Friday, 05 May 2017 14:47

Simple Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Many women are overwhelmed by the prospect of losing weight or managing a healthy weight. With new diets surfacing daily, and a constant barrage of unrealistic images of “healthy” women, it can be daunting to even know where to begin.

Here are some practical, simple changes you can make to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle:

  1. First and foremost, do not give up! Remember: taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle may not be easy, but it WILL be worth it. 
    healthy weight loss tips
  2. Take small steps. Make small and manageable changes first, such as drinking water and eating breakfast. Trying to change everything at once may only lead to frustration and feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Snack mindfully. Between meals, choose healthy alternatives when snacking. Nuts, fruits, and seeds will satisfy hunger, help keep energy levels up, and won’t make you “crash” like sugary or fattening treats will.
  4. Eat enough food. Your body uses food as fuel, so make sure not to restrict caloric intake more than needed. A great way to determine how many calories you need is by using a calorie calculator, like this one.
  5. Know your portions. One of the first and most important steps is to understand what a portion size of food is and to only eat that amount. Many people do not know what a correct food portion is, which leads to overeating.
  6. Develop a supportive network. A great way to ease into a healthier lifestyle is by surrounding yourself with friends or family who have the same health goals. Join a gym together or even host a healthy potluck dinner so you can encourage one another.
  7. Stay positive. There is truth behind the idea that positivity goes a long way, so make sure you stray away from negative thoughts about your body in general. You are absolutely allowed to love your body while also working to become healthier.
  8. Remain realistic. Simple changes do not mean they will be easy, necessarily. While losing weight can be simple in theory, by changing eating habits and exercising, that does not mean the process will be easy for everyone. Just remember…improving your health is worth it!

These are just a few simple tips on ways you can begin to live a healthier lifestyle. Keep in mind that everyone is different, and while these tips may work for one person, you still need to find what works best for your lifestyle and body. Before making any changes to your diet or fitness, always consult your physician.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to take the place of the doctor-patient relationship and any email is not appropriate for emergency care. To schedule an appointment, please call your doctor's primary office, listed on our Locations page. In case of emergency, we are available 24 hours a day.

Monday, 10 April 2017 13:41

Postpartum Depression or Normal New Mom Stress?

The baby blues, or postpartum blues, are common and normal after childbirth. While postpartum depression is also common, it is more intense, and can interfere with a new mom’s ability to even perform daily tasks. So, how can you tell the difference between postpartum depression and the baby blues?

New motherhood is understandably scary and overwhelming for most women, but when these feelings take over and become more dominant than those related to general well-being, it is time to call your doctor. 

postpartum depression Chattanooga

If you are unsure whether your feelings are “normal” baby blues or are related to postpartum depression, here are a few ways to differentiate:

Postpartum Blues

  • - Usually occurs 2-3 days after childbirth
  • - Feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious and upset
  • - Possible anger towards partner, new baby, or other children
  • - Crying for no evident reason
  • - Problems sleeping, eating or making decisions
  • - Questioning ability to care for a baby
  • - Temporary aches and pains from childbirth and/or feeding
  • - General fatigue due to interrupted sleep and late night feedings
  • - Hesitancy and worry associated with letting others care for your baby

Postpartum Depression

  • - Commonly begins 1-3 weeks after childbirth, but can occur up to 1 year after
  • - Continuous feelings of intense anxiety, sadness or despair
  • - Inability to perform daily tasks
  • - Feeling regretful about becoming a mother
  • - Thoughts of harming yourself
  • - Intrusive, continuous thoughts about your baby being harmed, affecting your ability to care for your baby
  • - Lack of appetite or overeating, despite being full
  • - Lack of motivation or desire to connect with others, while also isolating yourself from loved ones
  • - Deep fatigue, which is not alleviated by resting
  • - Continuous thoughts of never feeling better again
  • - When any of these uncomfortable or vulnerable feelings last longer than 2-3 weeks, and particularly if they interfere with your ability to meet your or your baby’s basic needs

New motherhood is challenging for every woman, but that does not mean it should cause consistent misery and distress. If you are struggling to determine whether your postpartum feelings are “normal” or possibly associated with postpartum depression, contact your physician immediately. Help is waiting, and the physicians at WISH will provide assistance and direction specific to your needs.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to take the place of the doctor-patient relationship and any email is not appropriate for emergency care. To schedule an appointment, please call your doctor's primary office, listed on our Locations page. In case of emergency, we are available 24 hours a day.

Monday, 13 March 2017 15:48

Quit Smoking During Pregnancy – For Mom & Baby

By now, everyone is aware of the dangers of smoking, and the long-term effects it can have on your body and health. But did you know that smoking is the leading cause of death in women? Quitting smoking is extremely important for your own personal health, and even more important if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

While quitting smoking may seem like a daunting road, here are a few things to keep in mind which will help motivate you before and during the process:

Remember: you are quitting for two, not just for you. When you quit smoking before or during pregnancy, you are increasing your baby’s chances of having a healthy life. This is one of the most important steps you can take for you and your baby’s health.

Plan now for a healthy pregnancy. If you plan to become pregnant, put down the pack. Women who smoke have more difficulty becoming pregnant; women who become pregnant and continue to smoke are increasing their chances of serious complications during pregnancy. These complications can include miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. 

quit smoking

Consider the benefits for your baby. When you quit smoking, you are benefiting your baby in a number of ways, including: decreasing chances of premature birth; decreasing chances of serious birth defects, like cleft lip or cleft palate; increasing likelihood of healthy birth weight and growth rate; and increasing likelihood of normal brain development before birth and through early childhood.

Cut the chemicals out. Smoke from cigarettes contains over 4,000 chemicals, which means that you and your baby are dually harmed if you continue to smoke during pregnancy. Lead, butane, cyanide, formaldehyde, ammonia, and carbon monoxide are just a handful of the chemicals that will hurt you and your baby’s health & development.

Enjoy a healthy birth day. When you quit smoking, you increase the chances of having a safe delivery, for you and your baby. Smoking during pregnancy may cause your baby to be underweight, have more serious health issues, and may also cause early labor. Babies who are underweight experience even more stress during labor, which could result in a longer hospital stay.

Keep up the good work. Once you welcome your bundle of joy into the world, it is just as important to maintain a smoke-free lifestyle and home for you and your baby. The chances of a losing a baby to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is 2-3 times more likely if you smoke during or after pregnancy, so set smoke-free rules now to protect your baby from secondhand smoke.

When you quit smoking before pregnancy, you are giving your baby a healthier start to life, and increasing their chances of having a healthier life as well. Typically, babies and children who aren’t exposed to smoke tend to have fewer colds, ear infections, coughs, and less severe/frequent asthma (if they do have asthma). Additionally, older children who aren’t exposed to secondhand smoke tend to miss fewer days of school, due to illness or asthma attacks, and are less likely to become smokers as adults.

The bottom line is: quit while you’re ahead! By planning preconception care in advance, you can give you and your baby the best chance at a healthy, happy pregnancy and life.

For more tips on how to have a healthier pregnancy, contact Women's Institute for Specialized Health and schedule your appointment with one of our experienced gynecologists in Chattanooga. 

Monday, 13 February 2017 15:44

Lifestyle Changes for Healthier Blood Pressure

Almost one third of adults in the U.S. have elevated blood pressure, making it a common health issue today. Even though you may feel no symptoms from high blood pressure, it does increase your risk for serious conditions like heart attacks and strokes.

blood pressure for women

In addition to following your physician’s directions to reduce elevated blood pressure, WISH doctors in Chattanooga suggest a few simple lifestyle changes in order to improve or maintain your blood pressure:

  1. Watch your weight. Excess weight can play a major role in high blood pressure. Your doctor can help you determine whether or not your body mass index (BMI) is considered healthy for your height and weight.
  2. Watch what you eat. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is an eating plan that reduces your intake of saturated fats, but increases your intake of low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables.
  3. Get physical. Make sure to include at least 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity in your day. Vigorous activities include running, jogging, swimming, bicycling, and even jumping rope.
  4. Cut back on salt. In addition to changing what you eat, it is important to watch your daily sodium intake. The foods you consume may already have more salt than you are aware of, so it may be beneficial to put the salt shaker away when you eat.
  5. Drink less alcohol. Make sure that when you consume alcoholic beverages, you drink no more than 2 a day.

Here are some additional common causes of high blood pressure, which you can reduce and/or avoid:

- Caffeine
            - Cigarettes and nicotine
            - Stress

There are some risk factors associated with high blood pressure, which can’t be changed. Age, race, family history, a history of preeclampsia, and certain medical conditions all contribute to your risk for elevated blood pressure. This is why it is extremely important to understand how your lifestyle habits affect your overall health and BP.

If you are experiencing blood pressure issues, contact Women's Institute for Specialized Health to schedule your appointment with one of our experienced gynecologists in Chattanooga.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to take the place of the doctor-patient relationship and any email is not appropriate for emergency care. To schedule an appointment, please call your doctor's primary office, listed on our Locations page. In case of emergency, we are available 24 hours a day.

Friday, 20 January 2017 19:25

Ways to Involve Your Partner in Your Pregnancy

It can be a challenge for your partner to understand what you are experiencing during pregnancy, for a number of reasons. Even the most devoted, supportive, caring partners may seem unsure about how to relate because they are unable to physically experience everything that you feel. This may leave them feeling a little left out, and can leave you feeling as if you are going it alone.

Even though your partner is not able to be physically involved in your pregnancy, there are ways to include him in the journey of pregnancy that you are experiencing. After all, you are both equally excited about the new life you are bringing into the world! 

pregnant woman and partner

Here are a few ways to involve your partner in your pregnancy:

  1. Invite your partner to the doctor. Having your partner with you at doctor or midwife appointments will help him feel even more connected. Hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time together can be as emotional for him as it is for you. The more appointments you share together, the better!
  2. Create your baby’s nursery together. Working on this space as a team will certainly help your partner feel more involved. Whether you are putting the crib together, hanging art, painting walls, or working on a DIY craft project – it is the time spent together that will bond you!
  3. Take a parenting class. There is a good chance that if you feel anxious about becoming a parent, your partner does as well. You can help alleviate some of the anxiety and concerns by taking a parenting class together.
  4. Attend birthing classes. The hospital staff will give plenty of support during labor and delivery, but your partner may be a great birthing coach as well! Taking a birthing class together will help your partner develop the skills they need to encourage you throughout the entire labor and delivery process.
  5. Create healthy lifestyle changes. Health should be a top priority during pregnancy. While you may be the one physically carrying your baby, you can both support the health of your unborn child by: eating healthy meals and exercising together, getting plenty of rest, and avoiding harmful substances like alcohol and cigarettes.
  6. Talk about baby name. Brainstorming names is not only a fun and easy way to prepare for your baby, but it is also a great way to bond and learn even more about each other (e.g. “We can never name our child Zach! A kid named Zach stole my lunch every day in 2nd grade!”).
  7. Read baby books together. There are so many books out there that can teach you and your partner about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. Reading a book together is a great way to educate yourselves while also providing opportunities for discussion.
  8. Create a birth plan. You will be the one delivering your baby when the big day arrives, which is why it is even more important to include your partner in the planning process as much as possible. Discussing and deciding on what is important to you will empower your partner so they are able to advocate for you, if you are unable to do so yourself. This is also a great opportunity to make your partner feel helpful when they may feel as though all they can do is sit on the sidelines and cheer you on.

The most important way for your partner to be involved in your pregnancy is by being supportive. According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women who are well-supported throughout their pregnancy are more likely to give up harmful behaviors, lead healthier lives, and may experience less stress and anxiety after childbirth. 

Friday, 09 December 2016 20:59

Ways to Stay Healthy During Winter

Winter is just around the corner, which means that it is time to prepare your home by cleaning out closets, turning on the heat, and weather-proofing the interiors and exteriors of your home.

It is equally important to prepare your body and health for the winter months ahead. In order to keep your physical and mental health in shape, here are five simple things that you can do:

  1. Lighten Up. Winter days are shorter, which means less sunlight than we are accustomed to during warmer months. For many people, this scarcity of sun leaves them feeling down and lethargic. You can fight back against the winter blues by taking a walk on brighter days, adding more lamps to your home, setting your bedside lamp on a timer, and even using a dawn (sunrise) simulator that will gradually wake you up.

  2. Relax Your Muscles. Colder temperatures are often accompanied by aches and pains, as the cold air may cause joints to be less elastic and take even more time to warm up than normal. Many of us are often more sedentary in winter as well, leading to stiffness and tension in the muscles. One way to combat this is by stretching first thing in the morning to warm your body up. You can also buy a home massager to help loosen tight muscles and increase blood flow. winter health

  3. Sleep well. Early sunsets and less daylight tend to make most people sleepier than normal, and less energetic. That is why it is especially important to get a good night’s sleep every night. You can improve your energy levels by: setting a sleep/wake schedule (and sticking to it, even on weekends), practicing a bedtime ritual to help you relax (warm bath, stretching, etc.), exercising daily, and avoiding naps.

  4. Continue to Hydrate. Don’t pack that water bottle away! It is just as important to stay hydrated in winter months as it is in summer months. Your body continues to lose water through normal body processes, even if you aren’t sitting outside in the summer heat. Thirst is a great indicator that you should hydrate more, along with signs such as fatigue, inability to focus, light-headedness, and dry skin. Fluids, combined with certain high water content foods (e.g. cucumbers, soups, apples, celery) can help keep your body hydrated all winter. 

  5. Moisturize. Colder weather means less humidity, as warm air holds moisture better than cold air. This leads to dry skin, cracked and chapped lips, irritated sinuses and itchy eyes. A dry nasal cavity may also lead to nosebleeds, and leave you vulnerable to colds, flu and other infections. You can add some humidity back to your living spaces by using a humidifier, and replace some moisture back into your skin with a heavy, oil-based moisturizer.

Before making any changes to your diet or fitness, always consult your physician.


Thursday, 27 October 2016 15:48

Ways to Stay Healthy While Working

Let’s face it – whether you work from home or from an office, finding ways to juggle job responsibilities and stay healthy can be difficult.

For women with busy schedules (which is most of us), the flexibility of working from home can be great but can also lead to health challenges down the road if you are not prepared and careful. Many of these same challenges also face women who work in an office environment. 

woman working

Here are 7 ways to stay healthy while working:

1. Create boundaries. It is very important to be able to focus on tasks without interruption, in order to be productive and maintain a professional environment. You can do this by creating boundaries, or blocking out set amounts of time to focus on specific tasks. Whether at home or in the office, this allows you to shut the door, drown out noises and conduct your work without distractions. Make sure to communicate this to co-workers or family!

2. Invest in a good office chair. Make sure that your chair is supportive and promotes good posture. This will help alleviate the need to hunch over your computer screen, which can put a lot of strain on the neck and back. Also ensure that the chair is comfortable enough to sit in for extended periods of time.

3. Schedule your day. It is important to be able to maintain a healthy work-life balance, which can be tricky regardless of where you work from. One way to maintain this balance is to set a schedule for your day, including breaks, lunch, and an end time – and do your best to stick to that schedule!

4. Move your body. Throughout the day, stand up from your desk and move around! You can stretch, take a walk through the house or office, or even lift some light weights during conference calls. Setting a reminder is a helpful way to ensure that you remember to get up and move your body throughout the work day.

5. Keep healthy snacks on hand. As tempting as it might be to quickly grab and eat whatever unhealthy snacks are available at your house or in the break room, resist those temptations. Plan ahead and pack a bag of healthy snacks before you settle into your office for the day. And don’t forget to have a bottle of water on hand!

6. Schedule time to exercise. We all want to sleep in as late as possible, and then relax right after a long day at work but make exercise a priority in your daily routine. Whether it is during lunch, before or after work, make sure you plan time to work out and stick to it – your body and mind will thank you!

7. Rest your eyes. Staring at a computer screen all day is very unhealthy for your eyes and can strain them. Make sure that you take time every hour to rest your eyes and look away from your computer. Even a 20 second break can do wonders for your eyes!

Most people spend the majority of the day in some sort of working environment, which is why it is so very important to do everything possible to keep your mind and body healthy. Before beginning any new exercise routine, always consult with your doctor.

Monday, 03 October 2016 21:45

Heart Health: 10 Myths vs. Facts

Myth: You're too young to worry about cardiovascular health.
Fact: It's never too early to take preventative care towards a healthy heart. Out of the 8 million women in the US currently living with heart disease, 35,000 are under the age of 65. The American Heart Association recommends testing cholesterol levels starting at the age of 20, or sooner, if there is a known history of heart disease.

Myth: Coronary heart disease is not a concern to you, if it's not in your family history.
Fact: While genetics help us identify potential health risks, such as a long line of high blood pressure, it may not be the only contributing factor involved. Also, just because your family has a history of cardiovascular disease does not imply that you inherently will have the same disease, but that you are at greater risk.

Myth: High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking are the only risk factors involved with heart disease in women.
Fact:About half of Americans have at least one of these risk factors. There are many other factors that can contribute to heart disease; these include: heart health

  • Diabetes. Women with diabetes are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease than in men.
  • Obesity. Being overweight or obese increases the probability for heart disease and stroke. It can also damage more than just the heart; i.e. side effects also include gallstones, osteoarthritis and respiratory problems.
  • Mental stress and depression. Women are affected by stress and depression two times more than in men. Depression can make it exceedingly difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle, so talk with your doctor if you are struggling with mood disorders, anxiety, or depression.
  • Smoking. In women, there is a greater risk factor for heart disease in those who smoke, than it is in men who smoke.
  • Drinking. Excessive amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of high blood pressure and weight gain, increasing the risk of heart disease.
  • Inactivity. A lack of physical activity is a primary risk factor for heart disease in both men and women. Some research suggests women to be more inactive than men.
  • Menopause. Lower levels of estrogen after menopause creates significant risk factor for developing coronary microvascular disease.
  • Pregnancy. High blood pressure or diabetes while pregnant can increase a long-term risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and the risk of developing heart disease in mothers.

Myth: Heart disease is not a concern to you, if you live an active lifestyle.
Fact: No matter if you’re a marathon running, yoga instructing, workout enthusiast — you’re still at risk for heart disease. While maintaining a healthy lifestyle is ideal for cardiovascular health, other factors like high cholesterol, excessive drinking, and smoking can offset your healthy habits.

Myth: Snoring is harmless.
Fact: According the American Heart Association, you should actively listen to your partner's breathing during sleep. Despite your temptation to drown it out, snoring can actually reveal long-term health problems. One out of five adults have mild to severe sleep apnea. This condition causes breathing to stop and start during sleep. If not properly treated, sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, and even stroke. Researchers have identified a strong association between snoring and cardiovascular problems, however, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Consult your physician or other healthcare professional for further information and treatment.

Myth: Women don’t need to worry about heart disease.
Fact: While coronary heart disease may often be thought of as a "man's disease," it is the most fatal disease for both women and men in the United States. Recent studies suggest that it is the leading cause of death for women in the US, killing 289,758 women in 2013—that’s roughly 1 in every 4 female deaths. 

Myth: It's only normal to have high blood pressure as you get older, and that's okay.
Fact: As we age, our blood pressure typically rises. But just because it’s considered “normal” doesn’t mean that it’s okay. Identifying and treating high blood pressure early is essential. If left untreated, it can cause heart attack, kidney damage, and other related health problems.

Myth: The only symptom related to a heart attack is severe chest pain.
Fact: A heart attack does not always come with severe or even prominent symptoms, such as chest pain, particularly in women. In fact, studies have shown that women are more likely to have unrelated symptoms than in men. In women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease, 64% had no previously identified symptoms. Overlooked or misdiagnosed signs could indicate that you are still at risk for heart disease. These may include:

  • Teeth, jaw, neck, shoulder, upper back, or abdominal discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating (most commonly, night sweats)
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Extreme muscle weakness

Myth: If you already have a heart disease, there’s nothing you can do.
Fact:Turn your bad habits into healthy ones by changing your diet and exercising regularly. Several lifestyle changes can also greatly reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, such as: Quitting smoking, avoiding second hand smoke, maintaining a healthy weight, and routinely taking prescribed medications, as recommended by your physician.

Myth: Diabetes won't cause heart disease if you take your medication.
Fact: Despite taking regular medications and normal blood sugar levels, there is still a possible risk for heart attack and stroke. The reason? Those with diabetes have an increased chance of developing a heart disease because the condition is more likely in those with type II diabetes. In fact, heart disease is the most common cause of death among people diagnosed with type II diabetes.

For information on preventative care and testing, click here.

Source: American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Women's Heart Foundation

Monday, 22 August 2016 16:48

Fitness after Pregnancy: Easing Back Into a Routine

Many women experiencing pregnancy for the first time are unprepared for the physical changes that accompany a postpartum body, especially those who maintained a fitness routine throughout their pregnancy. It can be an alarming wakeup call to experience muscle atrophy, body aches, poor posture, and extreme fatigue, when you expect to be able to bounce back into your regular exercise regimen after giving birth.

Regardless of how easy your pregnancy was, or how quick labor may have been, your body went through a massive transformation that took around 40 weeks to complete and it could take equally as long to return to your pre-pregnancy self. That is why it is so important to be patient and realistic when returning to a fitness routine. 

postpartum exercise

Here are some mindful tips to consider when you do feel able to exercise again, post-pregnancy:

  1. Begin Slowly You may have the urge to jump right back into a fitness routine after childbirth but it is important to make sure that any bleeding has stopped. For women who give birth by cesarean section, the wait time is longer. However, your doctor is always the best person to consult regarding any postpartum exercise. Just remember…pushing yourself hard in the beginning may set back your recovery time!

  2. Pay Attention to Signs Once you embark on a heavier fitness journey, pay close attention to what your body is telling you. If bleeding that tapered down begins to worsen, your body is telling you that it still needs time to heal.

  3. Repair Your Abdomen Many women experience abdominal muscle separation during pregnancy, especially to the “six pack” muscles. Your doctor can check this for you, and depending on severity, a physical therapist may need to work with you to draw these muscles back together. Either way, take it very slowly, and mindfully ease back into abdominal exercises.

  4. Be Mindful of Joints During pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin is responsible for softening the ligaments and joints. After birth, this hormone can remain in the system for up to 6 months, causing instability and weakness in joints. Keeping that in mind, choose activities with movements that are not too rough or jerky.

  5. Expand Your Routine Regardless of if you previously had a scheduled cardio routine or not, you do not have to jump into one right after pregnancy. High impact cardio can be harmful to the healing process, but that does not mean you need to discount cardio altogether! Walking is a gentle form of cardio, and swimming is a great way to strengthen back and core muscles, while also being very gentle on joints.

  6. Stay Hydrated This may seem like a no brainer, but it is very, very important to stay hydrated when you are easing back into an exercise routine. For mothers who are breastfeeding, this is even more important – so, take your baby out for a stroll and grab a bottle of water to put in the cup holder!

  7. Rest Your Body Again, this may seem obvious but for many mothers it is not always easy to, “sleep when your baby sleeps.” New moms already feel sleep deprived, and adding exercise into the mix can tire your body further. That is why it is important to plan for and incorporate a few minutes of rest and relaxation at the end of your workout. You’ll be surprised by how much it can replenish you!

Your body will thank you for easing back into a fitness routine, but please remember: before beginning any type of postpartum exercise, always consult your doctors.

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This information contained in this website is not intended to take the place of the doctor-patient relationship and any email is not appropriate for emergency care.

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