BlogHer Topic - Health - Editor's Picks en Stop Using the "P" Word, People! <!--paging_filter--><p>At every age and every stage, this word finds a way to creep in.</p><p>It has the same effects on us - whether we are learning how to draw, ride a bike, picking out our wedding dress, holding our first child, or juggling the craziness that is parenthood or a thriving career.</p><!--break--><p><b>Perfect. <em>It all must be perfect.</em></b></p><p>Translation: Everything must be something that is completely unattainable. Nonexistent. And when it's not (<em>and it never is</em>), we feel like failures. Complete failures. All. The. Time.</p><p><center><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-903" src="" alt="PWORD" width="450" height="450" /></a></center></p><p>When does this quest for perfection start?</p><p>Just last night, my four-year-old son was cutting out a picture for his "homework." He was so frustrated because he couldn't cut the line as straight as he wanted to.</p><p><em>He wanted it to be perfect. </em>He was in tears.</p><p>Our daughter still hasn't learned how to ride a bike because she wants to do it perfectly.</p><p>I get frustrated at work because of a typo or because of something that I didn't check off of my task list. Because my work wasn't perfect.</p><p>I think this is why we all stay so stressed out all the time. Why so many of us feel defeated. </p><p>Maybe I'm just overgeneralizing here, but that is how I feel 99% of the time.</p><p><strong>Stress</strong> (or the promised solution for it)<strong> is big money.</strong> Folks are making millions on their promises to make our lives more perfect. More organized. More complete.</p><p>This quest for perfection blinds us to the wonder of life.</p><p>We learn by scraping our knees a little. Getting a little messy. Getting hurt.</p><p><strong>I'm quitting perfect. </strong></p><h2><center>Perfect Relationships?</center></h2><p>Before I got married, I looked forward to having this blissfully perfect relationship with my husband. To marry the person that was perfect for me. To have perfect little children and live in a perfect little house.</p><p>Maybe I wasn't actually so hung up on perfectionism, but I really had some pretty high expectations. Dreams. Plans.</p><p>The only thing perfect about marriage is that it involves two imperfect people deciding to make a go of it. It's a commitment that my husband and I renew over and over again.</p><p>I'm certainly not perfect. I am sure that I drive my husband nuts with my little projects that never seem to get finished and my sloppy housekeeping.</p><p>But I will tell you that I wouldn't want to walk through life with anyone else because my husband is just right for me. Love is a choice - and we choose love each and every day.</p><h2><center>Perfect Housekeeping?</center></h2><p>As I said above - I am not the world's best housekeeper. I have an army of small ones and a dog that contribute to my problem. And laundry. I really hate laundry. And dishes.</p><p>But here's the thing: If I am focused on keeping my house perfectly organized, I miss out on the amazing Lego creation that my son just made <em>all by himself.</em></p><p>I won't get to have that conversation with my daughter that could lift both of our spirits and bind our hearts.</p><p>I'll miss that extra snuggle and just one more book before bedtime.</p><p>Because I am at work all day long, I only have a couple of hours each night to get to know these two amazing little people with whom God blessed my life with. </p><p><em>I only get them for a moment</em>.</p><p>So I let the dishes wait. I wash the same load of clothes three different times because I keep forgetting to put them into the dryer. I let things slide so that my children see just how valued they are in my eyes.</p><h2><center>Perfect Body?</center></h2><p>I think this is the worst one. The quest to look perfect. Seriously. This is the real money maker. </p><p>You could spend a fortune on looking younger. Looking skinnier. Losing weight. Having whiter teeth.</p><p>You're telling me a big fat lie if you say that there is nothing you'd like to change about yourself.</p><p>I've always been short.</p><p>Things aren't as perky as they were before I had children.</p><p>Hair grows in the strangest places, and is rapidly turning grey.</p><p>I've always been critical of myself, but I thought I kept those opinions largely to myself. I didn't realize how loud my inner voice was until I began to hear it from my daughter, too.</p><p>I think she is amazing. She is beautiful. She's so smart and talented. But she is already beginning to pick apart herself and only see her faults. </p><p>Perceived faults and "less-thans." And it breaks my heart to think what she might try to do to change what God has created in her.</p><!--pagebreak--><h2><center>What God Created.</center></h2><p>God created us to have fellowship with him. Fellowship. The only thing perfect in this entire world is his love for us.</p><p>So instead of continuing my quest for perfection, I've decided instead to invest in <em>being</em>.</p><p><em>Being</em> present for my family.</p><p><em>Being</em> closer to my husband.</p><p><em>Being</em> healthier in mind, body, and spirit.</p><p><em>Being</em> a better friend.</p><p><em>Being</em> hospitable - no matter how messy the house is.</p><p><em>Being</em> real.</p><p>If you stop by my house, the floors will be clean-<em>ish</em> and there will be a place for you to sit in the den. </p><p>I'll try to offer you a bite to eat or a cup of coffee, but I can't promise that the sink will be empty of last night's dishes and the dining room table won't be covered up with school papers.</p><p>We are pretty busy <em>being</em> a family.</p><p>So let's ban the "p" word from our vocabulary.</p><p>One definition of "perfect" is that something is as good as it is possible to be. I can't live like that, because from my experience with my husband, children, family and friends - life just grows and changes for the better each and every day. </p><p><em>And that is way better than perfect. </em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Jennifer Collins&nbsp;</strong>is a Graceful Mess. <em>&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Living a messy life, full of grace. &nbsp;</em></p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Finding Balance Health Work/Life Love & Sex Fri, 30 Jan 2015 23:02:03 +0000 gracefulmess 1917799 at 10 Foolproof Good Habits for People With No Willpower <!--paging_filter--><p>Yes ... you can claim a happier and healthier you in 2015!</p><!--break--><p>No willpower required.</p><p>Honest.</p><p>Follow these ten extremely easy steps !</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="ALT TAG" /><br /><em>Image: Public Domain via Pixabay</em></center></p><!--pagebreak--> <h2><center>Laugh</center></h2> <p><center><img src="" alt="ALT TAG" /><br /><em>Image: Public Domain via Pixabay</em></center></p> <p> Find the funny in life's toughest moments. <em>Inappropriate</em> humor is better than no humor, and it almost always trumps stress and aggravation. You can rant, internalize, suppress, cry or choose to giggle it off.</p><!--pagebreak--> <h2><center>Stop Eating Chemicals</center></h2> <p><center><img src="" alt="ALT TAG" /><br /><em>Image: Public Domain via Pixabay</em></center></p> <p>If you can't pronounce it, don't put it in your mouth. Try to consume food that comes from the Earth and isn't created in Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory. </p><p>Eliminate soda and/or anything with so many preservatives it remains exactly the same after one month.</p><!--pagebreak--> <h2><center><strong>Walk and Move Your Body More</strong></center></h2> <p><center><img src="" alt="ALT TAG" /><br /><em>Image: Public Domain via Pixabay</em></center></p> <p>You don't have to commit to Crossfit, just move <em>more</em> than you did yesterday. Park your car a little further from the store or take the stairs.</p><!--pagebreak--> <h2><center>Drink More Water</center></h2> <p><center><img src="" alt="ALT TAG" /><br /><em>Image: Public Domain via Pixabay</em></center></p> <p>It's the only pure form of hydration. If a drink contains artificial sweeteners or caffeine, it's likely causing more harm than good. </p><p>My approach to a happy medium is drinking my coffee with REAL sugar, then drinking more plain water throughout the day. Baby steps are positive steps in the <em>right</em> direction.</p><!--pagebreak--> <h2><center>Radiate Positivity</center></h2> <p><center><img src="" alt="ALT TAG" /><br /><em>Image: Public Domain via Pixabay</em></center></p> <p>Deliberately squelch all thoughts of jealousy, envy, anger, and injustice, as they are catalysts to toxic energy that will inevitably cause stress, leading to illness and overall unhappiness. Fight bad thoughts off with a pointy stick or pirate sword.</p><!--pagebreak--> <h2><center>Breathe Deeply</center></h2> <p><center><img src="" alt="ALT TAG" /><br /><em>Image: Public Domain via Pixabay</em></center></p> <p>Take deliberate cleansing breaths every single day. This activity has been proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure. Plus, you may feel better simply by cooling your jets.</p> <!--pagebreak--> <h2><center>Read</center></h2> <p><center><img src="" alt="ALT TAG" /><br /><em>Image: Public Domain via Pixabay</em></center></p> <p>Anything. It's brain candy. An <em>engaged</em> brain is a <em>healthy</em> brain.</p> <!--pagebreak--> <h2><center>Don't Compare Yourself to Others</center></h2> <p><center><img src="" alt="ALT TAG" /><br /><em>Image: Public Domain via Pixabay</em></center></p> <p>Comparison is the biggest thief of JOY and the largest hurdle in reaching personal fulfillment. Know that someone will always <em>one-up</em> you, and that's okay. Focus on your own awesomeness.</p><!--pagebreak--> <h2><center>Love Unconditionally</center></h2> <p><center><img src="" alt="ALT TAG" /><br /><em>Image: Public Domain via Pixabay</em></center></p> Don't be judgy. Everyone messes up sooner or later and everyone deserves a second chance. Offer <em>support</em> instead of <em>judgement</em>; it feels better. <!--pagebreak--> <h2><center>Sleep Enough</center></h2> <p><center><img src="" alt="ALT TAG" /><br /><em>Image: Public Domain via Pixabay</em></center></p> <p>Never underestimate the power of a good night's sleep or a 10-minute nap. Things are almost always more manageable when you're freshly rested.</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Books Midlife Food Health Work/Life Entertainment menopause mom humor new years resolutions Fri, 30 Jan 2015 22:18:52 +0000 extrememom 1910958 at My FitBit Made Me Feel Like a Loser So I Quit Using It <!--paging_filter--><p>I felt like a loser. My friends were all out-stepping me. How did they fit 10,000 steps into a day, let alone 25,000 or even 35,000? Were they working while walking on a treadmill? (Apparently some of them were.) Others just found the time to walk a lot, I guess. </p> <p><center><img src="/files/fitbit_0.jpg" /><br /> <em>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link"></a></em></center></p><p> "Phooey," I said! "I don’t need this." I have two little boys, a lot of work time in front of the computer and can barely get dinner on the table, let alone walk around the neighborhood for an hour in the freezing rain. Oh sure, I get to the gym every now and then. But that doesn’t count now, does it? Nope. That hour on the elliptical doesn’t get counted in my steps. </p><p> So when my FitBit battery died (again) I just let it go. </p><p> I was tired of the stepping race. I had nothing to prove. I originally bought my FitBit to <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">motivate myself to be more active</a>. I wanted to feel some sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Instead, I found myself obsessing over friends’ numbers, which were consistently better than mine, no matter how much I tried. I threw it out because my end goal was to work out, not to walk. </p><p> The problem with the FitBit is that is isn’t an activity tracker. It is just a step tracker. If you love to swim, watch TV while on the elliptical trainer, ride horses, bike or anything else that isn’t whatever FitBit deems as a “step,” then you are out of luck. You could have done the same amount of exercise as a marathon runner. But, unless you ran that marathon, all of that action won’t show up on your pedometer. </p><p> Sure, you can manually put in all of your activities for the day — just like you can count every calorie you eat, too. But you know what? I’m a mom. I don’t have time for that nonsense. I need a device that does it all automatically for me. I want to take a picture of what I’m eating and have a machine calculate those calories, so I don’t have to guess how many eggs were in the pancakes I had at brunch last week. </p><p> Worst of all was the guilt I felt at the end of the day when I saw my total. I found myself running in place just to make it to 10,000 steps. Yes, there was that fulfillment. But was running in place for a minute at 11 p.m. so I could add those last few hundred steps actually helping my body? Probably not. The guilt gnawed at me, and I was too obsessive. Instead of being motivated and sticking with the competition my friends seemed to be having, I actually became more inactive. </p><p> It was time for a change, so I made it. </p><p> I ditched my FitBit. I’m looking for something better, something that can motivate me to move when my work life entices me to sit still more than I should. A device that will track all of my activities, no matter how many steps I take, so I don’t feel like a loser at the end of the day. Maybe that will just be a friend saying, “Bravo! You went to the gym for 20 minutes. You rock!” Maybe it will be a jar I add a marble to every time I work out on my own. Once that jar is filled, I get a giant piece of chocolate cake as a reward. Who knows? </p><p> What I do know is that a FitBit will not be part of that equation anymore. </p><p> Do you have a FitBit? Does it motivate you to move more?</p><p><em>Originally published at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Mom.Me</a></em></p> <h2>More from Mom.Me</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">My Car Is Basically a Sex Ed Classroom</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Best Mom Advice Isn't About Kids</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Dear Kate Middleton: Having a Boy First Changes You</a></li> </ul><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Health Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:58:49 +0000 1939172 at What Vaginal Steam Baths Are Really Like: An OB/GYN Weighs In <!--paging_filter--><!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="Gwyneth Paltrow recommends steam baths" /><em>Gwyneth image: © MWP/</em></center></p> <p><strong>Yeah. You heard me. I said <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">vaginal steam baths</a>. </strong></p> <p>You already know how we Californians like our colonics. (<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">The story of my first colonic is here.</a> And yes, I paid good money for that experience.) Well, apparently, some of us like to have our coochies steamed, too.</p> <p>Now, I'm a gynecologist, a pretty woo-woo integrative medicine doctor from the Bay area, and the author of a book called <em><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">What's Up Down There</a></em>. </p> <p>I've done a book tour in which women are regularly asking me questions like, "If a woman dies during her period, do they take the tampon out before they bury her?" So I've pretty much heard it all. And it's pretty dang hard to shock me.</p> <p>But I have to admit that I did a double take when I read about Gwyneth and others electively steaming their vaginas.</p> <p>I mean, I'm all for it. Why not give your hoo-ha a facial? After all the abuse we inflict up them in the form of Pap smears, Brazilians, and thongs, our vulvas and vaginas could use some TLC, eh?</p> <h2> <p>Vaginal Steam Baths Are Not What You Think</p> </h2> <p>But it's not meant as a beauty treatment. According to the Tikkun Holistic Spa in Los Angeles (where Gwyneth goes), <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">this technique has roots in Korean tradition</a>. Spa manager Jin Young told the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> that vaginal steam baths (aka "chai-yok"), "reduce stress, fight infections, clear hemorrhoids, regulate menstrual cycles and aid infertility, among many other health benefits."</p> <p>The secret is not so much the steam itself, but what's in it. If you're lucky enough to receive such a spa treatment, you perch naked on an open-seated stool, above a steaming brew of mugwort tea laced with wormwood and other Chinese herbs. Copping a squat for this "V-Steam" treatment takes 30-45 minutes, and will run you anywhere from $20 to $75.</p> <p>At <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Daengki Spa in Koreatown</a>, proprietors claim the treatment will "rid the body of toxins" and help women with menstrual cramps, bladder infections, kidney problems and fertility issues. Which seems like a big claim for a little pot of tea steam.</p> <p>That same <em>Times</em> article quoted a women who swears by it. She said that, at 45 years old, after three years of trying to conceive, five V-Steams resulted in a pregnancy&mdash;as well as more energy and fewer body aches. </p> <p>But one anecdote certainly doesn't equal evidence or causality. For all I know, she found the V-Steam so relaxing that she quit stressing about her infertility. And we all know that stress reduction makes you more fertile. Just ask anyone who got pregnant on their honeymoon.</p> <h2>So What Do I Think?</h2> <p>Well, it's certainly not anything I ever learned about in medical school. And I haven't read about it in any medical journals. But it's not completely implausible that vaginal delivery of specific Chinese herbs might have some benefit. </p> <p>After all, the vagina, with its extensive blood flow and thirsty mucous membranes, readily absorbs medications. And Chinese medicine doctors, naturopathic doctors, and many acupuncturists have been using herbs to treat all kinds of medical conditions, including the ones the spas claim the V-Steam can help. I've even prescribed herbal vaginal suppositories to help women's immune systems fight HPV, the virus that can cause abnormal Pap smears, genital warts, and cervical cancer. </p> <p>Hell, it's the whole concept behind the trend for party girls who want to get drunk at work to insert <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">vodka-soaked tampons into their vaginas</a> so they can get wasted without having their breath reflect their indulgence. So it doesn't seem so far out there to me.</p> <p>But it really all comes down to the active ingredients.</p> <h2>Mugwort and Wormwood: What Are They And How Do They Work?</h2> <p>Now we're getting way out of the realm of my personal expertise. So I had to do my homework and seek guidance from those I trust.</p> <p> <h3>Mugwort</h3> </p> <p>Turns out that mugwort is commonly used in a Chinese medicine treatment called "moxibustion." It's used to help turn breech babies, so the mother can deliver vaginally. It also causes uterine contractions, and so has been used as an abortion agent. </p> <p>And according to Karen Reynolds, an acupuncturist I refer to at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Balance Restored</a> in Mill Valley, CA, "This type of treatment aids in fertility as it moves and strengthens Qi (energy), which is exactly in keeping with what the Asian practitioner states in the <i>LA Times</i> article:</p> <blockquote><p>"Many infertility problems are related to coldness and stagnation," Choo says. "The chai-yok treatment is effective for coldness or poor circulation in the lower part of the body because it increases the blood circulation, and blood supplies nutrition, so the more blood supply, the faster the healing process."</p> </blockquote> <p>So the using mugwort in a vaginal steam bath might make some sense. However, Karen also says, "I'm a bit uneasy with touting some of the other claims about mugwort."</p> <p> <h3>Wormwood</h3> </p> <p>Wormwood (which incidentally is an ingredient in the legendary drink absinthe) is an herb used to treat gastric disorders, as an antiseptic, to help reduce fevers, and to help pregnant women with labor pains. </p> <p>Karen says, "People use wormwood is used widely for malaria. It's a clear summerheat herb in our Materia Medica. I would be more hesitant about including it unless a woman tends toward repeated bacterial/viral vaginal infections. The active component of wormwood is artemisinin, which can be neurotoxic. So if I were creating a vaginal steam regimen, I would leave it out. (Just my two herbalist cents)."</p> <h2>Why Steam?</h2> <p>Karen says, "You can use Chinese herbs in many, many forms traditionally, not just orally. For example, there are topical poultices for spider bites and vaginal/rectal applications to treat infections. That being the case, steam is not so whacky within the herbal world."</p> <p>And why not? Assuming the temperature is controlled to make absolutely sure you don't burn your tender skin and membranes down there, it seems like a relaxing way to take your medicine.</p> <h2>We Just Don't Know</h2> <p>There's no scientific evidence to support or reject the claims made by advocates of vaginal steam baths, so the truth of the matter is that we just don't know whether they offer any health benefit. But I'm not one to knock ancient Eastern health care practices, so who knows?</p> <p>I'm a big fan of checking in with your gut (and your lady bits!) What does your body tell you? Is this for you? Do you believe this will benefit you? If not, skip it. But if the wisdom of your body speaks to you and says, "YES! This is the answer for me," pay attention. </p> <p>That little voice can be much wiser than any randomized controlled double-blinded clinical trial. And as long as you're not putting your body in danger (I personally doubt you are), what's the harm? Worst case scenario, you're out $50 and the pores of your vulvar skin are squeaky clean and tightly closed. And if it works to help you meet your goals, more power to ya.</p> <p>Your body knows best. Trust it. No matter what Gwyneth tells you.</p> <p>Continually amazed by the wonders of modern medicine &amp; ancient wisdom,</p> <p>Lissa Rankin, MD</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Health lissa rankin spa steam vagina vaginal steam bath vulva women's health Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:08:27 +0000 Lissa Rankin 372218 at I'm Not an Idiot: Measles Outbreak, Vaccine Debates, and Your Name-Calling <!--paging_filter--><p><center><img src="" title="" alt="" /></center></p> <p>When it comes to the vaccination debate, I don't usually "go there." I feel like we are all trying to inform ourselves make the best decisions for our families in a world full of misinformation brought to us by people more interested in power and money than the health of the general public.</p> <p>That said, a friend posted <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">this article</a> which struck a chord with me.</p> <p>There has been a lot of back and forth over the whole vaccine thing lately. It always catches my eye, and I've spent far more time than I probably should have reading the thoughts and opinions of everyone and their brother who cares to share. Maybe I just couldn't resist the urge to throw my two cents in. Welcome to my corner of the blogosphere.</p> <p>My child is not "officially" allergic to immunizations. He just doesn't handle them well. As in, he stops breathing. So... yeah. We don't do that anymore.</p> <p><center><img src="" title="" alt="" /><br /><em>My son after being vaccinated.</em></center></p> <p>For this choice we've been called "idiots" and worse by the strongly pro-vaccine folks. We're viewed with suspicion by everyone from school administrators to ER doctors.</p> <p>People say we are "blindly following the advice of celebrities," or, "trying to look hip." Not the case. We actually stopped immunizing on a doctor's advice after a year of dealing with very serious respiratory issues. Magically, when we stopped the shots, our child's life-threatening "asthma" went away. He hasn't had a single whistle in his chest in the 2 1/2 years since we stopped.</p> <p><center><img src="" title="" alt="" /><br /><em>My son without any shots.</em></center></p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">The article I'm referring to</a> made a lot of claims. It said things like, "measles is just a rash," and, "only people in third world countries die from measles and it's because of the dehydration." It also made claims about the rates of autism, as it links to brain encephalitis and more.</p> <p>I couldn't take those claims at surface value from some random internet guy so I did two things:</p> <p>First I read an article entitled, "<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">This Is What Measles Really Looks Like</a>." Turns out it looks like a rash. A nasty rash for sure but, yeah. It's a rash, just like the first guy said.</p> <p>The article also listed statistics and numbers. For instance, it explained that the measles vaccine has been around, basically eradicating measles, since 1963. So, during the big outbreak in the late 1980s/early 1990s they found that…</p> <p>wait…</p> <p>what?</p> <p>I thought it was entirely the fault of Jenny McCarthy and the idiot celebrity followers of the past 10 years that people are getting measles in 2015?</p> <p>Hmm…</p> <p>Okay, well, I don't have any further information on that so I'll just leave it be for now and move on.</p> <p>When they collected numbers in the 1990s, (not sure why we're working with generation-old numbers) statistics showed that about 8% of measles patients got diarrhea which COULD lead to dehydration. 7% got ear infections which COULD lead to deafness.</p> <p>Uh huh.</p> <p>Okay.</p> <p>Let's think about that: There are about 73 million children in America.</p> <p>During the last BIG measles outbreak approximately 55,000 children got measles. I'm not great at math, so I could be wrong, but I'm calculating that as well under 1% of the kids in the nation.</p> <p>Of that overwhelming number of children, 8 out of every 100 got diarrhea. 7 out of every 100 got an ear infection. That percentage did not die from dehydration or go deaf. They got diarrhea and/or ear infections.</p> <p>My children and I have all had multiple bouts of diarrhea and ear infections over the years. It's not fun but, so far, we are neither dead nor deaf because, like the author of the original article said, we live in the "first world."</p> <p>Do you know who doesn't live in the first world? The children in some of the saddest pictures in the article. Look closely at the captions.</p> <p>While we're putting numbers in perspective, the recent, horrible, scary, big, overwhelming outbreak of measles involved about 45 people. This is approximately the same number of kids in my daughter's band class. So, out of all the people in America, your odds of being affected by this outbreak of measles are about the same as your odds of ending up playing trombone in a grange building in farmland, MI. Yes, I realize there are holes in the comparison. Just making a point about the numbers. This is not something that is raging like wildfire through the countryside.</p> <p>I needed to see something written by a source generally considered credible. (For those who would argue, I beg of you: Let's save that can of worms for another day. I've already got my hip-waders on, here.) I went to the CDC website and looked up the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">risks of the MMR vaccine</a>.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>Do you know what they are?</p> <p>They are pretty much the same as the risks from getting measles. In some cases, the numbers are slightly different but… really… if you're going on differences that slight… well… maybe you should bet this week's whole paycheck on the Powerball jackpot. There's a CHANCE you could win, you know.</p> <p>As a little side note: While reading the CDC info I noticed that, among those who <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">should NOT get the MMR shot</a>, are anyone who has recently received any other vaccine. Yet, the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">vaccination schedule lists SEVEN other shots</a>, many of them for multiple viruses, that they recommend getting at about the same age as the MMR. That's a bit confusing!</p> <p>What does all this mean?</p> <p>I can tell you what it means for me and my family.</p> <p>It means that with or without shots it is very unlikely that the average healthy child would die from measles (or most of the other diseases that we immunize against).</p> <p>Of course, like any good mom, I don't want my kids to suffer. I think anyone who takes even a moment to look at the world around us can see that vaccines have been, as a whole, a good thing. I don't know a single child in an iron lung, and I'm immensely glad for that. As the mother of a child who really can't get vaccinated, I am thankful that vaccines have lowered the chances of his exposure to serious disease.</p> <p>I get it. I am not against all vaccinations.</p> <p>BUT… when people say that those who choose not to vaccinate are being selfish or that they lack information, follow celebrities, or read de-bunked data… well, that's simply not true. In fact, most parents I know who choose not to vaccinate have done far more research than those who just blindly go along with the schedule. Those who don't vaccinate generally understand that vaccines do not provide life-long immunity, nor are they 100% effective or 100% safe. They know that some of these viruses are beginning to mutate and that there are legitimate, well-respected researchers who are expressing genuine concern about that issue. They understand that EVERY drug has side effects and we should always weigh the risk of the side effect against the benefit of the drug.</p> <p>As for calling anyone an "idiot" (or worse): It is not okay in your child's classroom, and it's not okay in this discussion. For goodness sake! You want to present yourself as a well-informed, critically-thinking adult and the best you can come up with is name calling? Do better. BE better. There is no place for name calling in honest discussion, and there is no chance for growth and learning unless we are able to honestly discuss the facts.</p> <h3>The facts:</h3> <p><strong>Fact</strong>: Disease sucks. All disease. We all want all disease eradicated.</p> <p><strong>Fact</strong>: Modern medicine is helpful and science continues to improve. That's why doctors no longer bleed their patients to cure them of anemia and most of us are happy when EMTs show up with a truckload of fancy equipment if our hearts begin to fail.</p> <p><strong>Fact</strong>: Modern medicine does not have all the answers and continues to evolve. That's why my society urged my grandparents to eat trans-fats to lower their chance of heart disease, yet my doctor now gives different advice.</p> <p><strong>Fact</strong>: Screaming, shouting, angry, inflamed confrontation rarely (if ever) accomplishes anything positive.</p> <p><strong>Fact</strong>: The next time you meet someone who feels differently than you on a topic you are passionate about, it would be wise to listen to why they feel differently. Maybe it won't change your stance one teeny iota of a bit, but there's a good chance that your kindness and respect will help make the world a better place.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates. If we work on our goals together, they may feel a little easier to achieve!</em></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Health Family #measles #vaccinations kindness Fri, 30 Jan 2015 15:03:18 +0000 Lazy Hippie Mama 1940775 at How to Lose the Pregnancy Weight <!--paging_filter--><p>As a fitness fanatic, one of the hardest aspects of pregnancy for me was the weight gain. Regardless of exercising four to six days a week and eating the healthiest I ever had in my life, I still packed on a hell of a lot more weight than what is considered "normal."</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="pregnancy" /></center> </p> <p>I had to remind myself over and over and over… and <i>OVER</i> to <i>trust</i> my body and the process of growing a healthy baby. I struggled not to compare myself to other pregnant women, especially the lucky ladies that didn't exercise at all and only gained half of what I did. Clearly I wasn't blessed with the naturally skinny gene!</p> <p>After my daughter was born, I purposely didn't weigh myself right away. But at my first follow up doctor's appointment, two weeks postpartum, they weighed me and it was confirmation that I had A LOT of work to do.</p> <p>I was back to exercising five weeks postpartum, and I jumped in head first determined and hungry to regain my body. I remained dedicated to losing the weight, and my workouts ranged from barre classes, walks, runs, hikes, spin classes, strength training and plyometrics.</p> <p>I'd lose a few pounds, then I'd plateau, lose a few more, and then plateau again. I could go a month without seeing a single ounce lost to a week where I'd be down five pounds. Just like pregnancy, I once again had to trust my body and the process of recovering.</p> <p><i>Everyone</i> and their frigging mother told me, "It took nine months to put it on, it takes nine months to take it off." In which I replied, "Not if I can help it!"</p> <p>I apologize to every supportive friend and family member who uttered that statement to me, but it peeved me to my core and pissed me off. Pregnancy is a <i>loooooooong</i> nine months, did I <i>really</i> want to spend another nine trying to get my body back? No!</p> <p>As the months went on, I convinced myself I probably wouldn't lose all my pregnancy weight until I was done breastfeeding. Some women say nursing helps shed the weight fast, others experience quite the opposite and aren't able to lose it all until they're done.</p> <p>And with the size of the breasts I was sporting (and still am), I thought for sure I'd be in the category of women who would have to patiently wait until I was done breastfeeding – and I eventually came to terms with that.</p> <p>But I was wrong. Once I hit seven months postpartum, I was back down to the weight I was the day I found out I was pregnant – 123 pounds.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="sunflowers" /></center></p> <p>Like most women after having a baby, my body is a bit different now. For starters, my derriere<i> </i>is smaller than it was before, but my boobs – those suckers are still quite a bit bigger. And even at 8 months postpartum, I'm still pleasantly surprised and a little bit shocked to be back at my pre-pregnancy weight and in my normal clothes.</p> <p>The difference is, now I actually<i> feel</i> confident, whereas before pregnancy, I always picked apart my body. Whether it was my thighs being too thick or my hips being too wide, I was never satisfied. It's amazing how pregnancy has made me appreciate my body, in more ways than one. </p> <p>And physically, I'm actually a lot stronger now than I was before, and there are certain body parts that not only feel stronger, but look leaner and more defined.</p> <p>Each month has posed new challenges that forced me to gain new strength physically and mentally, not only in fitness, but as a mother, wife and overall person. I've had countless "Ah-Ha" moments, and have gone from humbled to proud of myself in all aspects of life.</p> <p>I've worked my ass off (literally) to lose the weight by eating healthy, working out and staying committed to "bouncing back." It takes some women no time at all to take off the weight, it takes others a hell of a lot longer.</p> <p>Me, I was nine months on, seven months off. But regardless of where I was then and where I am now in my fitness achievements, the one thing I can say is that my daughter was worth every single ounce gained, every pain felt and is worth every challenge.</p> <p>Motherhood has made me stronger, in more ways than I had ever imagined it would or could, and I have a feeling it will continue to mold me into the strongest version of myself in the years to come. Whether I'm fat, thin, fit or healthy, I will be forever grateful and am incredibly blessed just to be a mom to the most amazing girl I've ever known.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Body Image Diet & Fitness Health FitMom fitness postpartum Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:44:57 +0000 Slparke 1816587 at My Daughter Asks Why 'American Idol' Contestants Are Judged on Their Looks <!--paging_filter--><p>On Saturday night I let the kids stay up a little later. We were all kind of lazy and didn't feel like playing a game so we thought we might watch a movie. But it was past 8:30 p.m. and too late to start a movie, so instead I decided to check out the DVR to see what we had waiting for us.</p> <p>We had a few <em>American Idol</em> shows recorded and unwatched. Although <em>American Idol</em> is a great family-friendly show, it is rated PG and makes me cringe...a lot. Not sure why most shows have to go over the line with swearing and topics (they spoke of virginity with one of the guests on the show we watched tonight) and lots of bleeps and use of "hell" and "fricken" (I hate that word). I don't need my 7-year old walking into school Monday saying this "fricken sucks" because he heard it on television!</p> <p><center><img src="" alt=”American idol via fox" /><em>Image: FOX</em></center></p> <p>Back to our night — we tended a nice fire in the fireplace, snuggled in our pjs and warm blankets, and watched the audition shows of <em>American Idol</em>. I keep hearing my 9-year old daughter saying something under her breath. I didn't know what she was saying and kind of ignored her because it is nearly impossible to watch anything with four kids, two dogs, two loud gerbils running on wheels and my guinea pig squealing for attention. Everyone talks, or jokes, or laughs and I CAN'T HEAR the show. So I ignored her. A few times.</p> <p>Finally I hear her crystal clear. She said, "Why do the judges keep mentioning what they look like?"</p> <p>I pause the show and ask her what she is talking about. She is seriously angry that the judges keep talking about contestants' smiles, hair, legs, body, booties, total package and looks overall. "Why does it matter what these people look like when this is a singing competition?"</p> <p>Oh, how I love to hear this. I must be doing something right. I have worked SO HARD to not mention how unhappy I am with my looks. I have been overweight since the sperm hit the egg with kid number one, and that was 13 years ago. I got bigger with each one and now cannot lose it. I want to complain all of the time. But I don't- Ever. We don't say the word fat. We don't say ugly, I don't discuss size or weight. I never speak badly about myself or anybody else. When the conversation starts to head in that direction with others, I try and steer it in a healthier direction.</p> <p>We do speak of eating healthy, bathing, brushing and flossing, why I wear makeup, why women shave and men don't in the United States. We do speak of strong, healthy, talented people. We speak of following your dreams and not being afraid to try new things. We focus on the positive and eliminate negativity where ever possible.</p> <p>I did hear her speak negatively about herself once. With a friend, she said something about not liking her hair. After the friend left I asked her about it. She told me she really does like her hair but all of the girls say negative things about themselves so she tried to think of something she could say and her hair was all she could think of. We spoke about lying, being negative and not being true to yourself. I haven't heard anything like that again.</p> <p>Who knows what the future holds, but her strong opinion tonight made me feel so good about how she feels now. She was disgusted that these judges were paying attention to the way people looked instead of just focusing on how they sound. She really understands that judging people based on looks doesn't make any sense. It is such a simple concept, isn't it? A singing contest should have fabulous singers. Now, how do we tell the judges?!</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Body Image Movies & Television American Idol body image children parenting Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:00:53 +0000 JenniferOrmond 1939704 at How Do You Feel About Maternal Assisted C-Section? <!--paging_filter--><p>An Australian mother to nine children took an active role during the c-section birth of her 10th and 11th children. After doctors cut open Gerri Wolfe, 41, she reached down to her lower abdomen and pulled out her twin daughters, Matilda and Violet. </p> <p><center> <img src="/files/twins.jpg" /><br /> <em>Image: <a href="">BeautifulFreaks</a></em></center></p> <p> The so-called "maternal assisted cesarean section" was all a part of the plan, but only after Wolfe convinced doctors at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, New South Wales, to step back and let her do the actual delivery. </p><p> It was a first for the medical staff as well as Wolfe, who had already given birth via c-section four times before. She had hoped to give birth to the twins vaginally and was devastated to learn in the 36th week of this pregnancy that a complication meant she would once again welcome her kids into the world in an operating room. </p><p> She had read online about maternal assisted cesarean sections, where the mother reach into their bellies and pull out their babies, and liked the more personal, less passive aspect of it. Wolfe approached her doctors, who were initially skeptical. The doctors agree, though, to look into it. After learning it wouldn't be unsterile as they had initially imagined, they gave the green light. </p><p> Wolfe's husband said his wife is used to getting her way. In matters of the body, that's how Wolfe thinks it should be, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">telling the U.K. Daily Mail</a>, "It's my body, it's my birth, it's my baby." </p><p> To keep the environment sterile, Wolfe scrubbed up before the surgery and put on two sets of long surgical gloves. After laying down on the table and getting situated, the outside set of gloves was removed, leaving the next set ready for delivery. </p><p> Doctors went to work and, eventually, leaned down and asked if she was ready. She laid each of the girls on her chest immediately after lifting them out. </p><p> Wolfe describes their births as extremely personal. Both she and her doctor are satisfied with the outcome.</p><p><em>Originally published at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Mom.Me</a></em></p> <h2>More from Mom.Me</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">My Car Is Basically a Sex Ed Classroom</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Best Mom Advice Isn't About Kids</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Dear Kate Middleton: Having a Boy First Changes You</a></li> </ul><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Science Pregnancy Health Family News & Politics Wed, 28 Jan 2015 22:51:30 +0000 1939179 at The Playlist that Pulled Me Through Cancer Treatment and Recovery <!--paging_filter--><p>It’s weird when the music you love stops sounding good to you. It’s happened to me before, once after a terrible breakup, and once during an awful day job, writing adventure travel brochures for the elderly. The breakup ruined The Band’s entire discography for me, and the copywriting gig ruined Tina Turner’s greatest hits. It’s been years, and I still can’t get through “Up on Cripple Creek” or “Simply the Best” without breaking into a cold sweat. </p><p> Cancer is something like a bad breakup and a soul-sucking day job, maybe times a million. It’s got me wincing at my all-time favorite records, even my hypothetical desert island picks. I can’t go near Aretha’s greatest hits, Willie Nelson’s “Stardust,” or the collective works of Patsy Cline, Bonnie Raitt or Ray Charles. Aretha sounds stuck in “baby, baby” mode. Patsy and Bonnie are too mid-tempo and tragic, and make me think of plane crashes and dead-end men. Willie’s having too good a time all the time, and Ray’s had all the good times he’ll ever have. I’ve got a lifetime of memories and dreams tied up in their songs, and I’ve been in love with them as long as I’ve had ears. Now they all sound like a bunch of triggers. </p><p> My boyfriend Ed noticed my silent standoff with music before I did, early in my diagnosis for an aggressive form of breast cancer. I started driving to medical appointments in silence, staring down the highway, concentrating on which terrifying questions I’d ask my doctors. I sat in tense waiting rooms waiting for lab results with just the sound of morning cable shows blaring overhead. At home, I made scrambled eggs to talk radio, and folded laundry with my TV muted. It was just me and my inner monologue, and that was noisy enough. </p> <p><center><img src="/files/playlist_0.jpg" /><br /> <em>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">(e)spry</a></em></center></p> <p> Ed made me the playlist out of sheer desperation a few weeks before my mastectomy surgery. He titled it “Jess Deep Breaths,” his quiet plea for me to relax. At first I braced at the name. I hate being told, even politely, to calm down. But once I put on my headphones and listened, I couldn’t help myself—it was Valium to my ears. </p><p> It wasn’t the new-agey yoga Muzak I expected from the title, nor was it my typical bluesy-mama fare. He’d chosen an odd assortment of rockers, crooners and musical oddities: Van Halen, Sly Stone, Nat King Cole, Led Zeppelin, Tom Waits and Cannonball Adderly. It was good music, but more importantly, it was uncharted territory for me. No triggers, no pulled heartstrings, just wailing rock anthems and big, reverby kick drums. </p><p> I need music like I need water, so I lapped it all up. Before I knew it, I could sing every word to Jethro Tull’s “Thick as a Brick” and Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan.” I couldn’t help but smile at David Lee Roth singing about beautiful girls, or Robert Palmer sneaking Sally through the alley. I couldn’t help but rock my head to “Walk Away” by the James Gang. Where has Joe Walsh been all my life, I wondered. If this was Ed’s idea of relaxation music, maybe he was on to something. I turned the volume all the way up. </p><p> The playlist pulled me through the blurry days and sleepless nights leading up to my surgery. I got my affairs in order, I waited, I worried and I listened. If you’re in a waiting room anticipating a full body scan where all your bones and internal organs will be checked for cancer, or really, if you’re in any situation where you’re pretty sure your heart is going to beat right out of your chest—it is helpful to have Nat King Cole singing “Sweet Lorraine” in your ear. Or Ace Frehley of KISS singing “Shock Me,” for that matter. </p><p> My strange little musical cheering squad made it doable somehow, like I wasn’t living a slow-motion nightmare. When Jimi Hendrix sang to me about castles made of sand melting into the sea, I felt less paralyzed. When Nick Drake reminded me to keep things simple as a kettle and steady as a rock, I felt less overwhelmed. And every time Robert Plant sang, “What’s to stop us pretty baby/but what is and what should never be,” I felt it deep down in my bones. I drove to my last pre-surgery appointment drumming on my steering wheel. I could do this. I was doing this, and nothing would stop me. </p><!--pagebreak--><p> The morning of my surgery, Ed and I reported to the hospital and were sent directly to the Nuclear Medicine department. There I was asked to lie in a state-of-the-art imaging machine that looked like a giant panini press, while a chatty doctor injected radioactive dye into my armpit. He explained he was marking my lymph nodes, to make a map for my surgeon. Everything was riding on whether the cancer had spread to my nodes, he explained, as if I weren’t already acutely aware of the stakes. He chatted about Boston traffic, and poked me with the needle again and again. I lay there with my hands over my head like a bank teller in a stickup, and fantasized about head-butting him. When he finally left me with the Panini technicians to begin 40 minutes of imaging, my heart was pounding in my ears. I asked if I could listen to my music, and they agreed. </p><p> Ed dutifully fetched my headphones. “Put on my Deep Breaths playlist, please?" I asked, my arms still over my head. He cued it up, and I listened hard, trying to hold steady. I made it through “Que Sera Sera,” then “Mercy Mercy Mercy” before I cracked. When “The Rain Song” came on, I cried, right there in the panini press. I was still crying when the surgical team came for me and whisked me away to my date with destiny, but I like to think that Led Zeppelin sent me off with luck on my side. </p><p> I’m still having my date with destiny. And it’s a good thing I’ve got my Deep Breaths playlist, because the sicker I get, the more my old standbys aren’t cutting it. They’re the soundtrack to my old, naïve life before cancer—they sound out of place in my new reality. They were my first musical loves, and they’ll be my last, but they’re too dusty and poignant for me right now, and we need a break. Hard times are no time for easy listening. </p><p> There’s no getting through chemo or radiation with anything middle-of-the-road. And there is nothing easy or middle-of-the-road about the flute solo on “Thick as A Brick.” All my Deep Breaths playlisters make terrible background music, and that’s why they’re the perfect score to what I’m going through. They get it: Life is short and messy and juicy and best experienced at full volume. They’re ridiculous at times, completely uncareful and totally unafraid. But mostly, they don’t sound like my old life, or the uncertain future ahead, they just sound like the present. And that sounds a lot like me kicking cancer in the ass.</p><p> <em>Originally published on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Purple Clover</a></em></p> <h2>More From Purple Clover</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Meet the Parents: 18 Stars Who Had Kids at an Early Age</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Hooked On a Hobby: Midlife's Secret Sweet Spot</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Your Old Playthings Could Be Worth a Fortune</a></li> </ul> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Music Health Work/Life Wed, 28 Jan 2015 20:56:56 +0000 PurpleClover 1939189 at 6 Ways My Standing Desk Is Making My Life Better <!--paging_filter--><p>My job is killing me! And making me feel like a hippopotamus. At least that's what all the recent research is showing. </p><!--break--><p>Article after article keep appearing on the major news sites saying that sitting is the new smoking, too much sitting is killing us, and that even if we run every day after work, it doesn't undo the damage done from being sedentary all day.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="standing desk" /><br /><em>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link"> Juhan Sonin via Flickr Creative Commons</a></em></center></p> <p>I can focus on a project and work on it until it's completed without breaking for much more than a quick lunch at my desk. It's great for my employer but terrible for my ever-broadening rear and rising blood pressure.</p><p> I know I should take breaks, go for a walk, set a timer to remind me to move around, but I just don't. It's a lame excuse, but it breaks my concentration.</p><p>Despite the lame excuses, I am not one to give up easily on finding solutions. If taking a break from my desk wasn't going to happen, then I had to make working at my desk better for my health. </p><p>Fortunately, my employer was willing to discuss the options to change my situation and just last month installed a standing desk option into my work space. Now I spend four to six hours of the work day on my feet at my desk.</p><p>So far, I love my stand-up desk, but I was surprised to discover the benefits that go beyond safeguarding my health.</p><p><b>1. I move around my office more.</b></p><p>Instead of being lazy and waiting until later to grab a file or look up a bit of information, I move around my office as needed, retrieving and putting away files instead of letting them pile up on my desk.</p><p><b>2. It's easier to stay focused on the job</b>.</p><p></p><p> My mind wanders more often when I am seated at my desk, but while I'm standing and the blood is flowing, I feel more alert. I get projects finished even faster than before and I feel more creative, resulting in a better end product.</p><p><b>3. I work faster.</b></p><p>There's just something about being on your feet that makes you hustle a bit more. It reminds me of doing chores around my home, intent on getting the tasks done and everything put in its place as quickly as possible so I can move on to better things. Maybe it's just habit, but I set the same brisk pace at work when I'm on my feet.</p><p><b>4. I can dance while I work.</b></p><p>Fortunately for me, my office is a bit secluded and the view through my windows is obscured, so I can sway and shimmy to Pandora like it's 1987 again and no one is the wiser!</p><p><b>5. Napping is not my number one priority when I get home.</b></p><p> I don't get so drowsy while I'm standing and I feel more energized at the end of the day, so the commute home isn't a battle to stay awake. Once I'm home, I'm more likely to take the dogs for a walk or go for a run than sit on the couch and watch TV.</p><p><b>6. I've lost a ton of weight and I'm in better shape!</b></p><p>Okay, so this isn't exactly true, but it's only been a month. I'm hoping that after a year with my new desk, I will be able to report that this is true.</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Wellness Career Finding Balance Health Work/Life Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:00:14 +0000 Lois Templin 1929814 at 21 Quotes to Help You Survive Infertility <!--paging_filter--><p>Each week I interview men and women who are <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Infertility Stories" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">infertility survivors.</a> I'm amazed and inspired by the insight and advice they share, and every now and then, I like to put the best pieces of wisdom all in one spot. A few months ago I shared <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="34 Quotes on Surviving Infertility" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">34 Infertility Quotes</a>, but I've interviewed 21 more people since then. So here's the best of my most recent interviews. Enjoy!</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="21 Quotes" /></center></p> <p>"The most important thing to remember is your love for each other. That no matter what happens, you have one another. For us, that was enough. We saw getting pregnant as a bonus in life, not as a necessity to our happiness." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="On the Journey With… Michelle &amp; Chris" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Michelle &amp; Chris</a></p> <p>"Allow yourself to grieve slowly and passionately. Don't let anyone tell you to get over it, to move on, or to forget about it. You will evolve into an entirely new version of yourself. You'll find beauty in things you once overlooked. Embrace your grief and use it to your advantage." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Chirleen's Infertility &amp; Stillbirth Experiences" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Chirleen</a></p> <p>"The one thing I am grateful to my infertility for is that I am no longer ashamed of my broken body, and I can talk to others about endometriosis, infertility, and surviving after a hysterectomy." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="On the Journey With… Kristin" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Kristin</a></p> <p>"There is hope! There is a lot of life to be lived whether you are a mother in this life or not, and God has a beautiful plan for your life. Grab a hold of his strength and never let go!" – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Sarah Ann's Infertility &amp; Adoption Story" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Sarah Ann</a></p> <p>"You have a choice about your life, you can stay sad and eventually you might be okay, but you CAN have a positive and happy life. To do this you'll need to take action." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Lesley's Infertility &amp; Childless Life Story" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lesley</a></p> <p>"Infertility is a disease; don't be ashamed of it. You do not need to suffer in silence!" –<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="On the Journey With… Jenna" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Jenna</a></p> <p>"I highly recommend writing your story. Even if you've never written before and even if you never share it with anyone but yourself, writing down all the hardships you've been through can really help you reflect on the things that have happened in your life and maybe even give you a new perspective." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="On the Journey With Richard" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Richard</a></p> <p>"Go into the process with a clear head. If you are still feeling anxiety or pain from a previous loss or failed treatment, you aren't going to be able to go through the process with a positive outlook." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Marcia's Infertility Story" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Marcia</a></p> <p>"It's okay to take time to be sad and grieve whatever it is you need to, and it's okay to tell people that. The best thing someone said to me was, "Right now we just need to be sad about this and we can talk about the other things later." She was referring to people telling me, "You know you can always adopt and there are plenty of kids out there looking for homes." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="On the Journey With… April" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">April</a></p> <p>"I learned though, over time, that the best way through my pain was to talk to God. I carved out space to sit before Him and cry, with honesty. I found that what I needed most was to cry it out with Him and let Him hold my confused heart. This ended up being one of the sweetest consolations of my infertility. I'd even say that this was not a consolation at all – it was the true prize." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Sara Hagerty's Infertility Story" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Sara</a></p> <p>"I opened up to my friends, and fellow parishioners about our struggle -- particularly my struggles. Having other people know my goals has helped them help me where they can. I allow myself to be vulnerable because that's when I can grow." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Lerissa's PCOS Story" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lerissa</a></p> <p>"Reach out to others. Allow them to help you carry the burden. Read all the blogs you can find. Twitter is incredible. Do not suffer in silence. It's too painful and so unnecessary in this day and age to feel alone in this." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Kaeleigh's Experience With Diminished Ovarian Reserve" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Kaeleigh</a></p> <p>"If you are in a valley of decision, don't jump at the first thing offered. Pray and be in agreement with your spouse. THIS. IS. HUGE." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Lesli's Infertility Story" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lesli</a></p> <p>"Find someone who has walked this incredibly tough road before you. While truth isn't based on experiences, sometimes it's easier to hear encouragement (and even admonition) from someone who can empathize with you." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Janelle's Secondary Infertility Story" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Janelle</a></p> <p>"I made a conscious decision to stop allowing infertility and the treatments to completely run my life. As a result, I was able to better engage with my life and it helped my stress levels as well." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Carrie's Infertility and PCOS Story" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Carrie</a></p> <p>"I guess my silver lining from this would be now knowing what I am capable of emotionally and mentally. I am a lot stronger than I ever thought." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Jenay's Infertility &amp; Miscarriage Story" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Jenay</a></p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>"I'm hoping that anyone who feels helpless and hopeless will know that there's hope and possibility after infertility." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Melissa's Surrogacy, Adoption and Infertility Story" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Melissa</a></p> <p>"God has used this journey to change me. I am a different person than the person that walked into this journey." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Jessica's Infertility &amp; Endometriosis Story" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Jessica</a></p> <p>"It can be easy to hate your body after a miscarriage, especially if it's literally your body that's ending your pregnancies. But you need to give your body as much love as the mother who has just had a baby. You are no less a mother than she is. Your baby is no less precious than the one who is born full-term." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Aimee Shares Her Infertility &amp; Recurrent Miscarriage Story" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Aimee</a></p> <p>"Our spiritual fulfillment does not come from having children (or anything else we might want in life.) It comes from our security in ourselves and in the Lord." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Matt's Experience With Infertility &amp; PCOS" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Matt</a></p> <p>"I was given this life for a reason and although I may not have a complete peace with it now, I am certain that God will get me through it and that His plan is better than mine." – <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Audra's Infertility &amp; Ovarian Cancer Story" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Audra</a></p> <p><b>Which of the quotes is your favorite? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.</b> </p> <p><i>Find more encouragement &amp; inspiration during infertility at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">AmateurNester</a></i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Infertility Health infertility quotes Tue, 27 Jan 2015 17:40:04 +0000 AmateurNester 1935245 at 5 Plank Variations to Add to Your Workout <!--paging_filter--><!--break--><!--break--><p>As a busy, work-from-home mom with a full time business, my life can be very chaotic. It seems like I am always putting someone else first. From my sweet hubby to our four children and clients, somebody usually always needs something from mom, and I love it. I love taking care of them, but I need to make myself a priority, too.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>2014 was a life changing year for my family, but even more so for myself. We left the state that we called home, and relocated to Ohio. Everyone loves it here, but no one more so than mom.</p> <p>Our neighborhood is so peaceful, and we are surrounded by other successful black families. The school district is amazing compared to the one we left in Baltimore. I have redefined my company and launched a blog!</p> <p>Despite all of these incredible changes and achievements, the one that has mattered most to me has been my fitness and health journey. After having two girls back to back, I knew that it was time to make positive choices for myself physically, spending the last few months of last year eating healthier and dedicating the first hour of my day to working out and praying.</p> <p>One thing my readers ask me often is as a busy entrepreneur and mother, "Are there exercises that can be done in a few minutes, that actually make a difference?"</p> <p>Yes, there are!</p> <p>I love planks! Talk about a full body workout, in a few minutes. You may know planks for their core transforming powers, but did you know that you can work your whole body as well. From your shoulders to your legs, planks can transform your body, and you only need a few minutes because the variations are challenging and result producing.</p> <p> <h1>Spiderman Plank</h1> </p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href=";v=dvAm7Gw0klA" class="external-link">The spiderman plank</a> is great for your stomach, back, and sides. This is one of my two favorites. Start slow, and increase speed once you are a little more comfortable.</p> <p><center><iframe width="420" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p> <h1>Up and Down Plank</h1> </p> <p>The <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href=";v=L4oFJRDAU4Q" class="external-link">up and down plank</a> is my second favorite plank. Talk about an arm workout, it never fails, but you work your core as well. Remember to start slow and increase your speed.</p> <p><center><iframe width="420" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p> <h1>Side Plank With Leg Raises</h1> </p> <p>The <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href=";v=ZZkgopVBPMg" class="external-link">side plank with leg raises</a> tones the obliques, outer thighs, and shoulders with this pilates side plank exercise. I did mention a full body work out right? Another good one!</p> <p><center><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p> <h1>Plank With Donkey Kick</h1> </p> <p>Can you guess what the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href=";v=ItHN-hR4RlM" class="external-link">plank with donkey kick</a> works out? Other than your core that is.</p> <p><center><iframe width="420" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p> <h1>Side Plank With Oblique Crunch</h1> </p> <p>The <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href=";v=AmjNK3YwPPU" class="external-link">side plank with oblique crunch</a> is a fun and challenging way to end your quick workout.</p> <p><center><iframe width="420" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p>***Do each plank variation for 60 seconds. Try to challenge yourself by increasing your speed after about 20 seconds. Take a break and repeat at least 3 times.***</p> <p>Remember to warm-up and stretch.</p> <p>Nancy Laws<br /> <a href="" class="mailto-link"></a><br /> <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Health #abworkout #fitnessplan #athomeworkouts #busy #fitness #healthandwellness #mindset Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:03:58 +0000 Afro-Chic Mompreneur 1916677 at Surround Yourself With the Right People to Meet Your Health Goals <!--paging_filter--><!--break--><!--break--><p>As much as running is an individual effort, it's also a team sport. Obviously I don't run as part of a team (like a basketball team), but I need a team surrounding me to run well and reach my goals.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>I'm not just talking about training partners or coaches or even people that understand what I am doing. I'm talking about all of the people in my life: my husband, my kids, my training partners, my friends and family, and even my buddy, Drew, whom I dedicate each of my miles. </p> <p>Each of these people motivates and encourages me and supports me in some way. I owe a huge amount of my success to the people that I have surrounded myself with. And this is something that is not just related to my success as a runner. It applies to every aspect of my life. </p> <p>The company you keep and the people you surround yourself with make all the difference in the world, so it's important to choose carefully!</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="surround" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link"></a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>Finding the right people to surround yourself with can be challenging, but it's worth the effort! Here are a few of my recommendations to create the right support team.</p> <p> <h1>Analyze Your Current Support Team</h1> </p> <p>Who are the people that you currently surround yourself with? Are they people that encourage you and add to your life? Or do they discourage you and not support your dreams and goals? What do the people around you add to your life? </p> <p>For example, if you are trying to lose weight, it's not beneficial to you to surround yourself with people who make you feel like you can't do it. Even if they aren't trying to lose weight themselves, a good friend will be your greatest cheerleader.</p> <p> <h1>Get Rid of the Negativity</h1> </p> <p>A lot of people seem to be negative by nature and have a tendency to spread that attitude. Negativity doesn't help at all! Negativity is an energy drain that you just don't need. </p> <p>While it may be impossible in certain situations to stay away from certain negative people, make every effort to minimize your time with them and keep focused on your goals.</p> <p> <h1>Interact With Like-minded People</h1> </p> <p>Not everyone on your support team may have the same goals as you, and that's perfectly fine. One of my goals is to run a sub-4 hour marathon. My husband isn't a runner, and that's likely something he'll never achieve but supports me.</p> <p>However, I also surround myself with other runners who have similar goals and train as I do. These people are unique in that they understand certain challenges that I may face and can support me through those challenges. </p> <p>They also understand the reasons that this goal is important to me. If your goal is to become debt-free, find people that have paid off their debt or are in the process of paying off debt. These people will understand and support you, and you can do the same for them.</p> <p><b>Do you currently have a support system in place? Do you need to make some changes in your life to get the support and encouragement that you need? </b>I'd love to hear your thoughts. Tell me in the comments below!</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Wellness Health encouragement Goals Support Fri, 23 Jan 2015 13:58:22 +0000 EverydayFitness 1927001 at GOP Pushes Anti-Abortion Vote on Roe vs. Wade's 42nd Anniversary <!--paging_filter--><p><em>[UPDATE 1/22/15 10:50 a.m. PST: The House approved a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">bill permanently barring federal funds from abortion coverage and blocks tax credits for health insurance covering abortions</a>. --Grace]</em></p> <p>Today's 42nd anniversary of the <a href="" target="_blank" title="Roe vs. Wade" class="external-link">Roe vs. Wade</a> Supreme Court decision means political posturing and the annual demonstrations from groups for and against abortion rights, at a time when <a href="" target="_blank" title="Federal and State Bans on Abortion" class="external-link">reproductive rights are increasingly challenged</a> nationwide.&nbsp;</p> <p><center><img src="" /></center></p> <p><center><em>Jan. 21, 2015 - U.S. - Daniel Carrillo, left, Mariela Melgar, 15, second from right, and Kaitlyn Varela, 14, right, all from St. Anne Parish, participate in an anti abortion march to the State Capitol through light snow in Santa Fe, Image Credit: Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal/ZUMA Wire</em></center></p> <p>Republican House leaders cancelled the vote late last night that they'd planned for today, on a bill restricting abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy. Reps. Rene Ellmers (R-N.C.) and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) were among Republican female leaders who raised concerns about the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act</a>. The <a href=";utm_medium=urlshortener&amp;utm_campaign=FB" target="_blank" title="House Republicans Cancel Abortion Vote on Roe vs. Wade anniversary" class="external-link"><em>Washington Post</em> reported</a>&nbsp;tips from party aides that Republicans didn't want to alienate women and young voters, especially with a polarizing vote on abortion rights this early in their term. There were also concerns about the <a href="" target="_blank" title="House Republicans Pull Abortion Bill" class="external-link">bill's treatment of rape victims</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Rep. Ellmers ended up <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Renee Ellmers on Facebook" class="external-link">posting on her Facebook page</a> last night that she would vote to support the bill, including no comments about her concerns about it.&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><p>To clear up any misinformation, I will be voting tomorrow to support H.R. 36 – The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protect Act Resources bill. I have and will continue to be a strong defender of the prolife community.</p> </blockquote> <p>Meanwhile, demonstrations will take place today as usual across the country with the biggest in Washington, D.C. The National <a href="" target="_blank" title="March for Life" class="external-link">March for Life</a> takes place today on the National Mall, with groups like <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="NOW at the March for Life" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">NOW</a> and NARAL having a "peaceful presence" in front of the Supreme Court as the pro-choice voice. The March's official hashtag this year is #WhyWeMarch, and a <a href="" target="_blank" title="#WhyWeMarch Tweetfest" class="external-link">Tweetfest</a> is planned all day to get the pro-life word out.</p> <p>Regardless of personal or political agenda, the 1973 decision in Roe vs. Wade held that women could legally have an abortion in the United States, and that remains the case today.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Laurie White writes at&nbsp;<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">LaurieWrites</a>.&nbsp;</em></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Current Events Politics Feminism Health News & Politics #abortion Politics roe vs. wade Thu, 22 Jan 2015 17:02:03 +0000 lauriewrites 1932638 at How to Prepare for IVF in 10 Steps <!--paging_filter--><p>After two fresh IVF cycles and one frozen cycle, I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what it takes to get ready. I thought I'd share my top tips on how to prepare for IVF as smoothly and stress-free as possible.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="IVF" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Keep a Running Inventory of Your Medications</h1> </p> <p>It can be hard to keep track of all your medications. The last thing you want to do is run out of a medication without realizing it. Make an inventory of each medicine and your supplies. Update it each day (or at least every other day), so you can get any necessary refills without stressing or rushing.</p> <p> <h1>Make a Medication Calendar</h1> </p> <p>Once you're clear on which meds you have, you need to make sure you know when to take each one. Many clinics provide patients with detailed schedules. If yours doesn't, ask them for one. You're paying them a lot of money, and they should be willing to help you.</p> <p>If your clinic can't or won't give you a calendar, you'll need to make one yourself. If this feels too complicated, you can always just write out your times and dosages on a calendar you already use. Set a timer on your phone or computer if you're worried about forgetting.</p> <p> <h1>Clear Your Schedule </h1> </p> <p>IVF makes you tired. I've battled fatigue during both my fresh cycles and my frozen cycle. Practice self-care and eliminate all unnecessary events and responsibilities from your calendar. In addition to my regular job, I teach a few piano lessons each week. I've already decided to cancel my lessons during my upcoming March IVF cycle.</p> <p> <h1>Give Yourself Extra Time</h1> </p> <p>If there are things on your calendar that you just can't clear, make sure you give yourself extra time to do them. Depending on which meds you have, it can take several minutes to do your injections or take your pills / suppositories. You don't want to rush these things, so build in buffer times to your schedule.</p> <p> <h1>Delegate When You Can</h1> </p> <p>Even if you can clear your schedule and give yourself extra time, you'll still have tasks and chores that just have to get done during your IVF cycle. Hire a housekeeper for a week or two. Drop your laundry off at the cleaners instead of doing it yourself.</p> <p>If money prevents you from hiring help, see if you can round up a few family, friends, or co-workers to help you out. Don't be afraid to ask for or accept help. Even something as simple as having a friend pick up some groceries for you can really help ease your stress.</p> <p> <h1>Think About Who You Will Tell</h1> </p> <p>It's important to have supportive, understanding people around you during your IVF cycle. But you'll want to think about how many people you tell about what's going on. Keep in mind that if your cycle fails, you'll have to relay the news to everyone who knows.</p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Beta Hell" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">I know from experience</a> that those are tough phone calls to make. If you do decide to tell a lot of people, consider asking one person (in advance) to call other people for you if the cycle fails. That way you won't have to go through the agony of telling and re-telling the results to multiple people.</p> <p> <h1>Document Your Journey</h1> </p> <p>It's important to document your cycle in some form. You can do something as simple as keeping a written journal, typing up notes, or <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Blogger Resources" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">blogging</a>.</p> <p>Writing will provide you with an emotional outlet, and it has the potential to become a handy reference if you do future cycles. More importantly, if your treatment is successful, you'll have memories you can one day show your child.</p> <p> <h1>Stock Up on Healthy Snacks</h1> </p> <p>I don't know if it's the progesterone or all the extra hormones, but each time I've done an IVF cycle (including my frozen cycles), I've been RAVENOUS the entire month. My workplace is notorious for having cookies and sweets available, so I had to be very intentional about bringing healthy snacks to eat. Buy easy-to-eat snacks like pre-cut veggies, nuts, fruit, and cheese, and keep them at work and home.</p> <p> <h1>Wear Comfortable Clothing</h1> </p> <p>If there's one word I'd use to describe the stimulation phase ("stims") of IVF, it's <i>bloat</i>. Within a few days of starting my injections, I got very bloated. I had a visible pooch and found it very uncomfortable to wear jeans.</p> <p>Combine that with my incessant hunger and eating, and my pants no longer fit! I didn't weigh myself so I can't be sure, but I estimate I gained about 10 pounds and went up one pant size during my last IVF cycle.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>Do yourself a favor and buy some loose sweat pants or yoga pants you can wear at home. For work, a loose skirt or wrap dress might be your best choice.</p> <p> <h1>Taper Off Caffeine</h1> </p> <p>Many people like to reduce or eliminate caffeine during IVF cycles. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I do rely on my cup of green tea to get me going each morning. For my first IVF cycle, I quit caffeine on the same day I started stims. Big mistake.</p> <p>I began to experience caffeine withdrawals at the same time I started feeling the effects from the IVF meds. Let's just say I was a very unpleasant person for a few days.</p> <p>If you'll be cutting caffeine, learn from my mistake and start tapering off ahead of time. I tried this strategy during my 2nd IVF cycle, and it was much easier.</p> <p> <h1>BONUS TIP: Prepare for Constipation</h1> </p> <p>No one likes to talk about constipation. I got surprised by it during my first cycle. It was so bad that my husband called our RE's cell phone on a Saturday afternoon because I was on the floor in the shower, crying from the pain.</p> <p>Make sure you ask your RE in advance about some ways you can prevent and treat constipation. Mine subsided when I switched to a no-iron prenatal vitamin and started drinking prune juice, but some people may need other remedies. As always, ask your doctor!</p> <p><b>What other practical tips do you have for someone preparing for an IVF cycle? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.</b></p> <p><i>Find more encouragement &amp; inspiration during infertility at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">AmateurNester</a></i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Infertility Health Family in vitro infertility IVF Wed, 21 Jan 2015 13:48:28 +0000 AmateurNester 1925472 at 10 Helpful Tips That Will Get You Eating Healthy <!--paging_filter--><p>There was a lot I learned during my journey to change from being a fat, food-addicted, food-fearing, yo-yo dieter into a healthy-weighted, food-enjoying, former food junkie. And now, I pass these lessons along to you with the hope that these 10 tips will help you, too.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="sandwich" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Sondanie Chea</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>Learn to Cook</h1> </p> <p>By learning to cook, you will always be able to eat healthily. You are in complete control of what you take into your body. You are not handing over responsibility to the producers of ready meals, no matter how healthy they claim it to be. </p> <p> <h1>Keep Your Portions in Proportion</h1> </p> <p>We've lost our way a bit when it comes to portion sizes and how they should be made up. I used to cook enough every day for 4 to 6 people, when I was aiming for 2. We've also been confused by restaurant portions that are way out of control. Even the average size of a dinner plate has increased by about 4 cm in diameter.</p> <p>The last thing I want you to do is to get the digital scales out and start weighing everything, so I put together this visual which I hope will help.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="pie chart" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Plan Meals and Make Shopping Lists</h1> </p> <p>I know all the excuses:</p> <p> <ul> <li>“How do I know what I want to eat next Thursday?" </li> <li>"I don't have time to spend making lists and planning meals." </li> <li>"I want to be spontaneous." </li> <li>"What about if I go out or if plans change?"</li> </ul> </p> <p>I'm a planner but I get that not everybody is. When I talk to clients about planning and they give me a deep sigh, I usually ask them how often they visit the supermarket each week. The funny thing is these spontaneous, time-constrained individuals usually go if not every day, at least 3 or 4 times per week.</p> <p>Me, I go once a week. All that extra time spent aimlessly browsing the shelves can work negatively, in that you are much more likely to give in to impulses. You are putting yourself in the position of having to face temptation more often. Planning your food for the week will free up time for you in other areas.</p> <p> <h1>No More Diets - Yeehaa!</h1> </p> <p>If there is one thing that has been proven about diets, it's that they make you fatter. I mean, if all those diets worked, there'd be no more diet industry, right? Instead the diet industry is worth millions and continues to grow. I should know, I dieted for more than 30 years of my life and all it did was get me to a weight of almost 120kgs.</p> <p>I understand, as a seasoned yo-yoer myself, that it is VERY difficult to kick the habit. You know logically that it's not working long term, but it's just too tempting. So, what I would suggest is if you want to be healthier and lose some weight, just try not dieting for a change.</p> <p>If it doesn't work, then be my guest and reach for those meal replacements. </p> <p> <h1>Get Some Sleep</h1> </p> <p>After a short night of z's, you have a stronger craving for that muffin/fatty latte/bar of chocolate/packet of biscuits/Chinese takeout. People who don't get enough sleep are <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">more likely to be overweight</a> than those who do. Do yourself a favour and take your mum's advice; get a good night's sleep.</p> <p> <h1>Think Before You Drink</h1> </p> <p>When I first wrote about this, I was actually referring to alcohol, but this advice actually goes for any kind of liquid. Alcohol contains a lot of sugar, so, a lot of calories. A large glass of wine (250ml = 3 units of alcohol) can be about 220 calories, this is about half of the amount of calories you can expect to find in a healthy evening meal and about a 10th of you daily recommended calorie intake as a woman.</p> <p>So think about it before you order: is it really worth it? The other thing about alcohol is that it makes it much more difficult to make good food choices.</p> <p>But it's not just alcohol: drinks can be a way that we take on extra calories without being aware. The worst culprits are those so-called healthy smoothies or the luxury coffees. Watch out for the sugar you're adding to your morning cuppa tea or Joe. Of course I don't have to tell you about sweet fizzy drinks. They are just loaded with sugar.</p> <p> <h1>Spice up Your Life</h1> </p> <p>Taking the words of wisdom from the Spice girls, this is a great way to add healthy flavour to your food. It can be difficult to wean yourself of all those tempting sweet, creamy flavours and textures. There's a reason for that, we're programmed to go for high fat, high sugar foods as they give us lots of energy.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>You don't want to be eating bland food. When I discovered spices (and herbs) it really opened my eyes, I realised that I could bring flavour to anything and make the meal satisfying and enjoyable. Start small, mix a few, get a little collection together and believe me, you'll never look back. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">See my article on spices for beginners</a>.</p> <p> <h1>Take Time to Eat</h1> </p> <p>When you eat, do just that, nothing else. No watching TV, checking emails, phones, whatever. It really does help to sit at the table and concentrate on that one thing, your food. There is a little bit of science behind this, too. It takes about 20 minutes for the message from your stomach that it is full to reach your brain, so, you need to give it time to get there. As much as we liked to believe otherwise, our brains aren't great at multitasking. So give it the space to get the message. </p> <p> <h1>Eat Regularly</h1> </p> <p>It sounds really basic, I know, three square meals a day, but it does help. It's easy to get into habits about skipping meals (especially breakfast and lunch). We get busy, and we skip a meal. The thing is, if you skip a meal, you will only crave the more unhealthy food the hungrier you get.</p> <p>You need to keep the fires burning, keep the metabolism ticking over, and I've always found that the key is not to let myself get starving hungry. When I am, I just grab anything I can get my hands on - so watch out.</p> <p> <h1>Beware the "Expert"</h1> </p> <p>What I mean by expert is the latest diet/healthy eating guru who claims to have found that elusive silver bullet. It might be a restrictive diet; or a diet supplement, pill, powder or potion; or an intensive unsustainable eating or exercise program; or the latest superfood (just a marketing term by the way).</p> <p>If you'd like to know more about how I lost 35 kilos and kept it off, check out my book <i>Love Food, Live Healthy</i> by visiting <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Amazon</a> to purchase it digitally or in paperback.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Food Health diet Healthy Eating weight loss Mon, 19 Jan 2015 15:07:14 +0000 Karen Vivers 1914989 at 5 Fun Vagina Facts We Bet You Didn't Know <!--paging_filter--><p style="text-align: center;"><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><img style="vertical-align: top;" src="" alt="" width="386" height="655" /></a></p><p>Vaginas are awesome. That's right I said they're AWESOME. Adam may have been created first, but God got it right when he made Eve and her lady bits. But even though the vagina is super awesome, for many, it's still shrouded in mystery. How much do you <em>really</em> know about your lady bits? For many I bet the answer is not much. So here are five fun vagina facts that show the awesomeness of your lady bits.</p><p><!--break--></p><p>1. The vagina is like a sock - or balloon. While only 3 to 4 inches long it can expand up to 200% when aroused (or to pop out a baby). So for you ladies who only like <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Big Ones</a>, your kitty cat will expand to fit your man just fine and if doesn't do so naturally, you can use dilators to expand your lady parts. No need for painful sex or <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">small penises. </a></p><p>2. I told you <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">I would never wax</a>, and for good reason: pubic hair has a biological function. Contrary to what the beauty and porn industry tell you your lady bits are covered with fuzz for a reason. First, it acts as the first round of STD protection for your vajayjay. Second, it serves as a reproductive billboard to alert potential mates that you are biologically ready to procreate. And last, it's a pheromone port that traps the scents that lead potential mates to the promised land. Touchdown!</p><center><img src="" alt="vagina flag" /><br /><em>Image: Nick Kocharhook via <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Flickr</a></em></center><p>3. God liked the lady bits more than the male bits. While the head of the penis has 4000 nerve endings, the vagina has 8000. More nerve endings equal more pleasure, so ladies thank God for your vagina AND your multiple orgasms. And if you're not having multiple orgasms, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">read this</a>.</p><p>4. Vaginas and sharks have something in common: both contain squalene, a substance that naturally exists in sharks' livers and one that exists in the vagina's natural lubricant. It's one of several substances that prepare the vagina for sex and (hopefully) a good time. That's not a bad thing for the vagina to have in common with sharks, it could have been shark's four rows of teeth. Ouch.</p><p>5. Your vagina can ejaculate (<a href=";crumb=106916">or squirt</a>) just like a man's. There is quite a bit of debate on just how many women are capable of female ejaculation with some estimates saying only ten percent of women are capable of doing so. So don't feel bad if you're not capable of ejaculating.</p><p>There you have it, five fun facts about your vagina. It's good to know the glorious secrets of your lady bits. Contrary to popular belief the vagina is not inferior to the more revered penis. Anything that can deliver babies <em>and</em> can give its owner multiple orgasms deserves respect and celebration. So give you vagina <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">a little self-love</a> today to let her know you care and appreciate her and all her wonderfulness.</p><p><em>Lives in music, needs laughter to breathe, works joyously, loves uproariously, dreams delightfully. Writes about love, sex, and sex toys on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">her blog</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">at her store.</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Sex Health Love & Sex Fun Sex Facts healthy vagina sex facts Sun, 18 Jan 2015 20:59:53 +0000 BrownSugar28 1922340 at I Don't Care About Your Diet or Your Extra Five Pounds <!--paging_filter--><p>It's that time of the year when everyone is abuzz with New Year's resolutions. They include "lose weight," "exercise more," "get healthy," and a million others in between. I'm not against resolutions, but what I do hate to see is an unrealistic attitude and approach on the losing weight one -- and the biggest offenders are women.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>Men look at themselves, pat their bellies, say "yep, gotta lose a few pounds," and do whatever they need to do to accomplish it. They don't lament over the fact that they can't see their feet. They don't obsess at the reflection staring back at them in the mirror, and they sure as hell don't parade in front of their friends asking if "these jeans make their ass look big."</p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" rel="attachment wp-att-2530" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><img src="" alt="healthy mental body image" /></a></p> <p>Women, on the other hand, do all of this and more. We will pour our hearts and souls out for an entire meal over the fact that we can't believe we can't shed those last five baby pounds, or the fact that "nothing" in the closet fits anymore. We will starve ourselves, try every diet out there -- sometimes two at a time -- and watch every ounce of food and air that goes into our mouths.</p> <p>Instead of cutting that ounce of food out of your diet, why not cut yourself an ounce of slack? Instead of looking for the latest yo-yo diet that you're going to drive yourself crazy over in a matter of days, give yourself a pound of positive body image. Why don't you stop stressing out over the fact that you've gained five pounds this year? Why not raise your head tall, and love the person that you are? Throw away all the awful magazines that tell you what you should look like and what the editors consider "normal." Find YOUR normal and embrace it.</p> <p>Ladies, I hate to tell you but there comes a point in our lives when our body doesn't want to give up those last five pounds of fat. It's holding on to that for a reason. And the harder you fight it, the harder it's going to fight back to stick around. I'm not saying to not get healthy -- we can all use that, but maybe start with simple things. Love soda? Try dropping soda from your diet first. Sugar? Stop eating refined sugar products and grab a piece of fruit instead. If you are a meat-and-potato-loving person, showing up to your body's party with nothing but a salad is just going to end poorly. And you know that I'm right.</p> <p>Honestly, the only person that notices that you've gained five pounds is YOU. I don't. Your husband doesn't (and if he does, he's smart and won't tell you), and the lady in the checkout stand sure as hell doesn't. Your kids would never notice if you weighed 120 or 170, and I've heard stories where kids didn't really like the new, "non-squishy" mommy. By easing up on your own expectations, not only will you be giving yourself a break, you'll be giving all of us who have to listen to your diet-crying a break.</p> <p>I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the role model for a super in-shape person. I'm a size 12. I'm happy as a size 12. The Rooster is happy with me as a size 12. I look GOOD as a size 12. Do I need to eat better? Yes. Do I need to exercise? Yes. But I don't obsess over it, and you should stop, too.</p> <p><strong>Here's what I want to say to each of you who are wringing your hands over your weight:</strong></p> <p>I love you. I love the person you are, and I do not see what you're talking about when you start poking and prodding at your body. I choose to be friends with you because you're awesome, you make me laugh, and you put up with my crazy ideas and sense of humor. I really don't want to count calories with you -- I would much rather have a good, healthy meal and an amazing glass of wine, and have the conversation be about ANYTHING other than calories, carb intake, and the benefits of tofu (there are none, in my opinion). And honestly, you bore me to tears when you go on and on about your "fat thighs."</p> <p>So here's to you getting in better health this year -- but please, don't have a heart attack over it. I love you just the way you are. You should try it -- it feels really good!</p> <p>Kristen</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kristen Daukas<br /><a href="" target="_blank" title="4 Hens Twitter" class="external-link">Twitter</a><br /><a href="" target="_blank" title="4 hens facebook" class="external-link">Facebook</a>&nbsp;</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Body Image Diet & Fitness Feminism Health body image self confidence self esteem Sat, 17 Jan 2015 14:35:34 +0000 Kristen Daukas 1001717 at Surprising Statistics That Prove Family Leave Is Broken in the United States <!--paging_filter--><p><em><strong>Editor's note:</strong> On January 15, 2015, President Obama will call upon Congress to pass <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">the Healthy Families Act of 2014</a>. </em></p> <p><em>He's also encouraging states and cities to pass family-friendly workplace policies, saying that workplace leave is a family issue and an economic issue&mdash;not a partisan one. Here's what you need to know about exactly HOW broken family leave is in the United States right now.&mdash;<a href="">Julie</a></em></p> <p>In 2002, I had my first baby. Fortunately, I lived in California, which had just enacted its family leave fund. For the first weeks of maternity leave, I received a stipend, which really helped us as a young family starting out.</p> <p>And it didn't cost taxpayers a cent. Under the California program, employees can choose to deduct a small amount from their paychecks each month, in a model similar to Social Security. It goes to fund a stipend you can use if you need to take extended leave to care for a family member, such a new baby or even a sick parent.</p> <p>Unfortunately, in 2014, this is not the norm in the United States. </p> <p><center><a href=""><img src="" alt="Family leave is broken in the United States" /><em>Click image to enlarge</em></a></center></p> <p>It's true: A mere 12% of U.S. workers have access to paid leave, either through state programs, or employers who have decided to be generous, and these workers are privileged..</p> <p><em>Sources: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Center for American Progress</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></em></p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>PAID FAMILY LEAVE HAS BENEFITS WE CAN'T AFFORD TO LEAVE ON THE TABLE.</h2></center> </p> <p><center><a href=""><img src="" alt="Benefits of paid leave" /><em>Click image to enlarge</em></a></center></p> <p>Paid leave helps families, children, and business.</p> <p><em>Sources: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Center for Economic and Policy Research</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Center for American Progress</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Think Progress</a></em></p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>OTHER COUNTRIES KNOW THIS ALREADY.</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><center><a href=""><img src="" alt="Countries with paid leave" /><em>Click image to enlarge</em></a></center></p> <p> <h3>Of 185 nations studied, the U.S. and Papua New Guinea are the ONLY countries that do not offer some paid parental leave to families.</h3> </p> <p><em>Sources: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Politifact</a></em></p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>PAID FAMILY LEAVE IS NOT AN ENTITLEMENT</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><center><a href=""><img src="" alt="Paid leave is not an entitlement" /><em>Click image to enlarge</em></a></center></p> <p> <h3> it's an employee-funded benefit like many others.</h3> </p> <p></p><p><em>Source: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Center for American Progress</a></em></p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>THE FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT ISN'T ENOUGH.</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><center><a href=""><img src="" alt="FMLA Facts" /><em>Click image to enlarge</em></a></center></p> <p></p><P>Though the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does guarantee leave, it is not enough. There are too many restrictions on who is eligible, and it doesn't guarantee ANY paid leave.</p> <p><em>Source: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Forbes</a></em></p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>NOT ELIGIBLE FOR UNPAID LEAVE AT ALL …</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><center><a href=""><img src="" alt="Who is ineligible for unpaid leave" /><em>Click image to enlarge</em></a></center></p> <p>Far too many U.S. workers are ineligible for unpaid parental leave.</p> <p><em>Sources: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Forbes</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">LA Times</a></em></p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>WHO HAS THE LEAST ACCESS TO FAMILY LEAVE AT WORK?</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><center><a href=""><img src="" alt="Who has least access to family leave" /><em>Click image to enlarge</em></a></center></p> <p>Certain groups have disproportionate access to paid leave.</p> <p><em>Sources: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">National Women's Law Center</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics</a></em></p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>VERY FEW STATES OFFER PAID LEAVE.</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><center><a href=""><img src="" alt="States with or considering paid leave policies" /><em>Click image to enlarge</em></a></center></p> <p>Only California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island currently guarantee workers access to paid family leave, with a handful of other states considering or researching the idea.</p> <p><em>Source: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">National Partnership for Women and Families</a></em></p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><center><a href=""><img src="" alt="How you can take action" /><em>Click image to enlarge</em></a></center></p> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Petition in support of the Healthy Families Act</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Directory of U.S. representatives</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Directory of U.S. senators</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Directory of members of state congress</a></li> <li><a href=" ">Sign up for the Make Life Work action newsletter</a></li> <li><a href="">Grab a Make Life Work badge for your blog</a></li> </ul> <p><iframe src=";co=1&amp;click=" width="450" height="350" style="width: 100%; min-width: 450px;" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Feminism Pregnancy Finding Balance Health Work/Life Family News & Politics Make Life Work Wed, 14 Jan 2015 23:45:27 +0000 Grace Hwang Lynch 1800504 at Don't You Question How Much Weight I've Gained, Lady <!--paging_filter--><p>Dear Mouthy Housewives,</p><p>My mother-in-law keeps asking me how much weight I've gained during my pregnancy. I have dodged the question, but I know it will come up again. </p><p>My MIL is quite proud that she only gained 15 pounds during her pregnancy, which is insane. If I tell her how much I've gained, I know she is going to make me feel like I've put on too much weight. </p><p>Plus, it's none of her business! I wouldn't mind if a close friend or sister asked, but it feels invasive coming from my mother-in-law. How do I politely avoid answering this question?</p><p>I've Gained Way More Than 15 Pounds.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="pregnant woman" /><br /><em>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link"> baicai9527 via Flickr Creative Commons</a></em></center></p> <p>Dear I've Gained Way More Than 15 Pounds,</p><p>Damn. I wished you hadn't thrown the word "polite" in. Because I thought of plenty of responses to the question, "How much weight have you gained during your pregnancy?" </p><p>Like how about: "The real question is - how much weight have you gained lately, because those pants are S-N-U-G snug woman!" Or: "Not enough weight, which is why I bought a case of Whoppers today!" Or: "I've gained 14 pounds. Exactly. Why? Does it look like more?!"</p><p>People would never ask a nonpregnant person how much weight they had gained, so why is it okay to ask a pregnant woman this question?</p><p>Can you imagine going to your office and hearing a guy say to another guy, "Hey Charlie. Wow! You are really getting chunky, my friend. How much weight have you put on anyway? Twenty pounds? Twenty-five pounds? That's a bitch to take off."</p><p>And the only thing you should ever say to a pregnant lady is, "I've never seen a more beautiful pregnant woman! You are just glowing." (Just make sure they are actually pregnant, because if they aren't you will probably faint from mortification.)</p><p>Now what to do about your nosy MIL. You don't have to spend energy trying to dodge this question. The next time she asks, simply say, "My doctor is totally happy with my weight gain, and I'm not really comfortable talking about numbers." </p><p>That's called shutting it down. Politely. If she even dares to ask again, it's your husband's turn to talk to his mom and put an end to this.</p><p>Good luck,</p><p>Kelcey, TMH</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Humor Pregnancy Health Work/Life Family mother-in-laws pregnancy pregnancy-weight Free Advice Wed, 14 Jan 2015 23:00:00 +0000 Mouthy Housewives 1921550 at Saturday Morning Yoga and My Head Is Spinning <!--paging_filter--><p>This is good. Good resolution. Yoga class on a Saturday morning. Much better than my usual Saturday morning, which involves sleeping till 10:30 followed by a restorative vanilla Pop-Tart. Oh, who are you kidding? 11:30. </p> <p><center><img src="/files/yogablocks.jpg" /><br /> <em>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">creativedc</a></em></center></p> <p> Wow, do I really have to take these straps and purple blocks with me to my mat? What the hell are we gonna do with those? Are we gonna strap the blocks to our feet and do a Frankenstein impression? That might be kind of cool. Um…doesn’t a large bowl of Frankenberry sound delicious right now? </p><p> Thank heavens I got a pedicure before coming here. This is a very feet-on-display kind of sport. Does yoga count as a sport? Am slightly in love with nail color. Might marry feet. Karen Feet. Yeah, that sounds bad. </p><p> Oh, we’re starting. Okay. Wow, the instructor’s kinda hot. Is he gay or just yoga sensitive? Probably gay. And if he’s straight, he’d be one of those wool-socks-with-Teva-sandals guys. </p><p> Rolling the shoulders. Ahhh. This is nice. Oooo, stretching our lower backs; oh, how wonderful. See, this is the sort of workout I should’ve been doing all along. It’s so serene. So…stretchy. I’ll bet my mind will calm down, and I won’t have Gnip-Gnop balls in my head all day. Boop boop boop boop. Bap bap BOOO! Boop boop. Okay, I get it. I get that you have Gnip-Gnop balls in your head. Stop thinking about it, because, oh the stretching. </p><p> This is lovely. This is—holy cats, look at the woman in front of me. LOOK AT HER BUTT! It’s absolutely perfect. It’s like someone sliced a small, pert melon in half and glued it to her back. How does anyone have a butt like that? Is it from coming here? I’m coming here every day, in that case. How old is that bitch, anyway? And how is it some women pull back their hair and it’s all silky and perfect like it’s meant to be in a ponytail, and my ponytail looks like I shot a beaver and stuck it to the top of my head? </p><p> Remember that scene in “Thelma and Louise” when Thelma says, “I hate being called a beaver?” Heee. </p><p> How happy can that woman really be? Wow. Look at the size of her diamond. Okay, probably pretty happy. Stop thinking about it. You’re supposed to be being serene. </p><p> Oh crap. What’re we doing now? What do you mean use the blocks to get into a plank position? What’s a plank? What’s a plank? What’s a— </p><p> MOTHER OF GOD GET ME OUT OF THIS PLANK. GET.ME.OUT.OF.THIS— </p><p> Oh, thank God, that’s over. </p><p> WHAT DO YOU MEAN, “AGAIN?” What kind of lily-livered, wool-sock-wearing sadist ARE you, you teach tolerance patchouli asshole? Plank this! </p><p> I had no idea I could shake this much. I’d be shaking less if I were trapped in a meat locker. Doesn’t meat sound delicious? </p><p> Please be done with the planks. Please be—you want my foot to go where? I can’t stretch that far! Lord, I’m all splayed out like a clamshell. Any second now, Venus de Milo’s gonna pop right outta me. And stop telling me to breathe. I’m all splayed out like I’ve got invisible stirrups and you want me to breathe. You’re lucky I didn’t just split in two like a wishbone, Bub. </p><p> Doesn’t some Wishbone Chunky Blue Cheese dressing sound delicious right now? </p><p> Wow, it’s done. Now we have to lie still and have a guided meditation. Yes, this is lovely. This is calm. I am serene. Gnip-Gnop, gn-over. Yoga is wonderful. Yoga is— </p><p> Oh, crap. Is that twanging coming from my back? And don’t baby back ribs sound delicious right now?</p><p><em>Originally published on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Purple Clover</a></em></p> <h2>More From Purple Clover</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Van Gogh Meets Vogue</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Classic Movie Roles That Almost Went to Someone Else</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">15 Beautiful Women Who Inpsired Classic Love Songs</a></li> </ul><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Health Work/Life Wed, 14 Jan 2015 21:31:11 +0000 PurpleClover 1922242 at "I'm Fine" and Other Lies Depression Will Tell You <!--paging_filter--><p>I've been harboring a secret for the past month or so. Only a few close friends know and my family, obviously. I don't know why I haven't said anything about it or why I've been hiding it.</p> <p>The truth is that about seven weeks after Keira came into the world, I started slipping back into my depression.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>It was after my six week doctor's appointment and things were fine. I was still feeling that motherhood high, looking at my darling daughter sleeping, and I swear I could cry because I loved her so much. Sure, things were a little crazy and chaotic having two older kids, but I was fine.</p> <p>I felt fine.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="fine" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">KTIQS.LCV</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p><i>Fine's</i> a funny word isn't it? Most people use the word fine as a way to appease the questioner.</p> <p>"How's life with three kids," I was asked by an acquaintance. "Oh it's fine. Busy but <i>fine</i>."</p> <p>I thought it was fine. It was chaotic and loud and definitely a juggling act bouncing from one child to the next but I was <i>fine</i>. And slowly but surely the <i>fines</i> started spilling out of me as a way of telling myself it would be <i>fine</i>.</p> <p>I felt lonely; like I didn't have a friend in the world. I'm <i>fine</i> though.</p> <p>I felt like my husband didn't understand what I was going through with the addition of another child into our family; I felt like he didn't care at all. I was <i>fine</i> with that.</p> <p>My life consisted of giving everything to everybody and gaining nothing in return; not even a "thank you." I. am. <i>fine.</i></p> <p>I was just going plow through this time of my life; when my children are little needy, greedy people. I would grin and bear it and make it to elementary school and then, surely then, I'd start to see some of the fruits of my selfless acts of love. After all, I was <i>fine</i>.</p> <p>The days moved on in this slow yet steady pace, and I kept drifting further and further away from reality. I lived inside of my head most days. Thinking about how no one was reaching out to me and how my husband couldn't love me because of my post-baby body.</p> <p>My children didn't really need me for anything more than a cook and maid. My baby would get by if I wasn't there. I was short-tempered and easily annoyed with life. I felt hopeless, and the downward spiral began like the water draining from a bath. It was quick and there was no stopping it.</p> <p>Until one evening something clicked inside of my head, and I thought for a second that maybe life wasn't as terrible as I thought it was. Maybe just maybe I should reach out for help?</p> <p>It was a fleeting thought, and I had done a good job of telling myself that I was <i>fine.</i> So clearly I didn't need help. My mom and sister thought otherwise.</p> <p>You see, after my first bout of depression when my son was born, my mom took it upon herself to be my guardian from afar. Watching closely after each birth for the signs that something wasn't working in my brain:</p> <p> <ul> <li>Easily irritated</li> <li>Complaining about my husband</li> <li>Letting my house go</li> <li>Not cooking dinner or even caring about making any meals</li> </ul> </p> <p>I'm sure there are more things that she looks for; those are just the things I know are signs for me.</p> <p>My mom took the job of calling me to chat about how I was just <i>fine</i> but not really fine. My sister took on the job of calling my husband to see if he noticed that things were off.</p> <p>Again, in a moment of clarity or divine intervention, I listened and heard what my mother was telling me. I needed help. I agreed. And just like that the problem was remedied.</p> <p>You see, depression is like that pesky leech that attaches itself to your back when you're sitting in the shallow part of a lake. Minding your own business as you play in the water and enjoy the summer day.</p> <p>If you're by yourself there's no way you're going to see that leech. You can't feel it either; after all you're <i>fine</i> with life and all is dandy. If you continue to be by yourself, the leech slowly sucks the life out of you.</p> <p>If, however, you aren't by yourself and you've allowed a loved one to tag along with you on your leisurely swim, your friend or family member will see the leech. He or she will tell you about it, and you will be able to remove it from your back thus "saving" your life.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>The same is true of depression: you can't see it. It hides itself in your mind in such a way that it slowly sucks the life out of you. That's why allowing yourself to be vulnerable, sharing your depression with another person, is so important.</p> <p>It doesn't have to be the world but it needs to be one person. Someone who knows you well and can recognize when something is "off."</p> <p>Depression has taken too many lives because of the shame it's masked itself in. The most brilliant people can so easily harbor this secret, and that's when depression wins. Don't let it. Speak up. If you had cancer you would tell someone. Depression is a disease, don't let it claim your life or the life you are meant to live.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Mental Health Health #depression #postpartum #shame Wed, 14 Jan 2015 16:40:39 +0000 FirstTimeMomMN 1724709 at What's On Your Workout Playlist? <!--paging_filter--><p>It's the time of year when I sit down and reassess my fitness goals. What do I want to accomplish this year? How am I going to meet my goals? What is my motivation? I don't know the answers to all of those questions right now so I'm doing something I do well—I'm procrastinating. I decided to make a new workout playlist but I'm not especially good at making playlists. I reached out to the BlogHer Editors for help. Here are some of our favorite workout songs.</p> <p><center><img src="" Alt="What's On Your Workout Playlist?" /><BR /><em><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Athlete running on stairs</a>, Shutterstock</em></center></p> <!--pagebreak--> <p>Taylor Swift is one of our biggest guilty pleasures with multiple people saying they need some TSwift on their playlist. "Shake it Off" got added to to my list last year. BlogHer Editor Jenna Hatfield just added the Relic Hearts' cover of Swift's "Out of the Woods" to her playlist. She says: </p> <p>"It’s a Taylor Swift remake, available on Spotify, and a rock/alt remake. It’s a great pick for TSwift fans who use Spotify and have all the sad that she pulled her album. Also a great pick for Closeted TSwift Fans."</p> <p><center><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <!--pagebreak--> <p>Workout playlists are often associated with cardio but you can use playlists for all kinds of workouts. I used to work for a startup where many of us took a private yoga class every Friday. Our instructor had fabulous music and creating a zen playlist for practicing yoga at home is not something I had considered.</p> <p>BlogHer Editor Melissa Ford performs a daily yoga practice. One of the songs on her yoga playlist is "Silent Ganges" by Maneesh De Moor. It clocks in at over nine minutes, making it great for your early morning sun salutations or a cardio cool down.</p> <p><center><iframe width="560" height="420" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <!--pagebreak--> <p>No playlist would be compete without Queen Bey. I don't think I've ever had a cardio playlist that didn't contain at least one of her songs. BlogHer Editor Feminista Jones recommends "Deja Vu." She says, "The beat is fast enough to inspire movement and Beyonce is the queen of cardio music!" #TRUTH</p> <p><center><iframe width="560" height="420" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <!--pagebreak--> <p>BlogHer Deputy Editor Rita Arens like to start her runs with Foo Fighters' "Long Road to Ruin." The song starts off slow and then builds up to a nice strong drum beat and there's lots of cymbal. Not only does she keep it on her running list, it's also on her writing playlist.</p> <p><center><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <!--pagebreak--> <p>BlogHer's Executive Editor Julie Ross Godar doesn't like long songs for workouts. Her song of the moment is "Drunk Girls" by LCD Soundsystem. She says, "It is super fast, makes me laugh and is only 2 minutes long so I know I can hustle all the way through it." </p> <p><center><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p><strong>What is on your workout playlist?</strong></p> <p><em>Karen Ballum is a Community Moderator on She also blogs at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Sassymonkey</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Sassymonkey Reads</a>.</em></p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Music Health Entertainment #playlists Tue, 13 Jan 2015 18:33:31 +0000 Karen Ballum 1922385 at 5 Easy Ways to Start Meditating <!--paging_filter--><p>You've heard all about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, from reducing <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">stress</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">anxiety</a>, and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">pain</a> to making us happier and smarter to <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">warding off sickness</a>. You've probably added it to your lengthy to-do list as something to try. In fact, one of your New Year's resolutions may even be to begin a daily meditation practice.</p> <p>After all, we all could benefit from a little bit more zen in our lives.</p> <p>But how do you meditate?</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="meditation" /></center></p> <p>Meditation is something that has always intimidated me. When I was studying to become a yoga teacher, meditation was the one module I was most scared of. Not arm balances or inversions but meditation and learning how to sit still.</p> <p>On the first day, we sat up tall on our yoga blankets, forming a circle in the studio, and closed our eyes. Then, I started to feel my lower back start to hunch and I started to fall asleep!</p> <p>Like me, you may have lot of ideas in your head about what meditation is and what it should look like. In fact, there are countless reasons why you think you can't meditate:</p> <p> <ul> <li>It takes a lot of time. You have to dedicate at least an hour or two to really mediate.</li> <li>You need a quiet space.</li> <li>It's impossible and pointless if you can't stop the thoughts in your mind.</li> <li>You don't know how to do it.</li> <li>You don't know what it feels like.</li> <li>You're afraid that you're doing it wrong. </li> </ul> </p> <p>But the truth is that meditation can take many different forms. It doesn't have to look a specific way. It only has to work for <i>you </i>and your lifestyle.</p> <p>Just as you would strengthen your muscles at the gym or prepare for a marathon, you need to train your meditation and mindfulness muscles -- gradually.</p> <p>Here are five easy ways to start meditating:</p> <p> <h1>Take a Walk</h1> </p> <p>You don't have to sit still in order to meditate. Walking meditation is a form of meditation in action; the act of walking helps you center your thoughts. Move continuously and deliberately, taking deep breaths as you go. In fact, running and yoga often turn into moving meditation for me. I become hyper-focused on the moment at hand and before I know it, I'm finished with my run or yoga class!</p> <p> <h1>Use Your Phone</h1> </p> <p>While our attachment to our smartphones might be one reason we are less mindful, we can use it to bring us back to the present moment. Every time your phone rings or beeps, take five slow, deep breaths before picking it up. At the rate most of our phones buzz, this should give you ample opportunity to touch base with yourself throughout the day.</p> <p> <h1>Do a Body Scan</h1> </p> <p>Body scans can help release tension in your body as well as focus your mind. Lie down your back with your eyes closed and bring your attention to different parts of your body. Concentrate on each area for a few breaths, noticing how it feels and consciously relaxing it. Start with you toes and move up your body. You could even use a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">guided body scan</a>.</p> <p> <h1>Re-think Mundane Tasks</h1> </p> <p>We all have an endless list of boring chores such as folding laundry, vacuuming, and washing dishes. But why not use these monotonous tasks as an opportunity to slow down and be mindful? As you engage in these daily activities, slow down and concentrate on the process itself, the sensations and your breath. </p> <p> <h1>Breath In. Breath Out.</h1> </p> <p>The practice of yogic breathing or <i>pranayama</i> helps you to refine the mind-body connection, stay connected to the present moment, and stay calm. There are a number of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">pranayama techniques</a>. Here's one of my favorite ones. Lie down or sit comfortably, inhale slowly to a count of four, and exhale slowly to a count of four. The idea is to keep the inhalation and exhalation the same length. As you become more comfortable, you can extend the length of each breath.</p> <p>Meditating doesn't have to be about sitting still for hours at a time. You can find ways to incorporate it into your everyday life in a way that works for you and that builds your meditation muscles.</p> <p><b>Do you meditate?</b></p> <p>Christine writes the blog <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Love, Life, Surf" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Love, Life, Surf</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Mental Health Wellness Health meditation mindfulness yoga Mon, 12 Jan 2015 13:58:01 +0000 LoveLifeSurf 1901382 at Can You Be Happy After Infertility if You Don't Have Children? <!--paging_filter--><p>I've been thinking the last few days about those very early days of learning we will have a life without children. First, infertility, then childlessness. I remember those days, even though they were many years ago. I felt as if I had been slammed into a brick wall.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>Those first days and weeks were awful. There's no other way to say it. At first, the truth of my situation hit more and more deeply. Each time I would think "when I have a baby ..." or "my children will ..." the truth and the pain hit anew. I would not be having a baby. My children would never ... never ... </p> <p>This hurt more and more as the realisation set in. It was as if I was repeatedly punching a bruise that was already very painful. I had struggled under the stresses of trying to conceive, of repeated losses, of pregnancies that turned lethal, of IVF and IVF failures. But I had always, even at the worst, had some hope. Now, though, all hope was gone. It was final. There would be no children, ever.</p> <p>I could not imagine ever feeling better about it. I was exhausted at the thought of having to navigate my way through a new future, a future that seemed to me to be pointless, without meaning, without joy, filled with <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">nothing</a> but pain and darkness and regret. </p> <p>Along with hope, the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">light had gone</a>, and I could see nothing but sadness, pain, guilt, and hopelessness. Briefly, I even imagined the relief of not having any future at all.</p> <p>I felt a failure as a woman and a wife and a human being, and thought that I would never be whole. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">I felt isolated</a>, that I didn't belong anywhere. And I avoided people, except for one or two special souls. </p> <p>I stopped going places I might meet someone I didn't want to see. Even trips to the supermarket were torture; hoping to go when it was emptiest, but finding it was filled with old folks and young mums; the cashier cheerfully asking how was my day, and my mumbled reply.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="sunrise" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">US Geological Survey</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>But it did get better. I quickly realised that punching the bruise was pointless, and so made efforts to train my brain <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">not to think</a> about the babies I didn't have, would never have. </p> <p>It worked. I stopped thinking of myself as a potential mother. It took a little time (weeks/a few months), and I slipped often. It was a struggle and painful in itself, consciously turning away from those thoughts and dreams. But this was really my first step to healing. </p> <p>The other feelings – pain, anger and guilt – lasted longer. The shock ended, but turned into a year or two of, I think, a very low-level depression. Tears were close to the surface. </p> <p>So too was envy, for those who had what I would never have, and for those who still had hope. They were reminders of my failures, of what I couldn't achieve, of what I would never have, reminders of what I couldn't give my husband too, an additional pain. </p> <p>Sure, I had good days and bad days, two steps forward, one step back, and sometimes it felt as if I was back to square one. But gradually the good days outnumbered the bad. I found joy and fulfilment in helping others. </p> <p>But still, I was grieving, and grieving takes time. Trying to imagine a new future, a future different to the one we had imagined and longed for, takes time. You think infertility is tough? Coming to terms is tough, too.</p> <p>There's a phase we go through when we are <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">angry</a>, when we believe we will always feel angry, when we refuse to accept our situations. How dare someone suggest that I accept, that I "move on," that I forget? Didn't they know how much I wanted this? How much it hurt? How could they suggest this? They didn't understand. Their suffering wasn't as strong as my suffering! It couldn't be!</p> <p>I worried that it would look like I was wallowing in my grief, that I was self-pitying, or self-indulgent, so I hid it. After all, most people thought that I hadn't lost anything, because outwardly, nothing had changed for us. </p> <p>But the pain I was feeling from that <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">lost future</a> was real, like the phantom pain of an amputated limb. I remember how much it hurt, how angry I was!</p> <p>In particular, I resented the idea that I should or would accept my childlessness, and all the negatives I saw in that life. (Yes, though I don't like the term now, I very much felt <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">childLESS</a> in those early days.) </p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>I fought against acceptance, because acceptance seemed like betrayal - of ourselves, our pain, our grief, our dreams, and those two babies we lost. Acceptance implied that we didn't want it enough, that it was okay we couldn't have children. Yet my whole being was screaming silently, "it was not okay!" Likewise, after any feelings of happiness, I felt guilty. Did that mean I hadn't loved or wanted my lost babies? Did that mean I didn't really want it after all? </p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Acceptance</a> (and feeling joy), though, is none of these things – it's not a betrayal, or a shameful admission that it was our fault for not trying hard enough. </p> <p>Acceptance is simply an acknowledgement of the situation we found ourselves in, the situation where we had no children, and would never have children. And there was no denying or changing that.</p> <p>So I healed. It took time, there are many ups and downs. But if there is one message I want to convey in this post is that it gets better. Now (11 years after learning I would never have children), I am no longer in the trenches; I climbed out and put my face to the sun a long time ago.</p> <p>I hope that this gives hope to any of you who are struggling to imagine a future without children. I know that some of you will not believe my words. That you cannot imagine feeling anything other than the way you feel now. I can't convince you that you will be happy, that you will heal. </p> <p>You probably feel that my words of hope and promise of a good life are as empty as those people who tell us to "just relax" or that "miracles happen." Maybe, for a rare few, they will be so immersed in their grief that they never come out of it, never let themselves imagine a life that they did not choose. </p> <p>But over the years, on blogs and message boards and in personal life, I have seen so many people come through this. I think it is human nature to move on, survive, and thrive. Life is a joy, not a struggle. I'm not kidding.</p> <p><i>Blogging at: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">No Kidding in NZ</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">A Separate Life</a></i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Childfree Grief and Loss Infertility Health Family childless infertility No Kidding Fri, 09 Jan 2015 14:43:22 +0000 MaliNZ 1917173 at After Chemo: I'll Never Cry About My Hair Again <!--paging_filter--><p>I was born a Kewpie doll, with one single red cowlick on the top of my head. A few wisps appeared around my first birthday, and my mom celebrated by taping a pink bow to my head. When my hair finally grew in properly, I mostly screamed at my mom’s combing efforts, and toddled around with the beginnings of dreadlocks, probably as retribution for the tape. </p><p> When I learned to read, I discovered Pippi Longstocking and Laura Ingalls Wilder, and became obsessed with their pigtails and braids. Only then did I allow my mom to get after me with a comb, leading to a brief golden era where I looked like an American Girl Doll. I moved into an Orphan Annie phase soon after, where I insisted on sleeping in pink foam rollers so I’d look more "the sun'll come out tomorrow"-like. My skull ached, but I was in character. </p><p> Then there was an inglorious adolescence marked by big bangs, Aquanet and electric styling tools. I was frizzy but determined to be the boss of my hair. I begged my mom for a back-to-school perm every fall, and almost always cried when it came out too curly. I bleached my bangs with Sun-In at a slumber party, then fretted when my red hair looked orange instead of Barbie blond. I burnt my forehead with molten curling irons and got Bedazzled bobby pins stuck in my french braids. There were tears and tantrums over school pictures ruined by my hair experiments. “It’s your own fault,” my mom would say. “Just leave it alone.” </p><p> My hair never grew out of the awkward phase, and as an adult I’ve only doubled down on trying to tame it. Once, on the eve of Y2K, I entered a salon with a magazine clipping of Julianne Moore in long, sweeping Cleopatra bangs. I left with a jagged inch-long fringe of mini-bangs that didn’t sweep across my forehead so much as stand up in protest. I looked like Jim Carrey in "Dumb and Dumber." I cried as I paid the stylist who gave me the bangs of an idiot, and I cried some more at the barbershop I fled to for a re-cut, where the old man behind the chair said there was nothing he could do. A few years after the idiot bangs, I finally got up enough courage to cut my hair again and went for an edgy bob, but wound up looking like Peppermint Patty’s mom. Cue more tears. </p><p> My Nashville era was tough on my tresses. I tried for the big hair of country stars, but always came up short. I paid a stylist my last waitressing dollars to weld thick hair extensions to my own baby-fine strands, but the weave pulled at my scalp and made me itch. I looked pretty good, but felt flat-broke and ridiculous. I fantasized about pulling my hair out at the roots and starting over. </p><p> Little did I know I’d get a chance to start over someday, thanks to breast cancer. </p> <p><center><img src="/files/haircut.jpg" /><br /> <em>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Orin Zebest</a></em></center></p> <p> The first time I shaved my head, I barely cried. I was only a week into chemotherapy, and the poison hadn’t gotten to my follicles yet. I walked into the barbershop with a full head of hair, feeling as good as anyone can feel about a cancer haircut. I was getting a jump on it. </p><p> My boyfriend went with me, gamely volunteering to get his hair buzzed off first, in solidarity. I watched and got my courage up while the barber gave him the Marine standard high and tight, shearing his beautiful Game of Thrones-ian locks to the floor. When it was my turn to get in the chair, I didn’t hesitate. It had taken six months for me to grow out an ill-conceived bob into shoulder-length messy layers—it took five minutes for the barber to turn those layers into a half-centimeter crew cut. Then it was done, and G.I. Jess stared back at me in the mirror. </p><p> I whooped when it was over, like a bungee jumper, or a bit player who’s just done something stupid on MTV’s "Jackass." I left the barbershop drunk on adrenaline, victorious. We had doughnuts to celebrate, and went on with our day like it was no big deal—just two crazy kids getting matching punk hairdos. </p><p> I sorta liked my crew cut. It felt light and airy, like years of bad hair days had never happened. The sun and breeze felt so good on my scalp, I didn’t wear a hat for almost a week. I put my hairdryer and curling iron in storage, and bombed around town imagining myself a chunky Annie Lennox or a live-action Tank Girl. Go ahead and stare at me, I’d think while in line at Starbucks. Take your best guess: Am I sick, or is this just a ballsy fashion choice? </p><!--pagebreak--><p> But my inner Tank Girl only lasted about 11 days, then chemo had the final say and my crew cut fell out. That was the second time I shaved my head, and that time I cried a lot. The clock struck 8:30 on a Monday night, and hair began migrating off my head in handfuls, like tufts of volcanic ash. I was only losing a crew cut, but I was terrified. I was going to be very sick soon, and my falling hair was just a warning shot. Chemo ain’t kidding. </p><p> My friend Jenee found me in my apartment, sobbing, my hands full of hair. “Get in my car,” she said, and drove me straight to the nearest SuperCuts. I cried in the passenger seat and kept right on crying in the chair while the SuperCuts lady shaved my patchy crew cut down to a shiny chrome dome. I only stopped crying when Jenee threw herself in the chair and demanded a buzz cut of her own. Then I started laughing hysterically. The stylist was so shaken by the spectacle of the two of us, she shaved Jenee’s hair right down to the scalp—not even stopping at a crew cut. She was as bald as me when it was over. </p><p> It’s a crazy and brave thing to do, what Jenee did. It made me feel less alone in a dark moment. But that night wasn’t the first time I’ve cried at a salon, or even the first time I’ve cried at a SuperCuts. I can only hope that Jenee and I met my lifetime quota for hair traumas, and that it’s all up from here. </p><p> I’ve been told my hair might not come back red after chemo, and there is a teensy statistical chance it might not come back, period. I’ll deal with it as it comes. Wigs don’t faze me now. After rocking the Telly Savalas, any future hairstyle will do. I’ll never cry about my hair again.</p><p> <em>Originally published at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Purple Clover</a></em></p> <h2>More from Purple Clover</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">The Butterfly Effect: 30 Stars Before Their Metamorphosis</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">This Magic Moment</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stories of Our Lives</a></li> </ul> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Health Work/Life Style Wed, 07 Jan 2015 21:54:07 +0000 PurpleClover 1913560 at 5 Reasons Why I Love to Run in the Morning <!--paging_filter--><p>This morning my alarm went off way too early. The only thing I wanted to do was shut of my alarm and go back to sleep. It also didn't help that my 2-year-old had been awake since 4:30am.</p> <p>But without thinking too much about it, I got up, got dressed, laced up my sneakers and poured myself a large cup of motivation… er, I mean coffee. After downing my coffee and heading out the door, I started my run.</p> <p>Almost instantly I was reminded of why I do this. Why I choose to forgo that extra hour of sleep to go out and run 5 miles. Why I get up in the dark when everyone else is sleeping to sweat. Here are a few of my favorite things about early morning running.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="sunrise" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Marcus Keuter</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>It Gets it Out of the Way</h1> </p> <p>This is my number one favorite thing about running first thing in the morning. There is nothing worse than putting off a workout and having that nagging feeling all day that I need to get it done. On top of that, there is always that chance that something will come up that prevents me from doing it at all. But chances are, nothing will get in the way at 5am (other than the desire to sleep more). Plus, it just makes for a great day when you head out to face the world already feeling accomplished.</p> <p> <h1>The Sunrise</h1> </p> <p>What could be more beautiful than getting to see the sunrise? It is usually dark when I start my run and progressively gets lighter and lighter as I go. The second half of my loop I'm facing the east, so I get to see a beautiful sunrise every time I run early in the morning.</p> <p> <h1>See the Neighbours</h1> </p> <p>Every time I go for an early morning run I see the same people in my neighborhood walking their dogs or also going for a morning run. Even though the extent of my interaction with them is a smile and a greeting, I feel like we share a connection. I don't know any of these people by name (and I don't think they know my name either), or which exact house they live in, but we know each other's faces, we know whose dog belongs to whom, and we all know that we are starting out our day in a great way.</p> <p> <h1>Sleep Better</h1> </p> <p>Do you ever lay in bed when it's time to sleep and your body just won't shut down? Your mind is thinking about all kinds of other stuff and you just can't go to sleep? This used to happen to me a lot, but not anymore. I lay down in bed, and I'm asleep in about two minutes. Every single night. It is glorious.</p> <p> <h1>No Lost Time With My Kids</h1> </p> <p>Being a working mom, I always feel guilty when any time away from work is not spent with my kids, whether it's a hair appointment, a girl's night out, or something fitness related. I really don't think that feeling every completely goes away. Usually when I return from my morning run, they are either still asleep or they have just woken up. So, by getting my run out of the way early in the morning, I don't miss out on any time with my kids.</p> <p>These are just a few of my favorite things about early morning running. I really wanted to put this out there so I can come back at look at it the next time my alarm goes off way too early and I'm questioning why I'm doing this. </p> <p><b>What time of day do you prefer to work out?</b></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Health exercise fitness running Wed, 07 Jan 2015 14:14:11 +0000 vegasmotherrunner 1723078 at I Don't Have the "Winter Blues" <!--paging_filter--><p>Outside my window, the sky is bright blue and clear, the customary winter fog nowhere in evidence. If you didn’t notice the grass tipped with frost, you could easily imagine it to be a 70-degree day. This is winter in California. Born and raised here, I’ve never had to contend with winter snow, unless by choice. But that familiar feeling sets in the day after Christmas, a heaviness of limb, inability to choose between tasks, lack of desire to do anything—so unlike busy, Type-A me the rest of the year. </p> <p><center><img src="/files/cloudysky.jpg" /><br /> <em>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Ross Elliott</a></em></center></p> <p> You might say it’s just the comedown after a month of party prep. Christmas detritus is everywhere—the cats unearth stray ribbons and torn strips of silvery and red wrapping paper all over the house. The forlorn stockings hang deflated at the hearth. It’s strange that I can adore these sparkling decorations for 30 days and then, with one big explosive day of unwrapping gifts and entertaining family, the sight of the wooden nutcrackers and the cheerful holiday bunting puts my teeth on edge. I wish I could snap my fingers and have it all disappear back into its boxes. </p><p> I’m blue, I thought, the day after Christmas. My husband had gone to work, my son was still cranky and slow-moving, a couple days recovered from a Christmas eve stomach flu, and there was nothing left to be prepared or planned for. Blue—that’s what we say in my family when we’re feeling down. My mother, who couldn’t be with us on Christmas due to knee surgery, texted me: “I’m feeling a little blue without you guys.” </p><p> And what is the composition of “blue” exactly? There’s the wispy blue out my window, the blue of my son’s new blanket. The bold turquoise blue of my office. The color blue is too cheerful, though—it doesn’t match the color of my mood, which feels more like the gray slate on the front of my house, like the color of rain clouds, like tarnished silver. </p><p> “Why do you keep insisting you don’t have seasonal affective disorder?” asks my friend Amy, who suffers quite a bit in the darker months. </p><p> I offer the bright sky as my first shred of evidence, the fact that I actually like gray-sky days (and love rain) when we do get them. I assert that people who suffer SAD feel depressed, while I merely feel blue. </p><p> Blue holds a tiny grappling claw against the cliff of darker feelings. Blue is temporary. Blue refuses labels. Depression, on the other hand, is a condition, something diagnosed by professionals and treated with medications. Optimists like me don’t get depressed. Do we? </p><p> Begrudgingly, I look up <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">seasonal affective disorder</a> and find the Mayo Clinic’s definition: “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons—SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.” </p><p> The fact that some people experience it in the spring or early summer suggests that it may not be as weather-dependent a condition as I imagine. “Don't brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the ‘winter blues’” it goes on to say. </p><p> The honeyed drone of Joni Mitchell moves through my ears—her song “Blue” is about darker blues than mine—“acid, booze and ass/needles, guns and grass” she sings—and yet her words were forged in the same '70s as my parents were struggling with similar issues. </p><p> Another friend suggested I might have mild PTSD—a label I’m even less inclined to claim for its widespread use and for the fact that those I know who really do suffer it have such severe symptoms I’d feel like a jerk for even suggesting it. </p><p> The more I mulled it over, the more likely it seems to me that there is, indeed, something about this time of year—sunny skies notwithstanding—that caves in around me (and many others, I’d wager) despite my best efforts. The American economy thrives on industries that push happiness as a commodity one can eventually purchase through various fitness, fashion, spirituality and dietary means. </p><p> If you didn’t unwrap that happiness in a gift box, there’s the yawning expanse of a New Year ahead that will exert a Jillian Michaels level of pressure on you to improve yourself or at least get yourself together. Whether you came together at the holidays joyfully with people you don’t see often enough, or you felt forced to engage with relatives you’d rather not have, there’s intense pressure, collisions of emotion, both new and old. </p><!--pagebreak--><p> No wonder, in its wake, some of us collapse into lethargy that runs the gamut from blue to depressed. What’s more, nature (at least in North America) crawls in on herself, moves into hibernation, but we humans rarely follow suit. </p><p> This year, the only New Year’s resolution I’m making is to embrace my blues as a reminder that this time of year is for reducing expectations and going slower, like the rest of nature.</p><p> <em>Originally published at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Purple Clover</a></em></p> <h2>More from Purple Clover</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">The Butterfly Effect: 30 Stars Before Their Metamorphosis</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">This Magic Moment</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stories of Our Lives</a></li> </ul> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Mental Health Health Tue, 06 Jan 2015 21:54:02 +0000 PurpleClover 1913572 at What You Need To Know About Fertility And Infertility Before TTC <!--paging_filter--><p>I have a lot of girl friends in their early-to-mid thirties who have yet to try to get pregnant. Some are still single and waiting to meet the right man. Others are married, but have decided to wait a little longer before trying to conceive.</p> <p>Given what I now know about fertility and infertility, there are a few things I’d want to tell them.</p> <p><center><img src="" title="What You Need To Know About Fertility And Infertility Before TTC" alt="What You Need To Know About Fertility And Infertility Before TTC" /></center></p> <p>Dear Friends,</p> <p>I hope with all my heart that when the time comes, you’ll have no trouble conceiving and carrying a healthy child to term.</p> <p>However, infertility affects one out of eight couples trying to conceive, so it’s very likely that some of you will come to know the same heartache I’ve experienced these past two years. I hope you’ll take into consideration some of the lessons I’ve learned while you wait for your time to try to conceive.</p> <p><strong>Start Tracking Your Cycles Now</strong></p> <p>Some of you may already keep track of when your period begins and ends. However, I’d encourage you to start taking notice of other fertility signs.</p> <p>Do you know what a luteal phase is and how long your is? It can affect your future fertility! Do you know if and when you ovulate?</p> <p>Figuring out these things before you start trying to have a baby can take a lot of stress out of the process when you do try. It can give you valuable information about your body that may potentially save you from wasting months or years of trying on your own or at the wrong time.</p> <p>Toni Weschler’s <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link"><em>Taking Charge of Your Fertility</em></a> is one of the best books on the subject. I’ll keep my copy until menopause!</p> <p><strong>Learn About the Signs &amp; Symptoms of Infertility</strong></p> <p>Many people with painful periods assume that’s simply part of being female. I did. I now know that very painful periods can be a symptom of endometriosis.</p> <p>If you want to conceive a child one day, learn everything about you can about infertility and reproduction now. Again, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link"><em>Taking Charge of Your Fertility</em></a> is a great resource to learn more.</p> <p><strong>Know Your Options for Fertility Preservation</strong></p> <p>I’m not telling you to freeze your eggs. But I am telling you to at least be aware of your options for doing so.</p> <p>Egg freezing is a complicated, expensive procedure, and it’s not a decision you want to make quickly or out of desperation. There’s also no guarantee that freezing eggs will lead to a future pregnancy.</p> <p>Figure out what you think about it before you’re under the gun to decide to do it. If you’re concerned about declining fertility as you get older, talk to your doctor and educate yourself.</p> <p>The USC Fertility Center has <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">helpful information</a> and <em>Psychology Today</em> has an <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">interesting article</a> on the emotional aspects of egg freezing.</p> <p>If you decide egg freezing isn’t your thing, at least take the time to learn about how to optimize your fertility. RESOLVE has a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">webpage</a> with some great resources.</p> <p>I hope you’ll never have to deal with fertility issues, but knowledge is power. So learn as much as you can now!</p> <p><strong>What would you tell your friends who haven’t yet started trying to get pregnant? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Find more encouragement &amp; inspiration during infertility at <a href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">AmateurNester</a></em></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Infertility Pregnancy Health Family #infertility #TTC pregnancy Tue, 06 Jan 2015 13:43:59 +0000 AmateurNester 1911142 at How to Restart Your Exercise Routine After a Break <!--paging_filter--><!--break--><!--break--><p>Five years ago, after my first son was born, I anxiously waited to return to running. The day I reached 5 weeks postpartum and was cleared to <i>begin</i> exercising again I did with vigor.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>I loaded his tiny self into an infant car seat, strapped it to my huge BOB jogging stroller and headed out for a run immediately. And, I didn't think a thing of it. I pushed over 40 lbs up and down hills, feeling pretty weak physically but also (stupidly) proud of myself for getting "back on the wagon."</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="jogging" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Serge Melki</a> via Flickr </i></center></p> <p>I remember very clearly how strange my body felt, loose and floppy everywhere. There was the postpartum belly, the huge nursing boobs (not normal for me!), stretched out muscles, and my joints... well, they felt like they could just collapse into a big pile of bones on the sidewalk. It was foreign to me. I'd exercised through my entire pregnancy and didn't anticipate feeling so strange in my own skin.</p> <p>However, instead of stepping back to look at the big picture, and deciding I'm not quite ready to run, I did the opposite. I took it as a sign that I needed to work even harder to get my body back. So for the first four months of Will's life, I ran an hour almost every day on those same steep hills with that same heavy stroller.</p> <p>I'd spent very little time getting my deep core muscles back up to snuff after delivery, and looking back I'm sure they were no where close to strong enough for my endeavor.</p> <p>I'll never know what role this ultimately played in my body's breakdown and complications after the birth of my second son. Maybe none, but that's not likely. I do know that regardless of whether it had obvious direct consequences or not, I did wrong by my body, mistreating it so.</p> <p>I tell you this story, not because I'm still proud (having a couple kids will get that out of your system), but because I was stupid. And, I'm a trained professional. Of all people, I should have known better, but I didn't. I was in such a rush to feel like my old self again that I paid no respect to the fact that my body needed to heal from childbirth.</p> <p><i>There is a big difference between blind, stubborn determination and smart, intense training to high level performance. I was guilty of the former.</i></p> <p>I know I'm not alone here. So often we assume our body can handle whatever we ask it to do, and amazingly often it does. Our bodies are miraculous in their ability to grow life, repeatedly, and well.</p> <p>For lots of mamas, their bodies really do bounce back easily and they're back to their hard-core endurance exercise with no apparent problems. But in truth, most of us need specific training to rebuild our deep core muscles so that they can be the foundation for the active life we want to have.</p> <p>After the birth of her third child, my sister recently said to me, "Meg, I just want to RUN." I knew exactly what she was talking about. To have that feeling of being free in your body, free of babies clinging to you, feeling the wind in your face and your body full of life. She had perfectly captured the feeling I had that first day after Will was born when I just took off running, throwing caution to the wind.</p> <p>That is a feeling we should all experience, whether running, biking, doing yoga, whatever your pleasure is. I want that for you. Heck, I want that for me. Being able to experience our bodies fully makes us better women, moms, wives, and professionals.</p> <p>And to that end, I'm here to help you. To be the wise voice in your ear, that says to you:</p> <p> <ul> <li>Be patient. "The days are long, but the years are short" is true in so many ways as a parent. Apply this in your approach to yourself as well. </li> </ul> <ul> <li>Be smart. Avoid blind, stubborn determination at all costs.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Give your body the time it needs to heal. It takes a while for things to "go back," to contract, to find their solid place in your body again. Be gentle with yourself during this process. In the long run, your body will thank you.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Be thoughtful about how you return to activity. Have a well-planned program that progresses you safely so you don't injure yourself. Remember, you must walk before you can run.</li> </ul> </p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>So think before you run. Check in with your body, and be as honest and objective as possible (this is very hard to do). Where are you strong? Where are you weak? What parts of you feel good and which parts hurt?</p> <p>Today take some steps to optimize your body. Take a walk, do some stretching, check in with your deep core muscles, and be thoughtful about how you treat yourself.</p> <p>You're an amazing woman, doing this work of mothering and also being your best self. Let's get you on the right path to a body that rocks.</p> <p><b>xo</b><br /> <b>Meghan &amp; Jennifer</b><br /> <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Pregnancy Health postpartum return to exercise running Mon, 05 Jan 2015 13:55:34 +0000 Making Mom Strong 1869808 at Confessions of a Clean Eating Convert <!--paging_filter--><p>When I was a child, I was the pickiest eater around. You couldn't pay me to put a fruit or vegetable to my lips. On Saturday nights when my parents would go out and we would have a babysitter, my dinner consisted of tacos from Taco Bell. I loved nachos, fries, chicken nuggets … well, you get the picture. </p> <p>When I think back to putting back four tacos in one sitting, it makes me grimace. I was never big or overweight. In fact, I was quite the opposite—I was always the shortest and smallest in my class. Every year, I would cry at my yearly physical about being so small, and my pediatrician would give me the same pep talk. I was always told, "Good things come in small packages."</p> <p><center><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><img src=" " /></a><br /><em>Costume sums up my eating preferences as a kid.</em></center></p> <p>When I went to college, I ate my fair share of late-night Papa John's and drank plenty of beer. I don't know if I put on the "freshman 15," but my body wasn't a picture of health.</p> <p>After college, I began cleaning up my eating habits. Fruits and vegetables were a part of my diet, and I ate like a typical adult. However, I was concerned more about fat grams and calories than the actual ingredients. I really didn't know any better. I'd often bring Lean Cuisines to work for lunch, because it was easy and I thought they were good for you. It was probably over two years ago when I started reading and learning more about "clean eating."</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Tomatoes" /><br /><em>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Tomatoes via Shutterstock</a></em></center></p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Clean eating</a>, in a nutshell, focuses on eating food in as close to its natural, unaltered state as possible—fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat—versus pre-packaged, processed food. </p> <p>The best part of clean eating is that anyone can do it. It doesn't involve a point system, pills, or powders. It's a lifestyle choice. It's about putting only the healthiest foods into your body. This means processed foods are completely avoided. Basically, when looking at a food label if you can't pronounce it, don't eat it!</p> <p>I also maintain an 80/20 lifestyle. This means that 80 percent of the time, I stick to eating clean, and I also allow myself to cheat and indulge. No one can really be on 100 percent of the time. My guilty pleasures include a red wine, ice cream, frozen yogurt, and homemade baked goods!</p> <p>In the last year or so, I've noticed how much better I feel when I eat clean. I have more energy, my workouts are better, and my body feels better. It's not so hard to eat clean. Basically, I try to meal plan, and I use Sunday as a day for meal prep. I make a big batch of soup for the week for lunches, or bake granola from scratch to add to my yogurt. I have found so many great recipes on Pinterest that eating clean has almost become mindless to me.</p> <p>So, how do you get started?</p> <p>I've included some great links from <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">The Gracious Pantry</a> that will get you started on the right food:</p> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">5 things you need to start Eating Clean</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Clean Eating 101</a></li> <li> <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Converting your pantry to Clean Eating</a></li> </ul> <p>Do you eat clean? What works for you? Have you noticed a difference?</p> <div id="jp-post-flair" class="sharedaddy sd-like-enabled sd-sharing-enabled"> <div class="sharedaddy sd-sharing-enabled"> <div class="robots-nocontent sd-block sd-social sd-social-icon-text sd-sharing"> <h3 class="sd-title">Sharing is caring</h3> <div class="sd-content"> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Food Health clean eating Thu, 01 Jan 2015 22:05:43 +0000 fitrunningmama 1005896 at 7 Products to Help Keep Your Health Resolutions <!--paging_filter--><p>New Year's means a new commitment to our well-being for many of us -- but most of us could use a little help sticking to our resolutions come February. Whether it's eating healthier, hitting the gym more often, doing something about back pain or eye strain, or getting a better night’s sleep, these 10 products will help keep you healthy for years to come.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p> <center><img src="" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Mr. T in DC via Flickr</a></i></center></p> <p> <h2><a href=",1"><u>Next: Fitbit</u></a>&rarr;</h2> </p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1>RESOLUTION: WALK MORE</h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" alt="fitbit" /></center></p> <p><center><i>$99.95, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></i></center></p> <p>Studies show that <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">people who wear pedometers walk a mile more per day than those who don’t</a>; they also lower their blood pressure and lose weight. Today’s models are tiny and cute, like the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Fitbit Flex</a>, which tracks steps, distance, calories burned, and sleep. Plus it comes in a lot of colours.</p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",2">Next page: Gym Bag</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> RESOLUTION: HIT THE GYM</h1> </div> <p><center><br /> <img src="" /></center></p> <p><center><i>$99 at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></i></center></p> <p>Whether you're a veteran gym-goer or you've just vowed to join the ranks, motivate yourself with a new bag. Many of the latest options are so chic, they can easily be brought to the office or an evening out with friends. This <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lug Puddle Jumper Overnight/Gym Bag</a> sports a separate shoe compartment and ventilated pocket for sweaty stuff.</p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",3">Next page: Dance Moves</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> RESOLUTION: DANCE FOR HEALTH</h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" /></center></p> <p><center><i>$12.07, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link"></a></i></center></p> <p>Whether you're a fan of the show or just want to improve your dance moves, you'll appreciate these <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href=";ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1332799818&amp;sr=1-1&amp;tag=stylefind-20" class="external-link">step-by-step instructions</a> for hip hop, disco, contemporary routines explained by dancers on the show.</p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",4">Next page: Healthy Meals</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> RESOLUTION: COOK HEALTHY MEALS</h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" alt="apron" /></center></p> <p><center><br /> <i>Image: $32, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></i></center></p> <p>Cooking at home is far healthier (and cheaper) than eating out, and aprons have come a long way since the days of Betty Crocker. This feminine-but-no-frills <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Cuisine Couture Apron</a> from Anthropologie will help inspire you to flip through some cookbooks, even if you're a diehard takeout fan. </p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",5">Next page: Oil Mister</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> RESOLUTION: LOWER FAT INTAKE</h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" alt="oil mister" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: $24.95, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></i></center></p> <p>Low-fat cooking gets way easier with <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Williams-Sonoma’s stainless-steel oil sprayer</a>. Fill with olive or canola oil then spritz on the bottoms of pans, salads, or bread.</p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",6">Next page: Save Your Back</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> RESOLUTION: BACK HEALTH</h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" alt="shovel" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: $29.94, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href=";qid=1353033047&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=ergonomic+snow+shovel" class="external-link"></a></i></center></p> <p>A godsend for anyone with a bad back and a long, snowy driveway, the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href=";qid=1353033047&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=ergonomic+snow+shovel" class="external-link">Suncast Double Grip Ergonomic snow shovel</a> has a second handle to allow for better leverage and less stooping. </p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",7">Next page: Water Bottle</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> RESOLUTION: DRINK MORE WATER</h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" alt="Bobble" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: $9.99, <a href="h;term=bobble"></a></i></center></p> <p>Staying hydrated is a cornerstone of health, yet tap water can contain tons of dangerous chemicals. Try a cheaper (and eco-friendlier) option than buying bottled water with <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Bobble</a>, a plastic bottle with a charcoal filter cap that cleans tap water as it’s poured in. </p> <p><b>What products are helping you keep your health resolutions?</b></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Wellness Health apron back-friendly shovel oil mister water bottle Thu, 01 Jan 2015 15:11:17 +0000 judydutton 1002212 at My Mom, Dementia and Me <!--paging_filter--><p>If you passed me on the street or stood next to me in the grocery checkout line, you'd never know that my mother is slowly losing her mind. Sometimes I call her and she doesn’t know who she is. Sometimes I call her and she thinks her caregivers are thieves, stealing all the furniture and leaving her for dead. Sometimes I call her and she screams in a low, desperate tone, “I’m not myself. I don’t know who I am.” Sometimes I call her and she thinks she's constantly moving from place to place, even though she has lived in the same room within the same retirement facility for more than seven years. </p><p> Her dementia came on quickly. One day she was perfectly fine and the next day she wasn't. I’m sure that’s what all children say: “It happened so fast!” But if all children were to be honest, they'd also say that there were clues–things they didn't want to see. Big, glaring things that send atomic bombs directly into the pits of their stomachs.</p><p> <em>This can’t be happening. This can’t be right. I think I’ll wait to see if it goes away.</em></p><p> When I first felt the atomic bomb explode, I decided to deal with it by focusing on small talk, politics and my dog. These are things that I know my mother would recognize and gravitate to. These are things that would make me know that my mother was still in there. But she can’t always stick with me when I share the mundane details of my life. </p><p> “Hi Mom," I'd say. "It’s Amy.” </p><p> “Things aren’t going too well here," she'd tell me. "I’m in a different place again. I can’t take this.” </p><p> “Are you in your room? Is the TV there? Are there pictures of us on the walls?” </p><p> “Who cares about the pictures? I don’t know where I am. This place is a madhouse and I don’t know anyone. I can’t do this anymore.” </p><p> No amount of reassurance permeates her paranoia. This woman—my mother, who has always been one of the smartest people I’ve ever known—is not always there. She's totally lost for hours at a time, catapulted far off to a place where I can’t reach her and where she resents me trying to connect because, somehow, that makes me the enemy. </p> <p><center> <img src="/files/keyhole.jpg" /><br /> <em>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">larsjuh</a></em></center></p> <p> “I’m a prisoner here," she'll say. "I can’t find my room key. I can’t lock my door.” </p><p> “Did you look in your purse?” I'll ask. </p><p> “You know, Amy, for a bright woman, you’re asking some pretty stupid questions.” </p><p> “Sorry, Mom. What about your dresser drawer?” </p><p> “Don’t you understand? The key is gone. They’ve made it so I can’t lock my door. I’m captive in this hell hole.” </p><p> Sometimes we’ll settle in for an hour on the phone and talk about her childhood; how she spent time at a Catholic boarding school and was separated from her family for years. Strangely enough (for reasons too complicated to get into right now), these are the first real moments of intimacy, pure connection and honesty we've ever shared. Her, with her guilt for how she treated me as a child, and me, with my never-ending fantasy of who I wish she would've been. We share our feelings about all the events that have led us to this moment in time and neither of us flinch. </p><p> Until the anger sets in. </p><p> “Hi! It’s Amy.” </p><p> “HI!!!!!!!!!” she says, sarcastic, angry, mocking. </p><p> “What’s wrong?” </p><p> “NOTHING. What could POSSIBLY be wrong?” </p><p> She can’t find her glasses and I offer to call the front desk to get someone to help. She’s in her lost place, and all I feel, despite years of butting heads and bending myself into a pretzel trying to appease her, is compassion. </p><p> “I feel like I’m not me," she says, sounding like I imagine she did when she was a child. "I feel like I’m lost.” </p><p> “I’m sorry, Mom. I wish I could do something to help you. Just know that you’re safe.” </p><p> “But I don’t feel safe," she says. "I feel like I’m going nuts.” </p><p> “You’re in your room and you have your things around you and there are pictures of us on the wall," I tell her. "Try to focus on those things. And remember that we all love you.” </p><!--pagebreak--><p> A conversation like this would never have happened in the past. Our usual back-and-forth had more to do with what she could get from me or what she could get me to do for her—clean her house, skip school or my job and go to the movies with her in the middle of the day. Basically, be her playmate, her surrogate spouse with no real identity of my own other than being responsible for her life and her happiness, of which she had almost none. </p><p> I suppose I still feel responsible for her—this old, confused, softened woman. Seeing her so vulnerable, without the vitriol she has always spewed, has transformed our relationship into a loving one, finally. The reality is that I only began to feel like she was my mother when she began slipping away.</p><em>Originally published at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Purple Clover</a></em> <h2>More From Purple Clover</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">A Charlie Brown Christmas: 50 Years Later</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Awards Season's Greetings</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Seniors With Attitude: The T-Shirts Say It All</a></li> </ul>&lt;<div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Health Work/Life Family Wed, 31 Dec 2014 15:55:13 +0000 PurpleClover 1899320 at 5 Resolutions For When You Have a Chronic Health Issue <!--paging_filter--><p>For most people, a new year means a clean slate and New Year's resolutions are about starting fresh and reinventing a new lifestyle. For someone with an illness, New Year's resolutions don’t really work that way; you can’t just forget about those health issues on January 1st and push the past aside. </p> <p>Unfortunately our immune systems don’t care much for our holiday traditions or the importance of our calendar year, so let’s look at some resolutions the health conscious person can make on New Year’s Eve while gathered in a circle of friends or while quietly reflecting on the last year.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="resolutions" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">mt 23</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>Be more mindful of how your lifestyle affects your body</h1> </p> <p>Most people make a health or fitness oriented resolution on New Year's Day, if only for the cliché tradition. Instead of focusing on diet and exercise to lose pounds or look more aesthetically pleasing, make a promise to yourself that you will be more conscious of how the lifestyle choices you make in 2015 will affect your body’s abilities in the coming years.</p> <p>Don’t vow to eat less junk food because you want to look skinny, but instead keep in mind the health consequences of eating that junk food over something healthier. For instance, if you suffer from any inflammatory diseases those saturated trans-fats can play a villainous role in your well-being. So in 2015 keep your body at the forefront of your concerns by being mindful of whether your actions will have negative or positive reactions for your overall well-being.</p> <p> <h1>Work on having a positive attitude!</h1> </p> <p>It is well known that stress can have a very disastrous effect on someone with an illness, exasperating symptoms and deflating that can-do attitude that is so important when battling health issues. So, promise yourself that in 2015 you will be your own supporter!</p> <p>Keeping a positive attitude means accepting support from loved ones without feeling guilty, it means giving yourself a break and reminding yourself that it’s okay if you just need some time to relax, it means not sweating the small stuff, and above all it means focusing on the things you can do rather than dwelling on the things you cannot do.</p> <p> <h1>Take more responsibility for your health</h1> </p> <p>Having any health issue can be exhausting, but when it’s a long lasting disease it can be tricky to keep track of everything. So promise yourself that you will put more effort into owning your illness in 2015 to ensure that you receive the best care possible. Keep a health journal to jot down symptoms, diet, and key information from your doctors.</p> <p>Find online apps that will help you balance your schedule so you don’t miss any appointments, medication intakes or the chance to sit back and take a break. And keep educating yourself on your health issues so you can play an active role in your wellness, rather than being overwhelmed and overtaken by your illness.</p> <p> <h1>Try harder to balance your illness with everything else in your life</h1> </p> <p>One of the hardest parts of having a chronic illness is that life doesn’t stop when you are diagnosed with a disease. You may still have family commitments, social activities, and work. And that’s good! One of the worst things you could do when you’re ill is allow your illness to take over.</p> <p>Remember that it is only one part of you, not your defining quality. It is important to take ownership of your illness and be comfortable with the fact that it is a part of you, but be conscious in 2015 of not letting it completely lead your life or the choices you make. Be sure to remember that you are much more than your illness, and try not to let your illness define your relationship with the people around you.</p> <p> <h1>Set realistic goals for yourself</h1> </p> <p>There is one thing that most people do when making New Year's resolutions that sets them up for failure, and that is setting unrealistic goals for the new year. It is extremely difficult to make momentous changes in your life in one year, and that’s okay. The higher the goal you set for yourself, the more room there is for not succeeding. So do yourself a favour and set smaller milestones for yourself in 2015.</p> <p>Make sure to push yourself into becoming a better you, but don’t push it too far. When you have an illness, a doctor will tell you not to "overdo" it physically, and the same goes for your resolutions. Make small, gradual changes that mean something to you and focus on making those stick before you move onto other goals. Instead of trying to completely reinvent yourself in 2015, look at your New Year's resolutions as small steps in the right direction.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>If you live with a health issue, use New Year's Eve as a way to reflect on the great strides you have already made in the past and resolve to try a little bit harder in 2015. Write down your resolutions so you can revisit them and remind yourself of what’s truly important to you, and make sure to reward yourself when you accomplish those resolutions!</p> <p><b>What resolutions will you be making for 2015? Let us know in the comments</b>!</p> <p>Have a happy, healthy new year!</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Wellness Finding Balance Health #New Years resolutions Wed, 31 Dec 2014 13:58:14 +0000 Lisa Walters 1897705 at Party Of Five? Finding Out I'm Pregnant With Number Three <!--paging_filter--><p>Surprise! I’m pregnant with my third child.</p> <p>There, I said it out loud. Now it’s real.</p> <p>My husband and I weren’t planning on a third, but had not yet ruled it out. I, still on the fence, was not ready to close down the baby shop. He, however, was ready the minute our second son was born.</p> <p>To say this comes as a complete shock is a bit of an understatement.</p> <p>A few weeks ago I found myself pacing in a Walmart restroom waiting for the results of a pregnancy test. (No judging. It was the closest place to work.) What were probably just a few minutes felt like a few hours, and when the little smiley face finally appeared&mdash;I felt paralyzed.</p> <p>How did this happen? Okay, I know how it happened. But still, how did this happen?</p> <p><center><img src="" title="Party Of Five? Finding Out I'm Pregnant With Number Three" alt="Party Of Five? Finding Out I'm Pregnant With Number Three" /></center></p> <p>Over the next thirty seconds, my brain went into overdrive. Sheer panic. Here were some of those thoughts:</p> <p><em>Look at it again. It’s wrong.</em></p> <p><em>Look at the instructions.</em></p> <p><em>This can’t be right.</em></p> <p><em>What does a smiley face even mean, anyway?</em></p> <p><em>How?</em></p> <p><em>How did this happen?</em></p> <p><em>Did I take my pill?</em></p> <p><em>My husband can’t control himself!</em></p> <p><em>I’m still losing baby number two weight!</em></p> <p><em>What if it’s another boy?</em></p> <p><em>Can I handle three boys?</em></p> <p><em>I need a new car!</em></p> <p><em>Three car seats!</em></p> <p><em>Can we afford vacations?</em></p> <p><em>Party of five!?</em></p> <p><em>PARTY OF FIVE!</em></p> <p><em>No more guest room.</em></p> <p><em>How far along am I?</em></p> <p><em>Sh*t, I had that girls weekend recently and drank a lot!</em></p> <p><em>I need another job.</em></p> <p><em>Husband needs another job.</em></p> <p><em>Husband is going to freak out!</em></p> <p><em>Two in diapers!</em></p> <p><em>What if it’s a girl?</em></p> <p><em>WHAT IF IT IS A GIRL?</em></p> <p><em>I definitely need another job.</em></p> <p><em>Wait… I’m still in a bathroom at Walmart.</em></p> <p><em>I should text Holly.</em></p> <p><em>Pull yourself together.</em></p> <p><em>You’re pregnant.</em></p> <p><em>I’m pregnant.</em></p> <p><em>I can do this.</em></p> <p>Once I ended my conversation with myself, I felt my hand naturally cup my belly&mdash;and I smiled. Here we go again, but this time as a party of five. God help me.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Pregnancy Health Family # kids #humor #pregnancy Mon, 29 Dec 2014 15:05:33 +0000 HollyLRust 1883750 at 10 Things You Need to Know Before Your First Half-Marathon <!--paging_filter--><p>My best friend recently ran her first half marathon. The night before, I kept texting her with suggestions and tips. It occurred to me that it might be slightly less annoying if I just wrote it all down in one blog post.</p> <p>I'm certainly no expert in racing, but <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">I WAS a total newbie</a> just a couple of short years ago, and I remember what it feels like to be nervous and to have no idea what to expect on race day. I've picked up a thing or two during 6 half marathons, some from <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">my awesome running friends</a> and some from my own trial and error. So here goes.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="marathon" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Phil Roeder</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>Bring a Bag and Check It</h1> </p> <p>Pack comfy shoes (I bring flip flops) and a towel. A change of clothes is good too, but you can leave that in the car. I can't stress the shoe thing enough. After my first half, my feet hurt so badly that I chose to walk barefoot through the gravel parking lot instead of keeping my shoes on.</p> <p> <h1>Get to the Race Early</h1> </p> <p>The Port-A-Potty lines are notoriously long. If you even think you <i>might</i> have to pee, GO. Don't try to hold it. Suck it up and just use the Port-A-Potty, and if you absolutely can't stomach it, find a big tree.</p> <p> <h1>Use the Port-A-Potties on the Course</h1> </p> <p>Don't make yourself miserable by trying to hold your pee for the entire race. The first few Port-A-Potties usually seem to be the most crowded, so if you're concerned about losing precious minutes by waiting in line, you might have better luck a little further down the course. A quick pee in a Port-A-Potty with no line shouldn't take you more than about 90 seconds. Personally, I think those extra seconds are worth the lovely feeling of an empty bladder.</p> <p> <h1>Don't Change Your Breakfast Routine</h1> </p> <p>If you're used to running on an empty stomach, don't start researching race day breakfast foods the night before your half marathon. You've probably heard it before, even if you're a newbie, but it bears repeating. DON'T DO ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY. Experiment on training runs. Not on race day.</p> <p> <h1>Bring Your Own Fuel</h1> </p> <p>Some races will have "fuel stations," but you shouldn't take any chances. What if the fuel provided isn't the fuel you trained with? And what if the new stuff upsets your stomach? (See #3.) I'm a GU girl, but during my last half they provided a different brand of gel at the fuel stations. I tried the new stuff, and while it didn't make me sick, I wasn't prepared for the consistency. It was much runnier than I expected. As a result, I ended up with goo (not GU) all over my hands. It was gross.</p> <p> <h1>You'll Need Carbs</h1> </p> <p>If you haven't experimented with fuel (gels, beans, chews), which I highly recommend you do before your next race, you should still bring carbs to help get you through the miles. Bring something that you know you can tolerate&mdash;something you've eaten before without GI distress. I like to bring Starburst or Sour Patch Kids. Pretzels are popular too. There's lots of research on this, and I'll save the scientific stuff for another post, but as a rule of thumb, you'll need to eat carbs any time that you're running for longer than an hour. I usually start munching about 45 minutes into a run, or earlier if I'm feeling hungry or sluggish.</p> <p> <h1>Don't Bring a Fancy Hydration Belt or Water Bottle</h1> </p> <p>If you're concerned that the water at the water stations won't be enough for you, then bring a disposable water bottle that you can ditch when it's empty or when you get tired of holding it. You're probably not going to leave your $30 hydration belt on the side of the road, no matter how annoying it gets.</p> <p> <h1>Keep it Simple</h1> </p> <p>Another reason to leave the hydration belt home&mdash;every time you use a Port-A-Potty, you're going to have to take everything off and then put it back on again. Not only does this take time, it's hard to do when you're soaked with sweat. I recommend bringing a small pouch (I'll be running with my <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">FlipBelt</a> tomorrow) or wearing clothing with pockets with enough room for your fuel and anything else you absolutely have to have during your run.</p> <p> <h1>Bring Entertainment</h1> </p> <p>Crap happens. The people you sign up to run with might not be the people you end up crossing the finish line with. On more than one occasion, I've made plans to run with a friend, and then at the starting line or a couple of miles into the race, they decide to run at a faster pace than me. Your friend might get hurt. She might be slowing you down. Whatever it is, have a Plan B. Bring <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">headphones</a> and music. Make sure your iPod and/or phone is fully charged. If you end up running alone unexpectedly&mdash;and I really hope you don't&mdash;you'll thank me.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p> <h1>Don't Give Yourself the Pressure of a Time Goal</h1> </p> <p>I don't care how fast you are, how fit you are, or how many 5K's you've run. A half marathon is different, and your only goal for your first one should be to finish it. Let yourself physically and mentally adjust to the rigor of running 13.1 miles. Then go ahead and set that time goal for next time.</p> <p>I won't sugarcoat this. Running your first half marathon can hurt. But the feeling of crossing that finish line and feeling that medal placed around your neck is indescribable. So enjoy your bagel, bask in the moment, and then hobble out to the parking lot and put that 13.1 magnet on your car. You'll have earned it.</p> <p><b>Do you have anything to add to this list? I'd love to hear them!</b></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Health #exercise #running #halfmarathon beginner runner half marathon Mon, 29 Dec 2014 14:10:50 +0000 mommyrunsit 1815581 at 6 Reasons to Ditch Your Lying Scale <!--paging_filter--><p>For a household appliance that lives in the bathroom and earns a living by getting stepped on, the scale is kind of a cocky bastard. It sees us at our most vulnerable and coldly spits out judgment. Did we meet our goals? Did we fall short?</p> <p>We put so much faith in that number that looking at it can sometimes make or break our entire day. Some of us even use the scale to punish ourselves after we indulge in a decadent meal. We shouldn't give it that power.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="scale" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Wicker Paradise</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>The scale measures our relationship to gravity. That's it. It doesn't tell us if we are beautiful or strong or loved or leading a fulfilling life. Yet, so many people see their self-worth in that number.</p> <p>You are more than that number on the scale. I hope you know that. So many times, I've felt good about what I've eaten and the choices I made, and then I get on the scale and my mood plummets.</p> <p>The number hasn't moved or even worse, it has gone in the wrong direction. I go from feeling good about myself to feeling like a failure all because of a number on an appliance. It's ridiculous. The scale is an accountability tool and it doesn't tell the whole story.</p> <p><b>Here are 6 reasons why scales don't work</b>.</p> <p> <h1>Scales Weigh Everything</h1> </p> <p>The scale weighs everything – muscle, bones, organs, water – not just fat. Water makes up about 60% of our body mass and it fluctuates daily. Eat too much salt? It's that time of the month? Didn't drink enough water? Boom. You retain water and the number on the scale goes up. In turn, you might lose 3 pounds, but it could be all water.</p> <p> <h1>Doesn't Know If You Just Started Working Out</h1> </p> <p>Your scale doesn't know if you just started a new workout. Sometimes, when you start a new exercise program the number on the scale goes up because of temporary water retention due to inflammation. This will go away after a while.</p> <p> <h1>Doesn't Measure Other Benefits to Exercise</h1> </p> <p>If we are so focused on the number on the scale, we don't see the other benefits of our workouts – stress relief, having more energy, feeling stronger, etc.</p> <p> <h1>Food Has Weight</h1> </p> <p>The food we eat weighs something. If you eat a huge meal and get on the scale, it might tell you that you gained 5 pounds. What? How is that possible? We all know it would be pretty difficult to gain 5lbs of fat in one meal, but sometimes we discard reason when looking at the scale. If 1 pound is equal to 3500 calories, you would have had to eat 17,500 calories in that meal to gain 5 pounds. That would have to be one big splurge.</p> <p> <h1>Doesn't Show Body Composition</h1> </p> <p>It doesn't show body composition. When we exercise, we gain muscle. You've all heard that muscle weighs more than fat. It's true. Although a pound is a pound, muscle takes up less space than fat. So, when your body composition changes, you won't be able to tell this by standing on the scale. </p> <p> <h1>There Is More Than One Way to Carry Weight</h1> </p> <p>Strength comes in different shapes and sizes. For example, 150 lbs looks different on different people. If you are just looking at the number, you don't see all of the things that make you strong and beautiful.</p> <p>If you find motivation in weighing yourself every day, keep doing it. If it makes you feel like a failure or makes you want to give up, throw it to the curb. There are better ways to measure your progress. Weight is just one aspect of your health journey. When evaluating your progress, it's important to look at the whole picture.</p> <p><b>So how should you measure progress</b>?</p> <p> <ol> <li>Use your favorite pair of jeans. We all have that pair of jeans in the closet that lets us know when we have gone off the rails.</li> <li>Look at your energy levels. Do you have more energy?</li> <li>Take some measurements. I like to measure my waist, hips and chest when I start a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="What's new?" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">challenge </a>and then re-check them at the end. You can lose inches without losing weight and the inches are what makes your clothes fit better.</li> <li>Set some non-weight-based goals. Try to do a certain number of workouts each week, hit a yoga pose, do a certain number of push-ups, run a specific distance, etc. A fitness journal can help you keep track of these goals.</li> <li>How do you feel? This is the best indicator of whether you are on the right track.</li> </ol> </p> <p>The most important thing is to keep going. If you are eating right and doing your workouts, you are on the right path. Stay the course and you will see results.&nbsp; Eventually, the scale will catch up.</p> <p><b>Do you use the scale as an accountability tool? What do you think</b>?</p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a><br /> Meadoe Out on a Limb.... In Running Shoes<br /> A Healthy Balance of Fitness, Food and Life.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Health measure progress scale lies weight loss Fri, 26 Dec 2014 16:01:29 +0000 meadoeoutonalimb 1864625 at 10 Tips For Helping a Loved One Through Depression <!--paging_filter--><p>My husband practically whispered it. "Honey, I don't know what to do to help you right now."</p> <p>"I don't know either."</p> <p>I think back on those horrible days I spent fighting to get out of my own dark well. Nothing else hurts that bad. I'm brought back to it every single time I hear someone else is fighting their own demons of depression.</p> <p>As a psychologist, I'm often asked, <b>"What can I do to help my spouse/child/friend who is depressed?"</b></p> <p>While the answer of every person suffering through depression might be a tad different, in my experience, the answer always comes back to <b>the need to feel loved, accepted, and not alone.</b></p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="depression" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Gerald Gabernig</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>One thing to keep in mind is that <b>depression is no respecter of persons</b>... no one is immune. It has been estimated that <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">by 2020</a>, depression will be our second greatest epidemic worldwide. So in loving your depressed loved one, know that even if you cannot personally relate to their struggle, their struggle is not uncommon or unique. Even in the Bible, Elijah, Jonah, Jeremiah, David, and certainly Job struggled.</p> <p><b>Do not suggest they "snap out of it," or "pull themselves up by their boot straps."</b> About the worst thing you can do is to convey in your words, attitudes, beliefs, or behavior that your perception is that they can control it. Believe me, if they could "snap out of it," they would. No one likes feeling depressed.</p> <p><b>Realize that depression is not just the blues.</b> Accurate diagnosis is essential. Depression is a medical disorder that without appropriate treatment can last anywhere from a couple weeks to many years. Encourage your loved one to go to an appointment to see their doctor.</p> <p>Depression can make the simplest tasks, such as taking your vitamins, feel as if it takes too much energy. Recognize <b>you may have to make the appointment and take them</b> to the doctor or it may not happen. If they do not have a primary care doctor, consider an appointment at a community mental health center.</p> <p><b>Recognize that depression leads to increased risk of suicidal thoughts.</b> If your loved one is considering suicide, a call to the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Hotline may be necessary: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If they are in imminent danger, you may need to call the 911 or the local authorities.</p> <p>Likewise, encourage them to remain active but don't expect them to take on too much. <b>Celebrate their successes, no matter how small</b>. Getting out of bed and getting dressed can be a huge accomplishment at times.</p> <p><b>Make plans with them.</b> Take a walk with them or engage them in a favorite activity. The individual battling depression also battles decreased energy, decreased interest, and decreased motivation. Without encouragement to engage, they will often become increasingly isolated and lethargic. And without the presence of a loving companion, they withdraw into the dark oblivion of loneliness.</p> <p><b>Remain encouraging and positive,</b> but avoid platitudes. People suffering through depression can sniff out disingenuousness a mile away. When you don't know what to say, just listen and be willing to say, "I'm so sorry for what you are going through. I wish I knew what to say." That will mean more than preaching or pretending you can relate to their pain when you can't.</p> <p><b>Ask them how you can pray for them</b>. Even in Christian circles it can come across as a disingenuous cliché to tell someone we are praying for them. But asking them "How can I pray for you?" shows your desire to be supportive. Then, by all means, pray for them.</p> <p><b>Be willing to just sit and be with them</b>. Oftentimes, we try to fill uncomfortable silence with meaningless conversation. That can be exhausting to you and to your depressed loved one. Take a lesson from the book of Job in the Bible. Show your support by just being with your loved one, sitting with them, letting them be exactly who they are in the moment.</p> <p>If they are open to it (and not all are!), <b>offer a heartfelt hug.</b> Human touch is a powerful thing. Sometimes more is conveyed through an unrushed hug than could ever be eloquently put into words.</p> <p>Above all, <b>convey there is always hope.</b></p> <p>Hope Prevails,<br /> Dr. Michelle Bengtson<br /> <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Mental Health Health Depression help hope Wed, 24 Dec 2014 13:51:15 +0000 DrMichelleBengtson 1840285 at What If We Didn't Sexually Shame Our Daughters? <!--paging_filter--><p>I'm from the Bible belt region of the U.S. &nbsp;and I was raised in the Southern Baptist church. I had two very loving and well-meaning parents who they themselves were raised in this same environment. I'm sure that some of the memories I have of things they said to me were just random, passing thoughts they stated out loud without much thought, never thinking those words would affect me the way they did.</p><p>But I can remember these brief flashes in time when an adult told me something regarding sexuality and it defined and altered who I was in that very moment, and forever afterwards.<br /> <br /> They are the hurtful whispers in my head when I'm standing in front of the mirror naked before a shower. They are the thoughts and insecurities when I'm in bed with my husband. They are the stutters and stammers when I'm confronted with sexuality while raising my children. These are some of my most painful and embarrassing memories.</p><p>I've been thinking recently,&nbsp;<em>what if</em>&nbsp;this or that memory had never happened? What if the opposite had happened? What if my sexuality had been celebrated instead of shamed? Or conversely, what if it had just not been given so much focus and attention at all?</p><p><em>What if my grandmother had never told me at age three that the reason my vagina burned and became red when she washed me with a rough washcloth and scented soap was because my vagina was dirty?</em></p><p>Would I have not felt different my whole life from all the other girls, that I was inherently dirty? Would I have not felt like I had this secret between my legs that was sure to disgust anyone who had to venture down there?&nbsp;What if my grandmother had told me every inch of me was perfectly normal just the way it was?</p><p><em>What if my mother had never told me, in front of my father, that she was glad she wasn't a man since she wouldn't want to have to touch a woman down there because "they bleed and are just nasty"?</em></p><p>Would I have been proud to have a period? Would I have been proud that my body could create life and thus bled monthly in sync with the ocean tides and the moon? Would I not have felt deep shame and embarrassment in front of my father, and thus all other males thereafter, for what I was?&nbsp;</p><p>What if my mother had told me that having my period was a rite of passage into womanhood, that it was something to be proud of and celebrate? What if she had told me that women were strong and that's why men loved them?</p><p><em>What if my mother, whose body I admired as a young girl and hoped to have one day myself, hadn't told me that [her] large breasts were ugly and veiny, that large breasts are only attractive when clothed?&nbsp;</em></p><center><img src="" alt="world day of prevention of child abuse" /><br /><em><em>Image: Mohamed Abdulla via Flickr</em></em></center><p>Would I have stood in the mirror every night after I developed my own breasts and thought about how disgusting they were? Would I have felt the need to always cover myself, even in front of my own husband?&nbsp;What if my mother had told me that no matter what my breasts looked like, they would be beautiful? What if she had told me<em>&nbsp;she loved her body</em>? Would I have loved mine too?</p><p><em>What if my father would've never told me that he saw girls being groped when he was in high school and that they giggled....and that I should never giggle if a boy ever did that to me?</em></p><p>Never mind the issues of sexual harassment or blaming the behavior of the victim, what I heard was: don't act like you like it when a boy touches you. That is what the voice in the back of my head has told me my whole life, "Pretend you don't like it or you'll look like a whore, and men don't like whores."</p><p>Why did my knees get weak when the boy I liked touched me? What kind of girl did that make me?&nbsp;What if my father had told me it's a normal and exciting thing to experience sexual relations with a person of my choosing when I was older? What if he had known that his example and love for me alone was all I needed to grow into a healthy woman with respect for myself?<em>&nbsp;</em></p><p>What if I had&nbsp;had my father's blessing&nbsp;to be a sexual human being<em>&nbsp;</em>without fear of losing his respect or love?&nbsp;</p><!--pagebreak--><p><em>What if my sex education instructors hadn't told me that I was like a rose, and every time I have sex before marriage I would lose a petal?</em></p><p>Would I have still felt like damaged goods? Would I have still felt like all I had to offer my future husband was my untarnished body?&nbsp;What if they had told me I was like a book, and every experience adds a valuable chapter of lessons and knowledge to my life? Or what if they had just told me how to have sex safely and left the condemning analogies and personal beliefs at the door?</p><p><em>What if I had never been told that premarital sex is damaging, especially to girls because they crave relationships, not sex?&nbsp;</em></p><p>Would I still have felt so confused over my desire to have sex? Why did I not always crave a relationship? Why did I not feel any guilt when I had premarital sex besides the guilt of knowing what my parents/Jesus/youth counselors would think?</p><p>Why did sex always feel so normal and intimate and fun and not anyone's business? Why did it always have to be someone's business other than mine?&nbsp;What if I had been told that women enjoy sex just like men do, and that sex, premarital or not, is a normal thing that people do?&nbsp;</p><p>Our culture sends very conflicting messages to girls. They are pure until they aren't. They are so much more than what their bodies offer, but they aren't. Their bodies aren't good enough, but they cause men to fall. It's okay to&nbsp;<em>look</em>&nbsp;sexy but not to actually&nbsp;<em>have&nbsp;</em>sex. What we tell our daughters about sexuality, and more importantly how we make them&nbsp;<em>feel</em>&nbsp;about it, will stay with them their entire lives.<br /> <br /> For that reason, I believe it's so important to be mindful of the way we talk to our daughters, nieces, granddaughters and any young girl. I think it's possible to convey our personal and religious beliefs without the shame and embarrassment. And if you can't convey your beliefs without shaming a young girl, maybe you should reconsider some of your beliefs.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Body Image Mental Health Sex Love & Sex # love #sensuality #sex Mon, 22 Dec 2014 22:09:30 +0000 Jessica Dimas 1889025 at How to Stay Warm During Winter Workouts <!--paging_filter--><p>Forecasters are predicting that it is going to be another really cold winter. Which means that if you are continuing your workouts in the fresh outdoors, you need to be protected from the elements. Here are a few things you can do to stay warm as the chillier temperatures move in.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="winter workout" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Rachel Kramer</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>Remember that your body will warm up as you walk, run, or cycle. It is suggested that you dress for 15-20 degrees warmer than it actually is. You don't want your body to overheat and sweat too much.</p> <p> <h1>Protect Your Head</h1> </p> <p>On cold days, you'll lose a reported 10% of your heat from your head, so it's important to keep it covered. You also want to protect your skin from the cold and wind and also prevent frostbite and chapping.</p> <p>For the head and neck, you can use a <b>thermal hat </b>(fleece or wool hat) that can easily tuck somewhere if you feel like you're overheating, <b>neck gaiter or bandana </b>(often worn by skiers) that you can pull over your mouth to warm the air you're breathing in, <b>balaclava </b>(fleece or wool ski mask) that covers your whole head and only necessary if the temperature or wind chill is below 10 degrees F, as well as <b>chapstick/Vaseline </b>to protect your lips, nose or face from chapping or windburn.</p> <p> <h1>Dress in Layers</h1> </p> <p>The key to dressing for winter activities, especially with your upper body, is layering. Layering traps your body heat but also allows the sweat to move through the layers of clothing. The moisture is wicked away from your first layer to your outer layers and then evaporates.</p> <p>So the first layer (or the layer closest to your body) is the<b> wicking base layer </b>and it should be made from a wicking material, such as DryFit, Thinsulate, Thermax, CoolMax, polypropolene, or silk. This will wick the sweat away from your body, keeping you dry and warm. It's very important to make sure you don't wear cotton for this layer because once it gets wet, you'll stay wet. When it's above 40 degrees F, you can usually wear just a long-sleeve base layer.</p> <p>The second layer is the <b>insulating layer </b>(only needed for very cold weather below 10 degrees F) and should be an insulating material, such as fleece or fabrics such as Akwatek, Dryline, Polartec, polyester fleece, Microfleece, Thermafleece, and Thermax.</p> <p>The outer layer is the<b> wind- and water-proof outer layer </b>(protects you against wind and moisture-rain, sleet, snow) and allows both heat and moisture to escape to prevent both overheating and chilling, such as a jacket with a zipper to regulate your temperature by zipping it up and down when needed. ClimaFit, Gore-Tex, Microsuplex, nylon, Supplex, and Windstopper are all suggestions.</p> <p>And finally you can lose as much as 30% of your body heat through your extremities so<b> gloves/mittens </b>are great on cold days. Gloves are best to wick away moisture. But I love my mittens when it's extremely cold as mittens allow your fingers will share their body heat.</p> <p> <h1>Lower Body Protection</h1> </p> <p>Your legs tend to generate a lot of heat so you don't need as many layers. </p> <p>So a pair of <b>tights/running pants</b> made of synthetic material such as Thermion, Thinsulate, Thermax, Coolmax, polypropolene, and/or silk is all you need. Unless it's below 10 degrees F (temperature or wind chill) then you may want two layers for your lower body: a wicking layer of tights, and a wind-proof layer such as track pants.</p> <p> <h1>Don't Forget Your Feet</h1> </p> <p>As far as your feet are concerned, your <b>sneakers </b>will keep you pretty warm, as long as you keep them away from puddles, slush, and snow (and make sure they have as little mesh as possible to stay dry). If you will be running in the snow or ice, you may want to try Ice Grippers or Ice Spikes. They slip right over your running sneaker and will provide added traction. And finally your <b>socks... </b>get a good pair of wicking socks of fabrics such as acrylic, CoolMax, or wool. NO COTTON SOCKS because it won't wick away the moisture (wet feet and prone to blisters).</p> <p>Enjoy your outdoor workouts!</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Health #Exercise #fitness #healthandwellness Mon, 22 Dec 2014 15:06:28 +0000 dsnflowr8 1844604 at 5 Things I Want My Son to Know About Mental Illness <!--paging_filter--><!--break--><!--break--><p>Without a doubt, motherhood is both the most exciting and terrifying experience that I have ever had. It's something new every single day. To be honest, reading about it when I was pregnant never really helped me, it only scared me more.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>When I learned I was pregnant with my son, I was flat-out petrified, scared that I would somehow inadvertently ruin this little person's life. I thought that I had to make certain that I did everything perfectly, or else my son would somehow end up scarred for life from something I did.</p> <p>Looking back, that also could have been my OCD at play. Take a mental illness and mix it with some pregnancy hormones, and not being on any medication at the time? That's one recipe that was a hell of a treat!</p> <p>But I digress.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="mental illness" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Nishanth Jois</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>All I could think about, even after he was born, was that I would never be able to give him everything he needed in life. It broke my heart to think about that. I ended up becoming severely depressed, and I even attempted suicide, believing that my child would be better off without me. That my husband would find someone else, and my son would have a mom who could truly give him everything he needed and take care of him the way he needed to be.</p> <p>Luckily, I didn't succeed. At the last second, I got scared and told my mother what I had done. She told my husband, I ended up at the emergency room and was put into the behavioral health ward for the next two weeks, trying to find a combination of medicines that would work for me.</p> <p>I was eventually released into the care of my husband. The Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) had become involved. I thought I really had ruined my child's life and that they were there to take him away from me. I was certain that they would find me an unfit mother.</p> <p>But, they closed the case. Within days of my release, they closed the case on the condition that I attend intensive therapy and that my husband and I take parenting classes in order to learn from other parents our age.</p> <p>The classes went by and we did learn a lot from them, especially how to handle our own emotions when things felt like they're getting to be too much. But it wasn't the classes that woke me up. It was the therapy. For four and a half weeks, I attended an intensive therapy program, from 9AM until 3PM, every weekday. There were group sessions, therapeutic activities, and individual sessions with our respective caseworkers.</p> <p>Each day, I would learn a little bit more about myself. But the incredible thing was, I didn't learn it through some deep transcendental meditation or introspection. I learned more about myself through the others in that group. I learned that I wasn't alone in what I was feeling. There were other mothers there that were my age, and they were just as scared as I was. Older parents, too. They had felt the same way I had when their kids were first born.</p> <p>To be honest, I had always been scared of passing on my OCD to my son. It's not the typical forms of OCD that you hear about, like hoarding or over-excessive cleanliness. I was diagnosed with Purely Obsessional Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The short version of it is that I have these intrusive thoughts, that I have no control over, replaying over and over within my mind.</p> <p>These days, I have it under control pretty well with medications. But it was some scary stuff back then. If my child ever had any of these problems that I have? Well, I feel like I would never forgive myself, that it would somehow be my fault. What if he found out about my condition, what if he found out about the thoughts? I feel like I might die if that happened. </p> <p>It took a good four years for me to be where I am today. Am I totally over-the-moon-blissfully-ecstatic happy? No, of course not. But I think that at this point in my life, there is a really good balance of good days, with the exception of the occasional bad day. But I need those bad days in order to reflect on how good it is, and how much better it is getting. Those bad days are important.</p> <p>As far as parenting goes, I've come to look at it as a learning experience, one that is ongoing and never-ending. Even after our kids have long grown up, we're always going to be learning something new about them. It's an experience that I now cherish.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>I look at each day with a new found hope and a renewed sense of joy for another day to see the smile on my son's face. To hear his sweet giggles when I tickle him, to embrace him when he wraps his tiny arms around my waist. I know that one day, he will learn about my mental illness diagnosis, and I'm not so scared of it anymore. In fact, there are things that I want to tell him, things that I want him to know, especially if he were to ever receive a mental illness diagnosis himself. </p> <p> <h1>Feel No Shame</h1> </p> <p>Even in this day and age, this can be incredibly hard for a mental illness patient to accept. In many areas, there is still a large stigma that surrounds mental illness because so many people do not take the time to understand them. When people do not understand, they judge.</p> <p>But having a mental illness does not make you any less of a person, any less deserving of help, any less deserving of happiness and a good life. You have nothing to be ashamed of. It is just like any physical illness. Do not let the opinions of others drag you down. You know who you are, own that, work that, be that. You're a beautiful human being, with an incredibly loving soul. Don't let your illnesses outweigh the amount of beauty that you hold within your heart.</p> <p> <h1>Ask for Help</h1> </p> <p>Asking for help is a sign of strength, not of weakness. It is an incredibly brave thing to do. By asking for help, you are taking the first step in your recovery. Your family and friends love you very much and want to help you get better as soon as possible. Ask them for help, talk to them about how you feel. Don't be ashamed.</p> <p> <h1>You're No Different</h1> </p> <p>Close your eyes for a moment and entertain this thought; imagine if you were to be lined up with nine other people who aren't living with a mental illness that you know of. Now, take a look around the room. Do these people look any different from you? Can you know anything of them just by looking at them? Are you able to see their sufferings? Do they look sick to you? No.</p> <p>You are no different than any of these people. Do not ever let anyone make you feel as though you are any less of a person because you are living with a mental illness. You are amazing, unique, and beautiful in your own way, just like every other person here on this great and grand planet.</p> <p> <h1>Even People With Mental Illness Deserve Happiness</h1> </p> <p>Don't ever give in to the notion that you are less of a person because of your illness. We aren't the illnesses we live with, they do not define who we are as a whole. There are so many unique parts of our individual personalities that make us who we are, and while yes, you may live with a mental illness, it's such a small part of who you are in relation to our entire being.</p> <p>What do you enjoy? Make time for yourself to do it each day. Come to love yourself. Know that you deserve love and happiness. Be proactive in keeping yourself healthy. Give yourself a break when you need it and never push yourself past your breaking point. Smile often and love without limits.</p> <p> <h1>Practice Self Care</h1> </p> <p>Always take care of yourself, first and foremost. In your life, you need to be the most important person. Never put yourself on the "back burner," so to speak. If you need five minutes to take a breather, you take it. If you need a personal day to get yourself back together and gather your thoughts, you do it.</p> <p>Do not ignore your body's signals. Do what makes you happy, enjoy the little things in life. Never deny yourself a chance at happiness. Every day that you wake up and step out of bed, no matter how much you don't want to, you are making great strides in your recovery. No step is too small when it comes to the path you're taking on the road to wellness. </p> <p>Be yourself, don't ever try to hide who you are from the world. You deserve love, laughter, happiness, and more. Pursue your dreams, chase them with fervor. Never hold onto anger and rage. Practice forgiveness and accept friendships. Treat others how you want to be treated. Give love freely, spread it far and wide. And finally:</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>Laugh as much as you can, the world is far too solemn a place already.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> SAHMs Mental Health Health Family #depression #mental health #OCD Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:20:09 +0000 JLynnCorter 1818209 at My Breast Cancer Diagnosis and the Unlikely Friendship <!--paging_filter--><p>I didn’t like Gail, and Gail didn’t like me. If grown-up life is just high school replayed, the two of us had all the makings of a cafeteria girl fight. </p><p> We both had ammo, or so we thought. I played in a band with her ex-husband and sang backup for the woman he’d dated on the heels of their divorce. That had to be a little irritating for her, even though it was ancient history. And then there was the matter of our mutual friend, whom we both considered a BFF. Our mutual bestie talked about Gail constantly, and the shorthand of their 20-year friendship made me insecure and possessive. The final nail? On two separate occasions, Gail and I unknowingly but ever so briefly dated the same dudes at approximately the same time. That was supremely irritating for both of us. </p> <p><center><img src="/files/frenemies.jpg" /><br /> Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">nauright</a></center></p> <p> We circled each other at the parties and bars where we inevitably crossed paths, warm and frothy with everyone else, frosty with each other. It wasn’t exactly love-hate, but it wasn’t like-like either. </p><p> It was mostly my fault. Scars from my real high school experience, maybe. I’d see her out at a dive bar, listening to one of the bands we both loved. Her leggy legs, shiny black hair, and all her obvious fun-having made me feel squat and freckly and dull. So much laughing and smiling, I’d think, brooding like a drama club castoff. When her friends threw her a surprise birthday party, there were flash mobs involved. I watched it from our mutual friends’ newsfeeds. Who was this woman, almost 15 years older than me, scooping me on the cute single guys and having more fun than anyone? </p><p> Then there was her story, the legend that preceded her. Gail was a breast cancer survivor who’d made lemonade from lemons, the stuff of "20/20" specials. Instead of dwelling on her misfortune, she started a nonprofit, bringing arts and crafts to pediatric cancer wards. She was Saint Gail, and it was all a little too much to take. </p><p> I’m not proud of my high school self, but when she finally friended me first it annoyed me, too. She beat me to being the bigger person. Fine, fine. Let’s be friends, Your Holiness. </p><p> We laugh about it now. She was one of the first people to show up when news got out about <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">my breast cancer diagnosis</a>. After years of mutual radio silence, she marched her leggy legs right up to my front door and bear hugged me until I wheezed. She officially welcomed me to the worst club ever. </p><p> “You’re gonna be OK," she said. “It totally sucks, but there’s a chance you’ll be even better than OK after this.” </p><p> She bear hugged me again, and I forgot I’d ever been irritated by her. And she forgot, or at least forgave, that I might of made out with some guy she liked once. </p><p> Gail is the first to say she’s no saint. But she’s been there, she’s seen things, and she’s one of my lifelines in the dark. There is no playbook for any of this <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">cancer business</a>, so it’s good to have a friend who has been in the trenches and knows what to say. </p><p> Me: Someone told me my hair won’t grow back the same color after <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">chemo</a>. </p><p> Gail: Who cares? We’ll dye it. You should consider purple. </p><p> Me: Someone told me to never trust the cancer is gone, even if I’m in remission. </p><p> Gail: You could step off a curb tomorrow and get hit by a bus. Next question. </p><p> Me: Someone told me chemo will kill me and I should try an alkaline diet instead. </p><p> Gail: Cancer will definitely kill you. Let’s get a milkshake before chemo. </p><p> I’ve always been a sucker for unlikely friendships. The Dude and Walter. Koko the Gorilla and the little orange kitten. Rachel and Monica. Gail and I have our own little friendship by fire. Maybe it was inevitable, but now cancer has made it crucial. She drives me to medical appointments and fields my late-night chemo freakout texts. I help out with her nonprofit a little, and I’ve enlisted my entire extended family to find her a nice guy. I still play music with her ex-husband and still harmonize with the ex of her ex, and it’s all good. Nothing to see here, get back to class. </p><p> If life is high school, we’re doing a better job this time around. She’s a hybrid—part homecoming queen, class president and band geek—and I’m the new chick in a goth phase she’s taking under her wing. Cancer’s a bad bitch, but together we are way badder. </p><p> <em>Originally published at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Purple Clover</a></em></p> <h2>More From Purple Clover </h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">The Butterfly Effect: 30 Stars Before Their Metamorphosis</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Late Bloomers: Hitting It Big In Middle Age and Beyond</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">A Charlie Brown Christmas: 50 Years Later</a></li> </ul><!--pagebreak--> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Health Work/Life Thu, 18 Dec 2014 23:48:44 +0000 PurpleClover 1891464 at How to Go Vegan in 9 Easy Steps <!--paging_filter--><p>SURPRISE! The blue-haired hippie is a vegan! Who'd have guessed it, right? There are a number of reasons why people go vegan, which is a post for another day, but in this one I'm going to assume you already have your reasons and are ready to take the plunge. Making a change like this can be really intimidating, especially when you realize that vegan is a lifestyle and not just a diet. But you're not alone!</p> <p>I'm here to walk you through all the basic steps.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><div align="center"> <h1> HOW TO GO VEGAN IN 9 EASY STEPS</h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" alt=“vegan_1” /></center></p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",1">Next page: Check Your Fridge<br /> </a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> CHECK YOUR FRIDGE</h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" alt=“vegan_2” /></center></p> <p><center><i><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Ben Tesch</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>Start by going through your refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards. Check all the labels. Be sure to keep an eye out for the sneaky stuff. (For example, Asian sauces with fish oil, casein (sodium caseinate), L-cysteine (feathers and/or hair... sometimes even human hair – blech!) Donate unopened food items that you can't eat and give away as much else as you can. Remember that being vegan is about minimizing waste of resources, environment, or animal lives, so throwing away everything you can't eat <i>wouldn't</i> help the problem.</p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",2">Next page: Don't Forget the Bathroom</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> DON'T FORGET THE BATHROOM</h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" alt=“vegan_3” /></center></p> <p><center><i><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">David Leo Veksler</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>A surprising number of beauty and health supplies aren't vegan. Look out again for the sneaky stuff such as A &amp; D ointment with cod liver oil, shellac, or lanolin in lotions. Same as with your food: donate or give away items you can't use.</p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",3">Next page: Go Through Your Closet</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> GO THROUGH YOUR CLOSET</h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" alt=“vegan_4” /></center></p> <p><center><i><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Liz</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>Chances are you own leather or wool shoes, jackets, clothing, maybe even furniture! Decide if you'd rather donate these items or keep them and use them until they are unusable, then replace them with vegan alternatives. Many vegans (myself included) keep leather shoes or jackets and such that they bought before they were vegan because they don't want those animals' lives to have gone to waste, since it is not possible to go back and change it. You can, of course, sell these items, but I found myself feeling a little uncomfortable with the idea of profiting monetarily off these animals' deaths and opted to either keep or donate them instead.</p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",4">Next page: Go Grocery Shopping</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> GO GROCERY SHOPPING </h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" alt=“vegan_5” /></center></p> <p><center><i><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Lindsey Turner</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>The produce section is a whole new world! Bring a list of non-vegan ingredients to avoid or an experienced vegan friend who can guide you, otherwise you might find yourself very confused. Buy yourself some new things to try: maybe eggplant, tofu, quinoa, soy milk, nutritional yeast, ground flaxseed, and other vegan staples. I also recommend checking out some of the "fun" vegan options at this stage such as coconut ice cream, vegan chips and cookies, vegan cheese and butter, and maybe some vegan hot dogs or bacon. These things aren't good for your health and eventually you'll want to minimize them, but they very much ease the transition and reassure you that you can still eat delicious foods and even junk food as a vegan if you want to.</p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",5">Next page: Experiment with Recipes</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> EXPERIMENT WITH RECIPES</h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" alt=“vegan_6” /></center></p> <p><center><i><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Adam Dachis</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>Find staple dishes that you like (and that your family likes, if you're cooking for them too!) and write down the successful recipes. Life gets much easier after you've developed something of a recipe reservoir!</p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",6">Next page: Find Vegan Restaurants</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> FIND VEGAN RESTAURANTS</h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" alt=“vegan_7” /></center></p> <p><center><i><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Denna Jones</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>Everyone likes to eat out once in a while, so it's important to know where you can go in your area. Often Thai and Indian food places are a good bet if you (like me) live in a not-so-vegan-friendly area, but be sure to call first and make sure they don't use eggs, fish sauce, or fish oil in their otherwise animal-free meals.</p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",7">Next page: Find a Community</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> FIND A COMMUNITY</h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" alt=“vegan_8” /></center></p> <p><center><i><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Calm Action</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>Depending on where you live, your best bet might be online. Don't worry; there are plenty of online vegan friendships to be had! Whatever you do, find a community of some kind, because this is the kind of thing that's easiest when done with the support of other people.</p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",8">Next page: Know Your Answers</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> KNOW YOUR ANSWERS</h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" alt=“vegan_9” /></center></p> <p><center><i><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Ethan Lofton</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>You WILL get asked how you will get enough protein and iron, and you might even get asked how you will get enough calcium and vitamin B12. You will be told by Paleo supporters that primitive humans ate meat and therefore so should we. You will be told that veganism is fanatical and unnatural. You will be told that it's not healthy to eat so much gluten. You will be told that God said all things are good to eat, and people might even throw the "<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">people of weak faith eat only vegetables</a>" verse at you. (If you're an atheist like I am, this won't land, but if you're religious at all look out for that one). You will be told anything that makes people feel better. You'll find that you being a vegan makes other people feel guilty about what they eat. </p> <p>The greatest myth about vegans is that we're always going around judging other eaters. I haven't noticed that at all. Vegans, in my experience, are no preachier than any other group. People just think vegans are preachy because they make them feel uncomfortable about their own practices. So read up. At the very least, your mom will be worried about your health and you'll have to explain to her how healthful your diet is and how you're getting all your nutrients. At the worst, you'll get actually attacked and have to stand up for yourself. It's best to be prepared for any of it.</p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",9">Next page: Buy Some Cookbooks</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> BUY SOME COOKBOOKS</h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" alt=“vegan_10” /></center></p> <p><center><i><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">F_A</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>I'll list a few I recommend in this slideshow, but look around because there are lots of vegan cookbooks to be had. There are also a ton of vegan blogs. My absolute favorite is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Minimalist Baker</a>. I use her recipes at least twice a week, and I'm constantly finding new ones on her site. If you're doing a vegan diet for health reasons (even if it's only one of your reasons), I highly recommend the <i><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Forks Over Knives</a></i> cookbook. If you're not all that into health and just want simple, delicious vegan meals, check out the <i><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Veganomicon</a></i>. And for delicious vegan desserts, check out <i><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World</a></i>.</p> <p><b>Are you thinking about going vegan? Do you have any questions or comments? Share them in the comment section</b>!</p> <p><i>Follow me on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Twitter</a>. Find more awesomeness at the humorous women's blog <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Jill of All Trades</a>, for the woman who can do it all</i>!</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Food Vegetarian and Vegan Green Health How To tutorial Vegan Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:14:02 +0000 SamanthaLily 1877831 at Are Your Holidays a Gateway to Joy or Depression? <!--paging_filter--><p>I always have mixed feeling when the holidays roll in each year. There are hints of melancholy here and there. I usually end up looking at old pictures during the season and feel sad when I think about people I've loved who are no longer with me. Bottom line, I miss having them in my life.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="empty_frames" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Josh James</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>My husband insisted on celebrating this year with extra joy. I set out to decorate every possible room during Thanksgiving this year. I tend to decorate a week before Christmas and take the tree down a week after. Some years, if the tree is lucky, it makes it to January 1st while I put the rest into storage.</p> <p>It surprised me that he is looking forward to the holidays. His dad passed away at the beginning of the year. We both lost a father and are still going through the process of adapting to our lives after their passing.</p> <p>Last year, our Christmas was full of fear, pain, multiple coming and going to a sterile hospital room, and sadness. In spite of it all, we tried our best to stay as happy as we could during the season for our kids. My daughter was home for the holidays. The important thing was that we were together.</p> <p>But I didn't understand why my husband wanted to celebrate the holidays this year with so much enthusiasm after such a difficult year with people absent. After I gave him a puzzled look, he said, "You know what, life is meant to be celebrated. We have to be thankful that our boys, my mother, your parents are still around and that we've always found happiness in each other."</p> <p>Our boys are heading out to the world this upcoming year. One is moving to San Juan, the other is already job hunting as his graduation is coming closer. As a Biotechnology major we're sure he will be out of our house pretty soon.</p> <p>My daughter will not make it home this year. Instead she's sharing her Christmas with her boyfriend's parents in Arizona. Pretty far away from home, if you ask me. I'll miss having her home for the holidays, but such is life.</p> <p>Life is about finding joy and happiness in the small things. It's darn easy to fall into a sorrow pit when we evoke all the loss we've experienced in our lives. Nobody said life was perfect.</p> <p>And sometimes it goes beyond the realm of imperfect. Recently, a complete family was killed in their home by a tenant who owed their dad money for past due rent. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">A thirteen year old boy was the only survivor</a>. We'll really never know how after they stabbed, beat, and threw him off a bridge, he managed to get up and climb a 46 feet distance, which is truly a miracle. However his life changed forever. He no longer has a family to celebrate the holidays. His mom, his dad, his grandmother, his brother who had turned fifteen that very same day, were killed right in front of him. I grieved for them and for the two young men who killed them so viciously.</p> <p>This is our world. We need to accept it and move forward, even if it hurts like hell. Events like these usually make us close down our emotions, but I think we need to open them even if our heart bleeds in the process. Joy or sorrow? Which path will you take?</p> <p>Even knowing this, I'm going to take the joy path. I think I'll join my husband in his enthusiasm this year and become content with what we have. </p> <p>Yesterday isn't really worth pondering too much about because it's gone and nothing we can do will bring it back. Tomorrow will take care of itself, leaving us with only one choice, "mis queridos amigos," our present, which is now.</p> <p>For me it's on this tiny island in the Caribbean, with so many flaws, however with so much beauty. Our tiny paradise in this vast world. I hope wherever you are, you can listen and see whatever brings joy to your life, and if you find nothing then, close your eyes and evoke a memory that does. Happiness can come in every form or way, you have to give yourself an opportunity.</p> <p>So my dear friends, try your best to have a great holiday season and never stop believing in yourself or the good of life.</p> <p>"Hasta la próxima."</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Mental Health Finding Balance Health #Balance #Happiness #thanksgiving Mon, 15 Dec 2014 15:14:28 +0000 Mrs. Q 1861132 at 5 Ways To Avoid Holiday Regret <!--paging_filter--><p>You've been doing so well this fall. Summer was behind us and it was time to turn your priorities back to you: exercise, less wine, more healthy food, more time for you. And now, <i>ugh</i>, the holidays are coming up and you are afraid all your good intentions are going to come undone. Here are 5 simple ways to have a peaceful season with no holiday regret.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="christmas cookies" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Fila</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>Get on the No Train</h1> </p> <p>Do you feel overwhelmed with the amount of social events, parties, and girls nights out that take place this time of year? It sometimes feels as if there is a fervor to get in as many late nights and socializing before January 1. It's hard to turn down invitations and parties, but remember this: <b><i>the more you say yes to parties you really don't want to go to or people you really don't want to spend time with, the more you say no to you and your priorities.</i></b> Learning to say no to things you don't want to do is one of the best things you can do to honor yourself.</p> <p> <h1>It's Not About the Food</h1> </p> <p>Come on, admit it, the holidays give you the ultimate excuse to indulge in drinks, high octane holiday cocktails, desserts, pies, chocolate, candy canes, sugar everywhere. While many of us equate the holidays with the food, here is something that might be hard to hear. The holidays are not about the food, period. We've lost our sights on what the holidays really are about: feeling thankful, giving, being with family, being together. The food and drink memories will fade, the thanks (and extra pounds) will remain.</p> <p> <h1>Never Go to a Party Hungry</h1> </p> <p>This is a #1 rule of people who have successfully survived the holiday weight gain. Don't starve yourself all day in preparation for the big chow down. When you go to a party ravenous you are more likely to drink more, eat more and make poor food choices. It may seem counterintuitive, but going to a party with a light snack under you belt is your insurance for party success. What would count as a pre-party snack? Almonds and dried fruit, an apple with almond butter, a hard boiled egg -- all good choices.</p> <p> <h1>Keep Moving</h1> </p> <p>You're tired, it's dark, and it's cold outside. But this is <i>not</i> the time to stop exercising! In fact, it is more important than ever right now. We may think that the reason we get run down and sick is from the cold weather but the real reason is from staying indoors too much and getting run down from all those parties you didn't say no to. Exercise, especially outdoors, helps keep your energy up, gives you an opportunity to get outside and get some fresh air and sunshine.</p> <p> <h1>Pick Foods That Support You</h1> </p> <p>I have <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">written</a> that eating seasonally is important for our health and well-being and our food choices in the winter season are no different. What can you eat that doesn't spell disaster for your diet? Winter squashes such as butternut squash soup, roasted turkey, Brussel sprouts, roasted sweet potatoes (without the marshmallow topping!) are all ideal choices for the holidays. Avoid the pies, fruity drinks, eggnog and candied vegetables, and you are on a path to success.</p> <p><i>Want more inspirational tips, tricks AND delicious, nutritious recipes that won't spell disaster for your waistline? Sign up for my free <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Pound Zero: Holiday Survival Guide.</a></i></p> <p>Heather Carey, M.S.<br /> Culinary Nutritionist</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Wellness Food Health #healthy eating holiday stress how to avoid holiday weight gain Fri, 12 Dec 2014 16:05:19 +0000 heatherpc 1852205 at You Are More Beautiful Than You Think <!--paging_filter--><p>There’s a TV spot for a beauty brand where women describe themselves to a forensic sketch artist. At first their self-portraits are dowdy, and sad music plays. Then, complete strangers describe the same women to the artist, and the music lifts. Gorgeous new portraits materialize, and the women pat their faces in disbelief. "You are more beautiful than you think," the tagline reads.</p> <p>If I could, I’d stamp another tagline over the ending:</p> <p>"NOW GET ON WITH YOUR LIFE."</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="You Are More Beautiful Than You Think" /></center></p> <p>I hate the ad, but it’s memorable. When I found out that I have breast cancer, I was standing on a sidewalk outside a diner and that stupid ad was all I could think of. My doctor talked through my cell phone while cars sped by, and I tried so hard to listen as she spelled out my prognosis. But all I could hear were those women, dissecting their appearances like idiots. I am those women. <em>I’ve been wasting time</em>, I thought. <em>I’m probably gonna die, and I just did a 14-day juice cleanse.</em></p> <p>“Sorry, I didn’t get any of that,” I said, and asked if I could call her back. I hung up and looked at the neon diner sign glowing OPEN in fiery orange, and my heart cracked. <em>Wastingtimewastingtimewastingtime.</em></p> <p>I used to think the world was tougher on me because I’m a singer-songwriter. There are rigorous standards, after all. Taylor Swiftian codes regarding short shorts and blondeness, a Beyoncé clause on chaps. Even the "who needs the male gaze" artists are impossibly photogenic—I’m looking at you, Ani DiFranco.</p> <p>I collected stories to prove my unique plight. Like when I was a twentysomething in Nashville and a Music Row overlord asked me, straight-faced, to become anorexic by the time I put on my label showcase. And would I dye my hair something other than my natural red? I was gently reminded that Reba was already a redhead and Wynonna was already a fat redhead. There was a quota on husky gingers in pre-Adele times, so I needed to be a totally different version of myself, stat.</p> <p>I refused to dye my hair, but spent a whole month at a low-rent weight loss spa. Then I ran a half-marathon, just so I could eat a sandwich in the recording studio without getting the stink eye from my producer. I was my all-time skinniest, groomed like a show pony—and miserable. But show business made it my business to be as visually appealing as possible, so I did the dance.</p> <p>But even with my gloomy little Nashville anecdotes, I’m not unique. The world is tough on everybody. Heads of state, stay-at-home-moms, string theory physicists, baristas: It doesn’t matter. If you’re a woman, your mandate is looking good. And now, the laws of self-esteem dictate that even if you don’t care about looking good for the benefit of others, you should for your <em>own</em> benefit. Because it says something about how you feel about yourself. How do you escape that?</p> <p>Even Oprah, with all her good intentions, is addicted to makeovers. It’s not enough to found an organization that immunizes Sudanese orphans, to be in her magazine you must be made over. With a little bit of eyeliner and the right cinched cardigan, you can be more than a humanitarian—you can be a beautiful humanitarian. <em>Wastingtimewastingtimewastingtime.</em></p> <p>There is nothing attractive about my illness. My big hairless head and glow-in-the-dark chemo pallor cannot be made over. And I assure you this isn’t a fishing expedition—Dr. Evil and I don’t need your compliments. We’ve got stuff to do.</p> <p>I’ve got wigs and press-on eyelashes for job interviews and fun, but I resent the time they require. I’d rather be reading a Stephen King novel, calling my mom or walking along the Charles.</p> <p>It’s never clearer to me than when I’m locked to a chemo pole: I wish I’d spent more time living my life and less time worrying about my looks. I resent every diet, every hour in a salon chair and every time I glared at my reflection when I could have been doing something. But if there's beauty in my cancer moment, it’s that I’m freer from my vanity than I’ve ever been. Screw eyelashes, who needs 'em.</p> <p>I’ll be up to my old tricks again when my hair grows back. Cancer doesn’t make you a sage. I’m sure I’ll continue to make squinty mirror faces, wince at unflattering photos and suck it in. There’s no remission from vanity—it’s only human. But I hope I never forget how I feel right now. Time is ticking, and I’ve got better things to do.</p> <p>Get your hair done if it feels good, ladies. Enjoy the hell out of your beauty, whether it’s Dove-real or only good at certain angles with the right Instagram filter. Juice-cleanse your little hearts out. And men, I’m talking to you, too. Manscape, comb your comb-overs and wear those little handkerchiefs in your suit pockets, if that’s your thing.</p> <p>But don’t spend another second beating yourself up about whether you’re pretty enough. You could be reading a great book, shaking your ass on a dance floor, brokering a peace accord or eating good cheese. You’re more beautiful than you think, but in the end it won’t matter as much as you think. Don’t waste your sweet time.</p> <p><em>Originally published at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Purple Clover</a></em></p> <h2>More From Purple Clover</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Totally Busted: The All-Time Best Celebrity Mug Shots</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Sexy Has No Shelf Life</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Old Dudes in Ugly Christmas Sweaters Bring Down the House with Amazing Dance Routine</a></li> </ul> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Body Image Health Work/Life Wed, 10 Dec 2014 17:58:06 +0000 PurpleClover 1882494 at How to Practice Yoga at Home Over the Holidays <!--paging_filter--><p>One question that I'm often asked is, "I love yoga but I want to be able to practice at home instead of going to a yoga studio all the time. What are some tips to start and maintain a home yoga practice?" It seems like a relatively simple thing to do, right? Just roll out your mat and start moving through yoga postures, right?</p> <p>But for many (myself included), keeping up with a home yoga practice can be difficult and challenging.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>I'm convinced that one of the reasons that it can be difficult to practice at home is because we expect our home practice to look and feel like our practice in a yoga studio. But it's not the same. It's going to be different, and once we let go of this expectation, it might be easier for us to start building a home yoga practice.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="yoga_2" /></center></p> <p>While going to classes at a yoga studio is always a treat, sometimes you can't make it to class. It might be because of your schedule or because you're traveling or because of financial reasons. Building a home practice allows you to get on your mat while also deepening your connection to yoga.</p> <p>A home yoga practice is really a mental practice. More than anything, it's often our thoughts that keep us off our mat. If we can master those thoughts and nurture our home practice, then we are working towards mastering out mind - which is what yoga is all about.</p> <p> <ul> <li><i>What's keeping your from getting on your mat?</i></li> <li><i>What's driving you to your practice?</i></li> <li><i>What do you expect to happen when you get there?</i> </li> </ul> </p> <p>Here are 5 home yoga practice tips to help you start and maintain your home practice.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="yoga_1" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Let Go of Expectations</h1> </p> <p>As I mentioned above, your home yoga practice will not look like your regular group yoga class. You don't have to practice for 60-90 minutes. Start slow with 5-10 minutes. At the end of that time, see how you feel. Do you want to continue. If yes, continue for another five minutes and then check in with yourself again. If not, end your practice.</p> <p> <h1>Move in a Way That Feels Good to <i>You</i></h1> </p> <p>Just as you don't have to practice for an hour, you don't have to do a set series of yoga postures. You know your body and you know what your body needs. You can pick a few postures and work on those. One of those poses can be a posture that's "challenging" to you, which often means that you should practice it more often. </p> <p>If you're a runner, you'll likely have tight hips and hamstrings so focus on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">hip and hamstring openers</a>. If you work at a desk all day, heart openers will help open up your chest and counteract rounded shoulders and slouching.</p> <p>Here are some general poses that you can incorporate into your home yoga practice:</p> <p> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Standing forward fold</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Downward facing dog</a></li> <li>Standing postures (i.e. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">tree pose</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">high lunge</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Warrior poses</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">triangle pose</a>)</li> <li>Backbends (i.e. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Bridge pose</a> or <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">salabhasana</a>)</li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href=";list=UUsJNhFpcDmZu2QN7q1pfKFg" class="external-link">Seated spinal twist</a></li> <li>Seated forward folds (i.e. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">janu sirsasana</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">paschimottanasana</a> or <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">baddha konasana</a>)</li> </ul> </p> <p>Remember that yoga is more than just the physical postures. You could also spend the time on your mat meditating or working on your <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">pranayama or breathing practice</a>.</p> <p> <h1>Make it a Habit</h1> </p> <p>Note the times of day that are ideal for your home yoga practice. Maybe it is first thing in the morning or maybe it is after work. Whenever it is, try to commit to practicing at that time and make it a priority. It doesn't have to be every day but try to make it a habit i.e. every Tuesday morning I will wake up and practice 15 minutes of yoga. Just like your daily run or workout, soon your home yoga practice will become a habit.</p> <p> <h1>Clear Space</h1> </p> <p>Find a space in your home where you'll be able to practice yoga. You just need enough space for your mat and for you to move around. Having a wall nearby is nice as it can help you balance and serve as a support for inversions or <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">legs up the wall</a>. Once you've decided on your space, gather up your supplies (yoga mat, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">props</a>) and set them nearby. When you have a dedicated space, you don't have to decide where to practice.</p> <p> <h1>Ask for Help</h1> </p> <p>Practicing yoga at home can be overwhelming, but you can always ask for help. You could ask your yoga teacher (if you have one) for advice or suggestions. You can also check out one of the many online yoga websites such as <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">yogaglo</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Gaiam TV</a> or <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" rel="nofollow" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Grokker</a> (Read my <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Grokker review</a>!).</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><b>Do you practice yoga at home? Do you have any home yoga practice tips?</b></p> <p>For more tips, check out the following posts:</p> <p> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Yoga for Runners Series</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">8 benefits of yoga inversions</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">How to incorporate yoga into your daily life</a></li> </ul> </p> <p>Read More at My Blog: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="Love, Life, Surf" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Love, Life, Surf</a><br /> Twitter: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">@cyu888 </a><br /> Instagram: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">cyu888</a><br /> Facebook: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Love, Life, Surf</a><br /> Pinterest: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">LoveLifeSurf</a><br /> Email or in Reader: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a><br /> Bloglovin': <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Love, Life, Surf</a></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Wellness Health fitness workout yoga Wed, 10 Dec 2014 14:31:05 +0000 LoveLifeSurf 1803812 at The Best Wearable Tech of 2014 <!--paging_filter--><p> Trying to find the perfect gift is like trying to find skyscraper heels that won't hurt your feet. In other words, it can feel next to impossible. Wearable tech gifts can solve the "What do I buy" dilemma easily. </p> <p>What was once science fiction or wishful thinking is now reality! Now you can buy a necklace can double as a workout tracker, a wristband that turns a banana into a light saber, earmuffs that let you listen to music, and you can even charge your phone via your purse. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Gift Guide: The Best Wearable Tech of 2014" /></center></p> <p>Here's a roundup of wearable tech gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list—even you. Prices start at $20, so there's something for every budget, too.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>FASHION</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><strong>The Mighty Purse by Handbag Butler</strong> ($99-$109 depending on style, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/mighty-purse-colors.jpg" alt="The Mighty Purse by Handbag Butler" /></center></p> <p>Finally, a bag that charges your cellphone! It works with both iPhones and Androids. The clutches, crossbody bags, and wristlets come in a rainbow of colors, skins, and prints.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>FASHION</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><strong>Gabriella by La Fiorentina headphone faux fur earmuff </strong>($20, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/la-fiorentina-ear-muff.jpg" alt="Gabriella headphone faux fur earmuff" /></center></p> <p>Now you can keep your ears warm and listen to music at the same time this winter. The fluffy earmuffs come in black, red, dark brown, white, and three types of leopard print.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>FASHION</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p> <strong>1Voice Beanie</strong> ($59, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/1-voice-blue-tooth-beanie.jpg" alt="1Voice Beanie" /></center></p> <p>Talk about hands-free talking! This beanie has a removable Bluetooth receiver, making it easy to not only chat on the phone or listen to music without earbuds, but also easy to clean. Just pop the receiver out and wash the hat. The beanie also comes in charcoal, gray, and black with a white stripe.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>FASHION</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p> <strong>Tory Burch for Fitbit pendant necklace</strong> ($175, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/tory-burch-for-fitbit.jpg" alt="Tory Burch for Fitbit necklace" /></center></p> <p>This necklace is part of the <strong><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Tory Burch for Fitbit collection</a></strong>. You simply slip the Fitbit Flex tracker into the pendant, and it'll track your caloric intake, sleep patterns, and&mdash;well, everything the Fitbit does. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">The Fitbit Flex Tracker</a> ($99.95) is an additional purchase.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>FASHION</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p> <strong>BandolierStyle </strong>($40-$125 depending on style, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/bandolier.jpg" alt="BandolierStyle" /></center></p> <p>Now you can turn your phone into a crossbody bag. The bandolier has shoulder straps, and the case has slots for your credit cards and license. Originally designed only for iPhones, they're now compatible with Android phones, too. You can choose metallic shades, basic black, faux snakeskin, and more. Celebrities like <strong>Heidi Klum</strong>, <strong>Debra Messing</strong> and <strong>Meryl Streep</strong> are fans.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>FASHION</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p> <strong>Tommy Hilfger Solar Panel Jacket</strong> ($599, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/tommy-hilfiger-solar-panel-jacket-back.jpg" alt="Tommy Hilfger Solar Panel Jacket" /></center></p> <p>The good news is that 50% of the proceeds from this stylish jacket go to the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Fresh Air Fund</a>. The bad news (aside from the price) is that you have to stand in the sun to get the solar panels on the back to work … but when you do, you can charge your phone. Pretty cool. There's a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">woman's</a> version, too.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>WATCHES</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p> <strong>Bia Sport watch</strong> ($279, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/big-bia-sport-watch.jpg" alt="Bia Sport Watch" /></center></p> <p>Created by <strong>Cheryl Kellond</strong>, a triathelete, it's GPS-enabled, and You can even swim laps with this sport watch. Most interesting feature? If you're jogging late at night and suddenly feel "odd," click the panic button, and it sends a text message and a map to your family, every minute on the minute until you click stop.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>WATCHES</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><strong>Cash Smart Watch</strong> ($139.99, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>) </p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/Cash-smart-watch.jpg" alt="Cash Smart Watch" /></center></p> <p>Developed by CNN's <strong>Nicole Lapin</strong>, this watch tracks your money, keeping you on budget by using its proprietary software. You can sync Nicole's Cash Budget Application from your computer to your phone. And the phone does tell time. It comes with three straps: black silicone, white mock croc, and gray stingray.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>WATCHES</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><strong>Moto 360 watch</strong> ($249.99 -$329.99 depending on style, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>) </p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/moto-360-watch.jpg" alt="Moto 360 Watch" /></center></p> <p>It ties into your smartphone, so you'll know when someone's calling or texting you. It responds to voice control, and also keeps you informed of traffic issues, flight delays, and the weather. It gives you directions, allows you to send texts and surf the web, and it'll keep track of your workout, too. Styles for men and women.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>WATCHES</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p> <strong>Cogito Classic watch</strong> ($179.99, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/cogito_classic_image-01_green_1.jpg" alt="Cogito Watch" /></center></p> <p>This sport watch comes in black, grey, purple, orange, and green (shown). Using its app, it syncs to your phone or tablet, letting you know when you've got calls coming in. One glance at the watch face, and you can decide whether to take the call or mute it.</p> <p>It works with Bluetooth technology, so all you need to keep it charged is a small and conventional button battery that you'd use for most watches. And yes, it'll let you know when you've got new emails, texts, and social media updates, too.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>WATCHES</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><strong>Samsung Galaxy Gear S Wearable Smartwatch</strong> (MSRP $349.92, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/Samsung-Galaxy-Gear-S-Charcoal-Black-Spin.jpg" alt="Samsung Galaxy Gear S Wearable Smart Watch" /></center></p> <p>The future is now. This smart watch from Samsung allows you to take and make calls, acts as your workout partner, and lets you stream music and download apps to it, too. Oh yes, you'll get email and text notifications, and you can email them back. The above link is for T-Mobile, but you can buy it at Sprint and Verizon stores (or their ecommerce sites), too.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>GADGETS AND TOYS</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><strong>Moff Band—Wearable Smart Toy </strong>($54.99, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href=";qid=1417229867&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=moff+band" class="external-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Moff" /></center></p> <p>A wristband with dozens of sound effects! Turn a pencil into a magic wand, a roll of paper towels into a light saber, or play tennis without racquets. They say it's for kids, but I have a sneaking suspicion adults will grab it, too.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>GADGETS AND TOYS</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p> <strong>QBiC MS-1 Wide Angle Wearable Camera</strong> ($233.99, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/QBiC-MS-1-2.jpg" alt="QBiC" /></center></p> <p>It's a camera you can wear! The QBiC hooks up wirelessly to your cell phone, so you can immediately upload your new cat video to YouTube.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>GADGETS AND TOYS</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p> <strong>Michael Kors compact phone charger</strong> ($68, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/Michael-Kors-compact-phone-charger.jpg" alt="Michael Kors phone charger compact" /></center></p> <p>This mirrored compact can also recharge your phone. Comes in red or black.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>GADGETS AND TOYS</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p> <strong>Jellyfish Go-Go Juice phone charger</strong> ($34.99, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/jellyfish-power-charger.jpg" alt="Jellyfish" /></center></p> <p>About the size of a lipstick, this slim device not only charges your phone, you can also use it as a flashlight.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>GADGETS AND TOYS</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><strong>Tile</strong> ($25, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/tile-the-app.jpg" alt="Tile" /></center></p> <p>Know someone who's constantly misplacing her phone, laptop, remote, keys or anything else? Tile is a smart device (128 bit encryption) that becomes a tracker once you attach it to the beloved belonging. Use the downloadable app to find it in seconds. If the item is out of range, then Tile contacts other Tiles (covertly, of course) to hunt down and find it. </p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>SPORTS</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p> <strong>Fitbit Flex wireless wristband</strong> ($99.95, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Fitbit Flex Wireless Wristband" /></center></p> <p>Used by lots of athletes, the Fitbit tracks your activities, caloric intake, and even your sleep cycle. Create a personal file and it'll keep you updated on your fitness goals. You also can sync it to your android, iPhone, tablet, or computer. LED lights let you know when you're hitting your workout goals and when you need to work a bit more … think of it as a silent coach.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>SPORTS</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><strong>Flipbelt </strong>($28.99, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/flip-belt.jpg" alt="Flipbelt" /></center></p> <p>Perfect for gym rats, the Flipbelt holds your phone, keys, earbuds, license, money, even a protein bar! It's a wide poly-Spandex belt that fits snugly to your body, allowing you to run, do yoga, bike, or lift weights at the gym. It comes in 10 colors. No more worrying about someone taking your phone during a workout.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>SPORTS</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><strong>ShotTracker Package</strong>($149.99, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/shottrackerdevices.jpg" alt="ShotTracker package" /></center></p> <p>Have a hoop freak in your life? This package is perfect for them! The ShotTracker measures and tracks their performance on court. You can track stats, shots, misses, goals, and workouts. Attach the sensor to the net, then slip on the sleeve and the wristband. When you're done playing, read the results. Coaches for the women's team at Missouri Western U and the men's team at Benedictine College are using the ShotTracker to improve their players' performance.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><br /> <h2>SPORTS</h2> <p></p></center></p> <p><strong>Moov</strong> ($79.95, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>)</p> <p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/moov.jpg" alt="Moov" /></center></p> <p>Moov not only tracks your workout&mdash;it'll coach you, let you know when you're overexerting yourself, and tell you when to pick up the pace. The kit comes with a Moov device, charger, wristband, and ankle band. You can also sync the device to your phone to track your results.</p> <p>Editrix-<a href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">Queen of Style</a> </p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">Twitter</a> &amp; <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Facebook</a></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Fashion Technology Health News & Politics Style BlogHer Holiday Gift Guide wearable tech Fall/Winter '14 Holiday Style Gift Guides BlogHer Holidays Wed, 10 Dec 2014 13:00:00 +0000 PJ Gach 1869749 at How to Get Help Leaving Your Abusive Relationship <!--paging_filter--><p>I was living on the street at 15 when I met my ex-husband. When I was 16, shortly after I had our first of three children, we married and moved away from family and friends. </p><p>I lived a very isolated life, emotionally bullied, physically abused, ashamed and alone with no one for support but the person who was abusing me.</p><p><center><img src="" alt="Don't Just Stand There" width="400" height="400" /></center></p><p>When I was 22, things were so bad that I knew I had to leave, but I had no idea where to go. I got in my car with my three kids and drove. No one knew I was leaving. No one was expecting me. I had no idea where I would end up. I was lucky to find a women's shelter and they helped me get on my feet and gave me emotional support while I started down the long and windy (often bumpy) road to discovering my self-worth.</p><p>That was 1990, well before social media and the internet.</p><p>Today, women still often find themselves in abusive relationships, isolated from friends and family, if not be distance, by shame.</p><p>But now help and support is much easier to access. The internet gives us ways to find resources and support I could never have imagined as a terrified young mom heading into the unknown.</p><p>Blogging and social media especially has been huge for women. It had given us an easy way to find our tribe; to find support from others like us. </p><p>We have best friends who we rarely, if ever get to meet face-to-face, but we talk to them nearly every single day. While shame and abuse are far from being eradicated, we are talking about it more and help is becoming more readily available and easier to access.</p><p>We no longer need to work up the nerve to attend traditional face-to-face support groups or convince our insurance we need therapy. </p><p>The help we seek available online, accessible at any time from the comfort of our own home: from women, coaches and mentors, who have experienced what we are trying to work through and wish to share their wisdom.</p><p><strong>Not only is this support network there, but it is available as guidance and enrichment, not just to fix you once you are broken.</strong></p><p>I know how much access to these programs and services can change your life. Maybe my help would change your life. </p><p>Maybe a different coach with a different approach would be better for you, or someone who teaches a weekly class or offers a six-month-long program. I know in my heart that someone out there has the help and guidance, easily and privately accessible, that you need. The help that could change your life.</p><p><strong><a href="" target="_blank" title="Viva Your Revolution" class="external-link">Viva Your Revolution</a> is where you will find the person, the class, the program that will change your life.</strong> <em><br /></em></p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Wellness Health Work/Life Love & Sex #surviving abuse life enrichment self worth Tue, 09 Dec 2014 20:45:10 +0000 MonaDarling 1858120 at How People See You When You're Big and Black <!--paging_filter--><p>I’m big, I’m black, and I’ve become well aware of how those things shape the way people see me, what they assume about me, and how they treat me. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="CeCe Olisa on Being Big and Black" /></center></p> <h2>On Being Big</h2> <p>My first vivid memories of body shame came in fourth grade. At nine, I was tall and chubby. Kids were constantly jumping on me for piggyback rides without permission. I guess they assumed I could handle their weight. They thought it was fun. I hated it. </p> <p>One day, as I giggled with friends during an assembly, a smaller girl complained that she could not see because she was sitting behind me. My teacher promptly sent me to the very back row. I sat there alone, put my head down, and cried. </p> <p>I felt punished for my size. Now that I’m older, I wonder why the teacher didn’t move the smaller girl to the front row, instead of banishing me all the way to the back. </p> <h2>On Being Black</h2> <p>I went to a predominantly white school, and I’m pretty sure I spent third grade being racially profiled by my teacher. As an eight-year-old, I found it hard to understand why Mrs. [Redacted] was always assuming I was the one causing trouble. </p> <p>I’m not saying I was a quiet mouse or anything, but I got blamed for anything that went wrong in Room 8.</p> <p>I will never forget hearing her screech, “CeCe, be quiet!” and then turning bright red when she whirled around to find me quietly reading at my desk, while the other (paler) kids were jumping around and yelling. Oddly, she said nothing to reprimand them. </p> <p>As an adult, I put myself in Mrs. [Redacted]’s shoes. If I were in a room full of 19 small blue balloons and one large pink balloon, the large pink balloon would probably catch my eye.</p> <p>I would probably find myself focused on the large pink balloon, while the sea of small blue balloons flew under the radar. But I’d hope that I wouldn’t treat the large pink balloon more harshly than the others. </p> <p>And if I did find myself doing that, my challenge to myself would be to treat all of the balloons the same and hold them all to the same standards. </p> <h2>On Being Big and Black</h2> <p>My second-grade class spent weeks working on a presentation. Each of us was to make a speech as a celebrity or historical figure. Our teacher assigned us the roles.</p> <p>I was comfortable being on stage, and I had my lines memorized, so I wasn’t nervous about speaking in front of the older kids. I walked on stage and held up my picture. “I’m Oprah Winfrey!” I said, and the entire school erupted with laughter. </p> <p>I remember feeling frustrated that I couldn’t finish my speech, and embarrassed that all of those students were laughing at me—but most of all, I felt confused.</p> <p>It never occurred to me that being a chubby black seven-year-old portraying herself as a fat black woman would a bad thing—or worse, a punchline. </p> <p>As I type this, I’m realizing that these experiences all happened before I was 10. Can you imagine the overtime my parents had to do uplifting little CeCe to make sure my self-esteem was where it needed to be? God bless them! </p> <p>These moments taught me that being big, black, or big and black sometimes made people treat me differently. </p> <p>In a way, I saw a parallel in <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Eric Garner</a>: Looking different can make me an easy target for negative attention. Having a large body might make people feel comfortable getting overly physical with me. It also might discourage people from taking me seriously. </p> <p>Am I comparing my childhood experiences to Eric Garner's murder? No. But in my observation, the seeds of bias are planted with fleeting thoughts. </p> <p>I think it's important for us all to question ourselves when we assume the worst of certain people. Do we assume that a fat person is lazy? Do we assume that a person of color is up to no good? </p> <p>I think we must cultivate awareness of how we engage with people of different sizes. Do we ignore a large person's pain because they’re tough and can handle it? Do we use big bodies as jungle gyms because we think they can hold our weight? </p> <p>I also think we should stay mindful of who and what we find funny. Why are big black women (or black men dressed as big black women) often punchlines in movies? Why are shows and movies about big people in love always comedies? </p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>And I think that what people think about us has nothing to do with what we know about ourselves. I may be big and black, but I refuse to claim those things as negative or hilarious. </p> <p>I choose to find beauty in my size and the richness of my skin. I choose to define who and what I am, in spite of any stereotypes people throw my way. </p> <p>We define who we are. That’s why we’re doing things like stomping out the myth that big girls don’t hit the gym with <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">#PSPfit</a>. That’s why we’re working on events that celebrate our bodies like <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">theCURVYcon</a>.</p> <p>They say that changing your thoughts can change your life. I know how negative thinking can affect others, so I’m working on changing mine, and I invite you to do the same.</p> <h2>Related Posts</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">On Being Plus Size and Asian</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">He Called Me "Precious"</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Race and Size: Who Has It "Easier?"</a></li> </ul> <p><em>This post originally appeared on <a rel="canonical" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Plus Size Princess</a></em></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Body Image Current Events Race & Class Feminism Health News & Politics Style Tue, 09 Dec 2014 00:01:21 +0000 CeCeOlisa 1881335 at The Feminist Pole Dancer Perspective: Lean In and Spin <!--paging_filter--><p class="separator">I am a feminist (a feisty one) and a pole dancer (a sassy one). I don't consider these aspects of self to be in conflict. For the sake of context, I am by no stretch a feminist scholar. Feminism and pole dance have many different interpretations and mean different things to different people. I discuss pole dance from a recreational perspective as a student and instructor. I neither represent nor disparage the exotic industry but I also don't have enough information to comment on it. That being said, pole dance is not exclusive to the domain of the gentleman's club. Outside of its current role as a fitness activity, it has deep, historical roots from other cultures (see <a href="" data-blogger-escaped-target="_blank" class="external-link">here</a>). My definition of&nbsp;feminism is simple, Marie Shear's quote "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people."</p><p class="separator"><center><img src="" /></center></p><p> </p><p><center><em>Image Credit: Mariko Zamani Photography</em></center></p> I didn't begin my pole dance journey as any form of feminist statement. I didn't evaluate my initial participation from a feminist perspective to assess its congruence with my world view. It's a form of fitness for me, interchangeable in many ways with spin class. The pole is my fitness apparatus. When I hear a man say something like "Damn girl, I would love to see you work a pole", I snicker inside because mentally that translates to "Damn girl, I would love to see you stomp the heck out of a StairMaster" (what a weird thing to say!). Likewise, when I approach a treadmill, I do not first pause to inquire if Gloria Steinem would approve. I just run. I do it because it makes me feel good and it improves my health. It also makes me strong.<p>While pole dance may be viewed sensually and some might argue it encourages objectification, I frequently receive feedback around &nbsp;functional strength. "Wow, you must be really strong". This is especially true as it gains legitimacy as a sport and fitness activity in mainstream culture. It can also be the antidote for self-objectification, an self-imposed barrier just as subversive and limiting as objectification by the outside world. Through pole dance, I re-framed how I see my own body in terms of ability and athleticism versus something decorative to be looked at. &nbsp;I want to keep my body safe because it can do amazing things. Beyond an athletic display, pole dance is a form of artistic expression.</p><p>Art is an expression of self. Feminism is an affirmation of self. Feminism empowers me to share who I am, pole dance is the artistic medium I employ to do so. Costuming, music, the tricks and poses I select, these are all paints in the palette to compose my self-portrait, with the pole as my canvas. &nbsp;As an artist, I choose the elements that I display. I control the pieces of myself that the audience sees through my expression. &nbsp;Exposure is a sticking point in the discussion over whether pole dance can be considered to be valid from a &nbsp;feminist perspective.</p> <center><img src="" /></center> <p><center><em>Image Credit: Mariko Zamani Photography</em></center></p> <p>Depending on what is being attempted, exposed skin can be crucial. It is the grip required to perform interesting and beautiful movements safely. Bare flesh ensures I don't slide unexpectedly off the pole, or at least allows me to control the velocity of my descent. It allows for contact points, which are necessary (imagine the frustration of trying to remove the lid off of a very large jar wearing mittens, or how quickly you slide on a bare floor in socks).</p><p class="separator">I expose skin for safety reasons but that doesn't mean I'm otherwise ashamed. Excessive modesty of my "flaws" would prevent me from doing something I enjoy. &nbsp;I don't have thigh gap and that's okay. Strong thighs are what I hang upside down from, so no gap = no falling on my head.&nbsp;&nbsp;Out of necessity, I adopted the attitude that parts of me are squishy, parts of me are toned and I am not going to stop dancing because my body might not meet someone else's standard of beauty.&nbsp;I'm not shrinking from this opportunity so that I can hide my body or evidence of my femininity.</p><p class="separator"><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><img src=";container=blogger&amp;gadget=a&amp;rewriteMime=image%2F*" alt="" width="320" height="240" border="0" data-orig-src="" /></a></p><p class="separator">&nbsp;I don't believe a feminist world view requires me to unsubscribe from that which is feminine. &nbsp;I love pole dance for the same reason I love pinup art and vintage clothing: an ability to express playful, exaggerated femininity. &nbsp;I can make shapes and perform movements that accentuate that which I see as feminine about myself. I consider the base architecture of a spin to be a glorious celebration of curves. &nbsp;I get to do it in a way that is strong and powerful, and I consider that to be an artistic and athletic feminist expression.</p><p class="separator"><em>I am proud to be a feminist. I am proud to be a pole dancer.&nbsp;</em></p><p class="separator"><em>I don't internalize the negative connotations of these words.&nbsp;</em></p><p class="separator"><em>For me, feminism and pole dance affirm life and help me grow.&nbsp;</em></p> <p><em>This piece was previously republished on <a href="">RoleReboot</a></em>. </p><p>Alison Tedford is a single mom from Abbotsford, BC. She documents her adventures in fitness, feminism and parenting on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Body Image Diet & Fitness Sex Feminism Health Love & Sex News & Politics feminist pole dancer Mon, 08 Dec 2014 22:03:34 +0000 AlisonTedford 1877729 at Don't Let Depression Steal Your Christmas <!--paging_filter--><p>This won't be the usual "How to Survive the Holidays" post. I won't recite to you what you can find on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">WebMD</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">PsychCentral</a> or the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Mayo Clinic's</a> website about holiday depression. I probably cannot give you tips on how to make it through the next few weeks with some sense of sanity.</p> <p>I can't write that post because I absolutely LOVE Christmas. It's not something I simply want to get through. Even though it threatens to kill me every year.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="family picture" /></center></p> <p>As a child, the holidays were the most wonderful (and joyous and magical) time of the year. I'm not sure when the magic stopped being Glinda-the-Good-Witch magic and turned into Wicked-Witch-of-the-West magic. It likely happened at the same time Depression weaseled its way into my life.</p> <p>As my extended family reeled from suicides and money troubles and alcoholic deaths, my thoughts about Christmas turned from fanciful to frightful. The confluence of circumstance, hormonal change and chemical imbalances transformed my affections about Christmas from charmed to cynical.</p> <p>The damage manifested as grief. I'd see Christmas commercials and sob. I'd lost not just Christmas, I had lost myself. The Yuletide love ran deep in me. It embodied all that was good and just and wholesome and lovely in my world. With its absence, I was no longer good and lovely and just and wholesome, nor could I pretend that my life was those things. Depression hallowed me. Depression took my joy. The lack of cheer – when you are supposed to be cheerful – is most heartbreaking this time of the year.</p> <p>As I became more aware of what was happening to me, the worse I felt. I was actually angry that depression (later revealed to be bipolar disorder) stole from me a slice of time that was not only manufactured to be happy, but that once WAS happy! I could not understand why this illness would take from me the one time of year where I was allowed to engage in magical thinking.</p> <p>So in the last few years, I decided that depression would no longer steal this joy from me. I decided that I wasn't going to allow it to ruin this anymore. It wasn't easy. So many reasons for why the holidays are miserable for so many people are due to unrealistic expectations. We're expected to be <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Martha Stewart</a>-esque in our decorating. To have our grandmama's touch in the kitchen. To be <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">FAO Swartz</a> in our gift-giving.</p> <p>And all while all I am able to do is get out of bed and take a shower.</p> <p>So I make it as easy on myself as possible. I ask my husband to throw up some stockings and lights. (Which look like he literally threw them up. Bless his heart.) I let my kids decorate the tree. (Even though that means no ornaments above 4 feet and everything on one side.) I buy and light <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Christmas tree-scented candles.</a> (‘Cause we have a fake tree. Real trees cost like $100!) I bake my <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">simple gingerbread</a>. And slightly more complicated sweet potato pie. (And order everything else from <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Whole Foods</a>. It's worth the convenience.)</p> <p>I take my warm coffee outside in the morning. (Because that's the only time it's actually cold in December in Northern California.) I wrap one gift per child. And then let my kids open that one on Christmas Eve. The rest appear, unwrapped, Christmas morning. (All of which are bought online. No stores. And certainly no sitting on a fat White man's lap asking for presents.) I listen to <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Motown Christmas</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Cee Lo's "Mary Did You Know?"</a>, and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Charlie Brown Christmas</a>. (That last one, over and over again.) I watch <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Love Actually</a>. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Best Man Holiday</a>. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">It's A Wonderful Life</a>. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Bridget Jones Diary</a>. (The first one, featuring the original Renee Zellweger).</p> <p>I listen to my children sing in the church choir. (Nothing beats hearing little children sing <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Happy Birthday to Jesus</a>.) I engage in Christmas the way I remember it, taking care to do only those things that remind me of joy. Things that give me peace. Things that allow me to feel goodwill toward myself.</p> <p>I refuse to let bipolar depression steal the most wonderful time of the year away from me.</p> <p>I love it too much.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Mental Health Health Family Depression Holidays Mon, 08 Dec 2014 13:58:06 +0000 DrMamaEsq 1878365 at Stop Commenting On the Size of Women's Pregnant Bodies! <!--paging_filter--><p>“You're huge!” Well, yes, I am pregnant, you know. </p><p> We pregnant women have this conversation one too many times. Today I read a headline “Hayden Panettiere looks HUGE in teeny bikini.” Um, well, hello? She is about to give birth! Also? <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">She is not that “huge.”</a> She looks amazing and is proud of her bump. I have always wondered why people have the indecency to say this to pregnant women everywhere. We may smile and keep it moving, but it does bother us even if it’s a little bit. From my point of view, here's why. I am sure other mamas will agree. </p> <p><center><img src="/files/pregnantbelly.jpg" /><br /> <em>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">blmurch</a></em></center></p> <p> First of all, we feel huge. We know! Even at just 20 weeks I felt huge. I am five-feet tall so, believe me, when the bump starts to grow I feel huge. And trust us. We know our bodies are changing — after all these are our bodies you're talking bout. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">As a fashion blogger</a>, I choose to post the pics I do on my social media channels. When people say things like, “Wow! Your belly grew so much!” or “Wow you got so big!” well, yeah, I am seven-months pregnant, people. So I am praying, everyday, my baby girl keeps growing and is born healthy. I don’t take offense to it but I do want to sometimes reply with a smart comment. Wouldn’t you? </p><p> People should be a little more mindful when they are about to say something that may make others feel uncomfortable, especially pregnant women. I remember when Kim Kardashian was pregnant; people were evil. It was so wrong the things they said about her and the whale comparisons on the Internet. I felt so bad for that woman. While she is not on my top people’s list, as a woman, I was upset about how mean people can be. She didn’t ask to be that “big” or for her body to change to the way it did. We all have different bodies and we try to do our best to feel good. The media and some so-called fans were definitely out of control with her. She was just a beautiful woman going through pregnancy — the most beautiful gift and experience one could ever wish for. </p><p> Being pregnant is one of my favorite aspects of being a woman. It makes me feel empowered and like I can do anything. If you think about it, what is going on inside of me every minute of every day for 40 weeks is truly a miracle. I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that I am making a human as I type this. From tiny little cells to an amazing human that <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">my husband and I created</a>. All ours, all just us. It is mind-boggling to even begin to try to understand how amazing a woman’s body truly is. So I enjoy my pregnancies, and I flaunt my bump. </p><p> I think society as a whole has a way of being rude and disrespectful to women, pregnant and not. Maybe (hopefully) sometimes without noticing. I remember when I was <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">just a few months pregnant</a> people would say, “Wow your belly is so small. How many months are you?” It’s like there is no winning. If I am too big, I am too big. If I am too small, I am too small. But what truly matters is how I feel and how well I am taking care of my precious little cargo. </p><p> So, next time you see a pregnant woman, take a moment to take a step back. Instead of shouting, “You are huge!” or “Wow, are you about to give birth?” why not make her feel as amazing as she is and simply tell her how beautiful she looks. Because women, no matter what shape, size, form, race or age, are simply stunningly beautiful. </p><p> <em>Originally published at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Mom.Me</a></em></p> <h2>More from Mom.Me</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Craziest Exercise Trends Throughout History</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Celebrity Kids: All Grown Up!</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">17 Party Dresses to Flatter a Post-Baby Bump</a></li> </ul> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Pregnancy Health Fri, 05 Dec 2014 20:59:09 +0000 1872500 at 10 Things Not to Say When A Child Has A Mental Illness <!--paging_filter--><p>My 12-year-old son lives with mental illness. His first diagnoses, ADHD, came at the age of five. Subsequent diagnoses have since followed, beginning at age nine, when he was treated via outpatient hospitalization for five weeks for depression and mood instability. I openly discuss and write about our experiences as we've traveled this journey. All in the hopes that more people will be educated about mental health, and less will continue to stigmatize it.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>My experience in sharing this journey is most often met with compassion and love from others. They ask questions, seem interested in learning more, and are mostly very supportive of my son and our family. Most people are well intentioned when discussing, but often, uneducated about mental illness. And that lack of education can lead to statements that can be hurtful or harmful for the loved ones of people living with mental illness.</p> <p>I believe that most people I talk to about our experience with mental illness are coming from a good place, with a warm and helpful heart. They don't want to see us in pain and want to say something that will make us feel better and less alone. I understand this and fully recognize this. And yet, sometimes, the things they say hurt our feelings or leave us feeling frustrated or misunderstood. Based on this experience, I decided to write a list of things one should NOT say to parent whose child lives with mental illness. This list, while not all inclusive, covers some of the most common things people have said to me about my son and his mental illness, over the last several years.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="mental illness" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Kwanie</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>Oh, he'll be fine. It will all be fine.</h1> </p> <p>First of all, how do you know this? How can you be so sure? Because there's simply no way for you to know this. You are not all-knowing. Unless, of course, you are God or a teller of fortunes. In which case, can you give me the lottery numbers for this weekend's Powerball? But seriously, when you tell me this, I know you mean well. Because you want it to be fine. And I do, too. But truthfully, these are empty words. And in fact, it feels a little dismissive. It feels like you think I'm just whining or something. So perhaps instead, you could say, "I wish I could tell you it would all be fine, that he'll be fine, but I know we don't know that. So... how can I help? What do you need? Can I give you a hug?"</p> <p> <h1>Boys will be boys</h1> </p> <p>No. Mental illness does not equal "boys will be boys." Are you saying that all boys are mentally ill? Are you saying that boys have moods which fluctuate so massively that one day they are so depressed they state they don't want to be on this Earth any more and the next, they are standing on the roof of your home because they just love watching thunderstorms and think they can fly? This statement, "boys will be boys," just simply isn't true. Instead, you could say, "I know he's growing and changing and it must be hard to understand what is happening and how you can support him. So how can I support you? Can I give you a hug?"</p> <p> <h1>He'll grow out of it</h1> </p> <p>That's not how it works. This isn't like wetting the bed and learning how to go potty in the big boy toilet. He may learn how to cope and manage the illness, but it is very unlikely he will "grow out of it." It's a nice, optimistic thought, of course, but just not reality. And again, are you all knowing? How do you know this to be true? Try this instead, "I know you may be worried about how this could impact him in school and as he grows older. How can I help you through this? Can I give you a hug?"</p> <p> <h1>I have this friend who has a friend whose brother's kid has some kind of mental illness</h1> </p> <p>Well, that's nice to know. How does that help me? And my son? Here's the thing, if you're offering to connect them to another parent who is struggling with a similar situation, then this is cool. Just know we may or may not want to or be ready to connect. And yes, it is nice to not feel so alone in the battle, because, oh my gosh, do we feel alone so much of the time. BUT. The casual mention of six degrees of separation to someone who may have a similar situation does me no good. If you DO know someone in a similar situation (and by <i>know</i> I mean that you can get in contact with them in one call, email or text), then it may be nice to ask if they'd like to be connected to one another.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p> <h1>Don't we all have mental problems? Aren't we all a little crazy?</h1> </p> <p>No. Please, do not minimize the trauma, pain, hurt, crisis, frustration, anger, sadness that we've been going through by trying to state that we are all "a little crazy." First, it perpetuates stigma. Second, it makes me feel small. Third, it hurts. Because it feels like you are dismissing what we are going through. Which is Hell. You could say something like, "I'm hearing more about children being diagnosed with mental illness. This must be so hard. What can I do? How can I support you? Can I give you a hug?"</p> <p> <h1>Aren't you afraid of him?</h1> </p> <p>No. I am not. Please don't make the assumption that all people living with mental illness are violent and potential criminals. This isn't true. The majority of people living with mental illness are victims more than perpetrators. So please don't perpetuate the myth and stigma. And, it's hurtful to insinuate that my child is violent. My son is tender-hearted and loving. He's also kind and generous and many other glorious things. He is not prone to violence or hurting others. His mental health diagnoses do not automatically mean that he will become a violent person. But you could ask me this, "How is he doing? How can I help? Can I give you a hug?" </p> <p> <h1>We all have our bad days</h1> </p> <p>Again. No. When you have a bad day, do you reach for a scissors on your desk and cut yourself? Do you take off your long sleeved shirt and tie it around your neck so tight that you cut off the air to your brain and almost pass out? When you're having a bad day, do you fall into a corner and make yourself as small as possible and become completely non-verbal? No. Probably not. Do we all have bad days? AB-SO-LUTE-LY. But this is NOT the same thing. So please don't infer that your extra long commute, spilled coffee and missed meeting are the same thing as my child who lives with and fights multiple mental illnesses that can debilitate him to the point of self harm and a desire to "not be here anymore." Please. Do not equate those two. Again, perhaps instead you could say, "I wish you didn't have to go through this. It must be hard. How can I support you and your family? Can I give you a hug?"</p> <p> <h1>He looks normal to me</h1> </p> <p>STOP. Right there. STOP IT. Are you a doctor? Are you a psychiatrist? No? Then respectfully, SHUT THE HELL UP. (Yes, I'm yelling. This one gets me a little fired up.) And even if you were a psychiatrist, you wouldn't be able to diagnose my child in one glance. So why would you try when you haven't been trained? Would you look at a cancer patient who hasn't lost their hair and say, "Well, you still have hair. You can't possibly have cancer!" No. You wouldn't. So please, please, please -- don't look at my child and assume you can diagnose their physical and mental condition in one glance. Just don't even say anything close to this. Again, go with, "I can only imagine how hard this is for your family. How can I support you? Can I give you a hug?"</p> <p> <h1>You're not putting him on meds, are you?</h1> </p> <p>Please. Again. With the judgement and the all-knowing statements. STOP. Because I don't ask you or tell you what meds or vitamins <i>you</i> should be taking, right? So unless I specifically ASK YOU for your opinion on giving my child medication to treat their mental illness, DO NOT GIVE IT. Again, try "This must be hard, how can I support you? Can I give you a hug?"</p> <p> <h1>You probably just need to be a little tougher on him. You know, get a little more strict</h1> </p> <p>Right. Because it is all my fault. Is that what you are saying? He's just a behavior problem? See, here's the thing. Much of mental illness is about having too much or not enough of certain chemicals in your brain. As far as I know, me parenting "better" will not stabilize those chemicals. So shut it. Again, this statement makes me feel judged and inadequate as a parent. And guess what? I DON'T NEED ANY MORE HELP FEELING INADEQUATE AS A PARENT. I can pretty much tell you with some certainty that most parents of children living with mental illness already question what they should or could do differently to help their child. We do NOT need any help feeling guilty or shamed. Period. Instead? How about, "I'm thinking of you. How can I support you? Can I give you a hug?"</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>It is important to note that this post is from <i>my</i> point of view only. I don't pretend to know what all parents of children living with mental illness may need or want to hear. But I think, if a parent or another loved one of someone living with mental illness opens up to you, it is because they want you to know their story, their pain, their journey. They NEED you. In which case, the best thing you can do is love them and show up with compassion.</p> <p>Don't pretend to have all the answers or know what they are going through. Ask questions. Ask how you can help, what you can do. And guess what, that loved one may not know what you can do. They may look up at you with blank eyes and say, "I don't know," because some days, it's all we can do to just get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other. So if they don't know how you can help, don't give up on them. Ask again at a later date. And just let them know they are not alone, that you are there for him.</p> <p>Sometimes, just knowing that can get us through.</p> <p>And it's important to note again, the thoughts and the intentions of others to try and relieve or share my pain through their words and actions is appreciated. My intent of writing this isn't to criticize, but rather it is to cope and to educate. To express and share. Many have asked how they can help. Becoming educated about mental illness helps. Doing what you can to eliminate stigma, helps. Reading and sharing this with those you know, helps.</p> <p>And hugs. Hugs help too.</p> <p>Heather Petri</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Mental Health NaBloPoMo Health Family Children with Mental Illness mental illness Support Fri, 05 Dec 2014 13:59:11 +0000 Heather Petri 1852214 at My Quest to Love My Body and My Weight <!--paging_filter--><p>How often I’ve heard women saying, “I love my 40s! I finally don’t care what anybody else thinks! I have confidence! I love my body! I’m sexy as hell! I’m going to wear that damn bikini!” or some such variation.</p> <p>I keep waiting for that confidence that was supposed to come with this stage of my life. I’m into the second half of my fifth decade, and when someone from my youth finds me on Facebook, I still dread them seeing my photos. I’m a good 40 pounds heavier than I was in my college days.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="My Quest to Love My Body and my Weight" /><BR /><em>Credit: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Yoga Mat</a>, Shutterstock</em></center></p> <p>I’ve always loved exercise—yoga, Zumba, HIIT, volleyball, pilates, even mowing my damn lawn. I'm careful about what I eat, though, believing the adage, “You can’t out-exercise poor nutrition.” I abide by Michael Pollan’s rule, “If it arrives through the window of your car, it is not food.” The admonition to “only eat food with ingredients you recognize and can pronounce” is a good one, too. Unfortunately, I can recognize and pronounce “sugar” and “flour.” Still, a much larger percentage of what I eat is whole, healthy and unprocessed than it was 10 years ago. And yet ...</p> <p>There's a saying that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. A friend pointed out that this is also the definition of the scientific method. Either way, when it came to weight loss, I did the same thing over and over again and expected a different result each time. Was I crazy? Scientific? Both?</p> <p>I didn’t do the same diet plan over and over—each approach was different, but never extreme. I’ve done Atkins, Somersizing, Game On! or Dukan, and they were all based upon eating healthy, whole foods, lots of vegetables and lean meat, and minimal amounts of processed food. I never did the crazy cleanses or dangerous drugs.</p> <p>Over 15 years, during which I have tried to exercise strict control over my food intake, I’ve learned two things:</p> <p>1. In order to successfully lose weight and keep it off, I must basically eliminate sugar and flour from my diet—to a degree I consider extreme.</p> <p>2. I'm incapable of (and/or unwilling to) accomplishing #1 for any lasting period of time.</p> <p>Certain things take a while to dawn on me, no matter how blinding the evidence. A series of these revelations have moved me to abandon any further attempts to weigh less than my body wants to weigh.</p> <p>The first was recognizing that I haven’t EVER liked my body shape, regardless of what I weighed. Why limit so severely what I ate if, in the end, I still wasn’t going to like how I looked? I have just as much trouble looking at my thin self in a bathing suit as my heavy self.</p> <p>The second was realizing that if I wanted to stop gaining weight, I had to stop dieting. I was astonished to realize that what experts repeatedly declared true, was indeed true: Each time one ends a diet, one eventually winds up heavier than before one began it. Why, for so long, did I consider myself immune to such effects? Because I am insane. I mean, a scientist.</p> <p>The third of these was discovering that what I wanted even more desperately than to be thin, was to not mind NOT being thin. My quest for my “ideal” weight kept me home from social and professional get-togethers. I didn’t want to be tempted to eat the chocolate-dipped strawberries or the pita chips that inevitably were served with the hummus.</p> <p>A meme I saw smacked me in the face recently. It said, “The problem with dieting is not watching what I eat. It’s watching what OTHER people eat.” I’d see my thin friends around me drinking wine and eating pizza and I’d be absolutely consumed with envy. More than being without extra weight, I longed to be without envy. I longed to enjoy these wonderful people and their presence without the toxic jealousy that always crept in when I saw them laughing and loving in their size 4 clothes.</p> <p>The fact remains that I will never be someone who gazes lovingly upon my cellulite and says, “I adore you, cellulite, because you are part of ME!” I will never be someone who names each of her stretch marks, then looks at them wistfully in the mirror, gently telling herself, “I got YOU, Sally Stretch Mark, when my body miraculously grew another life inside of me ...” Please.</p> <p>But my outlook did at least begin to improve slowly when I realized the path to that pot of gold lay not in my getting thin, but in my getting mature. Becoming more forgiving. Doing my best to eat healthy food that does good things for my body, and accepting the weight gain that comes with enjoying cookies and fries sometimes, too. I am trying to allow myself the self-love a tiny, though growing part of me knows I deserve, even when I need to buy bigger pants.</p> <p>I’m getting there. I’m learning that trying to control my body and it’s chemistry to the degree I must to stay thin is about as stubbornly childish as my five-year-old self trying to draw a perfectly straight line without a ruler. I’m older now, and I know better.</p> <p><em>Originally published at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Purple Clover</a></em></p> <h2>More From Purple Clover</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Deconstructing Woody</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Annie Leibovitz at 65</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Picture This</a></li> </ul> <!--pagebreak--><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Body Image Diet & Fitness Health Wed, 03 Dec 2014 18:55:34 +0000 PurpleClover 1871268 at 4 Reasons I'm Getting My Tubes Tied at 29 <!--paging_filter--><p>I'm 29<b>,</b> and I'm getting my tubes tied. It's happening. I've had some mixed reactions from people, so I thought I'd explain my reasoning behind this somewhat permanent decision.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="tubes" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Windell Oskay</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>My Mental Health</h1> </p> <p>I struggle with some serious mental health issues that have plagued me since I was 15. I just found a medication combination that keeps me stable, happy, and able to live my life. When I don't take my medication, I cry all the time. I'm angrier, impatient, and generally an un-fun person to be around. When I get pregnant, I get crazier. Medications need to be adjusted and hormones need to be dealt with. Then after the pregnancy, I'm prone to postpartum depression, which makes that 6 months of my life a roller coaster of nonsense. It's a whole lot of crazy that strains my relationships with others and makes my life miserable. This is the main reasoning behind my decision.</p> <p> <h1>I Was Failed by Birth Control Once</h1> </p> <p>I was ON birth control when I got pregnant with baby Wallace. He must have really needed to come into the world. So now I'm much more wary of traditional birth control. I know the chances of it happening again are probably mind-numbingly slim, but I'd just rather not take that chance.</p> <p> <h1>The M Word</h1> </p> <p>We can't afford any more children. Money is a factor in most of our life decisions, and we honestly do not feel it would be fiscally responsible for us to have another child. That's just our situation. I am sure it would probably work out if we felt strongly that we needed to have another child but, as you might already assume, I have not had that strong feeling.</p> <p> <h1>It Feels Right for Me</h1> </p> <p>I'm not saying every 29-year-old should run out and get this procedure. I'm saying that it's what I feel is right for <i>me </i>and <i>my body</i>. Pregnancy is hard for me, mentally and physically. None of my pregnancies have been easy ones, and this last one was especially difficult. I wanted smooth pregnancies so badly, but they just weren't in my cards.</p> <p>Don't get me wrong, I love my children. I'm grateful every single one is in my life, both here and in heaven. I wouldn't give them up for the world. But I feel as if they are my world now and our family is complete. I don't feel any angst or stupor about this decision. I feel relieved and excited for the next chapter of my life. I feel like I can jump into parenting with both feet knowing that I don't have to wonder if someday I will have to go through the pain and stress of another pregnancy. It's actually a pretty liberating feeling.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Wellness Pregnancy Health Family #mentalillness #familyplanning Wed, 03 Dec 2014 15:52:41 +0000 MelanieMeditates 1855039 at How to Organize an Easy Virtual 5K <!--paging_filter--><p>I've been asked by a couple of people what went into planning the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Winter Is Coming 5K</a> that I used as a fundraiser for RODS Racing. Just to explain <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">from my site</a>, a virtual 5K is "a race you do on your own time. You don’t need to get up early, you don’t need to do it on a weekend, you do it when it works for YOU."</p> <p>People who entered my virtual 5K got a race bib and a medal for completing it, and I raised money for <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">RODS</a>. I did a little light Googling in the early planning stages of the race, but I feel like there's some value to writing a post about how I organized a virtual 5K myself. Everyone's different, right?</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="virtual 5K" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Dawn</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>Once I decided that I wanted to put on the virtual race, the first thing that became clear was that a strong theme would be a factor in ensuring the race was successful. I've only ever participated in one virtual race (well, a set of virtual races), but I did so because they were <i>Star Wars</i> themed. I knew if a fun theme could grab me, it would grab others.</p> <p>Greg and I brainstormed for exactly 3 minutes on this one. Almost as soon as "We need a good theme" came out of my mouth, the words "Winter is coming" were coming out of his. Of course! <i>Game of Thrones</i>. And besides, winter really <i>is</i> coming...</p> <p> <h1>The Medals</h1> </p> <p>A little more light <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Googling brought me to Crown Awards</a>, based on positive reviews from other virtual race organizers. They have a good selection of pre-generated medals, with stickers as decoration, or you can go whole-hog and make use of their design department to create your own custom medal. I chose the "design your own" option and sent the design department a graphic of the Stark sigil, and asked for the shape of the medal to be like a shield. I got a copy of the design back, made one minor adjustment (I wanted "Winter Is Coming 5K" to be on a banner), and we were good to go.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="virtual 5K 1" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Troubleshooting</h1> </p> <p>Here were my struggles with this process. They weren't at all with Crown; they couldn't have been more helpful or clear in their communication. But in order to get the medals in time for the start of the race, I had to place my order within a day of first checking on prices. That meant I had to front all the money, and if I didn't sell enough registrations, I'd be out of luck. I don't have the biggest following out there, but I hoped I could generate enough heat to get things moving.</p> <p>From what I understand, some race organizers wait until they have guaranteed registrations paid, cash in hand, before they order medals. That's a good idea! Something I might try if I attempt another virtual race.</p> <p>When the medals finally did arrive, there was an additional $70 to pay at the door in brokerage fees and taxes (ouch), so if I were to do it again, I would probably either look for a Canadian company to avoid the extra fees, or arrange the ordering the medals around a trip to the US so I could bring the medals back as part of my duty allowances.</p> <p> <h1>Promotion</h1> </p> <p>Once the medals were ordered, it was time to promote. My approach to promotion was varied. The majority of publicity was simply social media. I Tweeted, Instagrammed, Tumblred, blogged, and Facebooked the heck out of the race. I also paid for a Facebook ad, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">listed the race on My Next Race,</a> posted it on Craigslist, and put up a handful of posters around town.</p> <p>I am glad I paid for the Facebook ad because I did get some attention and some registrations out of that, but I don't know if it was a game-changer. The majority of registrations seemed to come from people seeing my Tweets, Instagrams or my posts on various running Facebook groups. (By which I mean the ones that permit those kinds of postings. Not all do, so be sure to check and respect the rules of the group!) I also posted about it in a couple of <i>Game of Thrones</i> specific groups and on Reddit, but I don't think much came from that.</p> <p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> Only 2 spots left in the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">#WinterIsComing5K</a> - sign up now to help an orphan with Down Syndrome <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a> <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a> — Tabetha Wells (@IRunOnWater) <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">November 3, 2014</a></blockquote></p> <script charset="utf-8" src="//" type="text/javascript"></script> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p> <h1>Bookkeeping</h1> </p> <p>Once I put the word out, I generated a spreadsheet which kept track of the date the person registered, their bib number, their name, their address, the date they ran the race (if they informed me), the date I mailed the medal, and their email address. On that spreadsheet, I marked all the cells beyond the "break even" point in green, so I knew when I was finally turning a profit on the race. The header of that sheet looked like this:</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="virtual 5K 3" /></center></p> <p>I figured the cost of the medals, brokerage fees, HST, the Facebook ad, shipping envelopes, postage, and Paypal costs into that "break even" calculation.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="virtual 5K 4" /></center></p> <p>It took a little over a month of promotion for the race to finally sell out. And when all was said and done, of the 50 registrations I sold (including my own), I only knew 10 of the runners. How cool is that?</p> <p>Why 50, you ask? Because that was the minimum order for medals, and a number I could wrap my head around. I figured there was a chance I could slog my way through getting 50 people to register. 100 made my head swim. That said, I would probably have been able to offer a cheaper race if I had 100 medals. Their price goes down the more you order.</p> <p>I also put out a challenge to the runners that if they posted a fun photo of themselves running their race, I would give a prize for "most fun photo." Since the race hasn't officially "ended" (the runners have until the week after US Thanksgiving to run it), I will hold off on presenting the prize until then, but there are some really fun photos coming in. (It's not too later, runners! Submit your photos via social media using #WinterIsComing5K.)</p> <p>All in all, it was a great learning experience. I had a lot of fun putting it together, and I would not hesitate to do it again for fundraising.</p> <p><b>Have you ever organized a virtual race for fundraising purposes? Did I miss anything? Is there something else you'd like to know?</b></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness NaBloPoMo Health #fundraising virtual race Mon, 01 Dec 2014 14:18:15 +0000 TabethaWells 1854887 at How to (Pretty Much) Survive Hot Yoga <!--paging_filter--><p>My friend Pam told me about hot yoga. She said it would change my life. She has been going for awhile now and believes it will help ease my chronic pain and eliminate those winter time blues.</p> <p>One summer a few years ago, I did the Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown DVD so if anyone ever asks, I tell them I've been doing yoga for years and that I'm pretty good at it. Realistically I'm as flexible as a cadaver and use my yoga mat as a prop to keep my bedroom door closed because the knob doesn't latch.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>But as soon as my friend mentioned hot yoga to me I started daydreaming about myself in this yoga studio wearing the coolest yoga pants that accentuate all the right curves and maybe a yoga crop top to show off my rock hard abs that I got from doing so much yoga. And in that day dream I was all smiles and felt such inner peace and just looked so confident and sexy in my yoga gear that people looked at me while I walked around town and said "damn, I want to be like that girl."</p> <p>And then my day-dream self boarded a flight to India to study the practice and came back to open my own studio and work my own hours and make enough money to buy that cute house I saw on <i>Property Guys</i>. So naturally I went online and signed up for a month of unlimited hot yoga classes. Finally! a reason to own ten pairs of yoga pants! Before now I just wore them during big meals because of the elastic waist band.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="yoga" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Whitney</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>The next day I showed up at Moksha Yoga, the hot yoga studio in my town of St. John's, Newfoundland. I walked in and immediately felt anxious, despite the soothing atmosphere and the friendly staff. My biggest concern was that my Blundstone boots were identical to the other fifteen pairs of Blundstone boots. WHAT IF SOME YOGI LEFT WITH MY BOOTS?! I wondered if maybe it would be okay for me to do hot yoga in my boots so I could guarantee no one else would put their sweaty yoga feet into mine.</p> <p>A girl whispered to me that I shouldn't worry, no one would steal my boots, so I pretended to laugh and act like that was some sort of joke to me so I could seem like a normal human and then I hid my boots in the corner. I got signed up and a nice woman told me if I became overwhelmed to just lay back on the mat and focus on my breathing. </p> <p>Then Pam showed me to the change room. I almost knocked over a picture with my gym bag and then I hit a woman with it as I turned the corner to the change room. It was becoming apparent to me that the expertly-trained graceful yogi Lisa from my daydreams probably wouldn't present herself in today's class.</p> <p>Women were changing in front of me, so naturally I bundled up my yoga clothes and went to a back corner to hide while changing. Then I followed Pam into the studio. It felt like I went from St. John's to the hottest day in Africa when I stepped in the room. "I might die," I thought to myself. I couldn't say it out loud because silence is a blessing and speaking is frowned upon in hot yoga. Which I found very difficult, because there's nothing I love more than making sarcastic remarks about something that other people are passionate about.</p> <p>I set up my yoga mat and placed my giant beach towel in a bundle next to my mat. Everyone else had fancy hot yoga towels laid on top of their mats and I scoffed at this. Certainly you wouldn't need a special towel for your mat. They also had small hand towels for their sweat. So naturally I brought a giant beach towel with me. Everyone was laying down and closing their eyes so I did the same.</p> <p>"This isn't so hard!" I thought. And then I started sweating profusely. It's like a porous levee broke within my skin and every ounce of water in my body wanted to hang out on my yoga mat with me. And then the instructor came in to start class.</p> <p>I did great at first, aside from sweating enough to open my own indoor swimming pool. I went through mountain pose and put my hands at my heart centre and other zen-like things that made me feel like maybe I would be perfect at being Buddhist.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>Then we had to do a downward dog. My downward dog was the kind of dog that would never be adopted because he's really old and has a severe form of hip dysplasia. I quickly gave up on the idea of looking like a graceful yoga expert and just focused on the idea of surviving the hour long class with use of all four limbs at the end. I began slipping on the puddles of sweat and losing my balance and then my face got so sweaty that my glasses fell into the puddle of sweat on my mat. "HOW DO HUMAN BEINGS DO THIS?!" I wondered.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="down dog" /></center></p> <p>Downward Dog was basically the beginning of my downward spiral. After "walking my feet to my hands" and trying to return to mountain pose, I blacked out and instead of focusing on my breathing had to focus on my ability to stay conscious. Counting our breaths to 4 turned into me repeating "Do not make a fool of yourself do not make a fool of yourself do not make a fool of yourself."</p> <p>Everyone around me was so flexible and so good at controlling their breathing that their exhalations kind of scared me because they were so loud. They all looked like Lululemon models and when they did cobra pose, my god, I could actually mistake them for a cobra. My cobra looked more like this:</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="dead dog" /></center></p> <p>During almost every move my hands would slip from all the sweat. Pieces of dirt from my yoga mat were now a part of my skin. My hair was so sweaty and disheveled that with each pose I looked more and more like the creepy girl from <i>The Ring</i>. Everyone around me looked like they were filming some episode of <i>Baywatch </i>and had someone spray a gentle mist of water over them to give them the "just out of the water" look. I looked like I was hanging out in a monsoon.</p> <p>Pam kept watching me to make sure I didn't pass out. She suspected that would happen. Luckily I managed to go the whole class without losing consciousness.</p> <p>And do you want to know what the most difficult pose was? At the end during the cool down she asked us to "just sit up straight, whichever way is comfortable for you." It wasn't even a real yoga pose. It was just SITTING UP and I almost fell over ten times. I wished I had brought my dog pillow to prop me up.</p> <p>I survived. It was touch and go for awhile but I survived. Luckily someone was blocking my view of myself in the mirror. I'm not sure how long it would take me to get over seeing myself attempting to do hot yoga. I wish I could do something for everyone in the studio who had to watch me do it. Maybe give them a sympathy hug or a gift card to Lululemon.</p> <p>And as terrible as all that sounds, I left the studio feeling awesome. Maybe I re-evaluated my dream of becoming a famous yoga practitioner with my own studio, but I felt calm and proud of myself. No one stole my Blundstones, and I walked outside feeling like a new person. I did pretend for a few minutes that I was a yoga expert. I walked around with my yoga mat and assumed everyone was jealous of me because I obviously have my life together if I'm taking time out of my busy schedule to focus on my health and mental wellness. I'd be jealous of me too.</p> <p>And then I went to the mall to buy a towel for my yoga mat so I won't have to swim in my own sweat anymore. And then I went home, got in bed, and ate a box of chocolates. I figure if I do hot yoga 3 times a week I will sweat about 40 pounds off in a month. That leaves so much more room for extra chocolate!</p> <p>If you happen to be as adventurous as I am and want to try out hot yoga, please read these easy to follow tips:</p> <p>1. <b>Drink LOTS of water throughout the day</b>. By drinking lots of water before and after class it will help you with these things: staying alive, not fainting during class, not having insane muscle cramps that make you contemplate chopping off your leg. It isn't enough to just drink lots during class. You are supposed to only take small sips of water during hot yoga.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>2. <b>Invest in a hot yoga towel</b>. Do I really need to explain this tip? You heard my story about the indoor swimming pool. You can seriously slip and break something. Plus it's just plain disgusting.</p> <p>3. <b>Wear clothes that you are comfortable sweating profusely in</b>. I know you may not be used to looking through your closet and thinking "how would this look and feel on me soaking wet?" but it's something you need to consider. Try to avoid wearing a white t-shirt without a bra.</p> <p>4. <b>Don't be afraid to sprawl out on the floor like a corpse if you get overwhelmed</b>. People don't even judge you! It's actually a very safe place to be yourself. No one even made fun of me for looking like the girl from <i>The Ring</i> or for resembling an arthritic dog.</p> <p>5. <b>Don't eat a big meal before hot yoga class</b>. You have to do lots of strange body twists (think <i>The Exorcist</i>) and that might just make you want to puke everywhere. I'm not sure how judgment-free everyone would be if you threw up all over them.</p> <p>I assume I have now inspired all of you reading this to go try hot yoga. If you do try it or are already a practicing yoga player comment here and let me know what you think! Maybe you even have a few tips to add to the list!</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Humor Wellness Health fitness Funny yoga Sat, 29 Nov 2014 03:22:14 +0000 Lisa Walters 1850291 at Love Lessons Learned While Being Single with Cancer <!--paging_filter--><!--break--> <p><em>By Ravid Yosef for</em></p> <p><strong>No one should have to go it alone.</strong></p> <p>An article titled <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">"The Most Overlooked Characteristic Of Who You Want To Marry"</a> by Kevin A. Thompson has been making its rounds on my social timelines of late. The article explores a specific vow you take when getting married: in sickness and in health. The article suggests that the most overlooked characteristic of whom you want to marry is if they can suffer well through those sorrows with you.</p> <p>I had cancer, I can tell you that, good or bad, people will show up in unexpected ways. You may receive love and kindness from someone you never imagined would show up, and people you had expectations for may not show up as you expected. People deal with trauma and sorrow differently, but you never know how they'll deal with it until you go through it.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Love Lessons" /><BR /><em>Credit: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Eren</a></em></center></p> <p>I was bedridden for three months out of eight months of being sick. I had to visit the doctor's office and hospital over 50 times. My family and close set of friends did as much as they could. My brother moved in for a week after each of my surgeries and made sure I had everything I needed.</p> <p>Friends showed up with food and conversation after my first surgery, but as time passed, less and less people showed up. You don't want to be a burden and people have to go on with their lives. That I understood, but at one point I laid in bed for 7 consecutive weeks and the isolation became intolerable.</p> <p>I was single when I got sick, so I can't tell you how my partner showed up for me; I can only tell you how I would have liked him to be there for me.</p> <p>1. I wish that someone else could be strong when I no longer had the strength to be strong for myself.</p> <p>2. I wish there was someone who I knew would show up everyday because they couldn't handle the thought of me being alone for days at a time.</p> <p>3. I wish there was someone to walk around the neighborhood with me even when my muscles were fully depleted from spending so much time in the bed.</p> <p>4. I wish there was someone to hold me on the day my doctor decided I needed yet another surgery.</p> <p>5. I wish there was someone else helping me research on better ways to heal.</p> <p>6. I wish someone was there to get groceries for me so I wouldn't have busted my stitches.</p> <p>7. I wish someone wouldn't accept me saying that I'm okay and that I can do it alone because you can't and should never go through this alone.</p> <p>The role people played in getting through my illness and recovery were compartmentalized, and I feel lucky to have had people there for me at all. I know that one person shouldn't be everything to you, but more than anything I wanted to be able to count on one person to be there in all of these ways.</p> <p>In my time of sorrow, I needed someone who loves me unconditionally, and was willing to suffer with me knowing that health and joy were just around the corner. All we needed to do was get through this together.</p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">7 Heartbreaking Truths I Learned About Love While Battling Cancer</a></em></p> <h2>More From</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">7 Ways Love Transforms Your Brain</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Learn to Write the Best Love Notes Ever</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">50 Love Quotes We Adore</a></li> </ul> <!--pagebreak--><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Health Love & Sex Fri, 28 Nov 2014 20:48:27 +0000 1864819 at Thanks to Exercise, I Feel Better Than I Did 20 Years Ago <!--paging_filter--><p>It was in 1985 while attempting to ski and smoke at the same time that I realized that if exercise's twain and my twain were ever to meet, it'd be in a dark alley and that one of us wasn't coming out alive.</p> <p>Though friends say my attempt that snowy morn was hilarious (sort of an Alpine version of hari-kari), it was all the excuse I needed to give up, and for the ensuing 30 years I've lived with the motto, “You've got to show your body who's boss.”</p> <p>And show it, I did, with oceans of alcohol, full firkins of drugs, cords of cigarettes and any food that didn't scream as I ate it. By the time I hit 40, I was convinced it was too late to do anything but wait politely until the flood of diseases I deserved dragged me down to a glutton's hell where I knew a cubby with my name awaited.</p> <p>But last year I read an article in a smart and expensive magazine at someone else's home that taking up exercise late in life could be as predictive of longevity as a lifetime of healthy living. It seemed cruelly unfair, but fit nicely into the Universe's Plan as I had come to know it and also meant I still had time to play my cards right and become a burden on my family and society, just as I'd always planned. Huzzah!</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Getting Healthy" /><BR /><em>Credit: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Ms. Phoenix</a></em></center></p> <p>I got healthy. I lost 75 pounds, going no-fat vegan and getting an imaginary Internet boyfriend to obsess over.</p> <p>Newly not as fat as I used to be, exercise seemed the sad but inevitable next step. Girding my loins, I strolled around the neighborhood a few times only to learn that sunshine on my shoulder made me morbid and paranoid—I became convinced that all that moseying was gateway exercise leading straight to mall walking, which would lead to wearing clothes from the Vermont Country Store. So I had to stop.</p> <p>I tried Pilates and yoga, both of which hurt in very healthy-feeling ways, but the room smelled like bicycle seat after a few minutes so I was forced to quit. Biking was a no-go from the start on account of the helmets so popular amongst the whippersnapperati, but which in my day would have led quickly to death by Purple Nurple.</p> <p>Aside from the other knee-slapping changes age had visited upon my physique, the muscles I used to lift weights (that time in Akron) were now magically connected to my upper lip and caused an involuntary Elvis sneer whenever I lifted anything heavier than a Kit-Kat bar. My breasts were always too big to take jogging and now they were many other things that made strenuous activities like croquet impossible. That left me with a choice between swimming or badminton, only one of which would happen over my dead body.</p> <p>Swimming worked. Swimming was everything that everything else was not and I got physical fast. Swimming made me feel strong, cured my back problems and allowed me to crumple empty cigarette packs against my forehead in a single bound.</p> <p>But health, longevity, energy and mobility were trifles compared with the satisfaction I get when listening to friends who'd spent a lifetime exercising complain about their blown out knees and creaking joints. I get to say, “I haven't felt this good in 20 years”—and mean it.</p> <em>Originally published at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Purple Clover</a></em> <h2>More From Purple Clover</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Natural Women: 12 Stars Who Say No to Plastic Surgery</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">From Broadway to Hollywood: 12 Musicals Made Into Movies</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">20 Stars Who Dropped Off Your Radar</a></li> </ul> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Health Thu, 27 Nov 2014 19:55:13 +0000 PurpleClover 1861863 at 'What to Expect When You're Expecting' Left Out Some Stuff <!--paging_filter--><p>Like most new moms, I bought the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" book. It introduced me to an entirely new vocabulary with words I'd only heard clicking through shows on TLC — episiotomy, amniocentesis, Pitocin. </p> <p><center> <img src="/files/pregnancy_4.jpg" /><br /> <em>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">velmegunar</a></em></center></p> <p> The book became my roadmap for the next nine (or in my case, 10) months. With every new symptom, I'd flip to the index, turn to the listed page, read the friendly and reassuring Q & A, and return to my life as gestating mother-in-waiting. </p><p> Some experiences in pregnancy and early motherhood, however, were completely unexpected. No amount of flipping and turning, indexing and reading brought me answers or even reassurance. </p><p> Here are a few: </p><p> 1. <strong>How vulnerable you are and feel immediately after giving birth.</strong> During my pregnancy, I mentally and physically prepared for the act of birth, but I went into everything that came afterward completely blind. I was left incredibly weak and a kind nurse had to help me stand to use the bathroom for the first time. I felt more vulnerable then than when I was in the delivery room. </p><p> 2.<strong> Finding the right OB/Gyn can feel a little bit like dating. </strong>First, I met two duds who were at odds with my style, health profile and expectations. And then I met The One. The first time we met, he talked to me for over an hour, assuaged all my worries and answered all my questions.</p><p> 3. <strong> In the final month of pregnancy, you become almost comically huge. </strong>I could barely contain my excitement when my baby bump first started showing. It hit peak cuteness around month seven. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, I became so rotund, I, quite literally, had to roll myself into bed. It made my husband laugh every time.</p><p> 4.<strong> The 3 a.m. argument with your spouse about which one of you is more tired. </strong>At first, you’ll be in good spirits as you stay up during late nights — such sweet, tender moments! Once the novelty of sleeplessness wears off, anywhere between the first and third month of parenthood, you will start to really miss sleep. That’s when you’ll have your first nighttime argument.</p><p> 5. <strong> A quick trip to Target will feel like an indulgence. </strong>The aisles are relatively quiet. There are adults. Neatly organized rows and bright paper packages beckon. I’ll just take the winding route to the diaper section, so that I can look at the new movie releases (all of which I missed in theaters) and maybe peek at the holiday section.</p><p> 6. <strong> Natural and organic baby products aren’t always the most functional. </strong>When you’re prepping the nursery, you might feel the need to stock up on all-natural products for your baby. I acted on that feeling but quickly learned that natural products don’t always work well. Sometimes you have to adjust your expectations. I picked up a pack of Pampers and never looked back.</p><p> 7. <strong> It will take many, many months for your body to feel like itself again. </strong>I’m not even talking about your body looking like your pre-pregnancy self, rather, just feeling like yourself again. It’s hard to describe, but between being almost constantly attached to your newborn, recovering from birth and the adjustments to motherhood, your sense of self is thrown. Eventually, life as a new mom starts to feel normal. And then, you start to feel normal, too.</p><p> 8.<strong> Breastfeeding hurts, like, a lot. </strong>It’s one of those problems you can’t really bring up in mixed company. While mentioned in the "What to Expect" book, the chapter failed to capture the teeth-clenching pain of breastfeeding — particularly in the beginning. Sore nipples, clogged ducts, struggling with positions, improper latch and biting are all painful problems for breastfeeding moms.</p><p> 9. <strong> You become a little bit invisible. </strong>Expectant moms get showered with love and attention. Once your baby arrives, the main comments you’ll hear are: “How is the baby?” “What’s the baby doing?” “What’s new with the baby?” “Send me a picture of the baby.” I’m the person who asks a new mom, “How are you?”</p><p> 10. <strong> New motherhood is intensely emotional. </strong>In the weeks that followed the birth of my baby, I experienced all the emotions a person can feel. I laughed, I cried, I worried. I was in love. Sometimes I felt profoundly connected and inspired. But sometimes I felt isolated and overwhelmed. The breadth and depth of emotion after giving birth is normal. Be assured, it levels off after a while. </p> <p> <em>Originally published on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Mom.Me</a>.</em></p><!--pagebreak--> <h2>More From Mom.Me</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Sometimes Daddy Is Just Better</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Hilarious Horoscopes for Toddlers</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Celeb Moms Through the Years</a></li> </ul><!--pagebreak--><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Pregnancy Health Family Wed, 26 Nov 2014 20:59:12 +0000 1863323 at How to Follow the 80/20 Rule for Being Healthy <!--paging_filter--><p>As a fitness professional, it's expected that I follow the rules. I work out almost every day, I rarely take a day off. I hardly ever eat out. I eat clean and commit to my daily Shakeology. Sounds good right? Where are those abs? <i>Come on baby belly, when will you leave me</i>?</p> <p>I still cheat almost daily. I allow myself to have one cookie. Sometimes I eat an extra carb.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="cookies" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Iryna Yeroshko</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>I used to save my cheats for big desserts such as ice cream or a Snickers. My taste buds have changed so much that these treats are too much, too sweet, they hurt. I end up with sugar headaches or just feel awful. I have found the trick, at least to staying on target, is eating 80/20.</p> <p>The expectation that anyone should be mindful about their health 100% all the time is too much. It leads to failure. It makes nutrition stressful. That's how your weight loss balloons and becomes weight gain instead.</p> <p>Allowing occasional cheats that are portioned and reasonable is the secret to long-term success. To a lifestyle over a fad diet. I've tried both and if you want to sustain your results, 80/20 is key.</p> <p>Part of the key to this way of eating is that I don't just consider my daily portions and calorie intake, but my weekly. I look at my nutrition as a big picture to ensure that I am balanced and eating well all week and not just for a few days. </p> <p>If I have one cookie in three days, that's not a big deal. If you learn to look at it from this big picture stance, it's easier to commit to just one and not beat yourself up over it.</p> <p>For months I would have cheat days where I would binge all day. I would have everything I missed all at once. It took me all week to recover from the bloating and stomach pain. Yet I kept repeating the cycle. </p> <p>I didn't actually <i>like</i> the food anymore; I was eating it because I <i>remembered</i> liking it. I remembered turning to those foods when I was upset. It was a habit ingrained in me, and I kept falling for it. The only way I could break the cycle was to address my emotional issues with food.</p> <p>I went deep, addressing the views I had of myself. The views others had of me. I allowed myself the possibility that I could be skinny and fit. Not that I was, mind you, but that I could be. This freed my psyche to stop worrying that I wasn't pretty, that I wasn't fit, that I would never be. </p> <p>Focusing on progress allowed me to give up the need for perfection. I also lost the drive to push for 100% in my eating. I just can't convince myself that some great sacrifice is worth it.</p> <p>Your health is built over many days. It truly can help you at first to stop all bad habits cold turkey. It isn't healthy to rely on soda or need a constant caffeine source. Working out will help you balance. But if you have one soda, one cookie, in a whole week, it is not the end of the world. No fit police are going to slap them out of your hand and chastise you to do burpees. </p> <p>Focus on how many cookies you would've eaten before and how much control you have now by only having one. Always look forward, only look back to reflect on your progress. You don't have to be perfect, just better than you were yesterday.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Body Image Diet & Fitness NaBloPoMo Wellness Health fitness NaBloPoMo nutrition Wed, 26 Nov 2014 16:35:20 +0000 SarahHawk 1844557 at How I Went from Breast Reduction Surgery to a Mastectomy <!--paging_filter--><p>My first breasts were cartoonishly big, and maybe the only two things about me even slightly aligned with the current female beauty standard where we’re all supposed to look like a video game animation.</p> <p>They had their advantages, like getting me out of speeding tickets and scoring me free drinks. But there is a price to carrying the equivalent of a newborn around one’s neck. My big boobs could be a nuisance—<em>eyes up here, Boss</em>—and were hell on my shoulders. They made any high impact cardio an exercise in whiplash management. And there came a point in every day where I just wanted to rest them on a sturdy shelf and give my back a break, if only for one blissful pain-free minute.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="I Went in for a Breast Reduction and Found Out I Had Breast Cancer" /><br /><em>Credit: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Jennifer Morrow</a></em></center></p> <p>Still, when I found myself in a plastic surgery office awaiting a breast reduction consultation, I wasn’t convinced I’d ever go through with it. I felt guilty for even considering altering my factory presets. I got my chestiness from my mom, and I worried what she’d think. We used to borrow each other’s bras and joke that my twins were basically the twins of her twins. I felt like I was breaking up the band.</p> <p>Then the plastic surgeon found a lump that turned out to be an aggressive form of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">breast cancer</a>, and my decision came swift and sure. Oh, I’d get a breast reduction, all right. Off with the both of them, the sooner the better.</p> <p>I called my mother immediately.</p> <p>“Damn straight you’re getting a mastectomy.” She said, “How soon can they do it?”</p> <p>My boyfriend Ed took the news in stride too, even though I secretly worried that without the giant boobs to mortgage the rest of my various and sundry flaws, I would be far less appealing.</p> <p>“I don’t care if you’re flat,” he said. “And you could get implants shaped like Chuck E. Cheese heads for all I care. I just want you to live.”</p> <p>So did I. When a well-intentioned friend suggested I make a papier-mâché cast of my breasts to properly mourn and bid them farewell, I laughed. I would have sooner papier-mâchéd my middle finger in a high salute. I had no interest in crafting or mourning.</p> <p>The morning of my mastectomy, my doctor marked me up with a blue Sharpie, mapping out the future me in dotted incision lines along my chest. Then she left me alone in the exam room to take a last look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t look for long. There was only going forward now.</p> <p>I left the hospital helpless and in boob limbo, a strange flat place where my old chest used to be. My mother, my boyfriend, and my dear friend Jenee each took turns changing my dressings, and tending to the tubes I’d come home wired with. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">I cried</a> every single time.</p> <p>“I’m so sorry,” I said, over and over, horrified for them, horrified for me, overwhelmed by their tenderness. For weeks, I crumpled every time I looked in the mirror, stitches from armpit to armpit and temporary empty implants just beneath my skin, hard and alien. I couldn’t imagine the scar or the trauma of any of it would fade someday. But it already has.</p> <p>My surgeon injects a little bit of saline into my slowly expanding limbo boobs every other week. Right now, they’re still teensy but they have their advantages, too. My vintage rock T-shirts fit me like I’m in The Strokes, and I can hug Ed so close I feel his heartbeat. I feel extraordinarily relieved, like I’ve had an incendiary device removed from my chest and disarmed in the eleventh hour by a bomb squad. If I’d chickened out and skipped the plastic surgery consultation, I might have put off a mammogram for years. And by then there would have been no saving me.</p> <p>Six months from now, when I’ve finished chemo and radiation, I’ll have reconstructive surgery. I’ll swap the temporary expanders for average-sized implants. Nothing too Kardashian. Me version 2.0 will have bionic nipples and bespoke areola carefully rendered by a 3-D tattoo artist. I’m excited to finally get a tattoo Mom will approve of, and she might even go to the parlor with me. We live in strange and remarkable times.</p> <p>For now, I don’t feel less womanly rocking my new training bras—I just feel lucky. I’m not my old boobs, my temporary boobs or my future boobs—I am alive. And if I mourn anything about my first breasts, it’s only that in all the years I had them, I never once thought to dress up as Dolly Parton for Halloween. But I don’t miss them, not even a tiny bit, and I don’t think I ever will. I wouldn’t miss anyone who tried to kill me.</p> <em>Originally published at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Purple Clover</a></em> <h2>More From Purple Clover</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">From Broadway to Hollywood: 12 Musicals Made Into Movies</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">20 Stars Who Dropped Off Your Radar</a></li> </ul> <!--pagebreak--><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Health Work/Life Tue, 25 Nov 2014 19:53:52 +0000 PurpleClover 1861781 at Read These Tips for Turkey Safety <!--paging_filter--><p>Don't Wash Your Turkey. It Could Kill You!</p> <p>You know what's even a worse Thanksgiving fail than politics at the dinner table, salt in the pie instead of sugar, or being stuck in #Snovember?</p> <p>Salmonella. </p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">According to the Centers for Disease Control</a>, 1 in 6 Americans get food poisoning each year. That's 48 million people. 128,000 hospital visits. 3,000 <em>deaths</em>. Whoa.</p> <p><iframe width="540" height="390" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>And it gets worse during the holiday, when the pressure's on to get the turkey to the table on time. People take shortcuts. People work in crowded kitchens, with never enough space on the countertop or in the fridge. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Turkey with thermometer" /><br /></center></p> <p>People wash the turkey. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Turkey Safety Tips" /><br /><a href="" target="_blank">Click to enlarge</a></center></p> <p>Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Ad Council shared some life-saving food safety information as part of the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><strong>Food Safe Families</strong></a> campaign. Check it out. I don't want you to DIE.</p> <p>In fact, download that infographic, (in <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">English</a> or <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Spanish</a>), print them out, and put them in the kitchen, right next to your recipes. Or bring them to share with your host. If you feel weird about bringing them to your host's house … well, now you know why I host Thanksgiving. (What, did you think I was just gracious?)</p> <p>Although <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">many women prefer leftovers to the actual Thanksgiving meal</a>, we'll need to ditch the tradition of leaving the cooked turkey on the counter for people to nibble then tossing it in the fridge at the end of the night. (Is that just me? Why am I <em>alive</em>?) Here, some leftover wisdom from Food Safe Families.</p> <ul> <li>Carve the whole turkey and refrigerate or freeze in shallow containers so they cool quickly and evenly. </li> <li>Eat all leftovers within 3-4 days. Or toss.</li> <li>Throw away all perishable foods that were left out at room temperature for more than two hours. This also includes leftovers you bring home from Thanksgiving. </li> <li>Reheat solid leftovers to at least 165 degrees. Use a food thermometer. Reheat liquid leftovers to a rolling boil. Don't taste leftovers to see if they're okay to eat; bacteria that will make you sick doesn't affect the taste, smell, or appearance of food.</li> </ul> <p>Now that I've saved your life (<em>you're welcome</em>), consider paying it forward. Here's what you can do to spread the word:</p> <ul> <li>Write a post sharing the video and turkey safety infographic. </li> <li>Share the Food Safety Hotline at 1-800-535-4555, open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.</li> <li>Share socially. The campaign has provided some sample tweets and Facebook posts, but anything that shares this information and helps people find is great.</li> </ul> <h2>Sample Tweets </h2> <ul> <li>Washing hands for 20 secs is one of the most effective ways to prevent spreading of foodborne illness. More tips at</li> <li>Don't wash turkey! Washing spread juices that may contain bacteria onto sinks, counters &amp; surfaces. More tips at</li> <li>Keep raw turkey from other foods and use separate cutting boards &amp; utensils to prevent cross-contamination. More tips</li> <li>Cooking your turkey to 165 °F is the only way to kill harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. More tips at</li> </ul> <h2>Sample Facebook posts</h2> <ul> <li>Don't serve up harmful bacteria with your turkey and pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving. Follow these tips for preparing a safe and delicious meal. (Link: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="" class="external-link"></a>)</li> <li>Don't wash your turkey! Washing only spreads juices that may contain harmful bacteria onto sinks, counters &amp; surfaces. Cooking your turkey to 165 °F is the only way to kill harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. For more turkey tips visit </li> <li>Refrigerate leftover stuffing and turkey within 2 hours to prevent bacteria growth, and they'll be safe for the next 4 days. That's until Tuesday! Find more tips at </li> </ul> <h2>Remember: Wash your hands, wash your surfaces, wash utensils, plates, and cutting boards. But <em>don't wash the turkey</em>.</h2> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Cooking for Health Food Special Occasion Health Family BlogHer Holidays Tue, 25 Nov 2014 14:31:17 +0000 Julie Ross Godar 1856717 at How My Son Improved His Health & Changed His Risk Factors <!--paging_filter--><p>Turns out sugar and processed foods really are very bad things. Or, at least they are for my autistic teenage son. Eliminating those foods (mostly) from his diet was a big part in Leo going from being at high risk for type II diabetes, pancreatitis, and heart disease just a year ago, to him having none of those risk factors at all today.</p> <p>We know he went from at-risk to risk-free because his endocrinologist&mdash;who seems thrilled with his progress and had been tracking his factors closely via blood tests&mdash;told us so. Leo started seeing that specialist in tandem with dietitian last year, after his pediatrician asked us to check in with them. The pediatrician felt concerned that Leo's weight might be an indicator of other health problems.</p> <p>His pediatrician is not the only person concerned about weight and its effects on the well-being of autistic kids like Leo. As <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Emily Singer writes at</a>, "30 percent of children with autism are overweight or obese, a rate that is significantly higher than in the general population."</p> <p>The reason for this higher rate is not entirely clear. Some suspect the higher rate is due to the side effects of medications commonly prescribed for autistic people, medications like Risperdal (which Leo does take). Other factors, like self-limited diets potentially leading to over-consumption of certain foods, are less defined.</p> <p>It's not clear why Leo became overweight, either. Weight gain is one of the known possible side effects of Risperdal, but it's not a guarantee (and Leo tends to opt for rare or paradoxical meds side effects, not expected ones). We also know that my son comes from two families of hungry people, families whose men tend toward pudgy pre-teens, then slim down as puberty progresses.</p> <p>But the why's of Leo's being overweight didn't really matter as much as <em>what</em> being overweight might mean for his health. Since we wanted to make sure Leo was healthy, we took him to see the specialist as ordered. Leo's endocrinologist ordered a bunch of blood tests, Leo submitted to the testing&mdash;so many vials!&mdash;and we waited for the results.</p> <p>When they came back, those results were not good. Not anything close to good. In fact, Leo's health ranked as at risk in several areas due to elevated cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglycerides.</p> <p>Thankfully, as the endocrinologists's consulting dietitian reassured us, those factors were all manageable through diet and exercise. And she laid out a plan for us: Reduce sugar, eliminate juices, eat more whole grains, exercise more. And come back in a few months for a re-evaluation.</p> <p>We helped Leo do everything she recommended. With the support of Leo's home team, we stepped up <a href="">his existing exercise program</a> to include even more intensive activities, like <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">running bleachers</a>. We stopped having juice in our home, or as occasional grocery store treats (which made me sad; Leo loves those funky spirulina-laden green juices, and I'd always been glad for the opportunity to work anything containing even trace vegetables into his diet). </p> <p>We stopped having weekly donuts or sweets, and instead opted for the savory versions&mdash;bagels or plain croissants. And we did this for months. And then Leo had more blood tests done. And then we went back in for another consult.</p> <p>The results were cheering. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Leo was so much healthier;</a> all of his risk factors had decreased, as had his weight to height ratio. But the risks had not been eliminated. So the dietitian inventoried Leo's diet, then advised us to cut processed foods from his diet entirely.</p> <p>That included Leo's beloved spinach-dusted veggie booty (which had been another of his rare green foods preferences). That included his beloved plain croissants and the plain bagels he had for breakfast on most days. She said we needed to swap in whole grain baked goods instead, and opt for those with higher protein contents and lower sugar contents.</p> <p>She even advised us to get rid of nonfat vanilla yogurt, which at the time was practically Leo's only calcium source, and replace it with artificially sweetened nonfat vanilla yogurt. As a reflexive artificial sweetener avoider, that part made me balk. But the dietitian assured me that the trade off would be worth it. (Leo, as you can see in the photo, thinks the new yogurt is dandy.) </p> <p><center><img src="" title="" alt="" /></center></p> <p>And guess what? Three months later when we went back, Leo's health came out of the red zone for all his risk factors. Every single one. Due to dietary changes he did not mind and that were simple to help him make, and exercise activities he enjoys. </p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>I feel relieved for my newly healthy son.</p> <p>But we're not done. His endocrinologist and dietitian told us there are further actions Leo can take, as his <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">BMI</a> has steadily decreased, but his medical team would like to see it decrease even more. And we're helping him take them. </p> <p>The local grocery store has whole grain pizza dough, which means I now use that instead of white flour crust take-and-bake Costco pizza for our weekly pizza night. And when we decide to go out for pizza, we choose places like <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">CPK</a> that have whole wheat crust options. </p> <p>We have reduced his banana intake from 1-2 a day to a few times per week, as bananas are blood sugar raisers, quite high on that <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">glycemic index</a>. We go on more hikes. And it's all fairly casual, and minimally stressful for Leo, thank heavens.</p> <p>I think Leo has tolerated all the food changes because we ensure he always has access to food options he likes. Plus he can still have occasional treats from the forbidden food lists, and he does (trust me). I'm used to bringing Leo's food with us when we're out, as he dislikes most restaurant foods.</p> <p> So when <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">we went to Disneyland last week for his 14th birthday</a>, for instance, my shoulder bag contained whole grain mini bagels, apples, and low fat string cheese (and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">tangerines for his little sister</a>). Leo did not feel deprived while we were at the Happiest Place on Earth, and I did not worry about it when he requested white flour pancakes for breakfast, especially since they were a special birthday treat.</p> <p>I'm also not worried if Leo remains overweight from our culture's rather messed-up perspective, because we're keeping close tabs on his health, and we know that "overweight" is not the same as unhealthy. As <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">XX Factor writer Virgina Sole-Smith notes</a>,</p> <blockquote><p>"In order to put weight in its place, we need to acknowledge that our obsession with it is fully about beauty and has almost nothing to do with health. Then parents could have frank conversations with their kids — but they wouldn't be about weight or size. They'd be about eating well, staying active and treating their bodies with love and respect."</p> </blockquote> <p>But I am glad we got Leo's health on track now, and while he's young, rather than only reacting after he hit a health crisis. His pediatrician seems justified in her concern for Leo; health issues are too-prevalent in the autism communities and for many autistic people.</p> <p>As <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Autism researcher Lisa Croen recognizes</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>"It’s really critical for people with autism to learn from a very young age [about] healthy lifestyles and healthy habits. If you want to prevent some of these chronic diseases like obesity and hypertension and heart disease, diabetes in adulthood, you've got to start very early and have all your ducks in a row as you approach adulthood. So I think it’s really critical for parents to be aware that even given the challenges, it’s really important to do whatever they can and to work with their teachers and health care providers to figure out ways for their kids to have healthy nutrition and exercise."</p> </blockquote> <p>I hope Leo's experience helps other people and families take action on their health as well. I realize that for many of us, and for many of our kids, making any lifestyle changes at all can result in a significant challenge. And while the healthier multi-grain and other options for Leo's favorite foods are easy to find in our area, they are <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">neither available nor in-budget</a> for many.</p> <p>But consider this: Cutting out juice, and choosing savory instead of sweet foods is something just about anyone can try. Consider that Leo is a person who requires 1:1 support in his daily living, and has very specific ideas about acceptable eating and exercise. He was able to make these changes, despite my fear and hesitation. Similar changes might be possible for you and/or your child, too, and it's never too late to try.</p> <p>(<em>Standard caveat: I am neither a doctor nor a registered dietitian. Our personal experiences shouldn't be considered medical advice. Please consults professionals regarding your or your child's diet or lifestyle changes.</em>)</p> <p>----</p> <p><em>Shannon Des Roches Rosa may consider improving her own diet and lifestyle, one of these days. If she does, you'll hear about it at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>, <a href=""></a>, or <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>.</em></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Wellness Special needs Health Family Autism health parenting Tue, 25 Nov 2014 13:26:48 +0000 Shannon Des Roches Rosa 1856146 at 5 Ways to Avoid Putting on Weight From Alcohol <!--paging_filter--><p>After I shared the low-down on the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">4 "healthiest" things to drink at the bar</a>, a reader (hi, Laura!) posed a fantastic question in response. Though she's already making the relatively low-sugar, low-calorie choices of "liquor + club soda + lime" when she's out, drinking alcohol "feels like the one 'unhealthy' habit left when eating well and exercising. It feels like two steps forward, one step back!"</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>She's <i>totally</i> not alone in this dilemma (raises hand in solidarity), and even if you're not out getting crazy or stumbling home at 2am every night, just catching up with friends or getting dinner after work so often involves drinking that some of us can't remember the last time we <i>didn't</i> have a drink.</p> <p>As we head into the holiday season, monitoring your alcohol consumption so you remain healthy becomes even harder. Here's how to curb a habit that might not feel excessive in the moment, but that can often lead to weight creep, groggy mornings, or a potential addiction later down the line.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="alcohol" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Bachmont</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>Keep Your Reasons Where You Can See Them</h1> </p> <p>Whatever your reasons for cutting back on alcohol may be, those reasons <i>will </i>fade away on Friday night or at a holiday party, especially when your friend just bought a round and it feels too rude to say no. So before making the switch, think hard about what you have to gain from limiting your drinks, such as:</p> <p> <ul> <li>Security and peace of mind from having more money in the bank</li> <li>Confidence from that beer-belly-free bod you're working on</li> <li>Calmness and control from a quiet morning ritual (rather than a stressful, hungover rush to work)</li> </ul> </p> <p>And WRITE THAT SHIT DOWN. Keep your reasons where you can't miss them. Post-its in the cash pocket of my wallet and in front of my credit card do wonders for me, but you might get the same benefit from setting your list of reasons as the background of your phone, or tattooing them on the insides of your eyelids.</p> <p> <h1>Keep a Daily Record</h1> </p> <p>What gets tracked, gets done. Without daily records, I wouldn't get <i>anything</i> done. And since it's the 21st century, keeping a record of anything you need is a breeze: hello, generic "Notes" app on your phone. I use that thing to track my weekly expenses, my workouts, and pretty much every other trackable thing imaginable.</p> <p>Keeping a record of your drinking habits is as simple.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="keeping track" /></center></p> <p>Just write down</p> <p> <ul> <li>number of drinks</li> <li>types of drinks</li> <li>place consumed</li> <li>price</li> </ul> </p> <p>The photo above is how I'd do this because I'm lazy and cheap. If you wanna get fancy (or nerdy) about it, though, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">there's an app for that</a>.</p> <p> <h1>Find a Different Ritual</h1> </p> <p>We've all heard that a glass of wine contains antioxidants, or that it's okay to re-fuel after a hard run with a bottle of beer. But let's be honest, you're not drinking for your health, and neither am I. We drink for fun or to relax (depending on the situation), and most of all, we drink because <i>it's a ritual</i>. It's a way to shift gears from work/day mode to evening time, or to celebrate an event. Much of the drinking I did last year was <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">before shows</a> to a) reward myself for making it through work, and b) get through the next several hours of music/client hangs/after-parties.</p> <p>It's not always the drink itself, but that <i>ritual </i>of shifting gears, that we become addicted to. And those rituals are still totally something that should happen — they could just happen in a lot of healthier ways.</p> <p>Let's say you'd normally pour yourself a glass of wine when you get home. There are plenty of other ways to wind down that won't kill your motivation to work out, or leave your head aching the next morning. Think about the other sensations that make you feel treated — what smells make you happiest? What do you love to feel on your skin? Would queuing up your <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">favorite slow jams</a> and splurging on a candle from that fancy local boutique create a similarly relaxing experience? Would taking a hot shower help wash away the day's stress?</p> <p>PS: I actually dug into the topic of creating healthier rituals, and how to do it successfully, in my <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">most recent newsletter</a>.</p> <p> <h1>Designate "Rest" Days</h1> </p> <p>One of my clients recently took a trip to LA (I know, I'm jealous, too). She, like me, is a frequent social drinker, but didn't want partying to undo all the progress she'd been making toward her healthy eating goals. So we chose 3 days of the week that would be her "indulge" days (when she'd order a beer or a vodka soda when she went out), and the other 4 were her "rest" days (when she'd order just club soda + lime). Knowing that she'd be able to treat herself to something alcoholic again the following day allowed her to feel relaxed, rather than socially anxious, on her rest days. She wasn't giving up drinking <i>forever</i>, just for the day.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>We intentionally chose the term "rest" days because it highlighted the fact that she was doing something restorative and GOOD for herself, rather than something that was pointlessly limiting, or that made her feel like a party pooper.</p> <p> <h1>Don't Keep Alcohol in the House</h1> </p> <p>Just as keeping <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">crappy snacks in the house leads to more crappy eating</a>, keeping alcohol in the house leads to, well, more drinking. Make it a treat — something to do when you're out with friends, not something to seek solace in after every long day at work.</p> <p>If you <i>must </i>keep booze in the house, limit your stock to only one bottle at a time, and set a minimum on how many days you can go before buying another one (a bottle of whiskey a month, or a six pack of beer every two weeks, etc).</p> <p><b>Are you worried about putting on weight from alcohol this holiday season or do you struggle to kick an indulgence that's become too habitual? Share your thoughts in the comments below—I'd be happy to toss ideas back and forth with you</b>.</p> <p><i>This post originally appeared on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Eat Well. Party Hard.</a></i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Drinks Health #diet and nutrition alcohol drinking Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:05:13 +0000 EatWell.PartyHard. 1599011 at Does Any Woman Really Need Peach Scented Nethers? <!--paging_filter--><p>So I was shown an article today about the possibility of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">peach scented girly bits</a>.</p> <p>Yeah, you read that right.</p><p>Oh, and it was developed by dudes.</p><p>Thanks, dudes!</p> <center><img src="" /></center> <p><center><em><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Peach in woman's hands</a>, Image Credit: Shutterstock</em></center></p> <p>Because these men are very concerned about women's urinary tract infections and yeast infections, they have come up with a lovely probiotic that will help clear that shiz right up.</p><p>The bonus? Your vagina will smell like a peach.</p><p>That's right, ladies, your vagina will now remind everyone around you of Georgia, and pie, and that song by The Presidents of the United States of America.</p><p>I have a few thoughts:&nbsp;</p><p><strong>1. Will they make chocolate scented UTI meds for guys?</strong> Probably not, we wouldn't be that lucky.</p><p><strong>2. How strong will this peach scent be?</strong> Will everyone around you smell it and automatically know that you have a UTI or yeast infection? That's TMI on a level I'm not sure I will ever be comfortable with.</p><p>*sniff sniff* "Oh, HEY, Marsha, smells like you have a UTI!"</p><p><strong>3. &nbsp;The ramifications of this scented vagine-ny goodness could be huge.</strong> What if a man was innocently eating a peach on his way home from work, and his wife smells it on him. She might think he was cheating and&nbsp;<span style="text-decoration: line-through;">kill</span> have a serious talk with him.</p><p><strong>4. Will they come up with new scents every few years?</strong> Not a huge fan of peaches, myself, maybe I want popcorn, or peanut butter. Maybe I want to smell like a Dairy Queen Peanut Buster Parfait with extra peanuts, and peanut butter sauce on the side?</p><p>I hope this was just an interesting side effect, and not on purpose, because, really, I already dye my hair, shave my legs, pluck that one winding chin hair that is longer than I am tall, do I really need to scent my vagina, too?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Come find me at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Body Image Science Current Events Humor Feminism Technology Health Love & Sex News & Politics # #life #humor body image women's health Fri, 21 Nov 2014 17:29:37 +0000 carriewible 1857766 at PCOS and Weight: How to Get Your Groove Back <!--paging_filter--><p>When I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) earlier this year, the doctors game me all kinds of helpful (and alarming!) information about the condition.&nbsp; What they didn’t tell me was that their diagnosis would trigger my long-dormant obsession with the bathroom scale, send me into a calorie-counting frenzy and give my self esteem a serious pummeling.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="scale" /></center></p> <p>For the happily uninitiated, PCOS is a disorder that causes the ovaries to produce high levels of male hormones, which messes with egg production and produces cysts on the ovaries.&nbsp; It comes with a fun list of potential symptoms, including crazy periods, weight gain, obesity, and infertility. It’s also linked to insulin resistance and diabetes.</p> <p>Aside from those scary ones, a lot of the symptoms seemed tailor-made for messing with my vanity. “You may experience male pattern baldness, while at the same time, grow excess hair on the face and body,” I was told. </p> <p>Neat.</p> <p>I was relieved at first to hear that weight gain was a possible symptom, as I had been baffled by why my clothes were suddenly feeling so snug, since I hadn’t made any significant changes to my diet or exercise routine in the past year. I figured I was probably back up to my highest weight, which would have meant a ten pound weight gain over the course of the year.</p> <p>That sense of relief whooshed out of me when I stepped on the scales and found that I’d gained ten pounds on top of my highest weight, meaning I’d gained twenty pounds in one year, which on my 5’2” frame is a pretty significant amount. Not the end of the world certainly, but a couple more years like that and I’d be in dangerous territory, health-wise.</p> <p>After having read how next-to-impossible it can be for women with PCOS to lose weight, a little knot of panic started to form at the base of my neck at the thought of losing control of my own body. I started calculating how many pounds I could safely lose by my friend’s wedding, or, shudder, by the dress-up boudoir photo shoot the bridal party was supposed to take part in.</p> <p>I didn’t want to give in to the fear that I’d wake up with diabetes the next morning if I didn’t get a handle on things, so for a couple weeks I tried the things I’ve always done when I felt like my jeans were just a little snug: cut back on my already moderate chocolate and alcohol intake and get in an extra workout or two. After three weeks of that, I had gained a pound. That’s when the panic really set in.</p> <p>Even so, I knew I should be careful where diet and weight loss were concerned. I wanted to go about it in a healthy way.</p> <p>So, I did hours upon hours of research into PCOS-related weight gain and strategies to overcome it. I cut out sugar completely, then simple carbohydrates. I upped my lean protein intake and lowered my dairy. I started taking a drugstore-full of vitamin supplements every morning. I drank spearmint tea every day. I bought a kettle bell to make sure I was working up a sweat on days when I didn’t have barre class. I started buying protein powder (which I had previously believed to be one of the most evil substances known to man). And guys, I actually drank it! And I tracked it all, down to every last unsalted almond, with an app on my phone.</p> <p>While there’s nothing wrong with any of those things individually, and while I wasn’t exactly starving myself, I was not in a good space mentally. Even though I know better, I found myself scrutinizing and hissing insults at my reflection.&nbsp; I started weighing myself every day. Sometimes more than once. Slowly, finally, the numbers did start to drop, but my mood was not improving.</p> <p>I stopped enjoying going to restaurants, as menus just started to look like lists of delicious things I couldn’t have.&nbsp; I started thinking about things like how much sugar is in a carrot. Seriously.&nbsp; When a dog ate my homemade salt and vinegar chickpeas at an outdoor movie where everyone else was chowing down on delicious burgers and fries, I almost lost my damn mind.</p> <p>Thinking about food and my weight started to take up a disproportionate amount of my day. My fitness/food app helpfully texted me if I missed logging a meal, and it was the last thing I looked at before I went to sleep every night.&nbsp; I was in a bit of a downward spiral towards unhealthy obsession. </p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>Then one busy weekend, I missed logging a few meals. Lo and behold, the world didn’t end. I didn’t die, or instantly come down with diabetes or even gain back the weight I had lost so far.&nbsp; I was still aware of portions, and carb/sugar content, but when I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t thinking about eating. And having my mind back, free to think about things aside from myself, my health, and my diet was absolutely delicious.</p> <p>I halfheartedly went back to tracking my food and exercise for a few more days before giving it up completely. I integrated the fore-banned toast back into my breakfast. I stopped weighing myself every day or even every week. I allowed myself a little chocolate here and there.&nbsp; I resigned myself to the idea that I would have to get used to carrying a little extra weight every year, and that maybe diabetes and yoyo-ing hormones were just an inevitable part of my future.</p> <p>I expected to see evidence of this when I stepped back on the scale a few weeks later.&nbsp; I didn't.&nbsp; I half believe that some of the weight my body was holding onto was the stress of thinking about it all the time.&nbsp; Now I’m more careful and aware of the amount of sugar and empty carbs I eat and the amount of exercise I get, but I simply won’t let it be the major focus of my life anymore. It’s amazing how a topic can bore and distress you at the same time.</p> <p>I'm glad I finally got a diagnosis, and I'm happy that I've been able to take action now, before the effect on my health became too detrimental, but making so many changes all at once made the whole endeavour feel drastic and overwhelming.</p> <p>So my advice for anyone managing symptoms of PCOS is to start with just two things.</p> <p>1. <b>Reduce your sugar intake</b>. Use baby steps if you need to and don’t worry about banning every carb you happen to crave, just be aware of them and pick a couple of substitutions you think you can stick to, and go from there.</p> <p>2. <b>Exercise</b>. Even if you start with just an hour of leisurely strolling every day. Whatever you do now, just increase it a little. You don’t have to be an Olympian to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of getting a move on.</p> <p>Don’t overdo it. Don’t make a million changes to your diet and lifestyle at once. Not only can this feel overwhelming and discouraging, but because if you start to have more regular periods or see some weight loss happen if that’s part of your treatment plan, you will have a hard time pinpointing the things that actually helped.</p> <p>Get lots of sleep, hang out with supportive, body-positive pals, and most importantly, do not rely on your scale to tell you how you feel.</p> <p>That hunk of plastic only knows one tiny detail about you, and you’re so much more than that.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Body Image Diet & Fitness Health #PCOS women's health Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:52:40 +0000 Metamorphocity 1845087 at Relax, Toddler Screen Time Is OK! <!--paging_filter--><p>Feeling terrible about sticking your tot with the iPad for a few minutes just so you can brush your teeth? Fear not, Mom—new research is here to wash at least some of that guilt away. In a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">new guide released by Zero to Three</a>, a nonprofit organization that conducts infant and toddler research, experts get to the bottom of the screen time debate more than ever before. Their goal? To find out just how "detrimental" screen time really is for kids, anyway. </p> <p><center><img src="/files/babyipad.jpg" /><br /> <em>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">beglen</a></em></center></p><p> And it turns out, it's not all that bad. </p><p> The guide, called "Screen Sense: Setting the Record Straight," is the result of basically tells parents in a nutshell that screen time is A-OK—so long as your kid also gets plenty of interactive playtime in the real world, too. It also reiterates the fact that screen time should be a "shared experience" so kids don't just zone out to a TV screen or iPad game all on their own. </p><p> Seem like no-brainer advice? Maybe so, but it actually differs a bit from what the American Academy of Pediatrics has been telling parents for years. So far, the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">AAP has made strong recommendations against screen time for kids under the age of two</a>. </p><p> The fear, of course, has to do with the belief that getting glued to an iPad for hours will deter kids from engaging properly, getting the right kind of one-on-one time with Mom and Dad that they need, and learning basic concepts through methods other than a screen. But should the answer really be a hard no when it comes to games, videos and other forms of media that may actually be beneficial? As "Screen Sense" advises, parents need only keep three tips in mind when trying to strike the right balance between their kid's use of media and real-life engagement: </p> <ol><li>watch shows together as much as possible</li> <li>play screen-based games together</li><li>help your child make connections between what they're seeing on the screen and how it relates to the real world.</li></ol> <p>For more advice from the researchers behind "Screen Sense," <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">read their tips for parents</a>.(PDF) </p><p> Much has been made about screen time limits over the years. Aside from the AAP's recommendations, studies have also claimed <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">less screen time means happier, healthier kids</a>, and that it will even <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">cut down on some of their crankiness</a>. But this latest research will surely cause many parents to finally breathe a sigh of relief. </p><p> <em>Originally published at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Mom.Me</a></em></p> <h2>More from Mom.Me</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Feminist Male Anchor Re-Wears Suit to Prove a Point</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Mom, Daughter Give Birth On the Same Day</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Fake Trailer Spoofs the Holidays, Nails It</a></li> </ul> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Technology Health Family Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:56:46 +0000 1852454 at How to Deal With the Holidays When You Don't Eat Like Your Family Does <!--paging_filter--><p>The holiday season is especially hard for some of us, if we're trying to eat plant-based around family members who don't, or if we're grappling with some disordered eating patterns.</p> <p>I'm going through both of these struggles.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Thanksgiving when you're struggling with food issues" /></center></p> <p>I coped with<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"> many forms of disordered eating throughout my life</a>, mainly due to emotional issues surrounding loss, food addictions, and some personal issues I went through during childhood. I carried these with me for years, until I decided to seek recovery four years ago. I have been eating healthfully ever since, with great success.</p> <p>Eating a plant-based diet helped free me from disordered thoughts around food; more so than I ever imagined possible. I still have to watch my intake of high-carb foods, which always trigger blood sugar problems and overeating when I eat them to excess. But since balancing my diet and eating more protein and fat than carbs, I've really been full all around the clock, and I've suffered much fewer disordered thoughts around food.</p> <p>Some may call this a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">ketogenic diet</a>, which is what I believe initially freed me from my seizures and food addictions years ago. It's essentially what I've done with my food intake again recently, but this time I've made my version more plant-based, and I love it.</p> <p>But I'm normal, and the holidays can still trigger difficult situations for me having to explain myself to other people, or figure out how to fit in around people who don't eat the way I do.</p> <p>This holiday season, if you're struggling with eating in any way, remember that the holidays are not about food. Sure, the meal is a huge part of the celebration … but being with people you care about is more important than anything else.</p> <p>While I might not enjoy most of my mom's meat or cheese-filled foods, I do enjoy more of the traditional fare (hello, sweet potatoes and green beans!) than I used to.</p> <p>My family used to be concerned when I turned down the mashed potatoes, fried turkey, and greasy gravy&mdash;not to mention the yeast rolls and pie I used to devour like they were candy. But now, they understand what I’ve been through. They have seen me recover from my disorder while still eating a very healthy diet, and they respect my passion for health. </p> <p>I have never felt pressured, but do often get offered meat with jokes insinuating I don’t eat more than salads. I ignore these for the most part, but sometimes, they do hurt a bit. So I found a simple solution that shows I can eat all while maintaining my health and recovery desires at the same time: preparing my own food.</p> <p>I've learned to make my own healthy foods for the holidays, which is one of my favorite ways to share healthy eating with others. Though they might not eat choose it over the traditional turkey and stuffing, it does allow them to see that just because you're plant-based doesn't mean you can't enjoy great food.</p> <p>I'm definitely making this <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">no-bake pumpkin pie</a> from last year. It's the perfect example of how to make a traditional food taste amazing, yet also be healthier at the same time.</p> <p>Another simple thing I've found to be helpful is to make yourself >a new breakfast to try as the seasons change. This can help you from getting in a food rut, start the day off on the right foot, can inspire growth, and can challenge you to try new, healthy foods. </p> <p><strong>Takeaway: Get creative with your recipes this holiday season and try something new, even if it's <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">. Just one little change in your meals may make all the difference in helping you feel more ready to try other new things.</a></strong></p> <p><em>A version of this post originally appeared on my blog, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">The Soulful Spoon</a>.</em></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Cooking for Health Food Special Occasion Health BlogHer Holidays Wed, 19 Nov 2014 20:57:36 +0000 The Soulful Spoon 1851370 at Yikes! You Can Lose Your Hair From a Medication <!--paging_filter--><p>"Wow, you have a LOT of hair." I can’t tell you over the course of my life how many times I’ve heard this sentence (or a variation of it). I’ve been a bridesmaid around seven or eight times, and when it came down to creating the schedule for girls getting their hair done the day of the wedding, I was always one of the first. I had a ton of hair, so I was inevitably going to take the longest.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="hair 1" /></center></p> <p><center><img src="" alt="hair 2" /></center></p> <p>Even as a child, I always had this long, thick, dark hair with heavy bangs that started mid-scalp and came down to my eyebrows. Growing up like this has resulted in my hair essentially becoming my ‘security blanket’ — I ALWAYS keep it long and very rarely even wear it up.</p> <p>Sure, throughout the years as I got older, damage from hair products, blow dryers and straighteners changed my hair a bit, and as a result it lost a bit of its luxurious thickness and even the curliness that developed in my young adult years. But alas, I still had a lot of it.</p> <p><b>Until a year ago.</b></p> <p>Unfortunately, I’m a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">chronic migraine sufferer</a>. I’ve dealt with it for most of my life, but luckily there have been periods of time where it’s completely under control. But occasionally, something weird will happen in this ol’ noggin of mine and things will start to get all out of whack. And that’s exactly what happened back in 2013.</p> <p>Horrible, debilitating migraines every day. That is not an exaggeration: <b>EVERY. SINGLE. DAY</b>. I was literally living my life in a constant state of agony, discomfort and unhappiness, and it sucked. So I did what anyone would do: I made an emergency neurologist appointment.</p> <p>Long story short, we determined that my migraines had become unmanageable, and my regular prescription meds were no longer doing the trick. So the doctor prescribed an anti-seizure medication to me that’s known for helping migraine sufferers and acts as a preventive treatment when taken daily. He warned me it was a strong medication with some possible strong side effects, but I felt like I had no other choice. To be honest, I would have drank cow’s blood if he told me it would have worked. Sign me the hell up.</p> <p>So I started the medication. And in the very beginning, I transformed into an idiotic, non-focused, non-attention span having, exhausted person. My body and brain were adjusting to this new drug, and as a result I had some short-term memory problems and felt mentally worn out. But eventually, that subsided. The side effects got better and even more important, I <i>felt </i>better. This is a miracle drug! I was happy, relieved and feeling more like myself again for a few months until...</p> <p><b>My hair started falling out.</b></p> <p>Now, I don’t mean how the average woman’s hair falls out, because I know that’s normal. I’ve always read that we’re supposed to lose about 100 strands a day… <i>but I was losing that just in the shower.</i> There were huge, gross clumps of hair everywhere. On the bathroom floor, in my brushes and combs, and floating around my apartment like tumbleweed in an old Western movie.</p> <p>I was terrified.</p> <p>And I don’t mean to sound vain here, <b>BUT GUYS, I AM REALLY REALLY VAIN. </b>My hair — <i>my once long, thick nice hair</i> — my security blanket, was detaching from my head at rapid speed. So I went online and researched all the side effects for the medication I was on. I knew about the big ones: weight loss, inability to focus, numbness in the hands and feet, etc. But then I scrolled down the (long) list and found it: HAIR LOSS.</p> <p><i>Uh uh. Nope.</i></p> <p>My headaches were better, yes, and I was thankful for that. But I’d be lying to you if I said I was okay with this new “problem” of mine. At the rate my hair was coming out, I’d have been bald in a few months. So, I talked to my doctor and eventually weaned myself off the drug. Thankfully, after I stopped taking it, the headaches were minimal and so was my um, <i>shedding</i>.</p> <p>Months later, I went to a dermatologist and decided to talk to her about my experience on the medication and what it did to my hair. I expected her to look at me and say I was fine and there was nothing to worry about, but that’s not what happened. She observed my scalp closely and told me that my hair <i>had</i> in fact thinned a bit, and even though it might have stopped after I ceased the medication, I should start Rogaine.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><b>HAHAHAHAHAHA.</b></p> <p>Wait, what? You’re serious?</p> <p>Sure, she said — it will help to regrow back some of the hair I lost in the months I was on the medication, and will (hopefully) prevent <i>additional</i> loss. She said it so casually, like she was telling me to go buy Tylenol.</p> <p><i>"You can use the men’s Rogaine, also. It’s stronger."</i></p> <p>Oh, wonderful. I entered the dermatologist’s office a 31-year-old, young woman, <i>and was leaving as a middle-aged man.</i></p> <p>So here we are, folks. I went on (I OBVIOUSLY WAS NOT BUYING ROGAINE IN PUBLIC) and will be starting it tonight.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="hair 3" /></center></p> <p><i>Thrilled, obviously.</i></p> <p>My health is so important to me, and being headache-free is something I often wish for. But I think it’s OK to also care about cosmetic stuff, too. I was so devastated when I’d comb my wet hair and watch how much of it was coming out in the process. And hopefully using Rogaine (sigh) will help. So wish me luck, friends! Maybe you’ll see me in a few months rocking some Rapunzel-like hairdo. </p> <p><b>Have any of you guys experienced something similar? Let me know in the comments!</b></p> <p>Read more at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Body Image Health Hair hair loss migraines Wed, 19 Nov 2014 17:36:54 +0000 allison.arnone 1805215 at 5 Yoga Poses That Will Burn Calories <!--paging_filter--><p>Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years... each one associated with food, food, and more food. Prime your body to burn more calories with these five dynamic yoga videos. The best part is that you can do these poses at home, and continue them for the whole year.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><div align="center"> <h1> YOGA TO BURN CALORIES</h1> </div> <p><center><img src="" alt="yoga to burn calories" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Robert Bejil</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",1">Next page: Warm Up: Stomach Grinds</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> WARM UP: STOMACH GRINDS</h1> </div> <div align="center"> <object width="465" height="262"><param name="movie" value="//;hl=en_US" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><embed src="//;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="465" height="262" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></div> <p>Despite its unappealing name, stomach grinds feel delightful as you warm up the spine and core and start your practice in a grounding way. This version of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">chakki chalanasana</a>, or "mill churning pose," is said to be good for digestion and for toning the spine, abdomen, and uterine muscles -- also helping with painful periods when practiced regularly.</p> <p><b>How</b>: Sit in a cross-legged position and place your hands on your knees.</p> <ul> <li>Inhale: With a straight spine, bring your left shoulder toward your right knee. Swoop forward and to the left as you bring your right shoulder toward your left knee.</li> <li>Exhale: Now curving the spine and continuing the circle around, hollow the stomach as you lean the spine backward left to right, returning to the left shoulder toward the right knee. Repeat 25 times on each side, synching movement to breath.</li> </ul> <p><b>Aim to</b>: Extend the spine as loooong as you can on the forward-sweeping inhale, keeping both sitz bones grounded to the mat. On the backward-sweeping exhale, curve the spine (like a spooked black cat). Keep your neck in line with your spine and imagine your head painting large ovals above you as it perches atop your torso. Speed is not the goal; extension and ease of flow are what you are after.</p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",2">Next page: Twisting: Prayer Flow</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> TWISTING: PRAYER FLOW</h1> </div> <div align="center"> <object width="465" height="349"><param name="movie" value="//;hl=en_US" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><embed src="//;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="465" height="349" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></div> <p>With <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">parivrtta utkatasana</a>, you'll get both twisting and opening, calling on your core to hold you steady during movement. In addition, you're strengthening your thighs, glutes and calves while stimulating your abdominal organs and your heart.</p> <p><b>How</b>: Start in urdhva hastasana, tall mountain pose. Stand with big toes together and the outer edge of the feet parallel with each other. Raise and extend your arms overhead and twirl your pinkie fingers in.</p> <p>Next, shift into utkatasana, chair pose. Bend your knees and sit back in an imaginary kindergarten chair, bottom back, core engaged, arms still raised. Think about the four corners of each foot, and put just a bit more weight in the heels than in the toes.</p> <ul> <li>Inhale: Elongate your spine.</li> <li>Exhale: Keeping the left arm lifted, arc your right arm down and behind you, twisting to the right. Your lower body is oriented forward and your upper body is oriented to the right. Keep your knees together with neither jutting forward. Aim your chest to shine to the right.</li> <li>Inhale again: Return your right arm skyward. Elongate the spine as you raise your arms. Knees stay bent and hips low.</li> <li>Exhale again: Arc your left arm down and behind your. Keep knees together with neither jutting forward. Aim your chest to shine to the left.</li> </ul> <p>Repeat 5 times on each side, flowing with a steady breath.</p> <p><b>Aim to</b>: Get your thighs parallel to the floor. Don't let your knees jut too far forward of your ankles -- you should be able to see your toes when glancing down. Your hips can go way back, with just a slight curve in the lower back (no swayback).</p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",3">Next page: Cardio: Sunflowers</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> CARDIO: SUNFLOWERS</h1> </div> <div align="center"> <object width="465" height="349"><param name="movie" value="//;hl=en_US" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><embed src="//;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="465" height="349" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></div> <p>Sunflowers build heat instantly and get your entire body engaged. It wakes up your whole body and gets fluids moving in the large joints -- shoulders, hips, knees, ankles.</p> <p><b>How</b>: Start standing with feet more than hip-distance apart, toes pointed slightly outward. Raise your arms overhead with fingertips nearly touching (like a ballerina).</p> <ul> <li>Inhale deeply.</li> <li>Exhale: Take your arms toward your left in an arc at the same time you put more weight into your left foot, bending your knees toward a squat. When your hands get to the bottom of the arc, begin the next...</li> <li>...Inhale. Continue the arc toward the right as you return to the top/starting position. While you do this with your arms, your weigh is shifting into your right foot.</li> <li>Exhale as before, arcing your arms down and to the left while you squat in the knees with slightly more weight in the left than the right foot.</li> </ul> <p>Continue in this clockwise position for 25 more times.</p> <p>Once you've completed your clockwise sunflowers, shift direction and do 26 counter-clockwise sunflowers. Exhale as you arc downwards and inhale as you arc upwards. Match breath to movement. As you get going, you will breathe and move more rapidly.</p> <p><b>Aim to</b>: Keep your back somewhat vertical, as if you were doing this movement against a wall. Track your knees at the same angle as your feet, and if you notice your knees jutting out beyond your feet, widen your stance.</p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",4">Next page: Core: Eagle Crunches</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> CORE: EAGLE CRUNCHES</h1> </div> <div align="center"> <object width="465" height="262"><param name="movie" value="//;version=3" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><embed src="//;version=3" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="465" height="262" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></div> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Garudasana</a> is a standing balance pose, but in this supine version, you won't have to worry about falling over. And beware: you may find core muscles you never knew you had. (That's a good thing!)</p> <p><b>How</b>: Lie on your back. Bend your knees slightly with your feet on the ground. Cross your right thigh over your left and wrap it around, maybe also hooking the right foot around the left ankle (not necessary to the pose). Lift your arms and cross your right arm under your left. Bring either the backs or the palms of your hands together.</p> <ul> <li>Inhale: Extend your toes toward the bottom of the mat at the same time you extend your fingertips toward the top of the mat. Pace this movement of extension with your entire inhale. The movement should be slow and steady, matching the breath.</li> <li>Exhale: Just as slowly and steadily, bring your knees and elbows toward each other over your belly while lifting your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat. Again, match the pace of your breath to the pace of the movement.</li> </ul> <p>Repeat 11 times.</p> <p>Unwind arms and legs and set feet down with knees bent slightly. Life the pelvis and set it back down to get neutral again.</p> <p>Repeat on the other side. Cross your left thigh over your right with the same wrap as before. Lift your arms and cross your left arm under your right with the same wrap as before. Repeat the inhale and exhale movements 12 times.</p> <p>When finished, stretch the belly with a simple <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">upward dog pose</a>.</p> <p><b>Aim to</b>: Go slowly so that you're continually relying on muscles and not on momentum.</p> <div align="center"> <h2> <u><a href=",5">Next page: Closing: Robin's Breath</a></u></h2> </div> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div align="center"> <h1> CLOSING: ROBIN'S BREATH</h1> </div> <div align="center"> <object width="465" height="262"><param name="movie" value="//;hl=en_US" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><embed src="//;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="465" height="262" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></div> <p>This pose is a wonderful way to prepare to leave your mat and go back into your day with intention.</p> <p>How: Sit cross-legged with hands at heart center.</p> <ul> <li>Inhale deeply.</li> <li>Exhale while you point and shoot your hands forward from your heart as far as they'll go without hunching your shoulders.</li> <li>Inhale again, spreading your arms and hands out to a T and arching your back, looking up slightly. Chest out, shoulder blades together, palms up.</li> <li>Exhale and extend your arms forward again until palms touch. This time you'll curve your back in an anti-arch (spooked black cat) and tuck your chin toward your chest.</li> <li>Inhale, return your spine to neutral position while bringing thumbs to the space between your eyes.</li> <li>Exhale and slowly slide your hands down to your heart center.</li> </ul> <p><b>Aim to</b>: Focus on an intention for your day as you extend your hands outward, like an arrow toward your goal.</p> <p>Pause for a moment to give yourself props for showing up on your mat and nourishing your bodymind.</p> <p><b>Doing this heat-producing practice each day will burn calories, tone muscles, and work of the stress and candy canes from the holiday season</b>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Health calories flow Holidays yoga Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:58:22 +0000 Lavender Luz 1848771 at All the Advice You'll Need to Get Through the Holiday Season with Diabetes <!--paging_filter--><!--break--><!--break--><p><i>Editor's Note: Today is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">World Diabetes Day</a>. It's a disease that affects 1 in 12 people, which translates out to <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">387 million people worldwide</a>. Use today to educate yourself on the disease, and if you're already living with diabetes, we're rerunning this excellent advice below on how to navigate the holiday season while keeping the disease in check.</i></p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>Ah the holidays! It’s that time of year for pumpkin pie, eggnog, mashed potatoes, and your Aunt Betty’s killer candied yams. And if you have diabetes, everything I just wrote made you think: "OMG. My blood sugars are screwed for the next two months."</p> <p>True, the holidays present some unique challenges for people with diabetes. Most specifically, there’s a ton of not-so-diabetes-friendly food around and very little time to sneak in some exercise. But they don’t have to be a total disaster (at least in the glucose department. As far as your crazy in-laws, I can’t help ya there). In honor of Diabetes Awareness Month, here are some tips for navigating the holidays for folks that are new to the diabetes world from a person who knows a thing or two about it.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Thanksgiving" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Ralph Daily</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on Christmas Eve 20 years ago. And although that would forever change the holidays for me, I’ve discovered over the years that you can enjoy them just as much as before your diagnosis by planning ahead and making a few adjustments.</p> <p> <h1>Alcohol</h1> </p> <p>Let’s kick it off with everyone’s favorite topic: alcohol. Some alcohols, like beer, eggnog, and mixed cocktails can contain carbohydrates that will initially raise your blood sugar if you have diabetes. Others, like red and white wines, drinks made with pure spirits only or sugar-free mixers (like a vodka soda) don’t contain any carbs. So can’t you just take some insulin to cover the carby drinks?</p> <p>Not really.</p> <p>Despite the carbs, alcohol can actually <i>lower </i>your blood sugar hours later because it inhibits your liver from releasing glucose (one place in our body that can raise our sugars on its own). So although some alcohols can initially raise your blood sugar, all of them can drop you dangerously low later.</p> <p>My strategy for booze has always been to choose the least complicated way to start: i.e. pick a liquor you don’t have to bolus for, such as wine or a vodka soda. That way, you’re only worried about the low later, instead of both an initial high and then taking insulin followed by a massive low hours later.</p> <p>Make sure you never drink on an empty stomach. You’ll need to make sure your drinks are accompanied by some food, and keep a close eye on blood sugars two hours after drinking, and especially before bed. If you’re trending towards a low before sleep, it’s best to have a small snack before hitting the hay to avoid a big low in the middle of the night. A small granola bar is a good choice, or an apple with a little slow-digesting peanut butter will do the trick.</p> <p> <h1>Food</h1> </p> <p>After alcohol, food is the next best thing about the holidays, and just as tricky. With all the sweets around, it’s impossible not to try some of it, and there’s no reason <i>not </i>to with diabetes. It’s just that moderation is the name of the game.</p> <p>Remember that what matters with glucose management is the total carbohydrates in a food, not the sugar. So mashed potatoes might actually wreak more havoc on your glucose than a slice of pumpkin pie, believe it or not. But the good thing about the holidays is that there’s plenty of low-carb fare as well.</p> <p>Fill up on things like green bean casserole, turkey, sliced ham, salads, and even the gravy. You’re going to eat a lot during the holidays, we all know that. So instead of counting calories, count carbs. Allow yourself to go with high-fat, lower carb foods that will help control blood sugars versus the carb-machines such as yams, potatoes, and stuffing. For those foods, choose one or two to try and keep portions moderate.</p> <p>Before the holidays even get turned up to full gear, take the time to download an app on your smart phone that can give you the carb counts of your favorite holiday foods easily, as as <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">My Fitness Pal</a>. Often, you won’t know the menu ahead of time for parties and meals that you’ll attend. But with an app, you can find the carb counts quickly for a variety of foods being served and bolus the correct amount for your carbs-to-insulin ratio.</p> <p>It will help you make those lesser-of-two evils decisions and manage your diabetes more effectively. And don’t be afraid to mix-and-match at cocktail parties. So what if the hummus is being served with super-carby pita bread? Cruise over to the crudité and grab some low-carb carrots to dip instead. Do I get weird looks when I layer a slice of brie on a cucumber slice instead of a cracker? Surprisingly – no. No one notices these things when they’re busy at a holiday shindig.</p> <p> <h1>Parties</h1> </p> <p>This brings me to my next point. One of the best things about the holidays is all the parties. If this is your first season with diabetes, you might be panicking about your neighbor's upcoming 43rd Annual Cookie Exchange. Yes, it’s going to be a little different this year but that’s okay.</p> <p>Be prepared for people to ask questions about your diabetes.&nbsp; The fact is that some folks, because they don’t understand the disease, are going to ask things in a not-so-tactful way. Be up-front and clear with your answers, and never be afraid to do what you need to do for your health. Some folks are comfortable testing their blood sugars and taking insulin in front of others, some people are not. If you’re not one of those people, it’s okay to steal off to the kitchen and test or dose by yourself for a minute.</p> <p>Ignoring your care during the holidays will make you feel crummy, or worse, land you in the ER, which is as far away from the fun as possible. Remember that you’re in the driver’s seat with this disease. Yes, diabetes is unfair, annoying, and always has poor timing. But thank goodness it’s livable and manageable, right?</p> <p>If you haven’t already invested in a continuous glucose monitor for your diabetes management, now is the time. Continuous glucose monitors, or CGMs provide real-time, continuous outputs of your blood sugars instead of just relying on finger-stick measurements every few hours. You will have to wear a small sensor on your body that has a tiny wire just under the skin, but each sensor lasts seven days and is easy to insert on your own at home. If your endocrinologist is willing to write you a letter of medical necessity for one of these devices, then most insurance plans will cover them these days. It will give you control like you’ve never had before along with the peace of mind of always knowing your blood sugar. Talk to your doctor about trying one. </p> <p>The holidays take more planning when you have diabetes, that’s for sure. But even though you’ll be making some adjustments to your food, it won’t take away from the fact that it’s the best time of year to get cozy in a warm house with good friends and family and be grateful for everything that we have. Now pass the cheese plate – hold the crackers!</p> <p><i>Alexis Pollak Hauptman writes at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">I Run on Insulin</a></i>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Cooking for Health Health Diabetes Diabetes Advocate Holiday Parties Holiday Food BlogHer Holidays Fri, 14 Nov 2014 15:59:39 +0000 I Run On Insulin 1419287 at 5 Exercises You Can Do in Your Office <!--paging_filter--><p>When you work a 9-to-5 job, it can be tough to find the time or energy to exercise. When you add children and/or a family obligations, it ups the level of difficulty. But that doesn't mean it is impossible or that you have to have a gym membership to get it done. It's important that you take advantage of every opportunity to exercise when time is tight. And sometimes you have to create those opportunities for yourself. Whether you work in a cubicle or have an office to yourself, here are five simple things you can do that will work a variety of muscles.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="cubicle 1" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Squats</h1> </p> <p>On a boring conference call? You can do squats to tone your thighs and backside. Stand with your feet wider apart than your hips and toes facing forward. Push your hips back to shift your body weight on your heels instead of your toes. Lean forward 45 degrees as you lower your hips to knee level as if you were going to sit on your chair, but don't. Keep your abs tight and rib cage high. Wiggle your toes; your weight should be on your heels. Keep your knees above your ankles. Squeeze your butt to stand. Repeat 10 to 15 times.</p> <p> <h1>Dips</h1> </p> <p>When you can't stand staring at your computer screen for another second, try doing two minutes of dips on your office chair or your desk. If your chair has rollers, make sure you put it against a wall or you might end up on the floor. Then, sitting on the chair or edge of your desk, put your hands under your butt and scoot off the edge. Keeping your legs straight and together and balancing on your heels, bend your elbows no more than 90 degrees and then slowly straighten. Repeat 10 to 15 times.</p> <p> <h1>Desk Push-ups</h1> </p> <p>Use your desk to perform wide-angle push-ups. Place your hands a little more than shoulder-width apart on the edge of your desk, with your palms down and fingers pointing forward. Walk four to five feet away from the desk, and keep the knees locked and together. Lean your hips toward the floor, and don't let your butt stick out. Keeping your abs tight, bend at the elbows and lower your chest to the top of the desk. Hold for six seconds. Repeat 10 to 12 times.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="cubicle 2" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Wall Sits</h1> </p> <p>Lean with your back against your cubicle/office wall, then bend your legs at a right angle, as if you were sitting in a chair. Push your butt against the wall and make sure your legs and knees are together. To up the difficulty level, extend one leg straight out. Try skimming a document or brainstorming some new business ideas to take your mind off the burn. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="cubicle 3" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Walking</h1> </p> <p>Lap your block or a floor of your office. If you can't leave your office building, walk inside. You can also take a stroll down the hall to catch up with coworkers or welcome a new employee. Or, instead of dialing extensions and sending lazy emails to the manager two doors down, put in some face time. Just beware of tempting candy jars when making the rounds especially at this time of year.</p> <p><b>How do you incorporate fitness into your daily routine</b>?</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Diet & Fitness Health fitness office exercises Wed, 12 Nov 2014 18:17:37 +0000 shalamajackson 1826930 at 5 Reasons Why I Don't Have It All Together <!--paging_filter--><p>Sometimes on the outside, it may seem that I have it all together. I share quotes and tips and advice that may lead you to believe that I've got it all figured out.</p><p><!--break--></p><p>Don't get me wrong, I am proud of what I share.</p><p><em>I believe in everything that I write to you.</em></p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-2668" src="" alt="5 reasons I don't have it all together- Married and Naked" data-mce-selected="1" height="320" width="600" /></a></p><p>But, I never intended for this blog to just boast about the positive, rather I intended for it to show both the good and bad of marriage and life. It is my intention to learn from the experiences I have and to share what I have learned with you.</p><p>Let me tell you right now, I do not have it all together.</p><p>Most days I feel that I do, but sometimes I am hit with a day or a series of days that knock me to the ground and remind me that I still have so much to learn.</p><p>Such has been the story of the last few weeks.</p><center>Here Are 5 Reasons Why I Don't Have It All Together.</center><ol><li><p>Three weeks ago I spent a week in heaven with my sweetie in Cancun, the best week of my life.</p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><img class="aligncenter wp-image-2674" src="" alt="beach in cancun - married and naked" height="373" width="497" /></a></p><p>I should have it all together, right? Wrong!</p><p>The second I returned to reality, I fell into a mini depression. I'm not exaggerating here; I was sad and emotional and desperately missing the sand and the sun and sharing every second with my husband.</p><p>Coming back to reality was quite an adjustment, and it took about five days to come out of my funk.</p></li><li><p>Sometimes, I don't practice what I preach. I have learned a lot about how to argue the right way with my husband. I have shared some of that with you, but every now and then everything I learned flies right out the window.</p><p>On the drive back from the airport after our trip to Cancun, Husband and I got in an argument that spun out of control before I could get a grip.</p><p>Not only was I upset about the argument, but I hated that the couple who just spent the most amazing week together was arguing the second we hit home turf.</p><p>I will admit to you that I did not handle this argument well: I overreacted and stomped out of the house like a child and on top of that went to bed angry and <del>unable</del> unwilling to resolve anything.</p><p>This argument went on for two days, nearly unheard of in our relationship.</p></li><li><p>I have annoying health issues that show up far too frequently.</p><p>I spent most of last week sitting on the couch, binge-watching two seasons of <cite>Parenthood</cite> and suffering from migraines. I even missed apple picking with my kids, because I was so sick.</p><p>Let me tell you, frequently being in pain can take its toll on your relationships and your overall mental well being. It sucks to tell my daughter that I have a headache and to hear her respond, "Again?"</p></li><li><p>I still suffer from insecurities and every now and then let what the scale says determine how I feel about myself that day.</p></li><li><p>I swim in guilt far too often. I feel guilty about everything!</p></li></ol><!--pagebreak--><p>There are so many other reasons, but these are the ones that came to mind today.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><center><em><strong>I don't have it all together. I admit that to you!</strong></em></center><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Sometimes I wonder why a woman who doesn't have it all together has the right to shell out marriage tips and advice to you. I mean, really, who do I think I am?</p><p>But, as soon as I start to go down that road I remind myself this: Nobody has it <em>all</em> together <em>all</em> of the time.</p><p>No matter how put-together they seem on the outside, on the inside we are all human.</p><p>What I have learned, mostly from listening to the candor and honesty of my Facebook followers, is that we are all humans sharing similar experiences.</p><p>We are each experiencing this life one day at a time and trying to do our best.</p><p><em>We love, we cry, we dream.</em></p><p>We are not all that different, you and me.</p><p>The power of the human race is our ability to share our experiences with one another and, on a good day, learn from those experiences.</p><p>That is why I am here, and that is why I write to you.</p><p>It is simply to share my experiences with you, and I hope that just as I have learned so much from my amazing readers, you are able to take away something that you read here and apply it to better your relationships.</p><p>No, I don't have it all together.</p><p>But really, who does?</p><p>And that's okay, isn't it?</p><p>Tammy</p><p>Married and Naked</p><p>Tammy Greene</p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a href="//" style="height: 20px; width: 40px; position: absolute; opacity: 0.85; z-index: 8675309; display: none; cursor: pointer; background-color: transparent; background-image: url('data:image/png;base64,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');"></a></p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Marriage and Commitment Health Work/Life Love & Sex Family keeping it together marriage marriage blog Mon, 10 Nov 2014 19:10:51 +0000 Married And Naked 1833082 at Don't Erase Yourself: 2 Oaths for Looking at Selfies <!--paging_filter--><p>You know which app I've been crushing on lately? <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Timehop</a>. Have you tried it? If you love walking down memory lane, this app is pure gold. It goes through your most popular social media accounts and let's you see what you posted 1 year ago, 2 years ago, and so on... It's a beautiful little reminder of our life events and what we've chosen to share with our friends and followers.</p> <p>But there are days when a reminder from the past can sting. When the present feels all too real. And if you are currently embarking on a weight loss or body transformation journey, there's nothing like looking at old pictures to stir up some unwanted emotions.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>But it's not worth our time and energy to battle the comparisons of ourselves, or to even fathom the thought that these pictures are any sort of indicator of our worth. So instead, I've developed two promises to myself for when looking at pictures, and I hope by the end of this post, you'll pledge the same.</p> <p> <h1>BODY IMAGE OATH #1: I refuse to look at old pictures and feel bad about how skinny/pretty/young I <i>used to</i> be.</h1> </p> <p>Do you find yourself doing this? If you raised your hand, boy oh boy, you are not alone. I used to look through old pictures (particularly from my high school cheerleading days, or my college years where I spent hours upon hours in dance class), and I would feel a pit at the bottom of my stomach.</p> <p>I would look at those pictures, and I felt like I was looking at a completely different person. The woman in the picture was 4 years younger, lived in a different place, dated different people, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">had different interests and dreams</a>. Was this even me?</p> <p>I gained 40 pounds after college, and although I've been working hard at losing my "<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">real world weight</a>," those pictures are a reminder of how much my body has changed. But now I've come to the realization that we don't deserve these poisonous thoughts, they don't serve us one bit. And here's what I realized instead:</p> <p>When you look at old pictures of yourself, when you used to be in better shape or you were feeling your best… remember – That's still YOU!</p> <p>Sometimes it's hard to remember this because the person staring back at you looks different than you might appear right now. But that doesn't discount you or limit you in ANY sort of capacity. That's you. You might have grown and learned valuable lessons, but your core and your soul are still the same. You have the capability to look and feel great – it's in your bones.</p> <p>I'm starting a new swing dance class with my <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">soulmate</a> tonight, and that's my chosen route back to the body that reflects the happiness that I feel on the inside. </p> <p>Give your body some love! It isn't YOU vs. YOUR BODY. Remember the thoughts that made you the healthy person that you see in that old picture. So many of us actually enjoy eating healthy and working out, but it's hard to remember this fact once we've fallen off the bandwagon. It stresses us out thinking about HOW IN THE WORLD we are going to fit exercise into our crazy schedules even when we know that exercise <i>releases</i> our stress!</p> <p>So think, what was it that made you glow back when you looked like that old picture? Maybe you used to not be as stressed, or you had strong friendships or a hobby that occupied your time. Whatever you can pinpoint, use that as the starting point for the route back to that place. Because that person in the photograph is you, your DNA remains the same. You've done it once; you can do it again AND MORE.</p> <p> <h1>BODY IMAGE OATH #2: I refuse to look at recent pictures of myself and feel bad about how I look <i>now</i>.</h1> </p> <p>Yup. This one can be tough, especially when you are JUST at the beginning of your weight loss journey. “Before” pictures are <i>never</i> fun to take. But your life will start to shift in spectacular ways if you make this your number one rule. You know the best way that you can prove this to yourself? (And get a good laugh at the same time!) Find an old picture of yourself that you USED to think was unflattering. Here's mine:</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="selfie1" /></center></p> <p>I used to look at this picture, and I disliked how my thighs spread across this wooden couch. It was a candid picture when my guard was down. (I was acting on stage.) This picture used to make me cringe.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>Now, I look at this picture, and I find it lovely! I would LOVE to be at that weight again. And I remember how much I enjoyed performing in that class and how it felt to feel carefree and present in my body. And it makes me chuckle, because I wish I could give my past self a big ole' hug. I feel bad for the unnecessary pain I must have been carrying with me if I thought THAT picture was fat.</p> <p>Be kind to yourself and your body. Find those old pictures that used to torment you, and start sending love their way instead. Prove to yourself how easy it can be to shift your thinking. Shift your thinking – shift your body image – shift your body. There are no shortcuts. You are the same person as you were then and you are the same person now. The body houses your soul, and your soul is made of pure love.</p> <p>Next, I challenge you to look at a recent picture of yourself, a picture that you might not find flattering or where you might not be at your ideal weight. Can't find one? That's what I was afraid of... So many of us have these large gaps of time where we rather not be photographed at all than be documented at a weight that we are not proud of.</p> <p>As hard as it can be, you don't deserve to be photographed any less based on how you feel about your appearance! I used to untag all of the unflattering pictures of myself on Facebook, picking and choosing the images that I wanted the world to see. I used to leave my photoshopped headshot up a little too long, relying on previous years to hide the way that I looked in the present moment.</p> <p>By effectively erasing myself online, I was sending the signal out to my friends, my family, and the universe that I deserved to be erased, to go unnoticed, to deny my deserved space on earth.</p> <p>And we see this in the media all the time. The media erases full-figured women and men from the discussion on a daily basis. They are no longer a part of the dialogue, unless the focus of the discussion is on their weight and appearance. It's hard not to feel erased when you no longer see yourself depicted as desirable. It's easy to WANT to be erased, when the only attention you receive are comments about your physique.</p> <p>But I demand this of you – write yourself back into the dialogue. No matter the size, don't allow yourself to be erased, not by others and especially not by yourself. I want you to take a picture of yourself right now. Consider this a sacred selfie. Don't hide your arms, don't hold your breath and suck in your gut, don't hide behind other people, <i>don't erase yourself.</i></p> <p>If you consider yourself a perfectionist, resist the urge to control or nit-pick this image. It's a soul selfie, it knows no bounds. All you need to do is BE the joy that resides inside. Let that part of you shine in this picture.</p> <p>I'll do it with you; I took this picture today. I might no longer have my sculpted arms like I did back in my cheerleading days, but this picture is pure soul. My hair is natural, even the sun is shining bright! I like to think I give better hugs with softer arms anyways… ha! I feel like this is me, and I'm proud to share it.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="selfie2" /></center></p> <p>Inhabit the body you have in this present moment. And I want you to look at that picture of yourself, look at that person, and realize all the accomplishments he or she has achieved. That girl has friends and family who love her no matter what. That guy gives to others and shares his self-less heart.</p> <p>Those qualities and achievements apply to that picture of you too, <i>not just the skinny photographs</i>. Our society is obsessed with equating success with a slim figure, and it's just not true! As if the will power to resist chocolate cake means that you can run a Fortune 500 Company or find the cure for cancer – one does not equal the other. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Just as our emotions do not dictate our success in all areas,</a> our weight doesn't either.</p> <p>I want you to stop seeing your perceived outer struggle and start feeling your inner radiance. THAT'S who you are. And that's who I see when I look at that picture of you. That's a damn fine sacred selfie!</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>Do you pledge these two body image oaths? If you can stand behind these two simple principles, you will begin to feel the love that is created from within. That love has no boundaries, has no judgments or faults. And you will begin to view your body has a beautiful vessel for a loving heart and spirit.</p> <p>How amazing would it feel to refresh your Timehop and feel gratitude for every step of your journey – the ups AND the downs? If you pledge to hold these two statements as truth, please let me know. There is no need for us to do this alone. Share your #sacredselfie with Soultiply on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Facebook</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Twitter</a>, &amp; <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Instagram</a>!</p> <p><i>Brittany Ritcher is a life coach, public speaker, blogger and CEO of Soultiply, a self-development community for people with BIG IDEAS. Visit <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a> to find out more! </i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Body Image Diet & Fitness Health # weight loss #body image #diet Mon, 10 Nov 2014 13:58:24 +0000 Soultiply 1803781 at 3 Affirmations That Quiet the Jerk in My Head <!--paging_filter--><p>When I start to drift down, I tend to forget.</p><p>I forget being happy. I forget that people love me. I forget that every down day doesn't mean I'm entering a depression.</p><!--break--><p>Most of all, I forget who I am.</p><p>I am a black woman with great hair :) I am an awesome mother to three beautiful children who jump on me when I get home because they are so happy to see me. </p><p>I am a good cook, and I love to do it. I am a loving wife. I am a good worker.</p><p> I am a good scholar; I am a great friend.</p><p> I am funny. I am honest. I am loving. I am caring. I am smart. I am a healthy weight.</p><p>Instead, I focus on Who I Am Not.</p><p>Who I Am Not is a tenured faculty member (because I'm really not good enough to become one). Who I Am Not is mother of the year (because I work too much and my house is messy).</p><p>Who I Am Not is a good daughter (because I've been too busy to call my parents who live in a different time zone). Who I Am Not is a good friend (because I don't call and text as often as I should).</p><p>Who I Am Not is a good wife (because such a wife would be having sex every night). Who I Am Not is a famous recording artist (because I was too lazy to make music my everything). </p><p>Who I Am Not is a supermodel with a chiseled, hot body. Who I Am Not is everything I wish I could be.</p><p>I used to have a list of affirmations taped to the wall near my bed. Since we've moved, I hadn't thought much about them.</p><p> I found them today and pulled them back out. I'm glad I found the original as it reminds me of when I received this. It reminds me of when I got healthy and turned things around.</p><p><center><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1530" src="" alt="IMG_1247" width="224" height="300" /></a></center></p><p>The things that we tell ourselves about ourselves are often more powerful that what others tell us about ourselves. Someone can tell me I'm beautiful and smart and kind and loving, but they say it once and it goes in on ear and out the other. It's not lasting.</p><p> The running commentary in my head is there constantly. I can't get away from it.</p><p>So I have to replace that annoying pessimist, that Debbie Downer, that jerk who never has anything nice to say. And the affirmations need to be said out loud.</p><p> I need to hear my own voice telling me good things about myself, even if I don't believe them. My voice replaces the jerk's voice. I don't want to hear her anymore.</p><p>So here are my three affirmations:</p><p><center><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1531" src="" alt="IMG_1255" width="300" height="300" /></a></center></p><p>I am. I'm already. I love.</p><p>Yes.</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Body Image Mental Health NaBloPoMo Health Work/Life affirmations self-love self-talk Fri, 07 Nov 2014 19:05:08 +0000 DrMamaEsq 1817517 at Are Labels Such as "Plus-Size" & "Curvy" Really Necessary? <!--paging_filter--><p>When there was 70 pounds more of me several years ago, two things that really got my goat (in addition to the vending machine being out of Snickers bars) were 1) the names that department stores gave to clothing sections designed for overweight ladies and 2) the location of women's, er, plus-size, fashions. Mostly, the whole name/placement thing was more confusing and somewhat humorous than anything else.</p> <p>For example, the "women's section," while a true term -- we are women after all -- seemed dismissive of the other female shoppers who were browsing the latest styles in the "misses" or "juniors" section. Were they not women, too? Although, I suppose I shouldn't have frowned on the designation. At least there wasn't a sign suspended over new arrivals of sweaters sequined with pumpkins saying, "Obese" or "BMI+," right?</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="plus size" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Phil Denton</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>Why the Term "Plus-Size" Bothered Me</h1> </p> <p>I suppose there were reasons for my reactions.</p> <p>In my "let's all get along" heart, the sappy part of me always questioned why such separation had to exist in the first place. While the world seemed to deliver feel-good-about-your-body messages and movies on occasion, that same world also felt compelled to engage in Section Segregation.</p> <p>Confusing.</p> <p>Secondly, walking around in a size 22 body where total strangers enjoyed making fat pufferfish faces in my direction can kind of get you to a point where you want to charge through those itty bitty petite sections and topple every halter top-wearing mannequin to the floor. That, or curl up in bed with a good banana-split sundae.</p> <p>So sure, not feeling great and wondering if I'd ever get in shape again no doubt added to these frustrations. And sure, I get that there's more to it. There's fashion industry standards, consumer psychology, retail know-how that makes it logical to engage in Section Segregation, um, I mean to divvy up the sizes, and so on.</p> <p>However, here I am 70 pounds lighter, no longer relegated to the basement level where some plus-size sections exist (next to kitchenware, no less) and yet there are moments where the feelings re-surface. Sometimes I find it laughable. Other times, I'm truly bothered.</p> <p> <h1>Shopping Inconsistency</h1> </p> <p>For example, I just checked out the website of a popular department store and noticed that in the column for all ladies clothing, the first words that appeared were breakdowns based on size. Junior. Plus. Petite. Then came the long list of outfit types such as pants, shorts, and dresses.</p> <p>Immediately to the right was the men's clothing column. Not one mention of size. Right off the bat, the listing started with shirts, graphic tees, pants, and suit separates. What? No debonair-sounding "portly" or "stout" sections for the men?</p> <p>Maybe the glass-half-full part of me should have brushed it off and found more appreciation in the designations and locations. Wow. Would you look at that. I am whoa-100%-woman and that is where I, in all my excess-body-shakin' glory, get to go. A department dedicated just for me. Glorious, curvy, BBW me. Even better, there's an entire area, down the escalator and way behind the bedding, way beyond the home decor and microwaves, where I can get my style groove on in my very own tranquil curvy-girl world.</p> <p>Sigh.</p> <p> <h1>Losing Weight &amp; Learning the Most Important Label of All</h1> </p> <p>Admittedly, as I lost weight, I found myself with thoughts contrary to my "let's all get along" ones. The heck with a Blending of the Sections. I worked hard to be in this area, way up here on the first floor where the bright store lights can shine upon me. Where, should anyone be observing, they'd see that I just plucked a single-digit-sized pair of jeans off the rack.</p> <p><i>I made it</i>, I thought, <i>but in what way</i>?</p> <p>Was my success one of health and newfound energy, or one that was celebrating a twisted kind of "take that" to all the times spent in ill-fitting outfits and the women's section they came from? To finally have the pleasure of donning fabrics that contained a percentage of spandex? To erase the pufferfished faces that are still seared in my brain?</p> <p>It was, and still is, a bit of both. Call it what you will. Funny. Confusing. Ridiculous. Non-issue.</p> <p>In the end, I've learned that it's not about a number on the scale or one that's embroidered on the neck of a blouse. Regardless of the department name and location and the feelings that it may conjure up, all of us always wear one true label: 100% wonderful woman.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Body Image Fashion Finding Balance Health body image clothes shopping weight Fri, 07 Nov 2014 15:02:05 +0000 JenniferLilley 1769328 at Infertility Issues: Give a Sperm Sample In a Parking Lot? <!--paging_filter--><!--break--> <p><strong>“Let’s just do it here,” I looked around the parking lot.</strong></p><p> My husband and I have been trying to conceive for over a year. In that time, I've had more sex than a hooker and spent enough money on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">pregnancy</a> tests to purchase a fully loaded Kia. Hope has emerged with every late period. Knowledge has been gained from every Google search on infertility. And confusion has been born while trying to decipher the code language on TTC message boards (i.e. BD, AF, LP, DH, DPO, WTH?) </p><p> At the 14 month mark of abundant sex with negative pee-soaked sticks, I made an appointment to see my gynecologist. We discussed our options. I had blood work done and scheduled a procedure which would check to make sure my tubes were not obstructed. </p><p> With that procedure, I endured the most horrible cramps I've ever felt in my life. And although I called my gynecologist an SOB and plotted to do him bodily harm for manhandling my tubes, he smiled kindly, apologized and seemed genuinely happy to discover that all of my womanly parts were functioning as they should. He said the next step was for my husband's swimmers to be checked. </p> <p><center><img src="/files/specimencup.jpg" /><br /> <em>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">tschoerda</a></em></center></p> <p> When the day arrived for my husband to make his deposit, he was suddenly a scared little virgin boy. His face flushed crimson when the attractive nurse confirmed that he was there to give a sperm sample. He bit his fingernails as if it was his first trip to a brothel. I tried to ease his mind, assuring him that thousands of these samples were taken every week, but he wasn't hearing it. He said something just wasn't natural, or sexy, about the whole scenario. I told him to get over it. </p><p> My gynecologist, who is the spitting image of Aziz Ansari (and hilarious to boot), entered the exam room. He handed us a cup and winked. He said there wasn't a special place in the clinic filled with smutty magazines to "obtain the sample", but we could go home and retrieve it as long as it was returned to the lab within 30 minutes. </p><p> <em>That's exactly what we would've done if we didn't live more than 30 minutes away from the clinic.</em> </p><p> When I told Aziz where our home was, he clicked his tongue and told us we were big kids and would figure it out. I know he lives in one of the doctor's mansions only minutes from the hospital, but my husband pulled me out the door before I asked if we could use his place. </p><p> "Maybe we should go to a hotel?" We walked to his truck in the parking lot. </p><p> "I'm not checking into a hotel for 30 minutes. That's how rumors get started," he said. </p><p> "Who will know? We will go to a cheap one by the interstate," I suggested. "Maybe it would be exciting. We could check in under false names!" </p><p> "No." </p><p> So we sat in his truck and stared at the clean cup on his console. </p><p> "Let's just do it here," I looked around the parking lot. </p><p> It was a beautiful place, as far as parking lots go. Mature Oak trees shaded the lot and a stone wall surrounded the property. Birds chirped and bathed in the fountain beside the beautiful old office building. </p><p> "Your windows are tinted. It'll be okay. Let's just do it here." </p><p> "Look how many people are in this lot! We can't do it here!" He motioned to a couple walking right past his truck. </p><p> I agreed that it was a bustling venue, so I looked around and noticed that the lot on the side of the building was very quiet and empty. It was also right across from the lab entrance, which would make "drop off" even easier. So, I told him to drive over there. Upon his examination of the vacant lot, he agreed. </p><p> He parked at the very back and reclined his seat. I turned Sirius up and, ironically, ZZ Top was singing, "You didn't have to squeeze it like you did, but you did, and I thank you." We had a hearty laugh and proceeded with the task at hand. Literally, at my hand. </p><p> I adamantly refused to take off any clothing, so my husband was forced to close his eyes, cup a hand full of my t-shirt covered boob and use his imagination. It took nearly ten minutes for him to forget that he was in an OBGYN parking lot, but once he did, he gave a hearty sample. </p><!--pagebreak--><p> He tucked his mister back into his pants. I tightly affixed the top to the sample cup, and I opened the door to take it into the lab. It was at that moment that I noticed the security camera pointed right toward his vehicle. </p><p> I didn't even mention the camera to my husband because I know he would've wigged out. He's a recognized figure in our small community, and the last thing he needs is to have that footage shown and then be arrested for solicitation at the next town hall meeting. Besides, his windows are tinted. It probably didn't record us. </p><p> Probably. </p><p> When I opened the door to the lab, I was greeted by a kind lady wearing latex gloves. </p><p> "How old is the sample, sweetie?" She took the cup from me. </p><p> "Uh," I blushed and nodded out the window, where my husband was exiting his truck to casually tuck in his shirt. </p><p> "So, it's pretty fresh, then?" She winked at me as if it was completely normal for wackers to be jacked in the parking lot at her place of employment. </p><p> For the record, husband's little swimmers did come back normal, but we aren't pregnant yet. </p><p> But if and when I do, I think I'll leave this story out of the baby book.</p><p> <em>This article originally appeared on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">My Husband Gave a Sperm Sample In a Parking Lot</a></em></p> <h2>More From</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Is Your Fantasy Rare, Unusual or Typical?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">8 Steps That Lead to An Incredible Night of Hot Sex</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">7 Reasons to Be Grateful For Your Partner's Annoying Habits</a></li> </ul> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Infertility Health Love & Sex Thu, 06 Nov 2014 22:58:45 +0000 1832381 at Sorry We Woke You, But Your Daughter Threatened Suicide <!--paging_filter--><p>I'm sorry we had to call you last night. I know it wasn't a call you wanted to get. But my daughter doesn't get frightened, not like that. I've never seen her so scared.</p><!--break--><p>They tried to handle it on their own, she and another friend. </p><p>Tried to tell the scared, little girl on the other end of a text message that life wasn't as bad as she thought. That she shouldn't hurt herself.</p><p>But it wasn't working. And then she didn't text back.</p><p>My daughter was shaking when she came into the kitchen. Couldn't speak at first. Couldn't share the incredible burden they'd taken on.</p><p> But once she did, I knew we couldn't wait. It was late on a school night. We didn’t know how to reach you. But I knew we had to pick up the phone.</p><p>So we called. We called every number we could find until you picked up, and I listened to my daughter, my brave, beautiful daughter, tell you in her quavering voice that your child was threatening suicide.</p><p><center><img style="" src="" alt="girl on the phone" width="465" height="287" /></center></p><p><center>Credit: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Marjan Lazarevski via Flickr Creative Commons</a></center></p><p>I could hear your voice on the other end of the line – calm, reassuring, accustomed. Easing my daughter's heart even while, I'm sure, yours was skipping a beat. </p><p>I'm grateful for that. I've wondered if I could have been so calm if it had been me on the other end of that phone. It's strange. I've never even met you, but we share an intimate connection neither of us wanted.</p><p>If I could talk to other teens, I would tell them what I told my daughter last night, what I will tell her, and all my kids, on many other nights. </p><p>You shouldn't try to handle a crisis like this alone. It is too big for you. Depression is an illness and you can't treat it. Just like you can't set your friend's broken leg, you can't mend a broken spirit. </p><p>When you're faced with the unthinkable, the unconquerable, you have to put it into the hands of people who might be able to help.</p><p>You have to make that call.</p><p>What I didn't tell my daughter is that I know what it's like when you don't get the chance to intervene, when the call comes too late for you to act. </p><p>I've lost dear relatives. I've been to the funeral of a young mother who couldn't fight the battle anymore. It is the worst feeling in the world, and you carry the burden with you forever. This is too big for us to fight on our own.</p><p>I hope we didn't wake you for nothing, but in my heart, I don't see how that can be true. I want you to know that I will always make that call even if it seems like a nuisance, like dropping a problem onto someone else. Even if I'm waking you from a peaceful sleep to the worst night of your life.</p><p>And I hope my daughter will, too.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Mental Health Grief and Loss Tweens & Teens Health Work/Life Family #depression #parentingteens #suicideprevention Thu, 06 Nov 2014 16:23:12 +0000 Sarah Day 1830731 at To Botox or to Not Botox? <!--paging_filter--><p>Dear Mouthy Housewives,</p> <p>I'm terrified of Botox, but I'm even more terrified when I look at my face in the mirror. Do I get over my fear of needles and toxic substances and just do it? Or do I just force myself to embrace this aging/looking old thing?</p> <p>Signed,<br />Beauty Hurts, But So Does Getting Old</p> <p>_______________________________________________</p> <p><center><img src="" title="To Botox or to Not Botox? " alt="To Botox or to Not Botox? " /><br /><em>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Ocean View Med Spa via Flickr Creative Commons license</a>.</em></center></p> <p>Dear Beauty Hurts,</p> <p>True confession: I am in my mid-40's and have not had any Botox injected into my face. Of course, that's kind of obvious if you look at me because I could probably get a job as Dog the Bounty Hunter's stunt double. I also have lines between my eyes that look like the coin slot on a jukebox. Seriously. Push a quarter into it, and I'll sing a Taylor Swift song.</p> <p>But because of the state of my face, I'm right there with you on the "should I put botulism in my head or just go gently into that nursing home" debate. It's a tough decision and hey, I know! Let's do a Pro/Con Botox list! A Protoxcon list!</p> <p>Pros:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Botox blocks signals from the nerves to the muscles, which causes your wrinkles to relax and soften, thereby taking at least a few years off of your appearance.</p> </li> <li> <p>Botox makes it harder for you to have facial expressions, so people will not know when you're upset. (This may also be a Con, especially when you want your husband to know you're upset about something, but you don't want to <em>tell</em> him you're upset about something because he should just <em>know</em> that you're upset about something.)</p> </li> <li> <p>Botox is, for the most part, safe and may help increase your self-confidence and swagger.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Cons:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Botox isn't 100% safe (go to a good doctor, not some guy in a van), and there's a chance it'll give you droopy eyelids, flu-like symptoms, and a crooked smile.</p> </li> <li> <p>Botox is <em>very</em> expensive and only lasts 2-3 months.</p> </li> <li> <p>Botox is kind of creepy, if you really think about it. It's what happens to canned goods when they go bad. Ewwww.</p> </li> </ul> <p>All of that said, Botox or any surgical/chemical procedure is a very personal decision, so the ball is ultimately in your court. I have friends who've done it for years and friends who would rather look like a Shar Pei than do something like that to themselves.</p> <p>So while I could sit here and give you tons of platitudes and words of encouragement about aging gracefully and accepting who you are and how beautiful you are on the inside yadda yadda, I'm not going to because I'm not a cosmetics company. Plus it's condescending.</p> <p>What I am going to say is that aging isn't easy. I know that firsthand. We could all use a little help getting used to our changing faces and bodies. We want to look as young as we feel, right? So, I say do whatever you feel comfortable doing. Do whatever makes you happier, whether that's Botox, long bangs or a new mirror that's covered in Vaseline. Or don't.</p> <p>Good luck,<br />Wendi, TMH</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Body Image Makeup Humor Health Style advice aging beauty Free Advice Wed, 05 Nov 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Mouthy Housewives 1828483 at How I Learned to Love My Menstrual Cup <!--paging_filter--><p>As some of you may recall, I'm doing some work with <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Mother Nature Partnership</a>, a fabulous organization providing women in rural Cameroon with reproductive health education and hygienic, reusable menstrual cups to replace the dangerous, unhygienic, and just all-around uncomfortable and inconvenient methods of managing their periods.</p> <p>Obviously I think this project is brilliant and am a big fan of menstrual cups because there are fewer chemicals in the body and fewer tampons in the landfill. At least, I was a big fan of them in theory.</p> <p>Despite talking them up all over the Internet and to anyone who didn't look ready to keel over from squeamishness in person for the past couple of months, I had yet to actually use one myself.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="menstrual cup" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Michelle Tribe</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>Not wanting to be a hypocrite, and still unsure which cup manufacturer MNP would be partnering with, I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy one. I popped into <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Noah's</a> and, after determining my size (one for women under 30 who have not had children, and one for women over 30 or who have had children – which, by the way, alarmed me a little about what might happen to my vagina once I turn 30!) picked up my very own shiny new silicone <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Diva Cup</a>, as it happened to be the brand they carried.</p> <p>Fabulous. Of course, now I had to actually use it.</p> <p>I should note at this point, that while I am quite comfortable with my body and most of its crazy functions, and while period blood doesn't freak me out as much as it does some people, I am extremely squeamish about certain things. Sometimes I don't know what things will freak me out until I am close to unconscious. In fact, the first time I ever fainted was in grade five health class. One minute I was watching a video about ovaries, the next, I had gracefully smashed into some desks and was waking up on the floor.</p> <p>Talking too much about needles, pap smears or IUDs will achieve the same results even now if I'm not careful. It's highly embarrassing. One of the things that is almost always a trigger is the idea of having a foreign object stuck inside me. Oh, and as it turns out, also the words "elastic muscular tube," which kept coming up in my menstrual cup research.</p> <p>At this point you might be questioning why on earth I would ever subject myself to a menstrual cup, which essentially works by creating a seal inside your vagina so that it stays stuck in there until you're ready to remove it.</p> <p>What can I say? I'm really excited about <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">MNP</a>! Plus, I had the same misgivings about tampons before I'd used them and that turned out just fine. And hey, if this thing worked, I'd never have to buy tampons and worry about toxic shock syndrome again!</p> <p>So.</p> <p>I remembered reading somewhere that it was a good idea to try inserting and removing the cup before actually menstruating just to get the hang of it without stressing about making a bloody mess (heh).</p> <p>So, one evening after work, I popped the little sucker out of its box, cleaned it, and got down to business. I folded the silicone cup in half lengthwise, into the "C-fold," as it seemed the simplest way to insert it, took a deep breath and pushed it in.</p> <p>Unfortunately, I lost my grip before I could get it in as far as it needed to go and so it sproinged open, punching the walls of my vagina like a tiny, very out-of-place umbrella.</p> <p>It was not even a little bit comfortable.</p> <p>After a couple of failed attempts to push it further into place, I thought, "Okay, clearly I need to start again." So I reached in with my index finger and thumb, trying to gently squeeze the slightly ribbed bottom of the cup to break the seal and pull the cup out and... nothing.</p> <p>I pulled with more force. Nothing. Well, nothing but a sickening, tugging feeling on what felt like all of my internal organs. The damned demon cup was stuck. I started laugh-crying as panic set in.</p> <p>"Oh god!" Haha. "I'm going to faint, hit my head and die and no one will know because I live alone. One day my landlord will find me, dead in my apartment and inexplicably naked from the waist down!" Haha. Sob. Ha.</p> <p>At this point I decided the best coping mechanism was denial. So I laid down on the couch and threw on an episode of <i>Friends</i> to watch, just as if I <i>wasn't</i> being held hostage by the iron grip of a terrifying vagina octopus.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>While I was prone, I started considering who I might call if, after a valiant effort, I still couldn't remove the thing. An ex-boyfriend or two came to mind (I mean, at least they'd be familiar with the area, right?), but then I remembered that all the ones I'm in touch with have current girlfriends who might not appreciate an explanation of "Be right back, hon, just need to help Sarah with her vagina!" as they dashed out the door to my rescue. And while I'm pretty close with my girlfriends, this particular favour would definitely redefine "close" in a less than fun way.</p> <p>Finally, when I had run out of potential gynaecologists in shining armour and determined that there was no way in hell I was going to my actual gyno with this problem, I took one more deep breath, reached down and yanked the thing clean out, suction be damned.</p> <p>Youch.</p> <p>It felt like I had repositioned my uterus and possibly managed to suck my eyeballs a little further back in my head at the same time.</p> <p>Now for some, this would have been the end of the story. Not so for our crazy heroine. It turns out, this whole Diva Cup thing is where the intersection of my squeamishness and determination resides. So the next night I tried again, with strikingly similar results.</p> <p>I headed back to the Internet for some tips where I read about a different method of folding one side of the cup down into itself, making for a less bulky initial insertion and a more gentle unfolding than the umbrella sproinging I initially experienced.</p> <p>Lo and behold, this worked much better. And once it was in and opened, I was able to maneuver it farther in by putting some pressure on the cup's stem and doing kegels.</p> <p>Suddenly, I could no longer feel it. I squinted suspiciously while dancing around a little to be sure, and miracle of miracles, it was finally in the right spot, and I was totally comfortable! Being comfortable with it in made it much easier to take out. I sort of pulse-pinched the base and wiggled it oh so slightly back and forth, and presto! Successful escape!</p> <p>The next day I got my period, and the real test began. I wore the cup on a train ride home, and aside from my usual horrendous cramps, I was totally comfortable and had no leaks or spills. While you can leave them in for 12 hours, I took mine out at bedtime as I usually don't need any overnight protection.</p> <p>I was stunned at how little blood there actually was to dump out of the cup. (The Diva Cup has handy little measuring lines so you can be aware of exactly how heavy/light your flow is – like a gross, yet fascinating science project!) Tampons have always made it look like so much more! I was also happily amazed at how little mess there actually was in the removal/dumping/cleaning process.</p> <p>By day two I felt like a pro, and unfortunately for my dad and my brother, felt the need to tell the entire family of my victory. They were impressed by the money-saving, environmental impact, and self-preservation may have made them stop listening after that.</p> <p>Et voila. A menstrual cup convert was born!</p> <p><i>So, for those of you who made it to the end of the longest post ever, would/do you guys ever use menstrual cups or do you think I'm totally insane for even trying one? Oh, and for the record, I don't actually recommend doing what I did and trying it without your period. I think that actually may have contributed to the difficulty I had. </i></p> <p><i>Originally posted <a class="external-link external-link external-link elf-add-back-link" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="">here</a> on <a class="external-link" href=";"></a></i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Health environmentally friendly Menstruation period Wed, 05 Nov 2014 16:53:19 +0000 Metamorphocity 1801600 at 5 Things I Learned Running My First 10 Miles <!--paging_filter--><p>Before every run, I plan how many miles I want to accomplish. Today's intention was to run 10 miles for the first time ever. I thought about what it would be like, how it would feel, where I would run and, of course, I thought about having a snack on hand afterwards.</p> <p>I ran 9 miles the previous week with the Mothers Run This Town team, but I wanted to see if I could push the extra mile. I felt it was achievable from the previous weeks run. In all honesty, I needed to clear my thoughts, and I thought this was the perfect way to do so. You see, my dad has been very sick, and all I could think about was having a cigarette.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="run 1" /></center></p> <p>The process of grieving and death is quite new to me. I used to deal with stress by smoking. Ironically, running helped stopped me from smoking.</p> <p>There is nothing worse than running and coughing, or knowing that I'm doing a half-ass job when I get out there. I would ask people, <i>"Do you smoke? You do... And how does that make you feel?</i>" I wanted to hear the answer that you can run <i>and smoke</i>, but I knew that equation didn't work out too well. So I quit. I wanted to give running my all and that meant giving up smoking. Switching out a bad habit for a good habit, not too shabby, right?</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="run 2" /></center></p> <p>Running has helped me in a lot of ways in life. Not only physically, but mentally I am a stronger, healthier being. Being in the <b>double digits made me realize that I'm still a strong woman</b>, and I can accomplish anything I set my mind to do. I mean, I ran double digits! I accomplished what I had set out to do!</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="run 3" /></center></p> <p>The path I chose for this run was more challenging than my normal routine run. There were hills (and I do mean hills) all around. My normal mile time of sub-8 went up to a 12 minute mile! My legs and butt were burning to say the least! I learned <b>no matter the speed, a mile is still a mile is still a mile.</b> I gave it my all, and that meant more to me than my time.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="run 4" /></center></p> <p>On mile 7, I wanted to bail out. Thoughts of doubt flooded my head, and I even text my husband since I thought I was taking too long. I just wrote, <i>Mile 7</i>. He responded with, "Then you're almost there!" It gave me the encouragement I needed to push me further. Yes, I'm here and even though the going is tough, I will come out in victory. I can push through this just as I do with problems that arise in life. I will make it. Mile seven taught me to <b>keep going, to keep pushing, to never give up</b>.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="run 5" /></center></p> <p>When I hit Mile 9, I stopped in my tracks and prayed. I don't know what came over me, but I felt my dad really needed me in that moment. He is always so proud of me, no matter what I do. No matter how small or big of a task I accomplished, dad was there cheering me through. He loved the outdoors too. He said, "I never ran past 5 miles. You think you can do ten?" It helped motivate me to my goal. "Yes, dad. I know I can," I said. <b>I learned that if you set a goal and create the right steps to get there, you can achieve it. You can achieve anything you desire and want in life.</b> It was a profound mile 9 to say the least!</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="run 6" /></center></p> <p>After achieving ten miles, I learned <b>to dream big</b>. Even bigger than before. To want things even if I think they are impossible. To go after them. I know I can run a half-marathon; I've always known that, but I question if I can complete a marathon. That's where my doubt lies – but why doubt? Why not achieve? Mile 10 taught me not to back down and to keep going. It taught me that I can accomplish things that are bigger than what I ever thought possible.</p> <p>Amber @ Fit, Foodie Runs<br /> Visit at: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Mental Health Diet & Fitness Health inspiration miles running Tue, 04 Nov 2014 14:03:43 +0000 mamapoolecooks 1780611 at Brittany Maynard Died With Dignity, and I Support Her Decision <!--paging_filter--><p><i>[Editor's Note: Several sources repot that on November 1, 2014, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Brittany Maynard ended her own life, as she had planned.]</a></i></p> <p>It's not uncommon for Mr. T to look over and see tears running down my face when I'm watching TV or videos. Usually, I'm sniffling over silly fictional storylines, but last night I got close to a full-on cry fest while watching <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Brittany Maynard talk about her brain cancer</a>. Maynard is currently famous (or infamous, depending on your side of this issue) for planning her death on the first of November.</p><!--break--><h3 class="post-title entry-title"><span style="font-size: 16px;">&nbsp;</span></h3><div id="post-body-6784556677657339668" class="post-body entry-content"><table class="tr-caption-container" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" align="center"><tbody><tr><td><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" border="0" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption"><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Photo by Ryan McGuire, used with permission</a></td></tr></tbody></table><p>At 29, Maynard was diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most aggressive of brain cancers, and given a prognosis of six months. Instead of painfully succumbing to the disease (emphasis on painful, here's a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">cancer forum on what she's likely to expect</a>), Maynard and her family decided to relocate to Oregon, one of only five states in the U.S. with right-to-die laws. She filled a prescription that will allow her to die peacefully at home, if she wants.</p><p>And you know what? I applaud her. And I applaud anyone who chooses to die with dignity. I think it's a right that all people should have.</p><p>Some of you may be thinking: <em>Okay Shawna, that's just legalizing suicide</em>. Technically, sure. (How is that still a crime, by the way?) And others might wonder: <em>Are you advocating euthanasia?</em> Well, no, of course not. I am a big fan of people being in charge of their lives and able to make choices about their medical care. If someone would like to avoid pain and suffering, I'm all for that.</p><p>A few years ago I read "<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Cancer and Death: A Love Story in Two Voices</a>," written by Leah Vande Berg and Nick Trujillo, communication professors in my department at Sacramento State University. </p><p>Leah was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and together she and Nick documented her treatment and ultimate death. I tell you what, if you want to sit alone on a Southwest flight, read that piece. I blubbered my way through and kept the middle seat clear.</p><p>The account burst with intimate and humiliating details of Leah's physical deterioration, with vivid descriptions of the various bodily fluids associated with her kind of cancer.</p><p> I read about the ongoing emotional torture of Leah, her husband and her colleagues, friends, and family. And I tell you: I do not want that. I don't want that for me or my loved ones. Not even a little bit.</p><p>I think people should have access to a humane way to leave the earth, if they so choose. And before you ask me <em>What's wrong with hospice?</em> I think hospice&mdash;end-of-life care for the terminally ill&mdash;is a critically important option, too.</p><p>And that's the key, really: I think there should be more options for a good death&mdash;death on your own terms, if possible.</p><p>What do you think?</p><p>xoxo,</p><p>shawna</p><p>Related:</p><ul><li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Talking about death and dying: Whether you're 22 or 82, make your end-of-life care decisions now</a></li><li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">If I should die tomorrow</a></li><li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Contemplating suicide? Please think about your family and friends first. You'll be sorely missed.</a><br /><span>-&nbsp;</span><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">A life cut short. Remembering my first love.</a></li><li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Grief accumulated: Thoughts on secondary trauma, writing and resilience</a></li></ul></div><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Current Events Grief and Loss Health Work/Life News & Politics Brittany Maynard death with dignity Physician-assisted suicide Mon, 03 Nov 2014 02:33:36 +0000 bluestmuse 1817828 at