When I was born on March 8, 1947, I was one of the first babies who were later designated "boomers." I wanted to create a website where our dynamic generation of women could share our singular style, exceptional experiences, and brilliant recommendations. FabOverFifty is the world's first website for smart, stylish, successful women over 50.
Three months ago, I was heavier than ever. After Norfolk Terrier Rigby died last August, I’ve walked less. I cancelled my once-a-week exercise with a professional trainer because it was a waste of money to work out so infrequently (how’s that for logic?) I joined the Y in my neighborhood, but hate getting on the treadmill.
So, what did I do? I worked 10 hours most days, ate little during the daylight hours, then would devour ice cream, chocolate covered graham crackers, pretzels, nuts, almond croissants, cheese and goodness knows what else at night while I stressed out over everything that’s happening in the world.
When I went to Dr. Smith to talk about the results of my blood work (everything was surprisingly good), I sheepishly asked him if he’d write me a prescription for phentermine to help me lose weight. He didn’t hesitate. And out I walked, excited to make a beeline to Duane Reade to pick up my miracle pills.
Now I’m 16 pounds lighter and half way way towards my goal weight. I’d surely have lost at least a few pounds more if I had exercised, but I vowed that I would start walking rigorously once I reached this point. I have no idea why I wanted to wait , by the way. My mind works in funny ways sometimes.
I walked at a steady pace for 90 minutes this morning with a new friend in the neighborhood and came back drenched. It was about 80 degrees out. I was pleased that I didn’t have a heart attack.
OK, what’s phentermine?
As simply put as possible, phentermine is a form of amphetamine (stimulant) that does something in the brain to suppress the appetite. And it works. It really works. Phentermine doesn’t kill your appetite, so you still eat, including some no-no foods, but I’ll literally eat maybe a tablespoon of ice cream once or twice a week. I haven’t had a single graham, pretzel or almond croissant in a month. Or a pat of butter, and oh do I love any kind of warm bread and butter!
“Phentermine increases your metabolic rate and takes away your perseverating thoughts (constant thoughts) about food, which makes it much easier to adhere to a diet. You still must pick a dietary strategy that will work well with your personality and your lifestyle and stick to it. And you still have to exercise. Phentermine will help you succeed, but you can’t eat like you did in the first place,” said Dr. Kathleen Hallinan, an internist in Corning, NY, who has a keen interest in weight loss.
The warnings on the sheet that comes with the phentermine are no different than those that come with every drug and are written to try and protect the pharma companies from being buried by mountains of lawsuits. I did feel a bit jittery the first couple of days and my mouth gets dry for a few hours a day, but otherwise I feel the same as I did pre-phentermine.
Despite the benefits, some doctors are wary!
“You may have a hard time finding a physician who is willing or interested in treating with phentermine because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) puts it in the same category as amphetamines, which makes some doctors wary,” Dr Hallinan explained. “But the benefits outweigh the real risks of diabetes, hypertension, heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease to people who are trying to manage their weight,” she added. Dr. Hallinan recommends finding a doctor who is well versed in the medical treatment of obesity and related disorders, such as a bariatric physician. “Phentermine is very safe, very effective and more subtle than ritalin for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but patients should have their blood pressure and heart rate consistently monitored after they start taking the drug,” she emphasized.
Dr. Kathleen Hallinan talks about phentermine, one of the weight loss medications she recommends
If the name phentermine sounds familiar, you may be thinking of a drug that combined phentermine with fenfluramine, another drug that was subsequently found to affect heart valves and was taken off the market.
Don’t buy phentermine off the internet, Dr. Hallinan advised. “Get it the proper way from a doctor who will give you the right dose, make sure to monitor you for potential side effects, and for your success.”
I’ve taken phentermine two or three other times in my life to kickstart weight loss, and it worked those times, too. I lost at least 20 pounds each time. I well know that I shouldn’t have let my weight yo-yo like it has over the last 15 years, and I’m going to try not to let that happen again. But I’ve been struggling with weight issues for as long as I can remember and food always seems to win the match!
I showered every day for decades, but I stopped that routine when I started working from home about 11 years ago. Then I’d shower if I had appointments out of the “office,” perhaps three or four times a week. Now that so much business is done by email, I may shower only twice during the week. I haven’t noticed anyone keeping their distance from me!
About 65 percent of Americans shower daily, reported Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, faculty editor at Harvard Health Publishing, but do we do it out of habit, because we think it’s healthier, or because we want to smell fresh as a daisy? When I showered every day, it was because I HAD to wash my hair or it would look yucky. It was easier to do that in the shower than in the sink.
Would it surprise you to know there are no compelling health reasons to shower every day? In fact, washing and scrubbing normal skin, especially with hot water, removes its beneficial layer of oil and balance of “good” bacteria and other microorganisms. This layer actually acts as a protective barrier against bacteria and allergens that can lead to skin infections and allergic reactions. Without it, your skin may become cracked and dry, which could give the bacteria easy access.
My skin is no longer dry now that I take fewer showers, especially on my feet and elbows (also thanks to Crepe Erase, which I use religiously when I do shower!)
“Our immune systems need a certain amount of stimulation by normal microorganisms, dirt, and other environmental exposures to create protective antibodies and immune memory,” Dr. Shmerling said. That’s why some pediatricians and dermatologists advise against daily baths for kids, except of course when they’ve been rolling on the ground and at the beach on hot summer days. Frequent baths or showers throughout a lifetime may hinder the ability of the immune system to do its job. What’s more, if you use antibacterial soaps know they can actually destroy normal bacteria. This could open the door for less friendly organisms to hang around, which are more resistant to antibiotics.
Unless you become dirty and sweaty every day, or have other compelling reasons to shower frequently, showering a few times a week should be just fine. If you can’t bear staying away, however, consider taking five-minute showers and concentrate on washing your armpits and groin.
Yes, we know, “accidents happen,” but when we intentionally put ourselves in harm’s way and something bad happens to us, is that still an accident? I say it’s not. Read this really short story and then answer three simple multiple choice questions.
His wife and daughter didn’t want him to participate in the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, but Jaime Alvarez, a 46-year-old public defender in San Francisco, ignored their wishes. He wasn’t terribly interested in obeying the rules of the event, either, which included taking photos without authorization. When Jaime stopped to film a video of himself during the final stages of the run, a bull charged at him and plunged its horn into the right side of his neck. After hours of surgery, he was doing well.
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I wasn’t overly concerned when the ultrasound test from Life Line Screening revealed mild fatty plaque in the carotid artery on the right side of my neck. Two carotid arteries–there’s another one on the left side–carry oxygenated blood to the brain, neck and face, but the amount of plaque wasn’t a dire threat to my health, at least not immediately. Uncharacteristically, I dismissed the report recommendation to follow up with my doctor, too preoccupied with launching this website at the time. That was in 2010. I felt good and had no signs of a problem. My weight was reasonable. I exercised. Didn’t smoke or drink.
My blasé attitude had troubling consequences.
By last year, my weight had spun out of control, I was working out less, and a new ultrasound showed a dramatic increase in the plaque. Now the bad stuff was narrowing the right carotid artery somewhere between 59 and 80 percent. That got my attention, even if there wasn’t a single symptom. If a piece of plaque broke off and blocked the blood flow, I could have a stroke. To make matters worse, my cholesterol numbers were dismal. My doctor started me on statin therapy right away to lower my cholesterol, told me to lose weight, and to take low-dose baby aspirin every day.
I’m 15 pounds lighter today and my cholesterol numbers are excellent, thanks to statins. Another carotid artery scan is scheduled for the end of July, and hopefully the level of plaque hasn’t progressed. “It might even have regressed,” my doctor said. If more plaque shows up, surgery might be necessary to clear it out. Serious surgery!
Ironically, most doctors won’t recommend a carotid artery ultrasound for asymptomatic patients with no family history of stroke. What’s more, Medicare doesn’t cover the test unless someone has experienced symptoms such as transient ischemic attacks, mini strokes lasting only a few minutes. Without coverage, it’s costly to have tests like this done at a hospital. The United States health system isn’t a shining example of how to practice preventive medicine.
Having no reason to suspect any cardiovascular problems nine years ago, I actually arranged for the first ultrasound through Life Line Screening as a preventive measure. Life Line has provided preventive screening to millions, and at remarkably fair fees, since it began 25 years ago. When the original results showed mild plaque, it should have been fair warning not to let myself go. After all, that’s what preventive health care means. That’s what makes Life Line a smart idea.
The Life Line Screening Difference
When Life Line recently contacted me about introducing its screening service to my FOFriends, I didn’t hesitate. After all, they discovered the plaque in my carotid artery at an early stage, not to mention early bone loss, and suggested that I see my own doctor. Pretty foolish not to heed their advice. “Every day we find people across the country with significant carotid artery disease,” said Dr. Keith Coffee, Chief Medical Officer at Life Line.
A stroke in the brain
Besides the carotid artery screening for plaque, a Life Line special package offers tests for 1) Peripheral arterial disease, a circulatory condition in which blood vessels narrowed by plaque reduce blood flow to the limbs. P.A.D. usually affects the arteries in the legs, but it also can affect the arteries that carry blood from your heart to your head, arms, kidneys, and stomach 2) Abdominal aortic aneurysm, a bulging, weakened area in the wall of the aorta, which is the largest artery in the body. Over time, the blood vessel balloons and is at risk for bursting or tearing, which can cause life- threatening bleeding and potentially death. 3) Heart rhythm aka atrial fibrillation or AFib, a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications and 4) Osteoporosis, a loss of bone density or mass.
It’s only $149 for all five screenings.
“We discovered about 62K overall health risks in 2017 alone,” Dr. Coffee said. A team of highly qualified, board-certified radiologists throughout the country, led by a vascular surgeon, reads all ultrasound images as well as the electrocardiograms for AFib.
“These are screenings, not diagnostic tests,” Dr. Coffee stressed. “We encourage patients to share their results with their doctors so they can together discuss the appropriate treatment, if necessary.” (Remember, that’s what I didn’t do!) Life Line doesn’t have physicians available who can discuss the test results with patients, and it doesn’t interact with patients’ physicians. They do provide a summary of the results that you can share with your doctor. “We simply provide the incentive for patients to take the right steps for their health,” Dr. Coffee noted.
If Life Line Screening discovers a life threatening condition, however, such as an aneurysm that’s about to rupture, it will send someone right to the ER and call for an ambulance if they wish. “Our customers tell us that we’ve possibly saved their lives. We get letters all the time from people who had no symptoms and thought they were just fine, but were at risk for having a large aneurysm about the rupture,” Dr. Coffee said.
In and Out In 90 Minutes Or Less
Peripheral arterial disease screening
An average of 50 people a day check into each Life Line location in 60 cities across the country. Teams at the screening sites include at least two ultrasound stenographers who hold certificates in ultrasound technology, and two medical assistants who are cross trained to perform tests including electrocardiograms for heart rhythm, fingerstick blood tests, and peripheral pulses. A nurse practitioner joins most of the teams to see people 65+ years old for Annual Wellness Visits, which are covered under Medicare.
While most people opt for the basic, five-test package I described earlier, many decide to get their cholesterol and glucose checked during the same appointment, Dr. Coffee told me. Life Line Screening offers 15 preventive screening blood tests, including thyroid function, vitamin D, and hemoglobin A1C for diabetes. It also provides a take-home test for detection of colorectal cancer. A call center with 300 trained employees helps participants decide what tests are right for them, based on their age, risk factors and medical history.
Testing is done in churches, at community centers, fraternal organizations and occasionally in hotel ballrooms. When Life Line works with affiliates, such as hospitals, anyone with abnormal results is referred back to the hospital. It also offers exclusive screenings for employees of large corporations as part of their healthcare plans. “Our goal is to get people in and out in 60 to 90 minutes, which includes paperwork and waiting time,” Dr. Coffee said.
A results package arrives in the mail about three weeks after your screening. It reports on every test you took and on your risk for stroke and cardiovascular disease in general, taking into account factors including smoking, high cholesterol and family history. “We give you all the information we can to help you make lifestyle changes and modifications if you need to,” Dr. Coffee explained. If a major issue such as Afib is discovered, a Life Line representative will call you directly, rather than having you wait for the results package.
People generally have their first Life Line screenings at 55 years old. “We have patients in their 40s who just want to know where they fit healthwise, or maybe they have a family history of early strokes. And, we have people in their 90s,” Dr. Coffee said. Returning patients account for about half of Life Line’s annual screenings, and close to 90 percent of all patients have their own physicians.
Please learn from my error: Get preventive screenings once you’re in your mid-fifties, whether or not you have symptoms. And pay attention to what you learn.
Like it or not, you’ve got to “take the good with the bad,’ as the old adage goes. So, when a whole lot of good is happening in your life, don’t get your “nose out of joint” if you’re confronted with something you don’t like. Read my letter to Duchess Meghan and then answer three simple multiple choice questions.
Dear Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex,
By most anyone’s standards, you have a pretty cool life. You’re smart, beautiful, successful, look great in clothes, recently gave birth to a healthy baby, live on a gigantic estate, and married into a high profile family, etc. All that makes you intriguing. People want to see you. Take your photo. Blow you kisses. You’re in the UK, dear. That’s how people react to the royal family. Problem is, you don’t get to decide when you’ll have their adoration. If you don’t like regular people fawning over you, stop going to public places where regular people go. Like tennis matches. Stay home and watch them on your big TV set. Or go to a friend’s house.
If you do venture out in public, let the regular people take your photo, just like you let the media take your photo for their magazines, newspapers, and TV shows. Don’t instruct your security guards that you have a “no photo policy,” like you reportedly did at Wimbledon this week, when you were watching your pal Serena Williams play a tennis match. Even if you didn’t come up with the policy (I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt), you should have told your security guy to back off when you saw him telling “fans” to stop taking photos. Besides, that only attracts more attention to you. He said you were attending “in a private capacity.” Come on, now. When a very public person goes into the public–at a global event, no less–that’s not private. No one was harassing you. They just wanted a picture of your beautiful face.
Who do you think you are, anyway? Royalty?
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This post is in partnership with the INSP Network.
After spending hours at the grill on a hot summer weekend, he needs to grab a burger and beer, settle into his favorite chair in your comfy cool great room, and treat himself to some Western action with “The Duke.” John Wayne’s in town every weekend all through July, when INSP brings his fan-favorite films to you in The Duke Days of Summer.
Big Jake, the 1971 classic, kicks off the action this Friday, July 5 at 9 pm ET. Other spectacular Wayne films in this special lineup include 3 Godfathers, Angel and the Badman, Rio Lobo, Rooster Cogburn, The Shootist, and Cahill, United States Marshall. See the complete lineup here.
INSP is available across the country to over 78M households VIA Dish Network (channel 259), DirecTV (channel 364), Verizon FiOS (channel 286), AT&T U-verse (channel 564), and over 2,800 cable systems. Find INSP on your TV.
And enter to win a Duke Days of Summer Grill Kit, including the John Wayne Way To Grill Cookbook, featuring great stories and manly meals shared by Duke’s family; 2-Piece Grilling Topper Set for veggies, shrimp and other delicate grill items, and a 3-Piece BBQ Tool Set, with sturdy stainless steel spatula, tongs and fork. The kit is valued at $86.
This is a “sponsored post.” Crepe Erase® compensated FOF with an advertising sponsorship to write it. Regardless, we only recommend products or services that we believe will be helpful for our readers. All insights and expressed opinions are our own.
When I swore off short sleeves and sandals on unbearable 90 degree summer days I knew it was time to treat the dry, flaky and saggy skin on my arms and feet. Covering up my problem was just making me feel more uncomfortable. Now that another summer is upon us, I am happily whipping out cool clothes once again. My skin feels and looks softer and smoother. My legs, my arms, my hands and my neck—all sensationally smoother looking. I’ll tell you about my delightful discovery in a moment.
Dry skin is common in later life, when our glands naturally produce less oil.
Woefully, the things that give us joy in summer, from romping in the waves to picnicking in the park, can make the problem worse. Chlorine in the pool, saltwater in the ocean and air conditioning can rob our skin of natural oils, leaving it super dry. Even the sun’s UV rays can be drying!
What’s more, our skin loses its wonderful foundation of collagen and elastin, making it loose and saggy.
As editor of a trusted website, I’m often invited to try out beauty products for everything from my head to my toes. One brand–Crepe Erase®—stood out because I’ve seen the actress, Jane Seymour, talk about it on TV. Now 68, Jane has been a Crepe Erase® fan for years, and looks amazing. That’s an outstanding endorsement right there!
Crepe Erase features TruFirm Complex, an exclusive blend that includes three plant extracts to help reinforce our skin’s netting, so the skin can appear tighter and firmer, helping it look like it did when we were younger. Crepe Erase® also contains seven powerful hydrators–coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, olive oil, beeswax, cassava and Vitamin E–that absorb quickly and work to visibly soothe and renew the skin.
Crepe Erase® is the #1 Anti-Aging Body Treatment System for Dry, Crepey Skin*
(*Based on Crepe Erase® sales data & IRI & NPD sales data for 2017.)
The Essentials Kit includes only two simple steps:
First, I grab my bottle of Exfoliating Body Polish when I shower, to lift away dead, rough surface cells and make my skin feel smoother and look more radiant. (By the way, avoid taking long, hot showers because they’ll dry your skin even more!) After the shower, I massage the Intensive Body Repair Treatment, with the TruFirm Complex, into the crepey skin on my neck, chest, arms and legs. The Body Polish has a lovely, fresh scent, and the Repair Treatment absorbs quickly and isn’t even the tiniest bit greasy.
As I said earlier, the skin on my body hasn’t felt this smooth and hydrated in years. I’ve learned that the more consistently you use skincare products, the better the results. I’ve been treating my skin to Crepe Erase® for two years, and it’s paid off when I need it most!
Crepe Erase® isn’t a glorified body lotion. Trust me, it feels like I’ve tried them ALL. If my word isn’t enough, look at these superb results from an 8-week Crepe Erase® clinical study:
82% OF USERS REPORTED THEIR SKIN WAS SMOOTH AFTER 1 USE **
90% SHOWED IMPROVEMENT IN THE LOOK OF SKIN FIRMNESS ON THEIR ARMS AFTER 4 WEEKS †
95% OF WOMEN EXPERIENCED A LIFTED APPEARANCE OF SKIN AFTER 8 WEEKS ‡
**Based on a 50-person consumer use survey. Individual results will vary.
†Based on a 49-person evaluation by an expert clinical grader. Individual results will vary.
‡Based on the average results of a 50-person evaluation by an expert clinical grader measuring décolleté, arms and knees & legs. Individual results will vary.
Results will vary
Crepe Erase® is so confident that you’ll love its products, it invites you to use them for 60 days, and, if you’re not satisfied, you can return the containers–EVEN EMPTY–for a full refund, less s&h! This offer assures me even more that these are quality beauty products. Plus, the line is incredibly reasonable in the first place!
“How does it feel to be 100?” I asked Mimi. The second the words popped out, I knew it was one of the dumbest questions I had ever uttered.
“Very much like it felt to be 99,” Mimi answered. As you can tell, Mimi’s a lot sharper than I am!
Mimi and daughter Betsy
An active member of the 60+ Program at the bustling 92nd Street Y in Manhattan until the last couple of years, Mimi would attend weekly current events discussion groups led by Douglas, my ex. They became pals, and over the last decade Douglas has often visited Mimi at her apartment where they talk for hours and have dinner. Douglas loves to learn about everyone’s family history. As a matter of fact, he knows more about my family than I do!
Mimi and daughter Jane
Mimi, an only child, became an orphan by the time she was six months old. Her mother’s brother adopted her, but Mimi told Douglas that his wife never treated her lovingly, as she did with her biological children. A graduate of the University of Chicago when women were scarce on college campuses, Mimi worked in a munitions factory during World War II and then became an early education teacher and guidance counselor. She married twice, to a lawyer and a labor union organizer, and had two daughters. Betsy teaches at Brooklyn Law School and Jane is a retired professor of anthropology at Cornell University.
Granddaughter Vanessa chatting with Mimi’s 91-year-old friend Lore Segal, a successful author
Mimi also passed her smart genes down to her grandchildren. Granddaughter Vanessa went to Harvard and now works for world-renowned American economist Jeffrey Sachs. Her sister Allison worked for a climate think tank. Grandson Nicky graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School and worked for President Obama.
“We are all here hoping to follow in my mother’s footsteps. She’s progressive, adventuresome and loyal, a devoted and inspired grandmother, and a favorite of all my friends in Ithaca,” daughter Jane said during the toast.
Douglas and Pat (who was married to Mimi’s cousin-step brother) toast Mimi
Up until she was about 95, Mimi did hours of Tai chi each week, which Douglas credits for her wonderful attitude and good health. Mimi once told Douglas that if she was younger, she would want to marry him! She sure is a pistol.
I don’t see eye-to-eye with my ophthalmologist’s scheduling
“Do you think your time is more valuable than mine?” I rhetorically asked Dr. D, the ophthalmologist who performed cataract surgery six months ago on both of my eyes. I had a 2:30 follow up appointment yesterday so Dr. D could retest my vision and take a look at the new lenses he had placed in my eyes. I asked him about the value of his time at 4:30 pm! Yep, I had waited two hours in his packed waiting room before I was called in to see him.
My patience level running low after waiting about 90 minutes, I approached the front desk where no fewer than four women sat answering phones, taking payments and making appointments.
“Can someone can tell me why patients have to wait hours here to see Dr. D.” I asked the assembled group. I had to wait for every one of my numerous appointments in this office, but never for as long as yesterday.
No one rushed to answer me, so I reworded the question, “Why do you make so many appointments and force patients to wait? I’d leave but it’s important for the doctor to see my eyes!”
Realizing I wasn’t going to sit down and keep quiet, one of the women answered defensively, “The doctor wants us to make appointments every 15 minutes. We’ve told him about patients’ complaints, but he doesn’t care. He doesn’t want to be doing nothing if a patient doesn’t show up.”
“That’s incredible. It’s okay for us to wait for hours, just as long as he’s raking in the money every minute of the day.” Now I had these women in my court.
“Why don’t you say something to him,” one responded.
“You bet I will!” I announced.
When my turn finally came to enter Dr. D’s inner sanctum, I entered, sat down on the examination chair and immediately asked him my rhetorical question about the value of his time versus mine. I didn’t speak in an angry tone, I might add. No point to that, I’ve learned over the many years
“Your time is more valuable than mine,” he answered, a bit of contrition in his usual chop chop tone.
“Then why did I wait two hours to see you? It’s ridiculous to make appointments 15 minutes apart, especially when you usually spend a lot longer with many patients,” I said with exasperation in my voice.
“I don’t like to sit around with nothing to do for 30 minutes if patients cancel at the last minute or don’t show up,” Dr. D responded with surprising honesty.
“You should make all the money you can, but not at my expense,” I said.
“It’s not about the money, but you’re right. I’m sorry.”
“You don’t have to be sorry. Just don’t schedule appointments 15 minutes apart. But to be safe, I’m taking your first appointment next time.”
Unfortunately, I could only get the second appointment for six months from now. All his first slots were taken on the days I wanted.