I swear, I don’t mean to take a mick out of Kegel exercises; they have proven invaluable for regaining pelvic floor strength following pregnancy, disease and even in the case of stress incontinence. And yet, when I see a product like KegelPro, I simply can’t help myself.
KegelPro reminds of Suzanne Somer’s Thighmaster, a nifty product designed to reduce thigh size. Not surprisingly, the Thighmaster was marketed by the same guy who developed the Mood Ring (remember those)? But I digress.
KegelPro is being co-marketed in an exercise bundle an Amazon — not only do you get a nifty device that looks like a plastic speculum — but, it comes with the Magic Stick Vaginal Tightener, Adam & Eve Vaginal Tightening Lube & an After Sex Towel. Seriously, you can’t make this up.
And the product description is even better:
“Exercise your way to make your vagina stronger and healthier. By using the Kegel Pro, you will enhance sexual stimulation, recover from pregnancy quicker and heighten sensations for you and your partner. All you have to do is concentrate on squeezing the muscles around the inserted Kegel Pro. Such an easy way to increase your orgasms! Works like magic! The Magic Stick is a vaginal tightening stick that helps to shrink the vaginal wall giving both partners a sensational feeling. With simple instruction for use and care, you will find this stick truly magical. Rediscover intense pleasure! Enjoy a fuller love life with Adam & Eve Sensual Tightening Creme! Use this vaginal tightening cream to increase chances of orgasm during sex, enhance your sexual performance, and grip every inch of your partner. Simply apply a liberal amount to your desired area. Squeeze tube with flip-top lid holds 2 oz. of creme. Get snug sensations tonight!”
By the way, KegelPro sells for $42. The package? $85. The product reviews? Priceless! Evidently this ‘Pharmaceutical grade piece of plastic’ is truly a novelty item. No wonder they threw the After Sex Towel into the deal.
Ladies – take Kegels seriously. The KegelPro? Bursting this bubble, even if it comes with a tamp…er, Magic Stick!
What do you do when you put out an open call for life stories and an angel answers? That’s Beth Collins, co-creator of Elizabeth’s House, a resource center for women who want to rethink, renew, and reinvent their lives. Truly, I could not have found a more ideal person for a series about reinvention.
Who is Beth Collins? Beth is a personal and creative coach and her story of reinvention is focused on beginnings. To Beth, reinvention starts “from where you are to all that you know. It’s saying yes to something more and then creating the space in your life to find out what that more looks like.”
She explains that her calling to create on behalf of other women came during a time in her life when she had reluctantly left a dream job in college administration to become a working and then full-time, stay-at-home mom. However, answering her ultimate calling has been anything but easy; in fact, her ever-shifting path has been wrought with roadblocks and detours. When she left the corporate world for a world of play dates, room mothering, volunteer committees and booster clubs, she still had an urge to serve women in transition, an itch to scratch that would take more than six years to realize as she followed and supported her husband through multiple relocations. At the age of 46, just as she was finally hitting her stride and passion, she was sidelined again: “I got hit by a truck, literally.”
Through a ‘jaws of life’ rescue and time in the neuro-ICU, Beth faced yet another tough decision: rest or keep going?
In the mid 1980s, Austrian Monk Bhanke Dhammika wrote the Dhammavadaka, a poem designed to present inspiring aspects of a Buddhist’s life. One line in particular resonates:
None can live without toil and a craft that provides your needs is a blessing indeed. But if you toil without rest, fatigue and weariness will overtake you and you will be denied the joy that comes from labour’s end.
Like Dhammika, Beth realized the value in rest and so, she resigned from yet another job that she had grown to love to allow her body proper time to heal. Not surprisingly, in this quiet she heard yet another calling and in 2006, began a mentoring and coaching business for women who were ready to reinvent their lives. “I had clients in five states and was curious when I realized that these women were all asking for the same things,” Beth explains. “They longed for a community that would support their journey of change. Inspired by their requests, I began envisioning what a place like that would look like and in 2007, opened the doors to Elizabeth’s House, a gathering place for women who want to reinvent their lives.”
Elizabeth’s House embodies a lifetime of dreams combined with a unique passion to help women. Beth’s personal story? It’s one of “pure belief in a dream, letting go of the outcome and saying yes to what showed up.” And while she says that some would characterize that attitude as courageous while others may call it crazy, the women who’ve landed at the door of Elizabeth’s House call it a gift. “Together we rally when a woman quits the job she hates to create something new and when returns to that job after realizing that it wasn’t the job she hates. We rally around trying new things, getting it wrong, marriage, divorce, cancer and even suicide. It’s been life -changing for the women who find us and for me.”
It’s not surprising that women helping women lies at the core of Beth’s story of reinvention. She says that unquestionably, “What I’ve learned, what I know beyond any doubt,” is that self-help books, online support and endless “coaching” programs are not enough for women who long to reinvent. They are going to need other women who are willing to tell the truth about their lives. They need to know that they are not alone in their desire for change.”
Say yes and let go of the outcome(s). You may take a beating to get your wings but eventually, like Beth’s they’ll grow into something beautiful.
When was last time you thought to yourself, ‘I’m fat?’ How about ‘I’m old?’ Sound familiar?
If you are like most women, these words have likely crossed your mind at least once if not several times. And while we tend to pay lots of attention to the ‘fat talk’, less attention appears to be paid to how ‘old talk’ similarly impacts how women feel about themselves and perceive themselves. Not surprisingly, both are connected to the thin-ideal/young-ideal concept of beauty in Western society; just look at the number of products, drugs, and surgical procedures feared towards the preservation of youth and a youthful, wrinkle-free, cellulite-free appearance. As researcher Carolyn Beck writes in the Journal of Eating Disorders, “as women age, they increasingly move away not just from being thin but also from fulfilling the young element of the thin-young ideal. Accordingly, aging creates new opportunities for discrepancies between women’s bodies and cultural body ideals.”
Dissatisfaction with appearance and one’s body has been known to be correlated with binge eating, emotional eating, stress, low self-esteem, depression, and use of unhealthy weight control behaviors. When Dr. Beck and her colleagues set out to discover if fat talk and old talk had the same effect on body image, they found that among a sample of over 900 women, those who reported frequently talking about how fat they were or how old they were tended to have more negative body images. Importantly, an overwhelming majority of women — 81% — engaged in ‘fat talk’ at least occasionally and a full third reported frequently ‘fat talking.’ Their aging peers? At least 66% engaged in ‘old talk’ with friends and family occasionally, while 15% reported talking old more often. What’s more, the frequency of old talk tended to increase the older that women became.
Dr. Beck says that women’s self talk, be it about fat/thin or young/old, is an important public health issue as are the factors that play a role in causing, sustaining or deepening a women’s displeasure with her body. And while the two ideals are related, when women are young, the most salient aspect of self image is ‘thinness;’ conversely, as they age and enter midlife, both thinness and youth appear to be important. Overtime, thinness loses out to youthful.
When do we, as women, give ourselves a break? By buying into the thin-ideal/young-ideal constructs, we are robbing ourselves of the opportunity to recreate our individual ideals, those that work best for ourselves. When 1,000 women between the ages of 18 and 87 agree that image plays such an important a role in how they view themselves, it should cause us to pause. We seem to be doing a lot of talking without saying or DOING much, other than to self-criticize, self-demoralize, self-dissatisfy, self-disconnect and self-sabotage. I would posit that it’s time to change the dialogue.
Pain, burning, tender, tinging, hot, scalding, numb. Does this sound familiar? I suspect that it’s time for a proper update on burning mouth syndrome (BMS), a burning sensation/pain on the tip of the tongue, the lips or other oral mucous membranes. And one of the most troubling aspects of BMS is that most studies suggest that the majority who suffer are middle-aged women in menopause. In fact, the female to male ratio of BMS is a whopping 7 to 1.
According to a review in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, women with BMS complain that it’s least bothersome upon awakening and then reappears after the first meal of the day. The pain tends to increase with intensity as the day turns into night, and it may interfere with the ability to fall asleep (lord knows many of us already deal with sleep issues due to hormones). BMS can cause irritability, anxiety, depression and no wonder! Mouth pain and burning and tingling..oh my…not to mention taste disruption.
Speaking of hormones (it seems that that’s all we speak about on this blog), many theories abound as to the cause of burning mouth syndrome but none are more intriguing than some fairly recent data that suggest that it is directly related to chronic stress, that, in turn, alters the production of steroids by the adrenals and affects the nerve endings in the skin and tissue and nervous system that also produce steroids. Menopause is the icing on the cake; during menopause, there is a dramatic fall in sex steroids that interact with androgen and estrogen. This turn of events work in concert to create a perfect storm of hormonal cacophony, potentially setting your mouth aflame.
Short of understanding the ‘how’ and ‘why,’ what can you do? Treatment is clearly directed at symptoms. If you experience BMS, you need to see a practitioner for a thorough examination and series of lab tests to rule out other more definitive causes, like diabetes, or vitamin deficiencies. Your health team, a dentist, endocrinologist, dermatologist and naturopath or gynecologist need to work together to help you obtain relief. While topical drugs like clonazepam may help, you may prefer to go the natural route. There is evidence that capsaicin rinse (e.g. hot pepper sauce), mixed with water in a ratio of 2:1 and applied up to three times a day may help reduce pain and burning. Acupuncture may also help; a recent (albeit small) study shows that 20 sessions over 8 weeks significantly reduced oral mouth pain. Another review was more impressive and suggests that either acupuncture or acupressure may be of benefit for BMS. Interestingly, the evidence for alpha-lipoic acid supplement or alpha-lipoic acid plus HRT is very sparse at best; a recent review has rated both strategies as having low quality evidence of their value in alleviating BMS pain. Unfortunately the same is true of cognitive behavioral therapy.
It’s a bit frustrating, isn’t it? Like many nerve-related conditions, there is benefit is trying different strategies to see if one works best for you. Meanwhile, work on the stress aspect of BMS. It may reduce some of that lotta burning.