Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Aveeno ultra-calming moisturizing cream

Aveeno ultra-calming moisturizing cream...

Well, I was going to rave about this product until I found several negative reviews from other women. Many felt that it irritated, rather than calmed their skin. Several reviews I read suggested that the fragrance in the cream might be the skin irritant. Others felt that it didn't provide enough moisture.

I have to say, however, that my experience with this cream has been generally positive. I do not use this as my daily moisturizer, but keep it on hand for skin emergencies.

I do have fair, sensitive skin. Generally, I prefer some other moisturizers because I feel that they will yield longer-term benefits to my skin. However, when my skin does become irritated either from the weather or from another product, I turn to Aveeno's ultra-calming cream for a few applications. I find that it does for my skin exactly what it claims it will do. It soothes irritation, calms rashes, and takes away any associated redness. I think that using it for a couple of days at a time gives my skin a break from moisturizers with stronger ingredients. In the the driest days of winter, it might not be moisturizing enough for me, but it probably would for someone younger.

I'm almost to the end of my jar and probably will buy another one at some point. One review I read suggested trying creams by Olay, Neutrogena, and Eucerin instead of Aveeno. I might try the Eucerin product and compare the results to Aveeno. I do use some Neutrogena products already, especially their moisturizer with sunblock.

Olay's basic moisturizer -- the old-fashioned favorite -- irritates my skin. I know that they have come out with many new products, some of which are supposed to be very good.

So, I will give Aveeno's calming cream a cautiously positive review. All I can say is that it works for me.

I will also note that while I do rotate among a few favorite skin potions, including Aveeno's ultra-moisturizing cream, those of us with delicate skin should be careful not to overwhelm our skin by using too many different products within a short period of time. Some people think, as do I, that it is not necessary to limit yourself to only one line of skin products. For example, I do not use the same brand of cleanser as I do moisturizer. However, delicate skin can react negatively if you apply too many products with too many different ingredients within the span of a week, a month, or a season. Some women find their skin performs better if they use a product until the jar or bottle is empty. Then, they might be able to switch to something else.

With all moisturizers and skin products, I keep in mind something that I have heard attributed to Meredith Vierra. She said that she receives many samples of expensive anti-aging potions, but no matter how many she applies, she still looks her age. I think she's maintained beautiful skin, but her point is well taken. We can look for help, but not miracles, in a jar.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Great workout

Along the way to the adulthood, I took ballet, gymnatstics, jazz dancing, aerobic dancing, and drill team. So, I enjoy dance-based workouts. The Attitude Ballet and Pilates Fusion workout by Bernadette Giorgi is right up my alley. Even if you haven't danced, however, you will likely enjoy this workout, as well.

The workout was designed with the over fifty woman in mind. I would say, though, that if you are very de-conditioned, you may need to take it slow until you catch up to speed. On the other hand, if you are already in top condition, the workout gives you an opportunity to keep perfecting your form and your performance.

When reading reviews before ordering this DVD, I noticed that some young people who bought this workout did not realize that it was designed for over-fifty women. They all mentioned that this DVD gave them a good workout anyway.

I would recommend this for women of all ages.

Here's to good health.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

World's oldest working model talks about working with who you are

Take a tip from the world's oldest working model, Carmen. That's not to say that I agree with everything she says -- I don't. However, she does have a good point about embracing whatever stage of life you're currently in.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Before doing crunches of any kind, view this --

This explains how to do ab work without inadvertently adding bulk to your abdomen or injuring yourself.

Not a Couch Potato -- Exercise at your couch for fabulous abs

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Summer's Here! Cool Looks for Hot Days -- Part I

Summer's here! Staying fresh, cools, stylish, and modest in the heat.

Since I live in the mid South, heat and humidity are a part of my life for a good part of the year. I've long had to cope with the effects of humidity on hair, makeup that disappears into skin on a sweltering day, and other heat-related effects on comfort and appearance.

However, this is becoming an even bigger issue for me as 1) I'm battling some health issues, including being in the hot flash years. (I was already experiencing "my own personal summer" in January! and 2) even some fashions which are lovely and modest for those in great health and shape are a bit challenging for me to wear right now.

So, I'm making myself a list of reminders for summer beauty and comfort. If you have any other tips to share with me, please leave your comments:

1. A dress really is one of the coolest garments you can wear, and some of the loveliest and fun-to-wear dresses are in spring and summer fabrics.

2. Cotton and cotton blends really are the coolest fabrics you can wear. Of course, crinkled cotton and some cotton blends don't require ironing. But, to look your freshest in hot weather, while keeping your cool at the same time, you really do have to do some ironing. Sigh!

3. If your hair is long, wearing it up -- off of your neck -- really does keep you cooler. There are lots of quick and lovely summer updo's you can try. If you have hair with a little wave in it, like mine, you can scrunch it and let it air dry before putting it up.

4) Black is really not your best friend in summer, though it is otherwise one of the easiest neutrals to work with. Dark colors, such as black, absorb heat, while lighter colors reflect heat and are thus cooler to wear.

5) We all love to wear white in summer. However, not every one can carry off pure, stark white. One of my favorite summer outfits is a white embroidered top with white capri pants. However, I have to add color around my face to make it work. There is a white that is perfect for your skintone, however. For example, your best white might be "winter white" or soft white, oyster, cream, ivory, or ecru.

6) I learned by accident that using a small freezer pack (Peas is one name brand) on the neck can stop hot flashes and make a stuffy, overheated room bearable. I was really using it for a neck problem, but I discovered that it also works well for mid-life flashes.

7) Check whites to make sure that they are not too sheer, and be sure you have the right underthings to wear with white.

8) The key is to let your skin breathe. Wear only natural fibers -- such as cotton and silk -- in your underthings. Don't cross your legs at the knees. Keep knees lightly together, but cross your legs at ankles. Again, a dress allows air to circulate better than most other garments. Switch to lighter cleansers, moisturizers, and makeup. Try a powder spray on sunscreen. When it comes to facial powder, use only a light dusting down the T-zone of your face.

9) In hot and humid weather, your face will glisten. Piling on more powder or makeup will not change that. So, go for a dewy, feminine, light and natural look. Use concealer to cover imperfections; use a light blush; a flick of mascara; and some tinted lip balm for a natural summer look. Don't be afraid to splash cold water on your face and re-fresh your look during the day.

10) Some perfumes and scented products have a fragrance that is too heavy and cloying for hot weather. Switch to a lighter fragrance for the hot months. If you keep a bottle of perfume or cologne in the fridge and spray it on, you'll feel cooler -- at least temporarily.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Graceful Feminine Movement, Womanly Posture

Moving in a feminine and graceful manner -- with good posture -- is great for a woman's overall sense of well-being. The French and Italian women aim for a feeling of being comfortable in one's own skin, and womanly poise plays a large part in achieving that level of confidence. Here are some tips for acquiring graceful posture and movement:

1) Accept your height, your age, your coloring, etc. Do not compare yourself to impossible images -- such as the airbrushed models in magazines. You are uniquely created to be you! If you do need to get into better shape or otherwise improve your health and appearance, do so. Don't set impossible goals; simply do your best to achieve the weight and level of fitness that are just right for you. Don't wait until you are in better shape, however, to start working on posture and graceful movement; these will help your sense of well-being along the way to greater health. Once you have improved your overall fitness, other than proper care of your health and a little daily maintenance of your appearance, turn your attention to more important things. Good health and a neatly pleasant appearance are great benefits in life, but they should not be the focus of your attention -- either from vanity or from insecurity. You will become more naturally graceful if you attend to your outer appearance appropriately and, then, turn your attention from yourself to things in life that interest you. Whenever you enter a room full of people, for example, think more of who you can encourage than you do of what people think of you. This will help you avoid the awkwardness that comes from too much self-focus. Chances are, focusing your attention outward will translate itself into warm and elegant movement.
2) Practice graceful, womanly movement until it becomes your habitual way of moving. At the same time, eliminate masculine mannerisms, such as high-fiving another person or walking with a masculine stride. Practice, practice, practice! Once you have practiced enough to acquire a graceful, feminine presence, stop focusing on it. Simply check from time to time to make sure that you are maintaining your good posture and feminine mannerisms.
3) Move smoothly, without dawdling or rushing. Aim for a light walk, rather than a heavy one.
4) Incorporate stretching into your routine. This is helpful in a variety of ways. If you participate in sports or have incorrectly trained in a gym, you may have inadvertently overdeveloped some muscles and contracted others. This can not only lead to awkward movement, but it can cause muscle and joint pain later on. For you, stretching properly will help you keep your muscles in balance and sufficiently fluid and flexible. Also, as we age, stretching becomes more and more important to a woman's body. It helps to defeat aches and stiffness. Ballet stretches and stretches from other types of dance generally encourage graceful movement. Devote a few moments to stretching six days a week, even on days when you don't do other forms of exercise. Don't forget to do exercises that strengthen and stretch your feet and ankles. Do ankle circles, for example. Besides encouraging smooth, graceful movement and good posture, stretching relieves tension and reduces the temptation to fidget.
5) Do not allow yourself to develop the habit of letting your head hang forward. Today, we spend much of our time looking down to work on a computer, to prepare food, to read, etc. If we are not careful, we can let the weight of our head hang forward. This not only looks and feels awkward, it is not good for the health of our upper spine and neck. From time to time throughout the day, let your shoulders drop smoothly into place. You may want to lift them a bit and then ease them back into proper position. Lengthen your neck upward. Stretch upward from behind the ears without necessarily raising your chin. Try to have your ears over your shoulders. Visualize your neck as long and gracefully elegant and your upper chest as smooth and uplifted -- like that of a beautiful dove.
6) Keep the muscles of your face relaxed, yet uplifted. As we attend to the tasks of our day, we can carry a lot of tension in our faces without even realizing it. Take time to relax your face and then to train your muscles to assume a cheerful expression. Smiling lifts the muscles of the face upward. There is a time to express sadness or concern by our facial muscles, but we shouldn't let that be our default expression. Maintaining a pleasant, tension free expression will cheer us, cheer others, and delay wrinkling and sagging of the skin.
7) When sitting, don't just plop into a chair. Lower yourself into the chair smoothly and gracefully. Also, attend to how you get into and out of a car.
8) Think about maintaining a soft curve of your arms. When you are sitting, let your hands rest softly in your lap while your spine stays straight. Shoulders should be loose and relaxed. Think of them as falling away from the straight spine. Let your elbows hang loosely away from your body, so that your arms form a graceful curve as your hands rest in your lap. Don't hug your elbows tightly to your body. Practice the following exercise while standing. Start with your arms at your sides. Lift your arms up in a circle in front of you, as a ballet dancer would. Pretend you are holding a beach ball, so that your hands are separated by about 12 inches. Let the movement be controlled by your back. Lift your elbows up, but keep your shoulders down. Open your arms gracefully to each side, keeping your shoulders down. Turn the wrists up and finish with a gentle and graceful motion of your hands. Let your arms glide down to your sides. Repeat 12 times.
9) Some inner attitudes that can translate into graceful movement are love, gentleness, tenderness, kindness, and appropriate affection for loved ones.
10) There's always the tried and true exercise of walking while balancing a book on your head. This creates the habit of smooth movement. Of course, you won't be able to walk at a normal pace while balancing a book on the head. But, practicing this for a few minutes every day for a month should make a difference in how you do walk in everyday life.
11) When researching articles and books about good posture and graceful movement, remember that what makes for appropriate posture and grace in a woman differs somewhat from what makes for appropriate posture and grace in a man. Military posture and some other techniques for posture were developed with a man's physique in mind. Educate yourself about what is best for a woman's body.
12) Practice exercises that develop the core muscles of the body. Strengthening your core muscles will aid in maintaining correct posture. Remember that strengthening the core and maintaining good posture is vital to the lifelong health of a woman's internal organs. This can also aid in childbirth, as well as help some women ease monthly discomfort. It's best to start practicing this when you are young to prevent problems in the future. It's never too late, however, to improve.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Organizing grooming tools/dollar store craft/book review

I wasn't sure whether to post this on my main project home economics blog or here where I am specifically writing about health and beauty. Anyhow, I had fun making a Sephora inspired makeup/grooming tool brush holder on a dollar store budget. Check it out.

On the subject of health, I just finished reading a book from the library called, "This is not your Mother's Menopause," by Trisha Posner. The subtitle is, "One Woman's Natural Journey through Change."

"This is not your Mother's Menopause" was written in the early 2,000's. Given that the information about aging, peri-menopause, menopause, and health is changing rapidly during this decade, I am sure some of the information is out of date by now. In fact, some of the remedies that were promoted when she wrote the book now have question marks attached to their risks/benefits. Vitamin E and black cohosh are two of the supplements she talks about that are not only being discredited as being of help during menopause, but might actually have serious side effects as well. Still, I found the author's approach to the change to have some merit.

Based on my subjective opinion, here are the pros to the book:

1) When the author realized that she was entering menopause on the early side, she set out to educate herself about the health ramifications of taking replacement hormones versus using other means: diet, rest, water, supplements, exercise, etc. This led her into a search for the best ways to navigate menopause, in general. She did a lot of intensive research and made the best, most informed decisions that she could. She kept tweaking her program as she discovered what measures helped her be at her best health and appearance and which ones did not. In today's world, we are lucky to have access to medical information so that we can participate in our own plan for achieving the best health possible. By telling us her story, the author gives us a blueprint for doing this.
2) The author chose to see this as a positive time, rather than as a negative time. She also chose to see menopause as a natural occurrence, rather than as an illness, and I agree. A positive attitude toward aging is essential to handling it well. Her example shows us that menopause does not have to signal the end of our health and happiness. It can, in fact, be the beginning of a new and productive stage of life.
3) From the author's research, we can glean a lot of places to start our own research. I learned a lot from her example about how to look for information we can use.
4) The author was basically healthy to begin with, and, as I mentioned, on the younger side for someone heading into full-blown menopause. Instead of losing ground during months before and the year after menopause, she actually came out with some improvements in her overall health. That is encouraging.
5) The author advises that you do not mimic her personal decisions, but suggests that you do your own research and draw your own conclusions. This is important, I think, on a number of levels. First, not every body and every mind responds to things in the same way. Also, as the medical profession discovers new things, your decisions about what to do and what not to do may change. Also, I believe that you do need to discuss things with your doctor, rather than go it totally on your own. The public often rushes to take the latest touted supplement, only to find out that it is not all it seemed to be at first. The answers are probably not in popping pills and supplements, but in the basics of a healthy diet, exercise, rest, stress relief, and perhaps a good multivitamin. In the end, the decisions are up to you, but a physician can offer you information that you cannot find anywhere else. Also, the physician can monitor your health progress. (While the author disagreed with some of her doctor's advice, she kept checking in with her doctor and letting the doctor measure her levels of health. I think that is wise.) The author chose not to take the replacement hormones suggested by her doctor, but you may decide that is exactly what you need. The point is not to copy the author's program, but to decide what is right for you. I like the fact that she emphasizes this, rather than prescribes a one-answer-fits-all program. There are too many undecided questions about hormones, supplements, and the like to assume that what works for one person will necessarily work for another.
6) The author does not expect to look as she did when she was twenty years of age, but wants to make the most of her current health and appearance. It is healthy to move on into mature standards of health and beauty, rather than trying to hold onto the first budding of youth. There is a wonderful dignity about an older woman whose beautiful soul fully blooms on her face.
7) Women in their youth and women who have already passed menopause can learn something from the author's approach to health, even though she focuses specifically on the period before and right after the cessation of menstruation. After all, the principles of good health -- such as nourishing food, water, exercise, etc. -- are timeless.


1) The author states that she likes to process things by being in control -- something that I think every woman can relate to. However, the bottom line is that we simply cannot control everything in our lives. Aging and death are realities on this side of heaven, and we must come to terms with this if we are to maintain a healthy and faithful outlook. In peri-menopause and in menopause, as in everything, I would counsel a constant, prayerful dependence on the Lord. That does not negate the author's encouraging example of doing some research and making informed choices. After all, that is good stewardship of our health, provided that our ultimate hope is in the Lord. However, as we face the real challenges of aging, we must trust that the Lord will work our circumstances for good. If a woman cannot achieve the same robust level of health and physical beauty as the author possesses, she should not feel as if she has failed. Our goal is not to hang on to this present life forever and ever or to be perpetually young on this side of heaven. Perhaps, a better goal would be to do the best we can so that we can serve the Lord and love others with all our best.
2) The author's concepts of a spiritual approach to menopause are a bit vague. That's where I'd turn to the scriptures for real guidance.
3) Some women enter gull-blown menopause a good 10 or more years later than the author did. This may mean that they are further along in the general process of aging when they begin their journey into the change of life. Thus, they may not be able to achieve quite the same results as the author.
4) In trying to improve your health and trying to eliminate all menopause symptoms -- which the author acknowledges can be quite unsettling -- you could become too self-absorbed. Or, rather, I know that I could. I would suggest that if you embark on a process similar to hers that you set limits on your time. Though she did not realize it from the beginning, she was turning her journey into a money-making book. In a sense, her research and experiments in health became her job. However, for most of us, taking care of our health is something that we must fit into already very busy days. We can't become so obsessed with how our bodies are faring that we neglect the most important things in life -- loving God and loving others. Besides, too much focus on this process of aging and menopause could backfire by turning our minds to our aches and ailments, rather than to our blessings. That, in itself, can make us feel worse physically, emotionally, and spiritually. A cheerful heart is good medicine, and I know from my own experiences in selfishness that a truly cheerful heart never springs from self-absorption.
5) It is possible to take too many supplements, and, since I am not a medical professional, I have no way of knowing if the author has crossed that line. She said that she takes twenty vitamin/supplement pills a day, which seems to me to be a bit excessive on the budget and possibly hard on the body. Again, that's where you have to do your own research.

Cons and all, I would recommend that anyone journeying through perimenopause and menopause read this book at least once through just to get the gist of it. I do think it's an encouraging little volume. I'm don't think that I would purchase and keep it, though. I'm glad it's available in our local library in case I ever want to peruse it again.

Good health to you!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ways to Improve Your Health

Well, our mothers were right. I recently saw a talk by Dr. Nancy Snyderman in which she listed some ways to stay healthy now. Among them were...

1) Eat a healthy diet.
2) Move -- She emphasized the word move over exercise, as the important thing is to stay active.
3) Be happy!

Happiness turns out to be an important ingredient for good health. Of course, when you are feeling ill and sick a lot, it's hard to be cheerful and happy. But, anything we do to have joy in our life, to improve our state of mind, and to be content can have a beneficial effect on our physical well-being.

Of course, chasing happiness for happiness sake usually produces the reverse in the end -- discontent. That's one of the themes of the book of Ecclesiastes. True happiness is found in a relationship with the Lord. It's when you lose your life that you find it.

Similarly, you might do all of the right things and still suffer illness. If so, faith, love, and joy will sustain you during your sickness. Knowing that the Lord works all things (even illness) for the good of those who love him goes a long way toward given you peace even when your body's not at its best.

Wishing you joy!

Product I like

Now that I'm endeavoring to wear sunscreen every day and not just when I'm going to be out in the sun for long periods of time, I pulled out my Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock. It promises to have an ultra light and clean feel, which, in my opinion, it does. It also doesn't smell quite so sun-blocky. I don't really relish smelling like sunblock all the time, so that's a plus.

Now, I purchased this in a 55 SPF strength, which is overkill for the purposes for which I'm going to start using more sunblock. I bought it for a trip to Florida in late September and needed something strong. I'm sure it comes in lesser strengths, though.

I also can't remember how much I paid for it, so I don't know if the price would be acceptable to me for an everyday sunscreen or not.

Moreover, I'm not a dermatologist or any type of scientist, so I can't speak to its medical efficacy. I would guess that Neutrogena is very invested in standing by the claims of their products, as they have made their name on skin care.

Having made all of those disclaimers, I must say that I really do like the way it feels.

In a way, I have a youthful complexion for someone who is 29+++ (I'm Southern, and Southern women do not discuss their exact ages in public.) But, that's in spite of visible sun damage. There is a definite difference in skin that has had a lot of sun exposure and skin that hasn't.

When you are very young, sun exposure looks attractive on the skin. But, it damages deep layers, and that damage suddenly starts showing up more and more and more as you move through life. So, do your future self a favor and protect your skin now!

Here's to happy and healty skin.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Taking Care of Your Skin

Since I was down with asthma triggered by a cold this weekend, I had little strength more than to just lie on the couch. I am feeling so much better now and am thankful that even this temporary bout of an ordinary cold has reminded me to be thankful for health, to take care of my health, and to remember that the things of real importance are the eternal things, not the temporal ones.

Anyhow, I found it hard to concentrate enough to read or blog or do crafts. So, I searched for something to watch on TV. The best I could come up with was PBS's fundraiser. (I was desperate!) Anyhow, sandwiched in the appeals for funds were some interesting health and beauty tips. I learned some things about skincare from Dr. Roizen, Paula Beguon, and a doctor whose name I can't remember.

This is what I gleaned:

Given time and care, you can do some things on your own to reverse past sun damage to your skin. This is good news for me. As I came of age in the get-a-tan 70's, grew up under the Florida and Georgia skies, and have ultra fair skin, I'm a poster child for what not to do sun-wise. So far, I have escaped the skin cancer that has afflicted both of my parents, but I do have some sun damage.

Of course, once I reached adulthood, I became much more careful about wearing sun skin when I know I'm going to be out in the sun for a while. Even so, I'm not very careful about putting it on just for dashing out to the garden or sitting on my garden swing for a bit.

The collective advice from the show was to wear sunscreen all day every day -- even if there's snow on the ground. Now, I do think there are some health benefits from a limited amount of sun exposure -- such as acquiring Vitamin D naturally rather than through supplementation. (At my doctor's advice, I do take Vitamin D supplements, though.) However, sun damage is cumulative, and most of us do receive more sun than we realize during a normal day. Even sitting near a sunny window or driving in a car exposes us to the most damaging kind of sun rays, which penetrate through glass. So, as a very fair-skinned person, I am determined to be more conscientious about wearing sunscreen more often. It's a simple, not-very-time-consuming way to protect both health and appearance.

According to Paula Begoun, inexpensive sunscreens work as well as more expensive ones. She says that you need a lot of sunscreen to do the trick. If you buy a sunscreen that is expensive, you will likely skimp on it. So, in her opinion, it's better to buy a less expensive sunscreen and slather it on than to buy the top of the line sunscreen and not use enough for it to be effective.

Of course, no matter what price you pay, you need to make sure that the sunscreen you are buying really does its job. Even if you are trying to save money, look for a quality product.

In an article by Paula Begoun, she states, "The basics to look for are a product rated SPF 15 or higher, and make sure it has one of these ingredients listed as active to ensure adequate protection from UVA rays: avobenzone (also known as Parsol 1789 or butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane), titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide. Outside the United States, Mexoryl SX and Tinosorb are effective UVA-protecting ingredients." She also adds later on, "A state-of-the-art sunscreen contains not only effective UVA-protecting ingredients but also includes antioxidants and other ingredients that help skin look and feel better."

According to her, research is showing that antioxidants boost a sunscreen's effectiveness and also reduces the free radicals and inflammation that sun exposure causes.

You can get this type of sun protection in a makeup foundation or a facial moisturizer, but don't forget to have a sunscreen for your body, as well.

A nighttime skin routine that was advocated on the show I watched is as follows:

1) Use a makeup remover if you wear makeup
2) Wash your face using a bar soap. (The reasoning for bar soap is that bar soap contains fewer perfumes and allergens. Some people are allergic to face cleansers. Bar soap is just as effective, less likely to cause a reaction, and less expensive. But, if you have a face cleanser that you like and are not allergic to it, that is fine.)
3) Exfoliate with a washcloth -- a gentle method for exfoliation.
4) Cover with a nighttime nourishing cream. A good ingredient is Vitamin C. Vitamin C does many wonderful things for your skin. However, it breaks down when exposed to light. So, even though you may use a moisturizer in the morning that has Vitamin C in it, it's great to use one at night, also. Since you sleep in a darkened room, the Vitamin C can really sink into your skin without being compromised by the light.

It was suggested that some great ingredients for the skin are Vitamins A and C and E. Niacin and panthoic acid are great, too.

Here's something surprising I had heard a long time ago when I was young, but was repeated by Dr. Roizen: Before age 60, you really don't need a moisturizer unless you have naturally dry skin. In fact, if you over apply moisturizers before that age, you can actually cause your skin to stop producing the right amount of its own protective oils. Your skin makes its own moisturizer, which would actually be quite costly if it could be bottled. Oops!

Of course, no talk about skincare would be complete without talk of nourishment from within: plenty of Vitamin C rich foods, healthy proteins, whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, salmon or salmon oil -- You know the recommendations.

Of course, as with any health and beauty information, you have to do your own research and decide your own opinions. There are some who think that exfoliation actually decreases your skin's natural ability to handle sun exposure, for example. And some of the suggested ingredients in the nourishing creams might not work for you if your skin is sensitive to them.

One thought about sun exposure: It seems to me that the majority of cultures throughout history -- though not all of them, of course -- characteristically wore lots of coverings against too much sun. I'm thinking of turbans, hats, shawls, veils, long-sleeved garments, scarves, long garments, parasols, etc. In many cultures, both men and women have traditionally worn protective coverings. I wonder if one factor in the fact that skin cancer and premature sun damage have become more common in the last few decades is the fact that during the last few decades much of the world has given up wearing hats and head coverings and also wear garments that expose much more skin to the sun than in former times.

Here's to happy and healthy skin!


Friday, February 20, 2009

The Right Foundation

Building a great foundation:

Ideas about foundation garments, as well as styles, have certainly through the ages. Just in the last century and a half, we've seen the highly corseted Victorian woman with the incredibly tiny waist, the flapper with her body bound in almost a boyish silhouette, the buxom 50's to early 60's woman who wore girdles and waist cinchers to the tiny, support-free foundation garments of the late 60's and 70's.

Certainly, there have been eras when corseting and cinching were too tight to promote good health. It has been proposed that one reason why our great-great-grandmothers were in need of fainting couches and smelling salts were that they could hardly breathe for the tight boning across their lungs. Sometimes, internal organs were even pushed to unnatural positions by these undergarments.

On the other hand, there came about an idea during the time that the huge generation of Baby Boomers were in their bloom that very little was needed in the way of support for the figure. Tight and toned muscles were the preferred over body-bracing garments. Unmentionables were worn mainly for decorative and sanitary reasons, and, thus, most women had only the barest underthings in their lingerie drawer.

Baby Boomers are no longer in their bloom. Diet and exercise all they will, it's difficult for them to keep their figures in perfect support merely through toned muscles. At some point, most in this generation look in the mirror and realize that nature needs a little help. Ladies of other ages, as well, are finding that some support in undergarments helps outer clothing look smoother.

Today, manufacturers have created more comfortable shape wear than was offered in the past. It's possible to find an array of lingerie from various types of helpful bras to control slips and control camisoles t0 various lengths of control briefs, etc. Items like these range from lightest support to heavier support. Spanx is one of the more popular shapewear companies right now, but there are many other companies that offer similar items.

Other than bras, which are worth an investment, foundation garments don't have to be expensive. You can find some in outlet stores or stores like T. J. Maxx, Target, Wal-Mart, and Burlington.

It's probably a good idea to be fitted for a bra at least once a year. Statistics say that most of us do not measure ourselves correctly. Also, our bodies change due to weight gain and loss, having babies, hormonal stages, and simply age. We may be almost the same weight, but the bra that fit us last year may not be the best one for us now. This article outlines ten mistakes that women often make when selecting a brassiere.

One wonderful comeback is the slip. This once essential lingerie item all but disappeared there for a while. Yet, most dresses and skirts really do hang and look better with the correct slip underneath.

What items should be in your wardrobe of underthings? It depends on your age, size, and lifestyle. For her birthday, a friend of mine received a humorous card. The cover was a drawing of two women shopping in the lingerie department. A perky young woman was oohing over delicate, lacy items, while a woman of a certain age was sighing over the wall of -- shall we say --more substantial garments. However, even thin and young women who are in great shape would do well to have some supportive garments in their drawer.

A bare-bones minimum wardrobe of unmentionables might be:

1) Two everyday wear bras in black, white, or nude; rinse one out every night and wear the other the next day. At least one of the bras should work under white or light blouses and tops. A good bra is worth a little investment if you can work it into your budget.
2) One sport bra if you do workout
3) One slip or half-slip plus a floor-length slip if you have an occasion to wear a long dress.
4) Undies for a week
5) A control top camisole
6) A control top garment that is about the shape of an old-fashioned girdle or modern biking shorts
7) Hosiery according to your preference.

To this basic list, you can add any items that you might need or enjoy. Remember that some of the prettiest lingerie items do not work under lightweight or light colored clothing. Items like lace and ribbon and catch or bunch underneath some materials. However, it's fun to have a few very frilly things, and you can wear them under garments where they won't show. Even for your more practical lingerie items, you can find things that are pretty and feminine.

Discard any items in your wardrobe that are stretched out, dingy, or otherwise no longer serve their purpose. Evaluate your wardrobe of undergarments twice a year, just as you evaluate your wardrobe of clothing.

You may think that your unmentionables don't matter in the scheme of things as only you or you and your spouse see them. However, well-fitting ones do make such a difference in how your clothing fits. Not only that, but it's nice to know that you are wearing something lovely underneath, even if it is only for you and your spouse.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stretches at your Desk -- so relaxing!

I came across this video of relaxing Pilates stretches. The stretches are designed to be done at your desk. I tend to carry a lot of tension in my shoulder and neck area as I have disk problems and tend to tighten the muscles there as I work -- either at my desk or when sewing or cooking or whatever. I did this video at the end of an exercise session, and now I feel both relaxed and ready to go.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Vitamin routine

Well, I don't know yet if recent changes in my vitamin routine is improving my overall health or not. Nor, can I tell if it's doing anything for my hair, which is one of my goals. It's a little too soon to tell. However, I do think it's making my nails grow faster and, perhaps, stronger too. I'm not sure if it's my imagination, but I also think the nail bed color is healthier looking, too -- not that I had a problem before.

I am hard on my nails, though. I really must remember to wear gloves in the kitchen, when cleaning bathrooms, and when gardening! The people I know who have the prettiest nails do protect their hands when doing these kinds of chores.

Here's an article that probably tells you more than you ever want to know about your fingernails.
Here's a slide show about how to have pretty nails.
Here's an article from the Mayo clinic about how to have healthy nails.

The article from Mayo states, among other things, not to let a manicure technician clip away the cuticle, as this can open the area around the fingernail to infection.

I adore getting the occasional manicure and pedicure. However, I do think that I've come away with two little annoying foot problems from a pedicure. I learned the hard way not to let a technician buff your feet with too much pressure and also not to assume that the tools they are using are sanitary.

Some nail salons dedicate a set of tools to each regular customer. If you don't go often enough for that or your salon doesn't provide that service, you can bring a set of your own tools just to make sure they are clean.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

vitamin routine, quote, and asthma

Yesterday and today, ballet stretches.
Yesterday -- hair vitamin -- GNC's Ultra Nourish Hair
Today -- woman's vitamin pack, Oil of Evening primrose, Fish oil.

I'm experimenting with alternating vitamins. Please don't base your vitamin routine on mine. Whether to take vitamins and, if so, what to take is something you should discuss with your physician and work out for yourself. Some experts feel that if you eat an adequate diet, you really don't need vitamins; others think that in today's world of irregular diets, we do need vitamins. My personal thought is that people survived for thousands of years without vitamin supplementation, and I think that it's drastic to say everyone needs them. I have a suspicion that many healthy people take expensive vitamins that they don't need and their bodies end up flushing the water soluble ones out. However, I have taken vitamins off and on throughout my entire life and do think they can be useful. It's probably a personal thing.

My endocrinologist does want me to take Vitamin D and calcium, as well as fish oil. In the past, I have been low in iron and have needed some supplementation. The Ultra Nourish Hair is an experiment.

Here's some food for thought:

"While we never want to give primary focus to our exterior apperance, especially to the neglect of our inner selves, we must remember that our bodies belong to God, and to our spourse....Let our demise and delcine come about due to the inevitable passage of time, not becauswe of our neglect. For the glory of God, for the sake of living a long and sueful life, and for the happiness of our wives and the enchancement of our love lives, let's take care of ourselves!" From the Five Senses of Romantic Love. (This paragraph was written to men, but is something for us, as women, to think about as well.)

Here's a bit from Wikipedia about asthma, another of my chronic challenges:

"Asthma is a very common chronic disease involving the respiratory system in which the airways constrict, become inflamed, and are lined with excessive amounts of mucus, often in response to one or more triggers.[1] These episodes may be triggered by such things as exposure to an environmental stimulant such as an allergen, environmental tobacco smoke, cold or warm air, perfume, pet dander, moist air, exercise or exertion, or emotional stress. In children, the most common triggers are viral illnesses such as those that cause the common cold.[2] This airway narrowing causes symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. The airway constriction responds to bronchodilators. Between episodes, most patients feel well but can have mild symptoms and they may remain short of breath after exercise for longer periods of time than the unaffected individual. The symptoms of asthma, which can range from mild to life threatening, can usually be controlled with a combination of drugs and environmental changes."

Monday, February 2, 2009

thyroid problems, continuing on with my regimen

A common health problem for women is some type of thyroid disorder. I happen to have a mild case of hypothyroid disorder, which is probably a result of an autoimmune disease. While my case is mild, it has caused problems that are both health related and, to a lesser degree, cosmetic in nature.

Here's a questionnaire to help you assess your risk factors for Hypothroidism. It is from a site called Thyroid-Info. Remember, it's dangerous to diagnose yourself from an internet site. There is even a new syndrome called "Internet Induced Hypochondria" or "Cyberchondria", in which people become fearful about their health after reading too much medically related information on the Internet. Also, remember that anyone with a computer can post something on the net, and people can present themselves as being "experts" when they may not really be so. There's some helpful information on the web, and there's a lot of misinformation, as well. It takes some discernment to filter the true from the false. While the Internet may help inform you, it's still always best to bounce thins off a qualified medical practitioner. I, myself, have been diagnosed by both an Internist and an endorcrinologist, so I do know that I have this problem. After reading the questionnaire below, don't jump to conclusions. If you do have some of the following symptoms, discuss them with a qualified medical practitioner, take sound medical advice, and refuse to worry about it. I have found through experience that worrying makes any number of health conditions worse.

Anyhow, here's the quiz:


___ My family (parent, sibling, child) has a history of thyroid disease
___ I've had a treated or untreated thyroid problem (i.e., hyperthyroidism, Graves' disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, post-partum thyroiditis, goiter, nodules, thyroid cancer) in the past
___ A member of my family or I have currently or in the past been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease
___ I am over 60
___ I am female
___ I am perimenopausal or menopausal
___ I have recently had a baby
___ I have a history of infertility or miscarriage
___ I am currently a smoker, or was a heavy smoker in the past
___ I am currently taking lithium, amiodarone (Cordarone), iodine, kelp, bladderwrack, bugleweed, or soy isoflavone supplements
___ I have had radiation treatment to my head, neck, chest, tonsil area, etc.
___ I had "Nasal Radium Therapy"
___ I consume substantial quantities of any of the following foods, frequently raw: brussels sprouts, rutabaga, turnips, kohlrabi, radishes, cauliflower, African cassava, millet, babassu, cabbage, kale, soy-protein supplements (i.e., protein powders)
___ I live, lived, work, worked or grew up near or at a nuclear plant
(My note: While it is true that certain foods in the broccoli family and also soy might have a harmful effect on the thyroid gland -- especially if consumed in large quantities -- they also have possible health benefits to the body. So, I wouldn't eliminate them from my diet without consulting a physician or a dietician. Let the physician help you weigh the risks/benefits of consuming these foods in your diet.)

___ I am gaining weight inappropriately or unable to lose weight
___ My "normal" body temperature is low, and/or I frequently feel cold
___ I feel fatigued, exhausted more than normal
___ I have a slow pulse, and/or low blood pressure
___ I have high cholesterol
___ My hair is rough, coarse dry, breaking, brittle, or falling out
___ My skin is rough, coarse, dry, scaly, itchy and thick
___ My nails have been dry, brittle, and break more easily
___ My voice has become hoarse, husky or gravelly
___ I have pains, aches, stiffness, tingling in joints, muscles, hands and/or feet
___ I have carpal tunnel syndrome, arm or leg tendonitis, or plantar's fascitis
___ I am having irregular menstrual cycles (longer, or heavier, or more frequent)
___ I am experiencing infertility, or have had one or more miscarriage
___ I feel depressed, restless, moody, sad
___ I have difficulty concentrating or remembering things
___ I have no or low sex drive
___ My eyes feel gritty, dry, light-sensitive
___ My neck or throat feels full, pressure, choking, lumpy, larger than usual, and/or I have difficulty swallowing
___ I have/may have sleep apnea
___ I have puffiness and swelling around the eyes, eyelids, face, feet, hands and feet

Hypothyrodism affects many hormonal and chemical processes within your body. It has been associated with unremitting fatigue, a tendency to gain weight, insulin problems, blood pressure problems, infertility and miscarriages, joint pain, and heart problems. It has also been linked to problems that are of a less serious nature, but that can be upsetting, nontheless: hair loss or thinnning hair, loss or thinning of outer eyelashes and eyebrows, and a puffy face. Hpothyroidism does not have a permanent cure as of date, but it is a highly treable condition. So, the good news is that if you have problems related to a failing thyroid, these can usually be reversed if you follow good medical care and take the right thyroid supplements for you. Internists and other physicians can treat you for this disease, but endrocrinologists usually have the most experience in treating a thyroid problem as it relates to your overall health.

The treatment of thyroid disease and any related complications is specific. However, it's also important to work on your general health. Improving factors such as diet, exercise, rest, and handling stress well gives your body a chance to function at its best, which can only help the treatments to be more effective.

What I've accomplished today;

Multi-vitamin and fish oil capsule.
ballet stretches, warm-up, plies, etc.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Getting Started -- 1/30

Assessing Goals:

I have three areas of concern:

1) What can I do to improve my health conditions? How can I make this an adventure? Of course, the Lord is ultimately in control, but what can I do -- with His help -- to be a better steward of my physical self?
2) At the same time, how can I encourage my husband with his health goals?
3) How can I make time to present myself well: posture, grooming, wardrobe, etc.

What I accomplished today: A walk for fresh air and sunshine and a little exercise, vitamins, a little attention to hands and nails, remembering to drink more water

"Love sees much in a wife that other eyes see not. It throws a veil over her blemishes; it transfigures even her plainest features. One of the problems of her wedded life is to retain this charm for her husband's eyes as long as she lives, to appear lovely to him even when the color has faded from her cheeks and when the music has gone out of her voice. This is no impossibility; it is only what is done in every true home. But it cannot be done by the arts of the dressmaker, the milliner and the hair-dresser, only the arts of love can do it. The wife who would always hold in her husband's heart the place she held on her wedding day will never cease striving to be lovely. She will be as careful of her words and acts and her whole bearing toward him as she was before marriage. She will cultivate in her own life whatever is beautiful, whatever is winning, whatever is graceful. She will scrupulously avoid whatever is offensive or unwomanly. She will look well to her personal appearance; no woman can be careless in her dress, slatternly and untidy, and long keep her place on the throne of her husband's life. She will look well to her inner life. She must have mental attractiveness. She will seek to be clothed in spiritual beauty. Her husband must see in her ever-new loveliness as the years move on. As the charms of physical beauty may fade in the toils and vicissitudes of life, there must be more and more beauty of soul to shine out to replace the attractions that are lost. It has been said that "the wife should always leave something to be revealed only to her husband, some modest charm, some secret grace, reserved solely for his delight and inspiration, like those flowers which give of their sweetness only to the hand that lovingly gathers them."
J. R. Miller