So, I’m a female health writer and it's National Women’s Health Week. It’s Monday, May 9, 2016, and I’m in bed canoodling with my laptop. Still “jammified” as we say in our family, i.e., in pajamas, with a cup of coffee and a glass of water on the nightstand.
This year, National Women’s Health Week lasts from May 8 – 14, 2016. It was created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, with the intention of empowering women to prioritize their health. (1)
Allow me to empower you from my bed.
A Tale of 8 Healthy Habits in a Perfectly Normal Life
After a good eight hours sleep, I did manage to leave the bed this morning. I made coffee, prepared toast with avocado spread and red pepper strips on the side for my vegan daughter.
I kissed my husband goodbye as he left with some whole-milk, plain yogurt to eat at work. I ate a piece of sprouted bread with avocado. I poured whole milk in my coffee, no sugar.
Despite hating the phone, hating doctors and hating appointments, I’m going for a follow-up eye exam later today.
Tomorrow I’m playing tennis, twice — once in the morning with fierce opponents, and once at night, in a couples league composed of tennis players and their coerced, non-tennis spouses. I’ll play two more times later in the week.
Can you find the positive health habits buried in my routine?
1) Get enough sleep.
Adequate sleep is linked to clearer thinking, more energy, improved mood, cardiovascular health, a stronger immune system and lower weight. Read more about what sleep does for your body here.
2) Eat a plant-based diet.
Vegan diets consist of plant foods exclusively: fruits, grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. Vegetarian diets are low in animal products and exclude meat.
Most studies show vegetarians and vegans have a lower risk of numerous health problems, including obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and some forms of cancer.(3)
3) If you aren’t vegan, stick with whole dairy.
There is no scientific evidence proving low-fat and fat-free dairy is healthier than whole milk alternatives. In a Nurse’s study, participants who had higher levels of dairy fatty acid concentrations from full-fat dairy products had a 46 percent lower risk for diabetes than those with lower levels.(4)
Separate research of the same study found those who ate the highest fat dairy products had an 8 percent lower risk for obesity. (4)
4) Avoid sugar.
The dangers of excessive sugar go way beyond calories and tooth decay. According to the American Heart Association, too much sugar is linked to cardiovascular disease, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.(6)
The AHA also reports that those who get 17 to 21 percent of calories from added sugar had a 38 percent high risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, compared to those who consume a diet of only 8 percent added sugar.(6)
The AHA recommends that women get no more than 100 calories per day from sugar. (6)
5). Make your appointments.
Get regular health screenings. Read EmpowHER’s Important Health Checkups For Millennials for a list of checkups you should get regularly.
6) Fall in love with a physical activity.
If you love it, nothing can stop you from doing it. My torrid love affair is with tennis.
7) Don’t sit for more than an hour at a time.
Being completely sedentary — in bed with the laptop, Netflix bingeing, desk-jockeying — has been associated with obesity, abnormal glucose metabolism, and metabolic syndrome.(5)
An hour into writing this article, I got up and prepped a vegan artichoke dip, started the dishwasher, washed my face (still not showered) and picked out clothes for my appointment later (still not dressed). With a refilled water glass, I climbed back into my office.
If you work in a brick and mortar office, stand and stretch every hour, refill your water glass, and visit your coworker’s desk versus sending an email. Weather permitting, walk during your lunch break. If weather is inclement, do a few trips up and down in the stairwell before eating.
8) Drink enough water.
Inadequate water intake puts stress on the kidneys, affects thinking and disrupts mood.(7)
Even when only mildly dehydrated, a person engaging in strenuous physical activity will have less endurance, more fatigue, reduced ability to regulate heat, less motivation and increased perceived effort.(7)
You'll perform better at work and at the gym if you're drinking enough water.
There's a homemade vegan chocolate cake on the kitchen counter. When I get up next, I'm going to try to figure out what 100 calories of it looks like.
Reviewed May 10, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
1) NWHW. WomensHealth.gov. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
2) 10 Reasons to Turn In Early: The Benefits of Sleep. EmpowHer.com Retrieved May 9, 2016.
3) Vegetarian Diets. heart.org. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
4) Full-fat Dairy May Reduce Risk for Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity. EmpowHer.org. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
5) Breaks in Sedentary Time: Beneficial associations with metabolic risk. care.diabetesjournals.org. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
6) Sugar and Heart Disease. GoRedForWomen.org. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
7) Water, Hydration and Health. NIH.gov. Retrieved May 9, 2016.