Health and Fitness

Postpartum Recovery

A fun topic, to be sure. But oh-so important, not just for the recovering/new mom. The dad, friends, other’s who get to share the join or listen to the answer to the “how are you doing” question. When your friend, wife etc., says–well, you know, ‘I actually hurt,’ or ‘I’m a bit depressed,’ as I did, you can offer up some natural, effective solutions.

After I had my c-section, a wonderful nurse on the night-shift told me about this book, and mentioned this recipe as one of many to use.
Women's Herbs: Women's Health
Postpartum Compress

I found this recipe in a wonderful book called .Women’s Herbs: Women’s Health by Christopher Hobbs and Kathi Kevill. Of course, my book is now so old (10 years+) and the cover so much uglier-but the content hasn’t changed a bit. It’s still wonderful and effective.

This compress is comprised of 3 Tbs fresh ginger root, chopped fine, 2 tbs comfrey root, chopped fine, 2 tbs comfrey leaf or fresh plaintain leaf, chopped and 8 cups or more of water. My grandmother, the fine Swede she was, used comfrey for healing every wound us 60+ grandkids inflicted upon ourselves. She always had a pot on the stove that she’d use to create a compress. A compress being a rag she’d dip in the water, sponge-out, then place on our wound/bruise etc. In seconds, the pain would go away. Today, you can find comfrey in the local health food stores, and also Arnica gel or lotion, another natural pain reliever. (You know Arnica has gone mainstream when even Target carries the stuff). I also use this Comfrey cream as well as having the Arnica gel in my emergency kits and baby bags.

Directions for the compress
Simmer the roots together for a half-hour, adding the comfrey leaves (or plantain leaves) and turn the heat to low. Steep for at least 10 minutes.

Immerse a clean diaper or towel in the hst mix, wring and apply to the vulva or perineum (if you don’t know what these are, you don’t have to worry about this). A side note on this: you may be surprised at how much heat you can handle in these areas. the hotter the better–but you will need to use dishwashing gloves when dipping or you’ll burn yourself. You can do this several times a day after you have given birth.

Engorged Breasts

Since I had a c-section, I didn’t require this “down there” but did need it on my breasts. I used a thin bath town and wraped it around, and under, the armpit as directed. I continued to do this until the breast was pink with heat. About that time, my chest felt SOOOO much better. This compress soothes sore breasts and prevented mastitis (in my case, anyway).

The brew can be reheated and reused, or kept simmering in a pot for up to 2 days. Then I replaced it. The key was to use a clean cloth with each application.

The nurse also recommended cabbage for engorged breasts. I thought she was nuts, but she had been delivering babies and assisting new moms for 30 years, not me. Who was I to argue? While I was breastfeeding, I had to leave on a two day trip. My breasts were exploding, so I dropped by the grocery store, picked up 2 cabbages (1 for each) and covered my breasts with the leaves, just as the nurse directed. Unbelievable–it worked (and I was in the hotel room, thx very much). I used this for 2 other pregnancies as well–when the compress wasn’t available (the compress worked faster I’ll say).

I’m going to refer to this book again and again in this blog. So if you don’t have the $ or inclination, don’t worry. But…it’s an awesome source for a new mom.

Postpartum sleep aid

One other tidbit….sleep deprivation makes no one happy. Valerian is a superior postpartum sleep aid (and frankly, I’ve used whenever I’m wired up and can’t sleep). It has a very strong smell and gnarly aftertaste though, so I blend it w/other stuff or a meal. I’ve never made my own capsules, but this can be done.

Using a tincture made from fresh valeiran, take 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon every four hours.

Lastly…use a Ginger compress for the lower back, breasts or directly on the perineum if you can’t find the comfrey or other items listed above. Fresh ginger can be had at any grocery story. Like the above recipe, boil it and use fresh, clean towels for every application.

Don’t be surprised that Rog has actually used this for his post-hockey game pain, particularly on his lower back. It’s worked wonders.

Workout Wednesday- Baby don’t got back

The last few days have had more than enough coverage of Kim Kardashian’s rear-end. Who is this you wonder? The daughter of a woman who divorced her now dead attorney husband (of OJ Simpson fame) to run off with Bruce Jenner (well, she ran off with Bruce before divorcing her husband), and who jumped out of obscurity and in to the real world with a reality TV show. Fortunately, I’ve avoided watching all episodes by keeping the tv off. However, I too, stand in line at the grocery store, and as much as I attempt to avert my eyes at the glimmering, intoxitcating photos of wanna-be, have been and presently, are what the world calls ‘celebrities,’ I am now more than familiar with Kim Kardashian.

Much coverage is given to her ample chest, narrow waist and rotund bottom, the latter being credited with her current annual income of between $3-5Million dollars. This is an outtrage, is it not? Shouldn’t all big-arsed girls be given the same type of attention by frothing papparazi and glossy magazine covers? Well, no actually. Did I mention the part about the sex-tape “accidentally leaked” by her then boyfriend? Sure. Like when former US spy Valerie Plame was leaked by a pissed off, bald chief of staff.

Kim’s 30th birthday, a recent, inescapable event for anyone with eyes, stuck in the grocery stand, made headlines as much for the shot of her rear than the milestone. I for one, would not want a fanny protuding like two large mellons, nor could I likely afford the custom made jeans designed for a physiological freak of nature. (I’d show a photo but don’t want to scare the young natives off the blog, or worse, get some horrid ads for shows I don’t want to watch).

All that said, Rog had a good point. “Doesn’t matter how bit it is, if it’s firm, it’s not half as bad.”

Spoken like a true pragmatist. Thus, we kick off this inuagural WW blog. How to get a hard butt, small or large, wide or thin.

Due to my desire to keep ridicule to a minimum, I’ve declined taking self-photos for this particular blog. Internet photos are eternal. Someday I might live to regret a picture of my derrier going up and down. (a flash image of the photos, placed to thumping music, sliced and diced ran through my head like a coyote chasing a deer in my lawn. ends with blood and a kill. not good).

Never fear–these exercises don’t require money, equipment, or special shoes. Just determination.

Standing exercises that firm up the outter, back and corner part of your butt (sorry, I didn’t take pre-med)

Leg Description Reps/sets
Right leg up lift Lift foot up, bent at 90 degree angle, then lift up waist high 25 reps/3 sets
Angle right leg lift Keeping the foot up, extend your leg back at a 45 degree angle 25 reps/3 sets
Back angle right lift Keeping the foot up, extend your leg back directly behind you 25 reps/3 sets
switch to left side
Left leg up lift Lift foot up, bent at 90 degree angle, then lift up waist high 25 reps/3 sets
Left right leg lift Keeping the foot up, extend your leg back at a 45 degree angle 25 reps/3 sets
Left angle right lift Keeping the foot up, extend your leg back directly behind you 25 reps/3 sets

A note on this…I rotate the three exercises on each side to minimize the burn on my butt. When I’m talking on the phone, I’ll stand and to these in the kitchen, using the counter for balance.

Weight loss programs that work and fail

Let me preface this blog with some history. I was born 6lbs 5 oz, and am 5’11”, though this latter fact is always disputed in my house. For the record, I’ve been 5’11” since age fifteen, measured multiple times, the most recent being for an insurance policy (in case I get knocked off, you read it here first). This last factoid is important because I’ve ranged from 115 as a hard-core runner to 185 as a pregnant person. My lean, eat-anything-I-want, is typically between 132-138. I’m now 148, which qualified me for a Premier elite with State Farm, but it’s still heavier than I’d like.

Growing up, my eldest brother called me ‘bird,’ a reference to my bone-thin legs. Though skinny, I was always an athlete, and that gave me a great foundation of muscle. But as my martial arts instructor told me one day: “You’ve overdeveloped your thigh muscles. It turns to fat when not utilized.” Sure enough, one to many pizza slices in college gave way to long work days in my twenties. By my thirties, bad patterns were set. Thus began my use of, and experimentation with, all sorts of diets.

I’d begin with simple eating right and exercising, but see no reason. That is a logical, reasonable way to approach a small jean size. Me? Give me the quick, results-right-now approach. Save reason for the uninformed.

Lemonade Diet
After reading how Beyonce used the Lemonade diet to drop 22 pounds in a month for her role in Dreamgirls, I went to Costco, purchased several bags of lemon, a few cans of Cayenne and Maple Syrup, and began a week of drinking hot, putrid tasting drinks and living on the toilet.

The results were indisputable. In four days, I lost seven pounds, in seven days, 10. The side effects were horrid. A pasty tongue (white), breath to kill a horse, stomach pains from the lemon, a natural diuretic (e.g. intestinal flush), and then diahrea like I’ve never experienced. (I’ll interject here that I’ve found many-read many many-female celebrities use this for it’s quick results).

Doesn’t that sound grand? Scale validation aside, it was the WRONG kind of weight loss. It was water weight, and I suspect, muscle tissue (for no protein was injested). The reason for my suspicion is I was left with these sickening, cellulitey legs (and if the muscle was strong underneath, the surface of the skin would have been smooth).

Not surprisingly, the weight returned one real food entered my system. Immediately. Hips and thighs shared the re-acceptance of the pounds with my arms and belly like the embrace between high school sweethearts.

Verdict? This is fine in times of absolute desperation–e.g. fitting in to that college outfit for your 20 year reunion, going to a wedding and the like. If you’re legs can be squinched in to nylons or under a dress. But don’t do it pre-bikini, and don’t expect the pounds to stay off. It comes right back on unless one goes back to the basics (exercise and eating right).

Mom is probably choking on her tongue as she reads this, for in fact, she hates fads and has never dieted a day in her life. Dieting for my naturally-thin mom means having one bowl of chocolate pudding, with half and half and a dollop of butter in the middle, instead of two. But I digress…

Grapefruit diet, cucumber diet, cabbage soup diet….

I’m happy to say I’ve not crossed this line, though I know people who have, and will admit it. I’m not sure why someone would eat a concentration-camp-esque diet in a modern, third world country, other than to write a novel about a torturous experience. Weight loss? Check. Rapid weight gain? Check. Not a single person I know who followed these diets lost more than 10 pounds, or kept a single pound off.

HCG Program
I’ve had many friends follow Dr. Trudeau’s HCG program, lose weight and keep it off (though it was originally created in Europe). While the premise sounds crazy (us American’s have a tendency to think anything not created in the US is crazy), I’ve seen it work, and yes, I’ll cop to it now, I’ve done it.
There. That was like passing a really bad piece of meat.
Facts–for 26 or 43 days,
Step 1-inject yourself with 30 ccs of diluted HCG (Human Growth Hormone), something that is extracted from the urine of a pregnant woman—

still there? Breathe…keep reading….

Step 2-eat as much as humanly possible for 3 days
Step 3-cut down to a prescribed 500 a day diet of specific proteins, fruits and vegetables, drink loads of water
Step 4-watch the weight fall off
Step 5-finish the injections, but keep to the 500 cal a day for 3 days, then return to normal caloric intake, without adding the starches (rice or potatoes) or sugars

Europeans have been doing this for thirty (30!) years. It resets the hypothalmus to the “normal” or original state (again, my lay-term). The body functions at optimal production.

Verdict. I’m sold. Dropped 15 pounds, kept it off, and reset my hypthalmus.

Before you think I’m a lunatic, know that I watched friends try this 3-decade old “fad” for 2 years before I was sold on injecting myself with another woman’s distilled urine. For heaven’s sakes, if someone had told me I’d be doing this, I’d have set aside my own freaking urine while I was pregnant!!
But desperate times post pregnancy required desperate measures.
Beyond the immediate results, it’s been several months, and I haven’t gained back a pound. The program instilled in me such good health (eg good foods with great recipes), eating 1800 calories a day (that’s a lot for me), is done with wonderful meals, sweets, and no starvation.
In fact, every person I know that followed the HCG program (for it’s not a diet-it’s a change in lifestyle) and reset of an actual body part), has continued to lose weight on the program.

Oh, forgot to mention one very important part. It gets to the 3rd layer of fat; the hard to lose parts above the knee, under the armpit, around the hips. It also leaves the legs smooth (rids the cellulite) and retains the muscle, since it’s full of protein.

A lot of info on the web is overblown and wrong. That’s one reason I waited to long; I wanted first-person accounts of individuals with success. Those few that failed weren’t strict about the protocol.
Now–the next question you ask, is about the money. It’s spendy. I’ve heard of clinics in Vegas charging $1200-1500 per cycle. On-line, one can buy the same thing for $50 bucks (and I have one friend who went from a size 10/12 to 4). She purchased homeopathic HCG on-line. I thought it was risky, but it worked out fine for her.
Luckily, I found a Dr here in Washington who isn’t a scalper, and it was $150 for the treatment. I then continued on, eating healthy, and am nearing in on my fighting weight–well, have about 15 more pounds, but better than it was!
Though this last one worked and the others failed, I’ve always supported a high-protein, low-carb diet. My husband went on P90X for 90 days, and lost 20 pounds. However, he kept at the eating program at a whopping 2500 calories a day and lost another 15 in three months. He’s now 185 pounds. It’s been amazing. It’s also been hard work and strict, healthy eating.

That’s the way it should be.

Slimmer thighs fast!

When it comes to fitting in jeans, I live by a simple mantra: saddlebags are for horses, not women.

Christy Brinkley, she of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit covers, has ridden horses for years. She credits riding for giving her thin “inner” thighs. For the outer thighs, she has to work it off, the same as us mere mortals, the hard way. Lots of repetitive exercises, all of which can be done without bands, weights or other convenient excuses. In three days, you’ll feel a difference in your jeans (assuming you don’t gorge in the process). In five days, you’re pants will be looser, and in a week, your butt and thighs will be noticeably smaller.
Ready, set, GO!
Inner thigh
25 reps/3 times
Alternate sides between each rep
Inner thigh
25 reps/3 sets
Outer thigh
25 reps/3 times
Alternate sides between each rep
Outer thigh
25 reps/3 sets
Donkey kick-side
25 reps/3 sets
On knees and hands, lift knee to shoulder height
Donkey kick-side
25 reps/3 sets
On knees and hands, lift knee to shoulder height
Donkey kick-back
25 reps/3 sets
On knees and hands, lift knee straight up (leg parallel back)
Donkey kick-back
25 reps/3 sets
On knees and hands, lift knee straight up (leg parallel back)
Donkey cross
25 reps/3 sets
On knees and hands, lift knee straight up 1x, then cross to leg on floor (works inner thigh)
Donkey cross
25 reps/3 sets
On knees and hands, lift knee straight up 1x, then cross to leg on floor (works inner thigh)
50 reps/2 sets
Lying on back, lift butt so its angled with the knees. Tilt pelvis up and down in sets of 10-15. Switch up pressings knees together, then apart for extra benefit.

Improve your complexion-increase metabolism

Facial issues don’t begin and end with puberty. The course of life means changing hormones. With that reality a face and skin with different needs and problems.
My particular issue has been a dry face, dry skin, dry hair. Not cracking, mind you. But dry. Lo and behold, in my twenties, I clue into the fact I’m not eating the right kinds of foods. I need(ed) those high in good oils, like olives, not bad oils, like the kind found on pizza. Even so, sometimes my skin was blotchy, like a patchwork quilt of browns and tans. Worst off, the skin started to show natural signs of aging. No mystery here. Men and women both suffer from collagen loss after forty.
So to the books I went, searching for answers. The moment I found a solution, I tried it out, refined and refined for the best answer, and walla. Women started complimenting my skin and I happily gave away my secrets. Soon enough, I learned my little concoctions were being used in other parts of the country.
Dry Skin Elixer (homemade, inexpensive and won’t clog the poors).
In a glass bottle (small, $2.99 at Michaels) prick the ends of Borage, Primrose capsules, Vitamin E and Vitamin A and squeeze into the bottle. My mixture varies, since I like less Borage in the winter, for a thicker concoction, and more in the summer, for a thinner concoction. The biggest expense will be the capsules. Get the organic kind from PCC or Whole Foods. Each will run @$8.00 or so.  A and E strengthen the skin, Borage helps heal the skin and Primrose gets rid of dark circles. I use this morning and night, before I put on my make-up and after I remove make-up and tone my skin.
My cousin who lives in Vegas has oily skin, but it gets dry in the dessert. Even she uses the above recipe and it doesn’t clog her pores or make her skin oily. She increases the amount of Borage so the mixture is light enough to wear day and night.
Most women don’t use toner, and that’s a tragedy. Toner is ESSENTIAL to tightening and toning the skin—hence, the use of the word Toner. However, most off the shelf toners are full of crap that do nothing (if I had time I’d digress on this subject, but am skipping the details). Suffice it to say that the best toner, hands-down, can be found in your supermarket in the dressing aisle.
Organic, apple cider vinegar.
Yep. You read that right. It stinks. It’s quasi-orange. It has the meat at the bottom of the bottle (you need to shake the bottle). But here’s what you do.
Take the bottle, shake it, put a teaspoon in a half cup of water, or thereabouts. This waters it down. With a Kleenex or preferably something softer, dip the tissue in the mixture and wipe it around your face. Yes, it will reek. But you will immediately notice the oils disappear and the skin tighten. This is a freaking miracle worker.
After years of purchasing the most expensive toners on the market, this has been one of the greatest finds ever. My friends with perpetual acne problems swear by this as well. In fact, I haven’t found a single skin type that doesn’t benefit from this little miracle in a bottle.
Increasing Metabolism—a side benefit.
While you’re at, slurp 2 tablespoons full of the stuff. It increases circulation and speeds metabolism. Takes like H—L, but ok if you chase it with some orange juice.
One last point on improving circulation and increasing metabolism.
My Grandmother Olson swore by her chamomile tea with cayenne pepper. In my thirties, when the wheels of metabolism started slowing, I remembered what my tall, lean Grandma used. Like most women back in the day, she had a home-grown remedy for every ailment. This one happened to be vanity, but she swore it made her arms and feet warmer. Us Swedes have cold feet. To my husband’s delight, it worked. No more cold feet. Nothing kills the bedroom deal than cold feet.

Caffeine Withdrawals

My hands are shaking as I type this, so be kind, and overlook fragments, extra spaces or run-on sentences…

Last night, my scare was that I was going to have another child. Pregnant and 42 is not my ideal right now. It would have to be an act of God, but that’s another story. The withdrawal part is that I figured if I was, beyond the mortification and pain of pregnancy I’d endure (again), I’d be mainlining my child caffeine through the vats of chocolate I eat every day. Now, mind you, it’s not a vat. But it’s enough–a piece here and there-to probably equal some great cappucino. Both are loaded with caffeine. Each addictive. And each harder to quit that crack. Well, or so I’ve heard. Since I don’t like the notion of a newborn addicted to anything (save green vegies), I had to go cold turkey.

Oh, what a mother will do……Here’s the signs of withdrawal, what to do, and how to live to the following morning.

Signs–headache over my right eye first. It begins around five pm. By eight, it has spread to the entire side of my head, making it painful to move my neck. Midnight means I’m lying down, because my body quivers when I walk. Three am, I’m praying for a sudden death. I’m shaking. Five in the morning, I’m vomiting. At seven, I’ve put the pillow over my head, trying to hide the obvious from Rog, who knows the symptoms of withdrawal. Back when he had sympathy for me, he’d do anything for me. Now, he shakes his head, because I know better, and haven’t “kicked this habit once and for all.” This morning, he rushed out the door without noticing my bloodshot eyes or the dark, smoky looking rim underneath, due to smudged mascara (see vomit point above). It’s 10 now, and I’m fully recovered.

What to do:
Whatever you’re addicted to (ok, within legal bounds)….first, get prepared with an ice pack, and Arsenicum, a homeopathic remedy you can get at your local PCC, Whole Foods or health food store. It is for combating food poisoning. Yes, caffeine in large does is considered a poison. Anything that causes black teeth, stimulates cancer cell growth (as told to me by a dr at the cancer center here in Seattle-that’s another story), saps the collagen from our faces, and dramatically reduces the bone density SHOULD be considered food poison.

As a side note, I really like ABC Homeopathy. Even my husband, once a non-believer in natural medicine, goes to this site when I’m not around or he can’t get in touch with our homeopath.

When the onset hits, post headache and pre-puking, take a white pill. If the symptoms abate, then take one every 2-4 hours. If they don’t you can take it more often. Avoid taking it too much, since it can actually make you sick. (I’m making the leap you readers are smart enough to consult the Internet or a homeopath for more details. I’m giving advice from 30 years of using this stuff, all the while at the direction of my homeopathic swami)….

Back to what you do.
Fizzy water, no sugar, is good, in small amounts. Also, dehydration sets in very quickly. Chamomile tea with a bit of lemon is good. Lemon=highest amount of vitamin C. Honey generally has a mellowing affect. If lemon rips your system apart (as in, gives you diarrhea), don’t use it. But keep the tea and honey part. A cracker or two is going to sound nauseating, but eat it with the tea or the fizzy water. It’s 10:49 now, and I’m going back and forth (still) between the tea, the cracker and the fizzy water. About a tablespoon of each to keep hydrated. (note-the headache will come back if the body doesn’t get enough water).

What’s happening…I’m no dr., but I should be on that rehab show, Just for Idiots. Ok, I’ve not seen that yet, but it should be on TV, for people like me. Then I could get paid for being stupid enough to go through this time and again.

My swami tells me I wouldn’t be so sensitive to caffeine if I drank, smoked, or generally ate bad food. But I don’t. The rest of my diet is oddly ‘clean’, as in, organic, no preservatives, I make most of my own food. My singular are those black, little quarter size dollops of chocolate that resemble a chipmunk dropping, nuts and all.

What’s in front of me. This morning, two pregnancy tests showed negative. WAHUUUUU!!!! Of course, the first thing I want to do is celebrate with my treat of choice. But I’ve gone through so much pain and misery, hugged the toilet bowl more than I hug my daughter, I’m repeating to myself “never again, never again.” As I’m feel better by the moment, the true test will be if I can display any sense of willpower (and common sense) and not go through this again, w/out the threat of additional progeny as motivation.

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