Franciscan St. Francis

SPR 2016

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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7 F r a n c i s c a n S t F r a n c i s . o r g S P R I N G 2 016 I N S P I R I N G W O M E N PHOTO Y MIKE COOTS P rofessional surfer Bethany Hamilton has spent a lot of her young life thinking about how to keep her body healthy—coping with the loss of her left arm in a shark attack at age 13, competing in a grueling schedule of competitive surfing events, and most recently, being pregnant with her son, Tobias, born June 1. "I [did] a pretty normal workout regimen until five months [into the pregnancy], but I [also] learned to slow it down and rest when I needed it," said 25-year-old Hamilton, who married her husband, Christian youth minister Adam Dirks, two years ago. "It's really good for me to learn to just relax, to listen to my body more when I feel tired. I'll probably carry that into my life habits from now on, although I know the baby might change that too!" Learning to adapt to life's changes is second nature for the Hawaii native, who returned to the water just one month after the shark attack in 2003 and began competing in surfing events again in 2004. She turned pro in 2007 and also has shared her life story in her autobiography, Soul Surfer (later made into a movie), hoping to inspire others with her message of faith-based strength. Today, Hamilton says she is using her story to help young girls live healthier lives, through her newest book, Body & Soul (Zondervan, 2014), along with an active schedule of public speaking and a robust social media presence. "There's not a lot of information for that age group on how to eat right," she said. "I wanted to make [good health] more approachable and friendly for young girls." HELPING GIRLS GET HEALTHY Hamilton says that her own passion for good health developed when she was 17. "I grew up eating a typical American diet, eating fast food," she said. "That was not so healthy, but we would have healthy foods around too … and we [her family] were all very active in surfing. "But at 17 I wasn't really getting a consistent period, so I went to a nutritionist with my mom. I talked with him, and I'm happy I started to take care of myself at a young age. " " 5 tips 1. Get active. 2. Embrace a balanced diet. 3. Don't forget about your oral health. 4. Find your inspiration. 5. Set goals for yourself. for a healthy lifestyle 5 i Bethany's that was the start of my journey to choosing a healthier lifestyle and healthier foods. I'm happy I started to take care of myself at a young age." Hamilton is a firm believer in the value of good posture for young girls—and everyone—because poor posture habits can affect your overall health, she said. "I do a lot of posture-correcting movements, which I'm learning from Egoscue [physical therapy], from my health practitioner," she said. "Having one arm, I have a lot of imbalances. But I've come to realize that everybody has a lot of imbalances, especially if you're sitting in a chair [all day]." She also wrote a lot about body image in her book because she intimately understands the challenges faced by many young girls. "I've had my struggles [with body image], especially as a teenager," said Hamilton. "Your body is going through different changes … It's learning to embrace your woman body and focus more on your health than comparing yourself to these unrealistic images that are so frequent in the media." PARENTS COUNT TOO Parents can also play a strong role in helping their daughters feel good about their bodies and encouraging girls to be physically active and to eat a healthy, balanced diet, said Hamilton. She suggests that parents pay attention to their daughters' interests and find ways to incorporate those interests into healthy habits. If a girl likes to cook, for example, "you can go [online] and find healthy recipes," she said. "Nowadays there's so many resources. You can get in the kitchen and show your kid how to take ownership of their foods." It's also important for parents to show they support all of their daughter's unique qualities and athletic talents. "What I appreciated about my parents is that they really invested in me," she said. "They saw that I was passionate about surfing, and they took time to take me to the beach and get me in the water every day. They wanted to pass on their passion for surfing to their kids, and all of us have taken on their love for the ocean and surfing." •

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