Is 2021 the year you want to get healthier than ever? If you are a mom, you should understand the myriad factors that make your body such a fascinating mystery.
Knowing the unique quirks of your physiology can help you to avoid frustration and improve your overall well-being. Here’s what moms need to know about having a healthy body.
1. You Are No Man
It probably doesn’t surprise you that your physiology differs from that of the XY chromosome set. You might not understand how the disparity can lead to different weight loss results, even if you and a male partner participate in similar eating and exercise behaviors.
When it comes to weight loss, you and your male counterpart can consume the same number of calories each day. However, you’ll find that you drop the unwanted pounds less quickly. This effect occurs because men have a higher metabolic rate than women due to higher testosterone levels and greater muscle mass.
You may also shed the weight differently. Women tend to lose weight from the calves, arms and face before taking it off closer to their childbearing region. Those stubborn pounds that don’t seem to budge around your hips serve an evolutionary purpose — learn to love your curves.
More muscle mass also equates to a larger number of insulin receptors to help your body utilize glucose. However, you might be in luck when it comes to Type 2 diabetes. More men than women have the condition, and researchers theorize it’s because men tend to accumulate abdominal fat while women add theirs to their hips and thighs.
2. You Must Advocate for Yourself
If you have any experience with health woes, you face more of an uphill battle when getting answers and appropriate care. Unfortunately, physicians of both genders hold implicit biases about female pain and may dismiss your concerns.
These biases can lead to tragic consequences. Women often face longer waits in the ER, and doctors may dismiss signs that denote severe problems. They might break out in a cold sweat or feel nauseous and lightheaded instead of experiencing the classic “elephant on the chest” sensation when having a heart attack, symptoms the attending physician could dismiss as a panic attack in some.
It can also lead to delays in care for less serious but painful conditions that impact your quality of life. Although one out of every ten women has endometriosis, it takes a median of eight years to get a diagnosis. That doesn’t include the time it takes to explore your treatment options — many women waste a significant portion of their childbearing years seeking answers.
3. Your Hormones Spur Many Changes
As a woman, you’re no stranger to hormonal fluctuations. However, understanding how to navigate your various life changes can ease discomfort and stress.
You’re probably aware of the changes that occur with menopause, but you might exhibit symptoms years before you expect them. Perimenopause occurs as early as the mid-30s in some women, although many begin experiencing changes in their 40s. You might notice your cycles getting longer or shorter. Once you go through an entire year without a period, you are considered menopausal.
4. You Have Some Built-in Protections
Fortunately, you do have some advantages as a woman. The XY set runs a higher risk of various diseases, including the following:
- Heart disease: Even though women face unique heart disease risk, 25% of men still die from cardiovascular conditions compared to only 23% of women.
- Lung cancer: Smokers are 30 times more likely to get lung cancer than nonsmokers, and more men than women smoke.
- Parkinson’s disease: Parkinson’s affects 50% more men than women, although doctors remain unclear why.
- Skin cancer: Men are less likely than women to wear sunscreen every day. They also tend to wear their hair shorter or suffer baldness, exposing more skin to UV radiation.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): Approximately 60% of those diagnosed with this disorder are male. Gulf war veterans are more likely to be affected, although doctors don’t yet understand the link.
- HIV: Men who have sex with other men run a higher risk of catching this virus, leading to AIDS if left untreated.
5. You Also Have Your Achilles’ Heels
However, you do have unique health risks as a mom, too. Diseases like endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) are your sole reserve.
One of your most significant risks is unplanned pregnancy. Unfortunately, the U.S. is unique in not covering everyone under a single-payer health care system. It can cost you up to $30,000 for an uncomplicated vaginal delivery if you are uninsured. It’s challenging to raise a child when you start on shaky financial footing.
6. You Need to Take Care of Your Mind
Women, especially moms, face unique pressures that the XY set doesn’t fully understand. You probably continue to do the lioness’ share of the housework and child-rearing. On average, you clock two hours more each day in household labor than your male partner. The pressure to keep up can result in stress that wreaks havoc on your health.
Learn to recognize the signs of stress and adopt healthy coping mechanisms. Practices like yoga, meditation and exercise can help you lower your cortisol levels and achieve inner peace. Reach out for professional therapeutic care if it all seems too much. If money is tight, consider taking advantage of an app — some provide unlimited text support between you and a trained professional.
Moms, Know These 6 Things to Keep a Healthier Body
Moms, if you want to keep a healthier body, understanding the six factors above can help. Now that you know what makes you unique, you can nurture your well-being.