This week is National Women’s Health Week, a week set aside as a reminder for women to make their health a priority and build positive health habits for life. The week encourages women to visit their doctors for a well-woman visit and preventive screenings, to get active, eat healthy, take care of their mental health and make positive health choices overall.
The theme this year is What I Wish I’d Known. I believe everything happens for a reason, and even the “challenges” we face have a purpose and help shape you. No regrets, right? Honestly though, there are some things I’d wish I’d known that could have prevented a lot of unnecessary “challenges”. Things like being kind to myself, asking for help and putting my health first. I wish I understood my body and my menstrual cycle more as a teenager. While we can learn from every experience, we can also learn from others and their insights.
When my mom and I started Diva in 2001, we were on a major mission. Nothing could stop us and we were unstoppable. I would work every day of the week and work late into the night. Who needs sleep? Over time, this leads to adrenal fatigue and other health issues. Especially when my focus was 100% on work and not making time for healthy eating, exercise and sleep!
Caring for your period doesn’t need to be uncomfortable or wasteful. I had a really difficult relationship with my cycle. Thankfully, I discovered a better way early on. For those of you who know the Diva story, you know that by the age of 14, I was already using a menstrual cup. But, even still, while I had found menstrual care that was better for me and actually worked, like most teenage girls, the dynamics of my cycle changed with every cycle. My period took a few years to stabilize. Your cycle is supposed to change as you age. Your first period will not be the same as a period you experience in your 30s or 40s. Our bodies change so much every few years, and with this, so too does our cycles. Add to this, having children, and your cycle experience is taken to a whole new level (we’re talking heavier and possibly more cramps for the first few postnatal periods).
Being healthy takes work. Today, we can go into a grocery store and leave with a fully cooked meal or enough frozen/packaged items to create a super tasty meal in minutes. But, convenience doesn’t always translate into healthy, wholesome foods.
It’s okay to “cheat” sometimes, I love my dark chocolate! I do my best to eat a whole foods diet. I find avoiding sugar, wheat and dairy makes me feel better, and reduces a number of symptoms related to my cycle. But, if I’m being honest, eating healthy takes time and is a lot of work. Meal prep is awesome, if you have the time to prep. Eating local and organic is the ideal, but not always accessible to everyone. With two young kids and a business to run, some nights, we end up ordering take out.
I don’t mind working out, but it’s not a passion of mine. I enjoy being on the move and staying active with my kids, but heading to a cycle class at 5 am is a real struggle for me. The most successful tip for me has been to find activities that I enjoy and can incorporate into my lifestyle. I love practicing yoga and it’s helped me to be kinder to myself and slow things down, even if it’s only for a short time.
Above all, take time to rest and reflect at the end of each day. Be sure to also test your health IQ, get health tips, and find out more about National Women’s Health Week at www.womenshealth.gov/nwhw. You also can follow HHS OWH on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.