A Cautionary Tale

 

The arsenal

 

For a (former) card carrying member of the sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll generation, taking anti-depressants should be a no-brainer, right? Except when it isn’t.

The taking of anti- depressants has become as mundane and common as gulping vitamins. Their use has become so pervasive that not only are they prescribed for the obvious, depression, but also a myriad of other conditions including  anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating issues, chronic pain, ADD, addiction and sleep disorders. Since the national election, many doctors report a major upsurge in demand for antidepressants just to deal with the State of the Union! Basically, they have become an easy go-to for medical and psychiatric practitioners and a panacea for patients. The goal in all cases is the same: to feel better.

And for most people, they work. Of course, there are countless antidepressants to choose from and choose you must. Each may affect one in a different way. Web MD cautions:

“Not everyone has the same side effects. And a particular antidepressant doesn’t cause the same side effects in all people. Many things, including your genetic makeup or existing health conditions, can affect the way you respond to taking an antidepressant.”

Then they list the most common side effects. Are you ready to take your pick?

Nausea, increased appetite and weight gain, loss of sexual desire, (the dreaded) erectile dysfunction,decreased orgasm, fatigue, drowsiness, insomnia, dry mouth, blurred vision, jitteriness, weird dreams, constipation, dizziness and irritability. Yes, while attempting to feel better, you may encounter other unwanted aspects that make you feel even worse.

I have my own personal history with antidepressants. I started taking them in 2004 when my divorce coincided with menopause. What a Clash of the Titans that was! I was prescribed a drug called Effexor also known as Venlafaxine. The dosage was the lowest available, 37.5 mg. And in a short while, I did feel immeasurably better and encountered no noticeable side effects.

Fast forward to 2006 when I fell in love with my (current) husband, Richard. He, too, was taking Effexor for reasons of his own. But while on a romantic trip to Paris and the South of France, we felt so upbeat that we went off the drug. I wish I could say we made it a dramatic gesture, like throwing the pills into the Seine, but unfortunately I blew that photo opportunity. I have no memory of any difficulty  experienced with stopping the drug, but most likely France, wine, and sex obliterated any negative effects.

In 2010, we relocated from Santa Fe to Richard’s home in Connecticut. I completely underestimated the devastating effect that move would have on me. It involved leaving a home I had lovingly built, friendships that were emotionally important to me and a 25 year career in real estate, which occupied me 24/7. So we moved to his small but lovely bachelor pad on the water in Stamford where I knew no one and had nothing to do. After a serious back injury incurred while moving, major depression descended like an anvil. Concerned, Richard sent me to a psycho pharmacologist he knew and after determining that I truly was depressed, he put me on Effexor again. Remember Dr. Feel Good because he comes back later in my story.

Eventually, I established a life and friendships in Stamford, but was never truly happy there and continued taking Effexor. In 2015, Richard retired from his dental practice and we moved to North Shore Boston area to be closer to his daughter and grandchildren. By this time my back problems were chronic and I had already weathered a surgery for spinal stenosis with no relief. Because I was plagued by debilitating back and radiating leg pain, my new physiatrist doubled my dosage of Effexor. A spinal fusion followed and a lengthy recovery. This opened up a whole Pandora’s box of new drug problems.

Immediately after surgery, I was given Oxycodone, a morphine like opioid used to treat severe pain, and directed to take it around the clock. Oh, it killed the pain all right, but it left me like a Zombie. I remember thinking, why would anyone take this drug recreationally? It makes me feel like shit. I couldn’t focus or carry on a conversation. It was as if I was living in my own little opium den, swathed in gauze, and trying to get out. So I began  to taper off the drug, preferring the pain to the stupor. But I did it without consultation and too fast, precipitating severe withdrawal. Nausea, vomiting, sweating and fatigue enveloped me for days before I came out of it with real perspective on what people endure to get off addictive drugs.

Once I recovered from surgery, I realized something else was happening with my head.    Strange neurological symptoms surfaced: low grade but constant headaches, the sensation of vibrating vision and something I can only describe as “brain flutters.” I was examined and evaluated exhaustively by an ear doctor, auditory specialist, ophthalmologist, neurologist, ophthalmic neurologist, you name it.  MRIs, CT scans, balance, vision, auditory and dizziness tests were administered. The conclusion? “We found nothing wrong with you.”

This might seem great news, but it threw me for a loop. Give me a problem and I will deal with it. Here there was a persistent medical issue but no diagnosis.  I was beyond discouraged on every level.

Clearly, there WAS something wrong with me, diagnosed or not. Frustrated, I turned to online self-diagnosis which is admittedly questionable, but can be informative. A medical article on Effexor’s side effects listed “visual disturbances” as the number one result. Yet, none of the many doctors, all aware of every drug and supplement that passed my lips had questioned my taking it.

I had an epiphany: what if all my issues related back to Effexor?

I decided to go off it to see if my thesis proved correct. I did this under the supervision of my primary care doctor.

Going off a psychotropic drug like an antidepressant cold turkey is very ill advised. After my experience with Oxycodone, I knew even weaning myself off slowly could be challenging. It took several weeks to gradually decrease my dosage til I was taking the lowest level capsule every fifth day. At that point, I was instructed to stop.

And then I started to feel other worldly and not in a good way. I was super emotional, having crying jags from songs on the radio or random thoughts. I became lethargic, unmotivated, anti –social, stoned, as if I were living in a parallel universe. Overwhelming fatigue sent me to bed for hours. And the brain flutters were worse than ever. This all made me, you guessed it, depressed. So I placed another call to Dr. Feel Good, who despite my nickname for him, is a brilliant and very serious guy. He felt that what I was experiencing, three weeks after being completely drug free, was drug withdrawal and not atypical. He also told me something very sobering: after one depression treated with drugs and then stopping them, you have a 50% chance of relapse into another depression. After two such go- rounds, you have an 80% chance of relapse. He also cautioned that it could take two to three months for all neurological effects to resolve.

So. One sees why people get discouraged and go back on antidepressants.

He offered me two options: to gut it out and hopefully feel “normal” in the next couple months, or to go back on the drug in perpetuity.

What a choice.

I decided to go with Plan A and hope that I do not relapse into anything requiring chemical assistance. What I now understand more fully is that drugs like antidepressants alter the chemical balance of your brain, which controls and affects all mental and physical function.

And that is no small matter.

So the cautionary in the tale is this:

Think carefully and research well before embarking on a course of antidepressants.

Popping pills is not be taken lightly; you are making serious changes to the status and operation of your brain. Be advised of the potential side effects of any drug you consider.

And IF you decide to go off any serious psychological or opioid drug, do so with care, under medical supervision and VERY slowly, even if you have taken it for a short time. All drugs have both positive and negative effects and may have major consequences.

Better Living Through Chemistry? You could benefit greatly or be in a world of hurt.

 

 

 

 

 

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Boy in a Box or A New Twist on Mother’s Day

 

My First Grand Child

When I first became a mother on March 25, 1974, it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. The Mother Gene was very strong in me from the get-go. And as soon as I looked into that little face and held that tiny body against my chest, I fell deeply and profoundly in love.

Flash forward to this past September when my son and daughter in law brought forth my first grandchild, Jonathan Milo. And again, the first time I saw him in the flesh and held him in my arms, I was a goner. Now every photo sent, every Face Time with him and every video of him chortling fills me an indescribable joy. I am besotted with this little boy. There is no purer love than for the child of your child.

When I open my lap top in the morning, there he is on the screen. A different photo greets me on my iPad and another laughing visage on my mobile phone. And each time, it fills me with such joy. I couldn’t, even with effort, restrain the smile that comes instantly.  The glow fades ever so slowly before I need another fix.

Every month on the “anniversary” of his birth, I send him something. I am constantly thinking of what I would like to see him wear or what would bring him delight. He is 8 months old now and the rest of the year’s gifts are already at the ready in my closet.

So when I saw the Boy in the Box photo, I laughed out loud. Here he is, ready to move into his first house with a quizzical expression that says, “What do they have in store for me now??”

If only they would close that box, cut some air holes and FedEx him right to my door!

Mother’s Day will never be the same again.

 

P.S. A reprise of last year’s Mother’s Day blog by request is being sent.

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The Other Side of Mother’s Day

Ah, Mother’s Day. A mother surrounded by her adoring family; pampered, taken out to dinner, showered with gifts and cards.

Me as a young mom, 1981

Me as a young mom, 1981

At least that’s how Hallmark sees it.

The reality? It can be a painful, hellish holiday for so many women.

Consider:

The mother whose child has died, the mother who lost her child in a custody battle, the woman who aborted and lived to regret it.

The woman who got pregnant and gave her child away. The divorced mother working two jobs to feed her kids, the woman who has tried every means to conceive and cannot.

The woman who was adopted, the woman who sought out her birth mother and was turned away. The mother who has a child with a severe disability.

The enlisted mother deployed to dangerous regions. The mother whose child rejects her or vice versa. The woman who was abused by her mother. The woman with an alcoholic, disabled or demented mother. The woman estranged from her mother.

The woman whose mother died or left home, never to be known. The woman who inherits her new husband’s children.

Even those who never have had a child, definitely had a mother; even briefly. It is the commonality of women.

To all of them, and any other permutations, the words “Mother’s Day” come loaded with emotional baggage.

Mom circa 1930's

Mom circa 1930’s

There is another category to which I belong:

the woman who has lost her mother. And what a mother and woman she was! Funny, feisty, spirited, productive, and resourceful. Not to mention passionately loving, supportive and generous. An impossible standard to live up to. With her as my mentor, having children of my own was a major priority. I was so blessed to have two healthy and loving boys and I savored every moment of raising them. Now that they are busy adults, Mother’s Day can be fraught with disappointment. Neither lives close enough to pop over on Sunday and get to work on Monday, so a celebration is only infrequently in the offing.

My darling sons

My darling sons

But more impactful for me is that I lost the mother who I adored, admired and emulated right before Mother’s Day two years ago. The first such holiday without her was literally unbearable. This one will be little better as she fills my thoughts with every Mother’s Day ad and card I see. On my night table is her picture; a candle lit in remembrance. Friends, childless and not, who have lost their mothers also have confided how they dread this day.

What does one do on Mother’s Day without children or a mother?

Might I suggest making it Me Day.

Go to or download a chick flick. Add popcorn and a glass of wine

Get a facial, peel, blow out or a new lipstick.

Schedule a mani/pedi or massage.

Surround yourself with your favorite flowers (Casa Blanca lilies for me!)

Workout and eliminate the stress while getting some benefit.

Plan a day doing what pleases you; brunch with friends, a flea market, a shopping spree, curling up with a page turner.

Being a mother is hard; losing a mother is hard; losing a child hardest of all.

Live through Mother’s Day any way you can and on Monday, breathe a sigh of relief. It’s over for another year.

As for me, my hopes and dreams for a more uplifting Mother’s Day lie with my first grandchild who will be born in the Fall. Next year, maybe I will view it all differently.

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The Come Back

Drawing by Carmen Beecher

Drawing by Carmen Beecher

Hello, it’s me.
Hey, it worked for Adele. Why not for me?
Lately so many people have queried, “What happened to your blog?” that I feel compelled to explain. I honestly had no idea that my little unpaid writing gig had any impact on anyone. So to know that my absence was missed is heartening.
Here is what happened:
Creeping decrepitude.
It started with chronic back issues way back when and reached a crescendo last January when I had spinal stenosis surgery called a laminectomy. Unfortunately, that surgery caused a cyst to press on a nerve which left me unable to walk without excruciating pain and led to procedure #2 in March.
I moved from Connecticut to Massachusetts in May where I ran from doctor to doctor pursuing a diagnosis and solution to low back and radiating leg pain that dug in and wouldn’t let go. After many MRIs, Xrays, PT, Chiropractic measures, acupuncture, epidurals and enough steroid to rival Lance Armstrong, I am scheduled for spinal fusion surgery tomorrow.
Last weel, my husband and I spent an entire day undergoing pre- op testing at the hospital and then consulting with the surgeon and her nurse practitioner. As Richard avidly scribbled down every word, I was instructed on what to do and not prior to surgery and during recovery. My head began swimming. Then my surgeon began to lay out the mechanics of the procedure. As I heard “rods, screws, ground bone and cage”, I started to glaze over. By the time she got to “indwelling morphine pump ” I had checked out entirely. Just do it already.
I am learning that the greatest challenge after 50 is NOT wrinkles and sagging skin. It’s losing the ability to lead an active life. I was previously a 6 day a week gym rat. Weights and Pilates were my drugs of choice. i had energy to burn.Now, in the week leading up to surgery, I was allowed to sit on my bed or couch, interrupted hourly with a 2 minute walk around the house.
With a walker.
Shades of my mother at 96. It’s demoralizing. But not quite as much as having to have a wheelchair at the airport on my recent trip home from California. Talk about a low point.
Which brings me to an important issue.
My husband has been harping on me about the “Mind/Body” connection. And I am beginning to get it.
When you are dealing with constant pain, you are no longer yourself. It’s virtually impossible to keep up a pretense of normality. I know; I’ve done my best Oscar worthy performances when necessary. Depression is inevitable and when I was prescribed a substantial dose of anti depressant, my mood went from 0 to 60 in 24 hours. I fought it but it made a huge difference. I am now able to call upon that spark of humor and sarcasm that are central to my personality. I can appreciate the benefit of being served breakfast in bed and getting to pick which TV show we watch. Seriously, without my ardent and conscientious care giving husband, I would be toast. But this is just the warm up. We are steeling ourselves for what is coming down the road post surgery.
Here is the essential truism of dealing with illness, no matter what it is: if it affects you, it also affects those around you. Spouses get the really short end of the stick. It can be very tough on relationships when there is so much anxiety on both sides. And I have found my husband’s anxiety causes me even more stress, a vicious cycle. So communication is vital.
And drugs, definitely!
I have great plans for my recovery period, anticipated to be 2-3 months.
Lots of great TV, the more escapist, the better. Scandal, Billions, The Catch, House of Cards. And that hilarious political spoof, the Presidential campaign!
Re reading every Nora Ephron book at the library; laughter being THE  best medicine.
Completing my first hand knitted sweater in 20 years so I can get to baby things for my highly anticipated first grandson.
Revisiting favorite movies like Dr. Zhivago with my friend Johanna and a trough of popcorn.
And of course, Food Network. So I can fantasize about all the things I’ll make when I can stand up for more than 5 minutes.
Patience has never been my forte. So to hold myself back for weeks and even months is going to challenge me to the max.
Time to see what this girl is really made of.

Posted in arthrities, physical degeneration, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Marriage Milestone: A Mother’s Viewpoint

I imagine that for the mother of a girl, there are years of tulle wrapped fantasies starring their daughter as a bride. But for those of us with boys, it’s a whole different ballgame. The wedding itself is not even part of the scenario. It’s the wondering: will my son ever find a girl good enough for him/who really appreciates him/or even, who can tolerate him?!

So although the wait seemed interminable, when the day finally came that my 41 year son, Adam, announced he’d found THE ONE, I felt relief and yes, euphoria.

I had already had ample exposure to THE ONE and witnessed how smitten they were with each other. Maybe besotted captures it better. Anyway, they were madly in love. Even better, they seemed perfectly matched and so happy and at ease in each other’s presence. My son and I were totally in sync for a change; PJ was everything I could have wished for in a daughter- in- law.

Once he put a (vintage) ring on it, the next step was meeting her family, who live in Atlanta. Shortly after they had made it official, we were invited to join the whole clan for Thanksgiving. It was clear that her family was a warm and welcoming one who seemed as delighted with our son as we were with their daughter (sister, niece, granddaughter etc.) and when I dove in to help with the dinner, we all got very comfortable very quickly. The highlight of the weekend for me was being present at the initial search for The Dress. As a mother of sons, I relished being included in this ritual usually reserved exclusively for the mother of the bride.

As the months went on, PJ and I forged a connection. Again, she invited me to join her and her bridesmaids in the hunt which took us to the legendary Kleinfeld’s in NYC. Suffice to say, it was not a rapturous “Say Yes to the Dress” experience. But PJ continued her search, undaunted, and finally zeroed in on a dress that she loved, fulfilled her desires, fit her budget and made the most of her assets.

Having been to umpteen weddings, Adam and PJ took the reins themselves and planned it all down to the last detail. As mother- of- the- groom, I had to learn restraint, which does not come naturally, and when to shut up entirely. Forwarding emails of Vogue-ish weddings was not welcomed. Little ideas were politely spurned. They were clear in what they wanted and emphatic in what they didn’t. The learning curve had started for “How to be a Mother- in- Law who does not induce eye rolling.”
The destination was chosen: Stowe, VT, a sentimental choice having been a frequent vacation spot for our family over many years. Fortunately, the bride responded to the natural beauty of the locale as much as my son. It was, quite frankly, a schlep for her family from Atlanta and ours from Washington State, California, New Orleans, Dallas, D.C. and Santa Fe but everyone got on board, most for their first look at Vermont and the glorious Fall color experience.

The time honored advice for the mother- of -the- groom is “Shut up, sit down and wear beige.” The first and second were possible. The third? Not a chance. Given the bride’s blessing to wear what I wished, I went the hunt for the ultimate mother- of- the- groom dress. Early October in a Vermont meadow suggested floral to me. But not summery, and not black.

I spent hours poring over websites looking for something that would capture my imagination and I found it at Neiman Marcus, god bless them, online, a Badgley Mischka gown of navy lace. It was sleeveless, the bateau neck and squared arm holes edged with faggoting, the fitted torso flowing into one long, slender pour to the ground. The back was cut out, but not too provocatively, and it swished into a train. The whole thing was covered with delicate hand painted flowers and embellished here and there with discreet clumps of navy sequins. Elegant, feminine, and just a bit sexy. Having not been made available yet, it had to be ordered and altered to the max, my 5’2” frame somewhat smaller than the designers had probably envisioned. When it was done, it was perfection. But SO perfect, that I dared not gain a pound before the wedding. Which was months away. Will anyone ever appreciate my sacrifice and deprivation? Unlikely. But I had extra strength Spanx at the ready for insurance.

I think I had as much fun making my fantasy come to life as the bride. As the day drew near, we were all glued to the weather projections. It was going to be cool. I was going to need a wrap. The dress was so gorgeous, the last thing I wanted to do was cover it up with a jacket or shawl. Enter my friend, Johanna, who took my somewhat vague comments about shrugs and stoles and came up with several websites with options. Ultimately, I chose a navy marabou stole that skimmed my shoulders and fastened in the front. It came from England and I sweated a bit the possibility that it might not arrive on time. But it did and it was sublime.

Having found some “statement” earrings, I opted to contain my unpredictable hair for the event to let them shine. I wore it middle parted and pulled back into a chignon which hid the elastic on a braided (hair) headband that matched my own tresses. Dare I say, vaguely reminiscent of the Von Trapp Family? But in good way. Sprayed within an inch of its life, my hairdo was going nowhere during the proceedings.

With the resplendent bride

With the resplendent bride

And then it was THE DAY. The excitement and stress were palpable. But the morning dawned sunny and calm and it all went off without a hitch. I dressed with the bride and her “girls” and after a little bubbly, we were all very sanguine. PJ was a vision of beauty and radiance in her gown, her hair in long, loose curls partly clasped back with a sparkling hair clip. No veil, no jewelry; truly, she needed no ornamentation to glow.

The aisle walk

The aisle walk

My son ultimately decided to have his dad and I walk him down the aisle. It was a transcendent moment in my life, leading my son toward the brink of his future. As the bride glided down the aisle on the arm of her beaming father, my eyes went to my son. I wanted to mentally record the moment he saw his bride. As I watched, his expression of nervous tension transformed into a smile of unrestrained joy. My eyes filled with tears. I saw his life on fast forward, bookended by the first time I held him in my arms with awe and the moment when he joined his bride under the chuppah to launch his own family.

A milestone moment in his life, and mine.

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Say “Cheese”

I have always been self conscious about my teeth. Saying “cheese” was not an option, and the order to do so would simply produce a tight lipped, close mouthed smile. Due to a botched adolescent orthodontia job, an uneven number of teeth were pulled from my “too small” mouth and the bottom choppers became totally jumbled. And as time went on, one of my front teeth crossed over the other. In every photo it appeared that the more forward tooth stuck out and cast a shadow on its twin. It drove me crackers.

Somewhat resigned to this particular flaw, it never occurred to me to try to correct the situation til I met my husband who practiced restorative dentistry in Greenwich, CT for over 40 years. On our first real date, I threw out at him, “So you are a big time dentist, what would YOU do about my front teeth? Veneers? Caps? What?” To which he answered, “Nothing, I think they are charming!” This was diplomatic but not at all helpful.

What WAS helpful was meeting his favorite former student and now orthodontist extraordinaire, Dr. Rosemary Ryan at a (scintillating) dental event. Rosemary is so warm and approachable that before long, I was confiding my desire to present a straighter smile to the world, especially because I now represented my husband. She suggested I try Invisalign, a clear, nearly undetectable solution to the conventional wire system.

Here’s how it works:
A modern approach to dental straightening, Invisalign uses a series of custom made, smooth and virtually invisible plastic trays worn over the teeth. The trays are switched out every two weeks as they gradually shift your teeth into place, based on the exact movements designed for you by your orthodontist.

The process starts with x-rays, photos and impressions of your teeth and then the trays are created. Dr. Ryan was even able to show me the computer generated, gradual moves my teeth would make on their way to a smile I could proudly display. Although each case in unique, the typical time for adult correction is one year. Mine lasted just a couple months longer.

SO what’s the catch?
Commitment. I had to wear my plastic trays 24/7 except for removing them before eating and to brush and floss morning and night. For someone like me who eats little meals every 3 hours that was a royal pain. I seemed to be constantly removing them (not pretty when done in front of others, BTW), rinsing and brushing them. My speech was not as distinct with the aligners in. And they were a real romance killer. (Wait, don’t kiss me, I have to take out my braces!)

Still, I was determined and I persisted. I have very sensitive gums so each time I received a new package of 3 pairs, they had to be buffed and honed for comfort. But I started to see my little pearls improving weekly and at the end of 14 months, my treatment was complete.

Before and After

Before and After

However, I was (am) not done. Following the end of alignment, my middle six top and bottom teeth were secured with tiny wires on the inside (not at all visible or uncomfortable) to hold them in place. And I am required to wear a night guard, very similar to the Invisalign trays that continue to lock in the new positioning of my teeth. For those inclined to fudge the rules, be aware that without retainers, straightened teeth can gradually shift back to their original position, making the whole process a total waste of time and money. The retainer is lighter and fits very precisely so comfort is not an issue for me. Remembering to put it in nightly, however, is!Every morning I clean it in a little warm water bath with Kleenite, no brushing required.

According to recent stats, conventional metal braces cost between $3,000 and $7,000 while Invisalign clocks in at $4,000-$7,500. As an adult female considering the costs of other facial improvements like Botox, fillers, nips and tucks, this price may or may not phase you. To me, the ability to smile and laugh freely without holding back is worth every penny.

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Red Carpet Ready

Ok, maybe not the REAL red carpet, but I am prepping for a big event: the summer wedding of dear friends in a swanky venue. I have to look my best and have less than a week to pull it together! That means body buff, skin glowing, nails immaculate and hair frizz-less.

I have to admit, although I am usually pretty disciplined, I have been off the rails since July 4th, indulging myself in 3 no-nos: alcohol, cheese and sugar. We were entertained by new friends here and it would be rude NOT to drink their wine and nibble their cheese, right? And I offered to bring dessert which was a “from scratch” key lime pie. It was my first ever so I had no idea that it was loaded with sweetened condensed milk, maybe the most caloric-ly dense, sugary food on the planet! But hey, it was great, I enjoyed every toothsome bite, and now I have to pay the price. Since I will be wearing two close fitting frocks this weekend, drastic measures are called for.

Body

Starting the day with lemon water

Starting the day with lemon water

I started last night by skipping dinner and substituting a protein shake, shocking my body into training mode. Now I plan to adhere to my Fast Metabolism Diet which has worked wonderfully and fast, when I follow it. No gluten, no sugar, plenty of fresh veggies and fruit and lean protein with a little quinoa and brown rice thrown in for filler (see previous post that outlines diet). I am starting each day with lemon water; ½ lemon squeezed into warm, not scalding water. The benefits:

  • Daily detox and flushing of toxins
  • Stimulates digestive tract
  • Pectin, a soluble fiber in lemon, aids weight loss
  • Eases bloat and tummy upset
  • Diuretic action
  • Energizing and mood enhancing
  • I’ll be swigging water and green tea throughout each day.

From there, it’s eating the right stuff at the right time, meaning every 3 hours to goose my metabolism. At the same time, I am doing daily cardio, Pilates once this week, and free weights for my arms every other day. I’m going sleeveless or I’m not going at all!

Skin

Dr. Dennis Gross 14 day Challenge

Dr. Dennis Gross 14 day Challenge

Planning ahead, I purchased Dr. Dennis Gross’ 14 Day Challenge, a 2 week, nightly alpha beta peel with a ferulic acid and retinol chaser for the face. Only 3 days left and my skin is looking and feeling great. On order: Gross’ Medi Spa peel, a stronger, once weekly version to maintain my results. I’ve been exfoliating my body daily and applying self tanner after with religious fervor. Since I start from a place of blinding whiteness, I don’t exactly have the JLo glow, but I do have color from head to toe which looks natural and healthy. I will be packing the new Jergens BB Body Cream to maximize my efforts through the weekend.

Hair 

Since I had a cut and color 3 weeks ago, my too dark color has now sun- lightened to an acceptable copper shade. I’ll be lugging my usual glut of hair products to cover shine, frizz removal and volume. Believe me, with my thin, fine, prone to frizz hair, it takes a village! Not to mention a strong hair dryer (I always bring my own) and a flat iron. In case of extreme humidity or, God forbid, rain, I will be prepared to whip it into a top knot, sprayed to the max.

Nails

With all the unpacking and household chores, it’s tough to keep them lacquered. So I am filing my nails super short and will do a DIY the day before we leave. I’m thinking Find Me An Oasis, a pale blue on my fingers, and Trophy Wife, a deep, metallic blue on my toes to go with my navy lace dress. Gotta love it for the name alone! (Both by Essie.)

Underpinnings

Special bra essential!

Special bra essential!

It’s critical to try on your event dress prior to packing to make sure you have the right stuff to cover your ass(ets) and be comfortable. That means the appropriate Spanx for the outfit so there are no lines, no bulges, no muffin top. I purchased the high top version. And since my dress features a cut out back, that means a strapless, backless stick- on bra with extra double stick tape to make sure it’s going nowhere. Be prepared!, the only thing I remember from Girl Scouts.

Makeup

I swear, it sometimes takes me as long to pack my makeup and skincare as it does my clothes! But I don’t want to arrive without the right shadow or custom mixed base color (see last week’s post). With heat and humidity guaranteed at the ocean front venue, I will be going very light in texture with my base, shadow and blush. Nothing worse than having your maquillage melting off your face (think “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane”). Blotting papers are a must in the evening clutch and gloss trumps heavy lip color bleeding into my lip lines.So although I don’t have “glam team”, facialist and personal trainer like the stars do before hitting the kleig lights, my version has gotten me through many an event. And once I’m dressed, coiffed, cosmetically enhanced and aglow, I have a glass of champagne, hold in my stomach, and smile for the cameras.

 

 

 

Posted in beauty at any age, diet, hair, increasing metabolism, makeup, skincare, Sunless tanners | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments