Saturday symposium will explore ways women can ‘rewire’ to improve habits


Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 4:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 4:34 p.m.

That women instinctively take care of others goes back to the cave dwellers, when women took care of babies while the men foraged for food.

But women can “rewire” themselves so that they are taking care of themselves at least as well as everyone else, said Linda Larsen, a renowned motivational speaker and author from Sarasota who will speak Saturday at the Women and Wellness Symposium at Gainesville’s Hilton Hotel.

The event, sponsored by the North Florida Regional Medical Center and in its second year, brings together several of the hospital’s physicians and other area experts to address women’s health issues including bone, breast and heart health, and the importance of exercise and stress relief.

Keynote speaker Larsen said women have traditionally neglected their own health and well-being in the process of taking care of others.

“We have to take conscious actions to stop the patterns and install healthier, more effective habitual behaviors for ourselves,” Larsen said. “We actually can create new patterns of behavior: It takes a tremendous amount of consciousness and effort, and that’s why most people fall back into old behaviors.”

Julie Samples, the assistant chief nursing officer in charge of the hospital’s women’s service line, said Gainesville women could improve their habits and behaviors.

“I think in this community we do have a group of women who are really committed to their families and community. Because of that, they may put their own health needs secondary,” Samples said.

“What we really are trying to do is encourage them to come out and for this one day out of the year, be able to listen and think about themselves; to be able to improve or maintain their health status in order to continue to do for this community what they feel so passionate about,” Samples continued.

She added that the symposium is designed to give women the tools to individually assess their own health needs so they can move forward.

Last year’s event was a big hit and brought together 189 women, she added.

Larsen, who has spoken to audiences (primarily women) throughout the world, and whose audio book, “12 Secrets to High Self-Esteem,” has sold over 110,000 copies, emphasizes both mental and physical health. She said happiness largely influences our health, and that “50 percent of our happiness is learned.”

“Happy, optimistic people are healthier, more resistant to infectious diseases, more creative, have better relationships,” Larsen said. “There’s a lot to this happiness thing.”

Larsen said her mission is to get women to their happy place and out of what she calls their “stuck place.”

To do this, one technique she uses is called “thought stopping,” in which you can learn to effectively stop the negative thoughts that often follow an inspirational one -- such as the impulse to start your own business.

“We often talk ourselves out of a good idea,” Larsen said. “The moment you hear yourself talking in a way that is going to put yourself down, you use this technique until the thoughts stop.”

Samples said the symposium is targeted for middled-aged women and up, but that it is open to all women and that younger women interested in learning about their aging mothers might find it beneficial.

The symposium is being held at the Hilton Conference Center from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. The $20 registration fee includes breakfast, snacks and lunch, health screenings and gift bags. People can register by phone at 800-611-6913, or 7-8 a.m. at the event.

Contact Kristine Crane at 338-3119, or kristine.crane@gvillesun.com.

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