What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Premenopause

doctor may not tell you

What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Premenopause: Balance your hormones and your life from thrity to fifty by John Lee, M.D. and Jesse Hanley, M.D. Originally published in 1999. 395 pages.

‘Kay, folks. I read this one almost two months ago, and told myself that I wasn’t going to review it until I had tested the suggestions a bit. Then I tested the suggestions, found a couple of them were not only healthy but genuinely helpful, and still waffled on reviewing it.

Sunday, I handed it to a friend of mine who I thought might be helped by it, and realized that I was avoiding reviewing it because…well, it’s another public declaration of my stage of life. But it’s a great book, and the health improvement suggestions are not only very efffective, they align with my ideals as well. So I’m getting over myself long enough to recommend this book. It’s that good, and I want to share this information with other women.

If my hormones had started wigging out at 40, or I’d had time to process the gradual changes many women report experiencing starting at 35, I might have been better prepared for stuff. However, I was humming along like clockwork with nary the faintest hint of anything out of the ordinary for 45 years. Very recently, little things popped up here and there, and my desire to keep living my normal life in all respects sent me on a hunt for answers, and that hunt led me to this book.

People (ahem, like me) heard Suzanne Somers going on about not having life hindered by hormonal changes and laughed. If I met her today, I would offer her my apologies nd join her on a tour to tell every woman over 40 that you really don’t have to have your life, moods, and sex life turned upside down by the calendar. You can find what to do, how and why by reading this book.

One of the things I appreciated about it was that these are OB/Gyns who openly and defiantly advise women to ignore most of the conventional medical wisdom and toxic prescriptions offered by most gynecological professionals. A second thing I appreciated about them was that they had an entire chapter dedicated to the deadly and damaging nature of artificial birth control. They actually advocate the calendar method for those couples interested in child spacing.

They strongly discourage elective surgeries to handle issues caused by wild hormonal swings or conditions such as menorrhagia. They strongly discourage estrogen-like replacement alternatives as well, although they don’t spend much time on that since the book is written for women who are not yet menopausal. Perhaps in five years I’ll pick up the next book.

They go into great detail about how our hormones really work. For instance, that it’s not a decrease in estrogen but progestrone that is the culprit when pre-menopausal women first start to experience problems. That alone was very enlightening for me, as well as the less expensive, non drug, all natural, bioidentical hormonal supplements and replacements that work with a woman’s body rather than against it. In other words, unlike progestins or  ERT, natural hormones won’t make you gain weight or increase your risk of developing cancer later in life.

After making several of the adjustments outlined in the book, and probably because I got started working the problem at the first sign of trouble, I have seen a lot of success with every bit of the advice I tried. From greater ease of weight management, to an immediate return to regular cycles, to better sleep. It was actually quite remarkable, until I stopped to consider that the natural way, using the stuff that God created, should yield the best results.

I suppose my grade for this book is obvious, but for the sake of consistency, I’ll offer one.

Grade: A

The Gluten-free, Almond Flour Cookbook.

GF Almond flour cookbook

The Gluten-free, Almond Flour Cookbook, by Elena Amsterdam. Published in 2009. 144 pages.

I stumbled upon this one in our local library and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I have finally accepted the reality that at this stage of life[1], the white sugar and white flour have to be forever banished. Or at least relegated to the odd special occasion. Since special occasions seem to occur with startling regularity in this house, I have to take the further step of figuring out which times I’m willing to throw caution to the wind and eat the cake.

I had been grappling with how to make this adjustment, given that baking is a very big part of my life. I even brought a decent supplemental income for a couple of years selling my home baked wares. Our eldest is also quite the baker and is on the cusp of developing quite the entrepreneurial enterprise as a baker herself. In other words, around here gluten is more than just the protein found in wheat that makes the bread chewy and the cake stay together. It’s a major part of kitchen life. Because we thoroughly enjoy working with it, I was a little sad to say goodbye to baking as much as anything else.

Enter this little book by Elena Amsterdam, and baking (at least baking I can actually eat) re-entered my life in a snap. I haven’t tried every recipe in the book yet, but I have tried 5 and not one has been disappointing. That was enough for me to go ahead and offer a review and endorsement of the book. The second reason I felt comfortable with it is that my husband thoroughly enjoyed the flavor of both the pancakes and the pecan shortbread cookies, and he is not easily impressed. Because he has become increasingly less tolerant of high levels of sweetness, these recipes are a good fit for him as well.

The natural sweetness of the almonds means that only few tablespoons of agave nectar are used as the sweetener in most of the recipes. I haven’t made one of the cakes yet, but I will this weekend -I hope, as we have quite a full one ahead- but the frostings will require confectioners sugar, making them recipes with a higher level of sweetness.

The caveat here is that almond flour is expensive. I paid $13.95 at our local warehouse club for a three-pound bag and felt like I was getting a real deal. However, because I am making adjustments to my diet which are permanent and not a temporary fix, I don’t have a problem with making the investment. As far as I am concerned, almond flour is equivalent to gluten free GOLD for someone who loves to bake but wants to keep the white flour in their diet to a minimum.

Grade: A

[1] The dietary changes are not related to weight loss, but rather hormone balancing, and by that I mean hormones of all sorts: adrenal and thyroid as well as estrogen and progesterone. I may review a good book I read on the subject at a later date. I am giving it 30 days to see if the positive changes I am experiencing are more than just a fluke.

 

Is Marriage for White People?

marriage crisis book

Is Marriage for White People? How the African-American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone, by Ralph Richard Banks. Originally published in 2011. 304 pages.

When I first heard of this book, I decided that the title was so preposterous there was no way I could take it seriously, and dismissed it as something I would “never” read. This, even though I was well aware that marriage rates bottomed out in the black community, including the black middle class, decades ago. I was also well aware of the standard lines which are floated when the issue comes up.

As is usually the case however, I was perusing our local library’s shelves, the book grabbed my attention, and I picked it up. Turns out that the book’s title was actually derived from an interesting set of circumstances and revealed a perspective that I was interested in reading more about, so I continued to read the book through to its conclusion.

What started out as a potential scholarly book turned about one-fourth of the way through into a book dominated by the thoughts and testimonies of single, successful black women who for various reasons either 1) had never married or had children or 2) had disastrous marriages to black men whom they had compromised on key values and standards for the sake of being married.

While Banks did a fairly decent job at the beginning of his book of providing statistics, it wasn’t long before this tome morphed into a 300 page round of, “Where have all the good black men gone?” There was far too much ink given to the voices and opinions of black women and not enough to black men. What he did have to say about black men didn’t make them look very good, either.

The fact that the highest earning black men are more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to never marry tripped a series of thoughts in me that strikes at the heart of the black relationship dilemma. The reality is, according to Banks, that the one who has the most options outside the relationship has the most power in it. In other words, successful black men wield a lot of relationship market power. Of course, the Christian ideal leaves no room for “options outside the relationship” once commitment has been made, but this is not a Christian book.

It’s enough to make you cringe because it touches on the “soft harems” which are ubiquitous among single, successful black men and many not-so-successful black men. Banks even starts off one of his chapters with this well worn joke:

5 Rules for a Happy Life

  1. You should find a woman that helps you with the cleaning and the chores,
  2. You should find a woman that is a good cook,
  3. You should find a woman that you can trust and share your feelings with,
  4. You should find a woman that enjoys making love to you,
  5. Last and the most important thing is that these 4 women should never meet.

 

There is presently a fast-growing polygyny movement in the lower socioeconomic black community, which claims to be based on Biblical principles. In reality, it seeks to legitimize the sexual patholoogy that has torpedoed the black family over the past 60 years. Someone once suggested we look into this minister as he appeals to young black men who might be good prospects for our daughters. We’ll pass, thank you.

However, the fact that I have run across this “Pastor’s” name so often in recent years underscores how fast the movement is spreading. The men I have seen engaged in the lifestyle are largely ill-equipped to do it in any way similar to the Biblical patriarchs of old. Namely, they are broke and have their women working jobs. I don’t see how this serves black family formation. More than anything, it hastens its obliteration which is already well underway.

One of the things Banks gets right however, is that the black American community is just the beginning as lower marriage rates, higher illegitimacy, and increasing numbers of men and women of all races, whether by circumstance or choice, are eschewing marriage and procreation altogether. The rot is spreading, perhaps more slowly than in spread in the black community, but the numbers don’t lie, and Banks does an excellent job of parsing the numbers before he starts to run afield, getting distracted by the woeful tales of black women.

His  insistence that the key for successful black women is “marrying out” in order to stem the high tide of never married black women is not without merit, but it ignores the realities that come with being a high achieving woman of any race. Many look up from their years focused on accomplishment to realize she may have missed her opportunity to marry. He rightly notes, though briefly, that large numbers of black women due to the fluidity of range of attraction in the black community, hinder their ability to widen their marriage prospects by being overweight and not fully cognizant of its impact.

Despite its informative offerings, I found Banks’ book in no way encouraging to the single black women he sympathizes with so greatly, nor does it offer any incentive to the significant minority of black men who find marriage unappealing in a market where they hold all of the cards. On the contrary, it mildly chastises them for not giving their sistahs their due and doing right by them, which is not an incentive to marry.

As this relates to the Christian community, I have wondered if even those young people who love the Lord and do everything right won’t still find themselves increasingly in the situation that Jeremiah, Daniel, and the other members of the remnant who were; not spared from the fallout when the judgement for disobedience was meted out.

Grade: C. It started with a lot of potential but too quickly fell into the common trope of female sympathy without a corresponding counter-balance to get to the heart of why many marriageable black men find no appeal in the prospect of marrying black women before they hit middle age.

 

 

 

 

UnChristian

Unchristian: What a New Generation really Thinks About Christianity…and Why It Matters, by David Kinnaman. Originally published in 2007.

I finished this book a couple of months ago, and my feelings about it were mixed. I didn’t know how to review it. The premise is simple: Christianity has a real PR problem with today’s generation of young Americans, and this is in large part due to the fact that we -American Christians- are for the most part horrible examples. We are, in a word, UnChristian.

On the one hand, and the research bears this out, there is very little difference between the lifestyle of the average Christian and the average American in terms of entertainment, how we spend our money, how we dress, etc. These are certainly legitimate concerns.

However, Kinnaman loses me with his insistence that most moderns reject Christianity because of the behavior of Christians. While there is something to be said for the issues in the American church, this conclusion thoroughly ignores the fact that the Bible clearly indicates that fewer and fewer people will embrace truth, choosing the “broad way”, while those who choose the “narrow road” will be few in number.

He makes excellent points, many of which I have made myself on numerous occasions, such as:

“Having spent time around “sinners” and also around purported saints, I have a hunch why Jesus spent so much time with the former group: I think he preferred their company. Because the sinners were honest about themselves and had no pretense, Jesus could deal with them. In contrast, the saints put on airs, judged him, and sought to catch him in a moral trap. In the end it was the saints, not the sinners, who arrested Jesus.”

But a lot of the “hypocrite label that he claims is rightly thrown at Christians by unbelievers strikes me as disingenuous. He ignores the corresponding balance of human nature which has always rejected Christ and His Truth.

For all the problems in the postmodern church, and they are many, the solution to the “problem” of lagging Christian conversions has little to do with the church itself, and more to do with the spirit of the age; a spirit which has infected the church in ways big and small. Such as the way many American Christians conflate our political views with convictions of faith.  Kinnaman makes a good observation here:

 “It strikes me as unChristian that we often have more charitable attitudes toward ideological allies than we do toward brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we disagree on matters of politics.”

Also,  there is the proliferation of ministries which focus on technology as a means of spreading the gospel rather than being salt and light to other human beings in the flesh. It gives us the false illusion that we are doing more than we actually are. The strategy is a bad one:

“In an era of mass media, it is easy to believe that the more eyeballs, the more impact. But radio, television, and tracts accounted for a combined total of less than one-half of 1% of the Busters who are born again.”

I doubt the Internet does much better. It probably does more to turn people off than draw them in. If those of us who are really, truly pressing for a true and deep relationship with Christ would connect with others outside of our comfortable christian bubbles, we might see more people opening their hearts to the gospel.

Instead, Kinnaman suggests we should try to be “used of God” in media, arts and entertainment, and other avenues to reach people through the mediums of communication most commonly used today:

In many ways politics follows culture. As ancient Greek musician Damon of Athens said, ‘Show me the lyric of a nation and it matters not who writes its laws.’ Movies, television, books, magazines, the Internet, and music are incredibly significant in shaping world views and lifestyles of today’s America. And Christians are expressing a growing awareness and response to these avenues of influence. Where is God calling you to serve him – media, arts and entertainment, politics, education, church, business, science?

Am I the only one who has noticed how inept and far afield “Christian” media goes when it attempts to make movies and music which connect with the culture? For all the panic and shrieking Christians expressed over the movie, “The Shack”, I found the theology in that movie as “accurate” as most Kendrick Brothers films. In other words, Christian movies leave as much opportunity to eat the meat and spit out the bones as most secular produced movies which portray Christianity in a positive light.

Despite my initial and lingering problems with some of David Kinnaman’s conclusions, UnChristian certainly offers an opportunity for prayerful self-reflection. This is an appropriate summation of something we need to consider as we encounter those outside of the faith:

Being salt and light demands two things: we practice purity in the midst of a fallen world and yet we live in proximity to this fallen world. If you don’t hold up both truth in tension, you invariably becomes useless and separated from the world God loves.

Too often, it seems we forget that God loves those who have not yet encountered His grace as much as He loved us before we encountered it.

Grade: C+

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modern Romance Ch. 7- Conclusion

modern romance

This is the last post in the series of posts reviewing Aziz Ansari’s bestseller, Modern Romance.

Chapter 7 is titled Settling Down, and is generally an review of what science has offered as the trajectory of love and passion in relationships. After that Ansari delves into the whys and wherefores of those who hesitate to take the plunge and vow to forsake all others. One of the most compelling “arguments” Aziz offers for why it makes sense to remain single is so that every couple of years or so, one gets to experience the high of new love without ever having to deal with the inevitable waning of passion that befalls all long term relationships. It is of course, filled in with an equally valuable if less intense, companionate love:

Well, in good relationships, as passionate love fades, a second kind of love arises to
take its place: companionate love. Companionate love is neurologically different from passionate love. Passionate love always spikes early, then fades away, while companionate love is less intense but grows over time.
And, whereas passionate love lights up the brain’s pleasure centers, companionate love is associated with the regions  having to do with long-term bonding and relationships.
Presumably, faced with the high of passionate love’s being replaced by the drudgery of companionate love, many couples find monogamy burdensome. Ansari spends some time dissecting the challenges that such couples face
As much fun as the former (early passion) was, and it was a lot of fun, the latter (companionate love) comes with its own benefits, blessings and pleasures. There are still flows of passion, and ebbs have the memories of the passionate flows at attached. I was slightly disappointed with Ansari’s inability to fully appreciate this given his testimony of his own parents’ marriage.
In the conclusion, he rounds up what he learned from his research and travels with a few key points. My reactions to his thoughts will be in parentheses:
  • Finding someone today is probably more complicated and stressful than it was for previous generations— but you’re also more likely to end up with someone you are really excited about. (I can’t disagree with completely him on that but I wonder if he’s missing the fact that in earlier generations, reasonable expectations meant it didn’t take as much for people to get excited)
  • Technology hasn’t just changed how we find romance; it’s also put a new spin on the timeless challenges we face once we’re in a relationship. (This is true only insofar as one or both of the people involved have character issues.)
  • Treat potential partners like actual people, not bubbles on a screen. (I agree with this 100%)
  • Don’t think of online dating as dating—think of it as an online introduction service. (Again, I agree)
  • With so many romantic options, instead of trying to explore them all, make sure you properly invest in people and give them a fair chance before moving on to the next one. (I agree that expecting lightning to strike in one exchange or meeting is not the best route to finding someone compatible.)

I forgot to add content advisories with each review. I beg the reader’s pardon for that, but I hope that identifying the author as an American comedian and the book as decidedly secular offers some indication that there are smatterings of profanity throughout the book. It’s not pervasive, given the highly researched nature of the book, but it shows up when Ansari decides to be funny.

Grade: B for being a book that does an fairly good job of identifying the issues in the current dating culture, even with its inherent liberal biases.

 

 

 

 

Rabbit trail: Scrabble in the digital age.

Saw this on the big dining table where the kids were playing Scrabble yesterday:

dox

verb: informal

  1. search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.

    “hackers and online vigilantes routinely dox both public and private figures”

 

Le Sigh…

I hope to have the next -and last- installment of Modern Romance posted tomorrow.

Modern Romance chapters 5-6

modern romance

Chapters 5 and 6 are, in my opinion, excellent encapsulations of the current state of affairs with regard to post-modern relationship dysfunction. The things that are hard are in fact made harder by the sheer magnitude of opportunities to forgo the work of life and fill our needs with cheap substitutes.

Before I get into that, though, I am noticing in Aziz Ansari the cognitive dissonance that is ubiquitous in the post modern west.

On the one hand, he senses that something is very wrong, investigates, and has been blessed with the advantage of having seen  in his own parents and culture the wealth and depth of love that can come from marriages established far away from the altar of the soul mate myth.

On the other, despite all the mounting evidence, he cannot bring himself to judge harshly the processes, behavior and fruits of the modern “courtship” model. In other words, this sucks, and he knows it, but he wants the freedom to be one of the fortunate few who strike gold. I get it on a visceral level, but no solutions can be found without a willingness to limit one’s own choices.

Chapter 5: International Investigations of Love

Ansari and his fellow researchers decided to get outside of American culture to gauge dating culture in other parts of the world. While Europe was more libertine in many ways, more fascinating places to do research were those where the sexual culture is extreme. By extreme, I am referring to a lack of sexual and mating interest as much as the other extreme. He starts out in Tokyo, where the men are often referred to as “herbivores”, with all that this implies:

*In 2013 a whopping 45 percent of women aged sixteen to twenty-four “were not interested in or despised sexual contact,” and more than a quarter of men felt the same way.2 I’ve always wanted to describe a statistic as “whopping,” and I think we can concur, this is indeed whopping. Seriously, read those numbers one more time. Despised sexual contact.
• The number of men and women between eighteen and thirty-four who are not involved in any romantic relationship with the opposite sex has risen since 1987, from 49 percent to 61 percent for men and from 39 percent to 49 percent for women.
• A whopping one third of Japanese people under thirty have never dated,4 and in a survey of those between thirty-five and thirty-nine, more than a quarter reported that they’d never had sex. (Okay, that was the last “whopping” I’ll use.)
• Almost half of Japanese men and one third of women in their early thirties were still single as of 2005.
• In 2012, 41.3 percent of married couples had not had sex in the past month, the highest
percentage since the figures became available in 2004. There was a steady rise over the
previous ten years, from 31.9 percent in 2004.7
• Japan’s birthrate ranks 222nd out of 224 countries (modern romance, p. 117)

After laying out these startling statistics, Ansari reveals the findings of his first hand investigative search and finds -from the Japanese singles themselves_ that it is every bit as bleak as the numbers imply. Many men have turned to technology (this was a sad story if ever I read one) and alternative venues such as “Soaplands” to have their needs for physical intimacy met.

Ironically, the economic and technological progress for which Japan is known is also a culprit in its demographic crisis as the men there simply will not date and marry women whom they are not substantially more economically and socially well situated.

From there Ansari ventured to Buenos Aires,  where the water seems to be laced with some sort of invisible aphrodisiac and the men, whom he called omnivores, seemed to be more aptly described as top of the food chain carnivores. I can only surmise that he refrained from use of the word “carnivore” for the sake of political correctness.  Even the mayor of Buenos Aires had no reservations about making, on the record, what would be considered outlandishly sexist comments here in the States:

In 2014 a survey conducted by a nonprofit organization called Stop Street Harassment revealed that more than 60percent of women in Buenos Aires had experienced intimidation from men who catcalled them.

To a lot of men in Buenos Aires, women’s concern came as a surprise. When asked about the survey, Buenos Aires’s mayor, Mauricio Macri, dismissed it as inaccurate and proceeded to explain why women couldn’t possibly have a problem with being shouted at by strangers.

“All women like to be told compliments,” he said. “Those who say they’re offended are lying. Even though you’ll say something rude, like ‘What a cute ass you have’ . . . it’s all good. There is nothing more beautiful than the beauty of women, right? It’s almost the reason that men breathe.”

To be clear, this is the mayor. (modern romance, p. 128)

Much as in Japan however, this extreme does little to produce life long stable relationships. Rather, it’s a place where you might commonly happen upon a weeping woman during a stroll through any park, and where infidelity is as normal as breathing.

Women testified of men telling them with what seemed to be heartfelt sincerity:

‘I love you, you are the love of my life, I want to marry you, I want to have kids,’” said a twenty-seven-year-old Argentine woman named Sofia. “But then he never calls. (p. 130)

This chapter made America look like a mating Utopia by comparison.

Chapter 6: Old Issues, New Forms -Sexting, Cheating, Snooping, and Breaking Up

This chapter hardly needs a lengthy or deep exposition, so I’ll refrain from doing so. The title says it all.

Sexting was one of the instances where Ansari tried to present a non-judgemental approach, even as he heard the stories of women whose significant (or not so significant) others shared images and videos of them with strangers. I was not surprised, but still somewhat disappointed in the way this “harmless” trend was presented.

• Half of eighteen- to twenty-four-year-olds have received sexts.
• One third of older teens have sent a sext.
• Sexting is increasing among all age groups—except fifty-five and older.
• You’re more likely to sext if you own a smartphone.
• People who own iPhones are twice as likely to sext as people who use Androids.
• The most popular time to sext is Tuesday between 10:00 A.M. and noon. Yes, we looked this up twice. Strange!
• People who are married or in committed relationships are just as likely to have sent sexts as their unattached peers. p.133

An interesting question arose from Ansari’s study and it’s this: Does the nature and opportunity of current technology contribute to a rise in infidelity? The politically correct answer of course, was no. Cheaters gonna cheat.

In reality however, when presented with “risk free” opportunities to indulge their darker natures, people are more inclined to take the bait than they would have been if it required more toil and stress to engage the behaviors. Interestingly, the men he interviewed were a bit more honest about the fact that the affairs they engaged in which started on social media/texting probably wouldn’t have occurred without the ease of private conversations these venues produced:

Another user said that he started an affair that he simply wouldn’t have had the gumption to start without Facebook.

They worked together and were casual acquaintances. One day he looked her up on Facebookand sent her a message asking, “Would you like to get a drink sometime?” Soon after that the affair began.

“If Facebook didn’t exist, I doubt I would have gathered the courage to ask her directly. It made the initial step that much easier,” he said.
The advantages of technology that facilitate regular dating (such as the ease of access and the absence of the pressure found in an in-person interaction) also transfer over to cheating.

This includes the ease of escalation, which, when engaging in something as scandalous as cheating, is quite valuable. With messages you can slowly test the waters of potentially starting an affair. Once you find out the other person is on the same page, it can ramp up very fast. p. 139

And with these issues become the issues of mates “snooping” on one another and the rudeness of breaking up via text rather than in person like a mature adult.

In other words, this whole thing is one big mess in a time and place where character development is secondary to material success.

Until next time…