By Jessica Baumgardner, REDBOOK
They're watching. Doctors are everywhere. In the car next to you while you scarf down a Sausage McMuffin and Diet Coke in morning traffic. At a nearby table while you sneeze your way through dinner. In the house across the street when you finally turn out the lights at 2 a.m. Most of them have too much tact to intervene when they spy us doing something bad for our health, but now they're breaking their silence on the health mistakes we're making every day.
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1. "For Pete's sake, cover your mouth"
I was on an eight-hour flight to France and was sitting behind a woman who started sneezing and coughing as soon as we took off. It was nonstop throughout the trip-and she wasn't covering her mouth when she did it! At the very least, sick people should direct their sneeze or cough into a folded handkerchief or a heavy-duty napkin or tissue. I wished I had brought my face mask with me; I usually bring one on planes to use if I see people being cavalier about coughing. Of course, three days after we landed, I got sick, and it ruined half of my week in Paris.
-MICROBIOLOGIST PHILIP TIERNO, PH.D., AUTHOR OF THE SECRET LIFE OF GERMS
2. "Time to lay off the sugar, sweetie"
This morning I was at a coffee shop and saw a woman chatting with the salespeople about how she wants to lose weight, so she's cutting back. Then she hands over her huge reusable cup and orders a nonfat vanilla latte and a vanilla scone! Nonfat or not, that is buttloads of sugar-she'll crash and be starving again in minutes. I wanted to shake her and say, 'What are you doing? Why don't you just start your day with a milkshake and a doughnut?' If you want to lose weight, or even just maintain, you should limit sugar at breakfast and have something fiber-rich like whole grains, plus protein like egg whites or zero-percent Greek yogurt. That will keep you full and set you up for a healthy day.
-THE BIGGEST LOSER NUTRITIONIST RACHEL BELLER, R.D., PRESIDENT OF THE BELLER NUTRITIONAL INSTITUTE IN BEVERLY HILLS, CA
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3. "Take the stairs, would ya?"
It drives me nuts when I see people waiting around to take the elevator to the second floor of a building when clearly they can just walk up the stairs. Stair-climbing is good aerobic exercise that uses larger muscle groups and increases your heart rate. It all adds up for your heart.
-NIECA GOLDBERG, M.D., MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF THE JOAN H. TISCH CENTER FOR WOMEN'S HEALTH AT NYU LANGONE MEDICAL CENTER AND AUTHOR OF DR. NIECA GOLDBERG'S COMPLETE GUIDE TO WOMEN'S HEALTH
4. "Stop picking at your skin"
I see pickers everywhere I go-people who scrape at dead skin or blemishes as a nervous habit. It's a little addiction that can easily leave scars! I'm concerned about dirty fingers; our hands have staph and strep bacteria on them, not to mention salt and sweat that can irritate your skin. Also, picking inflames acne, which makes you more likely to have to pop that same blemish again. It's a vicious cycle. One time I saw a woman who was picking at her chapped lips. She was talking to someone, and whenever she concentrated, she would scratch at them. I could see she was bleeding a little bit and already had a rippled lip line from scarring, so I actually said to her, 'Wow, you have such beautiful lips-try not to touch them, because you'll get scars!' She said, 'I know, I know, I've been trying to stop this forever.' So I suggested that she wear really beautiful lipstick. If you see red or some color on your fingers, you'll realize what you're doing. Picking is such an unconscious thing, so you've got to find a way to bring it to your attention.
-ELLEN MARMUR, M.D., VICE CHAIR OF COSMETIC & SURGICAL DERMATOLOGY AT MOUNT SINAI MEDICAL CENTER IN NEW YORK CITY AND AUTHOR OF SIMPLE SKIN BEAUTY
5. "Maybe it's time for a new bra"
News flash: Breasts are heavy! It's extremely important to wear a properly fitted and supportive bra all the time. Otherwise, stress and straining on the musculoskeletal system can lead to back and neck pain, poor posture, and strangely, even headaches in some women. Larger-breasted women are at a higher risk, but I've seen this become an issue even for some smaller-chested ladies. Hit a specialty shop or even your local Victoria's Secret for a free bra fitting.
-MICHELLE BARBER, A CHIROPRACTOR IN DAVENPORT, IA
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6. "Don't waste your money on those diet pills"
"When I see women picking up 'fat flush' supplements at the drug or grocery store, I really wish I could warn them. Any weight you lose is mostly water from the diuretics in these products, and you'll just gain it back. In the meantime, you're stressing out the 'garbagemen' of your body, your liver and kidneys, which help eliminate substances that aren't good for you. Take the money you're throwing away on those products and use it to schedule a visit with a nutritionist. He or she can help you come up with a healthy diet plan instead.
-GUNNAR PETERSON, CELEBRITY FITNESS TRAINER WHO HAS WORKED WITH KIM KARDASHIAN AND SOFIA VERGARA
7. "Leave the douche box on the shelf!"
"Douching is a big mistake women still make. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that up to 40 percent of women do it regularly. Some douche before seeing me, thinking that they should be fresh as a daisy for their gynecologist, but doing it actually decreases the sensitivity of the Pap smear. Plus, douching increases your chances of bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections by disrupting the balance of your natural bacteria. Your vagina is a self-cleaning oven with its own little ecosystem-don't disrupt it!
- OB/GYN HOPE RICCIOTTI, M.D., AUTHOR OF THE REAL LIFE BODY BOOK
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8. "Those shoes, really?"
I constantly notice women wearing shoes that are completely inappropriate for the activity they're doing, like high heels for walking miles through the airport or flip-flops to pound the hard pavement, not to stroll on a beach. No shoe is a complete no-no-you can wear heels if you're going somewhere where you'll sit down a lot, and flip-flops are fine for softer surfaces. One shoe that we'll be seeing a lot this spring is rubber rain boots. They're cute, but most of them offer nothing in the way of support; you're meant to wear them for quick jaunts through the puddles, not as all-day shoes. So if you plan to wear them often, get an orthotic arch support and replace the regular insole with it. Your feet-and knees and hips and back-will thank you.
-PODIATRIST CHERRI S. CHOATE, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR AT THE CALIFORNIA SCHOOL OF PODIATRIC MEDICINE AT SAMUEL MERRITT UNIVERSITY IN OAKLAND, CA
9. "Make it a decaf, okay?"
Whenever I see someone ordering a caffeinated coffee after dinner, I just know it's a disaster waiting to happen. Studies have shown that people with caffeine in their system at bedtime never fall into restorative deep sleep and stay stuck in the light sleep stages. Always cut off coffee after 2 p.m.
-MICHAEL BREUS, PH.D., AUTHOR OF THE SLEEP DOCTOR'S DIET PLAN