Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Burn that Didn't Blister

A couple of months ago, I made a stupid mistake that I am sure I am destined to make again and again as time goes on: I burned myself removing a pan from the oven. Although I was trying to be safe and used a hot mitt, I still managed to grab the side of the pan with my bare fingers, burning the tips of them.

It was incredibly painful.

As per usual with me, I didn't have any over-the-counter cremes or ointments to use on the burn (I tend to not stock too much OTC products at my house in general). My husband was out and about, so I immediately thought to call him and ask him to stop at the store and buy something for me to put on the burns.

Generally I wouldn't panic over something like this, but I make my living as a massage therapist, so my fingers are very, very valuable. Almost immediately, I mentally began to assess the damage and tried to figure out the best way (if it was at all possible) to wrap my wounds so that I would be able to make it to my eight hour shift the next day.

My finger tips throbbed.

Suddenly, I remembered a book that my mother bought me a while back about home remedies. It's called: The Guide to Remedies, Homeopathy, Essential Oils, Crystals, Home Remedies by Barnes and Noble.

Instead of calling my husband, I went to the book shelf and located the home remedy guide. In the first-aid section dedicated to burns, scalds and sunburn, a few home remedies were listed for the type of first degree burn that I was experiencing.

The first remedy listed described using plain yogurt of the burn to keep it cool. Well, it just so happened that I had a tub of plain yogurt in the refrigerator, so I pulled it out and, not wanting to waste any time, I dunked my fingers straight into the carton.

The burning stopped immediately.


I followed the instructions in the book, and not only did the pain subside immediately, but the burns never even blistered. By the next morning I couldn't even tell I had burned myself. It was wonderful. And now I know where to go the next time something unexpected happens in my house. The answer isn't always: the nearest drug store.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Alter Your Routine

Recently, my 17 month old daughter, Helen, learned how to safely ascend and descend the stairs in our tri-level home. Within a matter of days, her world suddenly expanded three fold!

While we still supervise her ferociously (this may never stop), she now has access to places and experiences that were once barricaded and blocked off from her. To her, this means new adventures, new learning experiences and, in essence, a lot more fun!

Watching her exercise her new found freedom made me think about all of the places and things that I have access to that I may not be experiencing because of my own mental barricading. With Chicago being settled in the nest of winter, it is sometimes hard to overcome the "blah" feelings that envelope me during these long, cold months of isolated, indoor activities. My schedule suddenly becomes routine and my routine eventually grows dull and boring.

I desperately needed some alternative activities to my suddenly dismal routine. So, I spent one morning a couple of weeks ago revamping my schedule. I looked into the storytime program that my local library offers and started visiting their Lapsit Storytime with my daughter on Tuesday mornings. I began taking a yoga class at LifeTime Fitness in Romeoville, IL, where I'm a member. I investigated discount days at some museums downtown and planned a date with some friends and their children. My daughter and I visited the Willowbrook Wildlife Center and the Cosley Zoo.

All of these options offer alternative activities for my family. All of them were always available to me; I just needed to take the initiative and look for them. All of them are of little or no extra cost to me.

I am writing this to urge everyone to look around themselves. Is there an activity that is available to you that you are not taking advantage of? Well, get out there and do it! If there's one thing that I learned from my daughter, it's that life is much more enjoyable when you're actually out there doing something!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Egg Salad, Hold the Mayo

If you're of Polish decent, are married to a Polish man or are generally really into mustard, you will have all of these ingredients on hand on any given day.

This is my egg salad without mayo (for those of us who are looking for alternative recipes that cut calories and are healthy varieties of our usual favorites, without jumping overboard).

12 hard boiled eggs
yellow mustard
dijon mustard
spicy yellow mustard

Slice the hard boiled eggs into small to medium pieces and put them in a medium bowl. (You may remove all or some of the egg yolks if you are watching your cholesterol.)

Salt and pepper the eggs.

Squeeze enough yellow mustard over the eggs to cover the top of them.

Add three or four squirts of dijon mustard and spicy yellow mustard.

Add about 1/4 cup vinegar.

Sprinkle enough paprika over the eggs to cover the top of them.

Stir it all together.

Sprinkle enough paprika over the eggs to cover the top of them again.

Cover & refrigerate to chill. Serve on toasted whole wheat bread.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Spiritual Contracts

Like everyone else in the world, every now and then, I need to remind myself of the spiritual contracts in my life.

A spiritual contract is an agreement that your spirit (or soul, or being, or energy) entered in to with another spirit while it was waiting to be born of this earth. Imagine this: your spirit is in the spirit world (or heaven, or the universe, or the beyond) waiting to be born into this life. While it is waiting, it strikes up a conversation with the spirit next to it.

Your spirit may say something like this: "During this time on earth, I would really like to learn patience. If I could learn to be a more patient person during my next lifetime, that would really make me happy."

The spirit next to you hears your request and says: "You know what? I think I can help you with that. During my next life on earth, I will seek you out and help teach you patience." Your spirit smiles, shakes the hand of the other spirit and thanks them. A spiritual contract has been struck.

Now, you are how-ever-many-years into your life here on earth and finally, finally, the spirit with whom your spirit self spoke to long ago has found you. He/she has searched through the millions of other souls on earth and has finally located you after all this time. And now he/she is teaching you patience. They may be really annoying. They may be frustrating you or creating havoc in your life. But it is a very nice gesture since they have gone out of their way to help you learn patience. I am sure you are thankful for their help. They are fulfilling their spiritual contract to you and helping you become a better person. Now is the time for you to be grateful for their help.

Please don't treat them with anger or aggression. Please don't gossip about them or slander their name. They are here to teach you. You asked them to find you and mold you into a better person. Accept them. Thank them. When you do, they will move on, eager to fill their own destiny and learn their own lessons.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Massage to Help Your Workout

There are so many benefits of massage therapy, I hardly know where to begin blogging about them. I am starting with the benefits of massage therapy as an additive to a workout program because I think it's a benefit that a lot of people are aware of without really know why it's beneficial.

To understand how massage therapy can help your workout, it's helpful to understand the basic structure of your muscular system. When you think of your muscles, don't think of them as solid entities. Muscles are made up of lots of muscle fibers, or strands of muscle tissue. I describe them as a handful of uncooked spaghetti. When muscles contract, the muscle fibers slide alongside each other, pulling together to move your bones. In order for a muscle to extend, its opposing muscle needs to contract.

Knots, or adhesions, occur in the musculature for many reasons, the top being trauma or repetitive action. These adhesions bind the muscle fibers together, not allowing them to separate when the muscle extends. Adhesions in the musculature are like drops of glue on a rubber band, they stop movement and create tension on the areas around the adhesion. The areas around the knots become tense and strained, eventually causing pain and spasms. Furthermore, they keep the muscle at a shortened length, not allowing it to extend to its farthest resting length.

There are several techniques that a massage therapist can use to remove knots, or adhesions, from your muscles, depending on the therapist's training, experience and theories on massage therapy. However, once these knots are removed from your muscle structure, your muscle fibers are free to extend to their full resting length and contract through their full range of motion. This is a HUGE help during a workout. When your muscles move from a healthy resting length through their full range of motion, they are stronger and more powerful. Your workout will be more effective and you will build healthier, leaner and more powerful muscles than you could have otherwise.

It is important to remove these knots, or adhesions, from your musculature on a regular basis when you are engaged in a workout or strength training program in order to get the most out of your workouts and accomplish your fitness goals. You will feel a difference. Count on it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Side Note to Sunscreen

For those who choose not to use sunscreen because they "prefer" the look of tanned skin:
tanning is your skin's way of warning you to get out of the sun before serious damage occurs. I like to compare tanning to tornado sirens: I like to be warned that a tornado is coming, but I'd prefer it if there were no storm endangering me at all.

The Showdown: Chemical vs. Mineral Sunscreen

With the SPF (sun protection factor) of chemical, or lotion, sunscreens on the rise, it's hard to know which sunscreen to use, what SPF to choose or what kind of protection you are getting. Recently, I attended a seminar on sunscreens that was taught by a local esthetician, Anna LaTour. She very succinctly broke down the terminology used in regards to SPF and spoke about proper application, pros and cons, and general guidelines of sun protection products. I would like to relay some of what I learned here.

1.) The sun's UVA, UVB and UVC rays are harmful for our skin and body. UVA rays penetrate deep into our skin and heighten the aging appearance of our skin, contributing to deeper wrinkles and age, or liver, spots. UVB rays are not as deeply penetrating as UVA rays, but they are what burn our skin. UVC rays used to be blocked by the earth's ozone but are reaching the earth's surface now due to the damage humans have caused the atmosphere.

2.) Chemical, or lotion, sunscreens contain ingredients which absorb the suns rays and change them into molecules that are neither harmful or helpful to our skin and body. These ingredients break down at a measurable rate; therefore, the amount of time that sunscreen remains active once applied is limited.

3.) An SPF of 50 or over, has no measurable protection greater than SPF 30, which lasts about 2 hours.

4.) Chemical, or lotion, sunscreen must be applied out of the sun and must not be exposed to the sun for 15-20 minutes after application in order for the active ingredients in it to begin to work.

5.) Chemical, or lotion, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours (inside or in the shade), sooner if you have been sweating or in the water, and not exposed to the sun for 15-20 minutes.

6.) Helioplex is a term used to describe an ingredient added to chemical, or lotion, sunscreen that allows the sunscreen's SPF ingredients to break down at a slower rate. Nutrients such as vitamin C, grape fruit or pomegranate extract also help extend the lifespan of sunscreen.

7.) Mineral sunscreen is available in powder form and provides immediate protection from the sun's rays. Minerals are natural elements found in the earth that refract light. When applied to the skin, they sit on the surface and refract the sun's rays. These sunscreens do not offer protection while in the water. But they can be applied while outside in the sun for immediate protection and don't need to be reapplied as often as a chemical, or lotion, sunscreen, provided that you have not been in the water.

So, which sunscreen is better? According to the esthetician hosting the seminar, you should use both. When choosing a chemical or lotion sunscreen, look for one that has an SPF of 35 and offers UVA and UVB broad spectrum protection (the container should have those exact words on it).

When working outside, doing activities that make you sweat excessively, or swimming, you should use a chemical, or lotion, sunscreen that is absorbed into your skin. However, for daily protection while you're driving to and from work, or when you are in the sun for a limited time without sweating, a mineral sunscreen works great. Also, for people with sensetive or problem skin, mineral SPF is not absorbed into the skin, so you won't have to worry about breakouts.

Personally, I stick with mineral SPF when I'm not swimming or working out outside. The less chemicals I put on my skin or into my body, the better. I love, love, love the mineral SPF by Jane Iredale (www.janeiredale.com). However, I do protect myself with chemical, or lotion, sunscreen when I'm in the pool or running outside.

Whichever method you choose, please protect yourself against the sun's rays. Live smart. Die happy, not sunburnt.