Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

It’s OK to Say “No”

No.” It’s a small word made up of two consecutive letters that are squeezed into the middle of the alphabet. Alone, neither letter has much meaning, but put together with no anchors on either side, they pack a pretty big punch. Such a big punch that many of us would rather avoid using it.

The use of “no” doesn’t start off as taboo, however. It’s among the first words that toddlers speak, because let’s face it, caretakers use it often.

As the minds of toddlers grow, an increased understanding of the power of such a word makes them feel in control when they wield it. “No, it’s not bedtime yet.” “No, I don’t want to eat that.” “No, Mommy. No!”

When interacting with teens, that two-letter word later evolves into a something that resembles a short-range missile, because of its propensity to launch parent/child wars when one party feels the need to exercise authority, and the other feels the need to express outrage for the injustices being forced upon them. Sound familiar?

Parent-child relationships aren’t the only ones that become strained when “no” is tossed into the air. Business, casual, and personal relationships can also suffer when one person fixes their mouth and emits a sound that represents the shortest form of verbal rejection. For that reason, “no” makes us feel guilty, so we limit use of it. When we know that our schedules can’t handle another commitment, we still subconsciously erase “no” from our vocabulary and become “yes men”.

“That promotion is so close, I can feel it. Better to be thought a ‘kiss-up’ than someone who’s not a team player.”

“If I don’t volunteer to run that program at my child’s school, it will cease to exist.”

“I know that I should enforce house rules, but I’m afraid my child will resent me.”

“If I don’t serve on that committee, people might think I’m lazy or don’t care about important causes.”

“No” becomes a bad word. “Yes” boosts our ego and our reputation.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was addicted to “yes”; I’ll blame it on the control freak in me.

When our sons’ Scout unit needed a leader, I took the reins. When our youngest daughter’s school needed a PTA Vice President, I was the gal for the job. When other volunteers weren’t able to carry out their responsibilities, I stepped in and donned as many additional hats as were needed.

All of that volunteering led me straight down a road to mental and physical burnout. That’s when I found my “no” voice. I often joke that I was born with a “help” gene, but I now recognize that gene dormancy can be a good thing.

Hanging up most of my volunteer hats has allowed me to spend more time with my family, live with less stress, develop hobbies, and participate in women’s Bible study sessions at church.

I am no longer a “yes girl”, because my limits have been tested and boundaries drawn as a result.

If it’s a struggle for you to decline invitations to assist in everything from chairing a committee that collects pennies for a new school playground to keeping the earth from spinning out of orbit, I urge you to simply say “no”. Your emotional, mental, physical, and relational health depend on it.


Low BMI? No Need to Apply.

Models. Some of us love to hate them and hate to love them. Teenagers want to be them and parents expend immeasurable energy trying to convince teens that modeling is not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s a hard sell, because on the surface, the life of a model appears the thing of which dreams are made.

Models get to wear great clothes, travel the world, have their pictures splashed across the covers of magazines across the globe, and gain entry into some of the most exclusive events known to man. They appear confident and successful. They exude perfection.

You can’t escape them – they’re everywhere and they peddle everything. They’re ambassadors for fashion houses, fresh faces of the latest glamorous cosmetics, and sometimes, they are spokespersons for charitable causes. However, what many of them clearly shouldn’t be are body image role models for young girls and women.

It’s no secret that the modeling world encourages unhealthy eating habits and is a breeding ground for eating disorders. Many of the industry’s stars and wannabes have body mass indexes (BMI) in dangerously low territory. This is why some governments have gotten into the business of modeling. Not literally, but figuratively…no pun intended.

In 2006, twenty-two-year-old Uruguayan Luisel Ramos collapsed and died shortly after exiting a runway. Her death is believed to have been caused by heart failure brought on by her severe anorexic condition. That same year, governments in India and Italy subsequently enacted laws banning underweight models. Two years later, in 2008, popular fashion week production companies in Madrid and Milan banned models who failed to meet minimum BMI standards, 18.0 and 18.5, respectively.

The industry still has a lot of work to do as it works to reform its image, but Israel’s government isn’t willing to wait any longer.

On January 1, 2012, a new Israeli law banned advertisers from using models whose BMI’s are too low. The minimum BMI for models in Israel is now 18.5. To put that into relatable terms, a 5’10” model must weigh at least 129 pounds to be considered healthy enough to get work as a model in Israel. Models must produce a medical report showing they have maintained a healthy BMI for three months prior to a photo shoot or runway show. The law also bans companies from using airbrushing techniques to alter the appearance of their models to make them look thinner than they really are. Finally, advertisers who use software to digitally alter images must clearly mark them as such.

Critics argue that BMI laws do not take into account the genetic disposition of some models who just can’t seem to gain weight despite their best efforts.

While I’m not a fan of big government, I applaud lawmakers in India, Israel, and Italy for having the courage to legislate healthy body images in advertisements. The United States and other countries could take a page out of their books.

What do you think? Are governments trampling upon the rights of ultra-thin models who seek work? Are they limiting the creative authority of advertisers? Is more legislation needed? Share your thoughts here or on my Facebook page.


Israeli model Bar Refaeli – BMI 18.8

Lip Balm Addiction

Addiction is defined as “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.” I like to think that the definition can be expanded to include lip balm as a habit-forming substance.

I…must…have…lip…balm. For as long as I can remember, my need for lip balm has been at the top of my hierarchy of needs – right up there with air, food, and water.

Preferences, Preparation, and Placement

I’ve come to love the Carmex brand and prefer cherry- or strawberry-scented moisturizer more than the original, but if I’m ever away from home and have lost my “travel” stash, I’d try just about any brand. Speaking of my travel stash, I have several sticks and tins of Carmex strategically placed within reach of just about anyplace that I plan to spend a lot of time: my desk, my vehicle, my purse (usually very close by), and my nightstand. I pretty much have my bases covered, but there have been a few close calls. Like the time I switched purses and forgot to transfer my lip balm between them. Or the time my lip balm rolled off my nightstand and was “lost” for two days. Then there was that other time (or two) when I thought a coworker pilfered it for some unknown torturous reason.

Validation? Advice.

I thought my attachment to lip balm was just another one of my neurotic attributes that distinctively defined me. That was until I saw a news report about people who couldn’t be without the waxy substance. “There are others out there who can relate!,” I thought. Finally, I knew that my need was indeed a real health concern. Or was it? It depends on who is asking and who is answering.

A quick Google search tonight found articles from the Washington Post (Dec. 14, 2008) and Fox News (Nov. 4, 2008) on this rather unique condition.

The Post reported that “there are countless Facebook groups are dedicated to the ‘crackstick’ ” (gotta join, brb). OK, so after providing what seemed like written validation at last, the Post stated that “lip balm isn’t addictive.” Really?! Tell that to my lips! Did they conduct scientific research to disprove the belief that lip balm addiction exists? No, but they did provide a few bits of advice to reduce dependency on balm: use petroleum-based rather than wax-based products, don’t lick your lips, be mindful of the sun, and finally, think about whether it’s the product or the behavior. (Note: The mere fact that they provided this advice seems as if they can’t make up their minds about whether or not lip balm addiction really does exist.)

While the writers at Fox News also aren’t keen on calling lip balm dependency an addiction, they did seek the advice of someone in the position to give a professional opinion about the topic, Dr. Marcia Driscoll, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Maryland. Dr. Driscoll conducted a very small, but telling experiment with a few colleagues. She reported that upon asking three colleagues about their use of lip balm, all of them reached into their pockets and pulled out tubes of lip balm. Dr. Driscoll admitted that “this [need for lip balm] might be more common than I believe.” Ding! Ding! Ding! Bingo, Doctor!

Her advice to those of us who are dependent is to avoid lip balms containing phenol, lanolin, parabin, and fragrances as they may initially seem to provide relief, but will be irritating if used long-term. Driscoll believes that the irritation could be what causes users to become dependent. She advises that petroleum jelly is as good option for preventing and soothing chapped lips and will not lead to dependence.

Next Steps

Maybe I’ll take some of the advice. Maybe I’ll just continue to replenish my stash, as needed. Maybe I’ll need an intervention led by my loved ones. Regardless of my next steps, I don’t think I’ll be able to throw away my Carmex just yet.

Kudos to the creator of Lip Balm Anonymous, Kevin Crossman, who went cold turkey and has been without lip balm for 16 years! I should be so brave!

Do you suffer from lip balm dependency? If so, share your habits and nightmares in our comments section.


Other Resources

Lip Balm Anonymous (web site) and Facebook page

Elliptical vs. Treadmill

Treadmills are great for taking a stroll or going for a run while protected from the sometimes fierce weather or darkness. So why am I looking to get rid of mine?

For years I’ve heard how great elliptical machines are on the knees. Now that my knees, hips, and other lower parts seem to have given out on me, the excitement of hopping on the treadmill and running to exhaustion has lost its appeal. So the purchase of a joint-friendly piece of exercise equipment seems to be in my near future. I’ve listed pros and cons of both machines to help make a final decision as to whether I should replace my treadmill with an elliptical.



  • adjustable incline on some models
  • adjustable resistance for easier or more difficult workoutlow-impact, so no shin issues for me (huge plus!)
  • forward and reverse motion options – forward simulates cross country skiing when using the handlebars; reverse helps to target quadriceps muscleshigh-calorie burn
  • total body workout, since they’re equipped with cross country bars


  • potential injury to ankles and Achilles tendon due to the unique motion of the machine
  • since one size fits all, my shorter legs are more likely to become overextended causing injury; pulled muscles are, unfortunately, familiar to me, so the thought of buying a machine that could cause a repeat injury doesn’t sound appealing


Pros (for the model that I already own)

  • adjustable incline and speed
  • great when training for distance running
  • high calorie burn
  • total body workout (I have cross country bars on mine)


  • aggravates my shin pain
  • high impact movement is difficult on my hips and knees

Maybe you can help me by providing pros and cons for both types of equipment.

Do you own, or have you used, a variable stride elliptical? How was the workout?

Post your personal treadmill and elliptical machine experiences here.

Love to all!


Does Chiropractic Care Help?

Don’t get me wrong, I know people who swear by their chiropractic visits, but for some reason, my visits don’t result in long-term improvement. Sure, I know that chiropractors don’t promise to heal all that ails their patients, but what should I expect after a visit?

Case in point, I had a visit today after debilitating pain that has led me to reach for my crutches for the last several days. The treatment that I received during the visit was remarkable and I walked out of there with less of a limp. But here I sit several hours later in the same amount of pain that I limped into the doctor’s office with. What gives?!

Shifting in bed hurts, trying to get out of bed is excruciating, standing from a seated position is torture, and walking is painful. I like working out, but right now, it’s not something I can do routinely. On a good day, I sneak in a workout between mild bouts of pain, but there’s nothing mild about the pain this time. To sum it up, my lifestyle has been cramped due to the pain.

This is the second time in less than a year that I’ve received treatment for this problem and I’m at a loss for how to resolve it. I’ve seen two chiropractors, I soak in the hot tub for temporary pain relief, and my heating pad has become one of my new best friends.

Will I need surgery? Should I amp up my yoga routine? Do I just need to relax and just expect that chiropractic visits will be my new normal? Speaking of normal, visits to chiropractors are a normal part of care for people seeking both pain relief and routine alignments. According to Dr. Kelly Andrews of Spine-Health, an estimated 6%-12% of the US population seeks chiropractic care each year. In 2009, the projected number of visits was expected to range from 18 million visits to 36 million visits to chiropractors. Let’s add me to the list of people who sought chiropractic relief in 2011. The jury is still out on whether or not this will become part of my routine.

I have hopes of running my second 10K this spring, but the odds aren’t looking great from where I sit (painfully). However, I do know that God makes miracles happen all day every day. Perhaps my issue is too big for the chiropractor alone, because it’s a God-sized thing. I guess that’s my cue to tenderly get down on my knees and call out to Him for healing (and for a little help getting up from my knees). :-)

Have you ever had chiropractic care? Was your treatment successful? Is it part of your regular health care routine?

Let’s chat!

Love to all!