Live a Little!

November 12, 2010 | By | Comments (0)

-1 When I saw the title of this book at my local library the other day, I couldn’t help but pick it up. Written by two leading authorities on female health, Dr. Susan Love and Dr. Alice Domar, the book dispels many myths we have all come to accept as truths. The authors argue (on the book jacket, no less) that breaking the rules won’t break your health. In fact it’s perfectly OK to eat a brownie, blow off your run or fail to get eight quality hours of sleep every night.

Did you know, ladies, you may not even need to subject yourself to an annual pap smear?

Live a Little! examines six popular areas of worry for most women: sleep, stress, preventive care, exercise, nutrition, and personal relationships and provides realistic guidelines for living a life that’s, well, good enough. I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to do all the things I am supposed to do in a given day, never mind squeezing in rigorous cardio and weight training on alternate days, eating 13 servings of fruits and vegetables, meditating, making time for my husband, going to bed early. You know what I mean.

A few months ago, I had a visit with a new primary care physician in my new city. She spent about an hour with me in her office, taking my medical history and asking a bunch of questions. I felt we clicked. I enjoyed her sense of humor. She agreed that I’m pretty healthy for a 41-year-old woman. No serious complaints. But then she started peppering me with questions about preventive screenings. Why hadn’t I had my baseline mammogram yet? Why hadn’t I had a colonoscopy when there’s history of colon polyps in my family? Have I seen a new OB/GYN? Why not?

Woah. Suddenly my excuse for letting these things slip a little—moving—felt embarrassingly lame. “Well, we just moved, our family has new health insurance, not everyone here accepts this insurance, I put the kids first since they needed a pediatrician and shots to start school, I’ve been traveling every other week for business…. . And it took me weeks just to find you!”

Plus, who among us is eager to get a colonoscopy?

I left the office with a stack of papers for follow up testing and felt slightly scolded. I was to schedule a mammogram, a colonoscopy, complete blood work and a pap smear. All just routine tests because let’s face it, I didn’t even have a complaint to share during the visit. But what if something is growing inside my body somewhere? What if I have a problem I don’t even know about yet?

Live a Little! put some of that fear and worry into perspective. Page 93 of the book has a terrific list of screening recommendations for everything from mammograms to bone density scans. And while I enjoyed all of the terrific information in this book, my favorite chapter had to be Chapter 7: You, Me, Us-Healthy Relationships.

Did you know that 40 percent of women respond to overwork and stress by cutting back the time they spend with friends and family?

That, the book points out, is one of the worst things we can do when trying to live a little.