Laugh Your Way to Lower Stress

Archive for January, 2013

Don’t Ask Your Doctor

I am an outlaw. Maybe I’ve never robbed a bank or tagged a train with “Menopausal women rule!” but I have worked out to exercise videos without consulting my doctor first. Go ahead, send the fitness police–I’ve got some Zumba moves that will daze and confuse them.

Really, how many of you have a doctor who gives you more than 5 minutes to discuss the situation de jour? Once you’ve chatted about that weird mole on your back or the fact that your right kidney seems to be asleep, you’re supposed to yell at the M.D.’s quickly disappearing backside, “Do you think I can safely do the Bollywood Bootylicious Bounce for Beginners?”

Unless your doctor happens to also be a fitness enthusiast, chances are he or she knows less about exercise than your pet groomer, hairdresser, or plumber. In fact, I’m fairly certain you can better fitness advice from a 12-year-old nerdy boy who never leaves his mom’s basement. At least he knows how to play Wii tennis.

I was once married to an overweight man who went to the doctor a lot with issues that were all clearly related to being overweight (bad back, bad knees, high blood pressure especially when weighing himself, permanent impression in the mattress because he never left bed except under threat of no food or sex). I regularly accompanied my ex on medical appointments because he tended to have anger issues (yes, he was a peach; thanks for that). Not once in five years of visits to multiple practitioners did any of them say, “Just get off your fat ass and get some damn exercise!” Which made me look like a bad guy when I said it.

Most doctors learn everything they know about exercise from watching Dr. Oz and The Biggest Loser. This does not make them an expert in the field any more than my watching Private Practice means I am qualified to deliver a breach baby or sleep with everyone in the office.

I understand that exercise video people are just trying to cover their Spandex behinds in case you keel over and die while kick-boxing in your living room. I think we’d all be safer if they changed their warning to: “Consult yourself before beginning a new exercise program. And remember: we have lawyers on retainer.”

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Bad Boys and Sugar

I love sugar. Cookies, cake, candy, hot fudge sauce, whipped cream… hell, I’d suck a hummingbird feeder dry if it were my only sweet option. But I’ve come to the realization that all that sugary goodness is taking its toll on me. The sad fact is that sugar and I must break up.

Most women know what it’s like to be attracted to a bad boy — despite your brain screaming, “He’ll break your heart and probably roll you down a mountain in his Jeep,” other parts of you smile knowingly and think, “Oh, but the ride will soooo be worth it!” Even when you’re hanging by your seat belt, upside down and teetering over a cliff, that bad boy will still weave his magic spell over you.

Sugar is just like that.

I’ve read all the articles about how sugar causes… well, every disease known to man and probably a few we haven’t yet discovered. I know from personal experience last month that inhaling four gingerbread men, three rum balls, two caramel turtles, and a pecan pie while standing next to a pear tree can make me feel more bloated than a PMSing gray whale.

And yet, I want more.

I tried swearing off sugar completely, thinking that as with any bad boy, the best technique is to break up and never look back. But three days later, I called sugar up late at night. “Maybe I was too hasty,” I said breathlessly. “One more roll in the, uh, pantry couldn’t hurt, right?” I oozed chocolate from my pores on that walk of shame.

Now I’m trying a new approach, cutting way back on my addiction, but not going cold tofurkey (, I’m a vegetarian, so cold turkey means nothing.) I’m choosing foods with the lowest sugar counts I can find and focusing on those that come from honey and other more nutritious sources. It’s like making a list of bad boy characteristics (rides of motorcycle, plays with fire, heckles comedians, steals from constructions sites, is rude to waiters) and choosing those I’m willing to live with (rides motorcycle). I’m also chewing things more slowly so I can taste what little sugar there is in everything. Who knew almonds were sweet?

Whenever the cravings are so severe, I start crawling the walls and feel I’m going to be led into temptation, I eat a banana while watching Die Hard. It gets all of my bad habits out of my system at the same time.

Yes, Menopausal Women Can Run the Country, Dammit

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I got the opportunity to be part of a Huffington Post Live chat on menopause last week. (You can watch it here http://huff.lv/WiP0bQ; watch until the end or you’ll want to curl into the fetal position and whimper). Near the end of the show, someone tweeted asking whether, given the hot flashes, mood swings, and memory loss issues, menopausal women should be prevented from running for office. I’m fairly certain that someone was a non-uteral-American.

I didn’t get a chance to punch this individual personally, so I thought I’d blog about it instead.

Yes, women have hormones. We have then when we’re teenagers, when we’re in our childbearing years, during menopause, and beyond. And yes, our hormones influence our behavior and thinking. What woman can say she hasn’t eaten an entire bag of Snickers Bars while PMSing or bought a dress two sizes too small because it was on sale and she was ovulating?

Guys love to harp on women’s hormonal issues. According to a 2005 survey of men’s attitudes about PMS, 40% said that women with PMS “emit a negative force,” (“Come to the dark side, Luke, where you will learn how to operate a vacuum cleaner or I will cut off your manhood with my estrogen-powered light sword!”). 

But let’s talk about men’s hormones, why don’t we? Even though men’s bodies produce just smidges of estrogen and progesterone, their testosterone level is, on average, ten times what women’s is. Giddy-up! A man’s testosterone rises when he drinks alcohol, sees an action movie, plays video games, or plays or watches sports. There’s even a hormonal reason guys get depressed when their favorite sports team loses – their testosterone can fall by as much as 20% as a result (or spike by 20% if the team wins).

While estrogen is the hormone of nurturing and helping others, testosterone is all about competitiveness, aggression, and taking risks for the sake of proving one’s manhood. Testosterone causes men to start fights, start wars, and start affairs. Quick, name three hot-flashing, mood-swinging, memory-losing menopausal women who have declared war in a fit of hormones… I’ll wait… Yeah, that’s what I thought.

So if we’re going to start hormone-testing anyone before allowing him or her to run for government office, a test for overly high testosterone should be our priority. After all, who do you want with their finger on the red button, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Oprah Winfrey?

 

New Year’s Resolutions for Women over 50

  • Remember: it’s 2013, not 1983.
  • Love that little poochy tummy of yours that wasn’t there 10 years ago. It’s a great place for the dog or cat to snuggle.
  • Buy an expensive pair of reading glasses to help motivate you not to lose every pair you own.
  • Stop shopping in Forever 21.
  • Quit whining about weird stuff that aches. Whatever it is will go away in a few days and you’ll just have to move on to the next thing.
  • Go ahead and draw on some eyebrows, just don’t make them so arched you perpetually look like you’ve just seen a ghost or George Clooney naked.
  • You don’t have to pretend to be a fan of Justin Bieber or One Direction. In fact, it’s kind of creepy if you are.
  • Skip the anti-aging cream and smear on some peanut butter. It’s very moisturizing and when you go outside, squirrels will swarm your face and no one will able to see your laugh lines.
  • Admit that wearing high heels makes you angry and go buy a pair of comfortable clogs. Your feet (and your calves, thighs, hips and back) have earned the right to enjoy themselves every day.
  • Update your professional headshots so you don’t have to try so hard to look like your photo.
  • Quit saying, “Back when I was young, when dinosaurs were roaming the earth…” There are enough people who are confused about science.
  • Stop volunteering for stuff you don’t have time for. Just because you’re a) over 50, b) a grandmother, c) semi-retired, d) a woman doesn’t mean the words, “Yes, of course I will” always have to spring forth from your lips.
  • Take off the body shaper. If you wonder why you can’t remember stuff, it’s because you’re not getting any oxygen to your brain.
  • If you draw on lips every morning, be sure you color within the lines. If you can’t see well enough to do that, ask a kindergartner.
  • Don’t blame early onset Alzheimers every time you can’t remember something. If you do, the dementia fairy will find you.
  • Laugh more and harder. Don’t care if anyone thinks you’re crazy.