How to be a healthier woman

Sep 25, 2019


Women, take care of yourselves. This is the only body you're going to get.

That message comes from Kimberly Fordham, MD, on National Women's Health and Fitness Day.

"We have to take care of ourselves so we can take care of the next generation," says Dr. Fordham, a family practice physician at Adventist Health with a fellowship in women’s health. "Women have the privilege of dealing with pregnancy and childbirth and breastfeeding. We are the nurturers and the caregivers. If we don't take care of ourselves, we can't take care of anybody else."

8 ways to be a healthier woman

1. Go see your primary care doctor

There are many steps women can take to achieve—or maintain—good health. The first is to make an appointment with your doctor so you know what to work on.

"I think it's always good to know where you're at with your health," Dr. Fordham says.

So visit your doctor and have your blood pressure checked. Find out where your blood glucose and cholesterol levels are.

"You'll want to screen for those silent killers so you can catch them early on," Dr. Fordham says.

2. Take a look at your diet

"We should all eat healthier," Dr. Fordham says. "If we all followed the kind of meal plans people with diabetes follow, this world would be a healthier place." That kind of diet means:

  • Limiting foods that are high in sugar.
  • Eating smaller portions spread out over the day.
  • Being careful about how many carbohydrates you eat.
  • Eating a variety of whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Eating less fat.
  • Avoiding alcohol.
  • Using less salt (sodium).

"I ask a lot of my patients, 'If you bought a really expensive car, would you start putting potato chips in it?' Your body is your expensive car, and you have to put the optimal fuel in it to get optimal results. So diet is very important," Dr. Fordham says. "You can get other cars, but this is the only body you get."

3. Get moving

"A lot of us are very sedentary, very stuck on our screens," Dr. Fordham says. "We're not getting out there and moving. Our overall fitness would be better, our depression scores would be better, we'd feel better, we'd have more energy and we'd sleep better if we were out there exercising."

Experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise each week, or 30 minutes most days of the week.

4. Watch what you put in your body

Avoid putting harmful substances in your body. "Alcohol, tobacco, marijuana. It's never a good idea to put these things in your body."

5. Prioritize sleep

"Many of us aren't getting healthy sleep. And if you're not getting good, healthful sleep, you're not energized to take care of anybody, let alone yourself," Dr. Fordham says. If you're not sleeping well, consider being tested for obstructive sleep apnea.

For your best health, try to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

6. Reduce stress

"When I start getting stressed, I have the 'Five Blessings' rule,” Dr. Fordham says.

In other words, start counting your blessings. What’s going right in your life?

“By the time I get to the third one, I say, 'OK, I have all these good things in my life.' By the fifth one, my mindset is totally changed."

7. Learn to say "no"

"Being able to say 'no' is an important skill. We have to acknowledge that we are a finite being, and we have to pick the priorities that are most important," Dr. Fordham says. "It's OK not to do everything that gets thrown your way."

8. Make a list for your medical visits

"It's helpful to me if a patient brings a list that summarizes what's going on with their health, what they're hoping to achieve from that visit. I might not be able to address everything on the list, but I can hit the high points."

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