By Dr. Joan Crawford
January 22, 2009
Many people make the promise to jumpstart the year by placing health first. As a physician, I am encouraging women to act on this promise. Be an advocate for your own health in 2009 by following the suggested recommendations for a healthy lifestyle at the workplace and at home.
Don’t put your health on hold
Since women serve many roles at work and at home, it’s important not to put your health on the back burner. Neglecting your health now may result in heart disease later in life. Women need to pay attention to changes in their health. For example, if your physical exertion level is decreased or you are experiencing unusual fatigue or shortness of breath, it may be time to visit your doctor.
Know the facts and share with your doctor
Visit www.GoRedForWomen.org and take the Go Red Heart Checkup to find out your 10-year risk of heart disease or stroke. Then share the results with your doctor, who can help you determine an action plan to live a heart healthy life.
Schedule an annual appointment with your doctor to get a complete blood screen. You may want to consider requesting a CRP test called a high sensitivity C-reactive protein (has-CRP) assay, which helps determine heart disease risk. Scientific studies have found that the higher the has-CRP levels, the higher the risk of having a heart attack. Your doctor can put you on the proper course of action if your results are outside the parameter.
Begin an exercise regimen
Give your body a free makeover by eating healthy and starting an exercise plan. A healthy body also contributes to a healthy state-of-mind. Exercise makes you stronger and helps you deal with stress, especially at work. The American Heart Association’s Choose to Move is a 12-week plan that allows women the opportunity to easily build physical activity into their life and reduce their risk for heart disease. Visit www.choosetomove.org to access the free program.
Skip the fast food
Since fast food is quick and easy, don’t let the desire for it interfere with your health plan. Instead, take the time to prepare and pack your lunch and snacks for work. Focus on eating a balanced diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, fish, legumes and sources of protein low in saturated fat (poultry, lean meats and plant sources). If you need to lose weight, you should also refrain from eating excess carbohydrates. Try drinking water as thirst is often confused with hunger.
Choose to inspire and connect
Connect with other women who are committed to living stronger, longer lives by visiting www.goredforwomen.org. By joining the Go Red For Women movement, you can be part of the fight against heart disease, the number one killer of women.
Dr. Joan Crawford is medical director for St. John Oakland and Medical Chair for Go Red for Women.