Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself.

Self-care is huge for me. Not "huge" as in, I spend enough time doing it but "huge" as in I need to get better at it. It is probably the biggest lesson of my life - seriously. Both my parents were incredibly bad at taking care of themselves (in different ways) and their guidance in self-care was virtually nil. I've had to learn to eat right; exercise; take care of my money, and figure out what a good relationship looks like through a painful process of trial and error.

This graphic came across my Pinterest feed and I think it's worth sharing. I can see that I'm great at some things (reading and relaxing with companion animals? NO PROBLEM) while others (saying no to extra responsibilities sometimes) are more of a challenge. A helpful visual tool for setting priorities for the next stage of life.


Sports Bras for Big Boobs: Exercise Support for DD+

Sports Bras for Women with Large Breasts


As noted in my first post, "What to Wear to the Gym," sports bras deserve a dedicated post in my "How to Work Out" blog series. Below I've made some suggestions of the exercise bras I wear. I have also reviewed a couple I like but, for one reason or another, just didn't work for me. Just so you know where I'm coming from? I wear a 34G and my fitness routine includes running, strength training, and cardio equipment. 

I'm only going to write about sports bras for women with large breasts. (If you are new to exercise and have regular-sized breasts (less than a DD+) try Title Nine or Nordstrom for a great selection) If your gals are bigger, you know what I'm talking about. Fitness with a big bosom? It's a hard row to hoe.


Sports Bras for the DD+ : Running and Fitness


I get tired of wasting my money on bras - you large boobers know what I'm talking about - so I have taken to getting professional fittings. My last visit was to BraSmyth on the Upper East Side of New York City. A very tiny French woman -- who was (seriously) so small I could have stuffed her into one of my bra cups -- hooked me up with my new favorite, the Anita brand "Extreme:"


Anita Extreme support sports bra for large breasts

I have it in black and grey. It gives great support and when I'm out running I don't even think about it or my bosoms - which says it all. The Anita Extreme sports bra doesn't have a wire which makes it very comfortable and easy to wash in the machine. It looks just fine under my workout shirts! It's also a good price - around $65.


Marie Joe Intense sports bra is a good choice for fitness lovers with larger breasts.

I also recommend the Marie Jo "Intense" sports bra as an all-arounder for strength training and using the elliptical or Stairmaster. The underwire gives you a normal, non "uniboob" shape and the full coverage at the top of the cups keeps you all tucked in. I don't like to run in this bra because the edge of the wire leaves a mark on my boobs even though it is covered with material. I often wear this as my everyday bra. At over $100 it's expensive but I do like it. 


Sports Bras that Work - But Not for Me.


Enell makes a good sports bra for large breasted women.


Enell is famous for restraining the breasts of millions of fans of the Oprah show. And Drew Barrymore. I tried this bra and though it worked I didn't like wearing it. It generally felt fine during exercise but once you stop moving, you're aware of how tight it is and how mashed in you are. Not in a good way for me. I sometimes felt like my boobs were too close to my throat when I was on the floor doing crunches. That being said, I do have a smaller rib cage (32") and it could be that another size would have worked better or that it's just not the right bra for me. I haven't tried the Enell Lite, either. I know people that swear by Enell so I'm including it here.

I really liked the Bendon Max Out bra and it was a good price - $55. But the clasp on the racerback was in the back - and I had trouble putting it on by myself. Which is kind of a basic!


Bendon Max Out sports bra offers good support for larger boobs.


I also like the Freya Active Softcup pictured below (around $60) and I'd put it just under the Anita Extreme in terms of the support it gives for running. The problem with this bra is that it is so ugly. I'm not talking garden-variety ugly. I'm talking hideous. If you let your husband see you wearing it without a shirt on? His man parts will curl up inside his body. And this is a marketing photo of the bra - the best photo they could possibly come up with:


It's not like any of these sports bras turn me into Marilyn Monroe. It's just that this bra doesn't look that much better under a workout shirt. It does work, though. So if you get one, get it in black and wear a dark colored shirt over it.

What sports bras work well for you? Leave a comment! Also Check out my post on How to Choose a Good Gym and a discussion about socks, gym pants, and shoes over here. And order some Mood Sprays, if you think of it.




Help and Tips for Seasonal Winter Depression or SAD

I grew up in Minnesota. I'm an expert on winter depression. Looking back, I can see that my seasonal depression affected many, many areas of my life. Sorting through old papers, I found a stack of school report cards. The pattern was obvious even then. Each school year I started strong, bottomed out in the middle winter, and then concluded with a last, desperate rally in the spring.  Back in my day, we didn't really have a name for all of that. The natural and chemical cures for seasonal depression were pretty limited back then - and, in my family, the need for any kind of that kind of support went unrecognized. If we called it anything, we said that Heidi wasn't "trying hard enough."

It wasn't until I moved to Scotland that I became very conscious of SAD, and very deliberate about the ways in which I dealt with it. Minnesota was cold and dark, but Scotland brought the experience of cold and dark to an entirely new level. In the depths of winter Edinburgh doesn't see the sun rise until 9 a.m. and it begins to set at 3 p.m. On a blustery, rainy day it could feel as if the sun never came out at all. But I still had to go about my business. I had a husband. Graduate school. A job. It was during this time that I tried everything I could possibly think of to help me cope with the winter blues, and during this time that I found several things that seem to help me a great deal. I still use these methods today:


1) Light Therapy.

Light therapy boxes help winter depression or SAD.


Light therapy makes an incredible difference. At first you think, I don't need to spend $150 on this thing and then you get so desperate that you do and there's no looking back. If you don't have one - get one. I sit in front of the light box each morning while I'm drinking coffee and I spend about 15 minutes in front of it before I get on with the day. The box in the picture is the one I own but I'm not going to link to it because I think the legs are rickety and, therefore, I don't feel like I want to recommend it. There are lots of them out there but if you're going to get one, get the biggest one you can afford. I cannot vouch for the small desktop versions - maybe someone else can? And don't get confused. The light box is not a tanning booth, and a tanning booth will not give you the anti-depression benefits you are hoping for. It will just give you brown spots and cancer.


2) Exercise.


Exercise will help SAD or Winter Depression.


Just look how happy that chick in the picture is! But seriously, folks. Go to the gym. Drag yourself there with the promise that you'll sit in the steam room afterward. Whatever it takes. But regular exercise will help your winter depression (and other kinds of depression). Walk the dog in the middle of the day. Find a way to get outside the office at lunch (run errands?)


3) Massage.


 Massage will help winter depression.


I know, I know. You can't afford a massage AND a light box. Maybe you can't afford either one. But can you afford to let your life slide into the toilet because you're depressed? No. When you're exhausted, achy, and depressed - a good massage can work wonders.


4) Aromatherapy.


Apathy anti bad mood spray has aromatherapy essential oils helpful for season depression.


Aromatherapy is a form of natural support for winter depression. I first learned to use (and blend) essential oils when I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland. I made a version of what I now call Apathy™ Anti-Bad-Mood Spray and used it constantly. My colleagues joked that all the papers coming out of my office were scented with herbs. The product I sell here is a light version - helpful for you but not as intense as my old recipe - and easy to use. No aromatherapy burner required. At $25, the anti-apathy spray is the price of two martinis on South Beach and will last you six months if you use it every day. I spray it into the mist of the shower each morning to sharpen my mind before the work day begins. It's also helpful after lunch or even in the car.


5) Anti-Depressant Medications.


anti-depressant can help seasonal depression or SAD.

If you are unable to improve your mood with exercise and alternative treatments, don't be afraid to talk to your doctor. If you don't feel comfortable talking to your doctor about depression, find another doctor. It's very, very common and lots of folks are struggling just as you are. You might find a low dose of an anti-depressant very helpful. As the years go by, I think it is harder and harder for many people to rebound from seasonal depression. In the spring you are left with the detrius of SAD - unfinished work, weight gain, whatever - and dealing with that stuff can prolong your suffering and carry over into the spring and summer. Ask yourself if it is worth it, big picture, to cycle through this every year and talk to your doctor about what might be done about it. Untreated depression affects your life on so many levels and has been proven to damage areas of the brain critical for health and well being. A healthy mind is critically important for maintaining lifelong physical health - you don't have to suffer.


6) Do stuff.


Force yourself to do things you enjoy even in bad weather.


Force yourself. I learned this the hard way in Scotland. The Scottish winter will break your heart. You'll be half way to work and it will start to rain (sideways) so hard that your pockets fill with water and your trousers are soaked to the knees. I have hung my socks on the office radiator ALL DAY and still found them damp at 4 p.m. But, on the same token, if you wait for nice weather in Scotland, you'll be waiting forever. Food must be purchased. You have to catch the bus to work. So you get yourself the tools you need (wax jacket, super-powered umbrella, waterproof shoes) and just GO. The same holds true for winter everywhere else. Get what you need to be warm and dry and then get out there. Go to a museum. A movie. Meet friends for dinner. Do something fun in the snow. At least once a week.

I could go on and on. But these are my main strategies for coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. I use my Apathy Anti-Bad-Mood aromatherapy spray every day. And I exercise. And sit in front of my light box. As recently as this morning. What do you do to cope with seasonal depression? I'd love to hear your tips and tricks!




Nine Things to Do While You're Still Young

A list of things to do while you're still young.

That's me and my sister and a family friend coloring on our deck in Lake Orion, Michigan....


I've been making a mental list - not sure why - of things to do while you're still young. Many of the items on the list are bad habits that, once broken, will reduce the stress in our lives. Many of them are things I wish I'd conquered when I was young. When you're older (I'm 42) it seems like everything is easier to deal with when you're young (like, 22). Here's my working list - what would you add?


 Things to Do While You're Still Young


1) Get sober. I can think of ten people off the top of my head who have died young from health problems related to alcohol and drugs. Half of them were in my own family and not a single one of them died in a car accident. Chronic drug and alcohol use hardens the arteries, damages nerves, and generally makes your life miserable. Did you know that poor people are more likely to get clean than other socio-economic groups? That's because they hit "rock bottom" much earlier while other folks have families that support and protect a user's addiction by giving them money, bailing them out of jail, and so on. Think about it.


2) Find a good therapist, support group, read and journal so you can deal with your "issues." Your childhood experience forms so much of how you approach adult life. Find out what makes you tick and make adjustments if needed. Therapy is expensive, but if you start young - you still have time to make changes before you make too many mistakes.


3) Quit smoking. You'll save your health and, literally, thousands of dollars. I quit aged 25 on "the patch." It's not easy. But it can be done.


4)) Replace fat with lean muscle tissue - through strength training and cardio. It's so much easier to lose 15 pounds when you're 25 than it is at 45. At 42, I don't exercise to look good, I exercise to stay strong. If I look better as a result? That's great. But my first goal is to keep my body in condition for whatever life throws at me.


5) If you're going to get divorced, do it early and/or young. If you can possibly help it, don't have kids with the "wrong" person because you think it might help a bad relationship. Don't hang around for ten years hoping it will get better. Either commit to working on it with a therapist or commit to making the painful decisions that will ultimately lead to greater peace and happiness.


6) Pay off debt and/or learn to live within your means. Even if you only earn $20,000 a year.  You will, first, have to learn to say "no" to some things you really want to do.


7) Once you've paid off debt, start setting money aside. A disciplined $50 a month will add up when you find yourself in a tight spot.


8) Travel. Get on an airplane and go somewhere interesting when you're young - before you have the commitment of a big job and concerns for your family. Before you get accustomed to having everything "perfect" or posh. This may be the only time I tell you to spend what you don't have and put the trip on a credit card. You'll be much happier paying off a trip to Europe than a stupid handbag you bought at TJ MAXX.


9)  Wear the bikini or strapless dress even if you're not confident about your body. Let people take pictures of you. Let people take lots of pictures. Ten years from now you'll think you looked great. Even if you're not super skinny your young, healthy skin will make up the difference. Always let people take pictures. Because (most of the time) ten years later you'll always look back and think you looked great.


What do you wish you'd done while you were "still young?"


Changing Your Habits by Changing Your Environment.



 I'm not the first to share this vintage 80's exercise video - I know that. I just can't help but wonder about it...you know?!


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