40s — Watching what she eats, staying active

40s — Watching what she eats, staying active

Although she’s extremely conscientious about her health, 42-year-old Vicki Toole said it takes a lot to get her to the doctor’s office.

She’s a busy mother of two with her own catering business who also teaches Zumba. Toole has no chronic health conditions to worry about, but does know that her mother died of heart disease at a young age.

Toole has never had issues with high blood pressure, she said, but did have a heart murmur when she was born that has since gone away.

In terms of keeping her heart healthy and maintaining low blood pressure, Toole knows she must limit her sodium intake, which is hard for someone who used to live “with a salt shaker attached to my hand.”

Because she’s adopted, Toole said, she doesn’t know anything about her family’s health history, other than the anecdotal information about how her birth mother died.

Toole and her husband do have health insurance and she has a primary care doctor. However, since she considers herself to be in excellent health, Toole gets a physical once every two years, instead of annually, as is recommended for most adults.

Like most women who have passed 40, Toole has had a mammogram, and the results were normal. While breast self-exams are recommended, Toole said she only does it when she thinks about it.

As recommended, she does get a Pap test and also receives an annual pelvic exam to check for cervical cancer. She doesn’t have a lot of vices, such as smoking and drinking, though, so she hopes she can stay in good health well into old age.

Toole has worn glasses since her early 20s and schedules an eye exam annually. She has received glaucoma testing, as well, which is also recommended for people who are in their 40s.

She’s never been screened for diabetes, but has been screened for cholesterol. Diabetes screening is recommended once every three years beginning at age 45.

One thing Toole does religiously is have her teeth cleaned. She goes to the dentist every six months and said oral health is “highly underrated” in terms of its overall importance to general good health.

Toole has been married for 15 years, and used to donate blood, so she was tested for AIDS and HIV (clear), but has not tested for any other sexually transmitted diseases.

There is a vaccination for adults who’ve never had chicken pox, but Toole had the disease as a child so believes she’s all set there.

One thing Toole does think about, other than heart health, is the health of her bones. She is a petite woman and osteoporosis is a definite threat.

She eats yogurt and drinks almond milk. In addition, she tries to buy organic foods whenever possible and lives on fresh fruit in the summer time.

While Toole is “very much” concerned with the health of her children, she also doesn’t want to deprive them of all junk food. So soda is OK on special occasions, as is dessert.

“I think what’s best is to try to achieve a balance,” she said. “I allow my kids to have something like Frosted Flakes, but try to have a fruit or vegetable with every meal.”

Toole also said that things like cheese, eggs and bacon are not prohibited from her diet. However, since she knows the metabolism starts to slow down as people age, she monitors how much food she takes in everyday.

“I know that I can eat mindlessly, emotionally and when I’m stressed,” Toole said. “So I try to be careful.”

Toole may be more aware of health issues than other people because she writes a blog, called the Thin Life Crises, and is constantly on the alert for new information about health and diet.

She gets most of her health information from the Internet, Toole said, as well as health magazines and books. While she finds the information on the Internet credible, what’s hard is that it’s often contradictory.

“What I’ve really discovered is that you shouldn’t be restrictive and cut out whole food groups,” Toole said. “I also know to stay healthy I need to watch what I eat and keep active.”

Health Screenings

(Under normal circumstances)

• Physical every one to two years

• Height and weight at each physical

• Dental exam every six to 12 months; floss daily

• Baseline eye exam at 40; every two to four years after

• Mammogram every one-two years

• Pelvic exam yearly

• Pap test every three years

• HPV test every three years

• Blood pressure every two years

• Diabetes screening every three years beginning age 45

• Electrocardiogram every two to three years

• Glaucoma test every three years; vision test every three to five years

• Cholesterol screening every four to five years

• Urinalysis every five to 10 years

• Chlamydia test if you have new or multiple partners

• HIV or other STD tests, discuss with your health care provider

• Hearing test every 10 years

Immunizations

• Flu shot every flu season

• Tetanus booster every 10 years

• If you have never had chickenpox or never been vaccinated against it, one dose

Healthy Weight Tips

The bottom line, if you want to lose weight, is that you have to burn more calories than you eat.

Combine a reduced calorie diet with increased physical activity. You should lose weight, decrease belly fat and benefit heart and lungs.

If you want to feel full on fewer calories, stick to foods that are high in water, like fruits, vegetables and healthy proteins. Feeling full is based on volume, not calories.

Health Tips

Metabolism slows down even more. More than one-third of all women age 20 and older are obese. In women 40-59, 41 percent are obese, compared to 30.5 percent among women 20-39. Obesity has been linked to several serious medical conditions, including

• Heart disease and stroke

• High blood pressure

• Diabetes

• Cancer

• Gallbladder disease and gallstones

• Osteoarthritis

• Gout

• Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea (when a person stops breathing for a short time during sleep) and asthma

Vicki Toole

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