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Be Strong, Ask Mom, Walk A Dog

May 6, 2004, Vol. II Issue 10

Dear Friends,

The first time I heard Jana Stanfield’s song, IF I WERE BRAVE, I said to myself, “If I were brave, I would date.” It took me some time, but I got brave, and hey, now, I’m engaged!

And, it took me some time but this year, I decided to get brave about having a screening colonoscopy. So, having just last week braved the experience, I was feeling a bit smug Saturday at my local Annual Women’s Health Conference, presented by OHSU (Oregon Health Sciences University). I think one of the speakers may have made some converts, as woman to woman, she confided to us that, it’s a heck of a lot less intimidating and painful than childbirth. (Editors’ note: And maybe dating!)

Isn’t that what it’s all about at a conference? Learning, sharing, and laughing about our common challenges and experiences? This one attracted 1400 women with Miriam Nelson, PhD, author of numerous “Strong Women” books, as the keynote speaker.

This month we celebrate Mother’s Day, Nurses’ Week and Women’s Health Month, so a bit about each of those topics in this and the next issue of “For Your Well Being.”

Yours truly,


In her presentation Saturday, we collectively oohed and ahh’ed over photos of beautiful people, beautiful “old” people, that is, as Miriam Nelson, PhD, shared amazing stories of the difference strength training made in the lives of many of her research subjects.

Dr. Nelson is the author of the best-selling “Strong Women” book series, and Director of the John Hancock Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

Inspired by her research on women’s strength and its relationship to overall health, Dr. Nelson is an advocate for physical exercise as a way to prevent and counter both disease and aging. As she shared with us Saturday, “As women, muscles and bones are what give us our strength and our beauty.”

Dr. Nelson is an advocate for making exercise fun, and I’m all for that! Please see the anecdote below about dog walking. Recently having completed the Boston Marathon in stifling heat, she pointed out that, “Exercise is about consistency. It’s about sticking to a program.” She urged us to find something we like to do.

She also stressed the importance of getting the word out, and that’s what you all do when you sponsor programs to educate your community about the benefits of healthy eating and regular exercise. Don’t ever underestimate the value of the difference your programs make. Look for a story in our next issue from an audience member who was inspired by Dr. Nelson at a women’s health event.

Dr. Nelson’s books include Strong Women Stay Young, Strong Women Stay Slim, Strong Women Eat Well, and Strong Women and Men Beat Arthritis. Her book, Strong Women, Strong Bones, received the esteemed “Books for a Better Life Award” from the Multiple Sclerosis Society. To learn more, go to
If you’d like more information about booking Dr. Nelson for your event, please contact me, or call 503-699-5031

Women’s Health Cover Story

I just picked up a copy of the May 10 issue of Newsweek, with the cover story, The New Keys to Women’s Health. I haven’t read it all yet, but there are 55 pages (including the advertising), covering everything from designer births to botox, right alongside the latest on breast cancer and heart disease. Whether I agree with all of what the media says or not, I think it’s wise to check it out and see what the public is reading. Pick up a copy at your newsstand or to read the heart health story, go to the website:

My Mother, My Friend

When Mary Marcdante came out with her book, My Mother, My Friend,  in 2001, I wasn’t real anxious to read it. You see, I’ve been passing by the Mother’s Day cards for almost 20 years. I lost my mom, my best friend, to lymphoma when she was just 59 and I was 34.

Then I read the book. And while I wish we could have shared this guide to “The Ten Most Important Things to Talk About with Your Mother,” I am enthralled by the path it offers mothers and daughters who can still share the questions.

In celebration of our mothers, and you who are mothers, I wanted to share a piece of Mary’s story with you:

“From the moment I heard my mother had cancer until her death, I felt like I was in graduate school, cramming the night before finals for a course called, ‘Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Your Mother and Forgot to Ask,’” Mary recalls. She had no idea it would eventually lead to a book.

“Of the ten most important conversations you can have with your mother, HEALTH is number one,” she says. “Your life and your mother’s may depend on it. Women tell me over and over how they wished they’d asked more questions of their mother. This is what I hear:

“A mother dies suddenly and the daughters no longer have access to their medical history to clarify their own health challenges as they grow older. A mother gets sick, and the daughters are forced to respond in crisis mode, rather than prevention mode. Many daughters don’t know how to deal with a sudden accident or illness that requires them to be caregivers to their mothers.

“Living a healthy life for as long as we’re blessed to live is, to me, one of the biggest challenges and greatest responsibilities we have as human beings,” Mary says. “A mother in one of my stress management seminars said it so clearly, ‘I never thought about my health until it was taken away. It wasn’t until I had a heart attack that I realized I had so much control over my own health. I started fighting like hell to live, and found a new woman inside me – strong, brave, and determined to get well. When you lose your health, you lose everything. When you have your health, you can do anything.’”

What about you? What conversations do you need to have with your mother about each other’s health? To get a complete list of Mary’s “20 Critical Health Questions to ask your Mother,” and some other good stuff related to Mother’s Day, go to:

Thank you, Mary, for your wise words, and for writing a book and sharing a message that helps families communicate about everything from money to family secrets. Mary is also the author of Living with Enthusiasm, How the 21-Day Smile Diet Can Change Your Life. If you’re interested in having Mary for a Mother’s Day event in 2005, now’s the time to secure your date. Contact me at
or call me at 503-699-5031.

Walk a Dog, Get A Life

Are you ready for this? Obesity rates in dogs are increasing at the same rate as adults! And the dogs are not even opening the refrigerator or sneaking into the pantry. Egads.

But wait, dog walking makes a difference, at least for the humans! Miriam Nelson illustrated her point about the importance of exercise with a study from Australia that touted the benefits of dog walking. “Yahoo!” That’s my dog, P.C. (stands for Prince Charming), affirming the study results and lunging for his leash.

Overall dog owners in this study walked 18 minutes more per week than non-dog owners. Yet more than half of dog owners did not walk their dogs! The conclusion was that if all dog owners walked their dogs, it would save Australia $175 million per year in health care. (Medical Journal of Australia 175 (11-12):632-4, 2001)

If P.C., my 13 year-old beagle mix, could write, I’m sure he would testify to the physical and emotional benefits of our daily walks as well as the cardiovascular benefits of our wilderness hikes. This 25- pound tugger is capable of acting as a tow rope pulling my fiancé or me up a hill, or down (one at a time, at least) . Most people
meeting us on the trail think he’s a puppy (I’m not sure what they think of us), so he’s definitely got the youth thing going for him. Or is that just good genes? Either way, we’re all enjoying the benefits. Get a dog. Take a hike. Get a life. It’s good for you and your well being.

Until next time, “Happy Trails,” and be good to yourself for your well being and those you love.



My vision for The Speak Well Being Group is to be a connector for speakers I know, love and believe in, with the audiences who will be inspired, motivated, and transformed by their perspectives, knowledge, empathy, compassion, information and, most importantly, capacity to enjoy the process, laughing at themselves and with you along the way.

You’ll find many of our speakers on our website.

Or please call anytime and let us assist you: 503-699-5031

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