Busting Myths About Vaseline

Vaseline used to be a staple of every mother’s arsenal to use for a variety of purposes. No doubt it still can be found in every medicine cabinet in the country. It is said to promote healing of cuts and small wounds. It provides a barrier against dirt and toxins given its thick greasy texture. The manufacturers claim that, in essence, it is a miracle cure. You can use it as a face moisturizers, a lip balm, a hand lotion, a burn soother and more. It is a wonder product. It sells like hotcakes around the world. Now I am told that it helps grow Eyelashes to Die For. This isn’t true, but it is no doubt part of its description given the popularity of eye makeup such as mascara. If you want to go natural, you need to grow your lashes out. Vaseline is no substitute for the prescription, Latisse, which is a medical product approved by the FDA. Studies show that it works in most cases unless you are sensitive to its ingredients. It can sting mildly or cause the pupil to turn brown. But you get long, thick, dark lashes for your trouble.

It is cheaper and easier to use Vaseline and since it is a ubiquitous panacea for almost everything, it somehow got the reputation for growing lashes. People will believe anything. This is a trusted jelly for a century, but at best it soothes skin roughness and rashes. What do you expect from an other-the-counter item that is really just fossil fuel. It is wasteful to lather it on and keep hoping for results. You do what you have always been told. We would do better as a nation to limit its manufacture to save precious energy.

Okay, you caught me. I do use it to lubricate the dry area at the side of my nose. It is really good for that. It does help heal dry, cracked lips as well. So, I buy the tiniest size on the shelf. I don’t feel as guilty as I should. I just wanted to warn you of the myths surrounding this respected product. You should know the truth, especially about eyelashes. You will make them gummy and greasy and no doubt this will attract dust and the minute debris that is in the air. Using Vaseline is thus counterproductive. I am not going to picket the factory or ask you to sign a petition as the product isn’t harmful at all. It just doesn’t do the magic you think it will on your lashes. You are better off getting a prescription for Latisse as I mentioned. If you care that much about the length of your lashes, the cost should not deter you. The world is obsessed with beauty and appearances, so I understand your need to try something. The eyes, after all, are the windows to the soul. They are the focal point of the face and lashes make them stand out.

Barefoot Running Shoes?

I noticed that when I’ve been running lately, I’ve been having a lot of heel pain. I went to the doctor, who told me that there was nothing structurally wrong with my foot and suggested that I make an appointment to see a podiatrist. He also mentioned wearing different shoes when I run. I guess sometimes the cushion in shoes breaks down faster than we realize and only comes to our attention when it gets painful. I felt like my running shoes weren’t all that old, and I do wear different shoes for work and the weekend, so I didn’t think that was the problem.

However, because he has a medical degree and I don’t, I decided to take his word for it and order different running shoes as well as a foot callus remover to tidy up my feet. After doing a bunch of research, I decided to try some barefoot running shoes. Yes, those funny looking ones with the toes! They seem to encourage more of a toe/front foot style running instead of a typical heel strike. I wondered if that was actually causing my problem, so I ordered a pair. I chose the purple because I figured people are going to look at me weird anyway, I might as well give them something to look at! I also ordered some toe socks but wasn’t sure if I would end up wearing them.

The shoes came and then there was the whole sock/no sock dilemma. I tried the socks on and hated them. They just felt super weird. The shoes are supposed to be antimicrobial so I might be able to get away with not wearing socks. It took several tries to get the shoes on. They were super snug. I finally managed to get them on and just stared at them for a while. I looked weird. But the shoes, now that they were actually on my feet, felt more like a glove than shoes. I test-walked around my house. It felt super odd at first because my brain knew that I had shoes on, but I could still feel the floor. Then I decided to go on a little walk to try them out.

Walking on the sidewalk also felt odd—like I was wearing shoes but not wearing shoes. It’s hard to explain. After I had walked all the way around the block, I decided to try running. This is going to sound strange, but it reminded me of running when I was a kid. I had this vision of me running barefoot across the grass with my cousins. That’s what it felt like. Running barefoot. I did find myself putting more weight on my toes once I got my bearings and tuned in to my body. I ran the same lap around the block I had just walked and then stopped. I could tell that I was using muscles in my legs and feet that I don’t typically use to run and I didn’t want to hurt myself.

They are definitely different, and I can see how they could either be the answer to all my problems or I’ll end up hating them. For now, I think I am going to continue to work with these and see how I do. I’ve also got a podiatrist appointment in two weeks, and if I have anything to report from that visit (or if he tells me to stop wearing the barefoot shoes), I’ll let you know.

New Gym

I recently switched gyms. I liked the one I had, but my company was able to get us free memberships as part of their “healthy employees” campaign at a different gym that was closer to work. They made it very enticing to switch, so I gave it a try.

When I went in, the first thing I noticed was that it didn’t look like a gym-rat kind of place. The members were all shapes and sizes and seemed to be at a range of fitness abilities. That was a definite plus in my book. I’m lean but not heavily muscled, and those huge guys who are always lifting the gigantic free weights can really intimidate me. The woman at the reception desk was really warm and friendly, too. She gave me a tour of the gym—plenty of equipment, decent class schedule, super clean locker room. It checked all my boxes as for a good gym, so I was happy. We filled out some paperwork, and she marked my name off an employee list my company had given them.

She caught me by surprise after that because she asked when I’d like to book my free session with a personal trainer. It seems that it is the policy here at this gym. You get one session with a trainer, who assesses your fitness needs and then shows you some exercises to improve any areas you have concerns about. But they also go around with you and show you how to work every machine so that you’re not intimidated by all the fancy bells and whistles that can be on some modern day equipment. That sounded absolutely perfect to me!

I chose a time slot the next day and came back. That’s when I met Trainer Dave, which apparently is how he likes to be addressed. Anyway, Trainer Dave started by asking me all my current routines and what my goals were. We took all my measurements, and he put everything into a computer. Then he started to familiarize me with all of the equipment. I had mentioned that I wanted something easier on my knees than running for my “off days” and so we spent a lot of time going over one machine in particular – an elliptical machine. He showed me the proper technique to use it as well as how to modify the difficulty levels and what all the different modes were. I got on the machine for a bit so I could try it out, and it definitely felt like a great substitute for the days that I am not running.

We ended the session after a quick tour of the therapy spa (it was one hot tub) and the smoothie bar. He asked if I wanted to do any more sessions but I thought I had everything down pretty well so I declined. I left super excited about being able to work out there, especially for free! I had gone in after work, so I made sure to tell everyone about how great I was treated the next day at the office. The owner was especially pleased to hear that I am a “healthy employee!”

Burn, Baby, Burn!

One of the reasons I fell in love with my house was because of the lovely fireplace in the living room. I didn’t have one in my house growing up and I was always jealous of my best friend Christina, whose family had one in their den. Ours has some gorgeous brickwork that really makes the room feel cozy. My first project was to have a fireplace insert installed, which increases the fireplace’s efficiency by pushing the heat out into the room instead of heating the chimney. I spend most of my time in the living room, whether the fireplace is lit or not. Even after a couple years of living here, it is still my favorite room in the house.

At first, my plan was to burn all my paper waste—wrapping paper, junk mail, and documents I no longer needed. However, I quickly learned that the inks used in these types of materials can be toxic when burned. This was disappointing, to say the least. I already subscribe to my newspaper’s online site instead of receiving a print copy to avoid paper waste, and that was the only thing my local fire department told me was acceptable to burn at home. One good thing did come of it, however. Now, instead of buying expensive gift wrap, my boyfriend and I decided to start using newspaper to wrap gifts. This way, we remove the tape and any tags, roll them tightly and then burn it all. Both of our birthdays are in the winter, it works out very nicely for us!

The first year we lived here, we ended up having to cut a few branches off a tree in the front yard—it was growing not just over the driveway but has started encroaching on the neighbor’s property. My boyfriend cut everything down and into firewood. It ended up lasting us the whole season, since we only lit the fireplace on weekend nights. Last year, though, there was no tree pruning necessary. That meant buying firewood. I decided to look into what biomass options were available, and what would be the greenest choice for me. I managed to find a company that makes firelogs out of—if you can believe it—recycled coffee grounds. They’re called Java Logs. They burn much cleaner than typical cordwood, and their creation stops coffee grounds from ending up in landfills. That is a win-win for me. I don’t smell the coffee scent so much in the house but if you’re outside near the chimney you tend to smell it more. If the store is out of Java Logs, we’ll get wood that’s made from 100% sawdust, or wood that is sawmill scrap and uses a vegetable resin to hold it together—that’s biomass at work!

How Smart is Too Smart?

Do you like tracking devices? I love them. I’ve got a smartwatch that tracks my sleep, my activities, and my step count. All the information is uploaded to an app on my phone so I can check how well I’m sleeping, or how I move on the weekends vs. during the week. I’m in a social group on the app with the people I work with, and I do my best to outperform all of them in terms of activity every day. I guess I should mention here that I’m obnoxiously competitive. The leader of each month gets a prize. We all originally joked that it should be a dedicated parking spot furthest away from the building’s entrance; we settled on a gift card to the smoothie place around the corner from the office. I’ve only lost twice in the six months we’ve been doing it. Once was because I had the flu and the other time, one of the guys went on vacation and set a new record for steps taken. But even if it wasn’t a competition, I just think it’s fun. It’s so helpful to have all that information available. I know so much more about my health now that I document what I eat and chart my sleep and heart rate. My doctor’s appointments have been much more productive because now I can show him the app and we can make decisions based on what I’ve been doing.

I weigh myself every day. I know that seems a little excessive to some people. Some sources recommend weighing yourself once a week instead, but as long as I’m within 1 to 2 pounds of what I weighed the day before I really don’t stress about it. However, I do feel like it’s a sobering reality to get on the scale every morning and see where I’m at. I can spend the whole weekend eating pizza and ice cream, but when I get on that scale come Monday morning, I’m not going to feel so great about myself. Our bathroom scale broke recently, and I found out there’s a range of WiFi Smart scales that talks to my tracker app. I just thought that would be so cool because now I’m not just logging my weight anymore. It automatically records all kinds of cool information, like my bone density and BMI. My boyfriend, on the other hand, does not share my interest and enthusiasm with smart devices. He is kind of an analog all the way kind of guy. He prefers the term old school. He likes the scale with the little dial on it. He is not a fan of my smart scale. He doesn’t enjoy the fact that it can talk to other things–he thinks that’s weird. I think that is doing yourself a disservice. There is so much more information out there. You can relate those things back to your health so you can make improvements and start to feel better really quickly when you have a system like mine. If I did it his way, I’d have to write down my weight every time I measured myself, and then go look back at my handwritten activities for the week and my guesstimate at how many steps I took and how many calories I think I burned. That is a waste of paper and my time. Instead of carefully writing down and then calculating how many calories I’ve eaten each day, I can use my app. I can copy down the nutrition information from any recipe I make, and then it is there every time I want it. Or I can just scan the barcode of a food item, and it’s usually already in the database. There’s no math or guesswork involved. I know how much is going in and how much I’ve burned. I have felt a lot better and made more healthy choices since I got my tracker.

What do you think, readers? How smart is too smart?