Make a Date for Better Health

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“Eat right, exercise, get plenty of sleep, take time out of each day and spend a moment with the one you love”.  This isn’t new information, but finding a balance in your life between work, family and friends is no easy task.  Throw a couple of medical degrees, a medical directorship, a 106-acre ranch and three very active little boys into the mix, and you have the Hamiltons.

Dr. Julie Hamilton and Dr. Rob Hamilton will host Date Night 2010 to remind us all to take time for our health and to take time for each other.

The free event, sponsored by Mercy Medical Center Redding, will take place at Simpson University in the Heritage Center on Thursday, Feb. 25, 6-8:30 p.m.  Guests will have an opportunity to sample food from some of Redding’s top restaurants and enjoy presentations by Dr. Nikita Gill, Dr. Bradley Jones, Dr. Gisela Okonski, Dr. Rodney Rodriquez, Dr. Lauren Strickland and Kristi Schaible, smoking cessation coach.  Topics will include heart health, healthy weight, spine and back health, and cancer prevention.  The event will focus on ways couples can work together as a team and encourage each other to be healthy.

Even though the Hamiltons lead busy lives, they see the importance in Date Night.

“Plan date nights!  Your spouse needs some of your attention and energy, too!” Julie Hamilton says.

Rob Hamilton agrees: “Having a date night helps to break up people’s routines and gets them to focus on each other.  We always have great conversations on our date nights because we try to avoid talking about the usual everyday stuff that we otherwise have to communicate about all the time, and talk about the big picture, plans for the future, etc.”

“Date night” doesn’t have to be at night, and it doesn’t mean you have to empty your wallet either.

“Rob and I are currently making time most mornings to exercise together, which helps us reconnect (with each other) and refuel (self-care).  Dates are the only true leisure time we have and we always hope to make more of them,” Julie Hamilton says.

“Basically, I think our life is as crazy as anyone’s,” she says. “We work in a very demanding clinical environment with completely random hours.  We’ve been working a lot more than we’d like, and we have three very busy young kids, ages 3, 5, and 8.  Rob and I have to constantly re-prioritize our jobs and our lives to make sure that we aren’t failing as parents.  This is the true measure of success.  We ‘divide and conquer’ the labor.”

The Hamiltons have found that making adjustments to their schedules has helped them find balance.  “There is no such thing as a daily routine given the round-the-clock shift schedule of the Emergency Department,” Rob Hamilton says. “Sometimes I work at home and watch the kids, or sometimes I can work on the road so we can travel together as a family.  The clinical work is more difficult in that it usually is all-consuming, but I find that if I work late evenings, I can help out with the kids some during the day.”

Julie Hamilton felt torn between staying home with her kids and working.  She finds that having a balance in her life and ensuring she herself is healthy ultimately benefits her children the most.

    “At times I just want to throw in the towel, quit working, downsize to a smaller house close to town with no land or pets, and just be a mom.  I don’t think a male colleague could ever understand the stress of pumping breast milk in a bathroom during a shift, hoping that the phone won’t ring to announce a trauma, or the emotional angst of leaving a newborn to go to work for more than 10 hours.  But part of my wellness, I know, is doing something meaningful outside the home as well.  I have made a personal commitment to wellness and trying to stay healthy… exercise is crucial to my well-being.   My kids all know that if Mommy doesn’t exercise often enough, she gets cranky.”

The Hamiltons stress that doing the things you need to do to make yourself happy reflects upon your family, co-workers and those you touch on a daily basis.

    “If there is anything I’ve learned, it’s that a healthy mom is a happy mom, wife and physician,” Julie Hamilton says. “I need to be healthy for my kids too.  They require a huge amount of energy.  My advice to all the young moms out there:  Put your hobbies on hold, you will find time for them later.  Be efficient.  Waste no time so when you are home, you can be ‘just a mom.’  Be honest with yourself and have realistic expectations.  Try to establish some semblance of routine for your kids, even when there isn’t one.  When things get too crazy, re-prioritize your choices, and ask yourself… ‘Is this worth our health? Our kids’ stability?  Is there a better way?'”

To learn more about taking time for your health and taking time for each other call 530-24-MERCY or go online to redding.mercy.org and register for Date Night.

The participating restaurants include:  Downtown Eatery, Market Street Steakhouse, Rivers Restaurant, The Sweetspot and Tapas Downtown.

Photo by Michael Burke, Marketing and Media Coordinator, Mercy Medical Center Redding

Megan Loveless is Mercy Medical Center’s public relations coordinator. She can be reached at Megan.Loveless@chw.edu. For more information about the Mercy Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine Center, call (530) 245-4801 or visit redding.mercy.org.

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