Friday, October 9, 2009

Let's Review: Parabens

I think it has been a while since I mentioned parabens, and I think this is very important, so let me mention it again. I would encourage you to check every shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion you own (especially if your kids use it). Look on the ingredients list. Look for any word ending in "paraben." There are several blends of parabens, so just look for the suffix. This is a dangerous chemical that enters the skin when applied and imitates estrogen. No one needs unregulated estrogen in his or her blood stream. It is linked to breast and uteran cancers (breast cancer can happen in men, too), early development of girls, and childhood hormonal imbalances. On a side note, it is running in to our streams and ponds from our waste products. As a result, in the heavily populated areas, male fish are becoming scarce. And who knows what it is doing to the girl fish in the mean time.
Parabens should be banned, but there is nothing in place to allow the FDA or any government agency to regulate it. The best thing we can do now is protect our own from it. Stop using any paraben and replace it with healthier options. Most Aveeno products are paraben free, though I have found a few with parabens, much to my disappointment. Bar soaps and clear soaps are more likely to be paraben free, as are clear shampoos and conditioners. Stick to original Desitin, not generics, with babies' diaper creams (yes, imagine my shock when I noticed my Target diaper cream I had applying to my baby's butt had parabens. I was sick.).
If you have a ton of bottles with parabens in them, I am sad to say I don't know how to dispose of them in a non-toxic way. Perhaps they will have a system for it when it becomes a known health issue instead of a closet knoweledge of only a few.
Be an advocate for our children and tell a friend about parabens.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Health Care Reform

I may be unpopular on my view here, but something has to be said. We MUST reform current health care. There are too many people without insurance and too many inner problems with all aspects of health care. It just can't be ignored any more.
I am tired of people who call themselves conservatives or right winged, trying to strong arm everyone by yelling and screaming things that don't even make any sense at meetings. It's a great way to get on TV, but it's just illogical and ludicrous. I am tired of people claiming that their religion dictates how they feel about issues, when really, they are just being selfish. What is Christian about being selfish? Don't tell Jesus they are using his name this way. I call these people the UnChristian Christians.
In reality, the whole idea is to "break" President Obama by blocking anything he is passionate about. Now, what is that going to do for our country? We are SO behind the rest of the civilized world in health care and education. We need reform and we need it now.
Instead of yelling and screaming, can we try listening and reading? Can we try coming up with a plan that will not break the bank, but will make sense for all of us? We are paying an unbelievable amount of money now for people who can't get insurance. We are paying every time someone cannot pay their bill, and it happens a lot. Doesn't it make more sense to pay less so that everyone can afford insurance? Can someone look at the bottom line here? And why is it that we have to depend on our employer to supply us with health insurance? Many employers can't do that, especially small businesses. Why don't we have a choice? Why isn't there a competitive market in our so-called capitalist environment?
There is a plan set up by Consumer's Union that makes sense and has been well thought out. If people could read and advocate for themselves and their neighbors, maybe we could get something done. Today.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Garmin FR60

Garmin's latest addition is the perfect workout watch if you don't need the GPS unit. It has a VERY TINY foot pod, a heart rate strap that is very comfortable, the free Garmin software to keep track of everything, tons of options on the wrist unit, and is an actual wrist watch on a watch battery. VERY helpful. It's also small enough and light enough for a small framed lady, such as myself, but does not look feminine at all. Men can definitely sport the look.
I took my test run last night. The Garmin device recorded all the heart rate and pace information I needed and keeps all my info online.
for options!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Research News of the Week

Here are some things I am following this week.
There is new research that male cyclers (women were not part of the study) have lower bone density in their spine than non-cyclers. This is disheartening to cyclists and all exercisers. The question remains: were the men in any other activities? I think it would make sense that men who do not do any weight-bearing exercise and are in a compromised posture for their exercise would have lower bone density. But a man who balances cycling and weight lifting, it seems, would be ok. I would be curious to see if any of these men had a balanced active lifestyle.
Sminny jeans made news this week because they can cause problems with circulation in the legs. Ladies and Gentlemen, if you are cutting off the circulation in your legs with any type of clothing, then change your clothing! I think it's pretty obvious that if you are going numb in your leg or turning colors that you need to loosen up a little. It would be the same if your bike shorts are too tight. Definitely don't wear too-tight-clothes all day, and keep an eye on your legs' comfort level. I think that goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway.
Finally, ACE reports that exercise reduces migraines in sufferers. Great news, as migraines are so debilitating. I am sure the increase in blood flow is the reason.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Postpartum Depression and News on Generic Drugs

It took me about 3 years to admit that I had postpartum depression after the birth of my first child. It was excrutiating. I feel for all women who go through all levels of this debilitating problem. I never told my doctor, which means I never got help for it. After Brooke Shields came forward with her admission, I wished I had asked for help.
Immediately after the birth of my second child, I asked the doctor for help out of fear that this would happen to me again. He prescribed Zoloft as my "security blanket," just in case I needed it. Luckily, I haven't. This postpartum time is a million times different from my first. I understand that hormones play a big part in postpartum depression, as does iron deficiency. Maybe my hormones are better aligned this time. Maybe it's my iron pills. Maybe it's because I'm getting a little sleep and I have some help, thanks to my incredible husband. Regardless, I am happy that I do not have to use the Zoloft, but it has been in my medicine cabinet just in case.
After reading the June issue of "Self," however, even if I have symptoms, I will not be using the medicine that my pharmacist gave me. There is an article about generics in this issue of Self, so I checked my bottle. Sure enough, they gave me the generic. My doctor did NOT prescribe the generic, and he has offered to give me a more specific prescription. After reading the article, I would recommend to anyone taking any medicine that affects the brain (anti-depressants, anti-seizure meds, etc.) get the brand name drug, not the generic. The FDA does not control the amount of key ingredients in the generic drug, so they are not necessarily the same as the name brand. Generics, it seems, can actually make symptoms worse. How scary for someone who is already afraid of symptoms of depression. Make sure that if your doctor gives you a prescription that you ask questions and get the medication that you actually need.
If you don't have the June issue of Self, read it online at
Take care of your body and your self!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Reality of the Caesarian

I have been very vocal on the subject of being honest about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. I was published on the subject in the 2005 summer issue of "Mom and Baby." My first Caesarian was rough; especially because I tried to have her vaginally, and failed after 27 hours. You can imagine that recovery was rough.
I asked my husband if this one was worse or better than the other. He seems to think they were about the same. I honestly don't remember the amount of pain I had the first time. I do remember vividly that I was exhausted and starving. I couldn't move on my own, but I had a crying baby to take care of. I don't think I slept for the first week, and after that, sleep was still extremely rare. I remember my dinner sitting out for hours and never getting to eat. I remember not being able to get a drink of water all day long.
In those respects, at least, this postpartum is exponentially easier. The recovery from the second Caesarian, however, was not easier. I thought since it was planned and I wouldn't go through the 27 hours of labor that my muscles would miraculously heal easier. I was wrong.
This time, the baby was facing down and ready to be born the day before. We thought everything was going to go so smoothly. Well, she turned breech right before the delivery. AND, she was awake. She played get-away with the doctors, and as a result, my inner organs were shoved, pushed, popped, and pulled to get to her. Even with a spinal, it was painful. And VERY uncomfortable.
Now, 3 weeks later, I am up and around. I can hardly tell that I was unable to move 3 weeks ago. I am recovering from surgery and also from diastasis. I am splinting 24 hours a day to try to help the diastasis along. My doctor has placed 4 stitches along my rectus abdominus to help, hopefully...

Friday, June 5, 2009

I Survived a Breast Biopsy.

Getting toward the end of a pregnancy, it's never a good thing to then hear that you have a potential breast problem. So, what do I do now? What if it is something? Well, I just wanted to let you know that I did have a breast biopsy at 37 weeks pregnant, and it's not that scary.
The biopsy needle looks like something used to tranquilize an elephant. It could pass all the way through my body. My husband looked a little green after seeing that thing laid out on the table next to me.
I'm here to tell you that the lidocaine is a miracle, that the pinch is next to nothing, and that the pain afterward was minimal (we're talking 1 tylenol).
My point is this: if you feel something in your breast, don't wait. Don't get nervous and terrified about what it is and what to do. Go and get it biopsied so that you can rest. It will save your life, possibly, and set your mind at ease if you are unsure.
For me, it was a benign cyst. I am relieved to know that, and relieved that I don't have to wait to know for sure. I will have to keep an eye on it.
Do your breast check and take care of business, ladies! It's better to know than not!

Friday, May 29, 2009

2 Weeks to Go and New Good News

Just wanted to note that I have just 2 weeks until the arrival of my new little one! I'm at that stage where I literally feel ready to pop. I can't eat much at a time, I have constant heartburn because my stomach is next to my neck, and everything I do is getting uncomfortable. BUT, with only 2 weeks, I shouldn't complain. Just do what I can, right?
Thought you might be interested in some new research I've read up on. All positive!
A new study relates caffeine conusmption to muscle pain relief! Isn't that good news, coffee folks? And it's a realistic amount, too, like 3 cups a day could reduce our exercise-related muscle soreness!
And now, for us musicians, the studies prove that music and music therapy relieve pain, calm anxiety, and ward off depression. Well, we knew that, didn't we?
All of this information is from the most recent studies reported at the American Council on Exercise (
Speaking of music, we all know that the right songs get us moving and help us calm down at the end of the exercise. Don't underestimate the power of strong music. Update your ipod! And if you haven't yet, try I tried it, and it did make my 50 minute cardio workout move along faster.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Getting Closer!

On a personal note, I am getting closer to the big day of arrival of baby #2. With less than 4 weeks to go, a lot has changed. I've had a few problems with overheating and getting breathless suddenly. These things have never happened to me before, but this pregnancy is different. Apparantly, my body is having a hard time getting the blood through my abdomen and then all the way through my 5'8" body at times, causing lightheadedness. I carry completely in front of my body (which everyone thinks is so cute, but it looks a little freakish, to be honest), so I have awkward moments, and a few problems with side and back pain. But the biggest surprise is that my lungs and heart are having to work so hard, though my weight gain is just in that one area.
I look forward to meeting baby #2, I hope that she eventually will be named :) . And I am ready to move on as well. My next stage will be not only caring for an infant, but recovering from a caesarian and diastasis repair. I am ready to get on with that, though, because I know the good times are ahead.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Let's Do It, Texas!

Following the lead of New York and California, the Texas House passed a bill outlawing trans fats in all restaurants. Now, it just has to pass the Senate. As always, there are nay-sayers, like the Amarillo Senator who was quoted in the paper making wise cracks about the bill. But if we have enough thinking Senators, we can help the health of all people in Texas, and maybe this can finally spread nation-wide.
If you are in Texas, please make sure to look up and contact your state senator to vote for the banning of trans fats.

Friday, May 1, 2009

New posting

I have 2 new sites that I am now posting to . I have posted one on How To Power Walk . I haven't posted yet, as I just joined, but this site is all about women's health, so it should be fun for me. Hope you enjoy what you find there!

Nervous in Texas!

Geez, we don't have enough to worry about these days. They say a person can handle 5 stressors at once before they start to show signs of serious stress disorders. Well, hope you don't live in Texas right now.
First, we have wars and destruction to worry about. Then, there is the economic collapse, which, yes, is affecting Texas. In my area, people are waiting with baited breath for the next "wave" of layoffs at the local plastic plant. Even teacher's aids are losing their jobs. And don't you DARE ask anyone for anything! You can forget a raise, paid vacation, or extra help in your department. If anything, you'll be doing the work of 3 people, and your pay will definitely NOT show that!
Now, we get to worry about a pandemic. And I know everyone is worried, but being so close to Mexico, I think, makes us a little more paranoid. We watch for school closings, and the second someone sneezes, we run to the bathroom to wash up or start spraying the area with Lysol. At least we're not in masks yet.
Let's add to the scenario. A few days ago, areas in Texas were bombarded with storms so bad that people were flooded out of their homes. Some roads are flooded four days later! Schools closed at first because buses couldn't move, but some are still closed for damage. And now that the water has sat around for a few days, well, we have a little mosquito problem. Meaning, you better run to the car or your house or you are mosquito bait. Now, let's add West Nile Virus to the mix. So, if we get sick, should we assume it's West Nile or Swine Flu? And which is a better scenario?
How many stressors have we counted now? Then there are the local school problems that I can't list online, oh, and it's TAKS week. Meaning, our kids are all locked up for a week taking stressful standardized tests. If we think WE'RE stressed, try worrying about all of this and being 12 years old!
How do we handle all this stress? Well, we try to go on about our days as normally as possible. And we try to eat healthy and exercise. Stressful situations can lead to stress eating or exercise issues. Let's keep things in perspective and keep ourselves healthy first. After all, we're no good to anyone with a lowered immunity. Take your vitamins, drink lots of healthy water, eat and move, and we can slowly reduce the number of stressors right now.
Let me know how you are handling your stress!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Happy Music

Here's something to be happy about
It's even BPM mixes for your workout. You can get the downloaded podcasts for free, and you are set for your next run or bike ride! Totally cool. The DJ even opens with statements about the time and average miles/calories expended during the mix. What a great idea. And FREE? LOVE IT.

Friday, April 17, 2009

New Video Available

My new DVD is now available for purchase for $15. It is designed for prenatal and postpartum women, but can be used by any beginning exerciser.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sodas and Kidney Disease

This morning, there is a research article in Parade Magazine linking sodas or soft drinks to kidney disease. People who have 2 cans per day are twice as likely to develop kidney disease. Another reason to switch to something natural!

Peanut allergies and schools

This morning's news was about doctors being angry for schools going peanut free. They say children should be exposed to peanuts in order to not become allergic.
What an ignorant stand on the part of the doctor. A child that has a peanut allergy cannot be in the viscinity of a peanut without swelling up. This is a fatal allergy! A child could be standing in the lunch line, not picking up the peanut butter sandwich, but picking up what is next to the peanut butter, and then suddenly not be able to breathe.
Yes, non allergy sufferers should be around peanuts. They are a great source of inexpensive protein, too. So, the rest of us should enjoy peanuts and peanut butter AT HOME.

Toxic Fried Potatoes

A new study posted this week that potatoes release a toxic chemical when fried. It is causing cancer in lab rats. What's my point? French fries and potato chips really are evil. It's time to choose a different side order! Maybe this will put an end to the pointless sides in restaurants...once people finally catch on.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Calories In, Calories Out

So this week, the UK released their results on a very long term study about diets. The bottom line is this: exercise and take in less calories, and you lose weight. Keep doing it and you keep it off. Go figure! Nutritionists have been saying it for ages. It really is a math equation. You have to burn more calories than you take in in order to lose weight. It gets complicated when we start looking at ratios of protein, fat, and carbs, but look at it this way: everybody's body is different, and you have to do what makes you feel good. For most people, that means playing the balancing act all day long. Too many simple carbohydrates, and you're starving in an hour. Too much fat and you feel like you ate a lead balloon. Too much protein and you may feel bloated or sluggish. How do you figure it out? Start with a basic balance plan. Every meal has a handful of carbs, a handful of protein, and a dop of fats. How do you feel after? How long do you feel full? Work the equation until you feel great and can go about 4 hours without starving. Work in tons of fruits and veggies, and drink water all day long. Continue to reevaluate, and continue to feel great.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pregnant and Exercising

Pregnant and Exercising?

If you are pregnant and you are in a fitness routine, modern science usually says you can keep up your routine within reason. If you have never exercised before, please consult a physician before starting any exercise routine.

There are many reasons to exercise while pregnant. Doctors agree that you need to keep your weight gain to a healthy number, and exercising women tend to gain little body fat during pregnancy. Gaining too much fat during pregnancy can cause extra stress after the baby is born. And she will be too busy tending to a new baby to lose weight right away. Besides that, a breast-feeding woman needs to keep her nutrition level high for the sake of the baby. All in all, not gaining too much is important. Check this approximate calculator to help you find an average for you.

Many doctors discourage running on hard paved surfaces, and some recommend no high impact at all. Many pregnant women find high impact uncomfortable. Actually, riding a stationary bike can be a good alternative for a while, swimming can be very comfortable for the extra tummy weight, and walking is always an option. Please remember that the baby needs oxygen, so you should never feel breathless or reach the anaerobic threshold while pregnant.

If you are a mind-body exerciser, make sure that you are doing a routine appropriate for pregnant women. There are many DVD’s on the market specifically for pregnant women. Denise Austin has one available on Plank position causes strain on the already stressed ligaments in the abdomen. This can cause extra tearing of the rectus abdominus, leading to diastasis recti (see my previous article on diastasis recti, as well as the community thread on the subject), so entering your average Pilates or yoga class is not recommended.

Weight lifters, the body does benefit from lifting weights. We want your body to be strong for delivery and for taking care of this baby. Again, we don’t want to stress the ligaments in the center of the body and we never want to hold our breath. So keep those things in mind as you lift. To play it safe, limit your standing weight-lifting exercises. If you feel dizzy, sit down right away. Walking lunges or split squats also cause extra strain to the ligaments around the pelvis. This area is mobile and stretching to make way for baby, so my recommendation is to stabilize this area during exercise rather than risk overstretching the ligaments here.

In general, the body is undergoing many hormonal changes that allow the body to stretch out to carry and deliver this baby. Therefore, we need to take extra caution with anything that will permanently strain ligaments and tendons. This can cause an injury that will make your pregnancy very difficult. After exercise, or even some time during an average day, sit down and do some easy static stretches like the V-sit. Make sure to take deep breaths and ease into each stress without strain or overstress. The sore back needs some easy cat stretches and rounded back stretches to ease some of its pain.

Always consult a physician before starting any exercise routine, and consult a certified personal trainer ( for one near you) if you have any questions.

Carrie Harper
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
ACE Certified Weight Management Consultant
Peertrainer Team: Carriefit

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What a Week

and if you are not inspired yet, I would encourage you to open your eyes and see what we are living. There is finally someone who is taking the country's interest at heart. I do believe that where we are now starts the collaboration between two seemingly different ideologies to come up with a plan to help us start a new tomorrow. WITHOUT all the special interests....maybe.
I know this is a deviation from my usual rants on health, but my mental and emotional health has improved this week with the hope that things are going to change. That we don't have to destroy other lands to spread love and democracy. That we don't have to have a trickle down effect so that the CEO's get all the benefits while the rest of us wait at the bottom of the food chain. That we can open our minds to the possibilities that we don't have to do the same old thing with the same old results. We are being fleeced everyday by programs that don't work. We are being cheated by government offices that allow our families to injest poison legally. We are told that living in a clean world just won't work for us. Well, this week says that maybe we can. Maybe we can stand up to all of the big businesses that think they can spend our money irresponsibly. Maybe we can have a say about our own health care, our own bodies, and our own lives (isn't that in the constitution?). Maybe we don't have to see a gloomy future of nothing but war, cancer, and poverty.
This week, on the health front, was the first week that there was a legal stem cell trial done for a spinal ailment. Thank goodness it happened, and lives can be saved. It happened without a lot of hoopla or craziness. It's just the right thing to do to save lives.
Let's end the anger and animosity and just do it. Just live for tomorrow. For our kids.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Les Mills Review

I spent the weekend with my pregnant butt on a bicycle seat, in the interest of finding out all about this Les Mills RPM program I have heard all about. It is to be discovered how patrons will feel about specifically choreographed biking, but it has its positives.
-there is emphasis on body form and care for the back
-music is predetermined to ensure a varied terrain (though the terrain will always be the same type in ratio of flat to hill)
-all classes will be the same so that patrons can memorize what to do and focus on doing it well.
-speed drills are to mimic outdoor cycling

I guess that is a positive and a negative. After all, I feel the brain must be working in order for the body to get full benefit of the exercise, and we don't want people to tune out and go on auto pilot. The instructor must be good at keeping people engaged in order to avoid this.

The cycling programs I usually teach are harder on the muscles than this program. This program is more about speed and VERY short intervals of work. It will be discovered as to whether we see benefit on the body from that ideal.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

It makes me SICK...

If it is not bad enough that we have to worry about pesticides on our vegetables and deadly bacteria growing in our meats, but now we have to worry about ARSENIC in chicken. ARESENIC? Did I read that right? Isn't that the famous poison they use in the movies to kill people? Yes. Chicken farmers feed it to their chickens. And it's LEGAL. You injest it when you eat chicken...
UNLESS you are looking at organic and farm-raised chicken. Hmmm....let's rethink what we thought before about that. My pregnant body has injested ARSENIC, therefore, my tiny lemon-sized person inside has ARSENIC in its body. How incredibly INSANE that is. And my 4-year-old? ARSENIC is in her blood!
What's the moral of the story? Let's do our research and buy products with social consciousness. Organic and farm-raised might take more money, but ARSENIC? No, I will spend the money to save my body and my family from poison! And, I will use other forms of protein more often. Besides, I am terrified of the amount of mercury in local fish, and I am uncertain about all forms of animal proteins that are not farm raised. Organic beans, tofu, and rBST-free cheeses are less expensive in the long run, so those may be my new choices.
USDA and FDA need to get on the BALL. Our lives should not matter less than keeping these unhealthy businesses growing. I am SICK of government caring more about them than us.
Keep reading and keep sharing. Otherwise, we won't be told.

more goals

I had to keep the previous blog brief. Here are some more things to do for 21 days to really kick the health quotient up.
1. eat your fruits and veggies. go for a baseball size of fruit or veggie with every meal, and at least one snack every day.
2. get your fiber. start your day with a high-fiber cereal (like All Bran or Fiber One or good old fashioned oatmeal), fill up on veggies, beans, and legumes.
3. lower your salt intake. don't cook with salt, and definitely don't add it on the table. Try pepper spices and no-sodium alternatives. for snacks, if you are a salty snacker, move to Soy Crisps or flavored popcorn cakes instead of chips, and slowly reduce your intake of those.
4. less sugar. You can switch your sugar add-ins with Splenda for a while and slowly reduce the amount you use. Definitely go for sugar-free prepackaged snacks like sugar free yogurt. Get rid of the junk food in your house and replace it with simpler snacks. Need a fix? Try a fudgsicle or a tootsie roll. They are sweet without packing on the calories.
5. reduce your stress. If exercise, diet, and sleep schedule do not fix the stress issue, look into alternative therapies like massage therapy and acupuncture. Stress affects everything on this list, so we want to work it down to a push of happiness intead.