Last week I headed to NYC to attend BlogHer’s first ever Health conference. The energy was electric as I shared space with more than 400 women health and wellness influencers from all over the globe. The overall theme for this event was being your own health advocate. Specifically, being a woman and vowing to “Never shut up” when it comes to your health and your rights. One of the panels featured Dr. Aviva Romm, referred to as, “the face of natural medicine in the 21st century,” by Prevention Magazine.

Below are Dr. Romm’s top 5 ways to be your own health advocate –

*I added my own thoughts to expand on each tip

    1. Write a script – Before you see your doctor, write a script of exactly what you want to discuss during your appointment. What are your symptoms? How long have you been feeling this way? Have you researched any conditions you think might be related to what you’re experiencing?Practice reading the script out loud before your appointment.
    2. Read the script – Read the script to your doctor if you feel nervous during your appointment. You can even say something like, “I’m feeling a little nervous and I want to make sure I clearly communicate my wants and needs in this appointment, so I’m going to read you my notes.” They are your words and they’re important.
    3. Bring another advocate – Bring a friend or loved one with you, preferably a woman. Having another woman by your side will help avoid any power dynamics between a male doctor and your male advocate. Your mother, sister, daughter, niece, etc. can take notes, help you stay on track with your script and be there for all the moral support you may need. There’s strength in numbers and you can relax with her there.
    4. View yourself as the client, not the patient – Think of yourself as a client who is hiring a doctor. It’s similar to hiring an interior decorator for your home…if they only do modern design and you like contemporary, you won’t hire them. You are the client and you can hire a doctor whose style, background, values, etc. match yours. You also can fire your doctor at any point in your relationship.
    5. Know your baseline – One of the easiest ways to be your own health advocate is to become familiar with your body, inside and out. Know your numbers – cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, body mass index and body fat percentage. How do you feel during your menstrual cycle? What are your headache triggers? What are your sleep habits…are you normally sensitive to light or heat, etc.? Be your own advocate by knowing your baseline so you can tell your doctor when something is off.

I took so many notes at this conference! Below are a few of the notable comments and quotes I think you’ll like, too!

  • “This is our body and it’s the most important thing we have that’s ours.” – Julianne Hough
  • The body speaks to you in very clear language
  • “Being tuned in to what my body is feeling makes me feel so much more empowered and I’ve learned that I know my body more than I thought.” – Kerry Smyers
  • “Vulnerability is a whole new level of strength and power that I don’t think people really understand…” – Jillian Michaels
  • Doctors are good at the what but not at the how and/or helping us navigate every day life
  • “We are each other’s stories, we have a responsibility to share them if we can.” – Amy Ziering

“Write your own story” – my morning mantra via Tom’s of Maine, one of the event sponsors :)