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Are You Ready for a Change?

written by Thu Tran, MD,FACOG
on Monday, 27th May ,2013

We women are interesting. I know this for a fact because I have been an obstetrician/gynecologist for almost 22 years. I have seen thousands of women from all age groups and delivered thousands of babies. I have seen teenagers struggling with acne and sexuality, elderly women struggling with mobility and illnesses, and middle age and perimenopausal women struggling with...well, everything from hot flashes to moodiness, from divorces to depression to dating and second marriages. Some of those days, my nurse Roxanne and I thought we were living in a Seinfeld episode. Other days, we pondered why so many sad things can happen to so many women, and yet they would bounce back and get on with their lives again.

As a gender, we are quite complicated. In general, most of us do not think so highly of ourselves. Maybe because most of us expect so much of ourselves. It wouldn't be enough to be a mother and wife, daughter and successful career woman . We have to be at every basketball game to see our sons and daughters play. We have to scream our heads off, knowing that they are going to lose anyway but still have the satisfaction of cheering for them. After our child's defeat, we never look back and we say to ourselves:

"Wow, what a waste of time! I should have gone shopping!"

In between seeing patients, for example, we women physicians have to figure out how to get our children to their music lessons on time, what healthy food to serve once we get home, what homework we need to supervise, what clothes need to be worn to accommodate the weather in the morning. After the children go to bed, some of us got so exhausted but would drag ourselves to the laundry room or fold the clothes on the bed, as in my case, put there earlier by our husbands who are somewhere out of town on their business trips. We fold the clothes while watching Anderson Cooper telling us what has been going on in the world so that we can be in "the loop", the loop of humanity. If we are lucky, there would be no clothes on the bed that night and we can do push ups or sit ups while Anderson Cooper is telling his stories. We then make sure our alarm clock is on so that we will not oversleep in the morning, and then the whole scenario of our daily life plays over again.

How do we try to do it all? I guess we were born to be multitasking. It's the only way to pack all these activities into a brief time segment of our lives. It's the only way for us to explore all the activities women were meant to do. We keep going at it and ignore all those name callings that society puts upon us, tiger moms, helicopter parents, anal retentive freaking parents... As a matter of fact, many of us even think being helicopter parents is not sufficient. We want to lurk around our kids on the ground, closer in and not from above their "periphery".

As for the women at home, the tasks can be even more daunting. We, many times, would be expected to be the classroom parent, the seamstress who makes Halloween customs for our children, the house cleaner, the chauffeur and chef. Our days, many times, are considered "easier" than our husbands' who bring the money home and make the whole household "functional".

And don't forget that we are expected to look good, to be feminine, to be nurturing, whether or not we work outside of the home or be the perfect "homemaker".

With all those stressful tasks, you would think we would "perish" before the guys. But, as you know, we continue to bounce back and outlive the guys. The women's lifespan now is 82 years on average, while our guys end their journey around 80! It's not just our nagging that might have sent our guys to heaven earlier, I am telling you, it's the resiliency and endurance of our gender! Replace that energizer bunny in the commercial with a woman and nobody can tell the difference. Well, we hopefully look better than a rabbit!

Our blog is to be for everyone to read, although I have to say I am more of an expert in womanhood since it's my medical specialty. The men often are in the periphery when I am taking care of my patients. I have learned many things about men from the male members of my family, but also through the eyes of the women I have the pleasure to take care of daily. My friends Marsha and Linda, being internists, and many of the other boot campers, on the other hand, have a mixture of male and female patients. Their "blogging" will be on topics that involve both genders. Most of us are in the healthcare industry, and having exercised together every Saturday for the last two years, we can't help but talk a lot about fitness and health. Since most of us are in or about to enter "middle age", aging is an inevitable subject that would come up many time.

Weight loss is a big topic on our blog. As many men would agree, there are very few women who think they are slim. As a matter of fact, the majority of the patients who decline to be weighed yearly in my office are the truly "skinny" ones. Many slim patients also get panicked as they discover that their current weight is two or three pounds more than the year before. Some very obese women, on the other hand, are well aware of their condition but also very defensive about it. I can't even tell you how many times I have gingerly told a patient about her elevated Body Mass Index or BMI, the ratio of someone's weight in kilogram divided by their height in square meters.

"I know I am overweight, but I am not eating very much and I have tried every exercise!" This is a classic conversation stopper!
Or,

"I know I am overweight, but I like sweets and I can't do anything about it!" At least, this patient was honest to herself.

Unlike what overweight patients believe, many slim people like to eat. I am one of those folks. I have a weakness for sweet bubble drinks, hash browns and sausages.The reason I can keep myself slim is the basic recognition of what goes in has to come out when it comes to calories. If one can't exercise enough to burn 3500 Cal, one should not consume enough food to make them gain one pound. It's as simple as that. You also need to remember that a Calorie is a Calorie, no matter what kind of food you are consuming. To run away from "carbs" and substitute your intake with an amount of protein in equal calories will not prevent you from gaining weight!

In our future blogs, we hope to give you all many helpful tips of how to prevent breaking your scale at home. And if you happen to break your scale, do not fuss over it for too long. What comes up has to come down. Many of us have seen Oprah deflated then inflated in front of our eyes, sometimes in a short time! "Wow", we say to ourselves, "What happens? How did she do that?"

On the other hand, the last time I saw Jennifer Hudson on TV, I was so shocked. Jennifer looked great but I wondered if she ever stopped and thought, "What happened to the other half of me?" Obesity can come and go, and yes, there are many things we can do to change the way we look.

"How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?" my husband often asks jokingly.
"One! But the light bulb has to want to change!" He gets many laughs for this old joke , but isn't it the truth about human's attitude?

Changes take time and effort. Changes can bring fear, anxiety and impatience. But aren't these all about attitude?

We welcome any feedback from our readers. Come join us on our ride to your good health! Remember we might pass this world only once, so our ride should be fun. Always think of a good life as a life in balance. It is good not to be beyond two standard deviations of anything. We want to be like the Goldie Locks girl " Not too fat, not too thin, but just right!"

Until next time,

 Thu

"Any changes, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts."
Arnold Bennett

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."
Maya Angelou

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