New Book Tells Women to Stop Fretting About Their Health

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?


13 thoughts on “New Book Tells Women to Stop Fretting About Their Health

  1. I am DEFINITELY interested in this book. I have a wee bit of money left on a book gift card. I think I know what I might get!
    Anytime we stop unnecessarily obsessing is a great thing!

  2. I am off to Amazon right now to look up this book. I feel like there is such an obsession with “health” in our society! My husband and I were listening to a radio show with Dr. Oz this morning and he was talking about the “7 Deadly Sins,” one of them being eating a donut for breakfast. Really? Come on now, I wouldn’t call that a “deadly sin.” I’m looking for a little support for the idea of letting go. I fall into orthorexia super easily, so this is very pertinent to me.

    Thanks for the recommendation!

    1. Oh that is ridiculous, Kim!! Yikes. I am not a big Dr. Oz fan myself … how awful is that? If a donut is a deadly sin … what does he think about a meth addiction?!? Interesting …!

  3. The book sounds interesting, however what concerns me is the majority of the population is not orthorexic/health fanatics/worriers that she describes and most people do need to be more scared/concerned about what they eat/exercise etc. The people she describes are in the minority.

    For someone who eats healthy/works out/healthy weight etc a donut now and then is certainly not a deadly sin but for the people who eat fast food every day, are overweight, sedentary, etc it is a totally different story.

    So I gues what I am saying is the book sounds good for people like you and me, and many others out here in blog land but for the general public not so much.

  4. I think the message of this book is great! It causes us to ask ourselves: “what are we really striving for?” Is it perfection? Because most of us can attest that that does not exist. We should hope for the happiest, healthiest life we can, and not worry about the rest.

  5. balance. i LOVE it.

    i like what she said about “living forever.” i say, the goal is to live forever-Y day. feeling good every day, wellness. if that means you eat a cup of blueberries because it makes you feel good, then yes! but if the cup of blueberries become a source of anxiety (ie if they are missed or replaced with chocolate chips) maybe the balance is thrown off…

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