By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager
Balancing the obligations of work, family and friends for many women means their health comes last, but one expert said it doesn’t have to be that way.
“The odds are stacked against us,” said Carolyn Stephenson, executive vice president of strategy at Syneos Health and speaker at the July Women, Wealth & Wellness Conference.
Stephenson offered some sobering statistics on diseases that impact women:
“According to the CDC, one out of two women will develop cancer in their lifetime, one out of five will develop Alzheimer's, one out of nine will get type two diabetes and 80% of all autoimmune conditions happen to women,” she said.
Stephenson is also the owner of Nutrition Nerd and a coach and certified hormone specialist, and said many of her clients are busy, professional women who too often put their health after taking care of their other responsibilities.
“Think about the role that women play in our society, whether it's familial or professional, we are the caretakers of our families and our communities,” she said. “And at a time when the world really needs us to be at our best, we're grappling with poor health, and we're really struggling as a collective group.”
Instead of feeling overwhelmed at the thought of completely changing your life when it comes to your health, Stephenson said there are countless micro-actions you can put into practice instead that can make a huge difference in your overall health.
A common denominator of those with type two diabetes and Alzheimer’s is consistently elevated blood sugar. To help keep blood sugar in check, she suggested moving around for ten minutes after eating lunch, whether that’s walking around your office building, putting laundry away or other activities to keep you moving.
“You can do this up to an hour after you eat, it doesn't have to be done immediately,” she said. “As you're moving around, it helps your body to shuttle the glucose from your food into your cells so it can use it as energy rather than storing it away as excess fat.”
Being more mindful of how you plan out your meals can also make a significant difference, she said. Meal prepping is a popular option, although some people don’t have the time or patience to spend extra time looking up recipes and cutting up food to prep for the week.
“It might be as simple as saying ‘I'm going to buy my veggies precut, wash them and put them in a container.’ And that way they're in the fridge, ready to just throw together for a quick salad in the morning before work,” she said.
Meal planning is highly individualized, Stephenson said, according to someone’s dietary preferences, work schedule, family obligations and more. It’s about finding a routine that works for you and that you are able to put it into practice. Regular exercise is another activity that some people can find difficult to fit into a schedule. Focus on getting in 20 to 30 minutes of exercise three times a week, which could be done with a brisk walk.
“I want women to be empowered with the right knowledge to make healthy choices that fit their lifestyle,” she said. “I would love for everyone to walk away thinking ‘I'm going to do this right now. I feel like this is achievable.’”
Register today for the Women, Wealth & Wellness Conference!