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Beyond Diets, Supplements, and Cleanses: The Businesswoman’s Guide to Healthy Living

Beyond Diets, Supplements, and Cleanses: The Businesswoman’s Guide to Healthy Living

Everywhere you turn, someone’s promoting the latest “healthy living” essential — from fad diets that promote eating “chemically compatible” foods to miracle supplements that are “guaranteed” to burn body fat, boost energy, and restore nutrients.

There are fitness plans focused on short, high-intensity workouts for women who have busy schedules. Other gyms are open 24/7 so customers can exercise whenever they like. Meanwhile, myriad meal services will deliver delicacies directly to your doorstep.

Ultimately, these “healthy living” plans lack a clear path to long-term, sustainable wellness. By focusing on your holistic health — starting on the inside and working your way out — you can find a balance that delivers health, fitness, focus, and success.

[Related: Integrating Your Health and Your Wealth

The Businesswoman’s Guide to Healthy Living

Working women lead lives packed with activities from sunrise to sunset — and often beyond. Work, family, friends, chores, etc., routinely pull women in a million different directions with little time to focus on themselves. It’s perhaps not a shock so many women jump from one quick-fix diet or exercise program to the next.

As a business leader, I understand how difficult it can be to get yourself to the gym after a long day in the office, but establishing a truly healthy life means making the time to care for your body, mind, and spirit. Carving time out of your busy schedule might seem impossible, but focusing on your health will benefit every aspect of your life — even your career.

Exercise, for example, has been shown to boost productivity because physical activity pumps blood to your brain, increasing alertness. Starting your day or taking a midday gym break can also be the change of scenery you need to think of that next great idea for your business. Finally, daily exercise can reduce stress and build confidence — two traits that are paramount to workplace success.

Knowing you’re healthy on the inside can be a huge motivator for getting healthy on the outside. In my work to combat gynecological diseases, I have met countless women who appeared physically fit but had serious internal problems because they didn’t recognize subtle warning signs. Ovarian cancer is particularly difficult to catch because the symptoms are so common and mimic other diseases or conditions. When women are more in tune with their overall health, they’re able to notice when something feels just a little bit “off.”

Begin your path to healthy living on five fronts:

1. Learn about, listen to, and know your body. 

No one knows your body like you do. Advocate for yourself by regularly monitoring your body for changes that might indicate a problem. Perform breast self-exams every month. Check your skin for changing or irregular moles and freckles. Monitor your menstrual cycles. Above all else, talk to your doctor if you feel anything is amiss — even if it seems small. You are important!

2. Get regular checkups. 

You can’t take care of your business or your family if you don’t take care of yourself first. Routine health exams with your doctor are important for maintaining optimum health. Aside from annual wellness exams with your primary care physician, schedule a yearly well-woman visit at the OB-GYN. Be sure to get annual breast and pelvic exams and a Pap smear every three years to screen for cervical cancer.

3. Understand your health risks. 

Identify your greatest health risks, and take steps to catch them early or prevent them from occurring. American women have a high risk of developing heart disease and should have their blood pressure checked every two years. If you sit all day, that puts you at risk for obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Know the signs of various gynecological cancers by "dialing in" the major symptoms called the "BEAT": B for bloating, E for eating and feeling full, A for abdominal pain, and T for trouble with bladder/frequent urination. See your doctor as soon as possible if any of these problems arise. Talk to your OB-GYN and primary care doctors about your family health history, as a large percentage of female cancers (e.g., ovarian and breast) have a genetic component.

4. Correct unhealthy habits. 

Improving your overall well-being requires cutting out dangerous activities such as smoking, drug use, or excessive drinking. It also means correcting more commonplace behaviors such as not getting enough sleep and sitting for long periods of time.

About 40 percent of Americans get less than the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night, which can impair cognition and productivity. Getting a little bit more sleep each night can make you more focused, alert, and relaxed during the day. Invest in standing desks at your office if you haven’t already. One study found a correlation between living longer and sitting less!

[Related: 7 Ways to Stay Healthy in Life and Career]

5. Establish routines you enjoy. 

Your optimum health is only possible if you’re not miserable while trying to meet your goals. Mental health is a key component of overall wellness. Find workouts you enjoy. Don’t sweat it if you can’t fit a gym session into a particularly hectic workday. Make healthy eating decisions by planning meals ahead of time, bringing your own lunch to work, and keeping nutritious snacks at your desk.

Being healthy isn’t about fad diets or logging countless hours at the gym. It’s about finding a balance between your responsibilities and the wellness of your mind, body, and spirit. Keeping yourself healthy — from the inside out — will ensure you have the energy, focus, and drive to seize each day and conquer any challenge before you.

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Valerie Palmieri was appointed president and CEO of Vermillion in January 2015. Ms. Palmieri has over 30 years of experience in the diagnostic laboratory industry as the former CEO and president of MOMENTUM Consulting and the CEO and president of two successful healthcare startups. She has also been recognized as one of the Top 10 Entrepreneurs of Springboard Enterprises.


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