Health and Fitness

Losing a pet: Natural cure for grief-induced depression

For the last five weeks, I’ve dithered about blogging on a recent adventure: suffering through grief and depression. Bankruptcy? No problem. Divorce and losing friends? Why not? Along the way I’ve peppered this site with missives on my mushy, cat-loving, pitbull, relationship love and misery, all without much heart palpitation. Finally, I’m ready to admit I’m as much a wuss about suffering from loss of a family member, nay, a cat, that me in to a state that is as close the walking dead as I’ve ever been.

As a classical type-A, I’ve long-held many beliefs on grief that suddenly became irrelevant when my furry, four-legged companion of fourteen-years left my life. I cried, thinking that’d be the end of it. A week went by, then a month. I kept at it, going through the motions of my life, but I wasn’t living. The best way to describe my experience is to say that I knew the sky was blue, but all I saw was grey.

When I smiled, Rog knew it wasn’t genuine. (I’ll never win an Oscar for keeping up appearances). Two months passed, then three. At month four, Rog threw in the towel. He’d tried everything (so he said), the gestures, taking the kids more often than usual, doing the dishes and other strange and unusual things.

All the while, I debated if I was depressed or if I was suffering from grief, not really knowing the line between one or the other, and where they intersected.

“I’m sending you to your parents,” he told me one day. In fourteen years of marriage and a year dating, he’d never encountered this from my big-haired, Leo-self. “I thought it was a physical impossibility and I’d wouldn’t have believed it had I not seen it myself,” he continued. “But I can’t take this anymore.” (So like Rog to make it about himself).

The darkened clouds that hovered were so thick, I wasn’t even really looking forward to the trip. My fear was that it would fail to help my mood, and then we’d be on to other, more drastic measures. At first he planned the trip to be three days, then four, mistakingly believing lengthening my stay would jolt me from my misery.  Finally, a week before my departure, he made it for almost two weeks. One by myself and then he’d join me for the latter part.

Then came a break, not from the dissipation of all that is precipitous, but from good old Mom.

“Maybe you should try Ignatia.” huh? “It’s good for grief-induced depression.”

Only in England, where even the pet cemeteries are civilized

No matter Mom has been right for, oh, going on 44 years. I fell back in to my rebellious, 14-year old self and ignored her. The following day, thunderclouds were on the horizon. I got my butt in the car, drove to PCC, and snapped up an Ignatia 30c. Before I popped one, I figured I should double check with my swami.

“Just take one and give it a month,” Dr. A said (new readers, his last name is so bloody long, I don’t have that kind of time). “The grief has to work its way out of your body,” he explained. “If you take it before the 30 days is up, it’s like hitting the restart button.”

Sure enough, I took a single, white, magical earthen pellet, and in a few days, the heavens started to shine again, the black turning to grey, then white, then finally, after a week, leaving altogether. The day before I left to see my parents, Rog remarked that I had ‘self-healed’ and I probably didn’t need the vacation after all. (I still went and he joined me).

One of the suggested tips was to create a monument to the pet. I found lots of pictures of pet cemeteries in England, where wealthy Londoners started burying their pets in the 1880’s, and by the early 1900’s, it was filled (now it’s closed to the public).

As an aside, P-dog was weirded-out for about a week after
Fats left the building. She wandered, seeking out her sleeping
companion. Now her and White Bear are cuddle-buddies,
cozying up since Number One is no longer.

I’m writing now, a month after the fact, because just this morning, I popped another one. It didn’t matter that in the last thirty days, I’ve read a lot about the special type of sadness pet owners experience when losing a pet, including the techniques, tips and how-to’s–which were good to know, but frankly, didn’t change my emotional self.  Over the last few days, I’ve noticed the same invisible feelings of sadness and mental weight dropping down on my shoulders. This evening, I’m upbeat again and more positive–one of my life-long traits, I’m happy to say. Thus, I must issue an apology for my blog this last month, that really was an overall drag to read this last month, (and readers were flocking from my site like vultures from an on-coming semi-truck). I’ll channel my inner Jack Nicholson (I’m Back.…) without the gory after-effects, as go love on my remaining animals, Mercury (aka White bear) and our adorable, fierce-yet-mushy, pitbull. They still needs lots-o-love.

Got Wheat Belly? The new muffin top

Do I want to lose 26.7 pounds? My Prevention Daily Newsletter told me that’s the average weight lost when wheat is removed from a diet.

Ever heard of wheat belly? Neither had I. It’s the new phrase to describe the ring around the belly, otherwise lovingly referred to as the muffin top. The trend among doctors now is to ‘give up the wheat,’ and I’ve often described it as the yeast.

It’s all the same. Or rather, the results are the same. When the wheat is given up, the pounds go away.

Here is the quote:

Just how powerful is this wheat-free approach? “When my patients gave up wheat, they lost an average of 26.7 pounds each,” says Dr. Davis. This isn’t an isolated finding: According to a Mayo Clinic and University of Iowa study, test subjects lost an average of 27.5 pounds each on a wheat-free diet. 

I know I’ll be revealing one of my great sources of info, but signing up for the Prevention Newsletter gives me recipes, tips and info that I love to share with others. You can get all the insights I don’t pass along, like maybe, donut belly.

Don’t kill ’em, Scare ’em: Natural Deer Deterrents

Although I could be referring to bad breath members of a political party that shall not be named, I’m referring to the bain of a gardners’ existence: deer.

Those wild, cute, fast-producing herbivores that decimate acres of expensive, exotic plants that have no business being in my yard. Here in the US, Russia…heck, everywhere but bora bora. I’m sure God put these creatures on the earth to save mankind from the end of times, since they are the only ones that produce faster than rabbits.

Since my natural cure for frogs is the highest and most frequently visited blog topic I’ve ever written (sadly, I wanted it to be batwings and chinhair), I’m doing the world of landowners a favor by telling you a natural, effective way to keep these lovely but irritating creatures around you lawn, but not on it.

Coyote urine. Yep, you read it right, and it comes in spray bottles for convenience spreading.  tI go 5 minutes to the Grange (otherwise known as a feedshop where hay is sold, along with just-hatched chicks and onion starters), and pick the stuff up for $4.00 US. Like a man on his property, a little droplet here and there is all it takes. Deer hate the stuff.

I start with the perimeter, as the deer follow our man-made path from the cabin, up to our pond (they like the private watering hole. So much more convenient than the water bog at the bottom of the hill). A little spritz by the edge of the water (I don’t mind them drinking the water. It’s cute actually). What irks me is when they nosh on my hard-earned roses, moving on to other flowers I like but can’t pronounce, leaving droplets of post-feasting love on my recently mowed lawn. To be on the safe side, I drop more of the coyote urine around the roses.

Of course, you don’t have to go for coyote. You can purchase the urine from your predator of choice, and use drops, pills or whatever form that suits your fancy.

Cute: from a distance

when it’s raining every single day. Lasts longer. One thing to note. Be sure to monitor the usage with the weather in your neck of the woods (or region, for you non-Americans). It rains a ton here, and the spray dissipates with the rain. As such, I’ve found that it’s easier to use the spray in the full summer, when it rains once a week, and use the granuals in the spring

The other product I’ve used with mixed success is Deer Out. While the labels and site boats 3 months and “won’t wear off,” the reality is that in rainy climates, it DOES wear off.  Furthermore, this is the most rancid, horrific smell. It’s rotten-age smell is an offense to rotten eggs (and coming off Easter, we should know a thing or two about that). When I first moved to this lovely part of no-where, I planted about 22 varieties of roses. Why? I was an idiot, that’s why. My landscaper must have been from the city, for he didn’t warn me of the incoming, four-legged aliens that would soon invade my property. When they did so, I went to the Grange, started with Deer Off (for I’d not yet see the coyote urine).

I began to spray, unfortunately, standing down-wind. After I’d coverage myself in rancid egg, (which took 2 washing to get off), I sprayed my roses.

Result? The deer stayed away, for miles. But so did I. It was rank. Why get a deer off when you can’t smell the roses? Furthermore, deer off actually mutates the flowers. The buds don’t really open: rather, they are sort-of stuck to themselves. What I ended up doing was using the Deer Out on non-flowering plants, but only when I was too cheap to purchase the urine.

Product Photo: Deer Out 1 Gallon
Effective, but stinky

I’m happy to say my roses and plants have recovered, and I have now achieved a harmonious balance with loving the cute animals…from a distance.

Ballet butt ups-Firm that fanny in 5 minutes


New York City Ballet: The Complete Workout, Vol. 1 and 2It’s Friday. The day before the weekend. Want to eat that Pecan pie guilt free? Get on the floor, squish that took-us (yes, pronounce that phonetically), a few hundred times, and eat away.
I’ll mix it up this blog, and put the story second, the exercise first. No sense procrastinating the pain that long.
Face down, resting on hands and knees, draw the back led to the chest then kick directly back and up. That’s it. Switch legs and do it again.
Ever wondered where ballerinas get those long gams? These leg kicks, I’m sure. The little girls, teenagers and adults, pracing around in pink, all looked like Veeeeliaahhh, the Russian instructor. Nary a bit of cellulite out of place.
As I avowed to go home and get busy with the leg lifts, two thoughts crossed my mind. First, that the 80’s marked my entrance to the world of fitness, aerobics classes, home videos etc., and every last one advocated keeping “a flat back,” to protect the lower back. In the last 5-7 years, I began practicing yoga and martial arts, which basically scoff at the “protecting the back” theory.
“That only reduces the mobility,” said one instructor, an Indian gal who’s family had been practicing and teaching yoga for several generations. She proceeded to explain blood circulation; stiffness equals no circulation, mobility increases it, thereby maintain joint lubrication. Lubricated joints reduces the possibility of a break, but when a break does occur, the lubrication accelerates the healing.
Down I go, lifting my leg, the mass feeling like a downed pine tree being kicked up in the air.

“You look like a donkey,” says Porsche.

I’m sure I did. It’s called a donkey kick, and for good reason. My lower back is arching, my glut and back thigh is burning like nobody’s business. I manage 15 is all, then switch sides, and go back for another 10 on either side. Later that evening, I try again, eeking out 5.

Now, a week later, my inner thighs have stopped hurting, and my bum isn’t so tight in my jeans. Even Rog noticed.

“You’ve lost even more weight,” he says to me last night.

“No,” I told him. I’m still eating the same. “It’s the ballet donkey kicks,” I say proudly.

As I’m down on the ground, I’m thinking about Veellliaaaahhh, my daughter’s Russian instructor, who on the phone, sounded lithe and lean. Her name is probably spelled Velia, but the way she says it is so loooonnnng and exotic, it must be replicated in type to do it justice.

When I arrived, I noted she’s a bit more pear-shaped that she was in her prime. The fruitness of her figure didn’t prevent her from keeping the girls going like Stalin on the death march, no talking, giggling, or stooped shoulders.

Watching Porsche was nostalgic, since I was kicked out ballet at age 8. In point of fact, the only thing I’ve ever been kicked out of, and it was all due to my height.

“You will be tall,” pronounced the instructor, ending my dreams of pointed shoes and anorexia.

Last week,  as I sat in the studio, shivering, listening to one woman chomp her gum with her mouth open (a pet peeve) and talking on the phone to her uncle (another pet peeve) I took to reading the ads on the wall.

Beginning ballet exercises, was one, and 24 ballet exercise videos was another. When I got home, I looked online and, sucker that I am, purchased a DVD set for the New York City Ballet: The Complete Workout, Vol. 1 and 2. I should get it right after I eat that last bit of Pecan pie:)


Lumps on the body

Remember my sad, sorry country song of a life, the one wherein I thought I had a lump of fat under my skin (thanks sister). Well, I by-passed the naturopath route and went straight for western medicine.

“You’re no Steve Jobs,” announced my husband, though I wasn’t sure if he was referring to the obvious lack of economic similarity or the my aversion to western medicine. “You’re going to the doctor. Today.”

Off I went, (after first getting a referral to a physician, since my OB doesn’t count.” He looks. He touches. He pushes. Sure enough, it’s a lump under the skin.

“It’s fat, to be sure,” telling me what I thought I knew, “but it has tentacles. It’s likely resting on a nerve, and that’s why it hurts. If it were on your belly or back, I could make an incision and remove it, but a general surgeon needs to do this.”

A great anti-inflammatory – blueberries

The only way to be sure of its makeup is to have an ultrasound, he tells me. The next morning (today) I’m sitting, or rather, lying on the table, pants on the floor, having an ultrasound on my leg. (which is weird. I’ve only had ultrasounds on my belly, when in a pregnant state).

“It’s not fat,”says the technician, as I practically jump for joy. “But it is within the fat layer,” which dilutes my happy factor. “And look,” he continues. “You have three. Not one.” Happy factor be gone.

The results….and detecting a lipoma (fat chunk) from a cyst (fluid)

  • Lipomas are “typically” on the back, the mid-section, the arms or legs, where fat collects. 
  • According to the Dr. and friends/family, the fat chunks will increase and decrease based on the level of activity (e.g exercise) and diet. That’s the good news. 
  • Lipomas need to be excised. As in, local anesthetic, an incision, removal and stitching. Those that have tentacles require a general surgeon (ideally, plastic). Why? You ask? When a general practitioner opens you up, then finds tentacles, it is a more delicate, complicated, procedure. My father had a number cut out, and on 2 of them, the doctor was in over his head. He wasn’t versed in the muscle/tentacle issue, and as a result, my father was in a lot of pain and the scars left behind were ugly. Advice? Don’t be stingy or short-sighted. Go to a qualified surgeon, particularly if your insurance is paying for it.
  • Only an ultrasound can determine a lipoma from a cyst. As you see, my GP (who is well known and apparently well-respected) couldn’t.
For the cysts…
  • Cysts of the type I have are “typically caused from a traumatic injury.” Hmm. The last bit of trauma I had was giving birth, about 2 and a half years ago. Wrong place. Wrong time. The doc had no idea what caused the cyst to grow, let along multiple.
  • Cysts can be clear, (like mine) which means it is full of liquid. On the ultra-sound, it is black. The attending physician said if it had been ‘riddled or fibrous,’ grey-like bands or blotches would have been present. That would have been cause for concern. However, a black mass means fluids only, and that can be removed (asperated) with a needle.
  • Removal with a needle can be done with or without an ultrasound. In my situation, the physician recommending going to a surgeon that will use an ultrasound during the procedure, particularly since the two smaller cysts were undetectable by touch, but were/are growing nonetheless.
Anti-inflammatory recommendations
  • Both doctors recommended Celebrex, the leading anti-inflammatory creme on the market. I declined. I hate adding stuff to my body that’s full of chemicals. “What about a comfrey pack?” I asked, and the doctor immediately brightened up. “Sure! That will work. You can also use…”
  • Blueberries. “Blueberries have 10 times the anti-inflammatory effect of Celebrex.” But wait. There’s more.
  • “You know what’s 10 times as effective as blueberries?” he asks. No. I don’t. 
  • Pomegranate juice. Last night, I had a shot of it (rather sweet) and today, another shot.
I’ll be getting my cysts done in the near future, and figure it will be a non-issue. My point of pride is that I have dodged the bullet of having a fat lump in my body. For now.

Washboard abs-10 min/day

The end of winter means the beginning of the end of the flab. Now is the time to be more motivated than ever. We have spring coming up, (my cousin’s in Virginia were playing in the sprinkler in the 77 degree weather yesterday as I contended with another 2 inches of snow). Fitting in jeans sans muffin-top is a a good thing.
One more thing. Despite popular opinion, great abs does not, and I’ll type again, does NOT, require more than 10 minutes a day. I know people who take longer than that to go to the bathroom.
Now, I’m not going to actually take a pic of my abs, though my husband thought it would be a good idea. Suffice it to say that when I was 14 and 5’11, I was asked to go to a Nordstrom modeling shoot. I’m flattered. I go. They take pictures. I come back, a headless, legless body. What was captured was my midsection, from my sternum to my hips. I cried.
“It’s a sign” my mother said, relieved my dream of being Cindy Crawford was dashed. Fast forward another 15 yrs, same story, different city. Once again, I’m the headless stomach for a gym ad. OK, I get it.
Over the last 30 yrs, I’ve whittled down the abs routine to the shortest effort for highest output, and tacked on a few tenants that guide many aspects in my life.
1-Free or close to it.
Oh, one other thing. I’m into LEAN not bulk. This means high reps and low weight. The only time I vary from this is for certain movements that lean down by length vs weight at all. You’ll see what I mean shortly.
Let’s begin with the standing crunches.
1-Side crunch-right side
2-Side crunch-left side
How-to: Stand, place your left hand on your left hip, raise your right arm above you head, drawing elbow to your right raised knee. This cranks your entire side, from armpit to hip. Try 10 at first, then work up to 25. When this becomes easy, add 3 lb weights. Do 25 on the right, 25 on the left then #3 below.
3-Front crunch-both sides alternating.
How to-with the fingertips of both hands touching the back of your head, raise (and cross) the elbow to the opposite knee. Right elbow left knee, left elbow to right knee. Do 10, or 25 if you can manage.

** Just these three along will rip you a NEW set of abs in a couple of days! I will fit in some crunches in the kitchen, while I’m waiting for the oven to heat, or when I’m standing in the bedroom, watching TV. Seriously.
The entire ab crunch series is less about 2-2.5 minutes, depending on how many you do.
4-Standing side bends
How-to. With or without weights. Spreak legs wide, like a plea-eh(sp?), where the ankle is under the hip, or maybe a bit wider. Toes at an angle, not facing forward (2 and 10 o’clock). Bend down at the waist to the point where your thighs parallel the floor. If this is difficult, raise up just a bit. Bring elbows to the side and bend, attempting to touch your mid-thigh with the elbow. As you touch the elbow to thigh, raise your opposite arms up. Try 10 each side then switch, 3x each. I try and do 75 a day, 3 sets of 25.
Tip: If you punch the arm up, it is good, but not optimal. Swinging the opposite arm to the sky pulls the skin tight, from the hip to the arm pit. Here again, you are extending and strengthening the entire line, making it nice and lean.
5-Standing cross-arms
How-to. With or without weights. Using the same posture as above, you are now punching your arms diagonal one after another. This leans out and strengthens the obliques while loosening up the spine. Same reps as above.
Sitting/Lying exercises
A core philosophy is if I’m going to watch TV, I’m going to be ‘doing something’. Call me Type A. Call me kooky. I can’t help myself. This summer, while I was watching TV in my mother’s living room, I had a pair of weights in my hands , doing the above. Mom just laughed.
“You’ve been doing this since high school!” Yes. And it as her fault I reminded her. She was a devotee of Jane Fonda wearing a headband and a thong, so of course I was influenced. (Jane wearing thong and headband, not mom FYI).
6-Knee up traditional together
How-to. This is the standard, lie-on-the-back, resting knees together. The difference is that I mix it up, and do 25 straight up, then 25 crossing, as in, right elbow to left knee. When done, I move right into #7
7-Knee up traditional wide. Open the legs, or in other words, keep the heels touching, or a few inches apart, whatever is comfortable, drop the knees wide, like a foot, and repeat 25 straight up and 25 crossing. This starts to kick your a–. For some reason, the wide legs really accelerate the ripped look between the rib cage and the tummy proper. My husband loves this and is in misery when he does it. Rog taps out around 10, so don’t feel back. He may run like a gazelle, but has the belly of a pancake–flat but not ripped.
8-One-knee close then straight.
How to-Keep one foot on the ground, straight, then lift the opposite knee up and crunch. To add flavor (and best results) I switch elbows to knee, first right elbow to the knee and then the left elbow to the knee. The key is that your leg is going in and out at the same time. For instance, the right leg extends out, then draws in, and my right elbow touches it. Extend the leg out again, then when I draw it in, my left elbow touches it. After 10-15 reps, switch legs. Drop the right, then do the same movement with the left leg.
9-Straight up.
How-to. This is akin to pilates, where the legs are together, and straight up in the air. I mix it up on this one. Sometimes I have my hands behind my head, but more often than not, I do the pilates version, with my arms straight out (tips past my tights) nearly parallel to the ground. I pump my palms 100 times in a row (palms are out and flat). This is awesome.
How to: I lifted this one from my martial arts class, then saw that it’s in P90X  (Tony Horton’s CDs). Bananas mean you bend the front, side, back, then side, of the body. Lie flat on the ground, arms overhead. Lift legs and arms up (like a banana) for 4 seconds. Then quarter turn to the left side. Lift legs and arms up like a banana (it’s awkward at first, but awesome for the side lengthening and stretching. Then quarter turn and you’re on your stomach. Lift arms out in front and legs up in the back. This is my favorite. It rips the back as well as the back of the thighs, trouble spots for most of us chicks. The quarter turn to the again, and you’ve completed the set on your right.
If you don’t have a lot of room, just go back and forth 4-10 times. You will definitely feel wiped but in a good way.

W/or w/out weights
Side crunch right
Rt elbow to lft knee
15-25 each /3x
Side crunch left
Lf elbow to rt knee
15-25 each/3x
Front crunch
Elbow to opp knee
15-25/each 3x
Side bend
Elbow to knee
25 each/3 x
Cross punches
Cross punch over knee
25 each/3 x
No weights
Sit-ups traditional
Knees together, up and cross
25 each/3x
Sit-up trad +
Heels together, drop knees
25 each/3x
Leg in crunches
Knee in, then extends
25 each side/3x
Leg up crunches
Straight legs vertical
25 each/3 x
Elongate and stretch each side
4 each/ 4-5x

Use the above sheet, paste it into excel and keep track. OHOHOH—I don’t buy into this notion that working out abs every other day is required. I’ve been doing it most every day my whole life. If I’m going to brush my teeth every day, I might as well do abs.
PS-for those of you with the fortitude to read this long, I’m on day 2 of the detox. Today it’s been the left eye, the left side of the head. I’m tired. I’m grumpy. But..I’m alive.

Motivation for that bathing suit body

Do you ever workout and feel like Captain James T Kirk is screaming at you “faster! faster!” and you are Scotty, responding “I’m givin’ it all she’s got capn!”

I’m giving it all she’s got capn
But was he talking about the bulge, that’s what I want to know

That’s how I have been the last two months, waging my annual winter-beset battle of the buldge and almost buldge, as I vascillate between getting in shape and just getting in my clothes. There is a difference you see. One is shoved in those jeans like a sausage casing, while the other glides into clothes like the airy, thin, pre-pregnant Uma Thurman in her banana-yellow Ducati racing outfit.

Four days ago, I had my own, personal, come to the alter of health when I was lounging on the bed, the kids were asleep and Rog was at vampire hockey (so named because the games in his league usually start about the time vampires wake up, around 11 pm at night). What comes on, but another P90X commercial. I  reach for the remote, prepared to change the channel, when I get caught up in the personal story (damn those directors. They sucked me in!) The before pics showed a man tipping the scales at 400 pounds. One child, a wife and misery, all rolled in to one. He started P90X and lost @60 pounds the first go-around. 2 more times and another 150 pounds gone. The after picture was a lean, handsome guy, who was completely unrecognizable from the first picture.

P90X Success Story Day 1 and Day 90 Photos - Matt B.
Not the 400 lb guy, but close enough
“If he can do it, I can do it!” My new
spring motto

“When I finished P90X, I was down to 173 and 7-1/2% body fat. And I know you’ve heard this a thousand times, but you know, it worked for me, it can work for you.”

I felt like such a loser. I only have about 15 pounds to lose, converting lazy, ugly bumpage (that would be my happitime word for cellulite, which I hate), to smooth, lithe skin. Why, I often as She, who is my motivational other-self, is it so hard to lose so little?! “I have no idea,” she responds, confessing she has the same problem. My loser-self came to the surface because last year, Rog and I purchased P90X, and I blogged about it, but we both bagged it after about a week. We had lots of excuses, but the bottom line, it was bloody hard, and it wasn’t a priority.

By golly, I told myself (well, I didn’t use those exact words, but I’m trying to clean up my mouth), if he can do this, I can do this. Four days ago, I got off my duff at 9 pm, and did the Core Synergistics workout. It’s all about abs and lunges. I’m not kidding you when I say that I actually saw my oblique muscles on my stomach the next day. Day 2, I did arms. Day 3 (yesterday), Rog joined me. That’s what peer pressure does. He came in half-way through the Chest and Triceps workout. What that really means is hundreds of pain-inducing push ups. My weak spot and his strong suit. I was absolutely shocked to see him collapse midway. Today, he told me that in the middle of the night, his arms had started shaking due to the workout.

All of that was a warm up for the hour of pain I endured this morning. I did the PolyX (I think that’s the name). I didn’t know it at the time, but it’s all about lunges and squats. Because I’m anal, and get bored easily, I started counting just how many squats/lungs and jumps we were doing. In the first twenty minutes, I counted 600 (and this doesn’t include the rapid-sequences used by the advanced folks in the DVD). With 32 minutes to go, I started counting over, just because I thought I was losing my mind (as the muscles in my legs threatened to melt off). 10 minutes later, I stopped counting at 400. at 50 minutes, I was on the verge of tears (but this was after I caught my breath. I have to breath to cry).

At the end, my legs were so large with blood, I mistook them for tree trunks. I pushed my sausage in to my pants, otherwise known as casings. Three hours later, the blood has gone down and my pants are seriously loose. It’s the miracle of working out hard.

I’ll admit that I’m not completely following the food diet though. One step at a time. Tomorrow, (assuming I can even take a step), and I don’t want to exercise any more than jump off a building without a bungee chord, I’ll tell myself “if that 400 pound man can do it, I can do it,” and I’ll start the pain all over again.

PS. Day 4, I’ve lost 1.25 pounds & the pants aren’t so tight on my waist and butt

Accelerating your workout-New finds for relieving aching joints, detoxing & slimming

A few weeks back, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with a national level instructor in the line of martial arts I’ve been studying for a number of years. (National level means he has multiple black belts–I think he’s at a level 7 or 8). He was up from San Diego for a few days, and I knew it might be six months or so before I saw him again. At the end of our conversation, which included his yoga-like bits of wisdom (“goodness is like a seed, plant it and it will grow, spread, and drop more seedlings, causing others to do good”), I casually mentioned that I was having lower back pains.

Muscle & Joint Therapeutic Cream
I now use this before
working out on
my lower back.
Works wonders

“Have you tried this,” he asked, raising a tube of Jadience herbal formula. I’d never seen it before, noting that the “Muscle & Joint Therapeutic Cream Extra Strength” smelled slightly herbish, but was all natural.

“It’s in all the Marriott Spas, Four Seasons etc,” and is based on the recipes of the Grandmaster in our line of martial arts. “Are you hurting now? Here, try some.”

He handed me the tube, and I slathered a bit on my lower back. Ever since having children, my back has been weaker than normal and I’ve had a pinched nerve that bothers me on an off. No amount of yoga, stretching or strength training is getting rid of it. I’m not in actual ‘pain’ per se, but it’s irritating. Within seconds–I’ll say 15– the pain was gone. It stayed gone until that evening, and I didn’t notice it again until the following morning.

What’s interesting is that I went to the web site and learned about the founder and creator of the products, Janelle Kim. Turns out she has a masters in oriental medicine, her father a doctor and

Jenelle Kim, MSTOM, L.Ac., Co-Founder of Jadience  

based his medicine on a physician, Heo Jun, who served the Imperial Emperors way back when. Jun compiled a 25 volume collection on natural medicine. I don’t know about you, but I believe that any herbal medicines who were tested on thousands of peasants, and ultimately used to keep the rulers alive, has some merit.

The Jadience web site is wonderful, and I ordered a bottle of herbal bath solution from the Detox Collection. I started with the Total Body Detox Soak. This goes in a steaming bath, and rids the body of toxins. How do I attest to this claim? Well, no doctor I, but I felt more refreshed, clear-headed and awake after the bath. During the bath however, I didn’t feel so well. And that, of course, is the point. Toxins are poisons, and when leaving the body, it’s an uncomfortable process. I didn’t get sick–just felt a bit quesy. Afterward, I felt like a million bucks, and worked out for an hour.

Slimming Soak
Jadience Slimming Soak

Next up, I ordered the Slimming Soak, because I want to buy in to the fantasy I can lose weight simply by pouring some liquid in a hot bath, read my fantasy novel and come out a new, slimmer me. The marketing included detox and rejuvination, but what I really cared about was the reduction of cellulite. Certain herbs are proven to reduce the size of cellulite (and yes, many men even care about this), so I gave it a whirl. Guess what? It really worked. I looked at my legs before and after, and it was a marked difference. Of course, this isn’t going to help if I go have a blowout at the hamburger joint, but I definitely use it the day or two before I’m going to put on a swimsuit.

With a bit more investigation, I learned that some of the other cremes are those that we’ve been using in the martial arts studio for years. These include hand and feet sprays (to accelerate the healing, and loosening of the joint muscles) as well as for detoxing during workouts. I’m completely hooked, and thrilled that a bit of wisdom from the instructor has given me a whole new world of products that are 100% natural, and affordably priced. (And for new readers who may not know my policy, I receive no kick-backs from my reviews or commentary. Just tried and true feedback for you!).

Me and the Grinch: both hairy and full of angst

Husqvarna Pro Forest Protective Jacket - Extra Large - HVA 605 00 02 63
Imagine the sex-appeal of riding atop
a motorized lawn-mower in this baby…

I’m depressed and out of sorts, though not sure why. What, with my brand new ninety-dollar jailhouse orange-and black colored Huskavarna jacket to ride around in the snow, how can life be bad? After all, I wasn’t the wanna-be movie director who, during a 4 pm conference call today, got shut down by the producer for one of my books-turning-to-film, while I tried to play the diplomat. This followed my daughters realization that “Santa can’t exist. No one can live in the North Pole.” When I queried her on the subject (what about reindeers etc.) she point-blanked me. 

“Mom, is Santa for real? And don’t lie. Tell me the truth.” I don’t know what bothered me more. The fact that she knows what lying is, or that she already knew the answer and wanted confirmation. Now that I’m thinking about it, I supposed my odd feeling could be the result of having a future attorney on my hands. (Of course, that’s far less expensive than educating her to become a doctor, which  she already announced she wants to be).

Prior to the Santa announcement, I had the near-loss of my dog. My daughter gave my beloved P-dog an entire bottle of Dasuqun pills, which landed her in the vet hospital, but not before she vomited on my master bed comforter, the main floor, down the stairs, and in three spots on the family room floor, spewing two-foot spreads of goo mixed with baseball-sized chunks. (Who feels sexy cleaning up food from the after-life at 3 am as the family sleeps?) P-dog is home now, red-eyed and a bit skittish. Her stay at the animal hospital allowed me to get the carpet cleaners in and the house fumigated as much as possible.

This is a fair assimilation of me and my subdued state of
bummed-out harriness

Now that I’m having time to consider my woes of the week (as I’ve not been blogging, and you can always tell when my life is in an emotional and mental trough when I stop writing), I would say the capper came last night, when I looked down and couldn’t see my toes. My stomach had popped from flat to about five and a half-months pregnant, all since lunch.

“What happened to you?” was all my sensitivity-chip missing husband asked. I could barely touch the tips of my thumbs as I placed my palms on either side. “I don’t know,” I stammered, trying not to be bloaty and farty at the same time. I slunk away, wanting to confine my misery to another room, void of humans. This landed me in bed, where I lay, thinking of all that was wrong in the world.

There is a bright side however. My stomach went down (I went on a 24 hour fast that cured me of most of problems), the dog is lounging beside me, looking slightly smaller than before, and the producer is still moving forward with my movie project. I’m going to go make some vanilla pudding and go watch the Grinch with my girls. (It being Dr. Suess Read-Across-America Week after all. Who says we can’t watch Santa-esque movies even if we don’t believe?)

Burning butts cause serious pain

One of my marital requirements for staying in an environment that is more rainy and dark and sunny and light is a seat-heat in my car. I’m not talking a portable blanket warmer or hemorroidal helper like a heating pad. I’m talking full-blown, 120 degree, full-body ankle to back-of-the-head embedded car seat heater. When my husband asked me if it was a ‘marital thing’ I said “No. It’s a happiness thing.” If he wants happiness whilst in the marital state, he’d buck it up and put a seat heater in his car as well.

He has often scoffed at me for my over-use of the seat-heaters, which I’ll turn on in the middle of the summer when it’s overcast. With three levels of heat, I’ll go for low when the breeze it out and high when it’s snowing. Regardless, it’s like a portable binky I never got over and don’t have to acknowledge to anyone, until now.

Seat heaters are actually burning and scarring people’s butts. Worse, many over-users of seat heaters such as myself, are complaining of rippling of the skin that doesn’t dissipate when the seat heater is turned off. Turns out that over use can permanently ruin the skin, from the back of the calf all the way up to the back. (This is what happens when high winds force the closure of the gondola. I, like everyone else, surf the Internet and then become appalled/enlightened with some new piece of trivia).

“I told you so,” said Rog, the sage of all that is cold and wise. The man has no understanding. He’s a walking, talking heat-meister, perfectly comfortable in shorts in 45 degree weather. Thankfully, we don’t own an Escalade, which is supposed to be the worst offender for seat heaters. He did however, break down and get after market seats put in his hee-haw truck so I’d be comfortable.

A’course, some heaters simply fail and burn a hole right through the seat. Youch. According to the site suggestions, once in a while usage isn’t bad (to and from somewhere), but not 6 hours in a row. (Hmm. I regularly make a trip that’s 5.5-6 hours one way, and I have that baby cranking the entire time. No red dimpling on the back of my legs…well, wait. Is that dimpling or cellulite? I can’t tell..)

In the meantime, Rog has a great idea. “Go back to using blankets or wear a coat.” Smart man. Not as cozy but beats burned skin any day.

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