Getting to the heart of weight loss and women’s wellness

Had I not already set myself on a path of better nutrition and fitness, the Women’s Wellness Seminar on Feb. 25 would have prompted me. I learned so much and some of the facts are, well, shocking.


The event sponsored by Citrus Valley Health Partners and in conjunction with Lighten Up SGV was held at the beautiful Sierra La Verne Country Club. The lush surroundings included ducks and geese splashing in a pond amid the green golf course outside and curious squirrels peeking in the conference room windows. But inside, although the tone was light, the subject was serious.


The first speaker was Naji Kandalaft, M.D., a cardiac specialist, who spoke on women and heart disease.  Here is some of the information he shared:


– More women than men dies of coronary heart disease every year. 1 in 4 women die of coronary heart disease and 1 in 3 women over age 35 has some form of heart disease.


– Women are six times more likely than men to have a second heart attack within five years after their first.


– Women are more aware of feeling heart attack symptoms (they tend to be in tune with their bodies) than men, yet they don’t usually think they are important enough to go to the doctor or the emergency room.  It is better to get checked and find out you’re OK, that to ignore heart attack symptoms, as early diagnosis and treatment is crucial to preventing death.


The signs and symptoms of heart attack in women include: back, neck, jaw or stomach pain, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, heartburn, coughing, loss of appetite, heart flutters


– Risk factors fall into two categories:

Modifiable – lifestyle, diet, stress, obesity, treatable disease such as hypertension or diabetes, alcohol comsumption.

Non-Modifiable – aging, genetics, ethinity, gender, previous heart attack

This means that you should change what you can, such as increasing your physical activity, stop smoking, use alcohol in moderation


– There was a question about taking baby aspirin as a preventative measure against heart problems. We learned that aspirin is less effective in women to prevent heart attacks, but more effective in preventing strokes. It is only recommended for use by high risk patients and then only when prescribed by a doctor.


The second speaker was Jennifer Curetet, who presented “Life Balance & Stress Reduction Skills.” Here are a few key points from her talk:


Stress leads to life-threatening illnesses– 89% of doctor visits are related to stress. It has also been found that cancer is connected to stress.


– Cortisol affects the immune system when we are stressed physically, mentally or emotionally. Endorphins are the only hormone that combats cortisol. Endorphins are released when you experience good stress, such as working out, happiness, even planning a wedding or studying for a test.


Raise your endorphins level by getting 45 minutes of exercise 2-3 days a week, this will also cut your cancer risk in half.


Other ways to release endorphins and lower stress include:


Vent! Don’t hold your emotions in. Instead have a support system of optimistic people to help you through the tough times.


Laugh. It feels good, so don’t be afraid to be silly. Add playtime to your list of activities, whether it’s kicking around a ball with the kids or a card game with your friends, even wrestling with your other half is a great way to release endorphins and have a good giggle.


Sing. Anywhere and everywhere, in the shower, at karaoke or in the car. Curter says that if you sing in the car and make someone laugh because they catch you doing it, you should feel extra good because now you’re a healer too, passing on the stress relief.


When you’re overwhelmed and too busy to get out for a walk or a little exercise, take a break and just be quiet somewhere for 15-30 minutes to help lower your  stress.


– Control what you can and that comes in the choices you make for yourself. The more in control you are, the better your health will be. Think about how you can create options or make changes to lessen stress in your life. 


Think about this: If it’s in you, it comes out. Television, people, anything that influences you becomes a part of your thought process and affects your attitude. Surround yourself with positivity and you’ll feel better.


Most important! Love what you do, do what you love and love who you do it with.


Overall, I learned how important it is to look for ways to limit and rid myself of stress and to make positive changes in my life, not only with exercise and diet, but in my surroundings and attitude.


Next up for Lighten Up SGV: Shopping and Cooking Healthier, a live demonstration, 6:30-7:30 p.m. March 8 at Queen of the Valley, 1115 S, Sunset Ave., West Covina. Free. Call 888-456-2847 or visit







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