Monday, March 26, 2018

The Image of Self

adorable, black-and-white, blur

There's nothing quite like the security of a 5 year old.

 Remember your 5 year old self?


That girl who danced and didn't care who was watching?
The girl who sang at the top of her lungs with a crackling force and giggles tumbling out behind?
The girl who thought her mismatched outfit was 'on point'?

Do you remember that girl? Who lived without reserve or shame?

What happens between those early years to the tween years and beyond?  What happens to make us so awkward in our own skin at times?  So, anxious about the way we look?

There is no easy answer to these perplexing questions.  Some will argue that magazines and impossibly thin, airbrushed models are to blame.  Others may jump on the bandwagon of perfection.  Perhaps, it's just the need to fit in while trying desperately to stand out; the impossible standards we set for ourselves.  Often, we can have 10 people validating us, but we only hear the one critical voice, and count that as the most important and maybe, that one voice is our own.  Many more times, the critical voice is handed down through the generations and without even knowing, our own critic within, is all our daughters ever hear.

How can we foster a more positive image of our bodies?

  1. Embrace all the variations of beauty.  There is no right definition of beauty.  As you look at others, withhold your judgement and see the beauty within, do the same for yourself. 
  2. Realize what an amazing machine your body is.  There is no technology on earth that can keep a human life running, quite the way God does.  We have within us a great power, the power of life.  You aren't a size or a number, you are a miracle. 
  3. Focus on your strengths; those things that have nothing to do with physical beauty.  Keep a list of those close by, so you can refer to them when you get down on yourself. 
  4. Get beyond yourself.  Focus on others.  Make a difference in someone else's life and live a life of purpose.  When we have purpose, we have a greater sense of belonging and self love. 
  5. View social media with a critical eye.  There are very few things we can count on as truth when it comes to the internet and social media.  Remember, that nearly all images are retouched, airbrushed and changed dramatically.  Social Media should never be the yardstick we use to measure beauty- our own or someone else's. 
  6. Strengthen your personal value system.  Personal worth comes from loyalty, wisdom, integrity, confidence, assertiveness, respect, good humor, patience...and so much more. 
  7. Develop better communication skills.  When we become better at using our words to express what we are feeling, food becomes balanced and less emotional. 
  8. Try to foster a life of balance and moderation. 
  9. Learn to set healthy boundaries when it comes to your interactions with those around you.  Don't accept judgement from others that feeds shame or guilt.  
  10. Pass on to those around you, a positive way to think about yourself.  When we are able to model a healthy self image, those we associate will rise to the same level.
All too often, we have come to believe that as women, a poor self image is just part of the role we play but it doesn't have to be that way.  It takes work to fight against the social culture of perfection we are continually presented with.  It takes courage to become that girl we once were...ya know, back when we were 5. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Dem Bones...

black-and-white, bones, hand

These bones of ours take a beating over a lifetime...

Here are a few fun bone facts.

  • There are about 206 bones in the human body
  • The strongest and longest bone is the femur bone located in your thigh
  • The smallest and lightest bone is the stapes, located in your middle ear. 
  • Arms are the most commonly broken bone in adults
  • Collar bones are the most commonly broken bone in children
  • Bones are made of calcium, phosphorus, sodium, collagen, protein and other minerals
  • Bones produce blood cells.
  • The skeletal system accounts for 1/6 of your weight. aren't overweight, you just have big bones!  Ha ha...
So, you can replace bones, but they aren't as cool as the real deal so how can we take better care of our bones?  

If you are in the menopause years, pay attention.  

Our bones begin to lose density as we age, leading to a condition called Osteoporosis.  You've probably heard of it.  It can cause our bones to fracture, even under normal circumstances. 

Aging bones become brittle and bend and become misshapen. 

Muscle mass decreases that can leave our bones and joints unprotected.

 There's good news though!  Here are some things we can do to keep our bones strong...
  • Eat a balanced diet, rich in calcium and minerals
  • If you are low in calcium and vitamin D, talk to your doctor about getting on supplements
  • Exercise regularly.  Focus on muscle building exercises.
  • Eliminate tobacco and alcohol use.  They interfere with the absorption of calcium.
  • Keep your hormone levels in balance.  Too much thyroid hormone or not enough estrogen can make your bones weak.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.  Underweight people often have less bone mass.
Just because aging is one of the biggest factors to loss of bone, doesn't mean we have to sit idly by, watching our skeleton deteriorate.  Get up an move.  Exercise is by far one of the most important things we as women in menopause and advanced years can do for ourselves.  

Dem bones will thank you! 

Monday, February 26, 2018

A Pain in the Neck

 Is it just a pain in the neck...or it is more than that?

Did you know that women are more likely to deal with chronic pain 10% more often than men?  According to the Jacob's Institute of Women's Health, 34% of women report dealing with chronic pain and this number puts the issue on the radar as a public health issue.
Free stock photo of person, hands, woman, water

So, where do you fall in these statistics?  Are you one who suffers quietly with chronic pain or do you spend hundreds on pharmaceuticals to get mediocre relief at best?  The landscape of pharmaceuticals and pain meds is changing rapidly.  Opioids that are often prescribed for chronic pain, are under fire for being addictive, expensive and less than effective.  Doctors are thinking twice before prescribing so it's important we find other ways to manage pain in addition to medications.

Why do women suffer more than men?  Women often have overlapping conditions that create a unique pain experience.  We deal with chronic migraines, pain associated with monthly cycles and hormone changes, irritable bowel syndrome, urinary tract infections, auto immune disorders and mental health issues that can contribute to pain levels and tolerance such as depression, anxiety and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Let's face it, women typically don't do a very good job of taking care of themselves, we are usually the first responders when care is needed in our families or in the community but put ourselves dead last in the area of self care.  At the end of the day, if there is time, energy and resources left, we may do something small for our own health and care.  We tend to have fewer support systems in place and keep our suffering to ourselves in lieu of preserving our perceived image to those around us.

Ladies, how can we manage this chronic pain better and increase the quality of life we currently experience?

  1. Establish a support system.  It doesn't need to be elaborate and extensive.  A few solid people who have your back.  People you can trust to share your day with, the good and the bad and the frustrating.  Often, clearing out the worries that can take on a life of their own, if kept in your own head, will alleviate pain that can be exacerbated by exhaustion, both physical and mental fatigue.  It's often easier, we think, to isolate ourselves when it comes to the pain we experience or the struggles we face but that will only increase our problems.  Connection is the answer to so many social issues today and that includes how we manage our health. 
  2. Get your heart pumping.  Cardiovascular activity may not be considered your first line of defense when you are in pain but there are many studies that have proven its effectiveness.  Low to moderate activity that raises your heart rate, minimizes pain, depression and disability.  The more vigorous you can work out, the greater the benefits. 
  3. Mind-Body therapies like Yoga, Tai Chi or Qigong are also shown to reduce pain and increase mobility and strength.  When your joints ache, often, strengthening the muscles around the joint is the answer to decreased pain.  
  4. Find the best provider for you.  Pain is a team sport!  You can't manage your pain alone.  You need to work with your healthcare provider and develop a multi modal plan for your care.  This means, you have to have a good working patient/provider relationship.  At Madison Women's Clinic, each of our providers offer a  unique approach to caring for their patients.  We have been selective and precise in the providers we have hired to represent our clinic, they are the best in their selected areas of expertise and we know you will find a good match here.  Let us be a part of your care plan.  
  5. Be an educated patient.  Have a solid understanding of the health issues you face.  Study for yourself how nutrition, exercise and other methods of care can impact and lessen your pain.  Take the necessary steps through being proactive.  If possible, find other women who deal with similar issues and gather support through their experience.  We live in an age of technology when support groups are just a click away.  It's a powerful thing to know you aren't alone in your pain. 
Pain is part of life but you don't have to live with it in silence and you don't have feel alone.  These ideas may not manage your pain 100% but they will certainly be tools to support you as find medications that you can safely take to alleviate the suffering.  Let us know how we can help you!  We are just a phone call away and offer appointments in Rigby and Rexburg. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Preconception Care

There use to be a time when women got pregnant and had a baby.  There was no thought of how they were going to have the baby.  They didn't create elaborate birth plans and pack up half the house to take to the hospital, they merely showed up when the contractions told them to.
Brown Haired Girl in White Sleeveless Dress Standing Beside Black Painted Wall

Today, as women in the reproductive years, we spend a lot of time thinking about baby.  We research all the best products, will I need a baby wipe warmer or are monitors in the nursery more important? We try to follow a diet void of preservatives and ingredients that main stream media tells us could harm the little one we are creating within us.

What about the state of our bodies before we ever conceive?  How much thought do we give to that?

In our early teens, when menstruation begins, our body is already preparing for a potential pregnancy.  It just does it without much thought from us.  Our bodies begin to build body fat in all the right places , hips develop and the adolescent changes from childhood to womanhood begin.

Preconception care is all about preparing your body intentionally so that when the time comes to get pregnant, you are in the best health possible.  It's a time to work on those bad food habits, the daily consumption of excess saturated fats and sugars that put you at risk for insulin resistance or gestational diabetes.

Before you get pregnant is the perfect time to increase your stamina and strength through regular exercise.  Even low to moderate exercise will set you up for a healthier pregnancy.  Make sure you know your numbers for good health...such as blood pressure weight and cholesterol.  Going in to a pregnancy with high blood pressure just makes everything harder.

Preconception time is also a good time to meet with your provider and discuss any genetic issues you may have in yourself or your extended family, concerns you have about getting pregnant or carrying a child and even delivery.  Your doctor will make sure you are up to date on vaccinations and that your overall health is optimal.  You will also want to make sure that if you are dealing with any sexually transmitted diseases, those are cleared up before getting pregnant so that your unborn child will be protected.

It seems like a lot to consider but keeping yourself in good health makes sense no matter how soon you plan on getting pregnant.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Is it really possible to manage stress?

design, desk, displaySo, have you ever wondered if managing stress is a real thing or just something we say?

How many times have you heard the doctor urge you to 'decrease' your stress?  How many times do you roll your eyes behind his back as you leave and whisper under your breath, "Fat chance!" ?

 It's a good thought really.  Stress can definitely wreak havoc with a once healthy body.  It happens ever so slightly and before you even realize what is happening, until you are facing some major health issues.

Stress is really one of life's little mysteries.  What if handling stress wasn't so much about taking things off our plate as much as it is, managing what isn't leaving your plate, better?  Obviously, getting rid of things is ideal, and sometimes easy to do.  Most articles about handling stress start with adding good things to your life but a stressed person doesn't want to add one more thing!  So, let's not do that just yet...

If you are at your wit's end, before you say 'Yes' to the next thing that comes along, remember that 'No' can be a complete sentence. Just say 'No.'  The magical thing about the word 'no' is that you really don't need to supply an explanation or even a creative lie to justify the 'no'.  Many times, we don't have a good reason for saying No, other than we just don't want to or don't have time.  Whatever, it doesn't matter.  Now, let me warn you, the first time you try this, be prepared for some awkward silence.  The person who receives the No is going to expect you to elaborate but stay strong.  'No' has gotten a bad rap and we think it is something negative and mean.  It doesn't have to be mean and ugly, it can be the best form of self care.

  This is an important concept in managing stress because it begins setting boundaries for yourself and those around you.

Often, the stress we deal with came from just being a part of this thing we call life and we can't wish it away and all the worry in the world isn't going to change it.  There is the key right there; worry.  If you can't change something, then worrying and fretting is only hurting yourself.  Practice pausing for a minute to consider your perspective.  If, after some careful thought, you find there are things you can do to change a situation, then take the appropriate steps to do so, otherwise, take a deep breath and move on.

When you feel stressed and the stress is managing you, take a look at your routines.  Have you lost that feeling of rhythm and routine in your life?  It's the rhythms of life that keep us sane; like getting up and going to bed at the same time every day.  Patterns we establish, help us feel in control and they are very important in maintaining a stressful life.  If you find yourself craving routine, take a closer look at the patterns you keep for yourself and your family.

Breathing seems pointless when you are stressed and passive at that but there is great power in a deep, cleansing breath. Breathing is one of our natural body rhythms, keep it in check and breathe slow, deep and deliberate and close your eyes if you want.  Imagine the stress leaving your body, as your shoulders fall back into place, instead of tucked up around your ears.

Finally, keep your perspective and watch your language.  It's easy to refer to our stressors with negativity and judgement.  Saying things like, "This is a disaster" reiterates to our brain that something is big and's not a disaster, for sure a disappointment but not a disaster.  Be careful how you label things for good or for bad.  Sometimes, you just never know what will become of a bad situation and sometimes framing it differently makes all the difference in an outcome or even a day.

Eliminating stress is an impossible task for most people and some stress is actually healthy!  Though it may be hard, managing stress can be done and done well but it does require a little work on your part.  Maybe, with a little practice,  you can stop hearing your doctor go on and on about cutting back your stress!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How Influenza Will Make You More Popular

Do you want to stand out in the crowd?

Tired of being invisible?

Wanna be the center of attention with your friends and even strangers?

I have just the answer to gaining popularity!

Show up to work, send your kid to school or better yet, shop for groceries with a hacky, barky, snotty, feverish flushed cheeks, runny nose aura about you!  And for good measure, make sure to have a cough capable of heaving out a lung or two, because that will be sure to get EVERYONE'S attention. 

People!! We are in the throws of Influenza season and of course, as is always the case with media, it's the worst year ever for the flu!  It may or it may not be, who's to say, and how do we really know?  Every year we seem to get the same 'chicken little' rhetoric but seriously, if you or a loved one is sick, stay home.  It's the only sensible way to stop the spread of viruses including Influenza.  I promise you, there are better ways to gain popularity than spreading disease.

Let's discuss some influenza facts...because smart people are popular people!

  • Influenza is not the pukes!  If you are puking don't tell people you have the Flu.  You have a stomach bug or people love to blame the last restaurant they ate at when they get the pukes but whatever, it's not Influenza.  A nuisance and uncomfortable and requires more buckets than you have laying times, and increased fluids and many trips to the bathroom, but it's still not the flu. 
  • Influenza is a respiratory virus that infects the nose, the throat and sometimes the lungs and can range from mild to severe.  It just depends on how good your luck is. The symptoms are cough, runny nose, sore throat, body aches, sore muscles, headaches, fatigue and you may or may not have a fever. 
  • There is more than one strain of influenza.  The Center for Disease Control has creatively named each strain- A. B. C. and D.  Let me break it down for you.  Seasonal Influenza are basically strains A and B...the kind we are suffering from currently and the ones they focus the ever powerful Influenza vaccine that has about a 60% success rate give or take, depending on how smart the CDC was feeling that year.   Strains A and B can cause pandemics and we are experiencing that right now!  Strain C is a very mild form of the flu and doesn't typically spread as easily.  Finally, strain D basically just shows up in cows so if you are not a cow then you don't even need to worry about this.  If you have cattle tendencies, like having 9 stomachs or chew your cud, or have hoofed feet, you may want to consult your vet, doctor. 
           There are several sub-sets within each strain but for this article, we aren't going to go there.
  • The flu spreads by the tiny droplets of viral matter that spews from your sneezes or when you talk or leave your tissue laying around your desk.   A person with the flu can infect someone else from day one to day 5 or even day 7 of symptoms.  (Incidentally, if this is how you want to be popular, this is for sure when you should wander around Walmart or your favorite grocery store, coughing and sneezing and sharing in your flu delight). This is just an estimate of how contagious the flu is. 
  • The flu is not always going to stop at a little respiratory discomfort.  Some of the complications include...but are not limited to ear infections, sinus infections, pneumonia and can make chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure,  asthma or even diabetes worse!  This is when the flu gets scary and can escalate to a serious health crisis. If you have a poor immune system, if you are pregnant, are over age 65, have chronic health problems or are a young child, you need to get your doctor on board sooner than later.  You will want to be aggressive in treating these symptoms. 
  • Diagnosing the flu is not any easier than actually having the flu.  There are bacterial respiratory infections that can appear to be the flu and the symptoms are similar.  Your best bet is to see your healthcare provider.  Do not leave this up to Google or WebMD though I sure they have snippets of truth to be found, you need a living breathing, medical degree to get you started on treatment. 
  • Which brings me to my next point...there are medications available to treat influenza.  The anti virals out there are usually pretty effective and can shorten the duration of the flu significantly.  Here's a tip, when you go to the doctor's office, indulge in the masks, sanitizer and tissues that are available at no charge to you!  This goes back to the idea that there are easier ways to get attention than coughing your little feverish head off, in the waiting room. That mask is going to look darling on your face and much better than the cold, glaring eyes that will pierce your soul. 
  • Finally, the time to start fighting the flu isn't when you get the flu.  You should be maintaining good strong, gut health long before flu season.  Did you know that your gut is one of the major components to your immune system?  If you don't believe me, Google it.  Also, practice good solid hand washing techniques.  Singing the ABC song isn't a bad idea while you wash your hands, you know like kindergarten teachers tell the Littles.  Sing loud, sing proud, sing away those germs.  Throw back some Vitamin C every day, and up your probiotics.  Don't feel like you have to hang around sick people because you don't have to.  Take advantage of a little alone time when your best friend or nearest stranger are sick.
One last thought!  If you are sick and at the first sign of being sick, call in sick.  Consider this your time to shine with a run of Netflix movies that would make any movie critic blush. How often do you get sent to your room?  Please, these are the goals of adulthood, indulge.  If you can't do it when you have the flu, when can you?  

Saturday, December 30, 2017

How PMS Will Change Your Life

Photography of Woman Sitting on Chair Near Window

If you suffer with Premenstrual Syndrome, congratulations!

You aren't alone!

You join the ranks of one of the most common complaints from menstruating women.  Nearly 85% of women suffer from these hormone changes during THAT time of the month. It's a well known condition but scientists aren't completely sure why it happens.  One theory out of Sweden is that for some women, they have a difficult time adjusting to the changes and fluctuations in hormones each month.
You probably don't need an article to explain the symptoms to you, as most women are well acquainted with the trouble PMS can cause, but here's a short list of what you might be feeling.  Keep in mind that PMS symptoms are predictable, emotional and physical and happen at the same time each month.  If your are feeling these things all the time, or to extremes, that interrupt your daily life, you are dealing with something other than Premenstrual Syndrome and should visit with one of our providers.

  • Mood Swings
  • Increased Anxiety or Depression
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Food Cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep issues
  • Bloating
  • Weight gain/fluid retention
  • Acne Flares
  • Cramping
Many of these symptoms can be alleviated with simple changes in lifestyle, diet and exercise.  
Such as:
  • Limit salty food
  • Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
  • Choose complex carbohydrates, ie. fruits and vegetables
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Keep exercising, even when PMS begins
  • Find ways to relieve stress
  • Get as much sleep as possible
  • Massage therapy or Acupuncture
There are other things you can try as well:
  • Calcium to help with psychological symptoms and cramping
  • Magnesium can reduce fluid retention and bloating
  • Vitamin E helps with cramping and breast tenderness
  • Antidepressants taken for two weeks during the hormone shifts can help the psychological symptoms.
If you are suffering with PMS, you don't have to suffer half the month alone.  If you aren't getting relief from some of these ideas, visit your provider.  There are rare times when PMS can escalate to something more serious called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.  It's important that you don't self medicate or try to treat it with lifestyle changes.  You need immediate medical attention.