Posts made in March, 2014

International Women’s Day – Be beautiful, inside.

Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in women's health | 0 comments

484779_490212227686885_948494017_n (1)Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. In lieu of a regular post, I thought I’d use the space to highlight some of the most recent news that have most impacted me of late and have gotten me thinking really hard about how we treat one another.

I feel that we have a responsibility to the daughters, nieces and young women in our lives to show them how to live stronger and positively, with greater self awareness, self esteem and self love. Lately, the internet has been filled with stories of teen suicides and bullying; it’s the modern day version of tar and feather gone bad. Just this week, Rolling Stone published a sobering piece about the last days of a young girl who was literally marked and humiliated, and later found by her mother hanging from a belt in the bathroom. ‘Sexting, Shame and Suicide‘ is a must-read, must-share and must-do. Time to take action and stop the madness.

Importantly, bullying is not age-specific. In fact, former blonde bombshell Kim Novak, or her face, entered the Twitter Hall of Shame on Oscar night for her poor choices in plastic surgeons. The Atlantic’s ‘Getting Picked on at the Oscars at Age 81 ‘ carries the message that sexism never dies and that women have an obligation to maintain their looks for society. Novak’s actual story is a sad one and what rings true is that the history of ridiculing women is a long one; technology has made it louder.

But the news isn’t all bad. While Hollywood and the Twittesphere were in the act of stripping down one of its own, they also provided a forum for another – actress Lupita Nyongo – to deliver a forceful speech about the validity of dreams and owning your journey. Earlier, at a luncheon hosted by Essence Magazine, she shared important words that you may want to share with the young girls in your life, words that focus on the beauty within that will help women ‘get on with the business of being beautiful inside.’

And while you get on with the business of being beautiful from the inside out, be sure to reach out to a fellow sister; social interactions are good for your (and her) heart and soul. Speaking of which, I would like to send out some prayers to a sister of mine who is undergoing surgery this morning. Kim – you’ve got this.

Whether you believe that you have many do-over’s or only one opportunity to do right in this life, as women we have an obligation to one another to make the path for the next generation a bit smoother. The collective power of many makes a lasting impact. Reach out and do a kindness this weekend. Find joy. Dance. Rejoice. Be beautiful, from the inside.




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Guyside: Don’t sell friendship short

Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in Guyside, health, general, men, musings | 3 comments

You know how we have little routines that we rely on in conversations? Someone brings up air travel and you have your little shpiel about it. Well, one of mine has always been that women’s relationships are like cats interacting with each other: much sizing up and marking of territory. I’ve also said that men’s friendships get formed like dogs’ — we sniff each other’s butts, then we figure out if the person in question is someone we want to play with.

Male friendship can sometimes be discounted, even by the friends themselves.

It might make a marginally funny line, but I’ve come to believe it sells both men and women short in the friendship department.

I currently don’t really have a “best friend.” There are guys that I’m close with, that I’ve been with through good times and bad times, but not a single person I’d tell people, “oh, you know ?Steve? Yeah, he’s my best friend.”

A few years ago, I had someone I considered a best friend. He and I had begun as colleagues, and had immediately gravitated to each other. My partner and his wife also got along, and we found ourselves as a foursome often, but we also were “guy friends”.

The friendship ended for a number of reasons that probably don’t really matter in this context, and anyway, I don’t think it would be right to go into them. The best way I can say it that I ended it because I was no longer comfortable with being his friend.

That was a few years ago, and since that time we’ve exchanged a few words and seen each other at a few events. It’s led to some awkwardness from time to time, probably on several people’s parts — we still share a number of friends.

And on Sunday night, we found each other at a large surprise party celebrating one of those friends’ 80th birthday, and my ex-friend found a moment to tell me that he missed the friendship. I found myself uncharacteristically incoherent, blabbed out a few loosely connected words, and made myself scarce. It was a very awkward moment for me.

I suspect that were I to reach out to reconnect, it might well be received well by my ex-friend. But even if I did, it might not work out. During the years of our ‘estrangement’, things have changed for me. As I said to someone this week, I feel as if the me he knew, who was his friend, isn’t there anymore. So even if I was willing to remake the friendship, it wouldn’t necessarily be the same friendship.

Another part of me thought about all this and wanted to dismiss the thought process itself as a bit much of a muchness, as too much rumination about a friendship. But I don’t agree with that. And I think that while it can be easy for men to think of our friendships as activity-based or transactional (hey, let’s go running, let’s go out for beers, let’s hit a concert), there’s something more to men’s friendships.

It’s easy to focus on our primary relationship — our wife, our partner, whatever the label is. I think it’s common for men to sometimes forget that there are benefits to ourselves and to the people we care about when we build stronger social bonds with other people, whether we have a best friend or a number of friends.

When it comes to emotional resilience, to mutual support, and to good psychological health, friendship is definitely NOT where you want to put all your eggs in one basket.

I miss what I had. But you can’t go back — or at least I can’t; better to build relationships that can be ones of mutual support and positive regard.

Photo: CC licenced by Flickr user Francesco Rachello

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Life quality and yoga

Posted by on Mar 3, 2014 in yoga | 0 comments


Perimenopausal? Menopausal? Are you having difficult sleeping, mood swings, lack of focus and diminished energy? How’s your sexual functioning?

Take one look at that list of woes and it’s no wonder that women sometime want to tear their hair out during menopause. However, there is evidence that attenuating symptoms can help improve quality of life and that certain interventions, including exercise, yoga and/or omega-3 supplements can help.

Medical experts continue to question the value of these interventions during the ‘pause, citing a lack of scientific evidence and conflicting study results. Some even go so far to refer to strategies other than hormone replacement or some other pharmaceutical intervention as ‘snake oil.’ Yet, data continue to evolve that thinking outside the HRT box may help some women and it is for this reason that I wanted to share some newly-published study findings with you.

This latest MsFLASH  (Menopausal Strategies: Finding Lasting Answers for Symptoms and Health) study examined 338 women who were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of studio and in home yoga, tri-weekly 40 t0 60 minutes moderate-level cardiovascular training sessions  or usual activity. The women were also given and asked to take a daily omega-3 or placebo capsule. Consequently, they were asked to score factors that impact quality of life during menopause, things like vasomotor symptoms, physical functioning, pyschosocial impact and sexual functioning.

The results?

Women who practiced yoga appeared to achieve small but still greater improvements in their overall quality of life (on the basis of the factor scores mentioned above) versus the other inventions. Moreover, it appeared that yoga reduced the extent to which women found their hot flashes bothersome or interfering with daily functioning. Apparently, neither exercise or omega-3s impacted these measures.

The reason for this potential improvement has to do with yoga’s theoretical impact on how balanced the sympathetic nervous system remains in the face of midlife stress and hormonal imbalances. Yoga may help maintain balance and how well or positively we perceive the world around us.

Despite the small, incremental benefit provided by yoga versus exercise or omega-3 supplementation alone, it’s important to emphasize that very few studies have focused on quality of life specifically as it relates to yoga. And, while previous studies have shown benefit, getting women to ‘go the distance’ during these studies has proven difficult.

Mind you, by no means do these study findings suggest that you should give up exercise or omega-3s and switch to yoga. Both of the former strategies have their own benefits. But you may want to consider your quality of life and actions to improve it during menopause and beyond. Yoga practice may be an important part of the puzzle.

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