And get a heck of a lot more out of life!

Depression is everywhere. I see so many gloomy faces. It always makes me wonder… what’s wrong with everyone?

(Then again… people think I’m WEIRD for being all happy-faced much of the time! Seriously, it’s not drugs… I just always have something to look forward to!)

Sometimes, you just have to show your inner silly!

Sometimes, you just have to show your inner silly!

Anyway, I digress. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard a student recently tell me “have you heard the TED talk where…” followed by “you HAVE to see it!” Now… TED talks are innovative and educational, true that. But to me… they’re one step up from watching TV. Not quite so mindnumbing, they certainly generate discussion (so I occasionally use them when I teach class), but… you’re just sitting around. Not talking with others. Not interacting, not experiencing life.

I prefer to get off of the couch (uh, says she who’s been working on auction item procurement much of the day… sometimes, I end up working on the couch a lot) and DO things. Meet people. See things. This is where you really truly learn! And… getting out and breathing fresh air? Good for the soul. You will instantly feel better! Go outside and do something silly. You will instantly feel less depressed…

I can almost guarantee it. :)

I’ve been teaching a LOT of physiology this quarter… a LOT. :) And, I try to find interesting videos to send out to my students, so they get an additional approach.

One of my favorite series of videos comes from Crash Course, hosted primarily by the very dynamic Hank Green. He also does general biology videos, chemistry videos, and… oddly, history videos. Whoda thunk?

In any case, Crash Course makes all of these topics accessible for the layperson. If you know very little about biology, you’ll understand a lot more by the end of the video!

And considering you may have MS or know someone with MS (like me!) if you’re reading this, I think it’s appropriate to learn more about how the nervous system works. So… check out the Crash Course video on the human nervous system basics. And, maybe check out some of the others! :)

OK, I love being in my 40’s. I really do. Even though it’s just a number, I somehow feel empowered to speak my mind even more… (yes, even more than I did in the past…)

But these hormonal issues are (insert curse word here)ed up. I recently visited a doctor who told me that my body has basically been going through weeks of PMS. Yeah, try that one on for size.

(Oddly, I have not experienced an uptick in MS symptoms like I usually do with increases in estrogen… hm.)

But as of a few weeks ago, my body hates dairy products. Used to be the second love of my life. Waaaaahhhh. And sometimes, even a small amount is noticeable–if I even eat something that was sauteed in a small amount of butter, pain and bloating.

Given that I don’t eat meat/chicken/fish very often (cost and time for prep), I’ve been getting a lot of plant-based protein in my life. (Am I limiting my nutrients? A discussion for another time…) I’ve gotten really into making my own nut butters and eating them with fruit. Last week, I tried this, and it was really good–check it out:

Salted Dark Chocolate Cashew Butter

There are a few other ideas online that I have in mind, such as vanilla espresso almond butter, pumpkin spice latte almond butter, honey roasted peanut butter… all you need is a food processor and your imagination! It’s quick and makes a great snack, or addition to a smoothie or other meal.

Not to mention good fats, and plant-based protein!

Have you tried an interesting nut butter flavor combination? What was your favorite? (I’m looking for more ideas!)

If you follow some of the college sports media, or anything regrading fundraising, you may have heard of Lauren Hill. This young lady was diagnosed with a rare yet aggressive form of brain cancer, yet still continued to play basketball for her school throughout her treatment. In fact, it’s said that her love for the sport ran so deep that the first question for her doctor, after her diagnosis, was if she could keep playing.

You can read a little more about Lauren here, but I’ve found more details about her situation scattered over various Facebook pages. (You’ll see, also, that she recently passed, sadly, at age 19.)

One of Lauren’s goals was to become the Susan B. Komen of her form of brain cancer, to raise both awareness and money for the research. When I read that, I thought… how can I do the same for MS? Granted, more is known about MS than the various rare forms of brain cancer; and there’s more research money going toward relapsing remitting MS than individual forms of brain cancer; but what can I do to put the positive spin on MS in the public arena?

Especially considering the interaction I had earlier this year, where the friend was “relieved” to have been diagnosed with metastasis of her cancer vs. MS. Hm, having had MS myself for a while, and knowing that it can be relatively manageable, I know which one I’d choose… of course, I’d love to choose neither, but… really, metastatic cancer? I feel compelled to work on public awareness.

Maybe I’ll shove a bunch of West Wing episodes in their faces. After all, if the President could have MS and run the country… :D

is this it?


Some days, I can’t help but wonder.

I lift, I work out… a lot. I’m always sore somewhere. Yet I feel stagnant, or losing strength. This beast MS is slowly taking it away…

Granted, winter quarter took away some of my workout time. I’m able to get to the gym more, as of a few weeks ago (and I think it does show). And I’m pushing myself to weight limits, all the time.

But sometimes, it’s ridiculous, you know? I wonder if I’m ever going to be able to take time away from working out for travel, or lord help me if I have another major surgery where I’m laid up for a while.

Then again, estrogen seriously increases my MS symptoms, and I’ve had a serious uptick in estrogen dominance for the past several weeks. Several. Maybe I oughta see an endocrinologist before I get too out of control…

Behind again… first week of classes (and teaching something new) along with husband’s birthday! Time moves so fast–I’m always thinking I have a few more posts saved for all of you, and then I check to see how far behind I am–ack!

Once upon a time, when I was a New Teacher almost 15 years ago, I had a passion to help the students who worked and were passionate just like me. I taught mostly the majors’ classes, because I knew they were as committed as I was. There are always some slacker students in a class, and I just. didn’t. get. them. I also had no sympathy for them. What was going on? What was up with them?

Over the years, students still seeming like they want to nod off in class. I am a very dynamic lecturer. Heh–ask anyone who’s seen me! (I had to ask a student this morning who’s had me for a few classes–I don’t make you dizzy, do I?) These days, I teach in a neighborhood where many students work long hours as well as going to school. (Interestingly, these aren’t the students who are late with their assignments; those with the busy schedules seem to have their organization together.)

But when I started dealing with MS, and other surgeries, and other medical issues… my empathy increased. I became a kinder, gentler instructor. I still held strict to my deadlines (no late assignments!) but I started feeling for the students who needed a little extra help. I saw a part of myself in those students.

As time progresses, however, I’m regressing back toward the mean. After dealing with the large number of cheaters just a few weeks ago at the end of winter quarter, my sympathy level has started to decrease. That said, at this point in life, when I see a listless student, rather than writing them off immediately as “not caring” as I did at the beginning of my career, I want to know their story. Maybe they’re out partying and don’t care. But maybe there really is something holding them back from top performance.

MS has fallen into the background for me. I suppose that’s good! because that means my MS isn’t really symptomatic (not that I notice, anyway). But there’s been one other big, overarching issue… it all has to do with hormonal imbalances and estrogen dominance. I’ve experienced enough crazy symptoms over the past few days that I’ve decided to take more extreme dietary measures… well, the anti-dairy is fairly easy, since my body isn’t really letting me eat dairy, anyway.

I digress, though. My main symptoms, recently, have been massive lower belly bloat, I’ve been gaining weight above my waist (totally uncharacteristic for me), really dry eyes (yes, it’s been an awful allergy year in the Northwest, but along with my other hormonal issues…), the lactose intolerance, and the constant migraines are coming back. Used to be that the migraines would match my cyclical estrogen peaks… now, it’s more of a constant drone.

I had a few endocrinologists recommended to me by my naturopath… but since my gynecologist had suggested the standard “take these hormones” route, and I’d rather not stuff myself with more hormones if at all possible, I don’t kn ow if Western medicine is the answer, here. I’m a little confused.

I know that many women have this problem, and it’s one of those things that’s “just not talked about”, but I’m willing to (to try to help others). So, I posted something on Facebook yesterday. The response was slow at the beginning, but then, things started to pick up. Here’s what I said:


OK, keepin’ it real. I know that I’m not the only one who deals with this issue, and as a nutrition professor, I want to help.

Who here knows about estrogen dominance… ??? Symptoms can start as early as your late 30’s. I never used to be chubby around my waist, only my hips. (This has changed.) Vanity issues aside, the almost-constant migraines are out of control, not to mention the other symptoms (go to The Google if you think this may be you). My wacky hormones have made me pretty much lactose-intolerant. I miss cheese… (aside from my lame humor)

***NOTE! I am NOT a doctor! So, discuss any drastic changes with your healthcare professional, please!

Things that have helped me: supplements such as DIM (concentrate of cruciferous veg) and Evening Primrose Oil. Progesterone cream… I’m mixed on. Sometimes helps, but I’m concerned about too many synthetic hormones in me.

Foods that help: high fiber, which clears excess estrogen from the body. Sources say up to 40g/day can help. This is a LOT! But since omega-3’s also help us. you can kill 2 birds with one stone with flaxmeal (meal, not seeds; the seeds pass right through you, and you won’t get the benefits of the flax oil. But do consume the meal for the fiber benefits.) and/or chia seeds. The phytochemicals in leafy greens are also helpful, and they also provide us lots of fiber. And, you can naturally get beneficial compounds from cruciferous veg–broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts… and fiber, too! (Also anti-cancer! Woo!)

Any other suggestions? Post ’em!


A few other people mentioned coconut/coconut oil/coconut products (which I agree with, in semi-moderation; I try to avoid canola and other overly-processed oils) and eating avocado (which I agree with, too–but trying to keep excess calories at bay, as well–avoid eating 10 in a day!)

There’s where I am right now on that. Going for a green smoothie every day with chia seeds and flaxmeal. Lots of fiber (if you aren’t eating a lot of fiber currently, ramp it up slowly, so that your intestinal flora don’t freak out). Other thoughts?

As I tell people, I love being in my 40’s… even though it’s just a number, I somehow feel a freedom to say what I want, moreso than before. If only it weren’t for these hormonal issues…


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 191 other followers