Posts made in August, 2010

Monday Musings: Just don’t call me Ma’am…

Posted by on Aug 30, 2010 in musings | 8 comments

I ran across an interesting piece in yesterday’s New York Times discussing what I call the ‘ma’am factor.’ If  you read it, you may agree with Author Natalie Angiers that for many of us of ‘a certain age, being referred to as ma’am makes us cringe.

M’aam refers to ‘madam’ or during days of yore, was a respectful term for royalty. Today, ma’am is largely used by folks residing in the deep South or the Midwest and remains a word of respect. In the past couple of years, I’ve been called ma’am at grocery stores, liquor store, the movies and department stores. And yet, so far as I am concerned, m’aam is my maiden aunt, my mother, anyone but me.

I am a tailgater,  a woman who was born in the early 1960, in between the Boomers or Gen X’ers. I am part of a generation of women who were at the precipice of post-feminism changes, the now generation, taught at an early age that we could enter the workforce and have a family and have it all and be everything we aspired to be. And the one thing we didn’t aspire to be was to be a ma’am.

Angier aptly expresses what I have felt time and again:

Behind the link between “ma’am” and “old” is the familiar feminist observation that, whereas a man remains “mister” and “sir” from nursery to nursing home, a woman’s honorifics change depending on her marital status and, barring that, her age. A young miss walks a few miles, and, wedding ring or no, wham, she’s a ma’am. For many women, then, the insertion of the word “ma’am” into an otherwise pleasant social exchange can feel like a tiny jab, an unnecessary station-break to comment on one’s appearance: Hello, middle-aged- to elderly-looking woman, how may I help you this evening? Thanks, prematurely balding man with the weak chin, I’ll take that table over there, in the corner.”

Like Angier, like Mrs. Aragon, I’d rather be called nothing than be called ma’am.

What about you?

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Looking for the Big Sleep?

Posted by on Aug 27, 2010 in menopause, sleep disturbance | 0 comments

Those of you who are going through hormonal shifts, night sweats or hot flashes knows exactly what I’m talking about. Sleep. Sleep, the elusive gold ring that plagues many of us going through the transition. How many sheep have you counted this evening? Or last night? Or last week? Heck, I’m ready to start my own version of Farmville. Any takers?

Experts say that as many as 63% of postmenopausal women have insomnia. Frankly, I’m tired.

So, before you let another sleepless, toss and turn type of night go by, you might want to pay attention: isoflavones may just take away the awakenings that go bump in the your night. Say what?! Mind you, this is a very small study, enlisting only 38 menopausal women. However, I can dare to dream (or think about dreaming), can’t I? Participants were selected on the basis of their sleep complaints, meaning that they had to have difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or constantly experience nonrestorative, insufficient sleep to avoid fatigue and lack of alertness during the day.  They were given a lecture about sleep hygiene, menopausal symptoms and general healthcare and then had a general checkup, after which time, they were asked to take an 80 mg soy isoflavone (estrogen-like plant compounds tablet (containing mostly of a type of soy isoflavone called genistein) or a sugar tablet daily for four months. Thereafter,  they were assessed for sleeping habits, general complaints and any changes in their condition.

The researchers say that not only did use of isoflavones decrease the frequency of moderate and severe insomnia in the women studied by more than 60%, but they also increased sleep efficiency, that is, the degree of alertness the women felt the day following a night of sleep and their ability to perform everyday activities and feel good while doing it. They attribute  improved sleep patterns to a significant decline in the number and intensity of hot flashes.

There are several unanswered questions left by this information, such as whether or not soy will have this effect on a majority of women (remember, the study was small), how soy might affect lifelong insomniacs who also have menopausal symptoms, and if other soy compounds might provide equal benefits. I’d love to see more on this before drawing any conclusions. However, it’s good to know that eventually, tossing and turning might be a thing of the past.

Want more information on sleep and menopause? Check out these posts and please, share your experiences as well!

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Wednesday Bubble: long-term effects of the short-term binge

Posted by on Aug 25, 2010 in exercise, weight | 4 comments

Stress, emotions, life.  All of these factors can contribute to binge eating. However, have you ever wondered if the binges that might occur during long vacations or breaks may contribute to a longer-term problem?

This week, I’m bursting the myth that many of us, including myself, like to tell ourselves after a few weeks of the ‘bad food’ binge, “it won’t hurt.”

Guess what?

This bit of information is straight out of BioMed Central‘s nutrition and metabolism section, and it ain’t pretty. However, the good news is that after reading this, lengthy binges may become a thing of your past and hopefully, not your future.

Researchers are saying that individuals who lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle and consume large amounts of energy (not nutrient) dense food over a period of as little as four weeks may end up with more fat mass over the long-term, even if they lose the weight they’ve gained from binging by returning to usual eating and activity levels.

In this particular case, 18 young men and women (aged ~26 years) who weighed within the normal healthy ranges were asked to increase their daily energy intake by 70% (including at least two fast food meals per day or foods rich in protein and saturated animal fat) over four weeks and limit physical activity to no more than 5,000 steps a day (which they measured using a pedometer). Thereafter, they could return to normal. The findings?

Compared to a group of men and women who ate and exercised normally, a month of binging led to an average weight gain of 14 pounds! Moreover, only a third of the people studied returned to their normal weigh after 6 months, and on average, they still managed to gain an extra 3 pounds by one year’s time following the study. Even worse was the fact that fat mass increased by as much as 3% of the total body weight by the end of the study. When the researchers looked at this separately, they found an average increase in abdominal/trunk fat by ~17% and leg fat mass by 28%.

The underlying message is that a short-term  excessive binge can possibly change your physiology, making it harder to lose the weight and keep it off.

Granted, this is a small study and was conducted in individuals substantially younger than the readers of this blog. Nevertheless, if the findings prove true, it is likely that the longer term ramifications of binging at our age may pose some serious effects on health.

Just a wee bit of food for thought for a Wednesday. Keep it healthy. And move your body.

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Life’s a beach…

Posted by on Aug 21, 2010 in Inspiration | 0 comments

Sometimes, you need to take a break.

Afterall, life’s a beach.

See you on Wednesday! Flashfree and sweatless dreams to you all!

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Menopausal symptoms? Treat them with Ease…

Posted by on Aug 20, 2010 in herbal medicine | 3 comments

Or not.

I just wind of a new product called EaseFemin™, a supplement with a proprietery formulation that the manufacturers are calling IsoFactor™. These specific isoflavones and flavare derived from a unique Brazilian red propolis, which is a resin collected by honeybees. Evidently, propolis has been used in folk medicine since around 300 BC and clinical data show that it is non-toxic.

Theoretically, Ease-Femin™ taken once-daily, addresses irritability, hot flashes and night sweats. Moreover, an antioxidant has been added to fight cellular damage caused by free radicals circulating in the bloodstream.

Does this sound a bit too good to be true?

I would say, yes.

My first concern is that I did a search on propolis. And as an isoflavone compound, it’s not been studied extensively in menopause or any other condition. The second concern I have lies with isoflavones themselves. As I’ve written of late, it seems that only specific isoflavone compounds, namely S-Equol and daidzein, appear to have any sort of demonstrable effect on hormonal symptoms. So I am not entirely convinced about whether or not this is an exciting new avenue or the promise of spending money ($36.99 a month) for a product that won’t do much of anything.

This is another case of buyer beware. The research simply isn’t there to back the use of the product. At least not yet.

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