Becky’s 5 Tips to Take Back Control of Your Health
Comfort food, working from home, lack of exercise, and a general dismissal of self care has taken a toll on our health and it is time to take that control back. We all know how easy it is to get side tracked from personal health and wellness goals. How you move your body is up to you. What you eat is up to you. Making appointments with your healthcare providers is up to you. How you connect with others is up to you.
Hi, it’s Becky here and I feel that right now, more than ever, it’s important for ALL of us to start prioritizing our health! How many people do you know who have put on 5, 10, 15 pounds over the past two years? Many of my clients have been expressing apathy towards their own health. Now is the time for taking back control of your health and here are my top 5 tips for doing just that!
TIP #1: Optimize Hormonal Function
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy is designed to help bring your body back to peak performance – from the inside out. Hormones work together like a symphony. When one hormone takes a nosedive it affects the entire body. After the age of 40, declining hormones are our body’s way of starting the aging process. Gradually we lose muscle, bone, collagen, cognitive function, and even libido (that’s our body’s way of saying that there’s no point in having sex if we shouldn’t be making babies!).
One of my favourite books on the topic is The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfried. She has a comical way of describing what happens to us in our 40s. Another great book from the male perspective is Venus on Fire, Mars On Ice by Dr. John Gray. Also an entertaining explanation of what happens to us after a certain age. Knowledge is power! Whether you’re new to hormone health or need a refresher, see the chart below for a breakdown of the seven main sex hormones and their very important functions.
KEY POINT: Essentially, it’s the Goldilocks Theory! Too little hormones are bad and too many hormones are bad. That’s why it’s important to have regular check-ins when being prescribed bioidentical hormones so, schedule your check-in with Hayley today!
In Alberta, primary care services are provided by both family doctors and AHS. It includes the initial care, treatment, and follow-up of various conditions as well as referrals to the rest of the health system as needed. If you are over 40, it is especially important to receive primary care as this is a super important time to begin cancer screenings. We all know the impact of the past two years on delayed diagnosis and early diagnosis is key. A successful primary care team includes family physicians and other health professionals such as mental health specialists, dieticians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses working together. If you need a family doctor, reach out to albertahealthservices.ca!
TIP #2: Pay Attention to Your Waist-to-Hip Ratio
In the meantime, calculate your waist-to-hip ratio to give you an idea of where your health is at. The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is one of several measurements your doctor can use to see if excess weight is putting your health at risk. Unlike your body mass index (BMI), which calculates the ratio of your weight to your height, WHR measures the ratio of your waist circumference to your hip circumference. It determines how much fat is stored on your waist, hips, and buttocks. Not all excess weight is the same when it comes to your health risks.
One 2021 study showed that people who carry more of their weight around their midsection (an apple-shaped body) may be at a higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and premature death than people who carry more of their weight in their hips and thighs (a pear-shaped body). Even if your BMI is within a moderate range, your risk of disease may be increased. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a moderate WHR is:
- 0.9 or less in men
- 0.85 or less for women
In both men and women, a WHR of 1.0 or higher increases the risk of heart disease and other conditions that are linked to being overweight.
How to Calculate Your Waist-to-Hip Ratio
You can figure out your WHR on your own, or your doctor can do it for you. To measure it yourself:
- Stand up straight and breathe out. Use a tape measure to check the distance around the smallest part of your waist, just above your belly button – this is your waist circumference.
- Then measure the distance around the largest part of your hips, the widest part of your buttocks – this is your hip circumference.
- Calculate your WHR by dividing your waist circumference by your hip circumference.
Waist-to-Hip Ratio Chart
0.80 or lower
0.95 or lower
0.86 or higher
1.0 or higher
TIP #3: Move Your Body
It is no secret that many of us have put on a few pounds since February 2020. Comfort food delivered comfort! Gyms being closed allowed breaks in our routines. Wearing “lounge clothes” disguised a changing waistline! Not to mention we’ve aged two more years. I challenge you to do an honest assessment of your physical health. I’m not talking about how hot you look in a bikini, I’m talking about your energy levels! Do your legs tire when climbing up a hill or a set of stairs? Does your lower back feel a little achy? Does your tummy feel bloated and puffy? Would you rather binge-watch Netflix than go to a workout class? Set some intentions (notice how I didn’t use the word goals), like perhaps:
- Dust off your fitness tracker and set a goal to double your daily steps.
- Sign up for a 5 or 10K fundraiser this spring (I took the liberty of signing up my whole family for one!)
- Call a friend to go for a walk or hike 3 times a week!
- Try a yoga class!
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more – exercise is medicine! At the end of this blog, I promise to share an awesome 9-minute video showing the improvement in heart health with just 30 minutes of walking!
TIP #4: Eat for Your Health
Are you eating and/or drinking to improve your health? Again, comfort food and drinks have been just that… comforting! So now I’ll ask, do you feel comfortable with your health?
Focus on Quality of Calories Instead of Number of Calories
Food triggers hormonal responses that control metabolic processes in your body, such as the amount of fat burned or the amount of fat stored. For example, fruit and vegetables have high fibre content, which makes it almost impossible to overconsume. It’s things like bread, pasta, cereal, and other starchy foods, which have been processed and refined, that cause you to overeat. Refined and processed foods are high in calories and low in nutrition. Consuming these foods can cause a cascade of hormonal responses that increase body fat, even on slim people. Cheese is definitely a highly processed food and extremely addictive – save it for special occasions!
Focus on eating whole, real food. 6-8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day with more beans and legumes. Whole grains, unprocessed. We all know what a healthy diet looks like so add in more of the good stuff! Your body will feel more energized and lighter, it will thank you! My absolute favourite nutrition book that I recommend to my patients is How Not To Diet by Dr. Michael Gregor. Try it on audio while on the treadmill – kill two intentions with one stone!
TIP #5: Get Social and Reconnect
We are social creatures and the last two years put most of us into isolation. We’ve grown quite comfortable being alone or snuggled up with the TV or social media. It’s not good for our mental health, we are meant to have more interaction. It’s time to reconnect! Pick up the phone and call (or text!) a friend and get reacquainted.
Telehealth has become the norm, not only for primary care, but also for our clients on Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy. Many of you got to know Dr. Briggs in the years before he moved to Ottawa and haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Hayley Diakiw, our hormone specialist, face to face. Some of you know that Hayley travels back and forth between BC and Alberta to work for EA, our family’s business. I am very excited to announce that Hayley has some upcoming in-person visits and would be thrilled to meet you in the clinic! She’ll be available for these in-person visits:
- March 8 – 10
- June 15 – 17
Also, as promised, check out this video that shares the single best thing we can do for our health!