Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Summer Reading + Contest

I was walking around Barnes & Noble the other day and happened upon a table with a sign on it that just brought back a flood of memories. The sign read - Summer Reading. I was immediately transported back to when I was a teenager and summer meant beaches and hanging around with my friends and reading long novels like "Hawaii." This nice feeling just washed over me standing in front of that table and I wondered if I could recreate that sense of tranquility and even freedom again, even though I don't have the summer off technically. How nice would that be?

So I am on a quest to figure out how to do that this summer . I haven't had summers off in about 30 years, but when the kids are out of school, it still feels like I should be!

So my question is to all of you, what do you do in the summer that doesn't really happen much or as much the rest of the year that gives you a sense of peace and deep happiness? Do you plan for it or does it happen more spontaneously?

Everyone who leaves a comment on this blog for this question by next Sunday, May 31 EOD will be entered into a drawing for my book "Aging Lite: A Baby Boomer's Health Planner for Women." I will get in touch with the winner and mail the signed copy.

Thanks for visiting! Looking forward to hearing about your summer!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dem Bones, Dem Bones

If you're a woman, you have no doubt heard about osteoporosis, the disease that turns your bones into Swiss cheese. That is certainly a non-medical description, but basically true. Typically we equate the probability of suffering from the disease with old age and if we aren't old, then it's one concern we can put on the back burner until we become "old." Not.

You probably already know where I'm going with this - this is another disease that has its roots in our family tree and the lifestyle we engage in for many years before our hair starts turning gray and the skin around our eyes begins to crinkle. So for reference, here are some of the risks factors that can make us more vulnerable to osteoporosis:

  • being small framed or thin most of your life (is this just wrong?)

  • being postmenopausal

  • lack of physical activity

  • low calcium intake, low Vitamin D intake/exposure

  • smoking

  • excessive drinking (alcohol)

  • family history of the disease

  • early menopause

  • are white or of southeast Asian decent

  • if you have had an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa

  • being treated for another condition using certain prescription drugs

  • age

This list doesn't mean that if some of these apply to you that you will definitely suffer from the disease at some point or that if you have none of these that you won't. More than half of all women over 50 years old break a bone due to osteoporosis. But that also means almost half don't. The main thing is to take action however old you are or however you have been living up until now. Don't assume anything other than you have more control over this than anyone else.

The reason I mentioned that you may not be worrying about this if you are, say, 17 years old, 29 or 34, etc. and you should be worrying, is that our youth is when we need to be actively building a foundation and then managing it. As children we build bone and the denser we can build it via eating calcium rich foods, getting plenty of exercise outside, the more we have to draw from later in life. We women start losing bone around 30 years old - just very small amounts early on but after menopause it can go into overdrive. So do pay attention to it if you are in your twenties, thirties or forties. Research has shown that regular exercise over a lifetime can really contribute to slowing down bone loss later. So can eating calcium rich foods like low-fat dairy, cooked kale, oats, broccoli, soy, almonds and more over a lifetime. Sunlight contains lots of Vitamin D, but always wearing sunblock filters it out. (Another injustice!) So if you don't feel comfortable or can't be out in the sun for fifteen minutes a day or so without it, then getting it through other sources is important and you probably need to anyway, sun or not.

Both calcium and Vitamin D are available in supplements. Talk with your doctor about how much you should take when you look at all your factors. Make sure you are taking high quality, natural vitamins that absorb well.

The right kind of exercise is important. Weight-bearing exercise using dumbbells or weight machines in the gym or at home is a must. It not only helps bone density, but keeps those muscles strong so that if we do slip or lose our balance, we have the strength to recover and not fall. Striking activity such as walking, running, stair climbing, high-impact aerobics such as Jassercise or cardio-kickboxing is great for your bones. Cycling and using eliptical machines are great cardio, but do little for dem bones. Cardio is important, too of course, and I always recommend you do a variety of exercises every week to touch all the important areas of health.

Finally, be sure you are getting your bone density measured by at least 50 years old - sooner if your physician recommends it. It's called a dexascan. IF you find that even if you have conscientiously applied all of the above and you are still losing serious bone density, consider talking to your physician about taking a prescription drug that stops bone loss or can rebuild bone.

The main thing is - take action! Love on dem bones. Love your kids' bones.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fun at the Pharmacy

I was standing in line at the pharmacy at my local grocery store tonight and the lady in front of me at the counter was deciding how many months of prescription she wanted. I'm fine, I'm chillin'. Just leaning on my cart watching my ice cream melt, but whatever.... It wasn't a big deal. But this man walked up behind me in line, and immediately started blustering right at this poor lady telling her to get her act together. She was holding him up! Who was this guy?

He was like this little nasty, shrieking whirlwind behind me, spinning barbs off into the wind as he went. She's trying to ignore him and laughing and I'm encouraging her with my eyes not to let it bother her. He ran back and forth between the two windows yelling at the pharmacy staff of two people. It was bizarre. I stared at him as he stomped back in line and let off another round of insults.

Finally, I turned around and looked him right in the eye and said "What is your problem?" He stepped back and was quiet for a moment... finally... and said "Well, she just ought to be more organized." Nothing after that. Thank goodness.

As I left clutching my two prescriptions, I thought that this man is going to die of a heart attack or cancer one of these days because he has no concept of grace towards other people. Does he know what he's doing to himself physically when he can't control himself like that? It's so unhealthy, not only for him but for people he lives with or runs into. I guess I was taking a chance that he could pull a gun out and shoot me, but I don't believe people should think it's OK to let their bad energy and personal garbage flow onto others. I felt like just decking him, but not decking him I suppose was my grace towards him. Ha! At least that poor lady, probably a mother (on Mother's Day no less), didn't have to listen to any more from him.

Everyone needs grace from others and it's a much nicer world when we give it: letting others into traffic, waiting your turn, forgiving, not saying what you think at times. We never know when someone else needs a little extra grace at any given moment. Grace can be like a wet blanket over their roaring fire allowing them to gather themselves back up and regroup. I don't know if what I gave that man who couldn't give grace was grace per se. But it did defuse things. On the other hand, a hug probably wouldn't have been appropriate either. : )

And I didn't feel like hugging him anyway....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thanks, Mom!

Thank you, Mom for being there for us with hugs and interest in our day every day after school. For making sure we ate as well as you knew how to feed us all those years ago, but also for those special nights when we got Swanson's chicken TV dinners or Kraft macaroni and cheese. It was almost like taking a vacation from regular dinner with our little tray tables in front of the TV. For trips up north with you and dad to get MacIntosh apples and cider every fall and letting us sip some of the cider even when it got hard out in the garage.

Thanks for introducing us to bird watching which I still love today, letting us have cats and dogs in our lives and other species like rats, fish, turtles, frogs, pollywogs, and more. For walking with me out in the woods to find Jack-in-the-Pulpits and turning over rocks to find salamanders. For putting up with jars full of grashoppers and a snake or two. For teaching me how to make fudge and for not making me feel horrible when I almost completely burned up the kitchen. You did get some new appliances out of it. : )

Thank you for paying for college for me and being there when my kids were born. For being a loving role model for us girls. I never realized how much you gave until I got older and I wish I could have told you I knew. I wear your diamonds on my finger 24/7 and they remind me of you. I think you'd like that. They are too beautiful to be in a box stored away.

I love you and miss you everyday. I wish you had been around a little longer to see how things went for us. I wonder if I'll get breast cancer, too. I'm working on avoiding it, Mom. I'm doing OK. You probably know that. Thanks for everything, Mom.

Happy Mother's Day! XXXOOXXX

Your first born.