Stress: It’s a Matter of the Heart

You might be surprised to learn that heart disease is the number one killer of women in North America. Part of this can probably be attributed to the fact that it’s hard to know when our hearts aren’t healthy because we cannot see them. When we’ve gained too much weight we see it in our thighs. We are reminded to check our breasts by the fact that we see them every day. But our hearts? Often we forget to take proper care of them because they’re out of sight and out of mind.

Given the dangers of heart disease, women have to get a handle on what can cause it, and how to help keep these causes at bay. Heart disease is caused by a number of factors, many of which we cannot control. One of these factors is the accumulation of stress that comes with everyday life. While we can’t necessarily control all the stressors in our lives (financial problems, horrible bosses, teenagers), we do have a certain amount of control over how we let them affect us and by extension, our heart health.  Learning to manage stress is key if you’re wondering how to prevent heart disease in women.

We are all affected by stress in different ways, and we all cope differently with stress. What works for you might not work for your best friend; I think yoga is probably the most boring thing in the world, but many of my friends have had it change their lives. I put together a list of tips that have been known to help people manage their stress. Using some of these techniques can help you control how much you’re affected by the stress in your life and could help keep your heart healthy (and sanity in check)!

Don’t Overindulge in Food and Alcohol: Don’t deal with stress by turning to food and alcohol. Over eating, under eating, and excessive alcohol consumption only band-aid the bigger problem. Coping by using food and alcohol will only lead to additional issues on top of the primary stressor.

Say No: Many women take on more than they can handle. Even women who work the same hours as their husbands have been shown to contribute more than 70% to the household duties. Adding kids’ schedules into the mix, as well as the expectations of friends and extended family can lead anyone to a nervous breakdown. Go through your commitments to distinguish between the ‘shoulds’ and the ‘musts.’ Cut down what’s on your plate so you can deal with your obligations properly without going insane.

Stop Smoking: Beyond the obvious impacts lighting up has on your health, the nicotine in cigarettes works as a stimulant that directly induces symptoms of stress.

Exercise Regularly: Regular exercise has direct links to maintaining a healthy heart, but it is the endorphins it releases that combat stress. They make you feel better immediately, and help you maintain a positive attitude. If you hate the elliptical, look for other ways to get exercise. Join an amateur soccer or basketball league in your neighborhood (most places have one), or sign up for a dance class or running group.

Evaluate: Figure out what it is in your life that is causing you stress, and then accept those things that you cannot control. Distinguishing between problems that are in and out of your hands helps you determine what’s really worth worrying about. Be realistic and flexible about issues that are beyond your control, and have a plan for what to do if things don’t go your way. Most of the time, these things aren’t the end of the world.

Get Sufficient Sleep: Many people can’t sleep because they’re stressed, and many people are stressed because they can’t sleep. Make sure that you’re getting at least seven hours of sleep a night. Make sure your bedroom is dark and comfortable, and use your bed for nothing but sleep and sex. Get the TV out of the bedroom, and avoid screen-time an hour before bed. If you consistently have trouble sleeping, try femMED Sleep as a sleep-aid. However you make it happen, make sure you give your body enough time to recharge!

Make the Cut: Avoid people in your life who stress you out. Obviously your mother-in-law is here to stay, but the ‘frenemies’ who do more harm than good aren’t worth sacrificing your health for.

In the same line of thinking, avoid topics of conversation that cause you stress. If religion or politics get you riled up, avoid the topic, or at least put it aside until your head is in the right place.

Incorporate Music: Many people find listening to music a good way to relax and escape from the pressures of stress. Whether you listen to music directly made to combat stress, such as nature sounds, or Beyoncé is more your thing, take time to let it calm you down next time you’re stuck in traffic or getting ready for a meeting that you’re anxious about attending.

Yoga/Meditation: Yoga and meditation help people check out from the fast-pace of everyday life. Taking the time to relax and appreciate your body and mind can for some people alleviate stress entirely. Make sure you go to at least five classes before deciding whether or not this is for you, as it is a practice that takes a bit of getting used to.

Get a pet: People who own pets are consistently shown to exhibit fewer signs of stress, and fewer health problems in general. Pets serve as great companions, and can calm your nerves at the worst of times. If you don’t have the time or money for a dog or cat, visit a friend who has one for a quick fix of puppy love!

Do Volunteer Work: Evidence shows that people who help others are more adept at coping with stressors. Helping people who are worse off than yourself will help you put your problems into perspective, and will also leave you feeling good about yourself.

Take a Vitamin: Make sure that you’re getting enough nutrients, especially vitamin B. Vitamin B is the master of the nervous system, and taking a supplement can help calm your nerves.

Get Lucky: Sex has been proven to reduce stress and stress symptoms. On top of that, it can be great exercise and can help you sleep (thus covering two other things from this list)!

Make Work More Comfortable: If you spend a lot of time at the office and your job causes you stress, try and bring some comforts into your work environment. Bring a picture of your family and your favourite mug from home. Scents such as basil and chamomile are all soothing. Keep a jar of some of these oils in a drawer to breathe in if you’re feeling overwhelmed. These sound trivial, but it’s the little things that help!

Give Yourself a Break: Everyone has commitments that stop them from taking care of themselves. If you have a huge project at work and don’t have time to make it to the gym or cook a good meal once in a while, that’s ok. During this time, make sure you’re treating yourself properly. Get up every half an hour and take a five minute walk. If your husband is driving you insane, book a dinner with your girlfriends to unwind. When your kids are causing you headaches, ask someone to look after them for the weekend and try and spend the weekend away. You can’t take care of all these things in your life if you don’t take care of yourself.

Eggs: Are They All They’re Cracked Up to Be?

Over the years, eggs have developed a bad rap. Some people had gone so far as to suggest that eggs should be removed completely from your diet because they are loaded with a dangerous amount of cholesterol even for a healthy heart. With new
scientific discoveries though, eggs are making a comeback. In fact, they seem
to have done a full 180 and are now being touted for all their health benefits.

While it is true that egg yolks contain cholesterol and may weakly affect blood cholesterol levels, it turns out they also contain nutrients that help lower the risk of
heart disease.

Eggs Contain:

Vitamin B12 Vitamin B12 has been shown to help protect against
heart disease.
Choline This nutrient plays an important function for the
nervous system, helping to control memory and muscle support.
Vitamin D Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, which a lot of
North Americans lack in the winter.
Protein Eggs are a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids. Protein plays an essential role in building, maintaining, and replacing tissues in the body.

Over the years, eggs were ‘rumoured’ to be bad for the heart because they contain cholesterol. Recent research indicates, however, that blood cholesterol levels are more influenced by the saturated and trans-fats we eat rather than by the cholesterol in foods. This means that our bodies are not absorbing the cholesterol from foods at a rate even close to the extent that was thought in the past. On top of this, eggs contain Vitamin B12, which is one of the vitamins for heart health. This is a great natural supplement if you’re wondering how to prevent heart disease in women or men!

How much cholesterol do we need?
The recommended daily cholesterol intake for a healthy person is not more than 300 milligrams per day.  In healthy people, an egg a day will not increase the risk of heart disease and can be part of a healthy diet. Women with heart disease should limit dietary cholesterol to less than 200 mg per day, but you can still have eggs up to 3 times per week.

One egg contains:

  • 185mg of cholesterol, all of which is found in the
    yolk
  •  5 grams of fat, most of which is the ‘good’ unsaturated fat and there is no trans-fat
  • 6 grams of protein

So what are your options if you suffer from heart disease and/or are trying to limit your eggs?
Have an omelet with one egg yolk and 3 egg whites. Egg whites are pure protein! You can add as many vegetables as you like.
Eggs are filling, inexpensive and easy to prepare, so start incorporating them into your diet!

By the way…What’s the difference between white eggs and brown eggs?
As it turns out, not a whole lot! Brown eggs come from brown hens, and white eggs come from white hens!

Let’s Talk About Sex (Drives)!

Remember being 17 and sharing everything with your girlfriends? First kisses, bad dates, fights with your boyfriend? Chances are, you talked about everything- even those
things that boyfriend wouldn’t be too pleased to hear you sharing. Then you finished
school, and you began dating people more seriously. For every guy you went out
with, there was a subsequent conversation with that same best friend, or maybe
a new one, about the date, his appearance and personality, what was wrong with
him, and how far this relationship was going to go. When you got married, she
helped you pick your dress, and probably your lingerie as well. And if you’re
like most women, that is when things started to change. Conversation about sex
and sexuality started to dwindle, and was replaced by the other things that
were prevalent in your life. You can attribute this change to a million
different things, from your focus on balancing your kids and career to the
increased conservatism that comes with age.

Obviously your responsibilities and interests change as you
go through life, and accordingly, so do the topics of conversation that
interest you. But removing sex from the medley of topics that you are
comfortable discussing can inadvertently lead to feelings of alienation if you
ever develop a problem in this facet of your life.

Recent medical studies indicate that up to 1/3 of young to
middle-aged women, and up to ½ of older women experience issues relating to
their libido. The numbers alone demonstrate how pervasive these issues are, but
still it’s something we rarely discuss. Most women don’t talk about low female libido
with their friends, and the few that do discuss it with their doctor only
breach the surface of the issue. That so many of us choose to deal with this alone
could be attributed to a socially-distorted sense of decency. We wouldn’t want
to make anyone uncomfortable by discussing something so personal and so ‘crass.’
But the fact that we don’t talk about it is perpetuating the feelings of worry,
guilt, shame, and isolation that a woman faces when she is dealing with a
low-libido. These feelings can be tied directly to her conception that there is
‘something wrong with her.’ Contrary to this belief, low-libido is a prevalent
issue for more than a significant number of women, and these negative feelings
are a product of the stigma that surrounds a woman’s ‘abnormal’ sex drive. Talking
about issues relating to our sex drives creates a network of support and is
instrumental in getting rid of this unhealthy and unfair repression.

Given the well-established link between sexual function and
overall health, it is important to address issues pertaining to low-libido. It
is difficult, though, to address an issue that is plagued by a social taboo.
The vicious cycle continues when we play by this taboo’s rules and never
address the issue at hand. At femMED, we strongly believe that a woman’s most
important asset is her health, and so it is something that she should nurture
as best she can. One of the first steps in taking care of issues related to
libido involves simply opening up about it. We want to open a dialogue about
libido, and stop the stigma that surrounds it in its tracks. That our libido
level fluctuates throughout our lives is a normal part of being a woman, and so
it is also something that we should be comfortable with. If you are
experiencing a change in your libido, talk about it. You might find the person
you’re opening up to is facing a similar issue. If they’re not, they will know
that there is someone there if and when it becomes a problem that they face.

One of the main benefits of discussing libido-related issues
with other women, other than emotional support, is that we can share our
strategies for dealing with it. Although there is no Viagra for women, there
are a number of things we can do to take our sex drives back into our own
hands. femMED Libido is one of our best selling products, and we have received
an enormous amount of positive feedback from happy women (and their husbands!)
who have used it to reclaim their sex drives. There are a number of other
home-remedies that Kelli Young discusses in this blog post. If you find
any of these suggestions helpful, or if you have one of your own to share with
us, please share it in the comments section- or send it in a private message
through Facebook or our website.

We all know that dealing with body issues we’ve never
experienced before is hard. What’s even harder is experiencing them alone, and
not knowing what to do. In the case of low-libido especially, ignoring and
burying this aspect of being a woman is not healthy. By talking about libido
and making it a viable topic of conversation with your friends or medical
professionals, you can play a part in beating the silence associated with a
very common, very normal problem.

Changing up Valentine’s Day: Unique Date Ideas

Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, which means you have the whole weekend to celebrate! While going out for dinner is fun, we have come up with a list of 30 unique date ideas so that the occasion stays fresh. Let us know if you try any of these out!

  1. Ice skating.
  2. Wine tasting – many vineyards are affiliated with hotels and bed & breakfasts; see if you can book the whole weekend in wine country!
  3. Bowling.
  4. Trivia Night at your local bar.
  5. Don’t want to spend $300 on hockey tickets?
    Check out what games your local university team is playing.
  6. Go bungee jumping or sky diving.
  7. Go skiing or snowboarding. If you don’t know
    how, take a lesson together!
  8. Couple’s spa.
  9. Cook a fun meal that you wouldn’t normally be bothered to make, e.g. tacos, paella, oysters etc…
  10. Go to the aquarium or zoo.
  11. Play laser tag.
  12. Find a comedy show.
  13. Take a cooking class.
  14. Play mini-golf.
  15. Find some live music in your area.
  16. Book a dinner cruise.
  17. Find an out-of-the-city B&B and spend the weekend relaxing.
  18. Go ice fishing.
  19. Go dog-sledding.
  20. Go beer tasting at your local brewery.
  21. Get dressed up and go to the opera or ballet.
  22. Go hot air-ballooning.
  23. Go snowshoeing or cross country skiing.
  24. Go to New York, or another nearby city you can get away to for two days.
  25. Treat yourself to a “staycation”! If you don’t have the time or money to get out of the city for a whole weekend, book a hotel in your own city for the night.
  26. Bring Paris to your living room and have a picnic at home. Pack red wine, a baguette, and brie!
  27. Catch up on Oscar movies with your favourite foods, a fire, and a blanket.
  28. Go camping (or rent a cabin if it’s too cold) in or near a national park.
  29. Go tobogganing.
  30. Find a local Karaoke bar.

Excited but not “Excited”: Enhancing Sexual Desire in Time for Valentine’s Day

Welcome February. Characterized by its long, grey days and accompanying cold winds, February doesn’t really leave us with a whole lot to get excited about. It is arguably the most insufferable month to endure, until you remember that smack in the middle of it is Valentine’s Day: the auspicious occasion that allows you to guiltlessly leave the kids at home and your work at the office, and celebrate your relationship.  (I don’t care if it was popularized by Hallmark to sell greeting cards; if it gives me an excuse to eat unlimited chocolate then I’m into it)!

So you’ve booked a babysitter, made the reservations, and have finally dropped those holiday pounds in order to fit back into your sexiest dress (or you haven’t…but you look great all the same). You should be excited, but if you’re one of the 18 million women in North America who suffers from low female libido, you’re probably more anxious than anything else. Valentine’s Day is by nature a day to celebrate relationships, and by extension is just as inherently a day to celebrate sex. If you’re not interested in this integral part of the holiday, then quite frankly, Valentine’s Day sucks. There are dozens of reasons why women lose their sex drive, which include but are not limited to:

  • Perimenopause
  • Menopause
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of confidence
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Insomnia/fatigue
  • Environmental toxins (smoking, pollution)
  • Depression (and antidepressants)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Relationship issues

Most women who are suffering from low libido are not apathetic. They want to want sex, but they just don’t. Whether this lack of interest in sex is due to psychological, environmental, or physiological factors does not change its repercussions. Low libido can affect a women’s body image, mood, and self-confidence, and can leave us with feelings of disappointment, frustration, and inadequacy. Needless to say, no woman should ever have to struggle with these feelings, and it was with this in mind that femMED created femMED Libido.

There are over 25 FDA-approved treatments for men suffering from issues related to their sex drive, but there is currently very little on the market for women. Obviously medications like Viagra have been extremely successful in revitalizing many men’s sex lives, but most women aren’t looking for an equivalent. While a magic “Viagra for women” pill that you can ingest an hour before sex is an attractive quick-fix, what is more appealing is targeting the core issues affiliated with low libido and implementing a natural solution to improve sex drive.

Women experiencing low-libido are often less easily aroused, less sensitive to touching and stroking, prone to vaginal dryness and psychological discomfort, lack pelvic blood flow, and have difficulty achieving orgasm. The ingredients in femMED Libido work together as sex-drive enhancers and are successful in maintaining and increasing sexual desire, enhancing sexual satisfaction, and enhancing sexual response, thus combatting and often fully alleviating these symptoms. When these symptoms are targeted and relieved by the herbs for female sex drive in femMED Libido, women can start desiring and enjoying their sex lives, which will contribute to their ultimate personal, social, and physical fulfillment.

For many couples, Valentine’s Day is just a “Hallmark holiday,” but for others its importance is rooted in the fact that it is representative of their relationship as a whole. For these latter couples who normally play the grand gesture game, staying home and watching Breaking Bad is indicative of a larger problem. If that problem is female sex drive, then femMED Libido is an effective solution that you can find in the Natural Health or Vitamin section of just about any pharmacy in Canada. Unlike Viagra, it takes between 2-3 weeks of consistent daily use to achieve its best results, and so now is the time to start “warming up your engine” in time for Valentine’s Day (and every day after that). If you’re in the “I-think-Valentine’s-Day-is-a-whole-load-of-commercial-crap-camp,” but also experiencing a low sex-drive, then try femMED Libido so that you can go back to getting the most out of your sex life on any given day. If nothing else, (the desire for and practice of) sex will give you something to do during this long winter month!