C – Connect with your tribe. #AtoZChallenge

C – Connect with your tribe. #AtoZChallenge

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

This is one of the most essential things to do, especially if you are a loner, like yours truly!

Being an introvert, I preferred keeping things to myself–my anxieties, fears, my thoughts–all of it. Until last year, when I realised how important it is to reach out to those who know me, who care about me and who have only my best interests at heart.

it did bother me that I would be burdening others with my worries, but a cousin gave me quite an earful about how it was necessary that they know what I am going through, for they were MY PEOPLE!

People who would keep aside their worries when you need a shoulder to lean on belong to ‘OUR TRIBE’.

And, it is this tribe that we need to connect with, reach out to, share stuff with, because they understand.

Ladies, to be frank, it’s only your girl friends who will truly LISTEN to you, UNDERSTAND you and make your troubles theirs. Am I right, or am I right??

If you are suffering from the dreaded PMS related stress/anxiety/fear, or feeling low and lonely, and you speak about it to your partner (read, husband/boyfriend), you can only imagine the response you will get.

But, if you share the same things with your girl friends/sisters/mother/aunt, they will just gather you in a tight hug, and let you cry your heart out/complain/rant, and help cheer you up, sometimes by saying nothing at all! Isn’t it?

This the reason you need to CONNECT WITH YOUR TRIBE!

I made it a goal for 2019, where I decided upon days of the week when I would call up my girl friends/cousins and talk…just talk. Having deep, meaningful conversations with these women lifts my spirits, cheers me up, lessens my anxieties and drives away my scary thoughts.

These women live in different cities and countries and there’s no way I can meet them in person on a regular basis. So, I put my phone to good use instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media.

I came across this quote which I am sure you will relate to:

I have come to realise that the only people I need in my life are the ones who need me in theirs even when I have nothing else to offer them but myself.”

Don’t you agree?

So, reach out….

Connect with your tribe, with those closest to you, with whom you are comfortable, and who, you know, can save you from any situation you might find yourself in.

Just go ahead and call them/write to them/meet them. But, do it regularly. And, be there when they need you. That’s what will cement your relationship!

Much love,

SHILPA…

 

I am participating in the April A to Z Blogging Challenge and my theme this year is ‘SELF-CARE’.

You will find all the posts here.

Skin care for the winters.

Skin care for the winters.

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Mumbai never experiences winters the way other places do, but, my skin knows precisely when the season sets in! Dry, chapped lips, dry skin, especially around the mouth, dry hands and cracked feet…in fact, dry skin all over!

Caring for your skin during this season becomes necessary because if ignored, your skin loses its moisture too soon and appears dull and undernourished.

Personally, I prefer keeping it simple and refrain from using any readymade skin care products as they contain a lot of chemicals which can do harm over the long run, or they are too oily, which gives me pimples and acne.

I prefer using selective stuff from my kitchen counter that is not only skin-friendly, but also economical. Today, I am sharing with you all a few skin care tips to use not just for winters, but all year round for a soft, supple and a healthy-looking skin.

The tips I share here are not time-consuming, and use very few products, especially those easily found at home. At 45, I have no patience to spend long hours beautifying myself, nor am I interested in spending loads of money buying creams and potions that will never turn me into Cleopatra! So, do let me know if you found my post useful..

 

For the massage:

VIrgin coconut oil:

Virgin coconut oil is a magical, versatile beauty and healthcare product. Not only does it keep your hair shiny, strong and beautiful, it also moisturises your skin and leaves it feeling well nourished.

All you need to do, is massage some oil on your face and body half an hour before you shower.

In case you have dry skin, try applying coconut oil to your damp skin just after the shower. It spreads well, gets absorbed quickly and doesn’t give you the oily feel, at all!

Ghee:

You can also use ghee, or clarified butter, to massage your skin with. It’s a natural ingredient that will definitely soften your skin and won’t even harm your gentle skin in any way as it’s chemical-free.

You could use it during a facial, apply it on chapped lips and consume it to give your body the much-needed good fats.

Body scrubs:

Long ago, I used the readymade apricot scrubs to scrub away the dead skin cells for a smooth, pampered skin. Later, I realised how the coarse particles of the scrub could actually damage my skin over time, especially the facial skin. So, I thought of switching over to something I found in my kitchen.

Gram flour / Besan:

Gram flour makes for the perfect facial and body scrub. It is fine and non-abrasive and also skin-friendly. This has been used in my family since generations. I add half a spoonful of methi (fenugreek) powder and a spoonful of milk to besan and use it to cleanse my face and neck everyday. At times, I use it as a body scrub, too.

You could also add to it a pinch of turmeric and also some cream if your skin feels too dry.

If you wish to use the Multani Mitti, or Fuller’s Earth, do check the brand and the manufacturing date.

Honey and cocoa powder:

This is a new combo that I discovered in a post on skin care shared by a doctor friend. Honey is one of the best moisturisers and when mixed with cocoa powder, makes for the perfect moisturising facial scrub.

All you need is half a teaspoon of honey mixed with cocoa powder to make a paste. Apply it evenly on your face and neck and gently massage for a few minutes and wash off with cold water.

Shikakai Powder:

Now, I know, you might wonder why shikakai powder has been mentioned for skin care, so let me tell you, this was shared with me by my bestie and I vouch for its effectiveness.

Shikakai powder is fine, unlike the readymade scrubs which are often coarse and this makes it non-abrasive.

I bought the powder from a Patanjali products store. This way, I can be sure of its quality.

Take the required quantity in a bowl, add some water to make it into a thick paste and use it as a body and facial scrub, once a week. It gives you baby-soft skin at a far lesser price than what you pay at the salon!

And, do remember:

  • Massage your face and body with coconut oil before you use this scrub.
  • Cold water is best suited for dry skin, as warm/hot water robs the skin of its natural moisture.
  • Pat dry after shower and, if you feel the need, apply some lotion, especially one that’s non-oily and light and preferably made using natural ingredients. I use the Himalaya Nourishing Cream, which is not oily and keeps the skin well-moisturised all day long.

Water:

Water is the best solution for dry skin. It works its wonders from within which reflects on our skin. It can be quite tough, though, remembering to drink water regularly, especially in winters when we hardly sweat and don’t feel the need to hydrate.

An easy way out could be to set an alarm for every hour that will remind us to replenish our water levels in our body. It will not only help keep your skin from getting dry, but also flush away the toxins and give a clear, healthy skin.

Care for your feet:

Apart from your face and body, your feet too bear the brunt of the dry weather. The ugly cracks that develop on the heels can mar the beauty of your feet.

Make sure to scrub your heels using a foot scrub or a pumice stone, in the morning and at night. It takes just a couple minutes and helps get rid of the dead skin.

Massage the heel with either a foot cream or Vaseline and cover it with your socks. Follow this routine before the cracks on the heel deepen and start to bleed and walking becomes difficult.

It takes just a week to notice the difference and, now, you can also wear that strappy footwear you have been wanting to flaunt!

Skin care at home Vs. skin care in the salon:

Most of us prefer visiting the salon for our skin and hair care routines. A facial, mani-pedi, waxing, hair-cut, et al, at the salon gives us the pampered feeling. Most of it is fine, too. But, I always believe that a facial done at home, by ourselves, is a lot better than one done by the beautician.

The reason being, we know our skin better, so we know what products are good for our skin. Secondly, when we massage our skin, we can gauge the pressure we need better than the beautician does.

The one time I went to a salon to get a facial done, I found it quite uncomfortable. The beautician applied far too much pressure saying that that is how the dead skin cells can be removed. But, the skin on our face is really delicate and doesn’t need the kind of excess pressure while massaging. Neither is the skin so dirty that it needs to be scrubbed like we would scrub our bathroom tiles!

The best way to care for our skin is by ourselves, with products that are often found at home–natural, without any harmful chemicals that could have side-effects rather than benefits. Keeping the entire routine simple and easy on our skin will ensure a healthy glow all year long.

Do try it out and let me know. I am sure once you get used to doing it by yourselves, you will avoid visiting the salon for the same.

What’s your beauty regimen? How do you keep your skin healthy and beautiful? Do share with me…I would love to hear all about it!

Love,

SHILPA…

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Skin care using natural ingredients for the harsh winters

 

 

 

 

 

Raising awareness about breast cancer.

Raising awareness about breast cancer.

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Knowing the fear that is associated with the disease, I thought of doing this post with help from my gynaLecologist friend instead of just Googling the information.

It is a sad state, indeed, as most of us today depend upon Google to supply us information about illnesses, diseases and their cures least aware about how misleading it really is. Asking a trusted medical practitioner for guidance will, actually, save us a lot of stress and confusion. Hence, I turned to my friend for details about this disease.

Breast cancer cases have increased over the years and so has the fear revolving around it. Breast Cancer Awareness is an effort to not only raise awareness about the disease, but also educate women about how they can help themselves with better information and the care they can take in order to lead healthier lives.

This is a general post but with a lot of input and helpful advice given by my friend for us women in the hope of clearing the notions about the disease and help drive away its fear.

What is Breast Cancer and what are the signs and symptoms?

Breast Cancer is the cancer that develops from the tissues of the breast.

The main signs of breast cancer are lumps in the breast, change in the shape of the breast, depression in the skin on the breast, unusual fluid discharge from the nipple, an inverted nipple or a patch on the skin.

A change in the appearance of your breast needs to be given due attention

Who is at a greater risk?

Women who have a family history of breast cancer are at a greater risk of this disease. Women who may have suffered from the disease could also fall victim to it because of its recurrence.

Other than these, typically women over the age of 45, especially those who have had late pregnancies or no pregnancies and also those who have undergone hormonal replacement therapy could suffer. Earlier, the cases of women above the age of 45 suffering from the disease was normal, albeit a rarity, but today, due to the change in our lifestyle as well as late marriages and later pregnancies, the age at risk has come down to 30-35 years.

Changing lifestyle:

Our lifestyle has undergone a sea change today. With rising ambitions, women tend to postpone marriage and having children. This lack of childbearing and breast feeding can increase the risk of breast cancer. Also, consumption of alcohol and smoking among women has risen thanks to a modern mindset. This utter disregard to one’s health can increase the risk of not just breast cancer but other diseases, too.

Usage of pills to postpone or stop your periods also exposes your body to hormonal changes that result in hormonal exposure that may show its effects at a later stage.

Workaholics, who tend to place their career before everything else, often put in extra hours, especially at night. And, what my friend told me about this trend was rather disturbing. Our hormones that work during the day are different from those that work during the night and due to this change in our daily schedules, there occurs a hormonal imbalance. This, too, puts people at a risk of not just breast cancer, but also other lifestyle diseases.

Genetics play a huge role in cancer and hence, those with a family history are at a greater risk.

Self-help is the first step:

Self-examination is the first step in staying aware of any changes occurring within our bodies as we know our bodies better! Regular examination of your breast to see if you find any changes in your breast size or the nipple, or if you feel something that resembles a lump could help you act faster.

However, one also needs to know that if you experience pain in your breast, it could be as a result of PMS, or excess exercising or doing an activity your body isn’t used to on an everyday basis.

How to examine your breast:

Early detection through self-examination always helps. A monthly self-examination will, thus, inform you better about any changes than going in for clinical tests.

Stand in front of the mirror and observe your breasts for any outward signs of change. Check if they appear the same size, or if there is any discolouration or patches that weren’t present earlier.

Next, use your palm (and not fingers) to palpate your breast to feel for any lumps underneath. This examination by touch will tell you if there is any abnormality within.

Is mammography really needed?

We come across a lot of advertisements about breast cancer awareness and how we need to get a mammogram done on a regular basis to make sure we are safe. Following these adverts, and going in for mammograms can lead to more heartache and stress.

Mammograms come at a later stage, that is, only if and when you do come across a lump while self-examination. It’s a clinical advice given by the concerned medical practitioner after checking the patient. Therefore, it helps if you trust yourself and not get carried away by all that you read.

Mammography is not recommended for anybody and everybody. it is used to rule out any malignancy. There are new imaging techniques apart from mammography that give you a hint if you require to be monitored or not.

So, do not fall for all such ads from corporate hospitals. These only cause a lot of stress even if there is really no reason to worry. And, if while self-examination, you do come across some lumps, visit your gynaecologist who will examine you further and then advice you about the next step to follow, like getting an ultra sound done.

Ask questions to your doctor and clarify your doubts if mammography is really going to benefit you.

The fear revolving around breast cancer:

Breast cancer is something that people fear. The disfigurement that it causes if one has to get a breast removed, or even a part of the breast removed, can lead to trauma. The change in one’s appearance and how it changes ones attitude towards oneself can often lead to depression.

Confiding in your partner and family helps a great deal as that gives you the emotional support you require during such a crisis.

Do not be obsessed that even a slight pain in the breast is going to be cancer if you do not belong to the high risk group.

Remember, every lump can not be cancer, but any lump must not be ignored.

If there is pain, it is infected, and if there is no pain, it can be malignant, but not always.

How you can help yourself stay healthy:

Reduce mental stress, and make your life simpler. Let go of all that clutters your life, as in activities that demand a lot of your time and attention leaving you with no time for relaxation. Remember, not everything is really worth it. Respect your time and also your health.

Follow a fitness regimen as well as a healthy and a balanced diet on an everyday basis. Lack of exercise can lead to a lot of health problems–a fact that is known by all, but not taken seriously.

Follow a daily schedule that gives you enough time to rest at night. Try and complete all your tasks before your bed time so that you get the necessary 7 hours of undisturbed , peaceful sleep.

Do follow the self-examination technique regularly and stay aware of any changes occurring in your body.

I hope this post was helpful to you all. If you have had a family member or friends who might have been victims of this disease, do share their experiences and any advice that could be of help to everyone. It will go a long way in creating awareness and staying healthy and safe.

Love,

SHILPA…

 

P.S.

Do read my blogger friend, Holly Jahangir’s comment below. She survived the Big C and has shared her experience with us.

SHILPA…

 

Creating awareness about Breast Cancer

From thin to slim. #Bonhappetee.

From thin to slim. #Bonhappetee.

Get Fit Stay Fit

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

What is, or has been, the number one wish on your health list? Let me guess, does it have to do with losing weight? I know, that must be it, because 9 out of 10 people consider themselves overweight, or “fat” (which is so wrong, let me tell you). They follow everything they can to lose a few pounds to become “acceptable” and get rid of the tag that others label them with.

The world is not kind to thin people, either. The body shaming taunts wound our spirits, and our self-esteem suffers badly.

Having been thin,  I have heard it all–from “don’t you eat?” to “does your hubby thrash you if you eat more?”.

People fail to realise that there is a thing called metabolism –

The process that occurs within our body that maintains life; a process that causes food to be used as energy, and decides how fast or slow our calories and fat gets burned.

I have a high metabolism, that means, the food that I eat gets converted into energy at a faster rate and hence doesn’t get converted into fat. So, however much I eat, multiple times in a day, it hardly shows!

Earlier, though, the thinness caused me to appear gaunt and stick-thin. Hubby encouraged me to eat all that I wished to and include all sorts of health tonics and stuff, but to no avail. I remained thin as ever.

With time, I realised I needed to make changes in my lifestyle, my diet and my perception about myself.

Yoga: the best exercise regimen

It was only around three years ago, I decided to include a proper exercise regimen that would not further burn my calories, but help tone my body and help build some muscles. And, the best way to attain that, I felt, was through Yoga.

Yoga helped me understand my body. The areas that were flexible and also those that weren’t, and the aches and pains when I bent forward or backwards. Regular practice helped increase the flexibility in a body that had not had any kind of exercise for a long time.

We women are under the wrong impression that our household chores make for perfect workout sessions. It is really not so! We do burn calories sweeping floors and running around after the kids all day long, but, the flexibility that every other part of our body lacks can be achieved only by a proper workout.

The various asanas and the Suryanamaskars helped me achieve the kind of flexibility and suppleness I needed. I could feel my body getting toned, my skin getting healthier and me getting trimmer and curvier from being stick thin.

A balanced diet:

We learn right from our school days how important it is to follow a balanced diet in order to stay healthy and happy, but rarely do we actually follow it on a daily basis. Thanks to our busy schedules we treat our health as an afterthought.

I used to begin the day with a king-sized breakfast followed by a good lunch, too, but it was in the late afternoons that my energy levels dipped and I would feel tired soon. I realised the time gap between lunch and dinner was too big and I needed to add some snacks to fuel me through the evenings.

Most of us make do with a cup of tea/coffee and a couple of biscuits. Rarely do we stop to think where we will get the nutrients from that we require to function until dinner time. I mean, seriously, how are you going to benefit from a cup of tea and a few biscuits made from refined flour?

I added sprouts and vegetable juice for this particular hour in my diet plan. Sprouted moong and matki made into a bhel with tomato-onion-chillies and some farsan was the perfect savoury snack that kept me full and supplied the necessary nutrients to last me till dinner time.

Vegetable juice made from beetroot-tomatoes-carrots with some ginger made for the perfect drink to wash down the bhel. Either that, or buttermilk or lassi, that would aid in digestion and also keep my system cool.

Fitness matters:

Whether you are on the heavier side or the lighter side, what really really matters is how you are from within. I feel proud to say that almost all of my blood tests come out perfectly normal, except for Calcium and Vitamin D3, for which I take supplements. I feel energetic and happy knowing that sticking to a particular diet plan that I chalked out for myself as well as an exercise regimen has helped me stay in shipshape.

My body may not appear strong, but it is strong enough from within to fight infections quicker thanks to an efficient and a reliable immune system. I seldom fall sick (Touchwood!) and on the rare occasions when I do, I bounce back pretty soon.

Thanks to my Yoga practice, I don’t experience a lot of aches and pains. And, the bad lower back that does complain once in a while, gets taken care of through some gentle exercising.

Taking care of your diet despite a busy schedule and following a particular exercise plan goes a long way in giving you a healthy body. Accepting yourself as you are and being proud of how well you care for yourself is what matters.

Fitness matters more than size!

Love,

SHILPA…

Thanking Anshu Bhojnagarwala for this opportunity to share my fitness journey for Bonhappetee.

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5 ways your body changes after 40.

5 ways your body changes after 40.

Turning 40 is considered a milestone in a woman’s life. I remember how excited I was on my 40th birthday as if some life-changing phenomenon was about to take place! Nothing phenomenal really happened, but as days passed and months, I began noticing subtle, yet, significant, changes taking place within me — my body and my mind.

The significant changes being the onset of perimenopause – a period of physiological changes that indicate what lies ahead.

Perimenopause refers to the menstrual irregularities in a woman’s body due to hormonal changes which eventually lead to menopause — the end of menstruation.

The changes, when they begin appearing, can be quite disturbing. And confusing, too. Heck, at 45, I still get baffled by stuff that happens!

However, you also begin feeling quite ‘sorted’ as a person. Life takes a new meaning and you start realizing and understanding Life. At least, I have. I might as well walk with a halo around my head! 😛

Of course, I know I still have a lot more maturing to do. But, Life does make sense nowadays, as do the ups and downs and the madness and the chaos, too. The chaos within, and the chaos outside.

So, today I am sharing the physical and physiological changes I began noticing after celebrating my fortieth birthday. Changes that are still taking place within. And, driving me insane!

Symptoms of perimenopause:

Irregular periods:

Estrogen plays a huge part in body weight, moods, sex drive, blood flow and memory, and that’s why the decrease in its levels affect the above to a great extent. Thus, during perimenopause, the changes in the production of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone cause the periods to become irregular.

One finds a change in the flow, as well. Either the flow is heavy, or light, giving enough reason to distress over the unmanageable changes.

In short, it’s a major irritant that’s so not in our control. All we can really do is just go with the flow! Pun unintended.

Vaginal dryness:

The vagina loses its elasticity. The dryness caused during this period puts the vagina at a greater risk of urinary tract infections.

Dryness of the skin and hair loss:

The skin also loses its moisture and feels dry, as does the scalp. Wrinkles begin to appear as do dark spots, which along with the itchiness can cause a lot of distress. Hair starts thinning and some women experience scanty hair growth and eventually, baldness.

Mood swings:

One really can’t discuss mood swings enough, isn’t it? The volatile nature of our moods in this period can cause a lot of headaches, as well as heartache! Joy, sorrow, anxiety, fear, anger — the moods become so unpredictable, you never know what can trigger a foul mood and what can result in euphoria.

Anxiety hits the roof at the drop of a hat, and the tears come rolling down your cheeks at the mere mention of, well, anything! Dealing with these frequent mood changes can get very difficult, and one does wonder whom to confide it all in.

Forgetfulness:

The memory also gets affected because of these hormonal changes. Forgetfulness becomes a new companion, and it leads to many an embarrassing moment. Retaining the littlest of information can seem like the toughest of jobs, at times.

Words fail me while writing as well as while speaking. I forget the keys of certain letters like U, V, A, E on the keyboard while typing. I also forget things hubby asks me to remember (and then receive an earful for the same!). Once, I forgot the breed of a friend’s dog! Can you believe it? At times, I fear I might lose my way home!

Psst…and you know, sometimes, after I have stepped out of my house, I look down to check if I am dressed!! Can you imagine the fright that grips me? I wonder if I am hallucinating, or if I am really fully clothed and need not worry!

The first thought that comes to mind is, “Am I heading towards dementia?

No, you are not. It’s all because of the fluctuating hormones. So, chill.

Changes in sleep cycle:

Perhaps, this is the second worst part of perimenopause! You start feeling drowsy so you lie down to sleep. But the moment you hit the bed, the sleep vanishes. Or, you wake up sometime in the middle of the night to visit the loo, and then it takes hours to go back to sleep again. And, then you wake up either late or feeling cranky and miserable.

Weight gain:

As you near your 40s, your metabolism begins to slow down resulting in gradual weight gain. You fail to notice any major difference, initially, but slowly and steadily, you feel the love handles appearing, and the cellulite, too.

Dieting doesn’t help and you only keep piling the pounds, bit by bit.

Treatment of these symptoms, however, lies in our hands.

First of all, accepting this phase and embracing the changes makes it less painful as It’s all part of aging. Of course, it’s easier said than done! But, sharing your troubles with close friends helps a lot. You realize you are all sailing in the same boat. So, gather your women around you. They are the ones who will be by your side.

Taking care of your diet is paramount. Increase water intake to combat the dryness. Include fresh green vegetables through salads, as well as fruits, nuts and whole grains. Include enough dairy products to keep the bones healthy.

Following an exercise regimen becomes a necessity after a certain age (if one hasn’t been giving it the deserved attention). Yoga, walking, or any other form of exercise that one can carry out comfortably helps considerably. Exercise helps keep the joints supple, the muscles toned, the skin glowing and the internal organs in a good working condition.

Enjoying this phase, accepting the changes and appreciating oneself is, I believe, the best way to deal with this phase. Moreover, with menopause, the body gets attuned to the above changes and Life, as we knew it, gets back to normal!

So, what have you experienced in your 40s? And, how have you tackled the changes?

Do share with us all. We all know how much we need the advice and the help. Oh, and also a shoulder to cry on!

Love,

SHILPA.

 

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How our bodies change in our forties.