Be well (part 1): 7 things you need to remember

Be well (part 1): 7 things you need to remember

Patricia Czapp, M.D.

A guest post from AAMC physician, Dr. Patricia Czapp.

Dear Nursing Staff, In honor of our Employee Wellness program, launching this week, Sherry asked me to put together some health advice for all of us. At 48, I am old enough to be a mother to many of you and a concerned sister to the others, so humor me and take a listen:

A few things that pertain to ALL of us, regardless of age:

1)     Family history: make sure your doctor is aware of your family history of diseases and conditions and that she is updated regularly. Knowing that your sister had breast cancer or a heart attack at 40 changes everything in how I approach your care.

2)      Teeth: Regular dental care helps keep you healthy. Most of us take better care of our dog’s teeth than our own. Please see your dental hygienist for cleanings. Some of us need them every three months, some of us once a year. It depends on smoking status, genes, and your other health conditions.

3)      Speaking of which, you don’t smoke, do you? If you do, please help me help you quit.  ‘Nuf said.

4)      Speaking of other things you put in your mouth: Good nutrition can be summarized thusly: Eat at least three times a day, but keep portions small. Eat more plants and whole grains. Eat enough protein, but not too much. Your daily serving of animal protein (e.g. steak, fish, chicken) should be about the size of your palm. Get rid of the junk! By that, I mean anything your grandmother would not recognize as food or would consider a very special, rare treat (a soda or piece of pie), so do honor to her and consume it as such.

5)      Keep moving: Sure, you are on your feet all day. But do something vigorous, special and fun that clears the cobwebs, ideally with someone you love. Be creative!

6)      Shots: Get your flu shot every year.  Get a pneumococcal vaccine if you have a chronic condition like asthma, diabetes, etc.  The new tetanus booster contains a pertusis booster that is important for us to get at least once.

7)      Body mechanics: Mom was right. Again. My heart sinks when I see someone with rolled-in shoulders and a curved upper back. That’s a recipe for wicked neck problems later. I have given up on saying, “Watch your posture.”  Now I say, “Enjoy your height.”  Sounds less bossy and makes people smile.

Do you have questions about wellness? Post them here, anonymously, if you like. I’ll be back to answer them.

-Patricia Czapp, M.D.


  1. Posted by Christine, at Reply

    What is the real deal on how much water we should be drinking daily? Has the thinking on that changed at all?

    • Posted by Pat Czapp, at Reply

      Drinking water is good, but do not get obsessed with number of glasses.
      Your body’s demand for hydration changes daily and depends on activity, ambient environment, amount of water in the food you eat that day, medications, and health conditions.
      My best advice is to drink when you are thirsty. And if you plan on activity, make sure you keep water handy. Sports drinks are okay, but some have a lot of sugar too. This is fine if you are on the Tour de France, but if you are embarking on a modest exercise program to try to lose weight, you will do better if you just drink water as needed as you exercise.
      Special consideration: You lose a lot of sodium with sweat, especially early in the summer, when your body isn’t quite accustomed to the heat yet. If you are working out strenuously in the heat, consider a drink with some sodium in it. (Not if you are sensitive to sodium intake or have hypertension, though.)
      For example, don’t gag, but I find ICE COLD V8 to be the best thing to drink when I am really working hard in the garden: it keeps me hydrated and I don’t get that “wet noodle” lethargic feeling in the heat.

  2. Posted by Life Begins ( again ) at 50, at Reply

    There always seems to be a “fad” diet out there.
    What are the benefits of the “No sugar, No flour Diet” if any?

    • Posted by Pat Czapp, at Reply

      Fad diets. Hmmm… I think I’ve seen them all: the grapefruit diet, the cabbage soup diet. Beware of any diet that limits you too severely. Try to stick with a diet that you can live with long term.
      If I admired any diet it would be the so-called Mediterranean diet. But that’s cuz I love vegetables. So, I CAN stick with it.

      For example, consider the spaghetti dinner:

      American style: huge plate of noodles, with tomato sauce, and garlic bread on the side.

      Mediterranean style: fewer noodles, more sauce, with a little meat in it, and a tossed green salad on the side. (Better balance of carb and protein, with emphasis on vegetables.)

  3. Posted by curious, at Reply

    My daughter put me through balance exercises to prove that her Power Band bracelets really do work, and I found myself balancing better with the bracelet on. Do they really work or is it in our heads? How does a hologram on a silicone bracelet realign my body’s energy?

    • Posted by Pat Czapp, at Reply

      Man, I missed that lecture in med school. My sister swears by those things too. If it works, why argue with success?

  4. Posted by 40 and fabulous, at Reply

    Why do women get that middle aged gut in their 40s that no matter what they do, diet, exercise, it just won’t go away? Should I just invest in Spanx and call it a day?

    • Posted by Pat Czapp, at Reply

      I feel your pain! And don’t get me started on cellulite. Geezus.

      This is why we must promise to never, ever ask another woman when she is “due” UNLESS you see the head crowning.

      I console myself by remembering my art history class in college and seeing all the Rococco nude women with pear-shaped bodies that were thought to be “beautiful”.

      I do Spanx, too. Try the “girl short”.

      Repeat after me: “Girdles can be cool.”

      • Posted by Kathie, at Reply

        Read “Outsmarting the Middle Aged Fat Cell” by Debra Waterhouse. I’ve already changed up a few things in my routine and have gotten some results.

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