When it comes to health, women are the ones asking the right questions and seeking the right answers—and with good reason. Women are often not only responsible for their own health but frequently the health of their husbands, children, and aging parents. As a rule, women will not compromise on any of those fronts because they are the family health "gatekeeper."
Women want to thrive, not just survive—and they want themselves and their family members to be at their best. An old African proverb says: "Educate a man, and you educate an individual. Educate a woman, and you educate a family." How true!
If you are a single or married woman, a mom, or a female child of aging parents, then you’re likely the one that family members rely on (whether they know it or not) for health information or advice. Women are generally the ones who shop for healthy foods, prepare nutritious meals and snacks, encourage physical activities/exercise, and try to incorporate healthier habits into everyone’s day and lives. Women are also more likely to seek health care than men.
"Women account for far more doctor visits per year than men do, both for preventive and medical reasons," says Marian Limacher, MD, FACC, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Florida College of Medicine. "So it’s good for women to be more aware of the preventive aspects . . . not just for themselves, but for the whole family."
Women have extraordinary demands on their lives and require extraordinary health and stamina in order to keep up with those demands. The responsibilities vary from woman to woman, but here is one common denominator: women have amazing influence, fortitude, motivation, and compassion. Women personally glean the benefits of these qualities, but so do the people they love.
Taking care of yourself and your family’s health is one of the most important roles you play—but it begins with a healthier you. Often, women are so busy caring for and nurturing others that they put their own health on the backburner. If that’s happening to you, then we have good news about steps you can take to replenish and renew.
Many women take care of others, often to the exclusion of themselves. What some may not realize is that by taking care of themselves, they not only maximize their personal influence but also the impact they have on others.
Taking care of yourself is not a selfish act, either—it is a healthy one. People who have a healthy relationship with themselves take care of themselves—their bodies, their minds, their emotions, and their spirits. They understand that it is impossible to give something they do not have—and that, in order not to "run out," they must always replenish and renew their resources.
Here are some of the ways to be more intentional about caring of yourself:
- De-stress. There are many options for de-stressing. Women often deal with stress in their naturally relation way. Females are more likely to deal with stress by "tending and befriending"—nurturing those around them and reaching out to others—thereby protecting them from the damaging effects of stress. Being connected to others has repeatedly been shown to help mind and body. Compared with men, women generally have larger social networks and rely on their connections for emotional support.
- Exercise daily. This does not have to be a gym workout. Walking, house chores, and using a rebounder all count! Keeping muscle and losing fat is essential; muscles keep you strong and help you burn fat. Every pound of muscle burns between 40 to 120 calories a day but fat burns only one to three calories. Over a period of time, that is a major difference in calorie-burning and fat-burning potential. Adding even a little bit more muscle will help maximize energy levels and will help you to store less fat.
- Eat to maximize your life. Eat foods that your body needs for extraordinary health, energy, strength, and stamina. Good, healthy foods satiate you and are nutrient-dense—getting more nutrition per calorie/serving. Eating the right foods can make you feel and/or look younger, decrease inflammation in your body, and give you more energy.
Taking care of yourself is a matter of choice—a choice that makes all the difference in your life and in the lives of others.
This year, choose to replenish and renew for a vibrant you!