Interesting article about happiness as it relates to income…and happiness and health certainly go hand in hand!
Such a great article: “Things Ambitious Girls Do a Little Bit Differently When They’re Dating”
1.Their relationship will not take up 100% of their life, but they will put 100% into their relationship. It’s important to ambitious girls to have other priorities and things going on outside of their relationship. But that doesn’t mean they won’t give it their all when it comes to being happy with someone.
2.They’re not looking for a challenge, but they are looking for someone to challenge them. They’re not interested in the chase or winning the game. But they’re interested in being with someone who’s going to challenge them to be better and to grow every day.
3.Romance usually means something different to ambitious girls. They love dates and surprises just like the next girl. But in their minds, the most romantic thing in the world is being with someone who they can truly relate to, and someone who supports them in everything that…
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Haha well so much for writing a post to kick off the new year! I have to say, I take my hat off to those who work full-time, juggle a social life/family/relationship, AND blog regularly. I know that part of it is really just making a mental commitment to posting, just like I make a mental commitment to get to the gym 4-5 days a week.
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…
Okay, so let me try to get back on track by re-capping a few things since my last post (nearly 3 months ago…Ahhh!). Pardon me while I spew random thoughts:
- Work is going great. I may have mentioned before, but I handle admissions/business operations for a
Caribbean-based medical school. I absolutely LOVE working with the students, especially when we get to have random chats via email on occasion. I had previously considered (and was accepted to) medical school, so I have a big interest in the ins-and-outs of it. Not to mention, I’m currently dating a 3rd year resident, so I have learned lots about how things work AFTER med school. Which brings me to my next thought…
- I’ve been dating someone for going on four months now, and since I’ve been single most of my adult life, it’s been interesting to find my own personal balance being in a
relationship. When you’re single, you’re the only person you have to factor on a daily basis. You don’t have to think about someone else’s feelings or schedule…BUT you also don’t get to experience the awesomeness that can come with sharing your life with someone who truly cares for you. Let me tell you, it is SO DIFFERENT when you are with someone who treats you like a real partner in life. This guy is really nothing short of amazing…and his dedication and passion for his career are so inspiring. It takes effort to make things work, of course…learning how to communicate, balancing busy schedules, figuring out what someone needs when they are stressed, figuring out how to talk about what you need, etc…but that’s kind of the fun part, in my opinion.
- Speaking of busy schedules, I’ve also stared a Six Sigma management certification course. Basically, it focuses on process improvements, and reducing cost and waste in business. Really good stu
ff for business management whether it’s running your own business or being part of running someone else’s. Since the bf is studying intensely for his board certification exam, it’s perfect timing for me to be busy with this 🙂
- In terms of diet/exercise, thankfully that hasn’t fallen off with the new relationship. I’m still getting to the gym at least 4 days most weeks and have been maintaining my strength. I have to say the most improvement lately has come from some small tweaks in my diet. Mainly, drinking more herbal tea, increasing veggie intake, and doing more vegetarian options. The herbal tea has helped keep my water intake up during the cold months, since I don’t always feel like chugging cold water when it’s 20 below with the wind chill, haha. And I’ve been adding lots of chickpeas and beans to my diet instead of always going for chicken. I’ll have to share some cool winter salad combos I’ve been coming up with!
Soooo, yeah! Those are a few things that have been going on in my life. Better late than never, right?! (Actually, my motto is usually better never than late, hahaha I’m BIG on punctuality!).
But, it’s been a reminder that we are all human and can’t be perfect in all areas of our life at all times. I’ll leave off with a quote I remember from “Eat, Pray, Love:”
To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life. -Elizabeth Gilbert
Ciao for now!
So after years of yo-yo ing with the pill (at least 5 different brands) primarily to mitigate symptoms of PCOS, and also not get pregnant, I finally have had enough. I recently opted instead to address the PCOS from a blood sugar/insulin resistance treatment method (diet changes and the addition of some key supplements, which I’ll talk about at a later date). And I decided to get the Mirena IUD for birth control. Best decision ever, on both fronts.
That being said, just as their are undesirable side effects of being ON the pill (depression, headaches, forgetting to take it, mood swings, nausea, etc), there can also be some great and not so great side effects while your body adjusts to going OFF the pill.
Like me, Veronica Thomas (guest contributor to Wbur’s Common Health: Reform & Reality) was caught off-guard by the unexpected side effects of going off the pill. And to help others avoid similar unpleasant surprises, she spoke with three experts about what to expect when you ditch the pill for another birth control method:
Of course, just as each woman has a unique reaction to the pill, she’ll also have a unique reaction to going off. According to the feminist women’s health organization Our Bodies, Ourselves, there is “enormous variability in any individual’s response to her own hormones or any synthetic hormones she takes.” One woman’s skin may break out in pimples, while another’s clears up completely.
With this disclaimer in mind, here are eight possibly unexpected changes you might experience when you cancel your monthly refill of that crinkly foil packet:
1. Most of the side effects should disappear in a few days.
First off, while many women decide to have their period before pitching the pack, it’s safe to stop taking the pill at any point. However, you should stop immediately if experiencing any serious side effects, like headaches or high blood pressure, says Dr. Jennifer Moore Kickham, the medical director of a Massachusetts General Hospital outpatient gynecology clinic.
Because they are taken daily, the synthetic hormones from oral contraceptives leave your system in a couple days. This is why you have to use another form of birth control after missing more than two doses of the pill. But it’s also why most acute side effects, like nausea, will go away pretty soon after giving the pill the boot. Other issues, such as mood swings or irregular bleeding, may take a bit longer. If they persist, you should visit your doctor to investigate possible other causes, Dr. Kickham says.
In addition to migraines, I had major stomach bloating while on the pill—a side effect so perpetual that I came to view it as normal. I also experienced anxiety and a general irritability that I’m sure my family and boyfriend didn’t particularly enjoy. Eventually, after six years of being on and off the pill, I couldn’t tolerate it anymore. I decided to ditch it for good. I felt better almost immediately. After a month, my headaches and bloating vanished. (I had no idea I could eat without my stomach inflating like a balloon!) My mood issues took a bit longer, but eventually faded away, too.
When you stop the pill after a few years, you may actually realize you were experiencing mild side effects the entire time, like bloating or breast tenderness. According to Dr. Kickham, “Some women come off and say, ‘I didn’t realize I had a low-level headache the whole time I was on the pill, and now it’s gone.’”
2. But some of the pill’s benefits will go too.
Though I may have started this story with a little pill-bashing party, oral contraceptives do have major benefits that usually outweigh any negative side effects. “The pill is an effective form of contraception with a lot of great benefits,” Dr. Kickham says. “So as long as it’s safe for patients to use and they’re not having horrible side effects, it can be a really great option.”
While about half of my friends are dumping the pill in favor of IUDs, the other half have had serious commitments with the same oral contraceptives for years with little or no side effects. “There are some women who are very sensitive to the hormones and switch a variety of times and always have some type of side effect,” says Dr. Goldberg of Planned Parenthood. “Then, other women can tolerate most formulations without much difficulty.”
Because most versions of the pill include both estrogen and progestin, it also has a number of health perks that you can’t get from progestin-only or hormone-free methods, like IUDs or condoms. In fact, many women who don’t actually need birth control take the pill for its other health benefits, like lighter periods and reduced cramping. Other benefits of the pill include some protection against: acne, PMS symptoms, iron deficiency anemia, endometrial and ovarian cancer, and additional health problems.
When you stop taking the pill, you may lose these benefits. It’s like flipping a coin. The benefits you got on the pill morph into the new side effects of being off it, whereas the side effects you had turn into benefits. The light, regular periods you had on the pill may be replaced by spotting and cramping, and your porcelain skin may turn into a pimply mess. But, on the flip side, your sex drive may return and your irritability may evaporate.
“All these choices are a balance of risks and benefits,” Dr. Kickham explains. Do the benefits tip the scale in the pill’s favor, or are the side effects weighing you down like a bag of bricks? “For any medication, if the risks or negative side effects are outweighing the benefits, then they should consider other options,” she says.
3. You’ll need to use another form of birth control. Immediately.
Protection from an unwanted pregnancy is one crucial—and obvious—benefit of the pill that will vanish almost instantly. Just as acute side effects should stop in a couple days, the contraception will too.
“Most women resume ovulation pretty quickly after stopping the pill,” Dr. Goldberg explains. “So, the most important thing for women to know is that when they stop the pill they are at risk for pregnancy almost immediately.” It’s crucial to find a new method as soon as possible without any gaps in coverage, she says.
4. Your normal period might not return for a while.
Although my teenage self would hate me for saying this, I actually looked forward to having a regular period when I went off the pill. The low-dose oral contraceptive that I had taken for the past three years made me stop having one all together. I waited for eight months. No period. I had no idea this wasn’t normal at first. I just thought it was part of transitioning off the pill.
After a number of doctor visits, blood tests and even a rather uncomfortable ultrasound, I was diagnosed with secondary amenorrhea—the absence of menstruation. I had to take two weeks of progestin-only pills, then restart the pill for a month in order to “jumpstart” my hormones and ensure my body could cycle.
I dropped the pill last September without knowing what changes to anticipate in my body. I eagerly welcomed most of them, but my unexpectedly absent period made me worry about fertility and my future. In fact, this surprising change was my impetus for writing this story.
According to the experts I spoke with, if your period hasn’t returned for three months after stopping the pill, you should visit your doctor, who can investigate other potential causes. I’m not alone in my post-pill amenorrhea. It took one of my friends nine months to regain her period after stopping the pill.
But for most women, ovulation should resume in a few days and periods should return within a couple of months. “If you stop the pill and you don’t get a regular period for a month or two, it’s just a delayed menses—give it a little more time,” Dr. Goldberg says.
Even if your period does return right away, it might be different. The pill often lightens bleeding and reduces cramping, while also making your periods more regular and predictable. According to Dr. Kickham, this is why many women love the pill.
When you stop taking the pill, you may experience irregular periods for a few months or even years, especially if you had erratic menstruation pre-pill, says Judy Norsigian, executive director of Our Bodies, Ourselves. If you had heavy, crampy periods before the pill, they might also return when you go off.
5. You may find yourself more interested in sex.
Lying down with a heating pad on your stomach is not the only thing you might be doing more of in bed. After discontinuing the pill, you may also find yourself wanting to get sexually intimate more often. The combination pill limits the amount of free testosterone in the blood, which creates anti-androgenic (“anti-masculine”) symptoms in some women, including lower libido and sexual dysfunction.
“Where the pill helps with acne and hair growth, some of my patients will come back saying ‘I don’t have the desire I used to and I don’t know why, I’ve noticed a difference,’” Dr. Kickham explains. Other women may actually experience increased libido while on the pill because it reduces their anxiety about getting pregnant.
Several studies over the past 30 years have found that oral contraceptives hinder sexual function by decreasing sexual interest and arousal, as well as the frequency of sexual intercourse and enjoyment. When you stop taking the pill there is more free testosterone in your system, so don’t be surprised if you notice a big boost in your sex drive. Reminder of No. 3 above: You need new protection right away.
6. Your skin may break out like a prepubescent teenager’s.
For the first time in a while, you’re not bloated or moody, and you’re the one initiating sex. You’re feeling confident and sexy—like a million bucks. But then, a pimple pops up on your chin. Then, a few more. Soon, you feel like a prepubescent teen desperately trying every acne face wash and zit-zapper from the drugstore. So much for that boost in libido.
This is exactly what happened to me. After years of clear skin and a mostly pimple-free adolescence, a painful mess of cystic acne covered my chin and jaw—often where hormonal acne appears in adults. The pill can help mitigate hormone-related symptoms like acne and hair growth, so when you stop taking it, these issues may, literally, surface.
Cue a visit to the dermatologist. After a couple months of very unsexy, painful acne, I finally got my skin under control with salicylic acid and spironolactone (a medication that reduces circulating androgens), but I’m left with red acne marks and blotchy skin.
Some women with post-pill acne may actually find out they have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome—a common hormonal disorder often accompanied by acne. “If a woman has been on the pill for a long time, like 10 years, other pathologies could have developed and be unmasked when she comes off,” says Dr. Goldberg. Say a woman had mild PCOS before going on the pill but wasn’t diagnosed. The pill may help improve or control the symptoms of acne and irregular periods so much that the PCOS doesn’t become apparent until she stops taking it a decade later, she says.
For many women, cystic acne is worse than any side effect they experience while taking the pill. For me, I’d still rather apply an extra coat of concealer every morning than risk ruining my relationships because of my erratic mood swings and irritability.
7. Your emotions and mood swings might get better—or worse.
Although this change is difficult to prove and slightly resembles a daytime talk-show confession, I finally feel like “myself” since ditching the pill. I have more energy and excitement about school and my relationships, and don’t find myself wanting to strangle a friend who asks about my day.
According to Judy Norsigian, mood swings, depression and general brain “fogginess” are some major reasons women go off the pill and use other birth control methods.
On the other hand, women who use the pill to treat severe PMS or premenstrual dysphoric disorder may actually experience improvements in their mood while taking it. If they have mood fluctuations related to their natural cycle, the balancing effect of the pill’s synthetic hormones can help, so mood issues may return when they go off, Dr. Kickham explains.
“It is hard to predict who will respond in what way to the variety of pills,” she says. “For instance, I’ve definitely had people call me a couple weeks after starting the pill saying, ‘I’m crying all the time, I’ve noticed a huge change in my mood.’ So we have them come off it right away, immediately.”
Since the hormones metabolize out of the system within a couple days, your mood issues should improve once you go off the pill—if it was actually to blame.
8. You might still have side effects with your new method. (Sadly, it turns out there is no perfect birth control.)
If you’re going off the pill and still need a birth control method, there are a number of other options to choose from. “I usually just go through the whole list of contraceptives and try to decide with my patients what they’re looking for based on their goals and their response to the pill,” Dr. Kickham says.
Regardless of the new method you’re choosing, sadly, no birth control is perfect. Since both the patch and the vaginal ring contain a combination of estrogen and progestin, you might have similar side effects with these that you had on the pill, like breast tenderness and nausea.
The birth control shot, which injects progestin every three months, is associated with irregular bleeding and weight gain, as well as osteoporosis. Another of its biggest drawbacks is the inability to take the hormones back out once they’re injected. Unlike the pill, the hormones will not metabolize out of the system until after the three months.
The implant, which is a matchstick-sized rod placed in your arm for up to three years, also releases only progestin. Since both the shot and implant don’t release estrogen, you might miss out on some of its perks. For instance, you won’t have the benefits of more regulated periods, reduced acne or protection against reproductive organ diseases, like endometrial cancer.
Though it has its own cult following, even the IUD—a T-shaped device placed in the uterus—is also not without fault. The ParaGard, which does not release any hormones and works for up to 10 years, is associated with heavier and crampier periods. The hormonal IUDs, Mirena and Skyla, release progestin and last for three to five years. Unlike the ParaGard, they may lighten your period and actually get rid of it entirely. But on the flip side, IUDs don’t provide the benefits linked to estrogen.
As with the pill, experts say you should stick with your new birth control method for at least three months as long as you’re not experiencing any severe side effects, since it can take that long for your body to adjust.
Bottom line: As with many things, trial and error comes into play to find a birth control method that suits you. Each body and its hormonal makeup differ significantly, so what works for your friend(s) may be a disaster for you (just like with dating! ha!). Key in to how YOU feel with the method(s) you’ve tried and go with what makes you feel best.
Ciao for now!
So I won’t beat around the bush…I’ve been slacking in the blog department. Since my last post, I had a major bedroom renovation (spackling, sanding, and painting is VERY time consuming!), had some birthday celebrations, a new roommate move in, and started an online course in financial markets through Yale (when I undertake a challenge, I go all the way, huh?!).
All of that being said, I do still want to make good on my promise to write more about dry brushing…
For starters, I must admit it’s challenging to add another step to one’s daily routine. I’ll confess that I haven’t been terribly consistent with body brushing…and I’ve been mildly more consistent with the face brushing.
So the results of my little study:
– Initially, I kind of broke out in these little bumps that looked somewhat like a heat rash. After doing a little online research, it’s either that I was brushing too vigorously or detoxing.
– Improved circulation, especially in hands and feet. I was noticeably warmer.
– Skin looked more moisturized/dewy even without using any lotions or oils
– Better digestion
And, not to say that any of the above were ever a particular problem for me, but I’d say there was significant improvement when I was consistently brushing, as opposed to not brushing.
If any of you dry brush or have tried it, I’d love to hear results!
Ciao for now!
So, we brush our hair and teeth every day (at least, I hope you do!), and we know that this keeps our hair shiny and healthy and our teeth free of tartar, plaque, and cavity-causing bacteria. But did you know there are many benefits of the ancient art of Skin Brushing??
If you’ve never heard of this before, you’re probably looking at the screen wondering if I made a typo or if I’m drinking and writing…haha…But let me fill you in on this very cool, very beneficial, and very inexpensive technique!
What exactly IS skin brushing?
Dry brushing is simply brushing your skin (entire body except your face) in a specific motion to support skin renewal, stimulate the lymphatic system (which in turn helps the immune, nervous and digestive systems), aids in the removal of toxins, exfoliates and gives you a sense of well-being. Dry brushing should be practiced each day, typically in the morning (before you shower.) source
So, Why should you brush your skin?
Your skin is your largest organ, and it is an organ of elimination as well as barrier to the environment. It is estimated that one-third of daily impurities in your body are excreted through the skin. As we age, our bodies become less effective in shedding outer layers of dead skin cells. And toxins in the air and our environment also prey on our skin (wrinkles = bad).
•Because your body health and functioning depends in part on your skin, dry brushing will help clear away dead cells and toxins on the surface to help you absorb oxygen and nutrients, and encourage cell renewal.
•You are clearing excesses that are clogging things up in your skin and elimination system when you Skin Brush! If dead cells and toxins build up, your skin loses its ability to get rid of toxins and it then it places stress on other organs.
•Dry brushing helps skin look and feel better as the build-up is removed. The skin will start to glow after regular use.
•Dry brushing stimulates your glands, providing more moisture for the skin to help it look and fresher more vibrant.
•Skin brushing works from the outside in as well. Importantly, it increases and supports blood circulation. This alone is important, but better circulation also contributes to healthier muscle tone and better distribution of fat deposits.
•Skin body brushing stimulates the lymphatic system by aiding the flow of fluids in your body. Our lymphatic systems don’t have a “circulation pump” like the heart with blood flow – the lymphatic system actually relies on movements of our muscles to work. Our lymphatic system is very important in elimination as it moves toxins out, supporting the immune systems by producing white blood cells and generating antibodies.
•Many say that while we have lymph nodes throughout our body, the most important areas with the most nodes are under the arms (armpits) and inner thighs – so giving attention to these areas while brushing is a good practice.
•Dry brushing aids in better digestion.
•Body brushing works to support cleansing of the whole system, inside and out. Accumulated waster products in the body can contribute to illness or premature aging. source
I was just gifted my very own body brush yesterday so that I could try this myself, and I must say, after just one time of doing it, I notice a difference. But, I can’t give away all the details in one post right? Gotta leave you with a little cliffhanger 😉
Stay tuned for my next post on my update after one week of dry body brushing, along with some “how to” instructions!
Ciao for now!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched people (and ladies, it’s usually us) step on the scale at the gym and see their face overcome with defeat and shame. I want to run over to them and tell them to focus instead on inches lost instead of pounds; on strength gained instead of lost; and on energy and happiness that comes from exercise instead of the lethargy and depression that comes from being sedentary.
Has this ever happened to you: You step on the scale one week to see you’ve lost 2 pounds (hooray!)…only to weigh in the next week and realize you’ve gained them both back (ugh)? It happens to the best of us, but the reality is that the number on the scale doesn’t mean a whole lot about your physical fitness, and it doesn’t mean jack SQUAT about your self worth.
The worst is when I hear someone say something like, “I gained 2 pounds since yesterday! What’s wrong with me??” Listen, it takes an EXCESS 3500 calories to gain one pound. So unless you ate an additional 7000 calories on top of what you normally ate, you didn’t truly gain a pound. I mean, I could weigh myself…step off the scale and drink a 16 oz water (zero calories mind you)…and step right back on that same scale and weigh one pound more. Would you believe I “gained a pound” right before your eyes in less than 5 minutes? Yeah, I thought so.
I can tell you from my own past experience that when being overly focused on weight and the number on that scale, I enjoyed working out less and actually saw less progress! Now, on the rare occasions that I weigh myself just to check in, I actually mildly panic if the number dips because I’m like, “oh no!! I better not be losing muscle!!” Plus, did you know a pound of muscle takes up far LESS SPACE than a pound of fat. What does that mean? You could be getting smaller and tighter and not weigh an ounce less! I know, right? Don’t you feel enlightened?
Do yourself a favor…break up with your scale for a while and instead, focus on how you feel. How’s your energy level? Do you feel challenged with your physical activity level? Are you eating enough? How are your clothes fitting? Do you feel happy?
I can tell you that if you’ve ever felt like you were a slave to those numbers on the scale in front of you, giving yourself an opportunity to experiment with being free from that could open up a whole new way of looking at things. I may be completely wrong and full of boloney, but then again, what if I’m right 😉
Ciao for now,