What You’re Saying Is…Things Can Just Start Falling Out?

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I have a wonderful job. I am privileged to interview medical professionals and share what they tell me with various audiences. It’s a great way to learn what researchers have discovered and what medical breakthroughs are on the horizon.

However a recent interview is giving me nightmares. Not because the doctor wasn’t congenial or helpful (he was an extremely intelligent and polite man). It was WHAT he told me that I can’t stop thinking about.

Hold Onto Your_________

The physician is a urogynecologist, meaning that he not only specializes in female reproductive mechanisms, but also in the urinary system. It takes a special person to want to deal with all of that nasty, so my hat’s off to anyone who chooses that field.

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If only it were that idyllic!

 

He wanted readers to know about Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP). I had a flashback to the time when my 83-year old grandmother had some sort of female surgery because something was out of place. Is that what she was dealing with 20 years ago?

Indeed it was. My grandma was losing her battle against gravity. The bones, muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons that were supposed to fight this downward force and hold her organs in place were failing her. Specifically, her pelvic floor muscles were calling it quits.hammock-68010__340

The doctor told me that the pelvic floor, or the group of muscles and supporting tissues that act like a hammock over the pelvic opening in women, can become injured and weakened over time. As a result, the bladder, uterus, small bowel, and rectum can start to “prolapse” or slip down into the vagina.

WHAT??? Stuff can just start falling out? 

Evidently, a difficult birthing experience can injure supporting tissues which can further weaken as a woman ages. But other factors overstretch these muscles, ligaments and fascia–factors such as obesity, chronic coughing and pressure from chronic constipation.

I didn’t have any trouble when I gave birth to my daughter, and I don’t have these other issues, but I remained concerned. The doctor reassured me with the following stats:

  • Though more than 40% of women over 40 experience some form of prolapse, only about 3%-6% require treatment
  • Most patients who undergo a surgical procedures are in their 60s
  • The peak incidence of symptoms is when a women is in her 70s or 80s (you live long enough and things start to shift)

So I have a bit of time before I worry. But I started telling every woman I know that if she starts to feel something protruding into her vagina, she might have this condition. Interesting topic to discuss at dinner parties, but I wanted women to be prepared!

How to Keep It All In

According to my source, minimally invasive procedures can “rebuild” the pelvic floor hammock with native tissue or mesh (though some physicians stay away from mesh now with problems that women have encountered with it). But even better news is that we can do things to help prevent POP from happening by: appetite-1239056__340

  • Staying active and physically fit
  • Continuing a regular practice of pelvic floor exercises (like those suggested at http://www.voicesforpfd.org)
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Addressing conditions that aggravate muscles such as chronic coughing or constipation.

We’re all in this together gals. Let’s make a daily practice of strengthening those muscles. Let’s stay active and drop the extra weight. Let’s look into natural things that help chronic coughing, (like doTERRA’s Breathe blend) and constipation (like doTERRA’s Digest Zen blend). Don’t go from bad to worse by using over-the-counter remedies when so many natural options are out there.

No more nightmares about walking down the street as organs pop out all over. I’ll be fine and so will you. Just keep doing those Kegels.

 

Why Biking Is Better Than Running–Or Why I No Longer Feel Like a Failure for Not Running a Marathon

We are coming out of a deep freeze in our neck of the woods. It has me dreaming of the first day I will be able to hop on my bike and get down to the trail that parallels the Fox River in our part of Northern Illinois.

As I was planning for how wonderful it will feel to be one with my 1994 Giant again, I started thinking about running vs. biking.  In my opinion, there is no greater accomplishment than finishing a long run, just because it’s so incredibly physically taxing.  Just to say that you ran several miles makes you feel like a legitimate athlete.  But for me, it’s not tremendously fun.  It’s work.  I don’t get the same sense of exhilaration that I get from working together with a piece of machinery to battle trails and hills.

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I came up with a list of 10 reasons why cycling is often better than running (for me).  This will infuriate the running purists that I know, but so be it.

  1. The most obvious difference is the distance possible with bike riding.  I can only run about 5 miles before my knees get sore, but I can bike forever.  This allows me to work on endurance and calorie burning longer, and get out of the neighborhood more.
  2. The terrain does not usually impact a biking outing.  I can ride on roads, trails, paths or even off-road.  With running, I’m limited to finding softer trails in the area so that I’m not running on concrete or asphalt.  There aren’t many of these.  And for some reason, getting in the car to drive somewhere to run just seems silly.
  3. As a woman, I don’t feel terribly safe running on trails, but on my bike I feel more in control.  Sure–some goof could jump out of the woods and make me topple over my bike, but I stand a better chance of getting away, or staying away if I’m faster.  That point may be delusional, but it’s worked for me so far.
  4. My arms are much stronger and toned when I ride regularly.  Having to control the handlebars, especially when standing going uphill, requires arm and shoulder muscles that I typically don’t otherwise engage.  I like how my abs feel as I ride, though I know running works them too as they attempt to stabilize the body.
  5. Running uses the hamstrings most, while biking works hamstrings, glutes and quads (especially when standing).  In addition, I can adjust my pedal push and pull to emphasize different muscle groups if I’m tired (this is definitely not the most efficient use of muscles while riding, but will help if I’ve gone too far, I’m spent and have to get where I’m going quickly).
  6. Even if I have a flat tire, I can still make it home.  A blown Achilles tendon is another story.
  7. Speaking of injuries, my chances are less with riding.  That is, if I don’t repeat the experience I had several years ago when I hit a curb and flew over the handlebars.  Because of my helmet, I only bruised my ego thankfully.  With running, I have to either do run/walk intervals to minimize injury or limit the amount of time I’m running.  In both cases, I don’t feel like I’m getting enough out of a workout.
  8.   I’m rarely overheated while biking since I’m creating my own breeze along the way.  And my bike carries my water bottle, phone and keys for me.
  9. Most running and biking experts agree that cycling can help with running, but running does nothing for cycling.  I think that’s rather selfish of running.
  10. I suffered a brain injury years ago (and no, it had nothing to do with that flying over the handlebars incident) and couldn’t ride for the longest time.  My brain couldn’t quickly process what my eyes were seeing, so I couldn’t travel very fast either by car or bicycle.  So the freedom to once again be able to jump on my bike and go wherever I want is one of the greatest gifts of healing.

OK cyclists and runners, what do YOU think?

Writer’s Bulge: Does a Freelance Career Mean There’s More of You to Love?

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photo credit: John F Hark via photopin cc

If you ask a freelance writer for the top five reasons that he/she chose to go independent, you’d likely hear “to have the freedom to set my own schedule” in that list. The ability to work when you want, with hours that are flexible enough to give you more time for family, recreation and other pursuits makes freelancing ideal.

But if you’re like me, being able to work “whenever” can be a two-edged sword. How often do you work more hours than you did when you were punching a clock?

Are you pulling all-day sessions for days in a row to meet multiple deadlines?

If so, it’s likely that you are spending a lot of that time in conditions that are perfect for writer’s bulge–sitting for long hours, hunched over a desk or computer, so focused on your work that you don’t realize you aren’t moving enough or eating right.

What’s the point of a flexible career when your body is becoming all the more INflexible and you’re gaining weight?

There are lots of small changes that you can make throughout the day that will add up to big returns!

What Are You Wearing?

At the risk of sounding like someone at the end of a 900# phone call, you need to ask yourself this. Are you wearing loose fitting clothes that will not bind you at the waist, hips or knees? The idea here is that sitting constricts your blood flow already, so you don’t want to cut off your circulation any more with something too tight. I definitely subscribe to the notion that if you want to feel professional, it helps to look professional. I’m not suggesting wearing dirty sweatpants, only that you need to wear something that allows for proper blood flow.

How Often Are You Getting Up?

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photo credit: mikebaird via photopin cc

In the same vein as the previous question, I’m talking circulation here. You’ve likely heard that when you fly, you should get up every couple of hours to reduce the risk of blood clots. Granted, altitude and pressure make conditions all the more critical for movement, but the practice is a great idea for a freelance writer as well. Better yet, make a point to get up and move around every hour. That’s what I do. At first I would set an alarm, but then I just became accustomed to knowing when I had been immobile for about 60 minutes and would get out of the chair for at least 5-10 minutes.

Are You a Distracted Eater?

Freelance writers are successful because they can be extremely focused on the task at hand. The problem is that it’s easy to just grab something to eat so that we don’t have to stop working. I found it extremely helpful to put together healthy snacks for the day and stash them in the desk so that I’m not tempted to mindlessly grab for something when my blood sugar plummets. Almonds, cashews, walnuts, grapes, apple slices, Clementines, even half a Clif Bar keep me going without sabotaging my weight maintenance goals. Don’t think you’re too busy to spend 5-10 minutes prepping some snacks before you get down to work. Doesn’t it usually take longer to forage for something good when you’re starving and crabby?

Are You Hydrated?

No one wants to get up 20 times to go to the bathroom during a writing session. Yet you do need to consider how you are sabotaging your career by not drinking enough water. Sound extreme? Consider that 55-78% of the body is water depending on age, weight and gender. You lose water just by breathing, sweating and eliminating waste, so even if you’re not working out, you are losing water. The brain itself is 76% water and that studies have shown that chronic dehydration affect executive functions like planning and visuo-spatial processing, and reduces your ability to concentrate. So perhaps that writer’s block is really dehydration?

Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, in his book, Your Bodies Many Cries for Water, believes that dehydration actually produces pain and many degenerative diseases, including asthma, arthritis, hypertension, angina, adult-onset diabetes, lupus and multiple sclerosis. His message is, “You are not sick, you are thirsty. Don’t treat thirst with medication.”

How much is enough? Most agree that at least 8-8 oz. glasses of water a day is sufficient for your brain and body to function optimally. Please don’t con yourself into believing that the Diet Coke you are drinking can be counted in this total. Your body needs water not a combination of artificial ingredients that it doesn’t know how to process.

How Is Your Posture?

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Photo by portorikan

I just pulled my shoulders up, back and down as I typed this. Poor posture is every freelance writer’s nemesis. Even if you’ve set up your workstation to be ergonomically correct, you still need to check yourself often to make sure that you are sitting up straight. This means space between your ears and shoulders, concentrating on steering your shoulder blades towards your back pockets, keeping your head from falling forward and your back from overarching. Taking the time to stretch your neck throughout the day (moving your head to the left and right, and down toward your chest) helps keep these muscles limber.

Is Your Core Serving You Well?

The muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen work together to create balance and stability for the rest of your body. I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you how sitting for long periods can wreak havoc on your back and make your abdomen feel like mush. Some choose to sit on a stability ball which passively engages the core muscles. I like to do Knee Ups while I am sitting, which involves sitting tall towards the end of my chair, extending my arms so that my palms of my hands are touching the edge of the desk and “marching” my knees up and down in the air. Or a simple Leg Lift that involves sitting tall toward the edge of the chair, extending your legs straight and lifting one at a time slowly, holding for 10 seconds and then lowering (alternating legs).

Are You Working Out During Your Writing Sessions?

I do. I’ve learned to take those 10 minute breaks every hour (or two if I have to stretch it) to complete my entire day’s workout. I’ve put together a list of cardio, strength training and core moves that break out into several 10-minute sessions a day. More and more studies are showing that, while we want to get 30-40 minutes of movement in each day, we can benefit from splitting up those minutes into shorter sections. I found that I not only have more energy after these sessions, but I can think more clearly. Little wonder since exercise has been proven to improve brain function. In 1999, scientists at the Salk Institute in California found that exercise stimulates the creation of new brain cells, and further research shows that aerobic exercise is the most beneficial in this regard. Stringing exercises together with little break in between can bring your heart rate into a good aerobic range, making even strength training similar to cardio exercises for strengthening the heart and promoting fat loss. (email me at marymeyerwrites@gmail.com if you’d like a copy of my workout plan).

More free time is one of your goals as a freelance writer. Will you have the energy to enjoy that time if you don’t pay attention to what your brain and body need while you’re writing?

Let me know what you do to stay fit!