Posts made in October, 2012

It’s not weight gain! It’s a shapeshifter!

Posted by on Oct 19, 2012 in Uncategorized, weight gain | 1 comment

[Copyright: Doug Savage. Many thanks for use of this cartoon. Who doesn’t love a chicken?! Show some love…]

In literature, shapeshifting takes place when an individual finds her figure involuntarily changed by someone or something else, menopause for example! For women in midlife in particular, weight gain often becomes a primary concern. But it’s not just any weight gain — it’s the spare tire in the midsection, the sudden belly that seems to appear out of nowhere, that causes the most distress.

If you go back through the archives on weight gain during menopause, you’ll discover that the midsection bulge is a personal pet peeve. And while research has shown the mindful meditation, getting up from your chair during the workday, biking and perhaps even isoflavones may make a difference, a recent review in Climacteric journal goes one step further towards clarifying the ‘why.’

The findings may interest you. For example, weight gain itself does not appear to be affected by hormonal changes during menopause. “It’s a myth that menopause causes women to gain weight” says the leading review author Professor Susan Davis from Monash University. Rather, she says that “it’s really just a consequence of environmental factors and aging,” (i.e. absolute weight gain as we age is influenced by non-hormonal factors, such as low activity levels, previous pregnancies, family history of obesity and even the use of certain antidepressants or having undergone chemotherapy).  However, hormones — namely the fall in estrogen — cause the fat to deposit itself in the belly (oh, joy!). In fact, data suggest that during perimenopause, there is a rapid increase in fat mass and redistribution of this fat to the abdominal area, leading to an increase in total body fat.

Whether or not you call it weight gain or shapshifting, the result of this excess weight goes well beyond physical appearance and self esteem. We know that excess weight, especially belly fat, can lead to metabolic syndrome and other serious issues. And it’s really difficult to get rid of once it decides to rest in the abdominal area. Still, if you don’t want to go the HRT route (which may help prevent the increase in abdominal fat), there’s really only one solution: diet and exercise. And more diet and exercise.

Frustrating, isn’t it? I’d like a do-over on the shapeshifting thing. Right now? The Beast is looking pretty darn attractive!


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Wednesday Bubble: Packing heat? Tips for the road…

Posted by on Oct 17, 2012 in hot flash | 0 comments

Ladies, are you packing heat?! Seems like there are more of us everyday. In fact, although hot flashes will never come into fashion, they certainly drive fashion choices for many women. The rules of the hot flash road are fairly obvious:

  • Keep it light – sure, it’s 25 degrees outside. But you want to be able to remove clothing without being left with nothing on but your birthday suit. Consequently…
  • Wear layers – layers, layers, layers. They will be your saviour; trust me.
  • Consider wicking fabrics – cotton is great but it can’t wick the wet away from your body when it need it most. Athletic gear is most famous for the more fashionable wicking clothing so if you can get away with a few items, at least on the weekends, go for it. Just stay away from butt messaging and the leisure suit look!
  • Pack a change of clothing if you can – it never hurts to be prepared.
  • Be prepared to cool down quickly with something like ColdFront – my friend Susie Hadas has invented an easy to hide, readily accessible, personal cooling system. When you’re packing heat, be sure that you’ve got ColdFront on demand.
  • Lose the heavy baubles – talk about a sweaty, heavy load!

Got more tips that work best for you or additional instructions for other readers? We’re all ears!

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Heart disease and bone health. Is there a link?

Posted by on Oct 15, 2012 in bone health, heart disease, osteoporosis, Uncategorized | 2 comments


It’s crazy, right? Not only do we have to worry about an increased risk of developing heart disease and osteoporosis and related fractures as we age, but it now appears that the two may be linked. In fact, in a study that will be published early next year in the journal Bone, researcher have found that an increased risk of fracture risk is associated with an increased risk of heart and related illnesses.

The findings, which are based on scientifically verified fracture and cardiovascular measures, show that among more than 300 healthy perimenopausal and post menopausal women who had the greatest likelihood for developing heart disease were 5.4 tines more likely to have a higher risk of a major fracture due to osteoporosis and bone loss, and 3 times more likely to have a higher hip fracture risk than women in the lower heart disease risk categories. This likelihood remained even after adjusting for factors such as years since beginning menopause, BMI, smoking and alcohol use, history of HRT use and level of physical activity.

The researchers acknowledge that although aging has been associated with both of these diseases, the link between the two cannot be explained by age alone.Indeed, other studies have shown that women with high cholesterol levels and other blood fat issues have lower bone mineral density measure. While more work needs to be done, the implication is clear: some of the many issues we potentially face as we age may be linked, especially among women. The message is pretty clear as well: take care of your bones and your heart benefits and visa versa.

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Stressed? Try Baking. That’s What Wendy Scherer Does…

Posted by on Oct 12, 2012 in stress | 4 comments

My sister in law Wendy Scherer is a baker (that is, when she is not being an amazing mom, a wife and crunching social data all day long). For my birthday this year, she baked me a beautiful three berry pie. And she regularly posts images of her creations – a challah for Sabbath, a Tuscan Ricotto Bread, you name it.

But Wendy bakes when she is stressed. And of late,  I’ve noticed that she has ramped up her baking. And I’m wondering if I should try it too.

She wrote this a few years back and it still resonates.

Why I bake...

I am not a cook. Ask anyone.

I don’t like to cook. And frankly, I’m just not that good at it. I don’t have the patience to cut things into similar sized pieces, nor do I care. I don’t like picking out just the right recipe, reading Cooks Illustrated, or having to time out components to a meal.

I’m quite fortunate that I have a husband who not only loves to cook, but makes terrific food. And considering that I do like to eat well, it’s a pretty cushy deal for me.

When Andrew is out for the night and I’m in charge, I admit I can cook a few things. Quiche, lasagna, chicken pot pie, spaghetti, scrambled eggs, hot dogs. That’s just the beginning of my vast repertoire, but think you get the picture.

Cooking stresses me out. The opposite is true of baking. I lose myself in it. Kneading bread is one of my greatest joys. I know what it should feel like and it’s exciting when it’s just so. Getting the crust to the exact right place before rolling it out. Now, there’s joy. Baking is precise in its proportions. I like that. It’s order. But it’s not science to make it wonderful; that is spirit, gut, instinct.

It just is.

I’ve always baked to relax. To de-stress. It’s like therapy to me, only much, much cheaper.  I mean seriously, what costs less than yeast and flour? And I don’t need an appointment, either. The kitchen is open 24/7. And the best part is that I don’t have to eat the goods. There is nothing easier than getting rid of a rustic French loaf, an apple pie, and extra challah, or baguettes. Trust me, it’s true.

I’ve always been this way. See me here at age 11. That’s when I decided that the first thing I want when I grow up is a Kitchen Aid mixer.

And when I lived alone, single in my twenties, there’d be nights when I made a half dozen pies only to drive around the next day delivering them to grandparents and friends.

And now, in the kitchen in my new home, baking has never been better. I have counter space galore and every rolling pin and baking mat has its place. But best of all, I have 3 teenagers to consume whatever I make. And they don’t even realize they’re doing me a favor.

About Wendy Scherer…

Wendy blogs at Finding Blanche http://findingblanche and photoblogs at She is principal of The Social Studies Group

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Wednesday Bubble: Hold Your Breasts; it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Posted by on Oct 10, 2012 in breast cancer | 1 comment


Got pink? In case you haven’t noticed, it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Want to take good care of those bewbs of yours’? Check out this incredible post by blogger and cancer advocate Jody Schoger. I’ve known Jody virtually for a few years now and I am consistently impressed by her efforts to educate and not simply raise awareness.

Take note! As Jody writes:

“The first week of Breast Cancer Awareness has ended. Sometimes it reminds me of how Christmas has been commercialized – it starts early, is in your face, and makes myth of the experience itself.  It can trivialize a serious disease, divert discussion and dollars. I happen to think if we continue to act fearlessly – as friends, as survivors, advocates and activists –  in bringing our intellecrtual collective to bear on the issue we can change the landscape for your daughters.   Last week I was stunned to hear someone on our weekly #BCSM chat express the thought that we – co moderators Alicia Staley and Deanna Attai, MD and I — had a political agenda.  If having an anti-cancer, evidence-based, pro-survivorship, community-based agenda is political then yes, I’ll be the first to print campaign buttons and banners.  On my dollar.  Not from pimping cancer.”

Jody has a lot more to say so please, visit her blog before you do anything else today. And take care of your health by informing yourself in a thoughtful way. “Anti-cancer, evidence-based, pro-survivorship?” Right on, Jody!

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