Whether it’s her engaging smile or confident medical knowledge, Dr. Jen Ashton, 54, is beloved for her uplifting segments as chief medical correspondent for ABC News and Good Morning America, GMA3.
Not only is Dr. Ashton on the latest cover of First for Women magazine, where she discusses her best tips for lowering stress, how to keep the mind sharp and her favorite healthy snacks (pick up your copy at your local grocery store or order it online here), but she also launched her own print magazine, Better with Dr. Jen Ashton, in June, where she answers questions and gives expert advice about women’s health.
Here, First for Women caught up with Dr. Jen Ashton to get more of her amazing insights for feeling great.
The best advice Dr. Jen Ashton ever received
Born Jennifer Lee Garfein, in Victorville, California, at George Air Force Base, Dr. Ashton went on to graduate from Columbia College in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in art history. But it was the medical field that finally called to her, and she completed a medical degree from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2000 and a master’s degree in nutrition from Columbia University in 2016.
Dr. Ashton was born with medical DNA – her father was a New York City cardiologist and her mother was a registered nurse. Her brother is chief of plastic surgery and reconstructive surgery in New York City. “My dad told me he didn’t think a career in television would work out back in 2006 when I signed my first contract as a medical contributor and shouldn’t do it,” Dr. Ashton admits to First for Women. “That was one of the worst pieces of advice I ever received.”
Now a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Ashton currently is in private practice and has been seen on the small screen since March 2020 as co-host during showings of GMA3: What You Need to Know.
Dr. Ashton admits her career trajectory didn’t come overnight but rather through carefully planned steps in her life. “The best advice I ever received was to plan for success, not failure,” she says . “Often I would think only of the potentially negative aspects of a situation. An industrial real estate titan friend of mine, who was 30 years older than I was, once said, ‘Always ask yourself if your plan includes room for massive success.’ Now I live by that.”
Dr. Jen Ashton’s message to women in ‘Act 3’
When asked the best advice she would give women over 50, Dr. Ashton hopes there can be more education about menopause and erasing any stigma surrounding it. “More than 1.3 million women in the US are in the midst of menopause, or ‘Act 3’ as I call it,” she says. “But we are not good at talking about hormonal stages of a woman’s life — that includes puberty, and it definitely includes menopause.”
Women over 50 are generally underprepared for the bodily changes that accompany menopause, which can start in the early to mid 40s, says Dr. Ashton. “I believe the main health mistake a lot of women in their 50s make is not getting enough nutrition — we often eat hoping to not gain weight, but we really need to eat in a way that maximizes our nutritional wellness but also minimizes weight gain, which is otherwise inevitable due to changing hormonal and metabolic elements.”
Her suggestions: Focus on foods packed with protein, fiber and omegas. “I like to snack on smoked salmon with coconut-made cream cheese on Wasa crackers, so I’m getting fiber, protein with the omegas, and if I’m still hungry, I’ll have some coconut yogurt with berries or a fiber smoothie,” she says. “It’s delicious and very filling and gives me all the good stuff.”
(Click through to see how adding this butter back into your diet can break through a weight loss plateau and add omegas to your diet. Plus try this protein-packed coffee or Proffee: The delicious breakfast helping women over 60 lose weight effortlessly)
Dr. Ashton’s beauty hacks
In the new issue of her magazine Better and in First for Women, Dr. Ashton says her favorite tips were about “hair resuscitation” — or resting hair from styling damage — and she opens up about her own struggles with hair loss. “Since I’ve been dealing with COVID hair and went into menopause, I have experienced a lot of hair loss,” she shares. “To combat it, I’ve been taking Nutrafol, which is a collagen building supplement that contains marine collagen peptides to strengthen and restore follicles. My hair is thicker and healthier, and I feel more confident!”
When it comes to keeping her skin vibrant, youthful and healthy, Dr. Ashton came up with her own inexpensive beauty “hero.” “My mom and grandmother were both low maintenance,” Dr. Ashton reveals. “So they never passed down any beauty tips. They weren’t big on skin products or makeup. I have created my own beauty tip that I have passed on to my daughter: I use cooking oils like olive oil and coconut oil in my bathroom as head to toe moisturizers. I try not to cruise drugstores for beauty products. Otherwise I end up wasting a lot of money.” (Click through to find out the benefits of olive oil for your skin — plus how to use It.)
On finding joy after heartbreak
In 2017, Dr. Ashton’s ex-husband and father of her two children, Alex, 24, and Chloe, 22, died by suicide, and it shook her world. That heartbreak – and the news of designer Kate Spade also succumbing to suicide – gave her the motivation to become a mental health care champion.
“I believe you have to connect the dots and embrace a holistic approach in addressing anxiety, stress and depression,” says Dr. Ashton, who wrote the books Life After Suicide: Finding Courage, Comfort & Community After Unthinkable Loss and The Self-Care Solution in 2019. She finds meditation helpful and sets aside 20 minutes a day to clear her mind.
In the last couple of years, Dr. Ashton has nurtured her own mental health and found happiness again in her 2022 marriage to TV producer and businessman Tom Werner. In addition, her adorable “Morkie,” named Mason, has also helped keep her spirits up.
“I love, love animals. They make me feel so happy, and my Mason the Morkie is eight years old,” Dr. Ashton says. “I named him Mason because my dog right out of college — who was very special to me — was named Dixon. I felt that they went together, Mason Dixon.”
For more wonderful tips and insights from Dr. Ashton, be sure to pick up your copy of First For Women and Better Magazine, both on sale now!
Keep reading more amazing stories from First for Women:
Bonnie Siegler is an established international writer covering the celebrity circuit for more than 15 years. Bonnie’s resume includes two books that combine her knowledge of entertaining with celebrity health and fitness and has written travel stories which focus on sustainable living. She has contributed to magazines including Woman’s World and First for Women, Elle, InStyle, Shape, TV Guide and Viva. Bonnie served as West Coast Entertainment Director for Rive Gauche Media overseeing the planning and development of print and digital content. She has also appeared on entertainment news shows Extra and Inside Edition.