Wednesday, 30 August 2017 13:39

5 Tips on How to Become a Morning Person

At some point in your life, you have probably been asked the question, “Are you a morning person or a night owl?” Some people believe that they fall into one of these two categories: the “early bird gets the worm” morning person; or the night owl who is wide awake until all hours of the night, only to sleep the morning away.

Expert opinions on the subject vary greatly. Some suggest that most people actually fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, while others say that there is a genetic link which predetermines a preference to be an early riser or a late riser. becoming a morning person

Regardless of the reason behind your desire to continually hit the snooze button, you may also desire to be more like those who jump out of bed each morning and hit the ground running. If that’s the case, these 5 lifestyle tips may just be what you need to greet each morning with a smile instead of a snooze:

  1. Consider what you eat or drink before bed. What you eat or drink before going to bed can impact how you sleep. Before grabbing a cup of coffee, a tempting dessert, or an extra glass of wine, consider how it can affect your body. For instance, the side effects of caffeine can last for up to 6 hours, and will most likely prevent you from reaching deep stages of sleep (if you are able to fall asleep, that is). Alcohol has the same ability to disrupt your sleep, even if it does help you fall asleep more quickly in the short-term.
  2. Eat properly. A healthy, nutritious breakfast will provide you with the energy you need to start your day off on the right foot. According to The Mayo Clinic, a healthy breakfast consists of these core items: low-fat dairy, lean protein, fruit, whole grains, and vegetables. This healthy combination will keep you full for hours!
  3. Get your body moving. Waking up and exercising first thing may be the last thing you want to do, but even 5-7 minutes spent moving your body in the morning can help produce mood-boosting endorphins. Stretching is said to have the same effect, and can be done from the comfort of your warm bed! 
  4. Turn up the volume. Many people rely on calming music to help them drift off to sleep, so why not apply a similar concept to your morning routine? Listening to music that is upbeat not only increases energy and positive emotions, but also helps reduce stress so that you can begin your day on the right “note”.
  5. Move the snooze button. If the snooze button is tempting you to hit it each morning, break the habit by moving your alarm clock across the room. This handy trick will most likely get you out of bed faster, and may even make you forget about your old pal, Snooze!

These are just a few tips to consider if you want to become more of a “morning person” and start your day off on the right foot. Remember, 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, 31 July 2017 14:31

Top 6 Ways to Combat Poor Sleep

Everyone has a restless night’s sleep occasionally, and most of the time, it is easy to determine what is stealing your shuteye. Travel, stress, and children are just a few of the things that may cause you to wake up in the wee hours of the morning. But there are other causes that may leave you scratching your head as to why your sleep is continually disrupted, night after night. If you are experiencing the sleepless blues, take a look at this list of possible culprits, as well as how to combat them so that you can rest easy again. how to sleep better

  1. It’s too hot. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), it takes longer to drift off into dream land when it is warm. Even when you do fall asleep, your rest is likely to be interrupted if the temperature in the room is too hot. The NSF suggests that the optimal temperature for sleeping well is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. You have to use the restroom. Waking up and needing to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night is normal, unless you are waking up so often that it disrupts your sleep. If this is the case, simply evaluating your diet may be the key. Foods that are natural diuretics, such as celery and cucumbers, should be avoided close to bedtime because they will push water through your system. 
  3. You use electronics in the evening. If you jump into bed and check your social media, email, etc. on your phone or laptop, your sleep is likely to be adversely affected. When you expose yourself to the light from these devices in the evening, your brain stays awake. Make sure you put all of your electronics away at least an hour before going to bed so that your brain can wind down.
  4. You aren’t feeling well. If heartburn and indigestion wake you at night, or keep you from falling asleep, do your best in the evening to avoid foods that worsen your symptoms. Foods like oranges and grapefruit, while being nutritious, are also acidic and can cause you to wake up throughout the night.
  5. You’re too full to sleep. Eating heavy meals before bedtime that are also high in fat, e.g. pizza or a burger and fries, not only leads to gaining weight but also contributes to a disrupted sleep cycle. This happens because these heavy foods promote digestion, which in turn means you will most likely need to use the bathroom during the night.
  6. You are wide awake. Caffeine may be a great jump start to wake you up in the morning, but remember that it has the same stimulating effect when you drink it at night. Caffeine can remain in your system for hours, so if you are especially sensitive to it, avoiding it in the afternoon may help you rest better at night, as well.

These are just a few tips to consider if you are not sleeping well on a regular basis. You should also speak to your physician to help rule out other possible causes. Remember, 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, 19 June 2017 16:05

How Coloring Can Reduce Stress

Many women find themselves struggling with stress, anxiety, and depression for a variety of reasons ranging from hormone fluctuations to major (and minor) life events. While there are many ways to reduce stress, some still find it difficult to overcome these feelings, which leaves them searching for alternatives.

One new phenomenon that has been reported about from major news outlets like CNN and CBS News is adult coloring. The hobby that was once reserved for children, as a way to keep them occupied or calm, has reached a new demographic recently and has turned into an international trend. Adults are applying the same reasoning to themselves and are turning to adult coloring books as a way to distract them from the daily pressures of life. 

woman coloring to relieve stress

There are a number of benefits that accompany adult coloring, including:

  1. Brain relaxation. Coloring and other activities that are hands-on provide an opportunity for your mind to calm down, since there is no active concentration needed – aside from trying to color within the lines!
  2. Less stress and anxiety. Yes, coloring has the potential to reduce stress levels! This is due to stimulation of the creative parts of the brain during coloring, while also calming the amygdala, which is responsible for fear and stress responses in the brain.
  3. The ability to unplug. When you are coloring, you are also removing the distractions of technology that invade most every aspect of life. This gives you the chance to promote creativity in the brain as opposed to focusing on consumption of information only.
  4. Everyone can do it. You don’t need to be Picasso or Michelangelo in order to color, nor do you need to be creative – anyone can pick up a coloring book and reap the same benefits.
  5. It’s a portable hobby. Unlike some hobbies, coloring books are easy to grab and carry with you wherever you go. Whether you are waiting at the doctor’s office or sitting on a flight, your handy stress reducing coloring book can go with you!

The best part is that there is an extremely wide selection of coloring books that are tailored for adults, and are not the average kids’ coloring book. They offer a higher quality of paper, a variety of themes, patterns, and level of difficulty – designs ranging from easy to intricate. Whatever you are a fan of, we promise that there is an adult coloring book that you will enjoy!

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, 05 June 2017 13:56

Benefits of a Morning Workout Routine

Many people have a love/hate relationship when it comes to working out, but especially when it involves waking up early. The snooze button can be very enticing, but there are benefits to your health and your schedule when starting your day off with a workout. Here are just a few:

  1. Boost your metabolism. Your body continues to burn calories after you finish working out, which makes a morning exercise routine perfect. Wake up, work out, get your metabolism pumping and then eat. When you eat after working out, your body uses those calories to replenish itself so that it can meet your higher metabolic needs, even later in the day! 

  2. Develop consistency. Evening or mid-day workout routines may seem ideal, especially when that alarm is blaring, but they also come with a risk of missing your workout. Rising early to exercise ensures that you are able to fit in a workout, without the interruptions of daily life or unexpected items that may pop up.

  3. Increase your mental and physical energy. Exercise provides a tremendous source of energy, which is something most people could use to start the day off right. More specifically, morning workout routines have also been shown to improve mental abilities and focus throughout the rest of the day. You may just be able to replace that cup of coffee with a morning workout!

  4. Strengthen your self-discipline. Everyone can probably agree that waking up early to work out requires personal discipline, and a large amount of it. As with any habit, a morning exercise routine will help develop and strengthen your self-discipline, and will get easier over time.

  5. Improve your sleep. Say goodbye to tossing and turning! A restless body normally results in a restless night’s sleep as well. When you wake up early and begin your day with exercise, your body will experience a healthy fatigue and will be ready to sleep at the end of the day. 
    morning exercise

In addition to these benefits, the discipline that you develop by waking early to exercise will most likely carry over into other areas of your life. Perhaps once you see the results from your hard work, you will decide to eat healthier as well, for example. One thing is for certain, though…with time and consistency, your morning workout will become a habit that improves your physical and mental health!

Remember…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.

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. 

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