Medical Monday Late Edition: Breaking News from the World of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Policy News 

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Yet another Federal Judge has put a stop to the defunding of a regional Teen Pregnancy Prevention program. This time .a district court judge in Washington, DC has ruled that that HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) must process the grant for $3 million dollars which provides for 20 health educator jobs and provides for teen pregnancy prevention education.

Many voices have come out in opposition to proposed changes to Title X funding. Title X funding is meant to ensure access to reproductive health care. However, funds are due to be cut from any provider who mentions abortion even as an option. Proponents of the measure say parenting and adoption will also be promoted. Opponents say this is being sought to placate anti-abortion elements of the electorate as well as to close programs and clinics, thus decreasing federal health care spending for those on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. 

Thirteen governors have signed a “ sharply worded letter” sent to HHS secretary Alex Azar opposing the proposed Title X changes. The letter cites “reckless policy” which “upends decades of bipartisan cooperation”. 

Texas which has struggled mightily with appalling maternal morbidity and mortality, has voiced particular concern that changes to Title X could undermine efforts to combat impact rampant maternal complications in the State. 

Medical News 

Newer gene testing is allowing doctors to better target therapies to individual patients. In particular, we are now gaining insight, through genetic analysis, about which tumors in which patients are likely to respond to chemotherapy, and conversely, which are not. Gene testing is allowing some patients to skip chemotherapy and the complications that that entails. 

Also in breast cancer news, immunotherapy is being brought to bear in the fight against breast cancer. In one case study a 49 year old woman who had failed all other therapies received immunotherapy with a large clone of her own best cancer killing immune cells. These were produced by identifying and removing theses cells, and then amplifying them to 100 billion then using them as a treatment. This patient, who had no further treatment options, is now three years with NED- No evidence of disease !!! 

In similarly encouraging news a pairing of new ovarian cancer drugs have shown themselves to be effective against heretofore drug resistant ovarian cancer. 

Zika virus is again upon us in the South and authorities in Florida are taking precautions. Thus far there have been cases noted, but none have been of local origin. Zika Virus is transmitted by certain mosquitoes and is prevalent in tropical and subtropical climates such as in Florida, Central and South America. Zika virus contracted in pregnancy can make serious birth defects in the central nervous system of the unborn. 

Many women are identified as having pregnancy associated diabetes. They may require medication or dietary modification in pregnancy. New research now indicates that such patients may benefit from a postnatal lifestyle intervention program. Such women with a history of gestational diabetes are at increased risk for diabetes later in life. 

In concerning news, a new meta-analysis has indicated that hypertensive disorders of pregnancy such as chronic hypertension and preeclampsia may be associated with a higher risk of autism spectrum disorders and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Women with untreated chronic hypertension, over weight women, and others have a higher risk of having hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Maintaining normal weight and fitness before pregnancy can decrease the incidence of hypertensive disorders during pregnancy. 

A new and encouraging study has shown that resistance training helps stave off depression. Most of the exercise literature now supports the combination of light resistance training women for women, especially older women as it preserves muscle and burns fat. The combination of cardio and light resistance is often called HIIT or high intensity interval training. Low hanging fruit ! 

Stay tuned for more news from the fascinating world of Obstetrics and Gynecology, here, next week on Medical Monday. 

Medical Monday: Breaking News from the World of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Policy News

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This week, and maybe from here forward, policy is becoming more State based. A few blog posts ago, I highlighted the fact that the ACA (Affordable Care Act) is run differently in different States. Some States run it entirely themselves, with money coming from the Fed, while others have the Fed run it. Other States use a hybrid model. Many States are looking at potentially rising health insurance premium rates, which will be necessary to keep programs funded, and are beginning to add State based funds to defray the severity of the increases. In other words, they are providing their own insurance subsidies to their citizens who use the ACA for their health insurance. 

Many States are turning to work requirements for Medicaid Recipients. I believe the idea there is to incentive work and the earning of money , with which ACA or better insurance can be purchased. It is both to reduce the burden of Medicaid patients on a State by causing fewer people to actually need Medicaid, either in the short run or the long run. 

There are currently work requirement proposals in ten States, which could potentially impact 1.7 million. As an Obstetrician Gynecologist, I would advocate for separate work requirement algorithms for pregnant women versus others. 

The judicial branch of our government is starting to weigh in on the Trump administration’s changes on the way health care is being delivered in this country. An Ohio law blocked funding to 28 Planned Parenthood clinics. However, a Federal court has blocked this law, saying that while the State may prefer “ childbirth to abortion” defunding planned Parenthood has little to do with that question since this particular money is not used for the support or performance of abortion. In barring this law, many primary care health services will be safeguarded. 

There are several lawsuit against this administration’s defunding of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. A Federal Judge in Washington DC has declared the termination of the program unlawful and ordered the DHHS, Department of Health and Human Services to move forward again with the application of four such applicants within the program. 

Medical News 

If a pregnant woman is a risk for gestational diabetes, her physician may ask her to improve her diet and be more active. It turns out that those who made the changes have better glucose regulation even one year after baby is born. 

Coming from the other direction, we have the following report from the esteemed Journal Lancet. It seems that the environmentally determined health of both mother and father play greatly into the ongoing health of future not-yet-conceived babies. Each parent’s condition, whether well nourished, stressed, obese or fit, has influence on the cells and the DNA from which future children will be made. This us believed to take place through a process called epigenetics in in which an indivudual’s present day physiologic circumstances feed make and alter the expression of their genes and the genes of their germ cell lines (eggs and sperm). The article goes on to conclude that it points to a whole new level of preconceptual counseling which we must do. 

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) usually related to smoking, now kills more women than men in this country. The days of “Virginia Slims” a TV ad brazenly directed toward women, are coming back to haunt us. I try to to remind patients that tobacco related poisons are much harder on women than men, and that smaller people in general get a higher relative dose. 

Many breast cancer patients lose their hair, if not from chemotherapy, then more mild so from anti cancer hormone medications like tamoxifen. New research says Minoxidil can help reverse that. 

Newsflash: the USPSTF - the US Preventive Service Task Force feels there is now enough evidence to recommend exercise to prevent falls in those over 65. And while I jest at the commonsensical nature of this announcement, falls are a major concern for most people over 65 and can lead to serious and life threatening injuries. No matter what age you are now, consult with your caregiver to see how you can attain optimal health and fitness for the present and the future. Whatever it is, whether seated stretching or training for an Ironman, start now. You will not be getting any younger. That is, unless you get more fit. 

A recently reported study shows IUD (Intrauterine Device) use has increased in recent years through 2013. This is believed to have been related to dropping out of pocket prices. I suspect newer studies will show use has increased even further with many women chasing long acting methods for fear of losing affordable birth control coverage. 

US maternal mortality has been increasingly in the news. Despite all the press, maternal mortality continues to rise through the present, and is concentrated in certain areas of the country, most notably Texas. Many correlate the most severe statistics with poverty and discrimination. Of late, many also finger the defunding of primary care clinics, particularly those like Planned Parenthood, which served more real and lower income populations. There are, at present two Bipartisan pills stuck in Committees which would support the formation of state committees to track and prevent the phenomenon. 

Stay tuned for more breaking news from the world of Obstetrics and Gynecology, here, next week, on Medical Monday. 

Medical Monday: Breaking News from the World of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Policy News

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The Trump administration has said that the patients displaced by closures of Planned Parenthood offices can be absorbed by community health centers. However, a new survey out by Kaiser has indicated that fewer than one in five community health center will be able to compensate in this manner. Planned Parenthood may be apt to close if they cannot receive Title X funding through Medicaid on account of including abortion in their counseling or practice. 

A new Ohio law due to take effect later this month would have criminalized abortions done for Down syndrome. However, a Federal Judge has blocked the law, calling unconstitutional. In particular, it has been determined to violate the 14th Amendment due to violations of both liberty and privacy. 

Certain crisis pregnancy centers have no medical credentials whatsoever. Instead, they are merely storefronts for anti-choice or religious advocacy. The Supreme Court will hear arguments this week about the nature of their obligation to disclose their credentials and their agenda. 

The Contraceptive mandate was rolled back in Massachusetts. The state has challenged this but initially has failed to show enough data on adverse effects on the people of the state. The State plans to also argue that the rollback challenges the First Amendment which contains a prohibition against the establishment of religion by the government. 

New fast track legislation for the FDA ( Food and Drug Administration) called “Right to Try” has been under consideration. This would have streamlined/abbreviated the testing and approval process for certain potentially beneficial drugs, thereby getting them to more patients sooner. Proponents cited potential benefit, while opponents cited potential harms of less than completely tested drugs. The House failed to pass the measure failing to meet a 2/3 majority. 


Medical News 


The problem of appalling and increasing Maternal Mortality in the United States is squarely on the table now. Researchers are now focusing on several factors which may have led to this perfect storm. In addition to funding cuts and clinic closures, a shortage of Obstetric providers and rural hospitals providing Obstetric care is now in the mix. 

Stepping back, I'd like to remind readers that Mortality means death. However, for every mother who dies a childbirth associated death, there are 70 others who are near death and critically ill. This is the “ Morbidity” part of the equation. A new study has shown that addressing maternal Morbidity and Mortality in the States would greatly bring down the cost of healthcare. 

I would add that since 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned, that the contraceptive mandate might be worth its weight in gold to decrease maternal Morbidity and Mortality in rural areas and in general. Case in point: Colorado, home of my residency alma mater, the University of Colorado, has made sure safe and effective birth control was available all across the state, rural areas included. As a direct result, rural teen pregnancy rates fell by over half between 2007 and 2014. 

New research on teen pregnancy indicates that childhood bullying and various forms of rejection seems to be a risk factor in teen pregnancy. It is even more so for lesbian and bisexual girls, something caregivers should bear in mind. 

The field of Obstetrics is beginning to grapple with gender issues in the field. In 1970, only 7% of ObGyns were women. Now, 59% are. Furthermore, only 17% of ObGyn residents are men, and residents are the future. What are the ramifications for women’s health? Will men be excluded from the field by patient preference or institutional customs? 

Everyone has hailed the balancing of the field as a good thing. However, is it good if Obstetrics and Gynecology becomes devoid of men? One recent meta-analysis says 8% of patients prefer men Ob/Gyns and 41% have no preference. Here are some factors in the debate: 

  • Patients may legally discriminate regarding who sees them. 
  • Assuming that a certain gender will be insensitive or unprofessional is unfair. 
  • Male medical students going into any specialty may be denied important clinical experience in their training if they are excluded from rooms. 
  • Both men and women can and have made significant contributions to Obstetrics and Gynecology. 
  • Outside of Obstetrics and Gynecology, men dominate 37 of the 42 other specialties, and fewer than a third of other doctors are women. 
  • People want caregivers that are relatable, but their most important priority is to have a good doctor. 
  • Women Ob/Gyns are not good Ob/Gyns because of their biology. It is because of learning, skill, and experience. These are gender neutral. 
  • How male caregivers are introduced has a great deal to do with how well they are accepted. 
  • The healthcare and health status of women is something everyone in society should care about and be able to work on. 

What do you think? Have had both male and female Ob/Gyns and have liked them all. 

Marijuana in pregnancy is again in the news. A recent study presented at the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine has found an association between MJ use in pregnancy and the following outcomes: increased risk for stillbirth, increased risk of preterm birth, increased incidence of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy. 

Predicting cardiac risk in women is different than predicting it in men. In women, central obesity is a particular concern. Increasing BMI predicts increased cardiovascular risk. However, large waist to hip ratio predicts it even better in women. 

Dr. Barbara Levy, vice president of health policy for ACOG, has stated that labioplasty for purely cosmetic reasons should be cautiously considered since it is the removal of sexually functional tissue. Labioplasty for cosmetic or supposedly performance-related purposes is becoming increasingly popular, even among young women. I would add that it is often a cash up front business that practices use to bolster their income. 

Zika virus infection in pregnancy produces discernible malformations of the brain and eyes 7% of the time, across the board. The rate is higher if the infection is contracted in the first trimester. There is some evidence that the rates of malformation varied by country. 

In the good news department, women who are “ highly fit” in midlife may be less likely to get dementia later in life. This study ran over 44 years on about 1500 women in Sweden. Those only moderately fit saw some delay of dementia as well. 

Also in the good news department is the following: Scott Gottlieb, FDA commissioner, has announced plans to impose new lower limits on nicotine in cigarettes to make them minimally or non-addictive. While certain people will still roll their own, it seems certain that the population as a whole will benefit. 


Stay tuned next week here, for more breaking news from the world of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 

Medical Monday: Breaking News from the World of Obststetrics and Gynecology

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The word must be out that the ACA (Affordable Care Act) is alive and well. In the first four days of enrollment, November 1st through 4th, over 600,000 Americans enrolled. That is to be compared to the 1 million who enrolled in the first 12 days last year. This year so far, 22% were new enrollees whereas last year approximately 24% were. These figures do not include enrollees in independent state exchanges created since last year. Insurance companies corroborate that, at this point, enrollment is up compared to last year.

The Congressional Budget Office has revised its estimate of how much the repeal of the individual mandate would it affect the national debt. Initially it was thought that removing the Individual Mandate (the requirement in the ACA that all people maintain some form of health insurance) will result certain number of people not buying insurance through the ACA. Savings would occur because the ACA would not have to spend money to cover these individuals. The initial estimate of these savings was $416 billion. The new estimate of the savings has been reduced $338 billion which still sounds like a lot of savings. 

I wanted to know if these big sounding ”savings" included an economic analysis the savings or expenditures outside of the coffers of the IRS. They did not. The actual letter from the Congressional Budget Office to Richard Neal of the Committee on Ways and Means in the US House of Representatives is here:


It clearly states that while their calculation indicates a savings to the Federal Government by repealing the Individual mandate, it does "not include the macro economic effects of enacting the legislation”. What are “macroeconomic effects” ? These are the economic effects downstream resulting from poorer health and it’s consequences. Have these macroeconomic consequences been precisely defined ? No. But the general trends are clear and overwhelming. Losing health care coverage depresses individual and nationwide economic well being. 

Repealing the Individual Mandate leaves more money in government coffers, yes. But so would something ludicrous like ending Medicaid and Medicare altogether. Data from multiple disciplines shows us that money spent on health care is well spent, and results in a saving in the long term. Yes there is a savings in human suffering, and that is paramount. But if you are the sort of person who only wants to speak in dollars and cents, you too will realize a monetary savings. We as a society will realize higher levels of educational and vocational attainment, less unemployment, and greater individual and national economic productivity if we pay now for health insurance. You’ve heard of pay now or pay later ? This is a perfect example of this adage. We pay for health insurance for all, covering prevention and health maintenance, OR we pay later, in more unemployment, more welfare recipients, and the unreimbursed cost of advanced diseases and disability. So do not get too exited about that $338 billion in savings. It is not going to jump right back into your pocket as lower taxes. 

The state of Maine is currently a battleground between the people and the Governor's office. Despite a popular vote supporting the Medicaid expansion, the Governor plans to stop it based on his department's analysis of fiscal consequences. He estimates the cost of Medicaid expansion to be somewhere between 63 million and a hundred million dollars, whereas the nonpartisan budget office estimates that the expansion will cost 54 million and bring in an additional 525 million dollars of annual federal aid. I always find these large factual discrepancies disturbing because it seems clear that some of them are informed primarily by party politics. It seems to me that some sort of double-blind research could take place using a high degree of computational analysis. With this, a sound human-free estimate could be generated on pretty much any question. I doubt either side wants this though because it would take away their ability to play politics. 

The Massachusetts House has voted 136 to 16 to approve legislation which would protect birth control coverage for women. The law will require health insurers operating in the state continue offering birth control coverage without copayments for prescription contraceptives regardless of changes in federal policy or repeal the Affordable Care Act. The bill also goes further and mandates coverage for over-the-counter emergency contraceptives without a doctor's prescription. The Governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker supports this bill. It will be taken up by the Senate this Tuesday. The Senate is expected to approve the measure. 

A House bill under consideration would the eliminate medical expense deduction. About 9 million households or 6% in our country utilize this deduction. This is interesting because this deduction could apply to anyone who pays their deductible. I am embarrassed to say that when I was a new business owner in the 1990s I was not aware that my medical expenses not paid by insurance were tax deductible. I later learned this from my accountant. I still find that a lot of people are unaware of this deduction. My total family out of pocket currently sits at about $5000 and we seem to utilize it every year. I can easily document how much of it we utilize through my insurance company's website where I can access my EOBs (explanation of benefits). I simply submit this information to my accountant and it counts as a sizable deduction. 

Why the federal government wants to tax expenditures related to health I do not know. You would think they would encourage responsible spending of this nature. You would also think that there are plenty of other things to tax. For example, we already tax vices like alcohol, and tobacco. But we could tax them more. I am a strong proponent of vice taxes because they work. Those intent on buying the substances are willing to pay more to get what they want, and those who are on the fence and want to use less say they appreciate the additional financial disincentive which ultimately results in them using less. 

Americans are known for their consumerism. One could argue that we all have far more stuff than we need, and that we are not adequately responsible for repurposing, repairing, reusing, donating, giving, or recycling what we have before we buy something new. What if these such discretionary items were taxed ? What if we made sure that items like food, hygiene products, cleaning products and other necessities like over the counter medications, were not taxed, while so called luxury items, which we do not necessarily need, are taxed. Wait ! We have this already, and in some states it is called a sales tax. It applies to everyone, people can chose to pay it or not, and it does not disincentivize spending on health. Think about it. Government should incentivize individual spending on health and education. In my opinion, this could happen far more than it is. 

Doulas. By now you’ve heard of them. They are people, usually women, who help pregnant women during labor. They are espoused by all levels of Obstetric care because of their association with better outcomes. However, they are now being utilized in the postpartum period. We are increasingly focused on postpartum depression and its risk factors. We are also focusing on supporting women as they initiate breastfeeding. Postpartum doulas can help with all of this. They can address some of the exhaustion and sleeplessness that new mother experience by helping with nighttime feedings and infant care. They can help with meals and housekeeping. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recently formalized its support for such postpartum care in its recommendations. 

For women, the association of moderate to vigorous physical activity and longevity persists even into old age. A recent study where the average age of participants was 72 has shown that those who log an average of 70 minutes of regular exercise a day had a 70% lower risk of death compared to the least active women who move just eight minutes a day. This research is important to me because I have many older women in my practice who feel certain that exercise consists of a leisurely walk. It is true that you cannot take such patients and insist that they suddenly start a program of moderate to vigorous exercise. But you can recommend that they start gradually with supervision, and work their way up to what is actually appropriate. Is high time to stop treating middle-age and older women as fragile.

In sobering news, new data indicates that women treated for early breast cancer still face a risk of recurrence to 20 years later. This data comes from a meta-analysis including 88 smaller clinical trials. The patients surveyed were believed to be disease free. These are patients who completed five years of post cancer therapy with tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors as recommended. So this study result is an unhappy surprise, but one that should quickly prompt further research, and may even change therapy for such patients in the very near future.

It is interesting to think about this new data in light of the current findings published recently in the Journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. This study revealed that "many breast cancer patients skip recommended treatment after surgery because they lack faith in the healthcare system”. While these patients did not report distrust of their doctors, they reported a general distrust of medical institutions and insurers. These women were more likely to skip follow-up treatment such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or radiation, statistically worsening their outcomes. 

Finally in the we-already-knew this department, the International Journal of Public Health has published a study concluding that sexual harassment whether verbal or physical, can “cause psychological harm”. While this seems entirely within the realm of common sense and conventional wisdom, readers should realize that it is critical that studies like this be performed and published. On the basis of studies like these, tangible harms can be demonstrated in a court of law, and justice can be pursued in a more definite way.


Stay tuned next week for more exciting news from the world of Obstetrics and Gynecology, right here on Medical Mondays. 

Wellness Wednesday: A Thousand Small Cures

Not a day goes by that I am not asked about one “cure all” or another. Wellness Wednesday has been a column devoted to just the opposite- the many, sometimes small things, which done repeatedly, amount to the “cure”. The “cure” offered by longstanding attention to wellness is none other than prevention. 

Even when unpreventable illness or injury happens, wellness behaviors can make the difference between a good outcome and a bad one. We have so much power over our health but people scarcely realize it. Some realize it but are not up to taking that responsibility. It feels better to ascribe their poor health to genes, “toxins” in the environment, or something else. Strangely, empathy rather than blame is in order here. Why ? Because empathy is empowering and empowerment works. Once people get the message (though empathy) that they are not alone, they have the courage to begin improving their health related behaviors. 

Taking charge of your health is easy and empowering from day one. That is the secret that popular media and medical professionals alike keep obscuring. It is not so much a matter of discipline as it is of planning. It need not take place all at once. Once people get the message that wellness behaviors are easy, and need not be hard to be helpful, they are more apt to do them. 

How do people get these messages ? There is of course the popular media. To find this material about health maintenance you must be seeking it. These people are already on the right track. But what about others ? Here is where I believe the responsibility falls on all doctors to talk to patients about their health maintenance. Even before that, I believe it behooves all physicians to set a good example in this regard, and keep themselves as healthy and fit as possible. Nobody is perfect, and nobody should be held to an unrealistic or extreme standard. Yet, doctors should practice what they preach and lead by example. 

Physicians offices should be set up to refer liberally to nutritionists, physical therapists, counselors and others who can specifically teach and monitor health maintenance behaviors. Physicians themselves should learn how to discuss sensitive matters like weight. They should ask about life at home and work to screen for interpersonal issues or abuse. 

It is my hope that popular culture will increasingly embrace legitimate ideas about nutrition, fitness, mental health, and health care.  By now, most people know how ideas travel though communities and social media. Good ideas are sticky, and should be circulated. For example, food and workout posts which we love to hate actually bring these ideas to the fore. 

My website is a repository for health information related to Obstetrics, Gynecology and Health Maintenance. However, it has a limited readership. My plan to curtail blogging to Medical Mondays only is an attempt to get "more bang for the buck” and try another format for distributing this information. There are a couple decent books out there in this subject area, but mainly the field is lacking. I will be looking at the possibility of an ebook versus apps to serve as resources for women looking to improve their health. I hope you stay with me along the way. 


Wellness Wednesday: Fitness Redux

Wellness Wednesday was originally conceived as a place to post about fitness. While I am glad it has morphed into a space about all kinds of wellness, I’d like to take this moment to focus back on the one thing that is the

best illness prevention,

best mood enhancer,

best fat burner,

best strength builder,

best beauty treatment of all: 


exercise, of course. 


I don’t think it gets the press time or the limelight it deserves in the the halls of modern medicine, or in our public media space. There are studies are out there to support exercise for both prevention and adjunctive treatment for disorders from A to Z. These studies are not glamorous and not really media worthy, because in many cases they are confirming things which we already strongly suspected. So the results of these exercise studies are not sensational in any way. So the media is partly accountable for not continuing to remind us of the central importance of fitness. Medical caregivers are to blame since their focus is elsewhere and they themselves have insufficient knowledge and experience with fitness. Most importantly, the public is to blame. They would much rather read about a pill to cure obesity than read about how a consistent regimen of 30 minutes of daily exercise can reverse diabetes and heart disease.

I would like to take this opportunity point you back to my website pages on fitness, and encourage you to read through all the links.


That way, in about 5-6 minutes you can get the important points in a short period of time. But for those of you who are not link clickers, I will give you the nutshell version here: 


  • Those with medical problems should obtain medical clearance to exercise. 
  • Exercise should be engineered and planned into your day like an important meeting. 
  • Start with brief easy sessions 6 days per week to build a habit. 
  • Determine why you need to exercise.
  • Resolve to make exercise fun. 
  • To begin, pick at least 3 easy fun routines or an exercise which requires little thinking on your part. Do not go over about 30 minutes per session on your first 3 months of exercise. DVDs or a class are ideal. Chose workouts that include concurrent cardio and resistance. Until you know what you are doing, go with a professionally designed workout which is safe, effective, balanced and includes warm up and cool down. My favorite library of workouts is Beachbody on Demand. I also love Jillian Michaels workouts. 
  • Pick a place of exercise that is time and weather independent. This could be a 24/7 gym, the outdoors, or a DVD in your living room. 
  • Arrange accountability through an app, a log, or a friend. 
  • Arrange self tracking through an app or a log. Include, weight, waistline, type and duration of workout. Do not measure your weight and waistline more than once per week. 
  • Have comfortable and flattering exercise wear. 
  • In the first three months go mellow to let your body begin adjusting. After that ramp up in intensity to your tolerance, provided you are tired but refreshed afterwards, rather than wiped out. 
  • Hydrate well all day long and have water during every workout. 
  • Remember that it takes 3 months to build a habit. 
  • Focus on how good you feel when you are finished. 


Wellness Wednesday: The Importance of Neighborhood

Right now I am in the middle of something big with my neighborhood. We are rallying and banding together to prevent the development of a huge water bottling plant in our agricultural and research oriented riverside neighborhood. Yeah, I know ! Outrageous isn’t it ? More on that later. 

I am learning what good people I have around me. I have truly been blessed. My neighbors are educated, considerate, flexible, and well spoken. They are from old to young. They come from a variety of economic and social backgrounds. They have a wide range of politics. But one thing’s for sure, we have some shared values. Those include feelings of stewardship for good soil and our pristine aquifer. 

It goes deeper. I have a sense of having a neighborhood of people who would help me if I had a flat tire. I have seen random busy people stop their cars to help shoo someone’s cows back into a pasture. I would never worry about my kids walking to school. But not everyone has these types of advantages. 

A Rand foundation report called “ Neighborhoods and Health”  indicates the following:

“ Just as conditions within our homes have important implications for our health, conditions in the neighborhoods surrounding our homes can have major health effects. Social and economic features of neighborhoods have been linked with mortality, general health status, disability, birth outcomes, chronic conditions, health behaviors and other risk factors for chronic disease as well as with mental health, injuries, violence and other important health indicators."


Did you know, for example, that heath habits or disease habits are contagious ? That’s right, things like obesity, smoking, or on the other side, jogging and gardening are contagious too ? Neighborhoods can influence health in this way. 

Even the physical layout of a neighborhood can have its effects. Are there sidewalks, playgrounds and good lights ? A “ bad neighborhood” where it is not safe to walk or play outside severely constrains people’s ability to be active. It keeps people inside with the shades drawn, and bad behaviors like drinking can potentially go unchecked because there is no social accountability.  Such a lonely hostile environment greatly contributes to people’s stress, and of course stress truly contributes to many disease processes. 

Green spaces in neighborhoods turn out to be especially important. These serve as places to congregate and places to play. They also expose people to nature in places where it may be scarce, and research tells us that exposure to nature is beneficial to health in specific measurable ways. Please see my 2015 post on Nature and Health HERE. I remember being delighted with the particulars of what I unearthed when I did the research for this post. 

Here is a strange, wondrous and reproducible statistic:

An increase of ten additional trees on a city block on average, increases self reported health equivalent to a $10,000 annual increase in income or being 7 years younger. That’s right, adding ten trees to your block will add seven years to your life, at least from your perspective. The health they are talking about here is “cardiometabolic conditions” such as heart disease and diabetes. Several studies have tried to determine how this works. It seems to start by getting people outside, more active, with lower stress and lower blood pressure. More green space also seems to help reduce aggression and crime. 

What about the food environment of a neighborhood ? Is there local food ? Is food grown and sold ? Are there bars, grocery stores or convenience stores ? There is such a thing as a “ food desert” and I don’t mean dessert. A food desert is place which has nowhere to easily get healthy affordable food. The food environment has a huge obvious effect on food choices and health. 

Have you ever heard of a Ciclovia ? A Ciclovia is a open street programs that closes major roads to motor vehicles so they can be used exclusively by bicyclists and pedestrians. Ciclovias are being studied in large urban centers like Los Angeles in an effort to increase physical activity and sense of community in urban areas. 

What about sense of community ? What does that do ? This goes back to my original description of our neighborhood. It involves trust. There is trust and accountability in the continuity of these neighborhood relationships. Dan Beuttner, in his book Blue Zones, speaks of the decade-spanning friend groups of Japanese women, the “ moai” and their role in promoting the extreme healthy longevity of these women. The trust and connection of these long relationships provide a basis for the best things in life, such as celebration. 

These neighborhood relationships also uphold us when the going gets tough. I can remember nearly 27 years ago, I was between med school and residency, when I was pregnant with Forest. I had preterm labor and was put on bedrest. I was living in this same rural neighborhood, but in a tiny aging cottage which has since been torn down. I had a four year old, and my husband worked long days. Neighbors I barely knew, from newly married young women to aging matriarchs arrived with casseroles and pies. When it snowed, the drive just got plowed. These people became friends, and some have since passed. But their kindness left a permanent mark. 

In my search of Pub Med, which is the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, I found a fairly recent article stating “ The study of neighborhood health effects has grown exponentially over the past 15 years. “ Do not think for a minute that this is not real science nor that there are not real monetary and human resources being devoted to it. 

Neighborhoods affect the physical and mental health of their constituents. One study from the Archives of Psychiatry introduced me to some useful terminology as they highlighted the effects of neighborhoods on health. “ Concentrated disadvantage” was strongly associated with mental health problems for children. On the other hand, collective efficacy (the ability of neighbors to work together) and organizational participation mediated the effects of concentrated disadvantage on the effects of children. 

My neighborhood is demonstrating collective efficacy and organizational participation at its best. We have got our Facebook and Twitter pages for our cause and a great many of us plan to show up at the County Commissioners’ Office  to register our thoughts on the matter. I anticipate the group will bring some scientific and oratorial firepower to bear. 

It turns out that bad neighborhood environments generate their own vicious cycle and good neighborhood environments generate an even stronger virtuous cycle. Understanding this dynamic gives people a handle on how to make things better, no matter where they are starting from. 

How do you make things better ? Twenty two years ago I purchased an unconventional poster to decorate my office. It was shrink-wrapped, and backed in cardboard. When my practice got going, we had it framed and glassed. I still see its message every day. It is by an artist named Karen Kerney, and I will share it with you through an Amazon link. It is titled, “ How to Build Community”. It is for everyone who does not yet have a nice neighborhood to live in. It was ahead of its time. The folk wisdom it contained has now been largely validated by the science on neighborhoods and health.  I hope you enjoy it. 

Food Friday: A More Complete View of Workout Nutrition

Last week we talked about the basics of targeted workout nutrition. This week we will get specific. And we will not talk about all the glossy prepackaged products on the shelves of stores. It turns out that some simple inexpensive choices which anyone can get at an ordinary grocery store make ideal workout supplements. 

It turns out to be good to divide workout nutrition into three categories: pre work-out, during the work out, and post workout. It is also useful to differentiate between nutrition for mostly weight workouts from that for mostly cardio workouts. 

Many of these differences are summarized nicely in an infographic on, which they have encouraged people to repost. I have included it here since I think it is clever, useful and attractive. 

Get health and fitness tips at

Food Friday: Pre and Post Work Out Food and Drink 

Young attractive woman doing exercises for the triceps.jpg

This is actually called nutrient timing in the hallowed halls of medicine. When I initially started looking into this, I found a number of sources calling it bunk, and just as many others touting it earnestly. I wanted to get to the truth of the matter. 

To understand the rationale for pre and post workout food and drinks, one must understand the concepts of catabolism and anabolism. These are the two basic metabolic modes that the body can be in. 

Catabolism is the state of breaking down.

Make no mistake, all exercise is, by design, a teardown or at least a strain, on body parts. What makes exercise more than just trauma is that it is done in such a way to be just enough strain to stimulate new growth, or anabolism. Moreover, it is balanced between upper and lower body, as well as between flexor and extensor muscle systems of the body. Exercise is a well designed program of strategic strains on the body so as to stimulate a growth and strengthening of the systems. 

Anabolism is a state of building up that one will hopefully achieve in the aftermath of exercise. 

Clearly this state of anabolism is resource requiring, even resource intensive. We need certain amounts of water, carbohydrates and fats for energy, and protein to build body parts. 

Review of the literature reveals a shortage of good studies on the effectiveness of pre and post exercise supplements. However a number of general insights can be gained. 

  • Gains after exercise are greater when exercise is in initiated in a non fasting state. 
  • A meal should not be closer than 1.5 to 2 hours before a workout. 
  • The so called post exercise window when one can benefit from this supplementation is not as small nor as soon as was previously believed.
  • To maximize anabolic effect, pre and post meals should be separated by no more than 4 hours. 
  • Good nutrition spread throughout the day also supports continued anabolism. 
  • The post exercise interval is more important than the pre-exercise interval, but supplements at both times appears to confer some benefit in optimal anabolic gain and have little risk. 
  • Carbohydrate is needed as well in the post exercise interval in order to replace glycogen, but the carbohydrate need is met by meeting the normal daily requirement for carbohydrate distributed throughout the day. 
  • Protein supplementation pre and post workout should be about 0.5 g/kg of Lean body mass (LBM) For example, a 50 kg person would consume 25g of protein a couple hours before a workout and a couple of hours after a workout. 
  • Pre and post exercise supplements seem to confer a greater percentage gain in the untrained versus the already trained. 
  • Pre and post workout supplements need not be expensive or prepackaged. Protein powder in milk will do nicely. 

Good for you if you are interested in both fitness and nutrition. Now you can leverage them both for some serious gains. Ladies, remember, muscles do not make you look big. They make you look toned and sleek. And they burn more calories than fat. Best yet, they let you do fun things like carry backpacks, ride horses and play sports. 



Wellness Wednesday: Exercise Specs

Today’s post will keep it simple, portraying just a few simple keys to successful exercise. With the books, shows and classes out there, it is easy to get confused about what you need to do to start getting fit. My simple reminders will hopefully bring it down to earth and help you get started or stay consistent with your exercise regimen. 

Accept your present state.

Back in the day, in some challenging yoga classes, I was, at once, encouraged to master harder and harder poses, but, somewhat paradoxically, I was taught be “ be where I am”. This mean I had to be real about what I could actually do properly at the present moment. I was not to fight or strain my way into a new pose. I was to practice as best I could until it came naturally. This was a very hard concept to grasp. 

At the same time, I want you to embark on exercise in a spirit of happy acceptance. Whatever you do is a plus. You should not make it hard, or certainly not painful. When beginning, it should just feel like mild exhilaration. It should not exhaust you. You are just letting your body and brain get used to the movements and the routine. It takes months to adjust. You will advance in intensity when you want to. You will want to when you are ready. 

Start easy and short.

Research I mentioned on this last Medical Monday indicated that 2.5 hours of moderate exercise a week has measurable effects on heart disease risk in women. This translates into 25 minutes a day 6 days a week. It is true that some fit people exercise for longer for fewer days per week. However I prefer beginners and the inconsistent to workout for less time more frequently since it reinforces the habit more effectively. 

Value initiation over endurance.

Woody Allen once side that 80% of life is showing up. This is certainly true of exercise. You can make things easier on yourself by observing a fairly steady routine. Remember Mr. Rogers ? On his TV program he would arrive home from work and immediately change from his work jacket to his house sweater, thereby prompting him to shift gears and relax. Me, I change into workout gear and somehow there is no going back. Next I get the glass of water, and off I go. Get yourself to start, and you will finish. 



Take one break day per week.

Exercise is to transform your body so that it is healthier, more efficient, stronger and more functional. So give it some time to transform. Never skip your break day. And if you are feeling wiped out, take an extra break day or just choose a milder workout. Having said that, ordinary everyday fatigue should not prevent you from working out. Your exercise will actually help your fatigue, ten times out of ten. If you are feeling overly fatigued after what feels like a mild workout, check in with your doctor. Additionally you should make sure you are giving your body adequate hydration and nutritional support to transform. 


Stay tuned next week for more Wellness Wednesday tips.  

Medical Monday: Breaking News from the World of Obstetrics and Gynecology 

About 1.6 million pregnant women are at risk for Zika virus infection in South and Central  America. Now, health officials are concerned that local transmission of Zika virus has begun in southern Florida. This means the virus was acquired in Florida, instead of being acquired elsewhere while a person was traveling. This means that some of the mosquitos in Florida carry the virus.

In related news, the blood supply in South Florida is now considered to be potentially contaminated with Zika virus. The FDA ( Food and Drug Administration) has asked that all blood donations from South Florida halt until all donations can be screened for Zika virus.

In even more striking news, the CDC ( Centers for Disease Control)  is recommending that all pregnant women be screening for the Zika virus. 

As most of you know, Congress left for its seven week vacation without coming to an agreement on Zika funding. The President of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has written a strongly worded letter to Congress on this matter.

Proceedings from the National Academy of Sciences include research that indicates that women who enter menopause early age faster than other women. They were able to quantify this, saying that menopause speeds up cellular again about 6 %. They also indicated that poor sleep can trigger similar aging type changes. 

In related news, women who start menstruation late and who have menopause late compared to average are more likely to achieve 90 years of age. Information like this is useful in that it helps identify factors tied to longevity. 

Research from the Journal Circulation has indicate that only 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week has measurable effects on heart disease risk in women. Let’s see, taking one day off per week leave six days for exercise. Divide that into 2.5 hours to get the time per day needed for exercise. Only 25 minutes per day needed to reduce cardiac risk ! 

Stay tuned next week for more breaking news from the world of Ob/Gyn and women’s health.

Wellness Wednesday: Reclaim your Summer ! 

Setting Summer Goals 

I write this post as the beginning of summer approaches. I look forward to each summer as though I were a school child with a summer break instead of a physician with a steady job. All the same it is a special time, when children are more available, and when people are happily vacationing. We get an especially big dose of this spirit since we host guests in a vacation rental. They remind us of what summer is all about: excitement family, relaxation and adventure. 

To make sure you get all you can out of the summer, I suggest you plan. I suggest this since I am doing the same thing for myself right now. 

No matter your job, no matter your income, you should make sure to refresh yourself in this most sparkling of seasons. 





Here’s how.

1. Make a list of your summer goals. Make sure to include your goals in the following areas:

  • Fitness- Set realistic SMART goals for fitness. Make sure to incorporate active summer sports into these goals. Likewise, plan ahead to get fit before that big hike, so you can enjoy it best. 
  • Nutrition and Culinary- Make dishes you want to cook, eat and share, especially with fresh summer produce.
  • People goals- Who do you want to see this summer ? Make time for reconnecting. 
  • Project goals

Home improvement, garden, artistic- Take a summer themed classes, like water colors. Do some gardening. I believe everyone should garden, even if it is a nice tomato pot on the porch. 

Activities- Take advantage of the out of doors and the company of your kids. 

Staycations and Vacations - You can make time special right where you live, or strike out on the trail, for all day or all month as your circumstances allow. 

2. Consider making use of a wall calendar that comprises the whole summer. Block out the time so your goals are realistic.  Leverage your available technology to communicate and coordinate with others in your group of family and friends. 

3. Document your summer so you can best enjoy your memories later. Use photo, video, journalling, paper and mixed media scrapbooking or even digital scrapbooking. 


No matter your job or responsibilities,

summer is not just for kids.

Reclaim your adult summer !

The first day of summer is June 21st.

Make it your best yet.

Wellness Wednesday: How to Tell if You’re a Workaholic

Most people say they are busy. But are they ? Americans are famous for being workaholics (fully 25 % of us). How busy is too busy ? 

I would like to present my thoughts on the issue. Then I would like to present some other sources which are more authoritative.

It is important to understand what is not too busy. If you work full time, but have no time to work out or see your spouse, and yet you have time to game, watch TV or get a professional pedicure, you are not too busy. 

You are not too busy if you find that working at your desk leads to hours of randomly surfing the web or checking social media. You can only assess yourself once you have cut all the unintended time wasting from your life. If you are mindfully watching a film, or checking specific things in social media for a few minutes, that is fine and does not count as time wasting. 

So let’s say you have optimized the way you work and spend your time (a topic for another day). Let’s say you have reviewed your schedule and have decided that everything on it is important and nothing can be cut. Then you have met the “ inclusion criteria” and can ask yourself these questions: 

  • Am I getting less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis ? 
  • Do I feel a constant sense of frustration at not getting things done ? 
  • Do I lack time to work out for 30 minutes per day ? 
  • Do I lack time to eat three healthy meals and snacks ? 
  • Am I getting sick too often ? 
  • Is the quality of my work getting lower and lower ? 
  • Am I neglecting important relationships ? 


If you met the inclusion criteria and you answered yes to any of these things, you should consider thinking about whether you are overcommitted. These would be the relevant endpoints for me, after 54 years of living with, working with and being an overcommitted person. 


This article places workaholism in its psychiatric context. It is a compulsion to go work, combined with discomfort when not working. So it is much more than working hard, or working a lot. They site signs like trouble delegating, thinking about work while on vacation, or neglecting one’s nonworking life. They indicate that cognitive behavioral therapy and support groups can be helpful. 


This feature described signs you might be a workaholic. Noteworthy signs including having no hobbies, working through lunch every day, coming to work when sick, being accessible to work all the time, and consistently overbooking. 

The WORKAHOLICS ANONYMOUS site is a real eye opener.

Surprises in their list of 20 questions include "Do you regularly underestimate how long something will take the rush to complete it ?” This is a more in depth read and I recommend it. 


Forbes showcases a very worthy article about work-life balance, citing some interesting statistics including the following : "Americans put in more hours than workers in other wealthy countries and are more likely to work nights and weekends.” They alsogive an introduction to Bryan Robinson’s book “ Chained to the Desk”, which is available on Amazon. 

The follow up articles in the same series

details 6 tips for a better work like balance. The two tops which appeal to me the most are “ Letting go of perfectionism” and “ Limit time wasting activities and people”. 


This site highlights some more surprising aspects of workaholism including the observation that workaholics lose track of time. They also highlight some chilling aspects of workaholism including the problem in Japan, where early death related to workaholism has its own word, karoshi. We all know that workaholism takes a huge toll on mental and physical health, but death by karoshi is hard to fathom. 

I am going to strive in the next few weeks to make my posts more brief. I will feature more outside sources. It is my hope that these posts will be easier to write and easier to read. This is one step I will be taking toward a better work like balance. 

Send me your thoughts on the matter. I would love to see what you think. 







Medical Monday: Breaking News from the World of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Zika Virus was front and center at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) this last week. Hospital protocols are being developed to handle Zika affected births. Additionally, research continues into the the way that the virus affects babies, some utilizing the placenta. 

The annual ACOG meeting also presented a medical legal panel which presented evidence that latest cluster of TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws were not based on medical indications. Many such laws are introduced under the auspices of medical necessity, where the available medical literature does not indicate such. It seems to me that abortion opponents should be truthful about promoting pieces of legislation based on their moral and religious views, and not medical science, for which there is none. 

In Brazil, where Zika virus is rampant, abortion is illegal, even for anomalies. Recently, evangelical politicians there have introduced stricter penalties there for those who illegally are found to have aborted a baby with microcephaly. There are nearly one million illegal abortions in Brazil each year. The number of women who are hospitalized for complications from these illegal abortions is ten times the number of women who are not. 

Oklahoma just passed a law making it illegal to have an abortion. It is a felony there, punishable by up to three years in prison. Physicians performing abortions would have their medical license revoked. 

And no matter where you stand on the issue of abortion, it comes as good news that abortions in the US and other developed countries have significantly declined since the 1990s. In my experience, abortion is a tough decision for people and is fairly hard on women. 

Also in the good news department, new research in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) indicated that exercise wards of a variety of different types of cancer, even in those who smoke or are obese. There is a 20 % risk reduction for about 13 different types of cancers including esophagus, lung, kidney, stomach, endometrium and others. 

And in some news which I consider to be outstandingly good news, a panel at ACOG has generated a strong statement of consensus that 39 weeks is the optimal time to delivery a baby.  They have stated that there is little to gain and considerable to lose thereafter. We Ob/Gyns are committed to practicing evidence based medicine, and so I have managed patients according to the existing algorithms of the day supported by the best available evidence at the time. But, as my 22 years of practice have ticked by, I have had a stronger and stronger hunch about this 39 week point. Now there is finally a high level consensus about it. The presentation was so strong the the 63% opposed to the consensus before the talk turned into a 81% for the consensus by the end of the meeting. Inductions at 39 weeks had a lower complication rate than previously appreciated, and the C section rate did not increase. 

The vaccine rate for HPV (Human papilloma virus) has been low in this country. However, it is more than it has been in last years, and the rates of high risk HPV disease are decreasing. To really stamp out cervical cancer, we need to achieve the so-called “herd immunity” conferred by near universal vaccination. 

More good news…. In 2010, 16 % of Americans were uninsured. In 2015 this dropped to 9.1 % of Americans. Of course this is related to the ACA, the Affordable Care Act. Of course this has a cost. But, as a physician, I would like to remind the non-medical public that it is much cheaper for the taxpayer to pay for early prevention of illness and pregnancy than to pay for delayed treatment of illness and unintended pregnancy. 

Stay tuned for more breaking news from the work of Obstetrics and Gynecology next week on Medical Monday. 


Wellness Wednesday: The Art of Preparation 

Why discuss preparation in a health blog ? Preparation is an antidote to what ails us. 

Preparation is key to overcoming health challenges like obesity, poor nutrition, lack of fitness, chronic disease, and bad habits.

Tax day is April 15th and tax season has prompted my focus on preparation. There is a lot of stress going around associated with tax preparation, and not just because money needs to be paid. There is stress because some people leave their preparations for taxes for the last minute. 

The opposite of preparation is procrastination. Check out this older post on procrastination: 

Curing Procrastination

Procrastination increases stress, undermines self - confidence, and undermines relationships at home and work. 

It decreases performance and effectiveness at completing any goals, including those associated with health. 

There is a common misconception that preparation and goal meeting is about will power and discipline. On the contrary, preparation is about the realization that goal meeting is hard. Because goal meeting is hard, we need preparation which is easy. Said better, preparation is what makes it manageable. Preparation, not will power, is the key to success. 

Let’s dissect or “ unpack" preparation, so you can see what it really is:

  • Having optimism that your goal can be achieved.
  • Taking the time to fully define your goal. 
  • Frankly assessing where you are at the present moment, so that you can see how far you have to go.  
  • Breaking down your goal down into parts. These subsections of the main goal, and not the whole goal, get divided according to the SMART goal criteria. Each of these subgoals must be: 
    • specific 
    • measurable
    • attainable
    • relevant 
    • and time bound. 


That is what will make them, if not easy, then attainable.

To learn more about SMART goals, read here : 

New Years Resolutions

Three Ways to get Ready for the Week

The Importance of Inspiration


Sometimes preparation itself is daunting. However, when the ask of preparation itself is broken down into segments, it is easier to face. And, crucially, starting with plenty of time ahead will take enable you to spread the segments out so you don’t have to do too much at one time. With preparation the hard becomes easy and the stressful becomes empowering. Try some today !  

Wellness Wednesday: Following up on Serious Injury: the Role of Physical Therapy

When you are injured badly, you are in pain and you are shaken up, sometimes literally. You lose perspective. You may have temporary alteration of your memory mood and judgment. You need guidance on how to recover, and your instincts aren’t a good guide. That is why in good medical care environments, you have a team of people, from family and friends, to doctors and nurses who help you get better.

In the very best of medical care environments, you have those, plus the group of therapists: physical therapists, cognitive therapists, occupational therapists, and family therapists. These are the people who take you from healing and back into high functioning. We underutilize them. I write today to make you aware of all this by sharing what our experience has been thus far with my son Vale and his physical therapy.

As those of you who have been reading this blog know, our son Vale had a serious ski injury on Saturday February 6th. He sustained a comminuted (broken to pieces) fractured femur, a mild concussion, a broken rib and a mild pulmonary contusion. That evening he had a long emergency surgery requiring a great deal of internal fixation. The next day he was discharged home as per is customary. He required pain meds, and still had memory deficits, though he was basically himself. Appetite was slow to come and he was quite discouraged. 

Much to our surprise, they requested his first physical therapy visit the very next day, or post operative day two, Monday the 8th. I couldn’t imagine what they would be doing with him at that early stage, despite my familiarity with surgical recovery in general.

When we arrived, they informed us they had spoken with his surgeon and were appraised of his hospital course. They proceeded to perform consultation much like we doctors do, beginning with a history and then proceeding with a physical exam. However, this exam was precise, detailed and recorded, covering all neurological aspects, range of motion, and strength. 

I expected all this. What I didn’t expect was the best part. The facility was beautiful and open, and all the staff were fit and upbeat. There was even a freshly shampooed dog randomly going from area to area to cheer people up. The whole encounter brightened our son’s spirits, and renewed his hope. They told him all about the typical post op course with injuries like this. This showed him a light at the end of the tunnel. It gave him some tasks to do and milestones for progress, thereby dispelling feelings of powerlessness.

There were so many more things to do to help his recovery than we had anticipated. I often recommend that patients enter physical therapy. Not uncommonly they ask me, “ What could they possibly do that would help ? “ The answer is, go and see. Since Vale has entered PT, he has gotten serial cognitive testing, passive range of motion exercises, strength exercises, electrical stimulation and deep oil massage of the muscles near the fracture. Soon, when the incision is better healed, he will have water therapy. 

His sessions are not necessarily comfortable. Nonetheless he looks forward to them. He can see his own progress because it is actually measured. Thus he is consistently encouraged. They tell me this is typical. Today is post op day ten and it was his first day back to his University classes. He felt himself, and did not notice any problems in following the material or using his crutches. I credit his ongoing PT for his speedy recovery.

I encourage all of you to look into physical therapy if you have chronic pain, injury, or problems getting around. There are many other conditions which can benefit from physical therapy. Discuss this with your doctor at your next appointment to see if you might stand to benefit. 

Wellness Wednesday: Workout Clothes

In my section on Motivation and Inspiration for workouts linked HERE, I explained the benefits of creating a habit loop to reinforce your exercise regimen. This would be akin to a bedtime ritual for a toddler wherein you would do the same set of things in the same order every night culminating in bedtime. The same thing works for adults trying to become consistent in their exercise regimen. One important part of my routine is exercise clothing.

My pre-exercise regimen is as follows: As soon as possible after coming home from work, I change into my workout gear. In my case, this is black yoga pants and a black sports bra top. At that point, there’s really no turning back. I then head for the living room, turn on the Audio Visual system. While it is booting, I get a big glass of ice water and decide on an online workout. When I get back, I hit the start button and before I know it I am done with my workout. 

My workout clothes are a bit of a behavioral trigger for me. And while they are pretty uniform and boring, yours don’t have to be. Here are some tips on choosing inspiring high performance workout clothes. 

Good workout clothes should be comfortable. This means they should fit well in different positions and when moving. They should be close fitting enough to allow you to check your form and lose enough for full range of motion. Speaking of full range of motion and as a gynecologist, thongs should be avoided since, during movement, they can cause irritation and spread bacteria to the vagina and urinary tract. No fun. 

Part of comfort is support. Some of us benefit from support in the chest area. For this, a good sports bra is key, with or without a workout shirt on top. Some people even benefit from lower leg support. Compression socks and sheaths can be useful for this. 

Good workout clothes should manage your temperature and moisture. To do this, avoid cotton, which absorbs sweat and hold it against the skin. Look for high performance fabrics like Cool Max, Capilene, Play Dri or Dri-fit which wick moisture away from the body. Where temperatures are extreme or variable, use layers. Do not pay extra for nanosilver particles since they are largely lost in the wash. 

Your workout clothes should help you minimize self consciousness, and maximize your pride in what you are doing. They should be fun and flattering. In short, they should make you feel good about yourself and good about your workout.

Wellness Wednesday: Workout Shoes 

Since last week’s Wellness Wednesday post, you have all, no doubt, done your week long analysis of how you spend your time. I trust you have been able to scrounge up 30 minutes per day, 6 days per week, for some real exercise.

After time, the next thing you’ll be needing is decent exercise shoes. So I thought I would make a brief post about choosing workout shoes, which should pique your interest in studying the matter further and help you steer clear of expensive trendy nonsense. 

I have consulted the world renowned authority Footlocker. No, actually, the American College of Sports Medicine has put out some nice pamphlets which I will share with you, and you will have the knowledge you need. Before those links I’d like to throw out a few factoids to, as I said, get you interested. 

  • 85% of people wear shoes which are too small. 
  • Shoes should be purchased later in the day when feet are the largest. 
  • Running shoes should have minimal drop between the heel and toe. 
  • Excessive padding, “ motion control” or “ stability” components interfere with a normal foot's motion, but those with flat feet may need “ motion control” shoes. Those with very high arches may need more cushioning. 
  • A woman’s shoe of size 8 or less should weigh 8 ounces or less. 
  • Pronation while running is normal; it is a natural shock absorber. Stopping normal pronation may cause foot or knee problems.
  • There should be at least half inch between the toes and the end of the shoe. 
  • Running shoes need to be replaced every  350 miles or so. 
  • When you buy new workout shoes, break them in gradually. 



ASCM information on Selecting Running Shoes

ASCM information on Selecting and Effectively Using Running Shoes

Next week in Wellness Wednesday: Workout Clothes

Have a great week !





Wellness Wednesday: Time and Goals

We each have goals. What would it be like to accomplish them ? What would it be like to accomplish a lot of them ? Some people do. These are people with good time management. 

It occurred to me that before I discuss exercise on this Wellness Wednesday blog, I should discuss the one thing my patients say they need before they can exercise: more time. We all have one lifetime of time. What matters is how we use it. Everyone knows this, so what is the problem ? 

Most people are not fully aware of how they spend their own time.

They are not as factually familiar with how they spend each hour as the think they are. I have found that everyone thinks they’re busy, and everyone thinks they're active. People are less sure if they are efficient in their day. This is the territory I suggest we explore at this point in the New Year. 

We are talking about time management. Have you ever had a class in this ? Few people have. It seems like it would be a good idea right at the beginning of high school. Or how about right now, in the blog post ? 

Here is your mini class on time management, complete with some handouts and homework. 

  • Obtain a notebook to document this process. 
  • Record your present schedule, down to the hour, for one week. Include everything from housework to Facebook. Wear a watch all week so you will have realistic estimates of time. 
  • Make a list of goals, for the week, month, quarter, year and five years. 
  • Order the goals by priority.
  • Assess your week long log and see where you are misdirecting or wasting your time. 
  • Realign your schedule with your priorities. Include a spot for 30 minutes of exercise 6 days per week. 
  • Record what happens the next week and repeat. 

Now this is a VERY simplified version of a time management class. It is, however, the essence of the process. It only works however, if you are absolutely truthful with yourself about how you spend you day’s time and absolutely truthful about what you really want. 

I hear so much about not “ having enough time” to exercise, or to shop for healthy food, or to prepare healthy meals, that I decided to address it head on. 

For those interested in more, there are really so many great resources on the web, from, to books by Harvard Business Review. 

Here is a one page handout on the subject. Click on the title below to download. 

"Time Management" from the Stanford Center for Teaching and Learning

For extra credit, here is an awesome self assessment and time management tool from University of Kentucky. Click on the title to download. 


"The Successful Person's Guide to Time Management"

This should be be printed, filled out and used. 

Class is dismissed. Homework is due next week! I’d love to hear how you do.