This is a different type of post for me, but after watching Michelle Obama’s speech a few minutes ago, at the Democratic National Convention, I was compelled to write this post. I generally don’t discuss politics and health on my blog. I leave that to the policy folks. However, something hits you every now and then that is a must say. I just wanted to give kudos to Michelle Obama and her mentioning the importance of providing not just health care to Americans, but mental health. Many people may not have even caught that, but when you are daily striving for improved comprehensive services for women, you catch words related to what they need. Rarely do you hear individuals, let alone policy makers and politicians mention mental health when discussing health care. It is usually general health care services, which are absolutely critical and necessary, but mental health services are just as integral to our health and well-being.
As always I just give the facts:
- Approximately 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. (NIMH)
- Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada for ages 15-44. (NIMH)
- Mental illness is a chronic disease and is often overlooked as such.
- The burden of mental illness is underestimated in the United States and a study in 2005 revealed that the U.S. could be ranked #1 for global mental illness.
- Stress and anxiety from the environment such as poverty, violence, and lack of social support can lead to severe mental health problems.
As someone who has a background in social work and public health, it is sad to know that the number of Americans who suffer from mental illness is more than likely higher. Why? Because so often do people 1) recognize symptoms of mental illness, 2) acknowledge they have a mental health issue, or 3) seek professional help or talk to someone they trust about any mental health issues they may have. Services and resources in mental health are critical to the overall well-being of individuals. So remember to fight for these service too, when you are fighting for access to quality and affordable health care. When you treat the mind, you treat the body.
Again, I say kudos to Michelle Obama for just merely acknowledging mental health services this evening as important and necessary for women, men and children living in this country.
One of my girlfriends and I were having a conversation this past weekend about the shapes of women and how weight impacts our self-image. She then leaned in and said to me, ” You know you are a pear.” I didn’t know what the heck she was talking about and so I began to argue with her that I was not shaped like a pear. I look nothing like a pear! Little did I know, that she was referring to the common body shapes of women: apple or pear. Where have I been? How had I not heard about this? Well, I did a little research and found that our body shapes really do have a significant impact on our health.
If you have an apple body shape, you tend to gain weight around your waist. Like the fruit the weight settles around your middle section. Apple-shaped women are also more likely to develop disorders like heart disease, diabetes, or breast cancer. If you are like me, a pear shaped woman, you tend to gain your weight around your hips, butt and thigh (that explains a whole lot). As far as health issues, pear-shaped women are more susceptible to osteoporosis, varicose veins, cellulite and eating disorders. These women also have a difficult transition through menopause. Well that’s just great! We pears have so much to look forward to — big ole’ hips and night sweats during the day.
Living with your shape
Okay now we know our shapes, now what? In a book entitled, “Apples and Pears: The Body Shape Solution for Weight Loss and Wellness,” Dr. Marie Savard sheds light on how to live with your shape. She explains how women can improve their health by learning more about their shapes and how they can feel better about their bodies. Dr. Savard also provides evidence in the book how our body shapes are related to differences in physical chemistry, hormone production and sensitivity, metabolism, and maybe even personality. If you really think about it, all of this makes sense as to why some of us respond well to certain diets than others, and why some exercises are great for you, but not for your friend.
A Few Tips for Your Shape
Some of you may be very aware of what works best for your body shape and for some of you this may be entirely new information. Regardless, here are a few tips provided in Dr. Savard’s book. For additional tips, I suggest you pick up the book.
Knowing your body and how it ticks is very important as you maintain your health and wellness. Understanding what exercises work best for your body type, what types of foods you should eat more of and knowing your family medical history, all have a profound impact on your health. Understanding how all of these and other factors work together to keep you healthy, is even more important. Whether you are a pear or an apple, embrace your shape with love and make it work for you. As I have said before, we are all a work in progress, whether it’s mentally or physically. That is why me and my pear hips are going to keep running up and down flights of stairs…because we still have some work to do!