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Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Elusive Sleep

I know that sleep is very important. The amount of sleep one gets is directly correlated to happiness, less stress, and lack of weight gain (says multiple studies that I've read). And I have tried many things to make sure I get the most and best sleep that I possibly can. Right now, I'm pretty darn close to perfection. Let me list off the things that work and have not worked for me.

Have not worked:

1. Melatonin
This one is a bit different; I have a feeling Melatonin would work for some people, especially if they spend a part or all of their day sleeping during daylight hours, or have a varying sleep schedule. It did not help me one iota, though.

2. Eye Mask
Again, probably more for the folks who sleep during the daylight. I did this once using nothing buy a tea towel and a headband, and oddly enough it put pressure on my eyes and I enjoyed the feeling of it. I slept well, which I didn't expect. A regular eye mask will purposely NOT put pressure on your eyes. YRMV. I didn't like opening my eyes and not being able to see, though.

3. OTC Sleeping Pills (or any sleep medication)
This is not a long term solution. I have taken them when I knew ahead of time that I wasn't going to get enough sleep that night. They often just make me feel super woozy though, and extra tired when I wake up.
[I should probably mention that I am technically a morning person, now that I know what a "non morning person" looks like - read previous boyfriend David. I can wake up pretty easily, be completely coherent and start my day right off the bat. I do enjoy sleeping in, however.]
Mainly, my issue is waking in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back to sleep, in which sleeping pills won't help. Normally my brain starts racing, and it's not usually about stress, but ideas. And I can't get it to shut up!

4. A new bed
Yeah, you heard me. About 8 months ago, I bit a very large bullet and dug into the emerging foam mattress start up industry. After a lot of research (this was before the more recent popups of Leesa, Purple, etc) I chose a Helix mattress because of its customization. Through their website, you give them your age, height, weight, and the type of firmness you generally like and they make a bed to fit your profile. I told them that I was always too hot at night (another reason I wake up often), so I got a "cooling" mattress. My weight was around 190 and I had large hips, so they made the foam sink more in the middle to help align my spine. In theory, it was pretty epic. In reality? Meh. I might have also chosen a mattress that was too firm. See, that's the problem... I don't get to try them out before I buy them. They do give you 100 days to trial it, but then what? What if you hate it? The mattress is 80lbs and came vacuum-sealed in a cardboard tube. How are you supposed to return it? I actually have it sitting on top of my old mattress (A Beautyrest "bowling ball" mattress - remember those commercials?! Yeah that don't work for shit. Anyway, I digress) I have a platform bed so I don't need a box-spring, but turns out with this mattress I needed something, and I had already tossed the box-spring, so I'm using the other mattress. Sigh.

Things that work or probably work:

1. 2 inch memory foam topper
I've had it for a long time. It probably contributes to my heat problem but it makes the bed more comfortable so it's worth it. I shouldn't even need it with the Helix mattress, dammit!

2. A mattress pad
This is a new edition. It doesn't have hardly any padding, but I think it helps dissipate the heat from the foam topper

3. Blackout curtains
Don't even not buy these. For real. The best.

4. Ear Plugs
This one is a little iffy. Do they help? Yes. Do they also cause issues? Yes. I usually have to get an ear lavage every 6 months or so because there's nowhere for the wax to drain when you're constantly wearing plugs. They can also tickle the hairs inside your ears and make you wake up itching like mad. I will often pull them out in the middle of the night after the traffic outside has calmed down to the point where I can still sleep. And no, they don't block sound 100%. I can still hear my alarm just fine, but I won't hear my gerbil running on his wheel in the other room.

5. Memory foam pillows
I've gone through a couple of these already. I usually buy them from Costco. The one I'm using now has a gel side for cooling. It works for a couple hours but then it gets warm like the other side would. It's not perfect but they last a long time and are much better than regular pillows.

6. Plants
Several different articles state that some plants release oxygen at night and can help a person sleep. I am not a green thumb by any means, but some varieties are incredibly easy to take care of and actually require little water or sunlight. I chose to buy an aloe vera plant and a snake plant. I'm not sure if they help but they certainly don't hurt anything!

7. Not taking Phentermine

8. Expensive sheets
Okay, this one pretty subjective. But I saw an ad on facebook for Brooklinen, claiming the best sleep in the world or some shit. But it was also like $70 for a fitted sheet. Now that the idea was in my head though, I decided to poke around and do a bit of research. I used to be so picky with the colors of my bed. I wanted any combination of blood red, gold, and black (Asian Fusion) and it didn't matter the brand or the type or how crappy the sheets were. Anything costing over $40 was going to limit my color range. (The fitted sheet I had for a long time was black, 200 tc Joe Boxer cotton. Drove me nuts.) The more expensive the sheets, the shittier the colors. Although this is still true nowadays, I've given up on that Asian Fusion look. Turns out, JCPenney's has some highly rated sheets, and they came in decent-enough colors. There was also a 50% off coupon for bedding that I greedily used. Although that Damask Red was perfect (do you know how hard it is to find blood red as a sheet color? It's not as easy as it sounds) I didn't like the feel of it, and again, I was tired of the look. I chose their Royal Velvet 400 tc Sateen Ash Gray. I am in love with these sheets. I enjoy the kind of slipperiness they have, after sleeping on crap cotton that wrapped and wrinkled around my body and held in all the heat. I did not overheat last night. It was one of those miracle nights. And I hope to have more miracle nights!

9. Sleeping alone
Highly questionable but you can't deny the science, married people! I have been married, and I've had boyfriends. Sleeping in the same bed with someone is only cool for so long. Of course I miss the snuggles and the other things that come with being in the same bed *cough*, but it's just not worth the rest of the night in misery. Not only do I wake up with every movement my partner makes, but sharing blankets is enough to start a civil war. I get so hot. Justin and I got to the point where we had our own blanket on the same bed. But he snored. And he tossed and turned, and I never got a good night's sleep.
I vote we bring back the 50's. Am I crazy? Well, not according to several articles I've read. There's opinions on both sides of the fence. I would vote for sleeping in the same room, and maybe even having the beds touching or almost touching, but you stay separate enough to have your own sheets, your own space, and most importantly, your own type of bed that you like to sleep on and won't bother your partner if you move around. It doesn't mean that you can't start out in the same bed and do all the things you like to do, but once it's time for sleep, you separate.  

I'm also thinking about investing in this: iBand

What do you all think? What has helped you sleep better at night? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Review Wednesday - Prid

I can't not write about this stuff. I inadvertently found this product while trying to look up ways to get rid of a blind pimple. [A blind pimple is one of those painful, swollen, red pimples that never come to a head. They sit around for weeks and you can't get any relief.] I had one on the bridge of my nose and nothing I had tried would make it go away.

Several solutions included tea tree oil, isopropyl alcohol with a cotton swab, the obvious acne medications, using a hot tea bag or a hot compress... and something called Prid Drawing Salve.

When I first looked this stuff up, I was a little taken aback by it. The company started making this stuff in 1968 and hadn't ever updated their packaging. The word "homeopathic" almost scared me off because I was never really a believer in that kind of medicine (I'd even tried homeopathic hCG once because it was oh-so-much-cheaper, but it didn't work.) Apparently, according to all the reviews I read, this stuff really "draws out" things like pus or infections, and also raises out splinters or thorns. It helps pull out the stuff injected by mosquito (or other bugs) that make you itch, or the poison in a bee sting. It can be used on boils and blisters and other swollen, inflamed places on the skin. It all sounds very "miracle-istic" for a "homeopathic remedy". 

But I'm here to tell you: It works. Now, I can't attest for anything else besides what it does for blind pimples, but if you get those sometimes, it's so worth it. It's not as quick as I had hoped, and I think it works better when not covered by a band-aid, but if nothing else, it gets rid of the pain and reduces some of the swelling. It took an extra 3 days or so to get rid of the one of the bridge of my nose (that I'd already had for 2-3 days) but as I was treating that one, I got another one on my temple. This was my chance to use it from the start - and it worked a lot quicker. Within two days it's nothing but a small, painless bump. I'm not sure what the difference is here but instead of these coming to a head like some people said would happen, they just receded. That makes me happier because I really shouldn't be popping and messing with them (sorry if this is gross) because I still have scars from my teen years.

Fair warning: It smells bad. It's sticky, doesn't wash off very easily, and very medicinal smelling, but I actually don't mind it so much. I can't wait to use it on something else, now. Some people say it helps heal scratches faster, too. I wish I would have discovered this stuff sooner!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

When Gerbils Outsmart You

When you win against a gerbil, it's like scoring a jackpot in the lottery. It's not necessarily that gerbils are smarter, it's just that they're extremely persistent. They constantly find ways to outmaneuver whatever setup you have, especially if its in resistance to something unhealthy or annoying that they do.

Example 1: My gerbil, Odin, has an annoying habit of "digging" against the side of his tank obsessively. He's not trying to get out, it's just in his nature to dig. I just don't understand why he's digging sideways and always in the same place. If you happen to notice that opaqueness on the bottom of his cage, congratulations - that was my attempt at stopping his weird habit. This is double-sided sticky tape. Now, if you also notice, it doesn't go all the way to the edge of the tank. This is because gerbils are persistent bastards. Eventually the tape would become unsticky, and once it did, he dug it right off the glass.

Example 2: This one was actually an unhealthy habit that I needed to stop. Odin had an obsession with chewing on those black metal bars. Eventually, the coating would come off (which I'm sure is toxic), and/or he would either break one of his teeth or get mouth sores, I was sure of it. Plus, it was extremely annoying. He loved to chew on the roof bars which I found very strange. Searching internet forums was not helping. As you can see, Odin already has plenty of things to chew and occupy his time, but he was choosing the bars instead. This time, I couldn't half-ass my approach. I'd already tried tape which only stopped him for a day. Plus, I didn't want to cover his whole upper area with tape.
Forum people, you need to listen to me right now. This works, this fucking works, and I'm going to share my secret with you. It's this: hardware cloth (they call it cloth but it's more like chicken wire). As I watched Odin chew the bars to death, I thought; look at how far his nose protrudes past the bars in order for his teeth to get on them. Gerbils have extreme overbites. If he can't get his nose over it, he can't chew it. And that was my revelation. Cover the bars with metal where the holes are too small for him to fit his nose through.

For the roof, I did the outside. I bought some Gorilla epoxy and used zipties to keep the two metals in contact because, while the wire mesh is bendable, it's too stiff to stay. It was a horrible experience that I choose not to repeat. I got the epoxy everywhere. It made drips down the bars and dried in droplets on the underside. However, that might be a partial reason why he's now leaving the roof alone. Oh, he tried, and lasted about 3 seconds. He tried again, lasted another 3 seconds. I was winning the battle. But, I knew it wasn't over. He also sometimes chewed on the sidebars, so I began to cover those as well.

[Side note: this project took about 3 days, so while I was doing this, I had the cage topper on my table and Odin only has his tank. I had to tape the water bottle to the side of the tank because I had no other way to attach it. When I went to bed on day 1 of the project, I got up the next morning and to my extreme rage, Odin had chewed through the tape, and then chewed a hole through his only water supply. I literally screamed at him. Picked him out out of his cage and cussed up a storm. This is why I don't have children.]

For the side pieces, I wanted to make it easier on myself and decided to cut them to fit the inside of the cage and just use zipties to attach them. I figured he might not be able to get his teeth on them if they were "skintight" against the bars. So far so good. He might just be biding his time though, who knows. Ever since I attached the sides, he has not tried to chew on the bars at all, even though he still has access to them from the front and back of the cage.

It may be too early to tell but, I think... I think I've won. I'm not quite sure what to do with myself. Every single battle that I've fought, I lost miserably (take the food dish for example. When it was in the tank, he'd cover it in his bedding. So, I put the food dish on top of his hut. As you can see, it is clear of bedding. I woke up the next morning with bedding in his dish. Gerbils are the most bizarre creatures.) but I really hope this sticks. I highly recommend anyone with this problem to try this out. You might finally outsmart your gerbil.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Womxn's March in Seattle

I'm not usually one to get political. I have my opinions, sure, but unlike some idiots on the internet, I keep my thoughts to myself and move on 99% of the time. 

Yes, I went to the Womxn's March in Seattle. No, I did not chant or display a creative sign. In fact, all I did was walk (and participate in the occasional sound wave that rolled by). Let me dispel one comment I kept reading over and over about the marches all around the country that happened on 1/21: Did I vote? Why yes, I did. Did I vote for Hilary? *gasp* I did not. I also did not vote for Trump (which was probably obvious). Unlike so many others who didn't want to vote for either candidate so they didn't vote, I wanted to exercise my right to.

So why did I march? Yet another snide comment on posts was the fact that women already have equal rights so we're just wasting our time. They also think we're whining liberals and just complaining that Trump won. Neither one of these assumptions are true (at least for me).

I can't say much about the wage gap as I work in a merit and experienced based-pay company. I don't know if it's true or not and would probably be nearly impossible to prove due to everyone having different educational and life experiences for the jobs they are applying for. BUT.

The number one hot bed ticket item is reproductive rights and our right to choose. And this has little to do with Trump (yet), because it started after those videos went viral about Planned Parenthood selling off aborted baby parts. Republicans decided to defund Planned Parenthood, despite the allegations that they were profiting off the practice being false. However, abortions were never funded by the Government in the first place, so what they're actually defunding is pap smears and breast exams and STD screenings etc. 
And the reason I care so much is because I currently work at a Catholic institution. It's large enough to offer their own insurance, but they choose to force their beliefs onto their employees, so if you are covered by their insurance, they will not help pay for abortions or any kind of birth control, period. (Thanks to the ACA, I was able to get an IUD placed for free, which would have cost me $700-$1,200 out of pocket since my ins won't cover it). So where does that leave me in this case? Planned Parenthood. Right now our ability to choose is up in the air. They could take it away at any moment. They don't have to make abortions illegal in order to make it happen. There are several undercut ways to take those rights away, like defunding the very places that offer the service. 

Can you see it? The line of people stretches all the way to to the end.

The comment that disturbed me the most was "3 miles of crybabies". Yes, at one point there were enough people in this march to stretch all the way from Judkins Park (where it started) to Westlake Center (where it ended). Estimates say there were about 175,000 participants. 

But we weren't the only city that marched.

Not only in cities around the state. Not only in cities around the country, but cities around the world marched in solidarity with us. Between 1 million and 5 million people - and not all of them women - marched. I am proud to be a part of history, even if it changes nothing. I am proud that we kept the mood light and jovial, and that no one damaged property or got arrested. We smiled, we laughed, we had fun, believe it or not. And I got a good workout ta boot. 

I was marching to remind the current administration that we matter. I was not necessarily going in order to oppose Donald Trump. I'm not whining about it. I know it's happened and we can't make it un-happen. I'm not an idiot. I'm kind of an independent when it comes to my political views; there are things on each side of the fence that I like and dislike. There are some things about Trump that I agree with. I am not a whining liberal. I just want to make sure that we keep the power in our court - and this can stand for any race or sex. We are in charge, not them. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Raising Awareness of PVCs

No, I don't mean PVC pipes. I think most people are aware of PVC pipes. If they aren't, then they have bigger issues.

I mean Premature Ventricular Contractions. It sounds scary and dangerous, but they're not. However, when I kept getting them and didn't know what they were, I was freaking out pretty good. So, I want to let people know what they are and kind of what they feel like, so they can see if this is what they've been experiencing for themselves. 

WARNING: I am not a doctor despite watching House, MD a second time though and working in a doctor's office and have done classes in Anatomy/Physiology and Medical Terminology. I still got checked out by a doctor just to make sure what I had wasn't more serious and if you're really concerned then I suggest you do the same. Okay, moving on...

This is your heart. The ventricles are the two lower chambers, and end up being responsible for pumping the blood to your lungs for oxygenation and to the rest of your body. There are nodes (not pictured) that control your heartbeat via electrical impulses. The main one is the sinoatrial node, but the purkinje fibers control the contraction of your ventricles. When they are out of sync, a PVC occurs.

i just had a PVC the other day when I was laying down for bed, and I noticed something interesting. I put my fingers on my neck in order to feel my heartbeat, and every time the ventricles pumped too early (as in, they didn't allow the cavities to be filled with blood before going off), I did not get a heartbeat on my neck. It feels a lot like a skipped beat or an extra beat. You are hyper aware of your pounding heart, and it almost seems like it's bouncing around in your chest. For me, a PVC lasts maybe 30 seconds, but it seems like a very long time. I suppose they could become dangerous if they continued due to the simple fact that the heart isn't pumping blood very efficiently; eventually that would cause serious issues. 

However, I read that there is a way to stop them from continuing: 


That's right. Even if it's a fake yawn. I read that the act of yawning uses the same vegus nerves as the heart, or something like that (I can't seem to find the article now. I don't think doctors know officially how it works) and it kind of resets the heart rhythm. i don't know why it works, I just know that it does!

I've done so many of these "Raising Awareness" posts that I think I'm going to re-link them in case anyone is interested in reading all the other lame things wrong with me!


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My First Week on Phentermine

So far, this medication is a miracle. Not a miracle drug, but a miracle for me.

You see, I have a problem with eating too much. I eat healthily 90% of the time. I'm talking chicken salad and greek yogurt and babybell cheeses and miracle noodles. I haven't had fried food in a long time. I eat 99% whole grains and flax seed and oats. And I actually enjoy eating these things... it's not forced on me. It's habit.

But, calories is calories regardless of where it comes from. If you eat more than you body can burn in a day, you will gain weight regardless; and this is where I'm at. I do exercise (cardio/HIIT Mon and Wed and Strength/weights Tue and Thur), but I haven't lost weight.

Sweets are my weakness. The meals that I eat put me at around 1400-1500 calories, when my body burns about 1680 just by being alive. Which would work out well if I wasn't hungry. And sweets will put me over that 1680 mark easily, and at that point all I'm doing is maintaining or slightly gaining.
I tried Belviq, which is supposed to trick your brain into thinking you're full sooner when you eat. It kind of works and kind of doesn't. Unfortunately it doesn't stop my cravings (define: food I will eat regardless of whether I actually feel hungry or not; sometimes even when I'm full) and I hadn't been losing any weight on it. So here comes Phentermine. If it sounds slightly familiar, it should. It's the Phen part of Fen-Phen. The non-dangerous half of the formula. But it's supposedly highly addicting and so you are closely monitored by a physician, and can only be prescribed for 3 months. There can also be some very concerning side-effects, which I luckily haven't experienced.

Phentermine increases production of some chemicals in the body through the adrenal glands that increase your energy (aka your heart rate) and block signals of hunger. And it most definitely works. I've been able to maintain a diet of 1200 calories a day so far. Not only does it block hunger signals most of the day, but makes me full faster (even if I do feel hungry), and it also curbs cravings because I am a satisfied kind of non-hungry, if that makes any sense. 

The only issue that concerns me is that this is not a long-term solution. From the articles and posts I've read, Phentermine is normally given to people who are obese and need to learn better habits. Phentermine will allow people to start eating healthy and exercising so that they can take care of the weight themselves. Due to it being so addicting I will only be on it for 3 months, and then what? I already eat healthy and exercise. Of course I want to lose 30 pounds - 40 is my goal. But can I really maintain this after I'm off the medication? I'm just so hungry all the time, which I think is due to leptin resistance, which I'm not going to get into here, (read about it here. It's a real thing) but I think that's what I'm fighting against. My hope is that with less fat, I won't be fighting the hunger as much.

Right now, I think I will just enjoy the wave of weight loss. I only need to lose 15 lbs to be lower than the lowest weight I've ever been, and I'm looking forward to that tremendously! 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Nail Stamping

A couple people have asked me how I do my nails, so this will be my guide/tutorial on everything you need to stamp your nails and make them look pretty without spending a fortune at the salon (I don't know about you, but I don't like people messing with my nails!)

First thing first: I highly recommend OPI nail polish for all your basic needs. They go on thick and generally only need one layer. They also dry pretty darn fast! You will need a clear base coat for sure (base coats are formulated to adhere to your nail. Don't try to save money here by buying an all-in-one. The formulas are different in a base coat as opposed to a top coat.) And you can not do these stamps without a top coat because they can and will scrape off easily. 
I also like Orly nail polishes, but I prefer using them on their own because they come in a lot of wacky and cool colors. Plus they are also thin so you need more than one coat in most cases.

Here are the items you will need (I will use amazon links to make it easy but you can find a lot of this stuff cheaper elsewhere):

Stamper and Scraper - Believe it or not, not all stampers and scrapers are created equal. The scraper pictured here is my favorite. A good stamper will not be too firm and not too soft. It will need to pick up the polish well and form fit to your nail.
I also highly suggest that you "prime" your stamper with a nail file because it will help pick up more polish. The color of the stamper can be important too... if you choose white and you use a lot of white stamping polish, you're going to have a horrible time lining up your stamp when you can't see it!

"Special" nail polish - You may think you can get away with using a regular thick nail polish and you'd be wrong. Trust me, I've tried. Stamping polish is much thicker. This is the brand I use (try ebay). They are small bottles, but they will last you a long time.

Manicure plates - My favorite part! There is so much to choose from it will boggle your mind. [I have read that not all stamping plates are created equal either. Some of them are made so cheaply that the recesses etched into the plates aren't deep enough and won't produce a good stamp. I have bought $2 plates off of and have been fine, but you've been warned!] I have used the round plates before, and they certainly work, but those kinds of designs are mainly little pictures of things like flowers and butterflies. They are hard to line up perfectly. I prefer nail plates that have pictures designed to fit to your entire nail. They usually give enough room for error in case your stamp is a bit off. They also have ones that depict an entire scene and you just pick the part you like and stamp it. I find those a bit odd and haven't bothered with them.

That's it for supplies! Now for the tutorial:

After your base coat dries, paint your special polish into a plate design that you like. Make sure its in there thick; don't be stingy. Scrape off the excess - and scrape it twice (this will insure all gaps are filled with polish). Now work rapidly here - the polish is thin and will dry quickly. Use your stamp and roll it onto the plate, pressing hard. It should pick up most all of the polish. Line the stamp up with your nail as best as you can, and just like on the plate, roll it onto your nail from one side to the other in one fluid move. Its best to have your nail on the table when you do this. Between each nail, you will want to wipe off your stamp and your plate with nail polish remover (please just use acetone. It works so much better for clean up. Also don't use cotton balls for this; you will regret it. Paper towels will work just fine). And that's it! The process seems long and tedious but once you get the rhythm down it'll go quick. 

One downside to full nail stamps is the clean up around the edges. 
I have a manicure pen for this.

One last step before it's all done: the top coat. The stamped polish is pretty much immediately dry, so after you're done stamping all your nails you can paint on the top coat - but one more piece of advice: your top coat brush will literally pull the stamp with it as you apply it. My advice is to carefully and lightly dab the top coat onto your nail. Swipe it as little as possible. Once it dries, add another top coat in the normal fashion. 

All done!

There are so many options here; different stamps to try, different color combinations... the possibilities are endless and will keep you busy for a long time! Plus they look super cool, don't you think? :D