Happy or sad
Consider this question: were you in a positive mood or a negative mood yesterday at 9am, 1pm, 6pm and 9pm? Now calculate the ratio of positive emotions to the ratio of negative emotions you experienced.
3:1 You’re happy
Why look at how your mood changed over an average day? It’s a great way to qualify something as amorphous as your emotions. “Often this test shocks the heck out of women I see,” says Dr Pamela Peeke, an assistant professor of medicine and the author of Body For Life For Women (Rodale Books, R372).
“They had no idea that they were so stressed, because all of that anxiety had become so normal to them, like background noise. But research shows that the happier you are, the stronger your immune system is. You’re likely to have less inflammation, which is the foundation for many major diseases in your body,” Dr Peeke reveals.
1:1 You could use a boost
“Try adding more experiences into your day that bring you joy, like playing with your dog, grabbing lunch with a friend or co-worker, or taking part in a dance class,” advises Dr Peeke.
1:3 You’re struggling
When your happiness ratio skews towards the negative, you are more at risk for illness – both everyday and chronic, says Dr Peeke. “If your mood is so low that it’s interfering with your work, sleep or relationships, then you must seek immediate help from a psychiatrist or licenced social worker – who are often cheaper – to figure out what’s going on,” she says.
Sexual pleasure Be honest: is sex ever painful? No then carry on!
Occasional discomfort is normal: “As long as it isn’t the kind of pain that makes you wince, you’re OK,” says ob-gyn Dr Katharine O’connell White. Regular sex has a whole host of health benefits, such as boosting the immune system, easing body pain and encouraging sounder sleep – not to mention that youthful glow!
YES this is not ok
It’s time to pinpoint the exact problem. “Often it’s as simple as not enough foreplay,” explains Dr White. “But it may also signal something serious, like endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease [PID], an ovarian cyst or an infection like a UTI. Tell your doctor so she can help you figure out what’s going on. You deserve great sex!
Hello belly Stand straight and look down. Can you see your toes without leaning forward? YES Good news for your heart
“Fat deep inside your belly raises your risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer,” explains Dr Peeke.
NO Bad news for your heart
Women whose bellies measure 89cm or more have nearly double the risk of dying from heart disease or cancer compared with leaner women. This kind of fat does respond well to diet and exercise, so improve your diet by avoiding added fructose and trans fats, which may specifically boost belly fat.
Healthy teeth Do your gums bleed when you floss your teeth? NO Oral health A+
“If your gums are pink and don’t bleed, then they’re probably healthy,” explains dentist Dr Janice Pliszczak.
YES Uh-oh: warning sign
“You could have gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) or irreversible gum disease,” says Dr Pliszczak. “Start flossing once a day. It’s equally important as brushing.”
Deep sleep When it comes to sleep, do you typically:
Fall asleep within five minutes of lying down? (1 point) (0 points)
Hit the snooze button two or more times? (1 point) (0 points)
Go to bed and wake up at different times each day? Yes (1 point) No (0 points)
And probably fit: young women who get between 6.5 and 8.5 hours of consistent, quality sleep per night have lower body fat than those who don’t.
1 or 2 points = You’re too tired
“Sleep deprivation can cause depression, anxiety or ‘brain fog’,” reveals sleep specialist Dr Michael Breus, co-author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan (Arianna Huffington, R314). “Getting just 30 extra minutes every night should help you.”
“If you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, you’re not getting enough sleep,” says Dr Breus. Go to sleep earlier, and set your alarm for the last possible moment so you bank more high-quality sleep. Then stick to that consistent sleepwake schedule as much as possible.
Hydration Pinch the skin between your thumb and your forefinger, then let go. Does it snap right back? YES You’re properly hydrated
When your body has enough fluids, cells are plump, making skin elastic.
No You may be dehydrated
Studies show that dehydration can make you grouchy, sluggish and less focused. Dermo Dr Francesca Fusco suggests keeping a 1ℓ water bottle on your desk as a reminder to sip throughout the day.
Get moving Do you sit for more than five hours each day? NO excellent!
“The average woman sits 50-70% of her day,” reveals Dr James Levine, author of Get Up! (Palgrave Macmillan, R346). “The more you move, the better.”
YES You’re at risk
People who sit for at least five cumulative hours a day are more likely to develop cancer, heart disease or type 2 diabetes. Start incorporating just five minutes of physical activity into every hour.