Tag Archives: women’s health

My Whole30 Journey

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Okay, I’m going to really open up here, so get ready. This past month my family and I have been participating in the Whole30 dietary reset plan. I don’t usually do diets because after a childhood filled with dieting, I don’t really believe in them, but I did some research and this program seems different. The idea is for 30 days to eliminate the most common food groups known to cause inflammation, digestive issues, headaches, allergies, etc. What remains is a core diet of protein, healthy fats (yay avocadoes!), vegetables and fruit. It is very restrictive, but is not intended to be a long term, sustainable way of eating. After the 30 days, the eliminated foods are reintroduced, slowly, to determine what, if any, reactions might occur. Knowing how your body reacts with certain foods helps you to make good decisions about what to eat and when. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well, yes…and no.

I started this plan at the suggestion of my strength trainer. I’ve always suspected I have some food sensitivities and during the recent quarantine, my habits have become, shall we say, sloppy? When I mentioned it to my husband, he decided to try the plan, too, and so did my son and daughter. I’m not sure how they have all processed the program, or what they’ve learned, but for me it’s been fairly eye opening. Once I recovered from the detox of sugar, alcohol, grains, glutens, etc., I was able to reflect on other issues. How do I feel before and after I eat? How do I feel during meals? Lots of thoughts bubbled to the surface and some painful memories.

As a child I was fairly average size; definitely not a skinny kid, could be described at times as a tad chubby. One year at my annual checkup, the pediatrician gave my mother a 1200-1400 calorie a day diet for me to follow to lose weight. I must have been somewhere between eight and ten, maybe could have lost a few pounds, but overall not terribly heavy. But I followed the diet. Deprived of sweets, small portions, limited bread. I don’t remember the results, but I’m sure it worked to a point. Then there was the Weight Watcher experience, which I did with my mom who was also overweight. And sometime later, as I got closer to puberty, the doctor prescribed diet pills. Diet pills!!!! For a pre-teen girl!!!!! By the time I was 13, I’d slimmed down, like most of the other girls. But those diet and body image messages have stayed with me all these years. I had an ulcer when I was 14 and spent two weeks in a hospital for tests when I was 16 because I was experiencing chronic stomach aches. The result: “spastic colon,” which is basically saying I was a typical, anxious, teen who felt everything in the gut.

I am fully aware that my parents and my pediatrician made what they believed were decisions in my best interest. And I am also aware that I’m not alone in this experience. My younger sister, who was not placed on a diet, most likely observed my experience and has struggled with body image and eating issues. She recently confessed to me that she is terrified of being fat. Most of my women friends of a “certain age,” if they’re being honest, likely have a similar story to tell. The media during the 60s and 70s was filled with images of skinny, Twiggy-like models. Actresses were required to be skinny. The whole notion of the female form was objectified, sexualized, demeaned. The idea was to become as small as possible, for what???? To disappear? To not realize our full potential as people, regardless of our looks? To appease the insecurities of the male dominated culture? Okay, okay, I need to calm down.

I have had anxiety about food and my body my whole life. I am about to turn 62-years-old this week and I still feel burdened by a childhood that, while happy and privileged, left me loathing my own body. I have been pregnant and given birth to three babies, breastfed them for a total of three years of my life. I have danced on stage, run 5k races, hiked, swam, lifted weights, practiced Pilates, carried my children in my arms, carried groceries into my house and helped carry my mother when she was ill. I am a freakin’ miracle! And yet, when I sit down to eat a meal, I get a stomachache. At a restaurant I am paralyzed by indecision. Do I order what looks good, or what is healthiest? What actually is the healthiest? How will I feel after I eat? Even at home where I do most of the cooking, I am insecure about what I, myself, should be eating. I spend a lot of time thinking about these things. I am envious that my husband can go merrily through life eating whatever he wants and if he puts on a few pounds, oh well, he’ll just take them off again. For him, eating is just another thing he has to do. And while his body has aged and changed through the years, eh, who cares? He has most of his hair, he wears the same size pants and looks pretty great! Why can’t I feel like that????

So, where do I go from here? I’m not sure. Over the last few weeks I have experienced what it is like to eat without pain. I have learned how to determine if I am really hungry for a snack, and if so, what is something that will fuel my body. I have worked hard to analyze how food makes me feel. I still have a lot of work to do. I’m scared to reintroduce the foods I’ve eliminated because I don’t want to once again experience pain when I eat. But, that’s the next step in this experiment. I don’t want to continue to be afraid of food. Afraid to get fat. Afraid of pain. I don’t want to feel shame because I didn’t make a, “good,” choice. I want to truly enjoy food and eating for what it is: nourishment for this miracle of a body. I want to go through my day without worrying about meals and how I will feel. I want to continue to prepare healthy, enjoyable meals for myself and my family. I want to be grateful for the body I live in and the good health I enjoy. I want this next ride around the sun to bring me freedom from the fear of food, peace with my body and most of all, continuing good health.

Let’s touch base next year and see how it goes. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, wear a mask and wash your hands!


About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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The Road Ahead:  How I Stopped Making Excuses and Learned To Love, er, Like Running


I have a confession to make: I like running.

Not the most earth shattering admission, to be sure, but for me this is mind blowing.  You see, for most of my adult life I have had a love/hate relationship with this type of exercise and by that I mean mostly a hate relationship.  I have started running many times over the years, only to stop over and over for reasons ranging from tendonitis to a lack of time.  I have also invested in countless pairs of specialized shoes, fancy leggings, supportive bras and sweat-wicking socks.  Each of these also was a “culprit” for quitting.  The shoes just didn’t work with my plantar fasciitis, the leggings were too hot, the socks bunched up and the bras weren’t supportive enough.  You get the idea.

So what’s different this time, you ask?  I’ve been trying to figure that one out.  For starters, this past year I’ve packed on some unwanted pounds without changing much about my diet or lifestyle.  I’ve also been feeling sluggish and irritable and definitely not my usual perky self.  Added to all this is a general malaise and a desire for more challenge in my life.  I definitely want to recapture my energy and enthusiasm.  And while there is so much we can’t control, we can definitely control our exercise.  So off I went in search of some new physical challenge.

First in my quest was a personal trainer at the YMCA and a program of weight lifting and cardio, along with my regular Pilates regimen.  All went well for a couple of months and I really loved how my body was changing and becoming more toned and defined.  But one morning I awoke with neck pain so severe I could not move my head.  This continued for a couple of months and even with a lighter weight load, the pain and stiffness persisted.  So I stopped the weight training.

I have several friends who are runners and I began quizzing them on why they like it and how they train.  One friend calls running an “efficient” form of exercise.  She can accomplish some high level problem solving and planning while she runs.  Another runs so she can enjoy a foodie lifestyle with her husband.  Another just likes to sweat.  My weight trainer is also a runner and she didn’t start until after she turned 40.  She was my best cheerleader and encouraged me to just get out there and set small goals.

Once again, I invested in some great shoes, fancy leggings and a supportive bra and, joined by my new puppy Bentley, off I started.  The area around my house is very hilly and not much fun so after several weeks of hell, I headed to the local greenway, a flat nature trail that goes for miles.  The first day I decided to just run without tracking my speed or distance.  And I’m not going to lie, for the first 20 minutes or so I kept thinking of excuses to stop.  But I focused my gaze on the road ahead and kept going, Bentley at my side.  I’m not sure how far I ran that day before turning around and walking the last bit, but when I finished I felt great!  It was still hot and humid, but the feeling of accomplishment, of pushing myself to my limit, was exhilarating!

I’m now a couple of months into this running experiment and I have been tracking my speed and distance.  I’ve worked up to running 5 miles at a fairly good clip.  I’ve participated in two races, a 5K where I had my personal best time and a 5-mile where I ran and walked with my daughter.  I’ve lost weight, I sleep more soundly, I have found my energy and I feel like myself again.  I still spend the first mile or so thinking up reasons to stop, but so far I have been successful in keeping my gaze fixed on the road ahead, setting small goals to stay motivated and finishing what I started.  Efficient, challenging, good cardio; Sounds like life.

I really like running!

About Barbara Dab:

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She currently hosts two radio shows locally in Nashville, TN. Check out her website athttp://www.zoneabouttown.com.

Barbara is also creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation. Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com If you, or someone you know, is the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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Health Savvy: Don’t Forget the Easy Things!

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You know the regimen of taking care of yourself: each day you avoid processed foods, eat modestly, enjoying fresh fruits, vegetables and fish or lean meats; you get your body moving at least 30 minutes 5 days a week; you watch your blood pressure and risk of diabetes; you get your mammograms, colonoscopies and Pap smears; you get a good night’s sleep each night and make sure your family does, too. Right. Creating the conditions for your health to thrive is practically a full time job.

What if there was something easy you could do that requires just a few minutes once a year? What if you could lower the chances of debilitating and life-threatening diseases without a second thought? What if insurance would likely foot the bill? As a specialist in preventive medicine and public health, I remind people daily of one of the easiest and most under-appreciated ways to stay healthy as we age: immunization.  Below are listed a few vaccines routinely recommended for all adult women (and men) at different points in life. For more details, you can visit www.vaccineinformation.org or www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults

  1. Every woman, every year: Influenza (flu) vaccine. The only reliable way to cut your chances of catching the flu each season. How well it works depends on the season and on your immune system, but it’s inexpensive and widely available, so why not? It comes as a nasal spray, a short under-the-skin injection or a traditional injection: get whatever is convenient and appropriate for you. You cannot afford to get sick and spend a week in bed, or worse, so make this part of your annual self-care regimen. For efficiency, get any other vaccines you need at the same time.
  2. Every woman: Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis booster (“Tdap”). We all need a vaccine against tetanus and diphtheria every 10 years. If you haven’t had a Tdap yet, don’t wait 10 years…go ahead and get it now. It provides added protection against pertussis, or whooping cough, which has been on the rise in recent years because (regrettably) neither vaccine nor illness provides long lasting immunity. It causes a miserable cough illness that lasts weeks in adults and life-threatening illness in newborns.
  3. Speaking of newborns…All pregnant women should get 2 vaccines during every pregnancy: flu vaccine and Tdap. Influenza during pregnancy can be especially severe, and newborns can catch deadly pertussis from mom or others. By vaccinating during pregnancy, mom’s body shares her protective antibodies with her unborn child, helping protect baby in the earliest weeks of life.
  4. All women through 26 years: Human Papillomavirus vaccine (HPV). This vaccine prevents infection with strains of HPV that cause 70% of cervical cancer and other types of cancers in men and women. It’s routinely given to preteens, but this vaccine is essential cancer prevention for any woman under 27 who hasn’t had it yet.
  5. All women 60 and up: Shingles (zoster) vaccine. Anyone who has had chickenpox can come down with shingles, a painful rash that develops from reactivation of the chickenpox virus inside a nerve. If you are 60 or older, your chances of coming down with it are 1 in 3. The shingles vaccine, given just once to everyone over 60, can cut that to 1 in 6. If you do get shingles anyway, you’ll be much less likely to experience the debilitating pain some sufferers endure for months.
  6. All women 65 and up (and some earlier): pneumococcal vaccine. The “pneumonia shot” is recommended once after turning 65, but watch this space! New recommendations for additional protection may be coming very soon.

This list just hits the highlights of routine vaccines. You may need others because of your health. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires your insurance plan to charge no deductible or co-pay if you receive them from an in-network provider. Coverage is a bit more complicated under Medicare, TennCare and “grandfathered” plans not yet subject to ACA. Ask your healthcare provider, insurance plan or pharmacist to see what your benefits are. The savvy woman doesn’t pass up the chance to optimize her health.

About Kelly L. Moore, MD, MPH

Dr. Moore is a public health physician, with a specialty in preventive medicine, who works to minimize the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases.

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