Sleeping With 6 Cats

4 Weird Ideas to Reduce Insomnia

 

If I could pick out the most annoying problem in menopause, insomnia would win the prize. In my younger years I slept eight hours every night, and woke up feeling rested and ready to face the day.

Now, I am lucky if I sleep five hours and I find myself yawning during the day and falling asleep at my desk. Since the medical establishment put a big thumbs down on HRT, I have had to play detective in my own life and I have come up with a few tips that I’d like to pass along.

Use Your Bed for Sleeping or Sex Only

It’s comfortable to kick your shoes off and lie down on the bed to read, talk or text on your phone. This isn’t the time to watch the move “Psycho” or your favorite TV show. This encourages alertness and you’ll wake up tired and cranky the next day.

Put Pets in Their Own Beds

I feel like an expert on this one, and I once had six cats in a one bedroom studio. Guess what? All six liked to be with us in bed and one cat in particular liked to hog the pillow on my side.

If this sounds like you, it won’t be easy to get pets to sleep in their own little space, but one nifty trick is to put catnip on their beds. Dogs like to chew on bones and that can keep them occupied for a short time. Keep reinforcing these methods and soon they will become a habit.

Set Aside Worry Time

It seems like there is never a shortage of things to worry about. The more you worry, the more you keep yourself awake.  It may be helpful to set aside some worry time before you go to sleep.

Take fifteen minutes and write down everything you’re worried about. Go down the list and think of how you can solve each one. You’ll feel less stressed just getting your worries written down, and a calm mind will help you fall asleep.

Don’t Nap

There have been so many times that I have eaten a big lunch and just wanted to do a swan dive on the bed, and sleep it off for an hour or two.  Don’t make that mistake. If you’re trying to get on a strict sleep schedule of going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, a nap will disrupt the whole process.

Don’t be afraid to consult your doctor about your sleep problems. You may need medication, or be referred for a sleep study.

Menopause Strikes Again

4 Easy Tips to Deal with Annoying Facial Hair

Boy, isn’t menopause fun? NOT!  I have three different shirts for hot flashes, and my back aches day and night. I have arthritis everywhere, and maintaining my weight is a constant battle.

Now I have noticed some stray hairs growing on my chin, and upper lips. It seems like I am constantly in front of the mirror plotting how I am going to get rid of them. At least I am not the only woman suffering.  According to the American Menopause Society, 15 percent of women who are 50 years old and above, experience these same annoying problems.

What causes hair growth on your face?  Once again, it is declining levels of estrogen and androgens during menopause. It seems like estrogen is linked to every menopause problem there is. Here are four easy tips to deal with annoying facial hair:

Tweezers

I use tweezers for my chin hairs. They are very effective and the pain involved is minimal. This method works best if you only have a small amount of hair to remove. You can buy tweezers at the store for about a dollar, but if you’re like me, you may need to tweeze on a daily basis.

Bleaching

Keep in mind that bleaching does not remove the hairs, but just makes them lighter. You can use an over-the-counter face and body cream bleach kit. It can bleach dark hairs to a light shade of blond, so they’re not as noticeable. If you’re a little squeamish, you may want to have it professionally done.

Laser

You’ll probably need a doctor’s referral to see a dermatologist. The laser damages the hair follicle, and slows down hair growth.  This treatment works better if you have dark hairs. Your insurance may consider laser treatments as cosmetic, and you may have to pay the bill out of pocket.

Prescription Cream

If you’ve tried other methods without success, you may want to ask your doctor for a prescription cream.  Vaniqua can slow the rate of hair growth, but it can take from four to eight weeks to notice improvements.

I hope these methods work for you, but you may find for your own peace of mind, that it is worth it to consult a professional, even if you have to pay the bill yourself.

How To Go From Frazzled to Fabulous

And Have Fun Doing It!

 

I’ve always been a heavy exerciser and I’m now in my early 60s and still walking 45 minutes a day. Exercising has helped to control my weight, kept my cholesterol in check, and given me energy to power through the day.

A few days ago I  was out of breath at about the 20-minute mark. What in the world was going on? Since I can’t afford to see the doctor for every litle thing that comes up,  it was up to me to identify the problem and correct it.

Thankfully it was an easy fix and I just needed to add more protein to my diet. If you’re feeling tired and out of sorts, here are five foods that can help you go from frazzled to fabulous:

Eggs

If you’re on a tight schedule, you may not have time to stand over a hot stove and scramble eggs or make omelets. For a quicker protein fix, I like to boil a few eggs, and when morning comes I grab a couple and can be on my way. One large egg has six grams of protein, so they are delicious and nutritious.

Chopped Nuts

My favorite breakfast food is a nice hot bowl of oatmeal but if you add brown sugar, and raisins it can taste too sweet. A fourth of a cup of peanuts has seven grams of protein and adds some delicious crunch.

Cottage Cheese

I like cottage cheese right from the carton, and if you buy the low-fat version, it’s a whopping 28 grams of protein per cup. Cottage cheese can be added to lasagna, spread on toast, or as a tasty addition to pancakes or waffles. Mix with fruit and you have a good-for-you dessert that won’t break the calorie bank.

Tuna

It’s fun to go out to lunch, but restaurants serve such large portions, that you often overeat. Tuna comes in a convenient pouch so you don’t have to worry about opening a can. Each pouch has 16 grams of protein and will fill you up so you’re not tempted to hit the vending machine later.

Peanut Butter

I would love to shake the hand of the person who first created peanut butter. Now there are convenient single-serving cups so you can carry it in your purse. It’s delicious as a dip for veggies, smeared on a banana, or as a spread for your favorite sandwich. As a bonus, it has about eight grams of protein.

Feel free to add your own special touch to these ideas. It’s fun to experiment with different combinations and textures.

4 Mistakes Women After 50 Make

Thankfully They're Easy to Fix!

Getting older doesn’t have to suck. You may get to retire, do some traveling, or volunteer with your favorite charity. Gone are the days when you had to rise at the crack of dawn, commute in heavy traffic, and get in a good mood by the time you hit your desk.

However, like everything else in life, getting older means you may have more wrinkles, and your hair is turning gray. It is frustrating when you are piling on the pounds even though you are still watching your diet and exercising.

You still want to look and feel your best, and by changing up a few things, you’ll feel better about yourself.

Here are four mistakes women make after 50:

Dieting

I’m not naturally thin and it seems I am constantly counting calories, and balancing things out when I eat something more fattening.  If you concentrate on just eating specific foods such as low-carb, it may work at first, but eventually you want more carbohydrates and you may end up heavier instead of thinner.

Small frequent meals of lean protein, whole grains, and dark leafy greens will help keep hunger away so you can lose those stubborn pounds. If you slip up and eat something sweet, don’t feel guilty, just get back on track.

Wearing Wrong Bra Size

I was surprised to hear that most women wear the wrong bra size. Your clothes fit and look better if you are wearing the right bra.  Department stores may offer free bra fittings a few times a year and there is an expert on hand to take proper measurements.

If you are wearing white or light-colored tops, buy bras that are close to your skin color.

Wearing Baggy Clothes

You don’t always feel like showing off your body when you’ve packed on extra weight, and dressing in baggy clothes makes you look even heavier. You want a garment that is not too tight, and defines your waist. If you need help achieving that look, consult a tailor who will take measurements and make sure you look your best.

Dying Hair One Color

No one seems to be a fan of gray hair, and you may want to do the 50-yard dash to your hair stylist for an immediate color job. It’s tempting to go with one solid color, which may end up looking too light or dark.  It can also make your face look older.

If you use highlights with your natural color, including the gray, it blends in better, or you can try mixed highlights.

Learn to embrace this time in your life, and go for your dream life.

 

 

The Joys of Turning 50

Time to Get a Colonoscopy

When I turned 50, my doctor urged me to get a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy allows your doctor to look inside your intestines with a flexible tube, as you lie on your side. If polyps are found, they can be cut out and tested to see if there is any sign of cancer.

Unfortunately, I googled “colonoscopy” and read horror stories of people who woke up during the colonoscopy screaming and trying to get off the table. Others still remembered the pain a year or so later.

So I procrastinated until I was 60. I gave myself a pep talk beforehand, and it was over before I knew it. Here are three ways to prepare for a colonoscopy in menopause:

Ask Questions

Once you schedule your colonoscopy a nurse usually calls and goes over your list of medications. If you take aspirin, you may be advised to discontinue taking it a week before the procedure. Essential meds can usually be taken with just a sip of water before you go in.

You’ll be placed on a clear liquid diet a day or two before your colonoscopy, so if you have questions, don’t be afraid to speak up.

Follow Prep Day Instructions

Of course you would rather be out for a fun date with your husband instead of chained to the toilet, but remember it is only for one night, and you’re being proactive about your health.

You drink a big bottle of solution to clean your insides out, and it doesn’t taste like a root beer float. You can use Crystal Lite to cover the nasty taste. It is a temptation to just drink half a bottle, but if you’re not clean enough on the inside, you’ll be doing a repeat performance.

Plan Something Fun

In spite of your best efforts, a colonoscopy is no walk in the park, so after it’s over, do something fun if you don’t have to return to work. Go out for lunch, have a picnic, or catch a movie. In my case, I prefer a large slice of cheesecake smothered in whipped cream.

If I was flexible enough to give myself a good kick in the rear I would – for waiting so long. I had three polyps removed that could have turned malignant. Colorectal cancer death rates increase with age, so it is well worth a few days of inconvenience to save your life.

 

Soak Arthritis Pain Away

Why You Should Buy a Walk-in Tub

 

As you age, the pain of arthritis can make the simplest things seem more difficult. For instance, climbing in and out of the bathtub. In your younger years you could step confidently over the edge of the tub, but now it gets harder, and there is a greater chance you will suffer a fall, or at the very least pull a muscle or two.

This is where a walk-in tub can change your life for the better. There is a low-step entry that allows you to walk in and the floors are made of non-skid materials so you won’t have to use a bath mat. If standing is hard for you, a shower seat can be attached to the side wall.

Tubs are deep enough to fully submerge your body, and you can add some bubble bath to the warm water and have a long soak. Your tired aching muscles will thank you. Once you’re finished, grab the safety bars to pull yourself into an upright position.

If taking a tub bath is not your thing, there is usually a faucet head that allows you to take a shower. If you’re lucky, a bidet will be included with the tub so you can clean those hard-to-reach places.

All of this comfort comes with a steep price and you’ll pay an average of $5,000 to $7000 including the tub. Don’t count on Medicare or Medi-Cal to pick up the tab, but do check with your private insurance to see if this is a covered expense. Ask your doctor to write a note that the walk-in tub is a medical necessity.

A walk-in tub will make your life a lot easier, but insurance providers don’t want to provide coverage because it is not something that’s essential, and other members of your family may also use the tub.

If your private insurer won’t pony up the funds, there are some other options you can try. The United States Department of Agriculture may have grants or low-interest loans available. You’ll have to meet income requirements, but if you don’t qualify, they can refer you to other resources.

A good organization to have in your corner is the National Home Modification Action Coalition Inc. They can help you find grants and loans, and there may be other modifications available.

Check with the AARP to see what grants and loans you might qualify for. If you’re a Veteran, check with the Veteran’s Administration.

4 Ways to Add Dark Leafy Greens to Your Diet

And Not Feel Like You're Just Eating Rabbit Food!

 

It’s important to keep up healthy eating habits in menopause. Eating the required number of fruit servings is easy to do, but including dark leafy greens in your diet is more challenging.

Dark leafy greens such as salad greens, kale, and spinach are excellent sources of Vitamin B, which your body needs to produce healthy red blood cells and you’ll feel more energetic.

There are many choices to choose from, and the trick is knowing how to prepare them so that it’s something you look forward to eating. Here are four delicious ways to prepare dark leafy greens:

Soups

Soups are one of those foods that allows you to stir in any vegetables you have on hand. A handful of spinach can be added to the soup during the last five minutes of cooking. If you’re making a cream soup, like potato, blend in some de-stemmed kale leaves.

Wraps

Spread your favorite tortillas with protein such as chicken or turkey, and pile on the romaine lettuce, spinach, or arugula. I like the spinach tortillas, but use the kind you like or experiment with a new flavor.

Kale Chips

Kale is rich in Vitamins A, C, and K. Kale chips can be purchased at a health food store, but you may want to try making them at home. This easy recipe only calls for three ingredients and then bakes in the oven.

If you want to experiment, blend in some herbs or spices. For extra crunchy chips, try adding sunflower seeds or cashews.

Omelet

The sky is the limit when it comes to making an omelet, and it’s also the perfect opportunity to sneak in some vegetables. This tasty omelet calls for a pound of leafy greens including collard greens, mustard greens, and beet greens.

How do you use dark leafy greens in your diet?

Why You Should Use Prescription Toothpaste

It Costs An Arm and A Leg, But Your Dentist Will Be Happy!

 

I just finished the second part of my root canal and am feeling intense pain in my wallet.  Just to jog your memory in case you missed my last rant, I had a root canal on one of my molars and a temporary seal was applied.

After a few weeks I had a post put in to stabilize that area and now I am good to go until next year when my dental benefits start again. I usually need another root canal, or have an old decayed crown yanked out and a new one put in its place.

One thing that changed this year was that my dentist started me on prescription toothpaste with fluoride.  I thought it would be a lot better than swishing around the liquid fluoride that you get at the end of every cleaning that you feel like you want to spit out from the moment it hits your mouth.

You produce less saliva in menopause and the resulting dry mouth can lead to more cavities. Bone loss also increases your risk for cavities. In some cases, your roots can be showing and your teeth look a lot longer. All of these things make prescription toothpaste a no-brainer.

Prescription fluoride toothpaste is absorbed into the roots and enamel and makes your teeth stronger. When your brush your teeth, use your regular toothpaste, but switch to the prescription toothpaste when you brush before bedtime.

You’ve probably heard that most dentists say to brush for at least two minutes and preferably three if you can stand it.  You only need a thin line of toothpaste and it’s better if you use an electric toothbrush. I stand in front of the clock and hum the happy birthday song.  It seems like an eternity waiting for two minutes to go by, but when the time is up, I make a mad dash for the bathroom to rinse it all out.

According to the American Dental Association, you should change the head of your toothbrush every three to four months, and sooner if the bristles are frayed. Don’t forget to floss because toothpaste doesn’t always clean those hard-to-get-to places.

Check with your insurance plan to see if this is a covered benefit. Mine would not pay, and I ended up spending $25 for a four-ounce tube. It sucks that you have to pay that much, and you would rather spend the money on yourself, but think of it as an investment in your dental future.

The Great Cholesterol Debate

How Many Eggs Can You Safely Eat in a Week?

 

It’s challenging enough to cope with menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, weight gain, and high blood pressure, without having to worry about high cholesterol levels. This is meant to be an enjoyable time in your life, and that includes eating your favorite foods.

If you go to a breakfast buffet, you’ll see a long line at the omelet station. Most people wouldn’t even think of eating breakfast without eggs, and a made-to-order omelet with all the meat and cheese you want is an egg lovers dream.

There has been a debate in the medical community for years over how many eggs you can eat without raising your cholesterol levels. Now, there is good news for egg lovers. According to a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it’s safe to eat twelve eggs a week. The trick is to find healthier ways to prepare eggs, so you don’t have to feel deprived.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one large egg has about 180mg cholesterol and it’s all in the yolk.  I like hardboiled eggs, which are high in potassium, zinc, iron, vitamin E, and folate. At only 80 calories, I can have a nutritious breakfast or snack without breaking the calorie bank.

Poached eggs are easy to prepare. Add a splash of vinegar to a pan of simmering water, tip in the egg, and leave for three minutes. Drain with a slotted spoon and you’re ready to chow down.

Eggs are not usually prepared as a stand-alone dish, and are often accompanied by bacon, sausage, ham, or hash browns, and the saturated fat or oil you’re using to prepare these side dishes can increase your risk of a heart attack.

If you like a more substantial breakfast, take a whole-grain tortilla, and stuff it with scrambled eggs, lean turkey sausage, and diced tomato. You can bake low-fat eggs in a bread bowl for a special weekend breakfast or brunch.

Stay away from high-calorie toppings such as sour cream or cheese. Invest in a non-stick skillet so you don’t have to use oil when you fry your eggs. You can top eggs with salsa, or use herbs such as parsley, tarragon, or chives.

Prepare a whole-grain cereal to go with your eggs so you cover all the nutritional bases, or if you want to serve eggs for dinner pair with your favorite vegetables.

 

 

Comfort Foods You’ll Go Nuts Over

You Won't Even Have to Buy a New Wardrobe!

I have to admit that I am a foodie and comfort foods are high on my favorites list.  Extra crispy fried chicken, pizza, meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, I could gain weight just thinking about them. If I knew I wouldn’t put on ten pounds, I would probably cook them every week.

If you’re like me, you want to be healthy in menopause, but you don’t want to miss out on your old favorite foods. The trick is to learn to cook the same foods with a healthy twist, and you can maintain your shape and still be satisfied.

Here are five healthier versions of your favorite comfort foods:

Meatloaf

My family had meatloaf every week growing up, and I always looked forward to a big slice drowned in catsup.

The traditional meatloaf recipes are usually made with ground beef or pork, and that is an awful lot of fat and sodium. Lighten things up by substituting ground turkey and you’ll lose half the fat but none of the taste.

Fried Chicken

Who can resist an extra crispy piece or two of fried chicken? I have to admit our family often made the short drive to KFC and bought a barrel of chicken and a few sides.

Try this tasty recipe that browns on the stove, then finishes in the oven. Flour and cornmeal make the chicken crunchy so you won’t feel deprived.  Each piece is only 2.5 grams of saturated fat.

Lasagna

Lasagna is easy to put together and my version starts with uncooked noodles. Unfortunately, the other layers of ground beef, sour cream and cottage cheese pack a big fat wallop. I never forgot to add a pretty good-sized package of mozzarella cheese to make the final fat count go sky-high.

A lighter version of lasagna features store-bought pesto, and whole-wheat lasagna noodles. Skim milk mozzarella and ricotta cheeses give you that tasty cheese bite, but not all the fat and calories.

Yummy Brownies

Of course you have to have dessert, at least according to my mom, who served dessert every night. Brownies are one of my favorites, and the more chocolate the better. I guess I have to be a killjoy and say that most brownies have too much sugar, fat, and calories. I am still waiting for new research that says brownies will prolong your life.

I found an unusual brownie recipe that calls for spinach, black beans, and applesauce. There is still an abundance of chocolate and even some pecans to give them some crunch.

Give these recipes a try and see if they fit into your healthy lifestyle.