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Why Tuesday?

The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


IT’s that time of year my cyber sister…. The holiest of holy.

Yes, You know what I am talking about…. Boxing Day.

Some have Christmas or Yom Kippur or Ramadan or Oscar Night…. I have The days between December 26th and January 7 which in the ever reliable world of excess have become the BOXING WEEK.

I love that in the world of shopping, a weeks is really more like 17 days.

Now let us be clear. I never shop on Boxing Day itself. I’m a tough broad. Hell I can handle a mountain climb and a good triathlon. I can battle a good shoe sale like any other woman of distinction.

I always obey the cardinal rules of MAJOR discount shopping:

Rule number 1: Wardrobe.
Ladies, Yoga pants or some sort or leggings are a must. I am talking about a base layer that can easily accommodate an entire outfit being worn/tried on over it should the line to the fitting rooms be completely unacceptable.

You find yourself waiting for 2 1/2 hours to try on that Prada suit now discounted at $225, You better be sure you will find a nice quiet corner in the store and put the whole suit on over your legging and t-shirt.

Here, you use your imagination to adjust for what the fit would feel like without the “base-layer” beneath.

Rule Number 2: Fluids

The key here is to bring a coffee that is big enough to provide the needed energy and enjoyment for a day of shopping endurance but not too big to have you draining your bladder periodically throughout the day.

A full bladder can be the difference between a pair of Christain Louboutin Prive peep-toe pumps for 80% off or the need for a bathroom break.

Chose wisely my young Jedi- a happy bladder or jubilant feet. Hint- no one care about bladder incontinence if it is done in red soles…

Rule Number 3: Music

I love to shop with my i-pod. I listen to books on tape or a great mix. I find the music or the story take me away and allow me to shift my focus to the clothes at hand and not the greed in the store.

Rule number 4: Attitude is Everything.

Ladies, Boxing Week is not for the faint at heart. There is no sisterhood. This is not the place to make lasting friendships or find a play group for your Mommy and Me class. The store on Boxing Week is an endurance challenge. Keep your head down, smile, be polite put really…. Expect service personnel to treat you like shit and fellow shopper to be greedy and nasty.

Maybe you will be surprised. Maybe a lovely fellow retail sista will let you have the cashmere she was eyeing that looks way better on you. However as in medicine- Hope for the best but expect the worst.

This way when someone shoves you down in a Holt Renfrew accessories department you are not disappointed or even surprised- you are merely able to get up, align your chakras and love on to buy the Lanvin crystal safety pin that you have been having an affair with since you saw it walk down the Fall runway in Paris.

I know it sounds brutal… but I love it. I love it all. I love the physical emotional and retail thrill of a good Boxing week blow out. I love the waiting that went on for my perfect dress all season only to find it 70% off and in my seize waiting to come home with me like a puppy in a window.

Turns out, there is science to back up my retail euphoria….

In a paper published in 2007, researchers at the UK's Brunel University noted that shopping is associated with increased activity in the left prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that has been linked to pleasure and positive thinking. In fact, levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter released during pleasurable experiences including sex, can rise sharply even when you're merely window shopping.

In another study, published in the journal Neuron, researchers at MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Stanford strapped volunteers to an MRI machine and showed them photos of products. When shoppers saw something they wanted to buy, a flood of dopamine to the nucleus accumbens--the brain's reward center--lit up their MRI images like a dashboard.

And it's not only about pleasure. Shopping may also help women maintain their mental acuity in old age, says Guy McKhann, M.D., a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University and a co-author of Keep Your Brain Young. "People who are doing really well as they get older tend to be mentally engaged, physically active, and socially involved," he says. "And women are all of those things when they shop."

Who new my shopping would help me train for my mature years.
Studies show that picturing several different outfits engages the brain and the prefrontal cortex which are all important activities as we age….

So the key to eternal youth and happiness really can be found in my closet…
Forget the big holidays and bring on the Boxing Week…. My health, my well being and hell, the science of my longevity depend on it.

And who says you can buy happiness. Well the obviously haven’t found Manolos at half price…

Now get out there ladies… and make me proud. Going into 2011 never forget… GOOD CLOTHES OPEN ALL DOORS…

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Reviews are In...


Twas the week before Christmas, I looked back at my blog.
Reflecting on girlfriends and my little cyber log.
I thought of the year and the topics we’ve shared
I thought of the science and good style we’ve declared.

So I picked out my favorites and put them to rhyme,
A Guide in Review, cyber sisters- it’s time.
The shoes in my closet were laid with such care,
They were safe for my feet- the evidence was there.
There was reasons for blood pressure and weight loss and bike
There was hope for the future and the coffee I like.

There was the one about sleeping and how much we should get.
Eight hours is the key – if you have not read it yet.
The nails I bite are my dear mother’s fault.
There’s the cat on the net and the Moustache in the vault.

There’s the risk of a clot at 30,000 feet
And high fructose corn syrup – where you are what you eat.
Of the bad dreams that happen, I am still so amazed.
Or the nightmare of menstrual every twenty eight days.

There’s Mama and her skin still so perfect and clean
Her Dove soap and genetics the best stuff that I’ve seen.
The mix tape that takes my right back to childhood…
Where I was my own rock band at each chance I could.

The fact that the tunes are good for my heart
Make me want to continue and to play every part.
Then there’s patients and GOOGLE and the challenges there
Where you look up your symptoms and wait for the scare.
Where 60% of this country of ours
Is out “playing doctor” in restaurants and bars.

Then there’s second hand smoke and the diseases it brings.
Heart disease and Emphysema among other things.
To the lovely German tourist who lit up without fail,
Standing behind her, I could not help but inhale.

To the mini-van driver who ran me down in the rain.
Her 80’s style lipstick is still seared in my brain.
My beautiful Lucy, a bike fender crack,
And some kick ass bruises to my arms, leg and back.

While on line at a bathroom at a great New York play,
I got more of a show than all of Broadway.
The talk was surreal, it made my head swirl.
I’d have listened for hours, but my bladder’s a girl.

The BAD DAY I had and the rant that then followed.
The minivan hit and the Americano swallowed.
Then there is the lovely patient who puked on my Choo,
While the insurance on the car I hit has yet to come due.

My rant about shopping and locking up bags,
What has the world come to with these retail drags.
Then there’s texting and Twitter and my own lasered hair,
My EAT, PRAY, LOVE, RANT and elite underwear.

There’s the power of the sun and the effects on your skin,
Then the Ride to Conquer Cancer,
And my Pride in Team FIN.
I sat at Kits beach and watched high body art.
Where nothing says, “I love you” like my name inked on your heart.

There was Bitchy and Blogging and Busy, oh my!
And my issues with Q Tips and how my Beloved hates to fly.
The BP oil spill, my swearing and screams…
My love for the Y,
And my new hair colour schemes.

It was a year filled with coffee and mental health days.
The effects of a nap and my Triathlon ways.
I’ve been blogging bout driving, and botox and more.
Hell I even got inspired by that damn Jersey shore.

Now the year’s almost over
And a new one just begun.
I’m looking for inspiration and hoping for fun.
SO here’s to you my sisters, may your style be just right.
Happy Blogging to all and to all a good night.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

One High Mile


Man or Woman really was not meant to fly. Never mind the physics of it all and the fact that we have neither the wings nor the fortitude for that kind of altitude and stamina. Put a group of people in an airplane and you really can see the human race at its worst.

In theory, an airplane should be the happiest place on earth. It is a seated mode of transport where you are protected from the perils of the outside world. There is something both liberating and reassuring of having to turn your cell phone OFF for the duration of a flight.

The seats on a plane are small, but the air is oxygenated and for the most part there is always a movie or two that you have not seen and have always wanted to. The washrooms are clean and every once in a while someone comes around and offers you something to drink.

If you have the luck and superiority of sitting in business class, there is even nice plates to eat off of and on flights more than 5 hours, cookies are often baked on board and served by someone who pretends to care about you and tries to be pleasant despite his or her better judgment.

In practice, however, an airplane is a Pandora’s box of the worst human condition has to offer.

People are invariably at their worst on a plane. Babies cry at will, children whine and run up and down isles. No one is on his or her best behaviour. Fear of flying, being contained or just the lower oxygen content makes a group of seemingly well behaved human being transform into a group of cranky, rude animals who don’t regard the comfort of others for any considered period of time. I am fairly certain if any plane I am on goes down… I am on my own as far as exits and emergency evacuation. This pissed off mob will not stop to help me with my seatbelt or life vest. It will be Lord of the Flies at high altitude, rest assured.

Putting people on a plane forces them into a confined space where they must interact AND share with strangers. Let’s be frank, people as a rule SUCK at sharing with others. We left the sandbox long ago as a species and took all of our toys with us. Most people treat Socialism like a side dish. They don’t mind it in their medicine or in their educational system, a sprinkle here or there. However, no one wants all things equal all the time, 24/7. No one wants Socialism as his or her main course in life.

I myself love to fly. I find it the perfect solution for getting things done. Never am I more productive than strapped to a seat at 35,000 feet with only a laptop and an in-flight entertainment to keep me amused.

I do my writing, my billing, hell my taxes all while the world passes by below. No worries about what calls I might be missing, no concerns that the laundry needs to be folded or the dogs needing to be walked.

In fact if they would put a treadmill on my next flight and I could go for a run somewhere between Vancouver and Toronto, I would spend my life commuting.

But I do have some reservations….

For example:
What is with the arm rests? I once read an article on armrest etiquette on a plane (in my defense it was in the in flight magazine and I had nothing else to read) and it clearly stated that the person in the middle seat GETS BOTH ARM RESTS. I realize this is not a well know fact, dear girlfriends so please spread the word…

I often sit in the middle seat in an Emergency Exit isle. I like having more legroom and don’t mind sacrificing latitude for longitude. Inevitably I am sat, however next to some businessman (no I am not generalizing, it is usually a businessman and he is most often from the land of “Overwhelming Self-importance”).

He wears comfortable business loafers with dress socks that usually match his trousers and he has a laptop case the size of an eight year old. This is the man who ruins my perfect airplane experience. He uses both arm rests with abandon and spread out across the row of seats as though it were his living room couch.

I often wonder about the whole sitting/leg room issue on a plane.

I am not one to “sit still” on a good day. I have long prescribed to the belief that “objects at rest tend to stay at rest, objects in motion tend to stay in motion.

I am fast approaching 40 and I have a lot to do in this life. Sitting still is for babies…. I gotta move.

Furthermore, one of the risk factors for D.V.T.’s or deep vein thromboses (blood clots in the leg) is immobility. We were taught in medical school to ask patients about any long haul travel when they presented to hospital with symptoms suspicious of a DVT.

A trial published in the British Journal of Hematology in 2002 examined the risk factors for DVT among 568 consecutive patients presenting to a British Hospital with blood clots in their legs. They found now significant risk of DVT among people who had been on long haul flights (anything over 3 hours) unless they had other risk factors for blood clots (such as smoking or a family history.

An effect is seen once travel duration exceeds 6 to 9 hours and becomes obvious in long-haul passengers traveling for 12 or more hours. A recent study published in 2005 in the International Journal of Hematology found that increase in thrombosis rate among arriving passengers peaked during the first week and was no longer apparent after 2 weeks. Long distance (more than 8 hours) travelers had a 2-4-fold increase in relative thrombosis risk compared with nontravelers, but the averaged absolute risk was very small. There was approximately one DVT for every 2 million travelers and there is no evidence that thrombosis is more likely in economy class than in business- or first-class passengers.

Furthermore, laboratory studies show that these patients likely all have an underlying clotting disorder of some degree and the long flight just “bring it out” in them.

My family has no history and I quit more than 10 years ago. Yay for me.

And so here I settle in to the middle seat on the 7 am from Vancouver to Toronto. There is the latest Woody Allen movie for viewing (the one I really wanted to see) and a man to my left who computer is as large as his elbow. Both are now in my personal space.

I have four hours and fourteen minutes (4:36 gate to gate) and a lot of work to be done. I’ve taken my Cold FX (who knows if it really works) and a baby aspirin. I breathe deep and face the radiation like the brave soul I am and flex my legs every few minutes in the name of good circulation. And just for good measure, I move my elbows onto the armrests into the “UP AND LOCKED POSITION”. I am soooo ready for take off.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Show and Tell...

I have spent the last few months watching more than a few You-Tube videos. No, get your heads out of the gutter- not the dirty kind. Just the generic “stupid human tricks” that seem to be posted quite a bit on the site.

In fact I would maintain that You Tube is our species version of “Grown-Up SHOW AND TELL”.

Do you remember the real SHOW AND TELL? We all had one experience or another. Typically it was in kindergarten or Grade 1. We were five or six years old. We stood in front of classrooms all over this great nation with a rock from a camping trip or a caterpillar gripping to life (and leaf) in a jam jar. We proudly announced to the class the origin of the unusual sea pebble or the lifecycle of a butterfly as we knew it.

But years gone by and we’ve passed the age when you can stand before a group of your peers and “show em what you’ve got”. This is where the internet comes in….

Yes my dear girlfriends, well over a year of blogging later and I now fully realize that the internet is our species SHOW AND TELL.

Want to share with friends about your latest meal? Why not Twitter that you “ate duck two ways at a great restaurant just last night”. Want friends and family to know what little Jessica looked like after eating her first bite of peas? Just video tape it and blast her little green face into cyber space for all to see and enjoy.

Isn’t FACEBOOK, the very defintion of grown up SHOW AND TELL gone wild? I know more about the people I went to highschool with NOW than I did when we were in Highschool!

Make no mistake, I am a huge fan of the whole SHOW AND TELL thing we’ve got going on as a culture. I think it is a true revelation. Hell this is entertainment at its finest. I loved SHOW AND TELL back as a six year old and I sure as hell love it even more now that we’ve moved beyond the flora and the fauna….

But I can’t help but notice that the internet has become quite feline these days. What I mean by this is that there are a hell of a lot of cats out in cybersapce lately. Haven’t you noticed my dear girlfriends? We seem to be pushing the whole “CAT AGENDA” quite a bit. Whether it’s the Freaky cat videos on You Tube (where the little kitten is being filmed making a rather human gesture) or the cat versus larger animal videos (cat v. alligator, cat v. polar bear) that have gone viral.

In fact I would argue that cat video emails have replaced Viagra emails as the new number one topic of cyber spam.

So what is it with cat owners and their exhibitionist needs?

According to a study presented this past year at the International Stroke Conference in New Orleans owning a cat could reduce your risk of a heart attack by nearly one third.

The finding was the main result of a 10 year study of more than 4,000 Americans by researchers at the University of Minnesota's Stroke Institute in Minneapolis.

The study was based on data extracted from people aged 30 to 75, from the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. Participants were recruited from 1976-1980 and followed over a 10 year period. Of the 4,435 Americans in the study, 2,435 of the participants were current or former cat owners, while the remaining 2,000 had never had a cat.

Using the main outcome as death from all causes, including stroke and heart events, the researchers found that over a 10 year follow up period, cat owners showed a 30 per cent lower risk of death from heart attack compared to non cat owners.


I’m not suggesting we all go out and buy a kitten… I am personally allergic and have always been more of a dog person. In fact, I have never been particularly fond of cats.

Apart from the fact that every cat I meet prompts me to have an Asthma attack, I am not what you would call, a “CAT PERSON”.

I find them too “stand offish”. After a long day at work, I want a pet that greet me at the door and is so excited to see me that, hell, it could easily pee on the floor given the chance.

A cat does not do that. A cat is the kind of animal that can be left alone with enough food and water for days on end and still survive. While I admire that kind of independence, it is not something I am looking for in a household pet.

But we can’t ignore the science once again. Cat people live longer than those who are feline free. The science of why there are so many cats on the internet? Simply put…because their owners have nine lives….