By Dr. Maryam Zeineddin, MD
What is healthy living? To me, this concept has always been very difficult to define, before we can even begin to follow it. Especially as a woman, with so many roles in life, it seemed impossible to “do it all” while also living a “healthy lifestyle.” I love the saying one of my mentors told me: “You can do it all, but not all at the same time.” This mantra reminds me that I don’t have to be that impossible superwoman figure; but even still, it has not been easy to find balance in life.
Self Care for Superwomen
I’ve found every decade of life so far to be quite a journey of up and downs. My twenties were about change and decision-making, and my only stress outlet was running, playing hockey, skiing and enjoying my relationships. Over the next decade, having two children and juggling a work-life balance started to wear me down. I realized that it is impossible to wear so many hats and be in charge of so many things – and still have time for self-care. My physical and mental health started deteriorating, with increased anxiety, lower back pain, and a strain in my marital life.
I took a hard look at my life and realized I needed to work on mindfulness, with more “me time.” I went to see my family doctor and she helped me immensely with counselling and medical advice and guidance. I saw my massage therapist and physiotherapist regularly, and started on a gentle exercise regimen suitable for my body.
Though I had always been a healthy eater, I made a few key changes. I started eating a really good breakfast, rather than just having coffee. I still consumed carbohydrates during the day but tried to eliminate them from my dinner. I completely cut out my indulgence in lattes, muffins, croissants and sweets in general, though I would still have my dark chocolate. I began taking vitamin D and B12 complex to improve my immunity and energy – and I recommend all my patients do the same.
I started delegating, and consciously tried to micromanage less, both at work and at home. As self-care became an increasingly important part of my routine, I felt less guilty about taking 30 minutes away from my children. Since my relationships were suffering as well, I made deliberate plans to have some alone time with my husband, and made time for my closest friends and family on a monthly basis. I would schedule everything in my calendar, which would ensure that it would actually happen.
I began waking up earlier in the mornings and exercising for about 30 minutes in my basement or at the gym, with a nice ten minutes of quiet time. Then, I would turn on my coffee machine and wait for my kids to wake up as I planned my day.
Overall, life started to feel better and, I felt like I had found the space to work on becoming a better mother, wife, sister, daughter, and physician.
From Self Care to Health Care
After trying to balance my own health screenings, physical activity, nutrition, mindfulness and family connections, my focus turned to my life purpose. My dream as a family doctor was to have as much time with each patient as each individual required. With that dream came the vision of our health care system valuing preventative health care, with patients taking ownership of their health. That is how Zili was born.
My aim was to find a platform to reach as many people as possible and to help take ownership of their health, offering professional guidance on all aspects of health – not just diagnoses. In our current health care system, and at this time in history, there are certain things we are unable to control – like how much time physicians are allotted with their patients, and the power of politicians to take away women’s rights.
As women, we need to come together as a united community to effect change in the way we care for ourselves and each other. And if we want to make a change both within and outside of the health care system, we need to form a common understanding of what healthy living really means.
To me, healthy living means eating well, moving my body, staying true and kind in my relationships, being mindful, having purpose in life, and being proactive rather than reactive about my health. I want to initiate change as a global citizen, as I hope we all do as a unified community. Not every woman will feel exactly the way I do, but each of us can think about the ways we can improve our individual lives; ways we can support one another; and how we can come together to make a real difference in the way we care for ourselves and our communities.
ATTEND the Zili Women’s Preventative Health Conference
Saturday June 3rd, 2017
Vancouver Convention Centre
9am – 3pm
To learn more and to purchase tickets, click here!
About Dr. Maryam Zeineddin
Dr. Maryam Zeineddin was born in Tehran, Iran and lived in Athens, London and Stockholm prior to moving to Vancouver. She attended UBC and completed her B.Sc. in honours physiology. Her passion for medicine led to volunteering in Honduras with the Canadian Development Agency at a children’s hospital. This experience became one of the deciding factors for Dr. Zeineddin to become a physician.
During her medical school years at UBC, she took advantage of travelling, volunteering and playing intramural sports such as ice hockey. Dr. Zeineddin completed two years of family practice residency at the St. Paul’s UBC program, and started her family practice the day after the completion of her residency program. Together with her friend and classmate Dr. Nicole Barre, she built and currently manages Ambleside Medical Centre (AMC) with fantastic doctors and staff. Their mission at AMC is to provide the most comprehensive patient-centered care, with preventative health measures as the key element of healthy living.
Dr. Zeineddin has a full practice with interest in all facets of family practice, including preventative health and lifestyle counseling. She is an avid teacher and clinical instructor for UBC family practice residency programs, has been faculty for the UBC Coastal program, and continues to present and teach to medical students and residents of UBC.