White Bear Women's Health Tips

Experts weigh in on sleep, stress, nutrition and hormones.
Nurse practitioner Selina Blatz encourages monitoring weight and wellness through "six buckets of health"

Today’s modern woman is so busy taking care of others, she often neglects to take proper care of herself. Nurse practitioner, wellness coach and clinical manager for maternity care at St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood Selina Blatz wants women at all stages of life to give themselves permission to take better care. “To be at our best, women need to be healthy,” Blatz says. “That’s hard to do if we keep depleting our buckets.”

Blatz approaches women’s health holistically. The buckets she refers to are really dimensions of wellness: Occupational, social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical. In a typical appointment, she’ll ask patients which areas they are nourishing and which they’re not, then helps them develop a plan or vision for optimum health. “Most women have a vision when it comes to their college education or career,” says Blatz. “They need to apply that type of visioning to healthy lifestyle; it’s not a quick fix. It’s a process.”

Things that get in the way of healthy decision-making include the demands of life, a bewildering array of consumer products, navigating obstacles of change and a history of repeated failure. To overcome these impediments to healthy living, Blatz recommends women focus on managing stress instead of simply losing weight, that they describe a vision of their best life, then step back and determine the areas they can improve upon incrementally. For example, if a woman sets a six-month goal to exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week, Blatz will ask, “What can you do in three months?” Then, “What can you do this week to work toward that goal?”

“Every step closer is an accomplishment,” she says. “And if moms can learn to demonstrate healthy living, their daughters will learn from what their mothers live.”

And when those daughters grow up to have children of their own, they’re better prepared for the changes their bodies undergo during pregnancy. Dr. Ryan Dick of HeathEast Vadnais Heights Clinic says caring for pregnant women is a favorite part of his family practice. “Caring for a woman through pregnancy and then seeing that new baby is spectacular,” Dick says. “But it often begins with women experiencing a surprising change in hormones. The result of those changes can often be fatigue and nausea. So it’s very important that women take good care of themselves, get routine physicals, exercise, eat well and take vitamin supplements for 1-2 years prior to conception if possible.”

Dr. Dick refrains from putting too much emphasis on weight. “The reality is that an average woman will gain 25-35 pounds over the course of her pregnancy. But that doesn’t mean they’re eating for two. It might mean an extra banana, glass of milk or other snack.” Dick recommends pregnant women always eat when they’re hungry and be sure to stay hydrated, being mindful to make healthy meal and snack choices.

Post childbirth, middle age and menopause seem to magnify women’s focus on weight loss. Registered dietitian Leah Greavu says researchers have been investigating how hormones play a role in appetite satiety and metabolism. “There are hundreds of hormones that regulate a woman’s metabolic process,” Greavu says. “And it’s virtually impossible to extrapolate which hormone reactions specifically regulate weight and metabolism.”

Recent media buzz touts cortisol imbalance as the villain responsible for emotional eating and weight gain. Greavu says that medical studies have not proven any value for dietary supplements claiming to reduce cortisol and enhance weight loss. She also discourages diets that suggest avoiding specific foods. “Our bodies can’t really distinguish between good and bad carbohydrates,” says Greavu.

Another weight management trend is the gluten-free diet. But again, Greavu points to medical studies that have shown no health benefit to following a gluten free diet if you’re not allergic to wheat or have celiac disease. She adds that if avoiding wheat eases symptoms of gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, there’s little harm in following a gluten-free diet, even if you’ve not been diagnosed with a wheat allergy.

“A healthy, balanced diet is what’s important to keep our metabolic processes running smoothly,” says Greavu, who also highly recommends adequate sleep, stress reduction and regular moderate exercise to keep hormones in balance. She says that studies have shown that getting plenty of rest and reducing stress contribute most to longevity.



St. John’s Hospital

1575 Beam Ave., Maplewood



HealthEast Vadnais Heights Clinic

1055 Centerville Cir.,Vadnais Heights