Women should never try to “measure up” to anyone else. The only “yardstick” that matters in each woman’s life — regardless of her age — is her own.
That was the message Dr. Suzanne Metzger, a nationally acclaimed speaker, delivered to over 100 Tooele County women who gathered Thursday for the kickoff of a new program called “Healthy Woman” sponsored by Mountain West Medical Center (MWMC).
Thursday’s event also featured several workshops, informational booths and a formal sit-down dinner provided by Elizabeth’s Catering.
During Metzger’s mostly humorous but sometimes totally serious speech, she told of a college roommate who constantly bragged about her 22-inch waist.
“My waist was larger than 22 inches the day I was born,” Metzger said to laughter and nods of understanding from her audience. “I got so sick of hearing this girl talk about her 22-inch waist that I decided to make my own tape measure. It was made out of elastic, and to this day I can still have a 22-inch waist.”
Metzger, author of Learning Through Living … Some Assembly Required and coauthor of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Living with Breast Cancer, also candidly told the group about an experience she had two years ago when registering for an exercise and fitness class.
“On the first day I attended, the woman in charge of the class whispered to me, ‘What size are you?’” When Metzger whispered back that she was a size 16, the woman asked, “And what size would you like to be?”
Metzger looked the woman in the eyes as she answered, “I want to be a size 16.”
Continuing, Metzger noted, “I’m sure she couldn’t imagine anyone not wanting to be a size two. But I told her, ‘Look, I am 55 years old.
I am not Barbie. I will never be a size two. I’m coming here to make myself stronger, to feel better, and to increase my muscle mass.”
Metzger added that the majority of American women are much larger than size two and “We should all be comfortable in whatever size we are. You are no less a person if you’re a size 16 or any other size, than is the woman who is a size two. You have to be comfortable with what God has given you.”
Stating that all women are “aging with every beat of her heart and every tick of the clock,” Metzger discussed life cycles we all face.
“When you are in your 20s, you are wondering, ‘Who am I?,’ she said. “In your 30s, your biological clock kicks in. You may go through a mid-life crises and feel you are being consumed by the wants and needs of family, friends and others. It is often at this stage in life that a woman asks ‘Where am I?’”
“When you reach your 40s,” Metzger continued, “you start wondering ‘What about me? I’ve given so much to everyone else. When it is time to take care of myself?’ It’s in this stage of life that a woman finally decides she is good enough to pay full price for something for herself. She realizes it’s OK to buy herself flowers, to sleep alone in silk pajamas, or to burn an expensive candle before it becomes gray with dust.”
By the time a woman is in her 50s, she asks herself, “Why didn’t I admire myself sooner?” Metzger said. And by the time she reaches 60, she asks, ‘What makes people think I’ve stopped living?”
Metzger said in every stage of a woman’s life, she is usually striving for perfection while comparing herself to others. “Most of you who came here tonight think the person you are sitting next to looks younger than you,” she said. “You think the clothes she is wearing cost more than your outfit. You think she lives in a nicer house than yours, that her kids are nicer, that her husband makes more money than your husband, and that she doesn’t have as many wrinkles as you.”
Looking over the audience, Metzger added, “You know what? The woman sitting next to you is thinking the same thing about you. She is comparing herself to you and she believes you are better.”
Metzger also noted that the selfimage developed in our early years of life often plays a role in how a woman feels about herself today.
She told of a friend who will never wear corduroy pants because as a teen she was asked by her mother, “Why are you wearing those pants? You look so fat in corduroy.”
“We are all definitely a product of our environment and our families,” she said. Then with a laugh Metzger added, “Ninety-eight percent of us come from dysfunctional families. The other two percent who claim their families are perfect, are lying.” Metzger added, “Just because we are a product of our environment does not mean we can’t be the best we can be. She then counseled every woman to take 144 minutes of each day for herself.
“Why 144 minutes?” Metzger asked. “Because 144 minutes is onetenth of the minutes in a day. Don’t we all deserve to have 144 minutes in each day to do what we want to do, or to take care of ourselves.”
The inspirational speaker also talked about the necessity of knowing the difference between a problem that is “simply an inconvenience” and one that “cannot be fixed.” A survivor of breast cancer, Metzger told of the time she was struggling through chemotherapy treatments.
One day her husband came home from work, grabbed the checkbook and went into her bedroom.
“He was upset that the checkbook was off by $2,000,” Metzger said. “I made no response, so he asked, ‘Do you believe this is a problem?’” Metzger calmly looked at her husband and said, “Breast cancer is a problem; an unbalanced checkbook is a mere inconvenience.” She said it’s necessary to fix “inconveniences” in our life, while learning to live with problems we cannot solve.
And Metzger had a special word of advice to women in a verbally, physically or sexually abusive relationship.
She noted that one out of four women will at one point in her life face some type of abuse.
“If you are in that situation, tell someone,” Metzger begged. “Talk to a mental health expert, go to the police, or talk with a trusted friend.
You are too precious to ever allow yourself to stay in an abusive situation.” Metzger, who has spent more than 15 years captivating audiences with her humorous yet provocative keynote speeches, was an obvious hit with Thursday night’s audience.
And MWMC employee Becky Trigg, manager of Senior Circle and volunteer services, said last week’s kick off of the “Healthy Woman” program was just the beginning.
Participants in the “Healthy Woman” program will have the opportunity to meet on a monthly basis,” Trigg said. Speakers at those free meetings will address a variety of issues especially geared toward women ranging in age from 25 to 55, who often “sandwich in” raising children, making time for a spouse, and caring for aging parents or grandparents. But Trigg emphasized that “women of any age are most welcome.”
“Our monthly meetings, which will be held in various locations, will provide support and education not only on physical and medical issues, but emotional, financial and social issues as well,” Trigg said.
“Locations, day of the week, and time of the monthly meetings will vary so that we can reach as many women as possible.” For instance, some meetings will be held on Saturday mornings, while others may be on a weekday or later in the evening.
Those who register for the Healthy Woman program will receive regular newsletters and/or e-mails which will offer helpful tips and announce the date, place, time and topic of discussion for each monthly meeting.
Meeting information will also be published on a regular basis in the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin.
To register as a member of the group, call Trigg at 843-3691 or pick up an application at MWMC. Those with Internet access can register online at: www.mountainwestmc.com