Matinum

Taking Charge of Your Health


I was diagnosed with
chronic fatigue syndrome [in my 20s]. This took me by surprise. What had happened is that I had
started out my career as an attorney in New York City—working the typical long
hours that young people in their 20s do. I would often pull all-nighters. This
took a toll on my health. I started out with a bad cough, which then was diagnosed as bronchitis, and turned into walking pneumonia. This stimulated asthma
and wheezing cough, so that I was literally unable to carry on a conversation, because every time I started to talk, I would start coughing. It was,
as you can imagine, extremely frustrating and depressing. I went
from Doctor to doctor trying to find a solution as to why I simply could not
get well. There was nothing they could do for m. Perhaps I would never be fully healthy
healthy again. When I heard that I realized a couple of important things. Number one, I realized that I had been sitting back passively waiting for that doctor to write me a prescription that would make me well. Number two, I realized that no one cares
about my health more than me (and can do anything about it) and that if I don’t get it together and figure out
how to create my health, I was really never going to be fully healthy again. Number three, I realized that there are limits to modern conventional medicine to optimize your health. Antibiotics are great if you have an infection, but not so great when you take them for prolonged periods of
time. My hair actually started to fall out, because I had been on full spectrum
antibiotics for six months. I had to then undertake a long process of restoring my own health, which was extremely enlightening for me, because as a Stanford and Harvard Graduate and an attorney from Georgetown who had passed the New York and California bar exams and had been admitted to the Washington DC bar, I
was considered by people to be successful and intelligent and well-educated and yet somehow through no one’s fault, but my own, I had become extremely sick. This was not an acceptable circumstance. I wondered how is it that someone with seemingly everything going for them,
could end up flat on their back in bed and in and out of the hospital. I also
was diagnosed with a condition called pleurisy which is an inflammation of the
lining of the lungs where my lungs burned and ached and I could hardly
breathe. Every breath was torturous. I had to really consider deeply how to fix this situation. Fortunately, I had a wonderful therapist at the time, who helped me through counseling to get back on my feet—get over the depression from which I was suffering, because I had to give up my job and was unsure as to what I was going to do for a livelihood. I knew that I needed to do something that was no longer going to destroy my health. I also was very fortunate to have a very competent naturopathic doctor who was able to instruct me in what we now call functional medicine. We went about rebuilding my gut health, working through elimination diets. I had developed allergies to everything (my immune system had been so overwhelmed). I took a skin test, and I was allergic to practically
everything. I would have anaphylactic shock reactions, if I went and spent too much time outdoors and exerted myself. I had formerly been fit running 10 K’s and regularly exercising. And, I could barely walk up and down the
stairs in my house. I undertook a new career path in health promotion. It was very difficult. Many people along the way doubted me, because they said, “You’re qualified as an attorney. Why would you want to be a fitness and health professional? And yet I persisted. As you can see, I have awards. I have written books—15 of them translated now into several languages. Here’s an Italian version of my
Pilates Deck translated into several languages worldwide. Here are some
Chinese versions of my book, Fitness 9 to 5: Easy Exercises for the Working Week. I dedicated myself to educating
people about the mind-body connection and the importance of choosing health
each day through the small actions that you take. Because, health is really not
something that you save for the weekends or you save for your older age. It’s created daily by the foods you eat, though the way in which you manage your
stress and tension levels, how you exercise and move your body and how you manage your relations with other people in your family and in your community, so that you feel satisfied and happy and productive. All of these things are factors in creating a healthy and happy life. I am so passionate about sharing solid evidence-based information. I went back to Stanford University where
I had graduated from as a college student to seek out the advice of a man
I had known when I was a student. his His name is Dr. Jack Farquhar and he was the founder of the Stanford Prevention Research Center. I had been serendipitously able to have the good fortune to meet him as a college student
and and actually live in his house and babysit his children. I went back
later (after restoring my health) and asked him how I could change my life direction toward health education. [After taking additional education and training] I became a health educator [and fitness trainer] in a program called the Health
Improvement Program at Stanford
University which is community-based
education to help people in the Stanford community improve their health and daily
well-being. This was very meaningful. I worked there for 15 years
as a health educator. I was briefly the Associate Director of the Health Promotion Resource Center. Through that work, I had the privilege of meeting
many expert researchers in cardiology, in behavioral sciences, in psychology, in
nutrition, exercise physiology, and understand the components that are
necessary to creating a healthy lifestyle and learn about scientifically
based interventions that have been tested with research to create better
health on an individual and community level. This made me very passionate
to share with people, because it’s important that this information get out
to the public. And that’s what really fueled my desire to write and be a
vehicle in which to share this. Because I passionately believe that all of us
deserve to have a healthy and happy life and that it is incumbent not only upon
us to make good choices, but we need to have access to good information. Because, without solid evidence based credible information, we don’t know what the right choices are to make. What are the right foods? How much activity is appropriate? What amount of sleep do I need? Do good relationships matter? How does my attitude affect my overall health? These are all questions scientists have
posed and we now have a tremendous body of knowledge. What’s really exciting to me about
health education today is that for the first time, we really know all of
the component parts that create an optimal healthy and long lasting life. There’s NO reason why we can’t be vital, energetic and fi, until the last day we
breathe on this earth. And yet, we often don’t know how to find that information. So it’s my passion to bring that to you, and to be here as a resource to help you
live a joyful, happy, healthy, fulfilled and active life for as long as you live. So feel free to send me your questions. Share with me your concerns and know that I’m always happy to be a resource to get you the
information that you need. Thank you so much!

4 thoughts on “Why I’m a Passionate Health Educator

  1. Thank you so much for this video! I was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia at age 2 when I came into the hospital for Pneumonia which is why I am in this field. Your story is inspiring!!!

  2. Hi Shirley I am Msc Nurse from India, I would like to become Health Educator in canada. What can I do to become health educator?

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