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New Book Tells Women to Stop Fretting About Their Health

Posted Jan 05 2010 10:58am

My latest blog post at Check it out here or after the jump.

According to this New York Times blog post
, Dr. Susan M. Love, one of the country’s most respected women’s health specialists, offers a new rule that I think will surprise many women (who are being inundated with New Year’s resolution messaging about getting thin NOW): stop worrying about your health.

In her new book, “Live a Little! Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health,” Dr. Love contends that perfect health is a myth and that most of us are living far more healthful lives than we realize.

I don’t know about you, but I want to get my hands on this book, STAT.

We should know seeking perfection when it comes to your health is just as dangerous as seeking perfection in life, love, work, finances, etc. Perfection –of any kind–doesn’t exist.

But I have to admit, even knowing perfection doesn’t exist isn’t an easy pill to swallow for Type-A people who are prone to wear ourselves down on our quest for personal nirvana.

Ironically, when it comes to our health, seeking to be the epitome of health (i.e., orthorexia) can be decidedly unhealthy — especially when our health is seen in extremes.

Per the article:

“Is the goal to live forever?” she said in a recent interview. “I would contend it’s not. It’s really to live as long as you can with the best quality of life you can. The problem was all of these women I kept meeting who were scared to death if they didn’t eat a cup of blueberries a day they would drop dead.”

The book, written with Alice D. Domar, a Harvard professor and senior staff psychologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, explores the research and advice in six areas of health — sleep, stress, prevention, nutrition, exercise and relationships. In all six, they write, the biggest risks are on the extremes, and the middle ground is bigger than we think.

“Everything is a U-shaped curve,” Dr. Love said. “There may be times in your life when you’ve gotten too much of this or too little of that, but being in the middle is better, and most of us are probably there already.”

Of course, this acceptance of this U-shaped curve doesn’t mean those of us who are passionate about healthy living should go to extremes, from obsessing about health to throwing out our sneakers, sleeping 4 hours a day, starting a diet of fast food, drinking like we did in our college days.

Likewise, the book doesn’t preach that those who don’t exercise or eat balanced diets should suddenly become obsessive gym-rats on restrictive meal plans.

But maybe the notion that we are better off than we think, that we are healthier than we think and don’t need to obsess so much about our health … that maybe what many of us are doing is, indeed, “enough” … isn’t such a bad one for us to embrace.

Imagine how much less stress we’d have and how many more minutes we’d have in our days if we didn’t worry about getting in exactly 60 min. at the gym; the size of our butt; how many cups of fruit we ate; how many calories we consumed; how many hours of sleep we got.

In the end, we’re all seeking balance of some kind, aren’t we? Isn’t life one big balancing act?

A book like this is a good reminder that the equilibrium might already be tipped in our favor. Maybe instead of questioning it, maybe we need to just go with it.

How about you? What do you think of this book’s messages? Would you be interested in reading it?

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