We made it to another Motivation Monday, but this one comes in the midst of full-blown hustle and bustle time. I’ve already reminded you about the importance of keeping exercise and healthy food prep on your holiday to-do lists. Today, I’m here to remind you about another crucial factor in staying healthy: be sure to keep up with those preventive checkups.
I recently saw my dermatologist for my annual mole check. As a fair-skinned, light-eyed Italian gal with lots of moles from head to toe, this has been an annual and sometimes bi-annual ritual since around the time I turned 30. More often than not, a suspicious mole is scraped and sent to a lab for a biopsy. I’ve always received the all clear, but sometimes only after a second scraping of the area in question after some abnormal cells were detected. That’s what happened after this last checkup. So while my doctor assured me there’s no reason to panic, he does want to excise a bit more of the area for further testing and just keep an eye on it extra closely at my future checkups. I will see him again at the end of this week. Then I can move on and enjoy my Christmas without this extra “thing” on my mind.
Listen, I know how ridiculously busy life can be. However, if there’s a choice between getting a manicure and getting a mammogram during your only free hour of the week, choose the test. My friends who are moms sometimes tell me how they’re long overdue to get to the gynecologist for a checkup, but they haven’t been able to fit it in with all the “stuff” going on with the kids. I tell these amazing women they need to find the time to take care of themselves so they can continue to be there for their kids.
I realize there are only eight days until Hanukkah and 17 days until Christmas. So between working, shopping, baking, gift wrapping, card writing and party-going, this may not be the ideal time for a trip to the doctor’s office. However, if you know you’re due for a checkup or follow-up with one of your health care providers, why not put a 10-minutes aside to make a simple phone call and schedule an appointment for January. (Many doctors offices today even give the option of scheduling your appointments online.) Consider it one of the easiest ways to kick off the New Year with a renewed gusto to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
It seems I’ve gotten into the habit of kicking each new work week with a shot of “Monday Motivation” in the hopes of inspiring more people get moving. On this particular Monday, we also happen to be kicking off Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, it’s the perfect time for me to tell you about yet another reason to make exercise a part of your life.
According to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, there is strong evidence that physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer. Add that to the already long list of benefits from exercise, and you have just one more reason why there’s no better time than now to make fit some fitness into your daily routine!
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. The day she and my dad sat me down to tell me was probably the scariest in my life to date. Fortunately, because my mom has always been adamant about keeping up with her health screenings, the doctors detected the cancer early and she beat it. Today, I am lucky and blessed to be able to say my mom is among the 2.6 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States.
Her diagnosis put me on alert regarding my own health and made me want to do research, speak with my own physicians and learn everything I could about reducing my risk and how to be even more proactive about my health. I had my first mammogram a few months ago. Despite a slight scare when I had to go back for follow-up imaging, everything came back fine in the end. My doctors now have a baseline to compare additional screenings in the future and having that kind of knowledge can only help me stay on top of my health in the long run.
I’ll never be able to thank my mom for all she has given me throughout my life (my dad, too). Along with unconditional love and unwavering support, she has taught me so many important lessons without even knowing it. One of the most important things I have learned is it is important to take care of yourself so you can give of yourself- your time, energy, compassion and love – to others.
To that end, exercise has been a key component for my own well-being while giving me the energy to be concerned about the well being of others. I encourage anyone reading this post to take charge of your health:
- Talk to your physician(s) about your family history and other risk factors for cancer and other diseases
- Don’t put off important health screenings
- When it comes to your eating habits, I believe moderation is crucial to maintaining a “diet” you can live with
If you’ve been looking for a time to turn your take-care-of-you goals into reality, here’s your chance. Make this Breast Cancer Awareness Month your time to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Last Monday marked the start of a banner week. I returned from vacation ready to tackle new projects, deadlines and training sessions with new gusto. I brought my workout routine to a new level with the completion of a killer four-week small group training class. However, the best thing I did for myself all week had nothing to do with sweating through 100 squat thrusts or getting back on track with my healthy eating habits. It had everything to do with the 10-minute phone call I made to schedule my first mammogram.
It was only a few weeks ago during a routine check-up when my gynecologist told me it was time for me to get my first mammogram under my belt. Since I just turned 38 in February, I thought I had a couple more years to go. However, since my mom is a breast cancer survivor and since I’ve been taking birth control pills for more than 15 years, he wants to set a baseline now. My internist agreed and offered a recommendation for an imaging center in my area. So, being a person who doesn’t like to let any item sit on a to-do list for too long, I confirmed that my insurance company would cover the routine screening and booked the appointment for April 7th.
Now that the appointment is on my calendar, I find myself dealing with a mixed bag of emotions: disbelief that I’m old enough to add this test to my healthcare check list; confidence that my results will be 100% normal; and finally, fear that they won’t. But when I find my mind racing ten steps ahead, I take a breath and remember something very important: knowledge is power. When it comes to your health, staying on top of screenings is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your overall well-being.
If you scour the Internet long enough, you’ll find plenty of contradicting information about when a woman should get her first mammogram. You’ll also find articles and studies that talk about potential harms associated with mammograms. Speaking with your doctor to assess your own risk factors can help clear up the confusion. Also, when it comes to breast cancer – as with many other diseases – early detection is key.
So at the age of 38, I realize I have more scars – physical and emotional – than I did ten years ago. However, I also can’t remember feeling stronger or healthier in my life. While I know I could do a better job when it comes to getting more sleep (who couldn’t?), I’m eating better and working out smarter than ever before. So, I look at getting my first mammogram as the next step in a path toward a better me.
If you’re reading my blog, you’ve already made the commitment to take better care of yourself by exercising and eating well. Just don’t forget to keep your overall health in check. If you’ve been putting off a screening, there’s no time like the present to pick up the phone and schedule it now. Whether it’s finding time for a workout or a check-up, each of us has the ultimate power to make the important choices that can help us have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!