Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

by Patricia Yarberry Allen

I don’t get out much.  It is easier to control how much you eat if you don’t go out to breakfast, lunch and dinner as part of your professional and social life.  It does amuse me (or it may in two weeks when I recover from this debauched period of my life) that I stress mindfulness as a key to obtaining and keeping optimal weight and fitness, then I, the teacher, mentor, doctor,  fall right off the cliff.

I usually exercise for an hour three times a week, in a focused and serious way;  then two or three other times on the treadmill, or take long walks in the park with the husband and Asta the Airedale.  Since January however, despite my New Years’ promise, I have just been working and not working out.  I have controlled my diet but have not seen a trainer more than once a week.

I was a guest at a marvelous dinner party last night.  The apartment and the art collection were breathtaking.  Our hosts were charming and provided a wonderful atmosphere for relaxed conversation.  The mix of people and personalities were just right for a memorable evening.

I managed the cocktail hour nicely.  Sparkling water, one canapé. Dinner was a different story.  There were four courses and I ate everything and all of it.  I did not leave anything on my plate.

At one point, my host said to me, I swear this is true, “You eat a lot for a little person, don’t you?”  I pointed out that I generally eat for energy, for fuel. But on some special nights, when the food and the wine are wonderful, then I go off the reservation.

I knew  that I was in trouble— I was at least capable of knowing that sloth and mindlessness were taking their toll on my body, my energy and my spirit —  so I’d arranged to work out with PJ at 7 a.m. the next morning. At six,  after that late night, I dragged my unhappy self out of bed, struggled into exercise clothes and headed off to the gym.

It always amazes me how quickly the body loses its strength, balance and tone and how quickly my stamina disappears. It took about 45 minutes for the endorphins to kick in and then I felt great.

I had those tired twitchy muscles from workout exhaustion, but I felt full of energy.  My head cleared, my focus became sharper.  I was right back to mindful living.

We all take a holiday from controlled eating and drinking and living a very healthy life.  It is human nature.  But the trick is to know that all holidays end and that not every meal is meant to be special.

It is time to get in shape for spring.  The season changes on March 21st.

  • Move those heavy dark winter clothes away from the front of your closet.
  • Rotate the clothes that are left. Find the brighter colors, lighter fabrics.
  • Focus on what you can do to have a healthier and more meaningful life.

You do have choices.  You can focus on the negative and increase your despair with feelings of hopelessness and misery.  You can focus only on what you have lost and not what you have.  You can become isolated and forget that you still have something to give to those who have less.

Or, in the midst of global upheaval, you can focus on self care.

You can give in to the vices of sloth and gluttony. Or you can take charge, day by day, and move on.

I am making the choice to come out of the winter and the frozen ground of this period of despair.  I am choosing to come alive just like the daffodils will do in days, forcing myself into the optimism of spring.

Spring training is not just for athletes.  It is for all of us, as we work to become mindful again.

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  • alice cathrall March 18, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Great and timely blog.And lets not forget that such diligence and lifestyle modifications that include a healthy diet and exersize may preclude the necessity to manage ourselves with ace inhibitors and beta blockers.Besides they just do not taste as good as blueberries or melon.