Weleda Hautcreme or Weleda Skin Food

Enjoying "coffee and cake" with my fellow Wellness Junkie Kersten & her husband Joerg

We recently returned from an amazing trip to Germany and Austria with my parents.  We saw the sights, ate the food (am needing a little healthy de-tox), and met some of my Maechtlen relatives.  It was wonderful to see all of my father’s long hours of genealogy research be rewarded with a leisurely, wonderful day with gracious & friendly family members.

The wife of one of my German cousins could be my wellness junkie “soul sister”. She and I definitely see eye-to-eye on trying to use natural, organic products and avoiding chemicals when at all possible.  I was thrilled with her very thoughtful gift of Weleda Hautcreme.  Weleda is a German company and I believe she mentioned that they are made in the region of Germany where my ancestors hail – how cool is that?

Weleda Hautcreme

Since the packaging is all in German, I went online and found this information (thanks, Google for translating) WELEDA PRODUCT INFO It is wonderful for dry skin.  Because I’m on my bare feet a lot, I’m always looking for a satisfactory foot cream to keep moisture in my feet and keep them from itching. This stuff is amazing and you don’t have to re-apply and re-apply.  Also great for elbows and for my pooch’s dry, rough paw pads… Since it’s all natural stuff, it’s got to be better than the synthetic alternative at the pet store.

So…here’s the rub though.  I can’t find this particular Weleda product in the U.S.  But after more research, I think Weleda’s Skin Food is very close or perhaps the same product with a different name.

Other favorite Weleda products I should try? Post your suggestions here…

Breast Thermography

This may be more information than you want to know about me. And more information period (sorry for the long post!) But, here goes.  I have dense breasts.  My mom also has fibrous or dense breasts.  We don’t have a history of breast cancer, but when a doctor examines us, they seem to get nervous, in a “CYA” kind of way.  Maybe they’re not sure if what they’re feeling are normal lumps or something to be concerned with.  So the usual direction has been to see a breast specialist, get regular ultrasounds and monitor their density. Fun.  Until this year.  I turned the magical age of 37, and now a mammogram was added to the list.  Not so fast.  I’ve done a fair amount of research on mammograms, the amount of radiation in a mammogram (and cumulative effect of multiple mammograms), their effectiveness, frequency of false positives and more. So I went looking for an alternative. It’s not that I’d never consider a mammogram…but I just didn’t want to start them in my 30’s if I didn’t have to.

I remembered one of my clients passing along a flier for breast thermography.  I dug it out of a file drawer and did some more research.  Turns out Breast Thermography, while not as well-known and prescribed as mammograms are gaining recognition and acceptance from the medical community.   Below is a recount of my experience with breast thermography and an article showing what doctors are saying about it.

My Breast Thermography Experience

I contacted Breast Research Awareness or BRAS which has a location here in Kansas City (and many others in the country). Linda Bamber, BRAS founder and thermographer, was very informative and helpful in our initial consultation. I explained my situation to her and she agreed that a thermogram would be a great place to start before the mammogram. Cost for the Breast Thermogram is $195.

So I show up on a hot summer day for my appointment.  Linda walks me through some education of how the process works.  She takes 6 images of me: front, back, side, etc.  She jokes that it will take me longer to “cool down” to get ready for the pictures than to actually take them and she’s right.  She instructs me to undress from the waist up and pick a colorful scarf (from the dressing area to fan myself for 10 minutes or so to make sure my body is cooled down from the outside.  (if I was still really warm or sweating, it would show up on my thermogram).  So I was glad she left me to my “fanning”… a very funny experience. But, I must say that it was probably better than the “breasts in a vice” experience of a mammogram.

Once I was thoroughly cooled down, Linda came back in to snap the thermal images and gave me some general feedback of what she saw on the screen.  She talked me through my images and what would have been a concern.  Overall, she thought my images looked good but we’d wait and get the official report from the doctors.  The images were then  sent off to a team of doctors to review and write a medical report for me.   I received this report about 4 business days later, and it was in english, not doctor-speak.

One of the best things about my thermogram had nothing to do with the actual images.  Linda spent a fair amount of time with me, walking me through different lymphatic flow exercises and things I could do to lessen the lumps and density of my breasts.  She suggested dry brushing which you’ll see in another post and specific exercises that she found to really work.  And, I must say, that I did too.  I went home and started the exercises that night and woke up the next morning with nearly all of the lumps gone or significantly lessened.  Wow! So… not wanting to jump the gun, I waited to write this (it’s been over a month), and still I have fewer lumps.  Now – you might say, what does it matter? If the lumps aren’t cancerous, who cares? Well, the problem is that when your breasts are lumpy, doctors are more likely to push more aggressive tests and monitoring that may be more harmful to you.  So, for me…no lumps is good.

A thermogram may or may not be the right option for you.  But, it is so worth exploring and knowing the facts.  It is your body. Your breasts. And as more and more information is discovered regarding the risks of tests that we just assumed were safe enough, it’s important to know that you have a choice.  My Ob/Gyn hadn’t heard of thermography… if that’s the case with your doctor, don’t let that discourage you.

BRAS Website

A little more about Thermography…

Thermography is 100% safe, has no radiation, does not touch the breast, and only takes a couple of minutes. A positive or suspicious thermal study will indicate medical necessity for a mammogram, ultrasound or other tests. The thermal findings will increase the sensitivity and specificity of most other tests by targeting an area of the breast showing dysfunction and providing decision making information in women that would not have otherwise been tested. Early detection is aimed at prevention and if early changes are detected then we have an opportunity to intervene and change the outcome.

Thermography Support from Doctors (from BRAS newsletter)
Many doctors have not heard about thermography—but many have!  Several medical doctors who write newsletters have been giving thermography extra support for many years in their monthly columns, newsletters, or e-zines.  Here are  a few examples:
Dr. Mercola writes about thermography in his free bi-weekly emails often saying, “Ignoring the value of thermography as a muti-modal approach to early breast cancer detection and prevention is nothing short of negligent.”[ 1]Check mercola.com for more information.  He has a special 16 page report written with informative sources about breast thermography and why mammograms are receiving some negative press!
Thermography was featured in a recent sales brochure for Dr. Robert Rowen’s newsletter, Second Opinion.  “Thermography is safer than mammography.  How will you love thermography?  Let me count the ways:
1.  It doesn’t hurt.
2.  It doesn’t spread cancer cells throughout your body by rupturing  capillaries near undetectable cancers.
3.  It cannot ruin your figure.
4.  It gives off zero radiation.
5.  It catches 90% of cancers (compared to 5-80% by mammography).
6.  It detects tumors one centimeter in size (compared to two centimeters by mammography).
7.  It signals very few false positives (only 10% compared to 27% by mammography).
8.  It has predictive value.  The hotter the tumor, the faster it’s growing.  While mammography shows only structure (by x-rays), thermography shows live function (by heat).
9.  Because it predicts, it give you advance warning of possible trouble.”[ 2]
The editor of Women’s Health Letter, Nan Kathryn Fuchs says “I will continue to have regular thermograms and intend to keep writing about it (thermography) in my newsletter until there are centers throughout the country.”[ 3]
Len Saputo, M.D. notes that “advances in infrared technology combined with data on 300,000 women document that breast thermography is highly sensitive and accurate.  Today, this means that more than 95 percent of breast cancers can be identified, and that this is done with 90 percent accuracy.”[ 4]
“A thermogram often picks up anomalies better that a mammogram. For example, thermography is very good at finding problems in young dense breasts as well as women with large breast.  This makes thermography as compared to mammography, appropriate for a woman who is high risk and wants to begin breast cancer screening early.  Something particularly good to know is that thermography doesn’t pick up questionable masses in women with fibrocystic disease nearly as often as mammography does,” adds Dr. Christine Northrup, author of Women’s Bodies and Women’s Wisdom.
She continues, “It’s also entirely possible to improve your thermography results over time by supplementing, exercising and following a lifestyle that doesn’t promote cellular inflammation.  I encourage women everywhere to look into thermography and to take a sane approach that promotes breast health proactively.”
Distinguished author and leading expert in women’s health, Dr. Susan Lark, gives a big push for thermography. “Every woman should include breast thermography as part of their regular breast health care. I have recommended the use of this technology extensively over the years in my newsletter. Thermography has the unique ability to “map” the individual thermal fingerprint of a woman’s breasts. Any change in this map over the course of months and years can signal an early indication of possible tumors or other abnormalities. In fact, studies have shown that an abnormal infrared image is the single most important indicator of high risk for developing breast cancer.”[ 5]
Dr. Lark’s information gave me the confidence to learn more about thermography and pair this amazing tool with breast health information that is easy and accessible in my business.  BRAS-Breast Research Awareness and Support was created because of invaluable information from a medical doctor.
“So if breast self exams and mammograms are now being doubted as the best breast cancer screenings-should we do as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is recommending and do practically nothing?”  Dr. Brenda Smith, a Kansas City Ob-Gyn who specializes in women’s health, answers her question with a resounding no.  “Thermograms can be used to safely screen women for breast pathology and identify women who do need mammograms or additional testing.  It can be used on young women, women with dense breasts, women with implants and it can detect very early changes in breast health for a reasonable cost.”[ 6]
Bra-vo to all those doctors who are educating others about thermography!

[ 1] Mercola.com.  Joseph Mercola, M.D.  The Safe Breast Cancer Screening Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You About. Accessed June 2008.

[ 2] Second Opinion Newsletter.  July 2010.  Never Fear the Knife Again. Forget Mammograms!  P. 8-11.

[ 3] Breastthermography.com. What Doctors Are Saying. http://www.breastthermography.com/what_doctors_say.htm (Accessed June 10,2010)

[ 4] Beyond Mammography, Len Saputo. MD. The Townsend letter for Doctors and Patients. June 2004

[ 5] Breastthermography.com. What Doctors Are Saying. http://www.breastthermography.com/what_doctors_say.htm (Accessed June 10,2010)

[ 6] Brenda Smith M.D., “The Debate Over Mammograms.” Home in the Northland April/May 2010: 66-67.

Protein Powders: Smoothie Taste Test

My husband and I have gotten into the habit of protein smoothies in the morning or as a pick-me-up in the afternoon.  So here are the three we tried over the last couple of months and how we liked them.

Tera’s Organic Whey Protein – Bourbon Vanilla:

Tera’s Organic Whey Protein is made from hormone-free cow, goat and sheep protein.  It uses all natural flavors (we tried bourbon vanilla) and is gluten-free.  On the Tera’s Whey website, they have a ton of information about the health benefits of whey protein when it’s processed naturally…with great detail about what’s in it and what’s not.  Comes in Bourbon Vanilla, Blueberry, Acai Berry, Yumberry and Wolfberry.

Results: Taste: A+, Mixability/Texture: A-, After-Effects: A

This was by far the winner for me.  It tastes great, mixes into smoothies well and I really felt a healthy boost after drinking it each time.

Jay Robb Egg White Protein Powder – Vanilla:

This egg white protein powder is made from chickens not treated/given hormones. It’s casein-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and more. No lactose, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners or flavors. Check out the Jay Robb website for a full list of ingredients.  This would be a good one to try for those wanting a dairy-free alternative. Comes in Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry and Unflavored.

Results: Taste: B-    Mixability/Texture: A   After-Effects: C-

This one tasted fine when I drank it…but I felt really odd after drinking it.  Maybe it was just me…but my stomach did not set well with this one.  I’d advise purchasing a one serving packet at Whole Foods or online before buying a huge container.

Nutiva Hemp Protein Powder:

For the vegans and others interested in hemp protein, try Nutiva Hemp Protein.  While this isn’t exactly like the others (my Nutiva also has Fiber)…I thought I’d include it as another dairy-free, egg-free option.  See my other post on hemp protein powder HERE.

Results: Taste: B+, Mixability/Texture: B After Effects: A

With this one, I always feel good afterwards and don’t mind the taste…It doesn’t always mix so well…so if you have a finicky drinker, this one may be harder to get used to.

Here’s the Smoothie Recipe that I did with each of these powders:

1  cup of 100% juice (you could also use water)

1 cup frozen blueberries or other fruit

1 banana

1 scoop or serving size of protein powder

any other fresh fruit in the fridge (strawberries, mangoes, etc.)

Dry Brushing

Recently, I explored a relatively new technique in breast health – thermography.  Stay tuned for my post on that experience…but in the course of that appointment, I learned more about dry brushing.  I had heard about it before from a variety of sources, but just never felt motivated to start.

Since my thermography appointment, I went out and purchased my $5 natural brush from Target (you can get them anywhere) and have started dry brushing my skin everyday before I shower.  I could be imagining this — I do think I feel better – more invigorated, energized…less foggy or bogged down. My skin’s less dry and looks better too.

Many therapies are helpful for moving and encouraging lymphatic drainage: massage, yoga just to name a couple…so the more I read about dry brushing and its added benefits (glowing skin, reduced cellulite) and its ease of use ($5 brush, 5 -10 minutes/day), I thought it was worth a shot.

No reports yet on disappearing cellulite, but I will say, so far, so good.

How to Dry Brush:

I found a lot of information on the web on how to dry brush.  Most are consistent in that you want a dry brush and dry skin (brushing before you shower to remove toxins) and you want to make long, light strokes toward the heart.  For more detailed instructions, you might look for a lymphatic flow diagram that details the flow of our lymphatic system.

Benefits of Dry Brushing (excerpt – full article below):

Blood Circulation: Skin covers 17 sq. feet of surface and when capillaries are fully dilated, it has 6 times the capillary surface area of lungs.
Lymph Cleanse: Lymph vessels transport excess waste away from cells and to the bloodstream. Thus, blood feeds the lymph and lymph feeds cells. Any blockage at the lymphatic level results in congestion
throughout the whole lymphatic system. Many feel this is the basis for lumps in breasts.
Assists Exfoliation: Outer layers of skin cells accumulate on the surface creating leathery skin often seen with the elderly.
Stimulates sweat and oil glands: Restores moist, supple skin.
Removes cellulite and stretch marks: Better blood circulation restores skin to a more youthful glow.

Full informative article on dry brushing: READ HERE

Pilates Reformer Circuit Class

I’m writing this as my body is still faintly whimpering with soreness from my wellness junkie adventure yesterday – a pilates reformer circuit class at Pilates Reformed, Inc. in Overland Park.

I had tried some Pilates mat classes before and couldn’t resist the Mari Windsor Pilates infomercials in the late 90s (I think they’re in a drawer somewhere)… but I have never tried a reformer class where you use the machines.  As a yoga teacher, my initial frustration with Pilates related to the breathing… it’s very different than yoga breathing – opposite, actually… so that just took some getting used to.  This circuit class was the Groupon special – some work on the machines but with different stations of exercises for an all-body workout.

My experience:

My friend Sue went with me to the class.  We’ve dabbled in some yoga classes at her gym and I thought this would be a good change of pace for both of us.  Just to set the scene – yesterday was in the upper 90s in Kansas City and very humid…sweltering is the word that comes to mind…

So our instructor walks us through 13 different stations where we’ll do two different exercises each lasting 1 minute long.  Piece of cake, right?  One minute is really a long time for jumping, holding Dolphin Plank, lifting weights, jumping rope and running around the building outside (in the sweltering heat).  As we moved to each station, I must say that the ones on the Reformer machines were very nice – and almost felt like a little break from the more intense stations of weight training and cardio.  I loved the variety of the exercises and even though that minute felt long,  I knew I could endure ANYTHING for a minute! Keep in mind that my natural tendency is to gravitate toward yoga, pilates, walks with the dog – more gentle workouts…but my mind, body, heart all need more cardio (which is why I’m here in this class in the first place).

So after our 50 minutes of intensity…my arms are shaky  (and I thought I was in better shape than this!) but I feel great!  After a debrief over cold drinks, my friend and I are seriously considering purchasing a small introductory package because we feel great…and certainly it might get easier after a few times?

Sometimes we all just need a little kick in the behind to pick up the pace and up the intensity of our workouts.  Our bodies adapt to our usual workouts and then we don’t get as much out of them.   For me, I’m a thinker/analyzer type.  And while that can be good sometimes, it’s amazing and very necessary for me to get out of my head.  Afterwards, I felt great and had tons of energy for my afternoon.  I will say today…my body is SORE but in that good sore (you worked hard, take today off) kind of way.

Check out Pilates Reformer Circuit Classes in your area…take a friend and be sure and sip on some water, pacing yourself throughout the class.

If you’re in the Kansas City area, here are the details for Pilates Reformed:

7254 West 151st St.
Overland Park, KS 66223

P: 913.814.0099
E: info@pilatesreformed.com

Wellness Junkie Recipe: Spinach, Beet & Walnut Salad

Let me introduce you to my new friend Beh.  Beh is from Burma and she’s a farmer.  She is one of the refugee farmers participating in New Roots for Refugees CSA (community supported agriculture) program.  Every Saturday, she hands over a bag of the delicious vegetables and herbs she’s grown to our family and other families to enjoy.  It’s wonderful!  I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to take the CSA plunge.  Every day, I get to decide on swiss chard, beets, turnips, broccoli or a little bit of everything.  It’s wonderful.

My most common answer when someone in class or a friend asks what I eat is that I try to eat real food!  Something that’s come out of the ground or from a tree branch is a pretty good start.  And then if you’re eating meat, try to make sure that those animals grazed on real food too — not corn filler, hormones or antibiotics.  A CSA is a great way to sample many different kinds of vegetables and because you’ve committed to getting veggies each week, it forces you to get in there and try new recipes.  There. That’s my soapbox.  So, back to Beh and her wonderful bags of goodies.  My husband has been laughing at me because I’m becoming impromptu chefgirl with all of these yummy veggies…Lately, I’ve been loving my spinach and beets.  Here’s a simple salad that take a little bit of prep time with the beets – but then it’s easy & quick after that. Enjoy!

Spinach, Beet & Walnut Salad (serves 2)

4 cups of spinach

1 cup of beets boiled until tender, then peeled and sliced

1 carrot sliced

1 clove garlic minced

2 slices red onion

2 handfuls of walnuts

1/4 cup of light vinaigrette

Tips: When boiling the beets, clean them and remove the greens but leave the stem and tip on and don’t peel them.  If they’re small, they should cook in about 30 minutes. Bigger ones may take larger. After they are cooked I peel and slice them.  I like them on salads warm and also cold – your call.

For more protein, you could add a sliced hard-boiled egg or a 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa.

Boot Camp Fitness

My husband and I spent the weekend in a quaint town in Louisiana for his work.  We had a very enjoyable weekend seeing the sights, doing a little shopping and yummy dinners out.  His boss very graciously invited us to do a boot camp workout with him and others one morning.  So… boot camp…I had visions of the Biggest Loser shows with a drill sergeant avec whistle yelling at me to do more, run faster, go-go-go, etc… hardly my usual “listen to your body, don’t push it” yoga self. But, I was game… it was going to be about 45 minutes and I’m thinking I can survive anything for 45 minutes. And, I figured great blog material for wellness junkie.

My experience:

If you are thinking about a boot camp workout, don’t go it alone – sign up with a friend.  During our workout breaks, I chatted with several of the participants and they really had great camaraderie in the group.  You will need this because push-up ladders and running up and down the levee (we were right by a river) are not exactly always pleasant — But, it was a great workout.  For us midwest folks, we also had the tropical humidity to contend with which added a challenge. Having a buddy or friend with you is a great motivator.  If you are going solo, no worries — after several of these workouts, you’ll bond with the people around you – new friends: a bonus!

Scott Caldwell of Max Results Fitness, did a really good job of giving options – so for us newbies we got a lighter workout (shew!).  If you have a minute, check out Scott’s very inspiring story on his website listed above.  Scott times everyone’s workout so that you can compare today’s time to what you did previously.  And the workout changes often. So if you get bored on the treadmill or in a fitness class, this may be a good program to try.  We happened to join the group on the “push-up, running” day…but to get a good feel for boot camp, you should sign up at least for a couple of weeks or a month to see how you feel – taking advantage of the various workouts.

For me personally, I would have liked deeper, more thorough stretches at the end…but that’s the yoga girl in me talking…

One thing is for sure: after our sweaty, humid workout (and after a much needed shower), I felt great and had more energy throughout my day…

Overall, I enjoyed boot camp and I think I’ll be back…