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How Healthy Are You, Really?

So you feel, well, okay. But is okay good enough? Could you do better?

Time to be honest…with yourself. Because prevention, in my book, is far better than waiting for symptoms to appear.

Below you’ll find some questions to answer. Now, this is not a multiple choice quiz, with a cute classification scale at the end. These are open-ended questions. That’s because I’m assuming you’re a smart cookie. More important than a tidy little category is how you feel when you look at your answers all together, when you read them over, when you really start thinking about it.Most of us know, deep down, what we need to work on…we just need some prodding. And someone to pose the questions.

One further note: these questions are not intended to make you feel guilty. They are intended to jostle your brain, to give you something to think about. Perhaps to serve as a wake-up call. To get you thinking about what you are doing great (yay!) and what you could improve upon. This is a starting point. A time for reflection.

So, get out a notebook and get ready to jot some stuff down. Ask yourself:

Lifestyle

Do you get enough sleep for you? This might be 8 hours, or more, or less. More important: do you wake up feeling groggy? Check your eyes: just how dark are those circles, darling?

How is your alcohol intake? One glass of wine a day = purrrfect. More than that? Hmmmm…

Do you smoke? Sweetheart, you really gotta quit. Gonna quote Skinny Bitch on this one: smoking is for losers.

Exercise: are you moving that bod enough? Come on, fess up.

Any idea what your BMI is? Here’s a handy little tool  for ya. (no excuses)

Testing

When was the last time you had your blood pressure checked? High blood pressure is silent. You would never know, unless you checked.

When was your last Pap? Here are my thoughts on this: Yes, Pap smears are uncomfortable. Know what’s more uncomfortable? Cancer.

Have you had screening bloodwork done lately? Here are some things to consider having done, depending on your risk factors:

  • TSH level (a thyroid screen)
  • hemoglobin & ferritin (iron levels)
  • vitamin D levels
  • lipids (cholesterol)
  • fasting glucose
  • others…depending on your personal profile (which you need to discuss with your doctor)

And speaking of screening, if you’re over 40 have you had a mammogram? (screening recommendations might be different if you have a family history of breast cancer)

How about STD screening? Once again: silent. With nasty repercussions if left undiagnosed + untreated.

Prevention

Look at your family history. If there’s a strong history of CAD, cancer, etc…are you being proactive about not following in their footsteps?

Are you taking care of your bones? Not just for the elderly–you need to build bone mass now.

Do you wear sunblock? All. The. Time?

Body + Soul

What about stress? I’m gonna go ahead and assume you’ve got stress (we all do, don’t we?)…but do you have a plan in place to cope with that stress? Short-term and long-term coping, I mean.

How often do you have sex?

Are you happy? Like, really content in your life? Here’s a quick test: how do you feel on your birthday? As though you’re exactly where you should be….or, vaguely dissatisfied/anxious/frustrated?

Do you do stuff that’s just for you? Like, go to the spa, read a book for pleasure, fill in the blank…?

Do you feel fulfilled? Are you bored? Are you pursuing your dreams? Are you working too much?

Nutrition

Eating habits? Big topic. Here’s some food for thought (ptp=pardon the pun)

  • do you eat breakfast? every day?
  • do you eat because of boredom?
  • do you eat when what you really need is sleep?
  • does food make the good times better? And, um, the bad times better?
  • do you have lean protein with most meals?
  • is processed food a staple in your diet?
  • do you drink enough water?
  • do you drink lots of soda or sugary drinks?
  • are you in control of your cravings? (or are they in control of you?)
  • do you skip meals?
  • do you eat when you’re not really hungry?

Now how about Vitamins + Supplements:

  • are you taking the right ones for you?
  • are you taking too many (popping unecessary stuff and going broke in the process?) 
  • do you really know what you’re taking, and why? Or are you just throwing capsules at your fatigue, bloating, etcetera?

Okay, ’nuff for now. There’s more, but I’m going to leave it for another day. Hope you’re not feeling too overwhelmed. Keep in mind: it’s important to take the time to reflect on this stuff and take stock. It’s your body, after all. And it’s your life.

Ya get but one.

Need an Energy Boost? 3 Ways to Rev Up. (Part One)

A frantic workday sends you to the brink of collapse…but it’s not just that.  A stack of ironing drains your energy, but still, it’s not just that (because let’s be honest, can anyone finish the ironing without fading?).  The thing is, last weekend you were too exhausted to meet your girlfriends for brunch.  And yesterday you actually skipped a shoe sale in favour of a nap.

Now, if those aren’t signs something’s got to change, I don’t know what is.

If you’ve been feeling sluggish lately, you’re not alone.  Fatigue is very common among modern, busy women.  So many errands, so little time.  And that time becomes even shorter if you simply can’t get off the couch.

If you need a little more oomph, what can you do?

Help is here.  Read on for my tips to punch up your vitality. I’ve got lots of advice on this particular topic…but for now, let’s start with three tips. 

1. Eat Breakfast

 Skipping breakfast is a sin that’s easily committed.  But your body needs fuel (especially in the morning), and then throughout the day, evenly dispersed.

 In our culture, the small (or nonexistent) breakfast and lunch, followed by a huge dinner is absurd.  You need energy at the beginning of the day, when you’ve got all those tasks ahead of you, not at the end when you’re winding down.

 Start your engine with a hearty breakfast.  But we’re not talking doughnuts here.  Feast on a combination of complex carbs, protein, and simple carbs.  Bagels, yogurt and fruit, for example. 

Research has shown that making a habit out of eating breakfast improves academic function, lowers stress levels, and imparts a greater sense of physical and mental health.  Not to mention the numerous studies that demonstrate an association between breakfast and a slimmer waistline.

Beyond breakfast, commit to refilling your tank at regular intervals throughout the day.  Many experts feel the five-small-meals-a-day approach is the best one.  Give it a try, and watch what happens to your energy level.

2. Hit the Sack

And not only for sleep.  Regular sex is an energizer.  Sexual activity revs your metabolism and increases blood flow.  It’s a fabulous de-stresser.  It can promote better sleep.  What’s more, it releases those feel-good endorphins that will restore your joie de vivre. 

Ironically, complaints of fatigue are an often-cited reason for skipping intimacy. But tangling the sheets may be exactly what you need to banish those sluggish feelings.  Too busy?  Make a date with your partner.  It may sound unromantic, but many people swear by the success of this strategy.

3. Meditate

 Research has repeatedly shown the myriad benefits of regular meditation. But do you really have the time/opportunity to find a nice quiet place, change into comfy clothes, light candles, turn on the perfect background whale music, etcetera?

If the answer is no, consider mini-meditation. Just about anybody can take a quick 3 minute time out, no matter where you are. With a little practice you’ll be amazed at how proficient you can become at sinking into a deep meditation in a short time. This little maneuver can help you calm and recharge…like pushing a reset button.

Practice this 2-3 times a day:

Step one: Focus your awareness. Take one minute to become aware of your current state: thoughts, emotions.

Step two: Pay attention to your breath. In the next minute, focus on breathing. Where in your body do you sense your breath the most? Your nostrils? Your chest? Your belly?

Step three: Reflect on sensations. Spend the third minute bringing your awareness to your physical body. Notice sensations: warmth, coolness, pain, tingling.

And there you go! Ohm…

Stay tuned for part two of my energy tips. Soon, you’ll even be ironing with zing.

Dr. Kim Foster, MD. (photo credit: Tamea Burd Photography)

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The content of this website is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat disease. It is not a substitute for seeking medical advice or counseling. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. You should seek medical attention before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health program described on this website.