A superhero once said: “with great power comes great responsibility,” and throughout time, no one has demonstrated this more than women. You are the very first bond we make, and it’s this powerful connection that endows you with the responsibility of preserving life. It may sound easier to don a cape and fly to the moon, but the secret to achieving a task of this magnitude is simply that it begins with one example: You.
Women are by nature orchestrators and caregivers, nurturing and guiding simultaneously. Earlier this year, my wife Lisa released her best-selling book Us: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships That Matter Most. It presented some insightful information about relationships – including our own (my copy came with a pop quiz). What fascinated me the most was its nurturing theme. We must take care of our bodies and our spirits before we can begin to cultivate our relationships; it goes from singular to collective. One person can change the world.
Lisa and I are avid proponents of healthy living – and not just because I am a physician. I’ve yet to meet a more health-conscious person than my wife, and she is a true stickler about making sure that we are setting an example for the rest of our family. She makes all the day-to-day health decisions, ensures that the food we eat is healthy, and provides that essential emotional support. Plus, her decisions prop open the doors for discussion – particularly when we were dealing with four inquisitive children – and have laid brick by brick the bridge that has built some of our strongest and most important relationships.
I trust Lisa’s health choices because I’ve seen first-hand their effects in my life and in the lives of our kids. Even though I am a trained medical professional, when the kids have an issue, they run to their mom first, like most other families. Earlier this year when one of the kids had a skin condition, Lisa did the research, scheduled the second opinion office visits, and found an elusive cure.
That’s just one of the many cases where Lisa exemplified being the first line of defense. Her reaction set the stage for how the rest of us respond. When it comes to making those all-important health decisions, I consider myself her trusty sidekick. She values my advice as a physician and will consult me when she wants support on a topic. It reinforces the groundwork we are laying for our children, and sets the example that open dialogue is essential to any healthy relationship. In effect, her decisions are seeds of change, planted deep to take root. They are watered and fed by my support, and promise to yield fruit that will scatter and multiply.
Women all over the country have the immense opportunity to incorporate these same changes within your families. When your children see you eating healthy, they develop a subconscious awareness of what they are putting into their bodies. It’s a phenomenon that traces all the way back to the womb, when what mother ate and how well she took care of her body affected the baby as well. Progressively build upon these elements, never forgetting that healthy communication is “give and take.”
What I’ve learned from Lisa at home has helped me recognize how important it is to support the health decisions being made by women all around me. You are the lifeline, armed with an inherent ability. You can build the bridge, but getting to the other side starts with one step - the very first one.
Dr. Oz, Daytime Emmy Award-winning host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” is Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University. He directs the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital. His research interests include heart replacement surgery, minimally invasive cardiac surgery, complementary medicine and health care policy. He has authored over 400 original publications, book chapters, and medical books, has received several patents, and still performs heart surgery on a weekly basis. Learn more at doctoroz.com
Dr. Oz will be speaking at The Women's Conference 2010.