40+ and Fabulous Moving Foward, Fierce, Focused and Full of Life by Sondra Wright

Moving forward fierce, focused and full of life!

40+ and Fabulous Moving Foward, Fierce, Focused and Full of Life by Sondra Wright - Moving forward fierce, focused and full of life!

NC Woman Says Birth Control Blood Clot Related Health Threat is Real: Warns Women to Take Precautions

A. BriggsA real and dangerous risk to women’s health is the life threatening blood clots that can form as a result of taking birth control pills. My sister, Angela Briggs of Durham, NC survived a recent, eye-opening scare that she has decided not to remain silent about.

On January 5th I was experiencing a terrible pain in my calf that just would not go away. Constantly massaging what I believed to be a pulled muscle, I finally heeded the encouragement of a friend and went to the ER. They sent me home, unable to find any reason for the pain.

Eleven days later I was jolted out of bed at 2am with a crushing pain in my chest. The pain was so intense, it rendered me immobile for the next several hours. By late morning it had eased and I pressed my way to work. But shortly after it returned; a stabbing pain in my chest that intensified with each breath, accompanied by additional pain in my right shoulder and arm.

I’m a pretty strong person but this was undoubtedly getting the best of me so, I left work and proceeded to the nearest Urgent Care. Although the results of the EKG they conducted were normal, they suggested I head directly to the emergency room for additional testing.

At the emergency room a second EKG was performed, which was also normal, so the attending physician decided to test my blood work for clots. About 45 minutes later he returned to explain that my levels were not in the normal range (≤ 0.50 mcg/mL ), but expressed he believed there was no real concern. He ordered a CT scan “just as a precaution,” and said afterwards I’d be on my way home.

Well, the results of the CT scan came back, and I was NOT on my way home. I was admitted into the hospital after discovering that SIX blood clots had traveled to my right lung. The ER physician said in my condition ‘people don’t make it to the hospital.’ Thank God I’m not ‘people‘. Not only had I made it, but I had survived the excruciating 7-hour wait in the ER that day!

The following evening I was discharged home to give myself shots twice a day, followed by a three month course of Coumadin® therapy (oral blood thinners or anti-clotting medication), and was immediately taken off of birth control pills.

Now, for those of you who may read this and think, “surely she had some additional factors at play for clots to form,” let me address that by saying I am very active, exercise regularly, am not obese nor have I ever smoked. I have no family history of blood clots, do not have a single varicose vein, and am neither pregnant nor going through menopause. My ONLY risk factor, was that I was on birth control pills.

There are a lot of articles on the internet that lull women into a false sense of security by downplaying your odds of getting a blood clot from birth control pill use, “Your chance of dying from a blood clot related to your contraceptive is about one in a million.” “The chance you’ll get a blood clot is well below one percent.” “Most women taking estrogen don’t get clots.” And then my personal favorite, “The benefits of birth control pills far outweigh the risk of developing a clot.” Really? Ask any woman whose life has been dramatically changed by a blood clot if it were worth the risk. Ask any parent who has buried a daughter who died of a blood clot after taking birth control pills, if it were worth the risk!

It was not my intention to share my experience publicly, but it’s too important that my sisters get this… Birth Control Pills DO PUT YOU AT RISK FOR BLOOD CLOTS.

Please ladies, if you’re on the pill, do not ignore ANY pain you experience in your body. Get checked IMMEDIATELY! And even if your physician diagnoses you with something else, insist on getting your blood checked for clots

 

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Safety and Self-Defense: A Woman’s Right to Fight

7-17We hear more and more stories everyday about women being attacked; almost 2.5 million women are victimized in personal crimes each year, and very recently the World Health Organization has described violence against women as reaching ‘epidemic proportions.’ This widespread problem certainly does not mean we should live in fear, but it does mean that women can not afford to be reactive about their personal safety and protection. Statistically, a woman’s odds of surviving an attack are much greater if she fights back but women often lack confidence about fighting because they haven’t been professionally trained. It’s important for women to know that we have the basic human right to be safe, and that you CAN and SHOULD defend yourself. The good news is, you don’t have to master complex techniques or have years of martial arts training to be able to do that. Enrolling in a good women’s self-defense program can build your confidence and give you the assurance to know – that YOU ARE ABLE to do a number of things if attacked.

Your Best Protection

When most women hear the term self-defense they automatically think of learning how to land a solid kick to the groin. While learning some basic kicks and strikes is a component of self-defense, it’s not the most important. The first and most important component of self-defense begins long before there is ever any physical contact; it’ awareness. We know the bad guys are out there studying women and choosing their victims. But, they also want it to be easy. They’d prefer not to have too  much of a challenge, so they are looking for telltale signs of weakness and are much more likely to choose a woman who appears unaware of what is going on around her, than a woman who appears confident and alert. So just knowing who and what is around you at all times, is one of the best ways to protect yourself and avoid physical contact altogether.

Everyday Weapons

It’s important to stress that if faced with an attacker your ultimate goal is not to win a fight; your ultimate goal is to get away to safety; to be the survivor.  So to that end, I want to stress running, as one of the best self-defense techniques out there. Having some non-lethal self-defense weapons on hand like pepper spray, is always a good idea. But women were born with some natural, innate defense mechanisms that we’ve been socialized, as good little girls, not to use.  And yes in polite civilization we wouldn’t dare bite, scratch, or poke someone in the eye. But I submit to you that there is nothing polite or civil when it comes to being attacked or defending yourself. So biting, scratching, a poke in the eye, everything goes when it comes to protecting yourself and your family. Plus, these are all techniques that can catch an attacker off guard, perhaps momentarily throw him off guard and present you with an opportunity to escape to safety.

Tips For College Women

Students will soon be heading back to school and violence against women on college campuses – this is a huge concern. Research suggests 1 in 4 college women today, that’s 25%, have been victim of rape or sexual assault. Because these attacks are so grossly underreported, we can be pretty sure the actual numbers are even higher than that.  So I encourage young women to establish some non-negotiable ground rules for your personal safety and protection:

  1. Avoid walking on campus alone at night. Becoming comfortable with your campus surroundings can give you a false sense of security. Walking alone at night from the from the library, work, class or the gym only increase your chances of being the target of an attack.
  2. Understand that awareness is your best defense so you must be alert and observant at all times. This means no dual ear buds in your ears; it is imperative you are able to hear what’s going on around you, and no texting while walking; your head and eyes should be up and scanning the environment.
  3. Remember to walk with confidence. You want to exude an air that says to anyone who may ne watching, that you would be extremely difficult to get.
  4. Always trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s NOT right, so get the heck out of there!!

Practicing simple habits such as these can greatly reduce your chances of being the target of an attack.  And please ladies, report any incidence of violence that you see or experience to your campus safety immediately.

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Beware of the Human Hearing Aid Trap

Hearing LossThousands of us know someone in this situation; their hearing is clearly declining, you suggest they may want to look into a hearing aid, and they flat out refuse. In the meantime, they’re becoming increasingly dependent on you to fill in the hearing gaps, which makes you something of a human hearing aid.

It started a few years ago. We were at the theatre watching The Blindside, and he leaned over and asked, “What did she say?”

Me:  “I don’t want to name names, but one of the coaches took him to a titty bar and it gave him nightmares.”

He:  “Oh. Okay. Wait!! What did she just say?”

Me:  “I’m not sure honey. I missed it when I telling you what she said in the last scene.”

I missed half of The Blind Side, and half of just about every movie since then, telling him what was said in the other half.

Added to that is the ever increasing TV volume, the times he mistakenly thinks I have not responded to him, and the occasional inquiry out of nowhere, that goes a little something like this…

He:  “Huh?!” He calls out unexpectedly.

Me:  “Huh what?” I respond patiently… and admittedly, sometimes amused.

He:  “Oh, I thought you said something.”

Me:  “No sweetheart, I didn’t say anything.”

It’s frustrating, but even more so is his resistance at the slightest mention of a hearing aid. I try my best to reassure him that hearing devices are not the obtrusive devices that his father wore. Many today can go completely undetected. But that makes no difference to him. He completely rejects the idea and, as it turns out, he is not alone. According to a study by John Hopkins University, only one in seven, of the 26.7 million Americans affected by hearing loss, actually uses a hearing aid.

Listen, I more than most people completely get the stereotypes associated with aging and the implication that a hearing aid would somehow mean decline and weakness. But what’s more aging than denial and resistance to change? The reality is, we are aging and it’s perfectly acceptable to do so. In the process, we are to do all that we can to help ourselves; be proactive and prevent what we can, and make adjustments where we must.

This is my plea, for all who need to do so, to get your hearing checked. Not to do so, is to cheat yourself out of your best quality of life; to be able to be fully engaged in everything that goes on around you, get the most out of your activities, and maintain valuable relationships with friends and family.

Chances are, you or someone you know (whether they know it or not) will be affected by some hearing loss. Don’t knock a hearing aid being your solution, until you’ve given it a try.

 

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Women Over 40 Can Achieve Best Physical Shape

HS_Mumford2When I met Diane Mumford, I was surprised to learn that 20 years ago, when she turned 40, she was 40 lbs., heavier, five dress sizes larger, with a lot less tone and muscle mass, than her body of today.

According to Diane, as a woman in her twenties, the 122 lb. frame she sported, even after giving birth to two children, came easily and effortlessly.

But once she hit the 30 mark, her weight began to climb. And in just 10 years, Diane gained 40 pounds, or, as she points out, “an average weight gain of 4 pounds per year, or approximately 1/4 pound per month!!”

Scared, concerned, and even a little depressed about her size and body image, Diane began a regimen on her 40th birthday of crash dieting, over exercising and eventual burnout!

Seeing her efforts yield no results was frustrating, but it was also the catalyst that led Diane to join a gym and begin working with a trainer. The rest, she says…is “history!”

Because of the success she found, working with a trainer, Diane herself became a personal trainer 16 years ago. “I wanted to make sure that women over 40 heard my message; that they can improve over the years by doing a little a lot — not a lot a little!”

Throughout her 40’s and 50’s Diane competed in bodybuilding and figure contests as a hobby. That hobby would earn her titles in the 2005 and 2009 North Carolina Bodybuilding Championship. This summer Dianne will turn 60 and is not only confident that she can maintain her own health and fitness in the years to come, but can set other women on the path to do the same.

Diane says one of the most important things she has learned and can share is there is no magic or luck involved in getting and staying in shape! She offers these following tips for helping you find yourself in your best shape after 40.

1. Lift weights. Use exercise bands or your own bodyweight to create resistance exercises consistently, twice a week — every week.

WHY? Muscle burns more calories than fat.

2. Movement. Walk, bike, run 20-30 minutes every day.

WHY? A strong heart is a strong healthy muscle.

3. Eat as clean as you can, when you can, and often, rather than crash diet once in a while. A clean eating lifestyle is really the foundation for reaching your fitness goals. This means choosing foods (e.g., fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains) that feed your body efficiently.

WHY? Fat feeds fat. Protein feeds muscle. Carbs are an energy source.

4. Just like a baby your adult body needs food, exercise and rest on a regular basis.

WHY? Your body responds to consistent routines both in exercise and eating habits.

 Myths:

  • Age makes you fat
  • Hormones make you fat
  • Gender makes you fat
  • Stress makes you fat
  • Lack of sleep makes you fat
  • Medication makes you fat

The above list contributes to being fat but is not entirely responsible for directly causing you to be fat.

Reality:

Your number enemy in your war against FAT is FOOD! Eating too much food and/or eating the wrong foods leads to obesity and poor health.

Diane says more than fancy equipment and expensive memberships, a woman needs some strength training combined with cardio, clean eating, and consistency, to achieve and maintain the best physical shape of her life!

 

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Go Smart for the Cure – Get Heart Smart for Heart Health Month

It was during a recent episode of The Dr. Oz Show  that I declared 2013 as the year I resolve to take better care of my heart. My first step on that journey is to better educate myself on heart disease; its risk factors and the steps I can take to lower my risks.

Eight million women in the U. S. are living with heart disease, and nine out of every 10 of us have at least one risk factor. Heart disease is one of those “silent killers” claiming the lives of more women each year than all the forms of cancers combined.

Our busy lives as moms, wives, bread winners, and caregivers can often mean putting our own health on the backburner. Who has time to investigate a tiny ache or pain when our children and families need us to look after their aches and pains? So for women, getting to the doctor can just take a little longer. This is not a good or admirable thing ladies.

Some of the major causes of heart disease appear to be things we can actually prevent. They include stress, which means we need to occasionally slow down, smell the roses, relax, meditate, go to bed early, sleep late, or other methods of self-care. And then there’s high blood pressure and high cholesterol that we can help prevent simply by some of the food choices we make. These days I’m dedicating more space on my plate to fruits and vegetable along with lean protein, like soybeans and chicken breast, and fish. I love Salmon.

And then there’s getting a little exercise in. I’m not big on gyms. I prefer things I can do in the comfort of my own home, preferably using my own body weight or equipment that doesn’t take up much space. My husband bought me a Cardio Mini Cycle which I love. It’s small and portable. I can move it and cycle at my desk while I work or in a chair when I watch the news. Because I’m like most women, who seem not to have enough hours in a day, I’m attracted to the 10 Minute Trainer by Tony Horton. I haven’t tried it yet, so I have no feedback at this time but, I will definitely keep you posted.

February is Heart Health Month. Take this opportunity to learn about a preventable disease that needlessly claims the lives of one out of every three women. Too few of us, only about one-third, have any clue of breadth of this deadly killer. Listen to your bodies, know your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, and get the facts. Together, we can give heart disease a TKO.

 

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For Women Over 40: 6 Simple Tips to Honor National Women’s Health & Fitness Day

On the last Wednesday in September we recognize and celebrate National Women’s Health & Fitness Day. This is a day that we want to educate women of all ages about the importance of being proactive about your health. And if you’re a woman over 40, we especially want you to know that it’s not too late for you to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Prevention is better than cure and maintaining good health today can help minimize your chances of developing chronic conditions later on. Maintaining your health also has much to do with your ability to live independently in later life. In honor of National Women’s Health & Fitness Day, I encourage you to explore the following lifestyle changes from AARP’s Decide.Create.Share™ to increase your chances of living the lifestyle you want, no matter what your stage of life.

Get Moving. Daily exercise is like Miracle-Gro for your brain and body. It can help prevent bone loss, diabetes and heart disease; fight depression; and may even help keep your brain fit. There’s no reason why you can’t at least take a brisk 20-minute walk around the block once a day.

Create a Personal Medical History. Do you know the last time you had a tetanus shot? Can you name all the doctors you’ve seen in the past five years or all the conditions you’ve been treated for? A written health history can improve the health care you receive and help you stay well.

Learn Which Preventive Health Screenings Are Recommended at Age 50+. At what age do you need a colonoscopy? Is an annual pap smear really necessary? How often do you need cholesterol and blood pressure screenings?

Know the 8 Do’s and Don’ts of Medicare. 65th birthday on the horizon. Give yourself enough time to learn about Medicare. Get educated on the most important things you need to know.

Are Your Vaccines Up to Date? Most of us remember those painful pinches at the pediatrician’s office but vaccinations aren’t just for kids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 8 specific vaccines for every adult age 50 and older.

Ask the Tough Questions. Silence may be golden but never when it comes to your health. Talk to your pharmacist and never leave your doctor’s office without the answers you need.

Proactive health and fitness builds confidence and self-esteem. Let me encourage you to take action today to gain control of your body and the manageable aspects of your body’s health and well-being. Live long, live strong.

 

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Healthy Aging Means Continually Reinventing Yourself

When we hear healthy aging we immediately think of things like nutrition, eating well, exercise and routine medical exams. But, in combination with good habits in all those areas, we also need a healthy outlook, resilience, flexibility, and a willingness to reinvent one’s self over and over again.

Frequently I’ve had women say to me, “But I don’t know how to reinvent myself.” Ladies, it’s important we don’t let this word confuse us. Reinvent emerged on the scene as a popular buzz word about 2 years ago, around the summer of 2010. But the act of reinventing; to redesign, make better, start anew, is something we boomer women have done many times throughout our lifetime:

Once single and dating we reinvented ourselves into wives. Once childless, we reinvented ourselves into mothers and stepmothers. If a job ended or we were dissatisfied with it, we reinvented ourselves into a new career. And so it is, from changing careers, going through a divorce, grieving the loss of a loved one, there are countless numbers of ways in our lifetimes that we have reinvented ourselves; said goodbye to what was and made room for what will be.

Now that we’ve reached that sweet spot in the middle of life where our best years lie ahead, it’s not at all uncommon to find ourselves pondering the questions, “Who and I?” “Who do I want to be now?” and “What’s next for me?” And just as before, there are countless ways to reinvent a new you, and countless ways we must continue to reinvent to navigate aging successfully and with a greater sense of fulfillment. With some accumulated wisdom and experience under the belt tapping into undiscovered potential, starting a business, going back to school, or even taking a chance on a new romance can lead one on an exciting new adventure. So c’mon, you know how to do this, you’ve done it all before. Reinvention is nothing new. It is a never ending process. It’s simply waking up every day, in hot pursuit of your best you.

Resource: Do you have your living longer living better plan mapped out?  Women Planning for Long Term Care   is a group for smart Boomer women who are planning and making decisions about their futures, and those of their families. Topics include health, home and community, finances, and legal plans for your future lifestyle plans.

 

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Aging But Not Old: Rejecting the Stereotype

This story takes place on a recent doctor’s office visit with my parents. My dad retired about 3 years ago. A 45+ year career in the construction industry left him in pretty good physical shape but, since retirement we’ve watched his weight slowly creep up and attach itself to his stomach. Now recently he’s begun to complain of some minor back pain.

I attribute his weight gain to the fact that his primary post retirement activities consist of sitting, eating, and watching television all day. The back pain, well let’s just say the back has to work a little harder these days just to hold up the front. Since he apparently was not going to confess his inactive lifestyle to his primary care physician, I decided I would. And, as I had hoped, his doctor completely sided with me on the recommendation that my dad increase his physical activity beyond his several short walks each day, to and from the refrigerator.

Then out of nowhere, as if in complete retaliation to my having “told” on him, he blind-sided me with the unexpected. My dad, whom I’ve always respected as one of the most intelligent men I know, stood before me, mentally competent and physically able, and spoke these words, “Well doc, you know what they say, ‘Your children become your parents.’”

Like a scene from a horror movie, the blood drained from my face as his remark chilled me to the bone and made me shudder with disbelief. My own father, a physically and intellectually fit man, absent of any cognitive or physical impairments, with many, many years ahead of him had fallen victim to a set of expectations he had always heard about retirement; as being a time of slowing down, mental and physical decline, and increased dependency on others. Well I see right through you dad and I know exactly what is going on here.

How powerful are the expectations and beliefs we have about aging and growing older, that they would cause us to completely ignore our own realities and instead seek to fulfill a set of unfounded societal expectations. Despite the fact that my dad is, as they say, as healthy as a horse, he had chosen by way of his sedentary post retirement lifestyle, to force his mind and body into a state of early decline and become that frail, senile, clueless “old” guy he’s always seen portrayed on TV. Well, no horses are being put out to pasture today. Not on my watch.

Memo to dad from daughter; I refuse to encourage or tolerate dependence, helplessness, or unproductiveness in either you or mom, so get off your healthy, independent, self-sufficient rump and move it, move it, move it!! The day may come when I have to take on more of a caregiver role in your lives but that day is not today, mister. Until you are no longer able to, you will challenge the muscles in your mind, you will exercise the muscles in your body, and you will re-engage in the world so that society can benefit from your storehouse of accumulated knowledge, wisdom and yes…humor. Oh, and since you have appointed me the parent now… what I say, GOES!

What low expectations about aging have you or your loved ones internalized? In what ways are you ignoring your own realities to fulfill these negative stereotypes?

 

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A Floppy Summer Hat and Sunglasses: Not Just Fashionable but Rational

By now we’re all aware of the harm UV exposure does to our skin; UV-B rays tan and burn the skin and UV-A rays break down collagen and elastin and accelerate the aging process. What we hear much less about is the very serious damage exposure to this same radiation, or ultraviolet rays can do to our eyes.

We’re all born with a protective coating on the retina of our eyes, sclera or the “white of the eye” as it is known, that by the time we’re 40 has already started thinning, by the time we’re 50 has significantly diminished, and by age 60 is virtually nonexistent.

With the passage of time this natural thinning produces a yellowing of the eye, and that yellowing is further exasperated by exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun. Unfortunately, a little yellowing isn’t the only thing we have to worry about. Both blindness and cancer of the eye can occur as a result of too much damage by the sun’s rays.

Ladies, this makes a super important case for our investment in quality UV blocking sunglasses and an assortment of fabulous sun protection hats to shade our eyes and support good eye health. The cheap stuff may not bust your budget, but if it won’t give you the UV protection you need, you may as well flush the dollars down the toilet. Shop for sunblock hats that not only flatter, but protect your face; and make sure those designer sunglasses come with a UV coating. Now when your mate says “I can’t believe you spent that much on a pair of sunglasses!” or that voice in your head tries to chastise you for splurging on the more expensive hat, you can answer confidently and in earnest, “I need it, I deserve, I got it!”

Photo Credit: Physician Endorsed Retro Chic Sunglasses

 

 

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