Q. Do you have any ideas for helping a 52-year-old woman with type 2 diabetes, fibromyalgia and plantar fasciitis get healthier? I work 12 to 14 hours a day, six days a week. I am 5 feet 6 inches tall and weigh 230 pounds. I know that diet and exercise are the answer, but I don't know how to make it happen. -- Danetta, Tulsa, Okla.
A. Sounds like your job may be killing you. Work stress is a risk factor for diabetes -- especially in women -- as are excess weight and a sedentary lifestyle, so you've hit the trifecta. But in this economy, you may not be able to cut back hours or quit, so try these ideas for a pain-free, healthier life:
Your feet: Stretch and ice daily. Every morning, sit up in bed, rest the painful foot on the opposite leg and pull your toes toward your head to stretch your plantar fascia, the tough tissue that runs along the underside of your foot (it's inflamed). If both feet hurt, reverse legs and repeat. Once you're up, ice the bottoms of your feet for 20 minutes; do this at night, too.
Your food: Brown-bag it. Never leave a meal to chance. Toss rainbow-colored salads into a container you can take to work. Bring some lean protein (a small can of tuna or beans), good vinegar and a little healthy fat (olive, walnut or canola oil). Make turkey-breast sandwiches on whole-wheat with mustard and colorful fixings. For snacks, bring hummus and whole-grain crackers, peanut butter and apple slices, nonfat Greek yogurt and grapes.
Your fitness: Your health is part of your job now, so plan on two hours a day for exercise. No squeaking! We know it's a lot, but we're saving your health here, so stay with us. When your plantar fasciitis is quiet, walk after meals and on breaks. When it's not, try swimming and water aerobics. Test-drive a rowing machine and a stationary bike; they may not bother your heel. (Wear supportive shoes and do some heel stretches first, so you won't trigger a faciitis attack.) If you can, remove the couch in your home and replace it with the machine that gives you a good -- and painless -- workout. It's an extreme solution, but we promise you'll blow off stress, burn calories, boost your energy and maybe even help your fibromyalgia.
Q. I know you say that meditation is good to do. I have tried sitting and quieting my mind, but I just can't stop thinking. Is there something you can suggest? -- Anonymous
A. Congratulations; you're doing exactly what experienced meditators do. The only difference between you and them is that they've been practicing meditation for so long that when thoughts come up in their minds, they're able to simply acknowledge their presence and let them go. There's no trick to it, but we can suggest ways to help you stop fighting your thoughts, even if it seems like hundreds of them crowd your 20-minute session.
Try focusing on your breathing or repeating any word you want -- like "um" or "om." When you notice your mind wandering, bring your attention back to your word. You also can focus on sounds you hear without making a judgment about whether they're good or bad. You can think "18-wheeler" or "bird" without having an opinion on either.
Meditation is a practice. You'll find that gradually, the intervals between intrusive thoughts get longer and longer. We think meditating is well worth the effort: It not only reduces stress, but also helps maintain your brain cells and your memory.
Q. I had my first colonoscopy six years ago. I was told I wouldn't remember anything, but I can recall every painful minute. The doc was shocked by how much it hurt me and said it was because I have a very twisty colon. I do not want to go through that horror again, even though my father died from colon cancer. How can I have a better experience? -- Tedi, Wrangell, Alaska
A. You are one of those rare people who need two docs for your colonoscopy: an anesthesiologist, to give you deep sedation, and a colonoscopist (who's usually a gastroenterologist), to do the procedure once you're "out." If your doc refuses to have an anesthesiologist for your next colonoscopy, get a different doc who will.
Telling you that you "have a very twisty colon" simply is not an acceptable explanation for the nightmare you experienced, especially since fear is high on the hit parade of reasons for putting off a colonoscopy. Our guess is that you were given a painkiller and a sedative, a commonly used combo known as moderate sedation/analgesia, conscious sedation or sedation analgesia. It works fine for most people. The downside? It's not enough for some people who, like you, feel pain and have unpleasant memories of the procedure. Unfortunately, your family history means you're not a candidate for virtual colonoscopy, which doesn't require sedation. But you don't have to grin and bear the scope. Take our word for it -- it doesn't have to hurt.
The YOU Docs, Mike Roizen and Mehmet Oz, are authors of "YOU: Being Beautiful -- The Owner's Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty." To submit questions and find ways to grow younger and healthier, go to realage.com, the docs' online home.