Can you sing the winter blues if you’re tone deaf? And if you are tone deaf, but you’re really feeling the winter blues? Sure, go for it. I do.

For me, it’s The Beatles. Pick an album, pick a song, I’ll know it, and sing along. And if I’m singing to The Beatles, I’ll eventually want to move. And if I’m up, moving, and singing “They Say It’s Your Birthday” at the top of my off-key lungs, then the winter blues start to turn pink. A little. But that’s all you need! It’s that little bit of pink that can help get you through the rest of the blahs.

SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and the winter blues combined affect approximately 20% of the population mostly in northern climates. The winter blues is a general shift in emotion when the cold weather sets in. You may feel more lethargic or down but are still able to function pretty normally. SAD is the Winter Blues on 11. So, besides singing, how can we find that little bit of pink in a sea of blue?

Ain’t No Sunshine

Boost all that lovely Vitamin D coursing through your veins by maximizing your exposure to the sun as often as you can. Open the curtains, get outside, do whatever it takes to soak up what little sun there is. Or you can try a light therapy box. Sitting next to one might make you feel like a hothouse flower, but it will have the same effect as sunlight.

Exercise (I know, I know)

That was painful for me even to type. I’m not big on exercise even when it’s 70 and sunny, so exercising when we’re deep into the doldrums is repellent. However, when I do exercise it makes such a difference. I feel lighter, invigorated, and that pink color is brighter. So, as I say to my children, buck up buttercup. Even an impromptu dance party in the kitchen while you’re cooking dinner counts as exercise.

Spread Out

Make room for yourself. Whatever this looks like for you, find time to give yourself a break. Winter is tough and being tough on yourself won’t help. I like stupid, dancy, pop songs, watermelon Jolly Ranchers, gifs that express exactly what I’m thinking, and coloring in a good old-fashioned coloring book. Find what works for you and find that little bit of pink.

Make room for yourself

The 1960s gave us micro miniskirts, psychedelic drugs, tie-dye and the term “Douchebag.” Up until then, douche was a verb – a thing women did to cleanse their lady parts after their period.

Twenty to 40 percent of women in the U.S. still douche, while the majority of us use the word as an insult. So, should we stop dissing idiots and return to cleaning our interior? In a word: nope.

First of all, sometimes you need a really appropriate insult. And, when you think about what comes along with a douche, is there a better one?

Also, most doctors say your body will take care of its self. Douching, on the other hand, can make it harder for you to get pregnant, increased vaginal infections and sexually transmitted infections. Problems arise because douching can change your delicate balance of bacteria and acidity, both of which are normal and necessary.

Let’s back up just a second for an important announcement:

That reference to making it harder to get preggers DOES NOT MEAN that douching is birth control. It is NOT. At all.

Not sure what douching is? It is, literally, washing out the inside of your vagina, using a bottle or bag that contains a mixture of water and vinegar or baking soda or even iodine. The bottle comes with a nozzle that you insert into your vagina, then push the fluid into your vagina. It flows right back out, so if you’re going to douche, do it in the shower or the tub.

Within any healthy vagina, there’s a mix of good and harmful bacteria. The balance of bacteria helps maintain the acidic environment your body needs The acidic environment protects the vagina from infections or irritation.

So, pushing a bunch of fluid up there can upset your balance. And that means you can get a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. If you already have an infection, pushing those fluids can shoot the infection into your uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. That can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease. Women who douche weekly are five times more likely to get bacterial vaginosis.

So why in the world are that 20-40 percent still doing it? Often, it’s because they want “that fresh feeling” or they’re worried about odor. But here’s the thing. If you have:

  • A smelly discharge;
  • Itching and thick, white, or yellowish-green discharge with or without an odor;
  • Burning, redness, and swelling in or around the vagina;
  • Pain when urinating; or
  • Pain or discomfort during sex,

your vagina is pleading with you to get to a doctor. Don’t douche. It could make your issue worse. Get to a doctor.

Want a squeaky, clean vagina? Use warm water when you bathe and mild soap if you want soap. Don’t use scented tampons, pads, powders or sprays. Like douching, those products just increase your chances of getting a vaginal infection.

When it comes down to it, the vagina is not unlike your oven. It comes with a self-cleaner. Why mess with that?

It might be an exaggeration to say that today’s waist trainers are the corsets of yesteryear, but they are kissing cousins at the very least. And if you’re a slave to the latest fashion craze supported by celebrities, you’re probably strapped into a waist trainer right now.

If this is you, take a look at this photo. It’s from an 1888 book that showed what long-

term corset use did to ladies’ internal organs.

long-term corset use

Note the fact that this is a long-term use scenario. If you want to occasionally use a modern corset (or even your grandmother’s girdle, which was the 1950s take on body shaping undergarments) to push your wiggly parts away from your waist, have at it.

Here are some reasons why a waist trainer shouldn’t be part of your daily beauty routine (no matter what the Kardashians say.)

You can damage your vital organs. (Go back and look at that drawing.):

Your core isn’t just the place for six-pack abs to decorate. Think of it as a duffle bag for your lungs, stomach, liver, and kidneys. You can cinch a belt around the middle of that thing and make it skinny there, but where does the stuff inside go? Right: to either end. That’s not a happy place for your internal organs, which need to be right where they are to function well. Cinch too hard, and you can fracture your ribs.

You can literally suffocate:

Cinching your body like a duffle bag can deprive your body of oxygen. If it’s uncomfortable to the point of pain, or you find yourself listless and not wanting to do much, you’re probably cinched too tight. Do this too long, and you’ll pass out, build up fluid in your lungs or inflame them. Weeks of this will affect the way you breathe, which is important for your lymphatic system to work properly.

You can wreck your digestive system:

Your esophagus, stomach, and intestines are your digestive system. They work to process and eliminate the food you eat. Assuming you eat (which you totally should). Long-term waist training can block parts of your digestive system from each other. You could develop acid reflux, a hiatal hernia or other issues.

They just don’t work:

Waist training is a temporary solution. There is zero scientific evidence that corsets back in their day and waist trainers today eliminate fat from your waist. At best, they pushed it around and at worse, see that drawing again. Check the information your waist trainer came with, and we’ll bet you it says somewhere in the print that the trainer will work best if used in conjunction with exercise and a healthy diet. Guess which of those three really helps eliminate belly fat? Right: the harder-to-stick-to diet & exercise.

The fact is, few women naturally (or healthily) can achieve that Victorian image of a wasp-waist, nor can they permanently maintain the waist-trained shape promise with those cute waist trainers of today and be healthy.

The best way to get to your body type’s healthiest shape predates even the Victorians:

  • Adopt a healthy diet that’s rich in natural food and low in processed snacks, sugars and soda.
  • Add strength training to your regular exercise plan to tone your muscles.
  • Work with a dietician, personal trainer or physician to find a system that works for you.

Rip that wax strip off your upper lip and apply some ice to that burn. We’re talking hair removal in all it’s itchy, bumpy, irritated glory.

The amount of time spent on, products available for, and professions devoted to the sole purpose of removing hair from our mammalian bodies is overwhelming. Even the number of areas available to be de-tufted can raise some very hairy eyebrows. From head-to-toe, anywhere is fair game. So, how do you choose the best products for you?

Waxing: DIY or Nah

With products like Nair’s Wax Ready-Strips and Veet’s Wax Strip Kit, you can bare it all in the privacy of your own home. Just make sure the room is well lit and you have ice or a cold wet cloth on hand to rub on the area after pulling off the strip (as fast as you can.)

Many salons can do this for you and it can be easier to let someone else inflict the pain or reach certain unreachable areas. The Naked Monkey is a local waxing spa and has three locations in Indianapolis, Carmel, and Fishers.

Epilators: Getting to the Root of the Problem

Using an epilator from Braun, Philips, or even going old school with Epilady, you’ll find similar results to waxing. The hair is yanked out at the root giving you a smooth appearance that lasts a bit longer than shaving. To minimize the pain, try using lidocaine to numb the area.

Creams: Nice and Easy

Creams work by dissolving the hair at or just below the skin. While it does grow back more quickly, this is by far the least painful way to remove hair.

Nad’s has affordable and effective creams available to try. They even have a gel product that leaves the skin smooth up to 4 weeks and is easy to use.

Razors: The Kindest Cut?

Waxing, Shaving, and Epilators: OH MY!

A standard in every home, a good razor is a fast and reliable option. The possibility of bleeding out compared to the other methods is high, but compared to other sharp instruments it’s very low. The razor must be clean, no rust. Prep the skin with shaving cream or soap and use smooth sure strokes. As a side note, I’ve never met an adult woman without at least one razor nick scar somewhere on her legs. Proceed with caution and have some tiny squares of toilet paper on hand.

All of these methods have the ability to cause damage to the skin in some form. Burning, ingrown hairs, red and bumpy skin. Always test the product, whatever you choose, before going full bore or bare as the case may be! Happy plucking!

Ok, it’s only 12:30 on January 1st and how many times do I have to read about resolutions? OMGoodness, it’s out of control!!!!

Not to be negative, just real. Did you know that almost 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February (according to a Business Insider article from January 3, 2017)?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need help feeling like I’m even further along on the struggle bus! So, I just don’t make them. Simple.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t try and make each year even better than the last. I do! I think it’s important to always try to be better. Not perfect by any means, but better, yes!

So for 2019, I am focusing on the Five “W’s” of Life. I personally have six and the extra one is wine, but in moderation of course! 🙂

So let’s try it together. I’m printing this out and putting up right in front of my computer screen where I can’t miss it and I’m going to read it every day. This I CAN do! Getting down to the weight I was when I wore a size 4, not so much. I’m sure I could work on losing a few pounds, but I want to be better. A better mom, a better partner, a better friend, a better daughter, a better ME! Just Jenn, but a bit better.

Until next time, Happy 2019!!!!

Hello, ladies, Jenn here.

With the holidays over, you’d think the idea of a gift exchange would be the last thing on my mind. You’d be wrong. But the chance you’ll guess what kind of gift is on my mind is finer than frog hair. For those of you unfamiliar with all things amphibian, frogs are hairless. In other words, you’ll never guess.

I’m thinking of a gift no one wants, but too many of are getting: a sexually transmitted disease. That’s right: STDs. They’re on the rise and have been for a few years. 2017 was a record year, with about 2.3 million case of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis being diagnosed in the U.S.

Not to change the subject, but I want to meet the person who named these diseases. Today, every new disease or condition is reduced to a cutesy, marketable acronym or phrase. TMJ or COPD just don’t convey the depth of pain and discomfort the ailments cause. But words like “Chlamydia” and “Gonorrhea.” Well, they’re just big ol’ buckets of ice water on the ol’ libido. You don’t even have to know what they do to know you want nothing to do with them.

So, what do you need to do to keep STDs at arm’s length or further? Well, if you’re out there actively dipping body parts in the dating pool, you already know you shouldn’t get intimate without making sure your partner has a clean bill of health. And even then, keep a condom in your purse right next to your Kleenex and your hand sanitizer. That’s a threesome we can all get behind, am I right?

I shouldn’t have to say this out loud, but I will. Don’t just settle for a partner’s verbal assertion that he or she isn’t packing an STD. This is a trust but verify kind of situation.

Too awkward to demand proof before penetration, you say?

Let me tell you about awkward. Awkward is explaining to your grown children why you’re walking funny or, worse (and this can happen) in the hospital hooked up to an intravenous antibiotic drip to get yourself healthy.

Seriously, ladies, STDs are no joking matter. And they seem to be everywhere!

In a committed, exclusive relationship? Congratulations. But don’t get too smug. You can still be exposed, and in too many cases, you’ll do the right thing and get the treatment you need. Then, you’ll be re-exposed because your partner won’t address his or her condition. I won’t even get into all the reasons why that might be. All I know is that it’s not uncommon for one partner to refuse to go in and face the doctoral music.

The good news is Indiana has an app for that. OK. It’s not really an app, but it is a remedy for those who can’t overcome their embarrassment. Hoosier doctors can legally prescribe medication for the partner of an STD-carrier. It’s not the best situation because if your partner won’t get help to get rid of an STD, he or she is probably not getting other important health issues addressed.

The best scenario is that you both go, talk openly about how you might have contracted the disease and take the steps necessary to get rid of it, so you don’t keep passing it back and forth like you do with the ‘flu and that Sudoku puzzle neither of you can solve.

Don’t know enough about STDs to know if you might have one? You can go to the state health department for credible information that won’t scare the bejeebies out of you. It’s worth a little time with your laptop. If not for you, for your partner, your kids or a loved one.

Now I’m not a doctor, but you know I know some stuff. But even I don’t know everything, and when it comes to stuff like this, you need an expert. That’s why you should talk to your doctor when you find things down there that don’t belong.

Let’s face it: we’re social animals. Given a chance, we’re going to exchange some bodily fluids at some point, and there’s nothing wrong with being consensually intimate. There’s nothing wrong with having an STD, either. You wouldn’t be ashamed to ask for medication for shingles or strep throat would you?

Be smart, ladies. If you insist on giving a gift that just keeps giving, make it wine of the month. And give it to me!

Introducing “Jenn”, the straight talking BFF you need for women’s health.

Hello ladies! I’m Jenn. We should be friends; the kind of friends who don’t have to whisper when we say words our mothers might not have ever uttered in public. Or in private for that matter.

I don’t believe in sugarcoating anything; women’s health in particular. Maybe it’s because I was raised in rural Indiana. My mother shoved a box of tampons in my hands when I was 12 and told me to read the instructions. When I got married, she gave me a kiss on the cheek and wished me luck.

It’s no wonder I’ve had my share of what used to be called “female problems.” I agonized over my annual exams and ignored pain until I couldn’t stand it anymore because I was embarrassed to drop my drawers for my doctor. I’ve gotten over all of that but I’m afraid you haven’t.

Why do I think your vagina is my business? Because if we’re too scared to talk about our health, we’re probably also not getting the regular care we all need.

Dramatic? Not really. Experts say 14,000 of us will get cervical cancer this year, and 4,000 of us will die from it. Got a Book Club or Bunco group? Statistics say one of your group will get breast cancer. More than 266,000 women will get a breast cancer diagnosis this year; nearly 41,000 will die from it this year.

So, yeah. We need to talk. I’ll be here, talking out loud about the biggies like cancer and anything else you’re wondering about:

  • When you can safely stop getting your annual exam
  • Why you pee a little bit when you laugh or sneeze these days
  • Good discharge v. bad discharge
  • STDs: they’re not just for teenagers anymore

Who am I to be the one to tell you about this stuff? I’m not a doctor. I’m just Jenn. I’m the first to admit that I don’t have all the answers. But you’re not even asking the questions about your va-jay-jay, your hoo-hah, your front-butt, your pee-pee, whatever you call it.

I’m not going to call it any of those names, though. And if I get my way, you won’t either.

Say it with me: “Vuh-JI-nah.” That wasn’t so hard, was it?