CADILLAC — Eating right and exercising are ways of life for 37-year-old Dr. Jennifer White-Seymour, who can’t stress enough the importance of carving out time in the everyday hustle and bustle to stay healthy.
“It’s as essential as brushing your teeth,‘ White said.
At her Manton dental practice, Brite White Dental, White shares with clients information about the crucial connection between oral health and overall wellness.
“I like to say, ‘take care of the whole, not just the hole,’‘ White said.
To illustrate this connection, White points to studies that show people with dental infections and gum disease are more likely than those with healthy teeth to suffer a heart attack or other cardiovascular problems.
At her practice, White offers a book to clients about this topic; free of charge, as long as they promise to read it and pass it along to help others.
Being more cognizant of how the various systems of the body affect each other is a topic on which White is focusing a lot of energy on these days.
She is a life-long athlete and now an accomplished bodybuilder, winning several medals at a Michigan National Physique Committee competition earlier this year.
She won first place in True Novice, Novice Class A and Novice Overall categories. She also won second place in Open Class A and third place in Masters Class.
Preparing for competition is quite a rigorous process, especially during the weeks and days leading up to the event.
Although White doesn’t recommend this level of intense competition preparation to everyone, bodybuilding itself is very healthy exercise, even for people who are getting older and might not think they have the physical ability or stamina they had as youngsters.
A common excuse she hears from people is that they don’t have enough time to exercise.
As a working professional raising two young kids, White also doesn’t have a whole lot of time in her schedule to workout.
She makes time.
Six days a week, White wakes up at 4:30 a.m., begins her workout at 5 a.m., and finishes by around 7 a.m. in order to have enough time to get ready for work.
It is this passion for leading a healthy life White seeks to spread to everyone around her.
“I like seeing healthy, happy people,‘ she said. “If you don’t take the time to take care of yourself, you just won’t be here as long. You can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself.‘
During a typical gym visit, White makes use of six to 10 different weight-lifting systems and resistance machines at Anytime Fitness, in Cadillac.
She tries to pick a variety of machines that work muscles around the entire body.
Depending on whether she’s trying to gain muscle or stay lean, the number of repetitions and weight can fluctuate.
Lately, she has been doing three sets of 12 reps each, with medium weight; a good rule of thumb is that the last set should be hard to finish, she said.
It’s important to regularly change up the type of exercise or machine one is using every six to eight weeks in order to prevent “plateauing,‘ which is when the body becomes so used to a repetition it no longer benefits from the work.
Building muscle is important even as one ages, White said, because it helps to prevent osteoporosis because it increases bone density.
One critical thing to remember when doing this type of exercise is to practice proper form, White said.
“It’s more important than lifting heavy weights,‘ said White, who suggested a personal trainer or gym employee as someone who can offer advice on how to properly lift weights and use the machines.
Following weights and resistance training, White does about a half hour of cardiovascular exercise, which can include treadmills and stationary bikes.
White tries to get her heartbeat up to at least 120 beats per minute during this part of the workout.
Before one starts any kind of workout routine, however, she strongly advises them to consult with their physician to ensure they don’t hurt themselves.
Exercise is essential but White said proper nutrition is more important for leading a healthy life. “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet,‘ she said.
Eating a well-balanced diet is the topic of countless books, programs, seminars and articles, with some experts disagreeing on many facets.
However, there are some universally accepted truisms in the world of healthy eating.
For one thing, avoid processed foods and stick with whole foods you would find in the outer aisles of a grocery store.
Also, keep sugar intake to a minimum, but not necessarily fats.
“Our bodies also need healthy fats,‘ White said. “Balanced, mindful portions of lean meat/protein, vegetables and complex carbohydrates. It is better for your teeth and your whole body. Most people — not all — would benefit from a Mediterranean style diet. For more information, consult a doctor, nutritionist or Google.‘