Toughing It Out

A Word About Sunscreen… — June 24, 2015

A Word About Sunscreen…

In college my friends used to call me the :SPF Police” because every trip to the beach or pool or picnic or lake would be accompanied by a huge bag of a variety of sunscreens in a variety of levels of protection and I would hand out the appropriate bottle and be kind of a pain in the ass about making them use it.  Of course I think the strongest level of SPF was 15 back then and I think I got a little misty eyed when a 30SPF lib balm appeared.  I used it on my nose.  I continue to buy lots of levels of sunscreen and although I like to try different formulas, my hands down favorite is Bain de Soleil SPF 4 and 8 in the Orange Jelly formula.  It comes in a tube and it is super luxurious and I have not seen it ANYWHERE in a couple of years…I miss it.

Now this may seem a little weird – even to people who know me – because I don’t burn in the sun.  Never have.  Even as a child my mother would always comment on how I turned “brown as an Indian” every summer.  But I watched both my sisters literally fry and get blisters on their noses, shoulders and back and it always looked so painful.  When I discovered sun screen in beauty school I thought it was a great excuse to use more body lotion and I used it daily from head to toe.

So imagine my surprise when I came in yesterday after spending less than 2 hours by the pool at a resort in Daytona Beach to painfully red blotchy skin on my face, neck, shoulders and legs.  Ouch!  I’m glad I never had to deal with this before but I figured it might possibly be a result of the HGH regimen I started last week.

Internet searches did not make any reference to this as a possible side effect but since there is so little information about it – especially when women are using it – I thought it might be good to mention.  It makes sense to me that there might be some sun sensitivity because of the almost immediate changes in my skin after starting the regimen.  Last night I applied several layers of moisturizer – letting them dry in between – and this morning I woke up to my usual tan – no redness.  I made sure I used a stronger SPF while we were at the pool today and snagged a chair under an umbrella just to be sure i didn’t get burned again.  The special care worked and we spent 5 or 6 hours out by the pool today with no ill effects.

Everybody should wear sunscreen every day – even when there’s no sun!  Reapply often – whether you get in the water or not – and make sure you don’t forget your ears!  Also – replace sunscreen every season.  Throw out the old stuff and spring for new.  Old sunscreen is the same as wearing no sunscreen.  Below are some of my favorite brands of sunscreen as well as a couple of sun-free bronzers when you can’t hit the beach.

Clarins Sun Care – $$$$$ – Great sun care line of products.  They go on nice and last extremely well.  This is my number one brand for boaters.  The Clarins formulas stand up very well to salt water getting sprayed in your face.  Yes – you will still need to reapply regularly but it doesn’t “sweat” off as quickly a cheaper brands.  I like both the SPF 15 and SPF 30 for faces…its a little thicker than the body sunscreen but has some pore minimizing characteristics that are nice.  They also make a sun screen stick if you are really lazy in a 30 SPF but it will melt if you aren’t careful  My husband Michael likes the sticks because they are easy and he doesn’t like the greasy feel of sun lotion.  Ok…AND he’s lazy about sun protection.

Do NOT use Clarins Bronzers…Streaky! Streaky! Streaky!  And they turn Safety Orange.  All bad things.

Panama Jack – $$$ – You can usually find this brand of sun care at a surf shop or hotel gift shop.  Its good stuff using a lot of natural ingredients and it was originally made for surfers so a lot of it is quasi-waterproof.

Australian Gold – $$ – You can get this anywhere and it is affordable and goes on nice and even.  It smells very nice but it has to be reapplied quite often if you are actually in the sun and definitely after getting out of the water.  I like all of the – formulas that have the bronzer in it – SPF4. 8 and 15.  The dry oils are nice too but I do not like the aerosol sprays.  They spray everywhere but where you point them and most of the sunscreen ends up blowing away in the wind.

Coppertone – $$ – Not a fan.  Does anyone else think it smells like you just left a chemical plant?  As for their bronzers…just say NO!

Neutrogena – $$$ but should be $$ – I like Neutrogena but I think it is over priced.  It – like Australian Gold needs to be reapplied often.  Bronzer collection is pretty decent.  Turns a nice gentle color and lasts about 5 days if you are careful.

HEMP Bronzer – $$$$ – Nice stuff if you can find it!  Its almost always at professional beauty supply houses so go get your hairdressers license and enjoy!  Never orange.  Smooth even application.

Fake Bake – also a professional product but you can sometimes find it at Ulta or Sephora.  It goes on nice but can turn a little orange on very light skin.

Health and Fitness gets a BOOST from HGH! — June 22, 2015

Health and Fitness gets a BOOST from HGH!

So yeah.  I turned 50 last August and times were bad.  Not “Natural Disaster” or “Permanently Scarred for Life” bad but menopausal, sad and depressed bad.  I’d gained the 50 menopause pounds (What?  Thats not a thing?) and I felt like my skin was starting to melt regardless of whatever expensive potions I’d been using.  This was strange for me because I am by nature a pretty happy person – and I don’t allow myself to feel bummed out for long.  And I had never let my weight skyrocket like it had – I’ve been pretty good about taking care of myself.  I taught aerobics in my 20’s – in the jazzersize days and I’m relatively careful about what I eat until the past few years.  But the past two years I felt completely out of control and by Christmas of 2014 I knew that it was going to require some real intensity to change the path of things if I was going to survive this phase of my life.  I never thought I would still be alive at 50 – but it was clear that if I was to grow old gracefully I needed to drag my dignity out of the ditch I was in.

In January I started going to the gym and almost immediately caught a really nasty cold that literally took my breath away for a few weeks.  By February I knew I had lost some momentum but I thought I’d head back to the gym and just see if I could rally on my own.  My husband suggested I try out a gym a friend of his owned and I immediately dismissed it as “a meat-head, bodybuilder boys gym” but his friend offered to let me just use the cardio room and assured me no one would try to trick me into doing any dead-lifts.  I was reluctant but I agreed and showed up on a Tuesday in some pretty ratty workout clothes I could still manage to get my fat ass into.  After 35 minutes of walking no where at 2.8 miles per hour I was a weak sweaty mess and my feet hurt.  I was whining before I even got out the door.  It took a good week before I was able to feel like I was going to survive this brutal 35 minutes – gradually increasing the elevation to burn an extra 25 calories than the day before and then 50 extra calories and then a hundred extra calories.  By the end of the first week I was burning 300 calories in 35 minutes and I felt pretty good about it.  The worst part was that I was sooooo bored.

The second week I found out that Netflix had released a new season of House of Cards almost a year before and I was really upset that I hadn’t seen it so I loaded the tablet in my gym bag and set it on top of the treadmill while I groaned my way through 35 minutes of cardio.  But alas!  The episode wasn’t over!  There was no possible way I could wait until tomorrow to see how Claire was going to manage Franks insatiable appetite for power!  So I ratcheted up the treadmill for another 25 minutes and huffed and puffed my way to the end of the episode.

And the proverbial tables turned.  I no longer could wait until the next morning when I could get back to the gym and watch another episode and I figured that while I was there I might as well get the most out f it as I could.  So I went faster and at higher elevations until I was easily burning 600 in 53 minutes.  And then it became a game where the burned calories became more important than the time I had left on the Netflix episodes.  When Claire and Frank closed out the season of House of Cards I watched 3 seasons of Luther.  Then a series about a crazy family and then the first season of Reign and a really cute series written and produced by Tina Fey.  Every day – seven days a week – I would head to the gym first thing in the morning and negotiate my performance to coincide with a random Netflix drama.  I am no longer bored while doing cardio.  I am on my 5th week adding in weight training 2 days a week and there have been a couple of days I have found myself at the gym twice in one day.  I’ve lost around 20 ponds but more importantly – I am regaining my swagger and I have more energy and enthusiasm for the day.

I talked with my Doctor and my Trainer about supplements to increase the effectiveness of all the work I’m putting in.  And in keeping with my tradition of non-traditional therapies – I wanted to know more about a particular hormone therapy called HGH.  I had worked at a day spa in Miami in the late 90’s when HGH was primarily something you could only find in Hollywood.  Human Growth Hormone is naturally produced by the pituitary gland and starts to decrease around age 25-30.  It was expensive back then and was hotly debated as to its effectiveness and – in truth – its safety.  As with anything – its not to be used indiscriminately and it should never be used to excess.  What is it supposed to do?  The benefits can vary from person to person and are pretty wide ranging.  An increase in lean muscle and a decrease in fat  is the leading effect but other benefits are better skin and increased energy.  I started a low dose HGH regimen on Friday and started noting that my mood was – shall I say – QUITE pleasant.  On Sunday my workout seemed to be easier so I increased the intensity.  And it doesn’t seem possible but I thought the skin on my face – particularly around my eyes – had a better texture.  This was confirmed when I caught my husband looking at me strangely and asked me if I was using different makeup.  I was not.

There is very little research posted online regarding women and HGH therapy.  The clinics I called to ask for more information started at around $1500 for a consultation and estimated it would cost around $1400 a month for a 5 on 2 off regimen.  This may sound expensive but in the late 90’s this same treatment started around $15000.  Most users notice improvements within a month.  Several noticed sooner but were not willing to commit that it was due to the HGH.  This type of therapy should really start a lot earlier than age 50 as anti-aging is not the same as reverse aging.  And its absolutely imperative NOT to overdo it.  The side effects of overdosing can be grotesque and they are irreversible.  Hormone testing for HGH can be done for around $300.  If you have a family history of cancer than my research indicates this is not for you.

I’ll be reporting my own progress in hopes that other women can benefit from this therapy if it is appropriate.