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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, May 24, 2011

When You Only Have A Hundred Year to Live....

I went to my first 100th birthday party last weekend. Yes, my sisters- it was a lovely affair. There was family and friends and festivities as my grandfather hit the big 1-0-0. I put on my Saturday best and endured a round of questions from my mother’s contemporaries regarding how it was that I “could walk in such heels?”. Amidst it all I smiled and responded with the confidence of a woman who was born to her Louboutins and said, “I do just fine thanks…”

There he was… my husband’s greatest gift to me in our marriage apart from his lovely demeanor, Zaidie as we all call him in his century old splendor. And I do mean splendor- the man lives by himself in an apartment takes no medication and has all his own teeth. He is truly kick ass.

Sadie was best man at our wedding 14 years ago and I can still recall in my mind’s eye the day we took him to rent a tuxedo for the occasion. There he stood in the store, shirtless and trying on a variety of styles. I kid you not- the man had abs- a true six-pack…. At age 86. Marvelous.

Now 14 years later he stood in a room full of people eating cake and dancing like he was a kid…. Okay, a kid who can’t hear or see very well… but a kid. We all stood there in amazement and I could not help but wonder- What does it take to make it to one hundred?

Curiously, my blog turns one hundred this week. Yes 100 blogs ago Girlfriend’s Guide To Health decided it had something to say.

For a woman who can never commit to a nail polish colour for longer than three days this is true consistency. I change my mind as quickly as I change my heels. TO stick it out for 100 scientifically based earth shattering commentaries on the state of the female union is truly a sign of growth for me. Perhaps I am mellowing in my old age?

Not likely.

But if I am going to make it to a century of years in a similar graceful fashion as this blog has done over the last few years…. The evidence would suggest I need to cover a few key elements:

1. I need to start menopause after age 52. According to several studies, women who go through menopause later in life have greater longevity. Is this because we are bitchier for less time? No. Estrogen and Progesterone clearly have a cardiovascular and cancer protective mechanism that offers a greater life protection to women if they go though menopause later in life.
2. I need to make every calorie Count:

 Researchers in St. Louis reported that men and women who limited their daily calories to 1,400 to 2,000 (about 25 percent fewer calories than those who followed a typical 2,000-to 3,000-calorie Western diet) were literally young at heart — their hearts functioned like those of people 15 years younger. "It's about not just eating less but getting the most nutrition per calorie," says study author Luigi Fontana, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine. Study subjects stuck to vegetables, whole grains, fat-free milk, and lean meat and nixed white bread, soda, and candy. If you cut empty calories and eat more nutrient-rich foods, your health will improve, says Fontana.

Okay- I can cut calories- Hell, I’ve been dieting for decades….

3. I Need to have had a baby later in life: If you got pregnant naturally after age 44, you're about 15 percent less likely to die during any year after age 50 than your friends who had their babies before age 40, reports a recent University of Utah study.

Not going to happen. I would rather die young than breed just to live. Sorry if this is disturbing… this is just me.

4. I need to have a (relatively) flat belly after menopause 
Women who are too round in the middle are 20 percent more likely to die sooner (even if their body mass index is normal), according to a National Institute on Aging study. At midlife, it takes more effort to keep waists trim because shifting hormones cause most extra weight to settle in the middle. A target waist here is lest tan 35 inches.

I took out a measuring tape and thankfully … I am measuring in at 31 inches… I fell so much better about not getting pregnant.

SO there is just 4 things among 20 I might add that are amongst e list of what can make us live to 100. Given this is special occasion- perhaps I will make this blog a two party.

Happy 100 my sisters. Thanks for your Tuesday tune in over the last 1-0-0 I feel like a giddy girl celebrating a milestone…. Now what dress to wear?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

There is an "I" in TEIM....

There is no mistaking it my dear girlfriends… we all need a cheering squad. Yes, it is hockey playoff season at present and Vancouver has made it into the Western conference finals.

I realize I sound very “up” on this issue, when in fact I am well beyond my depth. Shamefully- I am NOT a hockey fan. Sure right now I am caught up in the Canuck Fever and am cheering on my home team for God and Country. But, sadly- I have no understanding of the game. Besides- getting me to sit still for 3 periods really is a feat in itself and a reason I suspect why beer is an integral part of game watching to begin with.

Here’s my theory about the whole hockey thing… it comes down to the uniform. I am a true football fan- both American and European varieties (ie: soccer). I love a good baseball game when it is live and I am sitting in the stands. Hockey, however, never made my sportsman cut and I can’t help but think it comes down to a question of outfits.

Football uniforms are pretty hot. The tights and the pads and the whole outline of the body- big shoulders, little waist. Soccer uniforms? Who doesn’t love a frighteningly fit man in shorts and a jersey?

A baseball uniform involves vertical stripes (fabulously slimming) and the iconic baseball hat.

Hockey however, is an entirely different story. Hockey involves a frumpy set of pads, some ill-fitting shorts and a jersey one could swim in. Put on a helmet or a face mask and you are pretty much screwed from a visual standpoint. There are even the negative references to things like “hockey hair” that have become a slang form of ridicule.

The uniform for hockey does nothing for its model that, and the shoes are totally impractical. The only place you can wear ice skates is on the ice. Enough said.

That being said, my girlfriends know how much I LOVE Vancouver…. And here is MY city all caught up in a cheering frenzy for its team. And so I am on board…. I bought a lovely Canucks Jersey and the perfect pair of blue pumps to match. Amidst my shopping/ civil duty, I could not help but wonder what that kind of support really mean to an athlete?

As one who considers herself a bit of an athlete – yes I am a bit of an jock…. A really sparkly jock nonetheless… I know the importance of having a cheering squad.

In fact I have hired one…. My trainer Mike Veino (long may he reign) is a superhero among men who once a week (twice if scheduling allows) rides the perfect balance between giving me shit and cheering me on.

As a result, almost ten months later, I have much less wobbly bits than I used to and I can do twenty REAL pushups at a moments notice. I’m not joking- if you ever run into me on the streets- ask me to demonstrate and I promise I will drop and give you twenty.

Mike is MY cheering squad in addition to being incredibly skilled at shaping me up for the seemingly maddening new physical adventures I seem to be taking on lately.

It turns out; science has my back as well….

Studies show that 80% of obese women have tried at least 3 commercial diet programs in the last two years and almost 90% of them never pursue the program for longer than 3 months. If you can make it past the first 3 months…. You may have something. When I do my math, I’ve been dieting for a decade. Statistically speaking- I should be good to go.

A large-scale trial published out of Italy called the QUOVADIS trial in 2005 in JAMA showed that the most successful patients in a weight loss program had the following predictors in common:

1. They had all set realistic weight loss goals. These were people who did not set 100-pound goals as their ultimate challenge. They made a decision to take it one step at a time- setting a small goal, a realistic and achievable goal that would eventually be a stepping-stone to many others.
2. They had a good support system- be a friend or a physician or a counselor who was cheering them on
3. They had a good rapport with that support system.

Turns out- Italy not only leads the world in luxury footwear it also has something to teach about establishing a cheering squad.

So whether I am a hockey player in a uniform that does nothing for me or an Obesity survivor who has lost a Backstreet boy and continues to search for the perfect outfit….

We all need a little encouragement as we make our way in this world… someone who stands on the sidelines of our lives yelling and cheering and waving our flag. Without that we are playing to an empty crowd in more ways than one.

Off you go my girlfriends… into the brave world for yet another week… allow me to get sentimental for but a moment when I say… Should you fall on your heels and need a word of encouragement to get you back on track….

Look up into the proverbial stands and there I will be, my cybersisters… in a fabulous silk jersey with your name blazed on it yelling “GO GIRLFRIEND, GO”…

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Heart Day's Work

It’s official. I am working too hard. Yes, here I go complaining yet again, dare I say Bitching and moaning about the long hours and the lack of sleep…..

Must I admit that I am a princess? I do, afterall have the wardrobe and the attitude to make the “Diva Cut” so to speak. Unfortunately working three and a half jobs and cycling like a lunatic gets me benched from the team.

This pisses me off. I long for the day when I am a lady of leisure; when all decisions rest upon where to lunch and what to wear. Do not mourn for me dear girlfriends…. There still are the days when I put on my best and have a moment of nothingness.

Why just last week I took my Spring 2008 Oscar de la Renta dress out to tea on a Monday. Sad and unusual but it was change of season and I did get the frock at a half off sale some years ago. It is now happily Vintage and needed to be worn.

And so on a sunny Monday afternoon I sat in the Salon at the Fairmont Pacific Rim and treated my self and my dress to high tea.

I was surrounded by ladies of leisure. There they sat with their shopping bags and their crease free brows. Their hair was perfect and their laughter was almost infectious. I could not help but wonder if this was just another weekday?

For me, this was a special day in a special dress- an occasion to remember. I had a three year old frock that needed a crumpet and an occasion and this was its coming out party. These women seemed to need a cup of tea on a Monday and nothing more.

It was there among the serenity that it hit me how hard I have been working.

Too many hours, too much coffee and too little tea time had become a habit over the last year. I vowed then and there to take more dresses out for a date on a regular basis.

Turns out that science was on my side.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in April, 2011 showed that working long hours increased the risk of heart disease in a low risk cohort of people in England.

Investigators used data on civil service workers in London to study how the incorporation of information on work hours into the Framingham risk score (FRS) affects prediction of 10-year risk for Coronary Heart Disease.
The Framingham Risk Score is one of many risk scoring systems used to try and predict a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease. It looks at specific risk factors including cholesterol, family history, smoking and blood pressure to come up with a numerical assessment of a person’s 10-year risk.

The study looked at the working hours of 7095 low risk people. Fifty-four percent of participants worked 7 to 8 hours per day, and 10% worked 11 hours per day.

During a median follow-up of 12.3 years, 192 cardiac events occurred.

When the investigators factored in the hours of work there was an increase in the Framingham Risk Score (FRS). Compared with participants working 7 to 8 hours per day, the FRS-adjusted hazard ratio for a CHD event was 0.90 in participants working 9 hours per day, 1.45 in those working 10 hours per day, and a statistically significant 1.67 in those working 11 hours per day.
This translates into a 50% relative increase in risk of cardiovascular disease in people who work 11 hours per day versus those who only work 7 hours per day.

Why my sisters? Could it be just the work? Could it be that the work takes away from other healthy behaviours? Could it be stress? Hell, it is likely a combination of all….

My take is that working long hours takes away from engaging in healthy beahviour such as eating properly and exercising regularly. This is how I will convinve myself that the workaholic in me is NOT killing me slowly and in fact has my best interests at heart. (pun intended)

Will studies like this one change my behaviour? Hell no… sisters I have a shoe closet to support. If this means I will die sooner…. We all must make sacrifices for the footwear we love. Feel free to bury me with my red soles towards the heavens.
In the meantime, I will however try and engage in a bit more leisure time…

Now if you’ll excuse me I have a date with a McQueen farewell collection dress. I believe cocktails at the Four Seasons are in order... A’ la prochain, my cybersisters….

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Chosen One

My dear girlfriends. I do believe in choice. Fat free, Non fat. Americano. Pump, stiletto or platform. Flats (heaven forbid) and boots. A woman really has a right to choose.

So here I am a good old Canadian chick left without an option. You see our elections are here and well… quite frankly the choice for prime minister is about as bleak as the half off bin at Barney’s three weeks after an end of season sale.

Let’s be frank. It may surprise some of my cybersisters given my love of the label- but I’m a socialist. I know. Shocker. A socialist? Really? Yes… perhaps the really sparkly kind but yes, a socialist nonetheless. I do believe in the working man (and woman). I do support the unions and I love me a good set of social programs. I think we all have the right to earn a fare wage for a job well done.

The world runs better when people give a shit about each other and take care of those less fortunate.

Make no mistake- dare I say it- I don’t necessarily believe we are all equal and should all have the same things…. What is the fun in that? What’s the point of my Louboutin collection if a bunch of 18-year-old girls can’t covet it?

Yes, my girlfriends, I know the rules… never discuss religion or politics. But in my world rules are guidelines made for those of us who need an opinion. I have been blessed with enough opinions to match any outfit. And thus, rules be damned.

Yes, I know my cybersisters…. This blog is always a bit flippant and I have spent many a week trying to keep it light and “science-eee” without bringing my cybersisters down. But I think it is time to discuss the fact that the much of the world is in turmoil over the right to choose.

I’ve long maintained that choice is one of humanity’s greatest characteristics. Our world does better when we have the right to choose- whether it is a leader, a way of life or statement necklace, a girlfriend really does have the right to make a decision and of course change that decision at any moment.

When I was a little girl I remember my Dad telling me about how his father (my grandfather) fought in both World War I and World War II for the right to be free. At the time, I was oblivious to the concept. Freedom is a challenge to understand when your bedtime is 7:30pm. That being said, I grew up knowing that democracy was something.

My parents were people who instilled in us the power of personal choice. Election time in our house was an occasion. My parents always took me to the voting booth with them. I remember being allowed in the little black booth and watching my father make his democratic choice.

No years later, I donned my democratic Monday best (Brian Atwood Pumps and a fabulous Dries summer dress) and went down to the voting station to exercise my inalienable right….. My father and the fashion goddess would be proud.

Turns out Democracy is not just good for the soul…. It benefits the body as well.

A study published in December, 2004 in the British Medical Journal examined the benefit of FREEDOM on the health of citizens around the world.

Using published “freedom ratings”; researchers explored the effect of democracy on life expectancy maternal/infant deaths in 170 countries, representing 98% of the world's population.

Overall, 45% of the countries were free, 32% partially free, and 24% not free. The highest levels of health were found in free countries, followed by the partially free countries, and the worst levels of health were in countries that were not free.

These results did not change after a country's wealth, level of inequity, and the size of its public sector were taken into account.

The underlying mechanisms for this association are still unknown, but the authors suggest that democracies allow for more space for social networks and pressure groups, opportunities for empowerment, better access to information, and better recognition by government of people's needs.

Another study published out of Australia from 2002 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed an increased rate of suicide when the Conservative Party (right wing) was in power versus when Labour party was in power (left wing).

Interesting? What have we learned? Well… we’ve learned that now freedom has a scoring system and some geeks will study ANYTHING to look for a pattern.

My sisters…. I’m not sure there is anything to read into here but the fact of the matter is…. Yesterday I exercised my democratic right to pick a leader (Goddess help me) and today I will live with the consequences.

Call it a flawed system, call it a profound statement or just call it an idealistic notion. Sure there are holes in the system. But just like Fall of 2006 when miniskirts became mainstream… I just hold my own and wait for another few years and a better option. That, my cybersisters is real FREEDOM.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Royal Posting

I was sitting in the salon today…. Yes six weeks… times to groom. Fun! And the usual eavesdropping ensued. I could not help but listen in to the girlie chatter going on around me. Today the place was all a buzz… more so than usual. Today was the day of the Royal Wedding.

Yes, I too woke at 3 am to relieve my bladder and my curiosity. After a good “tinkle” I could not resist turning on the TELE to see the spectacle. Don’t worry my cyber sisters… I did not watch for long. I got a good look at the dress (yay for the dress) and then was fast back asleep before long.

SO here I am hours later…. a little groggy from a sleep interrupted and I can’t help but hear various of my salon sisters talking about how “This wedding is really every girl’s fantasy. We all want to marry a prince someday.”

REALLY? Did we all want to marry a Prince? Hey… good job Miss Kate or shall I say, HRH Duchess of Cornwall. I wish the lovely couple all the best. But as for me? I started to think… I never had the whole Prince fantasy.

Make no mistake… my husband is truly my Prince of Peace… but he garners this title because he is the most lovely calm man I know…. Not because his face is on a commemorative coin.

Bliss is mine in the marital sense…. But I don’t think I ever wanted a the whole White knight rescue thing.

Sure it would be lovely to have a couture McQueen dress paid for by the working class. But when I was 12 or 15 or even 20- I dreamt of getting a degree, getting a good job and buying my own Couture dress.

Maybe that makes me less of a girl…. Maybe that makes me more of one. As for the world view on the Fairytale ending…. Safe to say, my girlfriends, it, like my salt and pepper roots… well, it needs a bit of a touch up.