Gigi’s Favorite Workout – WaterGym

Watergym…this is NOT you’re grandmother’s water aerobics class!
I have been participating in this fun and challenging workout for at least a decade and absolutely love it.
We wear flotation belts and stay mainly in the deep end of the pool, so there is no impact on joints. We jog, bike, kick-box, cross country ski…all in the water without submerging our heads. It’s more difficult than it looks,  and you get resistance training (working against resistance of water), as well as an amazing cardio workout for an hour.

Lisa Schuller, WaterGym Instructor-Spin Director-Cycle Instructor, teaches this wonderful class . . .

Go to: Watergym.com for more info on this amazing workout.  And www.coolibar.com for sun protection/swim hats.

Lashes without irritation . . . GrandeLASH-MD

 

GrandeLashI finally found a product that actually grew my eyelashes and gave me minimal irritation! I’m writing about GrandeLASH-MD and it does grow lashes.  I’ve used the tried and true Latisse, but it was SO IRRITATING, I stopped using it.  My eyelids turned bright red and became itchy.  Latisse does have a high safety profile and does work, but for those of us that are sensitive to just about everything, I couldn’t continue using it.   I have tried other “lash growth” serums and found them irritating as well or completely worthless as far as growth.  And let me say this . . . products that say they grow lashes by use of peptides, plant extracts, and vitamins are completely worthless. They do not and can not grow hair because the ingredients I just mentioned don’t grow hair!  I’ll get technical for a moment . . .  a product containing a “prostaglandin analogue” (a synthetic ingredient … like “isopropyl cloprostenate”) is the only thing proven to grow eyelash hair.

There are in fact a FEW companies that use a prostaglandin analogue, so double check the ingredient declarations. GrandeLASH-MD does have it (although a small amount which is why it’s so great for sensitive types) and the price point was good (about $70).  They claim that it takes 4-6 weeks to see results . . .  I found it took a good two months before I could see a difference.

mylashes

Prior to this photo, I had about a dozen eyelashes left and have been sparse for years.  This photo is about half way through my initial use with a quick, light coat of mascara because my hair is light and you wouldn’t have been able to see my lashes (I only use product on my upper lashes, never lower).  I now use it about three times a week for maintenance. My eyelashes are long and have grown in nice and even.

I must also mention that there are reports and concerns about the use of products containing prostaglandin analogues.  Side effects such as darker pigmentation around the eyes, itching, pain, change of eye color, and irritation are not uncommon.  Always do your due diligence before using certain types of products.

 

A Natural Beauty & Model . . . Daphne Selfe

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And she doesn’t believe in Botox!  Or anything for that matter outside of eating healthy, staying active, and continually working!

This is Daphne Selfe and for those of you in the U.S. . . .  she’s a phenom in the UK!  Daphne is in her late 80’s and she’s still modeling!  My sister gave me her book as she knew I would appreciate the story of such a woman.  And I most certainly did!  It’s a quick and simple read, but it’s her story and it’s real.

I have spent the past few months in the UK and Europe and I can say this with absolute certainty . . . women there are NATURAL beauties!  It was so refreshing!  You simply don’t see “jacked up” faces over there . . . and I loved it!  Has me rethinking a lot of things . . . .  Daphne is inspiring to be sure!

 

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daphne

 

Fat doesn’t make us Fat?

fat-coverFat doesn’t make us fat?
It’s true, butter is back! 

Lately I’ve been reading several articles on this very topic, and yes it seems true that saturated fat in our diet isn’t the villain we thought it was!!!  New research and clinical studies recently published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that there’s simply NO evidence to support the notion that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease. For decades Americans were told to eat less meat, eggs, and full fat dairy, and so we replaced them with carbohydrates like pasta, cereals, breads, “low fat” sugar-laden crackers/cookies (SnackWell’s), margarine and nonfat salad dressings, as well as non-fat yogurts with carb based fillers …to give texture when fat is removed.

This low/no fat diet has been to our detriment. We cut the fat and yet we are fatter and sicker than ever!  It’s excessive refined carbs that are messing with our metabolism and leading not only to obesity but in time to diabetes and heart disease.

It’s also clear that the culprits in our diet are trans fats like vegetable shortening (Crisco), which is in most processed foods like fast food, and commercial baked goods. Anything with high fructose corn syrup like sodas, as well as food that is fried over and over again in oxidized vegetable oil should also be avoided like the plague!
The new general rule of thumb is…eat “real food”, eat like your grandparents did 100 years ago! Doesn’t this make sense? The less processed and sugary carbs, the better. Don’t be afraid of  pure butter and cheese, have cream in your coffee, a little fat can be very satiating. Enjoy an occasional steak with a lovely bearnaise sauce…like the French, who by the way have eaten this way for centuries, and don’t have an obesity problem. 
Please eat the whole egg!  the yolk has all the nutrition, and eggs are a great source of protein. No more egg white omelets for me, that goes for skinny lattes too!
Everything in moderation of course….if we just focus on the quality of food we are putting in your mouth, down the line our overall health will benefit.

Happy Eating!

Healthy hair – part two

fullhair1A few more tips that I follow and recommend to have a healthy head of hair . . .

Be sure you are eating well, particularly getting enough protein. You must ensure your scalp and hair are well fed.  Sue lost a tremendous amount of hair a few years ago due to a high stress job and going vegetarian without enough protein.

I also take a supplement called Viviscal professional …it has lots of Biotin and marine/fish oils.

Heat can and will kill your already dead hair.  In time, all those styling tools will fry your hair.  Be aware of the amount of heat hitting your head.  If it’s too hot on your skin, it is toasting your locks which is why with age, the hair starts looking “frazzled” in combination with grays that are a little more wirey as well. That combination gives a very frizzy (and aging) appearance.

My colorist uses Aveda color, doesn’t seem to irritate my scalp yet it covers the gray. She is able to use half the ammonia in the color preparation than would normally be used. Always ask for a gentle formula with the least amount of chemicals possible.  Also adding some highlights to add dimension is uplifting as well especially around the face.  A flat, single color can look harsh as we age.

Please stay clear of hair extensions! They tug on hair ultimately hurting the follicle and ensuring hair loss. Try the clip-in hairpieces to add fullness without damage to hair. You want body and movement without being obvious!

I also like those spray in colored texturizing dry shampoos to hide any little bald areas and refresh 2nd day hair.” XFusion” and “Toppik” keratin hair fibers are also fabulous at covering up any exposed scalp. “Gray Away” also does the trick along with covering grays.

Lastly, it goes without saying, use gentle hydrating, moisturizing shampoos and conditioners. I like to mix it up and rotate in different brands. I like “Wen”conditioning cleansers (so does Sue), “Aveda” chamomile  shampoo, “Living Proof Restore” shampoo and mask. Weekly, I use a clarifying shampoo to remove any product buildup on my scalp potentially clogging hair follicles and impeding growth.

Keeping your hair, let alone having it look good, is a challenge as we age but there are options to assist us.  Whether it be medical advice or cosmetic, a combination of all these things will certainly give you the cumulative effect of a healthier head of hair.  Just like your skincare . . . it’s not just one thing . . . it’s everything.

Hair loss solutions – part one

How much more must we endure… we expected hot flashes, mood swings and perhaps a few grays during “the change”, but hair loss and thinning?
They say that 40% of women experience some hair loss after menopause…and I’m one of them! It’s more subtle than in men, but what a blow to a women’s self-esteem!
Apparently, declining female hormones can make our (androgen’s) or male hormones increase causing certain hair follicles to weaken and fail altogether! Just as during pregnancy, women have high levels of female hormones, leaving them with fuller, healthier hair;  the effect of male hormones in our systems has the opposite effect.

Beyond hormones, there are other considerations when it comes to hair loss.  Unusual levels of stress can wreak havoc on hair as well as skin, nutritional or iron deficiencies, crash diets, medications, surgeries or illness, and last but not least, hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid). This is common in menopausal women, I always recommend getting a thyroid blood test for women who are suffering with hair issues. Other symptoms of low thyroid are fatigue, weight gain, constipation and being cold often. Getting on the right thyroid medications can make a big difference in your hair as well as your overall well-being. Hair loss is treatable, there are lifestyle and medical treatments available to help you. Better to jump in there and get treated at first signs of hair loss, and be sure give the treatments time to work. Regrowth takes a several months and can be subtle before you even notice it.

Below you will see video of a quick procedure that I do monthly with world-renowned dermatologist Richard G. Glogau, M.D. (www.sfderm.com) at UCSF. Dr. Glogau also suggested that I use minoxidil 5% foam everyday on my scalp.  I buy a six-pack of Kirkland brand at Costco . . . much cheaper than Rogain.  As always, we advise consulting with an experienced, qualified medical doctor, in this case one who has the expertise of hair restoration, as well as getting a complete medical diagnosis.

Hormone Replacement Therapy in a Nutshell

After two years of running around to several doctors, gynecologists , and so called “Hormone Specialists”, I have concluded that when it comes to hormone replacement for bothersome menopausal symptoms (whether custom-compounded bioidenticals, FDA-approved conventional bioidentical hormone therapies or synthetic hormone therapies), it is far wiser to ERR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION!
We just don’t know what the long term health implications of taking HRT (estradiol and progesterone) will be, the science just isn’t there yet! Yes, it’s been ten years since the negative results came back from the Women’s Health Initiative trials, and yet there is still much confusion on the topic of hormone therapy to ease the symptoms of menopause. Because the WHI used horse-derived estrogen, and synthetic progesterone , some practitioners have questioned whether “bio-identical” hormones or over-the-counter herbal remedies might be safer? Currently, the experts say that there is no way to know yet! You may still risk getting breast cancer, heart disease and blood clots with any of these therapies.
I would urge any woman who is considering HRT to do her research, and not to be taken in by charlatans who want you to take several expensive blood and saliva tests, then put you on high doses of “natural “compounded  hormones. These hormones may come from soy or wild yams, but they are still synthesized in a pharmaceutical lab, and your body recognizes them simply as estrogen,progesterone, or testosterone. There is no evidence that these bioidenticals are any safer than conventional methods of HRT. Although, few doctors these days will prescribe the synthetics like Prempro or Premarin (made from horse urine) because they were proven to cause breast cancer. Today, new safer conventional hormone therapies  are available that are also much more economical and yet considered  bioidentical (same molecular structure as your own hormones). The Vivelle transdermal patch, and Prometrium pill are examples of these bioidenticals.
I have simplified lately….but because my symptoms were soooo severe, I decided to take the risk and try the estrogen transdermal patch, plus a gel cap of progesterone in the evenings. The patch is 1 mg. and can be worn on buttock cheeks for up to a week. Because I still have a uterus, I must also take  progesterone (Prometrium). It will help shed the lining of uterus, thus avoiding any risk of uterine cancer. Both of these have REALLY HELPED relieve my hot flashes, dry burning vagina, irritability, disrupted sleep and discomfort with sex. They are also covered by my insurance, and are the new conventional FDA-approved bioidentical hormones I talked about earlier. The experts seem to agree that short term use of HRT is acceptable (under five years), if monitored, continuing annual mammograms and follow ups with a doctor.
Anyway ladies, bottom line…we all experience menopause differently, and must do what we feel is best under the circumstances. Be careful and follow your instincts, your body will tell you what it needs…listen to it!  Your quality of life has to be a priority too.
My advice to you, if you choose HRT  to help you through menopause , start it earlier than later into menopause, use the lowest dose possible for symptom relief, and do that for the shortest amount of time!
Good reference sites: www.menopause.org.
www.redhotmamas.org

My favorite way to workout . . . Pilates!

If you’re like me, and not crazy about going to a gym, try Pilates……it’s a great all around workout encompassing weight training, core strength, balance, stretching, and even cardio, all on one machine called a reformer. I’m fortunate to have a great teacher who is always changing things up, thereby keeping us challenged. If you are in the Petaluma area, try Lifestyle Pilates with Gretchen…she’s terrific! But, be prepared to work, no pain no gain!
The following is a small snippet of what we do in Pilates class, there are only three or four of us to a class, so we do get a lot of personal attention and instruction by the teacher.
Try it, you’ll like it!
In any event, just get out there and move your body. Find something you love, and just do it at least three times a week. It is sooooo important to remain active though mid life and beyond, we don’t want to lose any more muscle and bone mass than we have to, but instead want to remain fit,  trim and strong throughout our lifetime.

The Menopause Conundrum!

Having been in the throes of menopause for the last few years (since 49yrs old), I feel quite certain that I can impart to you some pertinent wisdom on the topic. That’s not to say that I’ve got all the answers by any means! I’m still on my journey to find the safest and most efficacious ways to counteract the litany of symptoms I’ve experienced during this change of life. Sifting through the plethora of information, and at times misinformation has been quite a challenge, it’s more complicated and nuanced than I could have ever imagined.
The following video is the first in a series of videos that Sue and I will be doing on the Mid-Life Woman.  Sue is in the early stages of menopause called perimenopause, and I am well within it. We both have a lot say, so say tuned!
In this video, I give an overview of menopause, it’s symptoms, it’s pluses and minuses, and the risks and benefits of hormone therapy as I see them.
We’ll keep you abreast….

Just can’t quit those Acrylics!

giginails2If you’re like me and tried to go back to natural nails only to endure months of thin, weak, brittle nails with chipping nail polish that just made you crazy, well don’t despair, you can still rock your acrylics in an updated, natural way….I do!

Gone are the days of those thick fake looking Pink and Whites! The key to getting great results starts by finding yourself a talented experienced nail technician, who really knows his or her stuff,and is current on all the latest nail art possibilities. I’m so fortunate to have found a brilliant nail tech who knows how to properly use the drill to sand down the acrylic overlays just the way I like them…..thin and natural! Not many nail techs do this correctly, most apply too much pressure, sanding down too deep with the drill bit, causing serious damage to your nail. I still believe filing alone isn’t enough and is too time consuming. A combination of filing with a hand file and sanding with a drill will yield the most natural looking acrylic nails.

Another thing I like, is having them use a UV gel topcoat. It dries in three minutes simply by putting your hand under a UV light….then you are dry, shiny, and good to go!  However, there are dangers to exposing your hands to these UV lights long term. It’s a hefty dose of UVA rays as if your hands are in a tanning bed! So I have learned to wear sunblock on my hands before exposing them to the UV lamps. Another thing you can do is purchase a pair of UV protective white gloves with the tips removed specifically for this reason pictured here. That way your topcoat can cure while giving the rest of your hand some kind of sunblocking protection.

Happy Nails!UVgloves