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standing on scaleSo, you've turned the corner at age 40 – or maybe you're closer to 50 – and perimenopause is here. That's the 5-to-10-year period (no pun intended) when your body begins to transition toward menopause. Those fluctuating hormones during perimenopause can result in weight gain, but this new season of life doesn't have to come with excess pounds.  Now is the time to develop some good habits that will pay off when you step on the scale and for your overall health.

First, don't go on a strict diet to avoid gaining weight. A very-low-calorie diet sends starvation signals to your body and can lower your metabolic rate that's under fire from those see-sawing hormones. A lower metabolic rate makes it harder to lose pounds, and you'll lose more muscle mass.

If you want an eating plan that will help you keep those pounds off, try the Mediterranean diet that focuses on healthy fats, more vegetables and smaller amounts of lean meat. It's a dietary program that can help you lose weight and it's one that you can live with for the rest of your life.

A specific diet plan isn't necessary – just remember it's important to know what you eat and how you eat it. Try to have protein at every meal. It's absorbed by the body more slowly and makes you feel full longer. Adding protein can be as easy as putting a handful of beans in your salad or enjoying a cup of yogurt for dessert.

Avoid mindless eating – the kind that happens when you're eating while doing something else, like watching TV. Think about what you're eating and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Slow down and take more time between bites of food and you're likely to eat less, enjoy your food more, and feel full before you finish what’s on your plate.

Weightlifting can also be a great help or just use a set of resistance bands. Studies have shown that resistance exercise with more repetitions can build muscle mass and reduce abdominal fat in older women. Include aerobic exercise like jogging, spinning, jumping rope or rowing and you'll help preserve muscle while you lose those excess pounds.

Managing your weight is a job that can happen even when you're sleeping. Not enough shuteye can affect the balance of hormones that trigger hunger and indicate fullness. Prepare for a good night's sleep with meditation, deep breathing, or a warm bath. Listen to soothing music or use a white noise machine. Keep your bedroom in complete darkness and turn off your computer, TV, and cell phone.

 


sleepless womanThere are plenty of things that can keep you up at night when you're pregnant, but you won't need to lose so much sleep if you follow these tips.

Avoid fluids two hours before bedtime and try to empty your bladder completely before going to sleep. This will help prevent the need to wake up to use the bathroom overnight.

They call it “morning sickness” but it can strike at night, too.  Unlike that empty bladder, you should always try to keep something in your stomach to avoid nausea. Have some crackers at your bedside or try drinking ginger tea to soothe nausea.

Back pain caused by a growing baby can interrupt your sleep. Try using a pillow between your legs to support your abdomen and sleep on your left side. This allows maximum blood flow and could reduce swelling in the legs.

Restless Leg Syndrome strikes about one out of five pregnant women who are expecting and is a major cause of sleep deprivation in the latter stages of pregnancy. You can help prevent this by taking folate and iron supplements, avoiding caffeine and with more exercise like walking.

Severe leg cramps can also interrupt your sleep. This can be caused by low calcium and magnesium levels, so talk with your obstetrician about whether you need calcium supplements. Foods high in magnesium such as almonds, cashews, legumes, and dairy products may be helpful.

About 40 percent of women snore during pregnancy. This could be a sign of sleep apnea, when your airway collapses and you stop breathing momentarily. Sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure and if your snoring is loud enough to wake your partner, talk with your obstetrician about it.

If the problem is getting to sleep in the first place, develop a calming routine before bedtime. That means no computers, cell phones, or television before bed. You can also try relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, abdominal breathing, and guided imagery.

 


healthy lifestyle

Whether you're a new graduate, a young professional, a busy mom, an empty nester or a senior citizen, there are steps you can take for better health. The Office on Women's Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers these suggestions. Don't forget that your annual well-woman visit is covered without charge to you under most health insurance plans and Medicare.

If You Are In Your 20s

Get an annual well-woman visit.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days.
Talk with your doctor about when you need a Pap test.
Talk with your doctor about whether you plan to have children in the next year. If not, choose the right birth control to avoid pregnancy.
Get the HPV vaccine if you have not yet received the series of shots.
Get a seasonal flu shot.

If You Are In Your 30s

Get an annual well-woman visit.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days.
Talk with your doctor about when you need an HPV test.
Ask about getting your cholesterol checked if you have a family history of heart problems.
Talk with your doctor about any family history of cancers.
Get a seasonal flu shot.

If You Are In Your 40s

Get an annual well-woman visit.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days.
Get tested for diabetes if you are overweight or obese.
Talk with your doctor about when you need a screening mammogram.
Talk with your doctor about screening for hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Get a seasonal flu shot.

If You Are In Your 50s

Get an annual well-woman visit.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days.
Get a mammogram on the schedule recommended by your doctor.
Get screened for colorectal cancer.
Ask about lung cancer screening if you are a current or past smoker.
Get screened for hepatitis C if you were born before 1965.
Talk with your doctor about stress, depression, and other mental health concerns.
Get a seasonal flu shot.

If You Are In Your 60s

Get an annual well woman visit.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days unless you have a limiting chronic condition.
Get a mammogram on the schedule recommended by your doctor.
Get a shingles shot and a pneumonia shot (65 and older).
Talk with your doctor about preventing falls.
Get screened for colorectal cancer.
Get a seasonal flu shot.

If You Are In Your 70s

Get an annual well-woman visit.
Talk with your doctor about a physical activity program, including one for low fitness levels or chronic conditions if needed.
Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity on most days.
Talk with your doctor about any hearing or vision problems.
Get a shingles shot or a pneumonia shot if you haven’t had one before.
Get screened for colorectal cancer.
Get a seasonal flu shot.

 


confused womanYou've probably seen stories of celebrities who are pregnant and joke about forgetting things. Pregnancy brain isn't a laughing matter for mothers-to-be who feel like their mind is always in a fog. But is this a real medical condition?

If you ask a medical professional, the answer is probably “no.” A 2014 study found no evidence of memory or attention problems among pregnant women as compared to women who weren't pregnant. But the pregnant women in that study still felt they’d done poorly.

So is pregnancy brain is all in your head? Yes it is, and that makes it feel very real.

Surging pregnancy hormones can have an effect on your memory. Research has shown that your brain functions differently during pregnancy, with more brain activity associated with emotional skills to help you bond more easily with your baby. 

Those same hormones can do a number on your sleep schedule and contribute to attention deficit, and it doesn't end when the baby arrives. A study found that half of new moms still felt very sleepy 18 weeks after giving birth.

Pregnancy hormones can even affect how you see the world. A 2010 study showed that your spatial memory is reduced in the latter stages of pregnancy. This is what helps you remember your way to somewhere, or where you put something.

Even though you won't find “momnesia” in a medical journal, most women will experience some of the symptoms of pregnancy brain.  Amid this mind fog, try to remember that it's normal to forget some things or get confused at times.  Talk to your doctor if you feel this is seriously affecting your quality of life.

The cure for pregnancy brain comes when your baby arrives. That's when you'll forget you've forgotten so much and start to remember all the things you need to know as a new mother.

 


number 50You've hit the half-century mark. Congratulations! Maybe you already reached menopause and are taking steps to deal with the health effects of changing hormones. But what else can you do to stay healthy in your 50s? Here are five suggestions:

1. Boost Your B12 But Ditch The Extra Iron
Vitamin B12 supports healthy nerve and blood cells, but as you age it's harder for the body to absorb it from food. Adding B12 to your diet as a supplement can help prevent problems long before they start. On the other hand, too much iron can be toxic for your liver and heart. Most post-menopausal women don't need iron supplements, so avoid any multivitamin that includes extra iron unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

2. Build Your Brain And Bones
If the brain is the biggest muscle in your body, more exercise in your 50s can help you build it up. People who exercise see more activity in the region of the brain that's responsible for memory. Likewise, regular exercise including strength training such as lifting weights can battle the effects of bone thinning that can lead to osteoporosis.

3. Eat Like a Greek
The Mediterranean Diet is associated with better heart health and longer life, so it's a natural choice for women over 50. It includes includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, moderate wine consumption and olive oil. It's also a good way to maintain a steady weight, which should be your goal in your 50s.

4. Don't Skip Those Screenings
Your 50s is not the time to ease-off on regular health testing. On the contrary, you'll need to add some new ones like colorectal cancer screening that should include a colonoscopy. And keep getting mammograms and Pap tests on the schedule set by your doctor.

5. Make Time to Help Others
Paying it forward can pay real dividends for your health. Women in their 50s often have more time to volunteer because children are grown and out of the house. The health benefits of volunteering can be measured. In one study, people age 55 and older who did volunteer work had a 44% lower risk of dying over a five-year period.

 

Northline Women's Health Center Locations:

15675 Northline Road

Southgate, MI 48195

(734) 282-3600
(734) 282-3603 - Fax

23050 West Road, Suite 210

Brownstown Twp., MI 48183

(734) 362-7000
(734) 362-7077 - Fax