2023 Is The Year to Strengthen Your Physical and Mental Health


I encourage all to take responsibility for their own health. This journey is a personal one and if you have not made your health a priority in the past, make 2023 the year to strengthen your physical and mental health. We will be reviewing the following topics this year so that you can be your best self and be in the best of health.


1. Self-care—We are so busy taking care of others that we easily put ourselves on the back burner. Have you figured out how to carve out at least 30 minutes out of your day in order for you to do something just for yourself?
2. Time management–You know we each have the same 24-hour window. Why is it that some people get so much accomplished while others cannot get anything done?
3. Physical Health—when was the last time you had a check-up? When was the last time you went to the dentist? Did you develop a plan to improve your physical or mental health?
4. Mental Health—all of us need to ensure that we find the time to let our brains rest. We are so busy multi-tasking that it is easy to get all caught up in our daily activities. Let’s learn how to pause and work on how to quiet our thoughts.
5. Education—You must develop a skill to support yourself so that you do not have to rely on someone else to survive. Do you have that skill? If not, what do you have to do to get there?
6. Budgeting—they say the average American cannot cover a $400 emergency item. Can you cover a $400 emergency without a credit card? Let’s develop a plan to ensure you can cover your basic expenses.
7. Finances—Do you understand the basics of managing your money? If your first thought was, ‘I don’t have to worry about that because my partner does that for me,’ I am going to challenge you to educate yourself. What if your support person is not part of your life tomorrow?
8. Simplicity—Quit comparing yourself to others. By being more conscious about what you need versus what you want, you will have less clutter in your home, life and mind.
9. Employment—I am a firm believer that every able bodied person should work in some capacity. Each person should have a skill set that can generate an income to help support oneself and those that depend on you.
10. Mentorship—we should all be reaching out and helping others move up the ladder. There is not a day that goes by that you do not have an opportunity to pay it forward.
11. Retirement— Live below your means and save some money. Everyone should be able to retire and not have to worry about how you will pay your bills. Do you understand the different ways to save for retirement?
12. Legacy—what impact will you have while you are on this earth? The saying of ‘leave something better than you found it’ applies to so many categories of your life. What does this look like for you?

Join us in our FB private group WhoIsTakingCAreofYou or on IG where we cover one of these topics on a weekly basis.

May we grow together!

Healthcare is on the Ballot This Year

My experience, as both a doctor and the mother of three children, is that a person’s perspective on abortion and reproductive rights can change based on our personal experiences.  


Indeed, the Guttmacher Institute estimates that the average person who wants two children will have to think about preventing pregnancy for approximately three-quarters of their reproductive life.

For me, that process lasted 30 years.

I am an obstetrician and gynecologist.  I believe that people should have the freedom to decide for themselves whether they will become parents.  If they elect to expand their family, they should be able to decide whether they will carry a pregnancy, adopt or use a surrogate.  They should be able to decide how many children they will have and parent them based on their personal values.  They should have the freedom to use their contraceptive method of choice.  






The decisions my husband and I faced were similar to those many of my patients faced.  I experienced many complications during my five pregnancies despite having health insurance, access to care from well-trained physicians, a good job and excellent health.  My five pregnancies resulted in three children.

One of my pregnancies involved twins in which each fetus was in their own sac but they were sharing one placenta.  Starting at 16 weeks, it became evident that one twin was getting the majority of the nutrients and growing as expected while the other was struggling. As the pregnancy proceeded, my husband and I had many difficult conversations with our doctor about our options.  One option was to end the life of the struggling fetus so the other one had the best chance to live.  The other option was to let nature take its course. In the end, both died unexpectantly at 22 weeks. 

In addition to navigating these issues for the past few decades as a patient and a mother, I have also counseled many individuals as they traveled their own journey through pregnancy and parenthood.

My last pregnancy was complicated by preterm labor that began at 19 weeks. Again, we had many conversations with our doctor as my pregnancy progressed from one with a previable fetus to a viable preterm fetus to a term fetus.  There were many options to consider along the way including terminating the pregnancy.  My doctor answered all of our questions with no reservations as we developed my healthcare plan week by week.

These pregancies occurred in the 1990s.  Looking back, I am grateful that I had access to some of the best doctors in the country.  I am grateful that my doctors did not have to consult with their lawyers or adjust their recommendations to comply with non-medical deadlines or policies mandated by politicians.

Of course, many women face these same complications and decisions today.

What’s different is the increasing likelihood that these healthcare decisions will be shaped by politics, not patients and their healthcare providers. My own experience as a mother, as well as a doctor, is that doctor-patient conversations must allow both parties to express their thoughts and knowledge.  Neither a patient nor a doctor should have to worry about being investigated, fined or imprisoned for seeking or providing the care the patient needs.

Unfortunately, the ability of doctors and their pregnant patients to discuss, develop and implement healthcare plans without restriction by the government is now at risk in many states.  As all of us participate in this year’s elections, I hope you will keep in mind the importance of protecting the ability of doctors to provide and patients to receive the care they need – without government intrusion.

Setting arbitrary limits on certain procedures or criminalizing physicians who provide care to you, your wife, partner, daughter, sister, daughter-in-laws or other loved ones will directly impact your own health and the health of your loved ones.  

Put more simply, this year, the future of your healthcare and that of the people you care most about is on the ballot.  Every vote counts.

Screening Mammogram Pearls


I was speaking to someone who was about to head to her first screening mammogram. I had forgotten how nervous you can be.  As we chatted, I realized that we, as medical professionals, often forget to stress how to prepare for this study.


Here are my screening mammogram pearls in order to get the best images of your breasts:

  • Cleanse your chest the day of your imaging.
  • Do not put on any body lotion, perfume, powders or deodorant as this may cause artifacts on the image.
  • Do not wear any jewelry that may drape across your chest.
  • Remove all breast piercings to reduce any artifacts on the images.
  • Wear a 2-piece outfit so that you can keep your bottoms on and stay warm as you will be asked to remove everything from your waist up.
  •  Put the cape on with the opening to the front. They are either paper or cloth capes.
  • The technician will place one breast at a time on the platform. The technician will tighten the plates until you are slightly uncomfortable.
  • They may ask you to hold your breathe for a few seconds while the image is obtained.
  • The technician will take at least two images of each breast and from two different directions. 
  • After they confirm the quality of the images, they will ask you to get dressed and leave.

Your facility may have a radiologist speak to you the same day but most of the time, you will receive the mammogram report at a later date.  The technician cannot give you any information about what they see on their screens.  Do not yell at them or argue with them about this. You will be able to review your results via your patient portal in 1-2 days or you will receive a report in a few days in the mail. Do not assume that ‘no news is good news’.  You need to see the official report.


If it is negative, they will tell you when to come back for your next screening.  Review the report and make sure you understand everything about what it says. If there are any areas that needs to be looked at closer, you will be asked to come back for additional views.  This could be a diagnostic mammogram, a breast ultrasound or a breast MRI.  This will depend on what they see and your community’s resources.  If you are in doubt about how to prepare for the next imaging study, call and speak to someone about what to expect.   

These are just a few pearls that may reduce your anxiety and will ensure that you have the best quality images.  Send me an email if you would like for me to expand on any of this information.

Health Goals Weekly Chart Planner

Are you writing out you health and financial goals? You are most likely going to make progress on your journey if you write them out and post it where you can see it every day. Whether you print it off or keep them on your phone, take a few minutes this evening to plan your week using our health goals weekly chart plannerIt is a mental game.

You have to decide how important this is to you and make a promise to yourself that you are going to follow through.

Remember my mantra?

You, and only you, are responsible for your health.

What are you focusing on right now? Here are some specific examples if you need help getting started:

  • Eat less than 50 gms of carbs per day
  • Do not add sugar to any drink
  • Do not fry any of your food
  • Do not buy anything fried to eat
  • Move your body 30 min a day
  • Add one mile to your usual walking session 3 times a week
  • Complete your work wellness activity
  • Schedule your next wellness check appointment
  • Schedule your next dental cleaning appointment
  • Schedule your mammogram
  • Drink 75 ounces of water a day
  • Ride your exercise bike 30 minutes a day
  • Listen to one meditation session per day for at least 10 minutes
  • Read all nutrition labels and avoid anything that has corn syrup as an ingredient
  • Eliminate artificial sweeteners
  • Eliminate soda or sugar drinks
  • Eliminate meat from two meals a day
  • Set a quit date if you are using tobacco or vaping products
  • Keep a food diary and write in it every day
  • Eat natural foods that have less than 3 ingredients

As you can see, there are many ways to become healthier. The list is endless. You get to decide what is most important to you.

Pick 1 or 5 things to focus on at a time. Whether it is improving on the ones you chose last month, a combo of old and new or 5 new ones, it doesn’t matter. 


Even if you stumble on day one, pick yourself up and reset your mind. I have attached our Health Goals Weekly Chart Planner to help you keep track of this.


Are You Struggling with where to begin?

If you need help getting started, reach out to me by clicking on the Contact Us tab.

Velma Taormina, MD profile picture

Velma V. Taormina, MD MSE FACOG

Women’s Health Consultant

7 Tips to Avoid Scale Fright During The Holidays

Did you overindulge this weekend? What is on your schedule this next week?  The timeline between Thanksgiving and New Year’s weekend is the time of year during which most people will gain weight due to letting their guard down. The temptation of holiday treats and drinks make it easy to put on weight during the holiday season. 

Look ahead and see what kind of activities are on your schedule for the rest of the holiday season.  Factor in everything;  work parties, neighborhood pot-lucks, church gatherings, family gatherings and every event you are invited to.  What can you do to maintain your weight during this season?

7 tips to avoid scale fright during the holidays.  

  • Plan your meals

  • Pack your lunch

  • Stay hydrated.

  • Don’t arrive at a holiday function with an empty stomach.

  • Sample a treat without eating all of it.

  • Limit alcohol.

  • No snacking in between meals or after dinner.

As you see, you can enjoy gathering with family and friends but you need to plan your meals, drinks and activities.  You can sample holiday treats without eating the whole thing.  These ideas are only addressing the things you will eat and drink but coupled with monitoring your activity level,  you should be able to at least maintain your weight.

How to Use a Brainstorming Worksheet in Your Health Journey

Monday Motivation

A brainstorming worksheet is a tool to use when focusing on your health journey goals.  It allows you to look at different categories where you can achieve success. The website PositivePsychology.com has many free templates to help you begin the process.  While you can schedule 1-on-1 sessions with a coach or practitioner, you can also work through the exercise on your own.

A difficult part of your personal health journey is identifying the health goals you want to work on. The Brainstorming Worksheet is a simple tool to help you get started.  The struggle for most who want to begin this journey is simply starting.  Reflecting and completing a self assessment will help you focus on what your priority goals will be.

This Brainstorming Worksheet will assist you in identifying the goals that are important to you. Download this document or print it out. Name your goals in 5 domains; things you want to stop doing, things you want to do less of, things you want to keep doing, things you want to do more of and things you want to start doing. Fill in as many squares as you can without factoring in the cost or any other barrier at this time.  Think big.  Think small.

This worksheet allows you to see your thoughts on one grid and helps you begin the process of prioritizing what is important to you.  If the process seems overwhelming, pick one item from one column to begin with.

  • Name ONE goal category that you would like to focus on.
  • Pick ONE goal in that category.
  • Study it.
  • Research it. Reach out to a mentor if you need help on the topic.
  • Determine how much it will cost.
  • Outline a plan by writing it out.
  • Set a start date!

goal setting worksheet picture

Young woman with breast cancer

When Should You Begin Breast Cancer Screening?

It is that time of the year where we focus on your breasts! I was thinking about the topic on my walk this morning when I noticed these two pairs of acorns that literally just looked like breasts to me. It was a sign!


Are you over the age of 40 or have a first degree relative (mom, dad, sisters/brothers) that has a history of breast cancer? There is no clear consensus for when women with average risk should begin screening for breast cancer but most will say that you should begin between the ages of 40-49.  See the Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines under our Resources Tab.  There are several risk factors that may move the start age up.  This is a conversation you should be having with your primary care clinician or ob/gyn so that you two can review your family history and other risk factors.  

Breast cancer accounts for 30% of the new cancer diagnosis each year but due to improved technology and treatment, we now have a 90% 5-year survival rate.

  • 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • It is second most common type in women behind skin cancer
  • Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer.
  • The two biggest risk factors are being a woman and advanced age.
  • Less than 1% of all diagnosis will be in men.

Screening mammograms are done when there is no current problem. Diagnostic mammograms are done when there is a question about something they see on the screening mammogram and they are doing a more detailed look at the problem area.

As an ObGyn, I follow ACOG’s recommendations but you may be seeing a family medicine clinician who is following the USPTF (first column) guidelines. Once you discuss your risk factors, you can decide at what age you need to begin getting them, how often or when to stop them. You can decide if you want to get genetic testing done.

Educate yourself and ask family members if they have had breast disease.  Review the Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines.  Make an appointment with your clinician so that you can review your options if you think you are at high risk.  Speak up for yourself if you do not agree with your clinician’s advice. My feisty mom was told that she didn’t need one since she was over 70. She told them she didn’t care and would pay for it out of pocket. You guessed it. It showed a small change which was diagnosed as a Stage I breast cancer.

Your insurance company may have guidelines on what they will pay for but you can always agree to pay for one out of pocket if you want to.  If you do not have insurance, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 and they can direct you to the nearest place that can assist you.


Top View of Sneakers on the grass with the text: It Starts With You

Take Responsibility For Your Health

Vaccine or no vaccine? Masks or no masks? Become a hermit or figure out how to live with it?  Did you know that YOU, and only YOU, are responsible for your health?  Act like the adult that you are and take responsibility for your health.

We just had a holiday weekend and there were so many decisions to make, weren’t there?  Cake or no cake? Exercise or sit on your butt again? Smoking/vaping or kicking the habit? Alcohol–to use or abstain from? Fried chicken or grilled chicken? Pecan pie or fresh fruit? Meat or no meat? Hot dogs or lean meats? Grilled veggies or fried battered veggies? I mean, who doesn’t like fried pickles?

I could go on and on and on but I am ready to throw down the gauntlet.  

It is truly your body, your decision. Not just about the vaccine or the mask.  You are literally responsible for your own health so begin acting like it.   I don’t care what the topic of the day is but if you are serious about avoiding hospitalization for any reason, you need to begin taking better care of yourself.

There are some people who are doing an amazing job on all fronts when it comes to their health journey. I tip my hat off to you as you have made your health a priority and I know that this takes a dedicated focus on a daily basis.

The majority of us are somewhere on the continuum of this work. I know that many of you have made so much progress and I will continue to be a pest in case you need a nudge.   There are some who don’t want to proactive but then want everything done when they finally go in for care.  What are you waiting for?

According to the CDC, the medical conditions that are most likely going to put you at risk of severe illness from COVID are the following:

  • High blood pressure (especially if it is poorly controlled)
  • Obesity (BMI > 30)
  • Diabetes (especially if it is poorly controlled)
  • Smoking/vaping or a history of using tobacco products
  • Cancer
  • Pregnancy or recent pregnancy
  • Lung problems
  • Chronic kidney problems

Are any of these on your list of medical conditions? The more conditions that you have, the more at risk you will be for hospitalization, with or without COVID.  Don’t wait until it is too late to take responsibility for your health.  Reach out to your primary care provider and make an appointment.

We are 19 months into this pandemic so if you haven’t’ begun working on improving your numbers, losing weight or kicking the tobacco/vaping habit, you need to make an action plan.


3 Myths to Dispel About Skin Cancer

Who was basking in the sun this weekend? ??‍♀️

Who has basked in the sun over the last 5 or 6 decades? ??‍♀️

Who has covered themselves with baby oil and then fallen asleep poolside, in your lounge chair in your backyard or on the beach? ??‍♀️

Most of us probably still have our hands raised so I have 3 myths to dispel about skin cancer while I have your attention.

Myth #1: I have ‘brown’ skin so I won’t get skin cancer.

    • False. All skin types are at risk for getting skin cancer.  Having less pigment in your skin does increase the risk of damage from ultraviolet (UV) rays but all skin that is constantly exposed to these rays is at risk.  There are skin cancers that occur from other causes as well so continue to inspect your skin and have others peek at your back.

Myth #2: Only people with blue or light colored eyes get skin cancer.

    • False. Individuals of all eye colors can get skin cancer. Those with lighter eyes are more likely to get the ones from UV ray damage but again, there are other types that you need to be aware of.

Myth #3: Only older individuals will get skin cancer.

    • False. Individuals of all ages can get skin cancer.  Your risk is based on your personal and family history, total sun exposure and the number of sunburns or tanning bed sessions.  It is never too late to begin become proactive with this preventative measure.

There are many types of skin cancers so it is important to read about the different types so that you can act on any changes that you may notice on your skin.  The Mayo Clinic has a great summary of what to look for and the different types of skin cancers.  It has great pictures of the different types of skin cancer.  

Read through this resource and then look at your skin from all angles and make note of any concerns that you may have.   Take pictures for your personal files.  Schedule a follow up appointment with your clinician to discuss your concerns or bring this up at your next preventative visit.




12 Monthly Health Goals

Monthly health goals

Here we are at the beginning of a new month and week. How did you do with your goals last month? I have attached the link to our Health Goal planner from our website that allows you to reflect and pencil in what small steps you can work on this month.

In January, we talked about the daunting process of making healthy choices more manageable by breaking them down into small steps. By focusing your target on one thing at a time and by building on what you did over the last months, you will have built in 12 extra healthy habits by the end of the year.

What if you haven’t started? Who cares! You can start this journey at any time so no more excuses. One of our team members is working on how to eat healthier by making better eating and drinking choices. She is approaching this from the ‘Food is Fuel’ perspective. It is definitely about changing her past experience of ’emotional eating’ to eating because ‘food is fuel’. Here is her plan of what this does over the course of a year.

12 Monthly Health Goals

  • January–no artificial sweeteners
  • February–no added sugars
  • March–drink only water, unsweetened teas
  • April–no desserts except one cupcake for special occasions
  • May–try one new fruit and vegetable each week
  • June–no processed snacks
  • July–no snacks in-between meals
  • August–eat all of her meals during an 8 hour window (basic intermittent fasting)
  • September–include meat in her meal planning only once a day
  • October–include meat in her meal planning 4 days a week
  • November–limit alcohol to Friday and Saturdays
  • December–look at recipes to see how to make her traditional holiday menu a healthier one.

By breaking down her healthier eating goals into small parts, she can manage this and doesn’t feel overwhelmed. She is actually ahead of schedule as she found that she could eliminate artificial sweeteners and added sugars at the same time.

You may be able to move through your list more quickly but for someone who was trying to change 50 years of ‘bad habits’ and still cooking for several family members, she felt she needed to move at this pace. She now has several family members who have joined her so this makes it easier.

Write it down, map it out and accept that you may have a few hiccups. NO ONE is perfect.