If your age is 20+, the National Institute of Health recommends that you should do this once every five years
- Assesses risk for developing stroke or heart disease
- Starting at age 20, the American Heart Association urges you to have your blood pressure checked at least once every two years
- The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual screening for the following: Adults 40 or older, African American, or with health conditions that put them at a heightened risk for hypertension
- Screens for breast cancer
- Starting from ages 45-50, women should start having these every two years and switch to biannual at age 55
- If a familial history of the disease exists, one should speak with their doctor and start annual screenings earlier
- According to the USPSTF, one should have a Pap smear every three years from ages 21 to 65
- This test checks for changes in cells that may lead to cervical cancer
- Around age 45, women should get this test every three years to check for diabetes
- At age 65, women should start getting screened for osteoporosis
Body Mass Index:
- Starting at 18, adults should be screened for obesity
- According to the USPSTF, this screening should start at age 50 through sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy
- Dental health is encouraged from birth into adulthood for semi-annually check ups
- The American Cancer Society advises women to examine their skin every month
- Check the skin for moles
- If you have a family history of skin cancer, you should talk to your doctor or dermatologist about how often you should get checked
3. Stay Active – Indoors and Outdoors
Movement of the body has more benefits for women than just their physical health; it also affects their mental health and mindset.
“Exercise triggers the release of neurotransmitters in your brains such as dopamine, serotonin, and beta-endorphins and lowers the levels of stress hormones,” said the associate executive director of Elson Student Health Center, Meredith Hayden.
Staying active, both indoors and outdoors, decreases depression and anxiety while also improving memory.
Ellipticals are an important secret health weapon because they allow you the convenience of working out from home. Health professionals have also confirmed that ellipticals are easier on the knees than running on pavement. The Max Trainer is a specific type of elliptical that comes highly recommended by sports experts. This is a more powerful machine than your typical elliptical because it burns more calories and provides a greater whole-body workout.
4. Manage Stress
As a professional woman, you are most likely experiencing stress that lasts for weeks or months at a time. As a result, you can endure more than just unpleasant feelings of anxiety and worry.
These prolonged periods of stress can begin to leak into your physical and emotional state. This can lead to digestive problems, headaches, irritability, sleep issues, a decrease in productivity, weight changes, memory and concentration complications, and increased heart rate or blood pressure. This can have long term implications in some situations.
Since stress is something that is inevitable as a human being, it’s absolutely essential to learn how to best manage it as an individual. While there is certainly scientific evidence that supports many proven ways to overcome stress, it is definitely accurate that what may work for a peer may not necessarily be what works best for you.
What does this mean? This means that you should try multiple self-care strategies in order to best juggle your multiple responsibilities of work, family, and home.
Proven solutions found through research and studies:
- Stay hydrated
- Write it down
- Take a break
- Get organized
- Tell a friend
5. Prioritize Your Mental Health
Striking gender differences exist in patterns of mental illness. Unipolar depression, predicted to be the highest cause of global disability by 2020, is twice as common in women. Women predominate the experience of having three or more comorbid disorders.
There are specific gender-specific risk factors as well as gender biases, so now more than ever, it is vital for women to be not only aware of their mental health but also on top of it.
What to do:
- Identify the causes, prevalence, mediating and protective factors of your mental health
- Formulate and implement health policies that address your needs as a woman from childhood onward
- Seek primary health providers who validate and treat the mental health consequences of any that apply:
- Sexual abuse
- Domestic violence
- Acute/chronic stress
Best of luck with your health journey, friend; we’re all in it together. Now, let’s get started!
About the author:
Chris Jordan is a lifelong fitness junkie who will drop everything the second a friend calls and invites him to a HIIT class. He is a certified HIIT instructor himself and focuses heavily on ellipticals and kettlebell training. He regularly contributes to lafitness.reviews, a leading provider of exercise equipment reviews and education.