Friday, May 29, 2015

Healthy Habits For Midlifers (This Diet Thing Sucks)

     I hate counting carbs and watching every calorie that goes into my mouth. I also hate getting my yearly physical---especially the weigh-in part. No, scratch that. The pap smear is worse. Nothing says "vulnerable" more than sitting in a freezing cold cubicle with nothing on but a paper wrapper that exposes my lady bits to the world. Once I hear the snap of the rubber gloves, I know the doctor is about to pry me open as if I was a tightly sealed clam. Thank goodness my doctor has butterflies taped to the ceiling to fool me into thinking I'm in a spring meadow rather than on a table with my feet in stirrups.

     If you've already hit middle age, then you know you need to be more mindful of your lifestyle. This means no more midnight runs to Taco Bell or downing Jager Bombs at 2:00am. Although Keith Richards has done a great job proving most of the health gurus' advice wrong, he is the exception. Sorry, but you're going to have to put down that bacon burger and reach for some fresh kale.

     The key to staying healthy and living longer is pretty simple. Eat
right, exercise, and see your doctor on a regular basis. If you take this advice, chances are you'll be around long enough to see astronauts land on Mars.


KEEP UP WITH YEARLY DOCTOR VISITS

    It's important that every midlifer visit their dermatologist, optometrist, dentist, gynecologist and nutologist (okay, I made that one up for the men) and, in 5-10 year increments, the proctologist. Yep, you need to have a camera shoved up your you-know-what to check for colon cancer and polyps. No worries---pretty soon they'll have a smart phone to do the colonoscopy for you.

     Ladies, be sure to keep up with your mammograms as well. Personally, I think men should be required to have nutograms, just to even the score….


EXERCISE REGULARLY 

     If you're as lazy as I am, this is a tough one. I can work up a sweat just trudging through shag carpet to get to the refrigerator. Get those Rollerblades out of the attic, dust off your spandex leggings and clean the rust out of your bicycle (but first, check for spider colonies in the spokes). If you own a Fitbit, wear it daily to see how many miles you've walked and the amount of calories you've burned. If the bracelet is still sitting in the box, then your Fitbit has turned into a Fatbit.


     It's no longer acceptable to sit through a Netflix marathon with one hand buried in a bowl of chips and the other wrapped around a soda can. You need to switch out the couch for a treadmill, and swap the chips and soda with a water bottle and a sweat rag. Don't be one of those people who makes a New Year's resolution to go to the gym religiously, and then when Easter hits, you quit. Cadbury Creme Eggs and Peeps are not an excuse to stop exercising.


EAT HEALTHY

     Remember those yummy chocolate milkshakes you used to suck down at the local burger joint? Fuggedaboutit. Your drink of choice now has a new name. It's called a "chia seed and kale smoothie." Just add a banana, some Greek yogurt and a touch of honey so that you won't feel like you're drinking something that came from the bottom of your husband's lawn mower bag.

     I'll bet you also remember when breakfast was FUN. Bacon, eggs, hash browns, donuts…..does that ring a bell? Sorry, but it's time to say sayonara to that heart attack on a plate and opt for egg whites scrambled with fresh spinach, a cup of fruit and a thin slice of whole wheat toast (hold the butter, please). Chicken and fish will become your best friends too, with steak being the one-night stand that haunts your dreams.

     You're going to need to ease up a little on the caffeine and wine, too. Well, maybe the caffeine isn't so bad if you don't mind hanging out with the owls. And wine? Heck, that's made from grapes….and grapes are fruit. Fruit is part of the food pyramid, so go ahead and fill up your glass.


     My advice for midlifers who want to stay healthy? Don't eat any corn before you go the proctologist.

     And keep your clam clean.




     


      

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Symptom Of Menopause Least Discussed

 
      Many of my blog posts focus on the symptoms that peri-menopausal and menopausal women face as they approach midlife, such as irregular periods, frequent mood swings, fatigue, hot flashes, weight gain and night sweats. But there's another symptom that occurs during this time in a woman's life that is seldom discussed: urinary tract infections (UTIs).

     Today I'm pleased to be taking part in the Uristat "Never on Pause" Education Campaign to share some important information on UTIs with my community of readers, and with anyone who may be a little shy about discussing this painful yet common type of infection.

     Did you know that one in three women will experience a urinary tract infection by the time they reach 25? And that 40-50% of the female population will experience the infection at some point in their lifetime? Contrary to the myth that UTIs only occur in women, 12% of the male population are also susceptible to UTIs. The infection begins in the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and the urethra. A UTI occurs once bacteria enters the urinary system through the urethra. There are several factors that contribute to the onset of a UTI:

*Sexual activity

*Certain birth control

*Pregnancy

*Menopause

*Urinary tract abnormalities

*Impaired immune system

*Catheterization

*Complications in the urinary tract

*Previous UTIs

*The female anatomy.



     UTIs are even more common among peri-menopausal and menopausal women due to a decrease in estrogen production, which makes a woman's urinary tract more susceptible to the "bad bacteria" that causes infections. 53% of women over the age of 55 experience recurring UTIs as well (on average, three infections during a twelve-month span). Please be aware that the symptoms often begin with the need to urinate frequently, and can be accompanied by a painful or burning sensation while urinating. The urine may be cloudy, bloody (pink or brown colored) and have a strong odor. Pelvic pain, pressure and cramping in the lower abdomen or back may also occur along with fever and chills.

     It's important that a woman who is experiencing these symptoms see her physician as soon as possible so that proper antibiotics can be prescribed. Although some UTIs may subside on their own, the infection can also spread to the kidneys and cause serious damage. But there is no need to suffer through the discomfort of a UTI while waiting for the doctor's appointment or for the antibiotic to kick in. The good news is that there is now an over-the-counter medicine that will help reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of the infection.  From the makers of MONISTAT comes URISTAT Pain Relief Tablets, which are specifically designed for fast, temporary relief of pain, burning and frequent urinating associated with a urinary tract infection. Each tablet contains phenazopyridine HCI, which is the #1 doctor recommended OTC ingredient for relief from UTI pain. URISTAT Pain Relief Tablets can be taken as soon as the the symptoms are detected, and while being treated with antibiotics.

     To determine whether or not a UTI is present before meeting with a physician, URISTAT has available a convenient Relief Pak that includes a test strip for detecting white blood cells and Nitrate in the urine, which can indicate the presence of a UTI. Each URISTAT Relief Pak comes with one test strip and twelve URISTAT Pain Relief Tablets.

     URISTAT products are available in many drugstores and online retailers across the country, including Walgreens, Walmart, Kmart, Rite Aid, Kinney Drugs and drugstore.com

     For more information about UTIs ad URISTAT, please is it www.uristat.com  and download a $1 off coupon by clicking  HERE.

***This is part one of two in my series on UTI education. My next post later in June will discuss the myths of UTIs and prevention measures, plus my personal story of discomfort while dealing with an annoying UTI.

***I received a free product and promotional consideration from the makers of URISTAT. Any comments I have made on the product are a reflection of my own views.  
   
















Friday, May 22, 2015

Fly On The Wall In A Cuckoo's Nest

   Welcome to the May edition of Fly On the Wall group postings, hosted by Karen of  Baking In A Tornado. Today, 15 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you'd see if you were a fly on the wall in their homes.

     As always, my husband and adult children are the source of my inspiration for these FOW posts----they never fail to supply me with an abundance of blog fodder. I try my best to keep that pesky fly on the wall entertained. Here are some snippets of conversation the fly heard this month:


"Couldn't you go for a Krispy Kreme donut right about now?"
"Stop it! You're activating my salivary glands!"

"I don't want to go to bed yet because I know I'll be up again soon to use the bathroom. My large intestine is only five feet long, but I just consumed eight feet of food. You do the math…"

"Your moral compass has gone askew."

"I may be over the hill, but at least I'm picking up speed."
"Keep pedaling, because I'm on the two-seater with you."

"It's hard for me to be nostalgic when I can't even remember what I ate for lunch yesterday."

"What are you doing tonight?"
"Oh, just pulling off my skin tags."

"No more spicy Keilbasa and beans for you. I think you've traumatized the toilet."
"Yeah, but at least I can finally put up a vacancy sign on my intestines."

"Why are you as grumpy as Mr. Snuffleupagus today?"
"Because you're annoying me and turning me into Mr. Pissmeoffupagus."

"Could you please stop singing in the car?"
"It's Katy Perry. I'm trying to cheer you up."
"I don't know anyone who would be cheerful if their ears started bleeding."

"My life is all about balance; just enough caffeine and just enough wine."


And that folks, is what it's like living in this cuckoo's nest that I call home. Please be sure to visit all the bloggers participating in today's FOW post!




   

Friday, May 15, 2015

Eight Things I Never Knew About Having Adult Children

     I remember the day I dropped my oldest child off for his first day of kindergarten. Once the teacher smiled politely, waved goodbye and shut the door, I rounded the corner and sobbed my eyes out. My baby boy was growing up too fast.

     Fast forward to his college years. It was deja vu all over again when my husband and I hugged him goodbye and drove away from the dormitory that was to be his new home. Once we were out of view, I curled up in the fetal position on the passenger side of the car and cried during the entire trip back home.

     I survived all those years my son was gone, and went through it again with my oldest daughter when she picked a school several hours from home. But I was prepared, and by the time she left for college, I was a seasoned veteran of parenting long-distance. Fortunately, my two younger children chose to stay local, which spared me another round of emotional goodbyes from the steps of a college dorm.

     Now that I have all four of my offspring living nearby, I've noticed not only a stronger bond between us, but a few subtle idiosyncrasies that no one warned me about once my baby chicks grew up and flew the coop. I was surprised to learn the following about my adult children:

* My kids still believe dear old Mom and Dad have only had sex four times in their life---once for each kid. There's something to be said about living in a state of denial.

* They expect us to babysit their pets whenever they go out of town. Good thing none of them own a six foot python, otherwise we'd have a problem.

* Even though they have washing machines down the hall in their apartment buildings, they prefer to haul an industrial size bag of dirty clothes to our house, especially if they're fresh out of quarters.

*They're convinced that we have gold bars buried in the backyard and that we cash them out from time to time to afford our monthly beer budget. The rest, they are certain, will be liquidated to fund our future retirement home on wheels.

* The first thing they do when they walk in our door is head straight for the refrigerator. We might as well hang a neon sign above it that says, FREE FOOD. Same goes for our supply of toilet paper and paper towels.

*They never keep a stash of envelopes or stamps, and will pass by the post office next to their home in favor of driving the extra five miles to our house to borrow one of each.

*Even though they know how to wash and wax a car, they still bribe their father to clean their vehicles with the promise of a bottle of Jameson whiskey.

*On the rare occasions that we get an invite to their apartments for dinner, we have yet to eat a meal off of anything other than paper plates. At least they use real silverware. Have you ever tried cutting a steak with a plastic knife and fork?



     The best part of having adult children is the friendship we share. The door is always open and the fridge is well stocked for their impromptu visits.

     Little do they know that we really ARE saving up for that retirement on wheels….and the day we leave, I'm taking all the toilet paper and paper towels with me.  




Friday, May 8, 2015

The Truth About Motherhood

     The dictionary defines a mother as "a female parent; one known for providing care and protection over someone else; a person who expresses maternal affection to others."

      My definition of a mother goes beyond the simple terms in the dictionary. Mothers are the key component in binding a family together with love, generosity, compassion and insight. Their fierce loyalty and support is unmatched. A mother encourages her children to fly by putting her own dreams aside and building a safe platform to help launch the dreams of her children.      

     When I was a grumpy teenager, I never gave a second thought to the sacrifices my mother made to keep our family running smoothly. I took for granted every ride to band practice, every home cooked meal, the new clothes in my closet and the clean sheets I slept on each night. I never considered how she spent her time, whether she was happy or not, or if her feelings had been hurt by something I might have done. I was too deep in the throes of teenage angst to notice that I wasn't sitting alone on that bumpy ride through adolescence and anxiety.

     None of it clicked until I had children of my own. Being a mother altered the lens I had previously viewed my life through, and I realized how skewed my perception of my own mother had been. It changed the way I thought about myself and my family, and taught me to look a little closer at the ideals that had been instilled in me since childhood. My role in the world had been redefined, and the only person to guide me through those times of uncertainty was my mother.

     Patient, kind, wise and unselfish, my mother is everything a mother should be. We have disagreed, laughed, cried, and held hands through moments of unimaginable loss, yet she is always there for me, that safe harbor with its blinking light to guide me home during a storm.

      I've learned my share of lessons over the years after raising four children. First and foremost, my mother really DID know what was best. But I've also learned that mothers are not perfect, and that we make mistakes just like everyone else. My standards may not always meet those of my children, and undoubtedly, they'll rebel when they feel they've been treated unfairly. What they don't realize yet is how much of my heart they own, and that unkind words and actions really do hurt, even though I may not always show it. Nothing swells my heart more than their love, and yet nothing has the power to wound me more than their stinging judgment and criticism when they're angry. Until they have children of their own, they cannot understand the level of profound and all-encompassing love that parenthood brings, as well as the difficult and often painful lessons that are learned along the way.

     As much as I regret the days when I ignored my mother to pursue my own interests, I feel doubly blessed now to be able to spend time with her. The veil of youthful self-indulgence has been lifted, and I see my mother for who she really is; a woman of faith, wisdom, strength, compassion and abundant love. She is, and always has been, my shelter, my proudest supporter, and the one person who has loved me unconditionally, no matter how many times I let her down. When people say that I remind them of her, I'm honored. Being compared to the woman I'm so proud to call my mother is the best compliment I could ever receive.

     I hope that one day my children will think of me in the same way, and no matter how many trials they may face in the future, that they'll always feel my love shining through them like a beacon in a storm.









Friday, May 1, 2015

The Fear Of Flying: Guest Post by Christine Collins Cacciatore


   Last year I connected with another blogger in a Facebook group who always made me laugh with her funny status updates and her responses to comments made in our mutual writer's group. We began chatting with each other through private messages, which is how I became better acquainted with today's guest blogger, Christine Collins Cacciatore.

     One evening while we were discussing our worst fears,  I mentioned that I am phobic about flying. Perhaps that's when Christine and I REALLY connected, because once I told her about my bad experiences while flying the not-so-friendly skies, she offered a far more harrowing tale of her own.

     After reading Christine's story on her humor blog, The Life and Times of Poopwa Foley, I begged her to let me share the post on my own blog. This is one of my favorite stories---- I feel her fear in the pit of my stomach every time I read it, yet I can't stop laughing by the way it is written. She turned a terrifying moment into one of humor, and that, folks, is a gift.

     Please welcome Christine to Meno Mama's site today with lots of comment love (but no free airline tickets, mmkay?).




It’s not that I’m scared to fly. I’m just worried the plane will crash while I’m on it.

It was just a thought I had when my husband, daughter, and I started our Florida vacation by flying from Milwaukee to Pensacola with a 2.5 hour layover in Hot-anta. That was bad enough. The fact that we had to drive from Rockford to the Milwaukee airport, park, shuttle to airport, board, deplane, layover, board, deplane, then rent a car and finish the drive to our destination was what made it a little more challenging. By challenging I mean we were tired, cranky, and hungry. We were barely recognizable by the time we got to Grayson Beach, Florida.

After just one spectacular, sunny day on the beach, however, we forgot all about the previous day’s travel difficulties. I forgot how much I hate to fly. After a week of the beach (our friend Captain Morgan was there!) the trip down seemed like a bad dream. A blurry fog. A mere memory!

Until the night before we have to leave, when we realize it’s our last sleep in this beautiful beach house and worse, that the very next day we have to repeat last week’s travel nightmare in order to get home. That’s ok, though, because the flights on the way down were lovely, floaty things. I almost wasn’t scared.

The next day, on the way back home, our second flight is the Atlanta to Milwaukee part. Despite pleading with the gate agent she can’t seat us all together, so my husband is back several rows. I usually break hold his hand while we fly. It’s 10:12 p.m. and I hope to sleep during the flight, but whee! There’s a lightning storm our pilot tries unsuccessfully to avoid and I feel like I’m in a bouncy house. My stomach is in knots. I shoot six drinks in succession but remain stone cold sober.

It was then for some odd reason it feels as if the pilot has hit the brakes. Hard. To say it is unsettling is an understatement, as I would hope there wouldn’t be any red lights or stop signs this high up. We lurch forward in our seats.

Daughter latches on to my arm and says, “Why does it feel like the plane’s slowing down?”

I tell her, “Oh, that’s normal.” She’s unconvinced and gives me the side eye. I curl my lips up in my best recollection of what a reassuring smile looks like but I’m afraid it’s more of a grimace.

After our plane endures another severe shaking, she says, “Are you sure that’s normal?”

I am in a cold sweat but still have the presence of mind to lie to my child. “Yes, of course.” It’s nowhere near normal, as far as I’m concerned. And I’m not sure why we slow down in midair either. I am convinced we’ve been hit by lightning and we’re going down. All I can think about is our drink cart hasn’t even come with the microscopic bags of pretzels and a meager cup of juice, so I’m going to die on an empty stomach…something I vowed I’d never do. I’m freaking out a little bit. Like, “there’s someone on the wing” freaking out.

However, I school my features into confident, soothing mom mode and tell her as long as the flight attendants aren’t worried, we don’t have to be worried either.

It was at that point the pilot makes an announcement over the crackling loudspeaker. “This is your captain speaking. The plane is going down. Please find your seats and buckle up because stuff just got real.”

My husband tells me later that what he actually said was, “Flight personnel, please find your seats because we’re about to encounter some turbulence.” However, between you and me, he never hears things right.

My daughter and I both watch, horrified, as the flight attendant hurtles past us, drink cart rattling, rushing to secure the cart and fasten her seat belt. This isn’t just turbulence. Our plane ride has turned into a hayrack ride on a country road of potholes.

I don’t even want to look at my daughter. I’ve let her down. I finally sneak a peek at her and—you know how horses look when they get scared? You only see the whites of their gigantic eyes, their sides are heaving, their nostrils flaring? Then you have a pretty clear picture of what my daughter’s face looked like at that moment. The Xanax she has washed down with rum does not seem to be helping.

But what an exciting ten minutes followed! I believe that if the Guinness Book of World Records had a category for speed-reciting the Lord’s Prayer, I’d be the record holder. Through the buzzing in my ears I heard someone swearing like a sailor then realize it’s me. My daughter’s fingernails leave gouges in my arm.

Finally, the plane stops rattling. She releases her death grip and pretends to read a book. I am faking sleep and watch her turn pages with shaky hands.

My nerve endings are completely shot.

At last we land safely. I have obviously kept the plane up in the air single handedly with my prayers, although the ungrateful rabble we flew with doesn’t realize it. They are rushing the door to leave like there’s a Black Friday sale on TVs at Walmart and not waiting their turn so that I, their champion plane-keeper-upper, might depart the plane. I am petulant and crabby, naturally. If Bruce Willis had saved their plane, they’d be letting him off first.



Finally, after what feels like forever, my exhausted family is able to get off the plane, collect our luggage and we’re on our way back home. None of us are looking forward to the two hour drive home but we are on the ground and quite frankly, right now there’s nowhere I’d rather be.




***WANT MORE MENO MAMA? This week I was featured on Midlife Boulevard with my post, "The Suburbia of My Childhood." You can read it here: http://midlifeboulevard.com/suburbia-childhood-baby-boomer/




BIO:

Christine Cacciatore is a multi-published author, having four humor stories in four different Not Your Mother’s Book anthologies. She enjoys co-writing romance novels with her sister, Jennifer Starkman; together they have published Baylyn, Bewitched and Cat, Charmed, with the third book Elise, Evermore coming out this winter.


Chris is a three-year board member of the In Print Professional Writer’s Group in Rockford, IL and a proud three year member of the Prompt Club, to which she’s always late. Chris is married to a devastatingly handsome man she met on eHarmony and has three children, a gigantic black dog, and the cutest granddaughter in the world.




Thursday, April 23, 2015

Fifteen Things No Parent Should Have to Say To Their Teen Son

     Last month I wrote about the fifteen things no parent should have to say to their teen daughter (you can read it HERE). So what about the boys? I've raised two sons, as well as daughters, and it seems that in every stage of my boys' lives, from the moment they stood unassisted to when they took their first step, there was a battery of things I NEVER imagined I would have to say to my little male bundles of joy. When they were young, it was the simple stuff like, "I know it looks like a Tootsie Roll but you can't play with the cat's poop"…..."Stop eating dirt---it's not part of the food pyramid"…... "No, that humming wand you found hidden in the back of Mommy's drawer can NOT be used as lightsaber while playing Star Wars."

     Raising boys is a whole different ballgame, and their teen years are known to reduce even the toughest of parents down to a puddle of anxiety and insecurities. Please know that if you have uttered one or more of the following statements to your teenage son, you're not alone:



*You're gonna need a chain saw to cut those toenails.

*If you keep 'borrowing' gas money from me, I'm trading in your car for a Vespa.

*Just because you have laser lights and a stereo system the size of a Winnebago in your room, it doesn't mean that you're allowed to host a rave every weekend. Our house withstood several hurricanes, but I'm not sure it'll last through the rumblings of your bass.

*Please chew with your mouth closed. I don't need to see how fast your molars can masticate a steak.

*Did you wipe?

*You're going to have arthritis in your fingers by the time you're twenty-five from using your cell phone 24/7.

*I don't care how pretty she is---when you take her out on a date, you'd better be thinking with the big head and not the little head.

*All that stinky laundry on your closet floor is making your room smell like a Porta Potty that hasn't been cleaned out in months.

*If you're going to spend THAT much time in the shower, then you need to start scrubbing all the extra  "conditioner" off the shower doors.

*Pay your speeding tickets before you end up on a television episode of Cops.

*No, you will not get carpal tunnel syndrome from flushing the toilet several times a day.

*It's going to take an ice cream scoop to clean all that wax out of your ears.

You need to make a cell phone payment instead of spending your entire paycheck on sneakers…unless, of course, you plan on ditching the wheels in favor of using your feet to get around.

*Yesterday there was a five pound ham in the refrigerator, and now it's gone. A gallon of milk, two bags of chips, a loaf of bread and an entire box of Oreos are also missing. If you step on the bathroom scale, I think I can solve the mystery of the missing food.

*Belching the alphabet is not a skill that women find attractive.


Thankfully, one of my sons is now an adult who has turned into a fine gentleman. My youngest (and feistiest) still has a few more years to go, but the way I see it, he'll be the one who ends up married with four children. Hopefully all boys.

I'd better keep an ice cream scoop in my pocket at all times…..just in case.








***This week I was thrilled to be featured on Beyond Your Blog! You can read my post about living the writer's life here: http://www.beyondyourblog.com/its-a-writers-life-for-me/#

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