Floss is not Just Another Pretty Name

floss_toothIf I had to give a word of advice to my younger self, it would be to say, “Don’t forget to floss.” In fact, I probably would use a more serious tone and say something like, “Don’t you come out of that bathroom until you are done flossing young lady!”

I know that we have all heard the perils that can befall a person that does not floss. You can have bad breath; cavities; periodontal disease (gum disease); and loss of teeth. That last one? The looming threat of tooth loss? You’d think that would be the clincher; the thing that would have convinced me to floss regularly. Regretfully, it was not. Although I had made many attempts at flossing, I was just not consistent enough. Thankfully I still have all my teeth, and I now floss daily. You are probably wondering so what changed?

What changed is my recent diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It seems that researchers in this field have found that there appears to be a higher incidence of RA with those who have periodontal disease. This finding is not to say everyone with periodontal disease will get rheumatoid arthritis. Nor is it true that healthy gums will prevent you from getting RA. Just the possibility that flossing could have lowered my chances of getting RA, I think, would have been enough to keep me flossing regularly.

When something invades your body like a cold virus, your immune system will try to kick the offending visitor to the curb with certain defence moves that can include extra mucous or tears as well as things like sneezing. There is an invasion of white blood cells that march forward to fight an oncoming infection or invading bacteria. With rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system essentially malfunctions. Problems arise when white blood cells go into overdrive to fight bacteria or viruses and then, for no apparent reason, attack healthy synovial fluid that surrounds your joints, resulting in irreversible damage to surrounding bone and cartilage. (Synovial fluid’s job is to reduce friction between joints and cartilage.)

Sounds scary? Well, it should be. True, doctors do not know why the periodontal link is so strong with people living with rheumatoid arthritis except to say periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease. Once bleeding happens in the body, your immune system fires up to fight the problem with a protective inflammatory process. In the case of periodontal disease, your gums become inflamed. If left in this state with no action or no consistent action, your immune system continually tries to fight the periodontal disease over a long period, until (and no one knows why) your immune system can go after healthy areas, like those surrounding your joints.

When it comes to doing something as easy as flossing in an attempt to lower a risk factor like that, I think it would have been nice to have known about the link between RA and periodontal disease. I had never heard of it until it was too late. I have rheumatoid arthritis, and there is not much I can do about that. You, however, should heed my warning. Flossing takes minutes out of your day and costs next to nothing. The alternative could amount to expensive medication, and doctor visits for the rest of your life.

Sadly, I know now more about rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease than I ever wanted to. But, that’s what happens when you get afflicted with something; you research it to death. I am not a doctor, nor am I a dentist, so why should you listen to me? You shouldn’t. If you have problems with your gums or joints, you should consult a professional. In the end, my advice, based on my experience, is just to say with a serious tone, “Floss, people! Floss daily!”


You Want to Take Me Where?

winning_stepsA phrase, often used, can fall into the realm of clichés. I too am guilty of using them from time to time, probably because it is so easy to do. We use clichés so often during our every-day speech that it is often difficult not to use them in writing. Also, because there is truth in them, they are hard to avoid. Perhaps a ten or twenty-year ban would suffice, after which the offending phrase could once again take its proper place in the world to be revived like an endangered species, that you were never quite sure existed in the first place.

One of those overused phrases is “Take your (insert service or business) to the next level, or to new heights!” This phrase, or something like it, has been used so often that it has become meaningless. If we are all now on “the next level,” what could be the attraction? Personally, I would like to go somewhere else for a change, somewhere explicit, somewhere concrete, because no one quite knows where this ubiquitous “next level” is, or what it means.

The other major problem with this type of phrasing is that once you get to “the next level” what happens next? Trying to get to “the next level” could set you up for striving for next level attainment in perpetuity; no matter what level you attain, there is always another one that follows. When will it end? Must we always strive for better? Which begs the question, better than what or whom? Because as we all know, no matter how good we are, there will always be someone better that comes along.

For clarity sake, let’s take a phrase like “Take your widget seeker to the next level.” If I were in the business of widget seeking, I would be somewhat offended that you would think that the work I put into marketing my widget seeking was sub-par.  I realise most people are trying to position their business as the answer to your quite possibly non-existent problems, but to do so at the expense of someone else’s work is not the most productive way.

Certainly, there are perfectly acceptable things for “next level” attainment, like Karate, or the myriad of other martial arts sports. Practitioners in the martial arts world never imply that one’s previous level is not worthy, or not enough. Gamers go through levels all the time. They compete against one another, or the game itself to win, but games by their nature are meant to win, and bragging rights are part of that glory.

So what’s a person to call it when they want to sell you “the next level” goods? First and foremost, marketing experts need to be more specific in their pitch. Instead of telling someone “We’ll take you to the next level.” Tell them exactly what that next level entails. Whether it is increasing web traffic, or storefront traffic, don’t be so ambiguous when trying to steer potential clients your way.

If we think of our business like we should be thinking of ourselves, the answer is easy. If we can say we are good enough, or we are fast enough; then we can say we are enough instead of self-deprecating thoughts of not being enough. Self-improvement is great, but there is a difference between striving for betterment and endeavouring to be number one. The elusive “next level” is not always a requirement to win, or at least it shouldn’t be. Besides, no one cares about “the next level.” It has become the white noise of marketing jargon, and no one wants to end up like that.

So the next time you see someone promising you that they will help you take your service or job to “the next level,” I’d save your money, because if they have not done so for their marketing copy, then how can you be sure they will come through for you?

Looking Forward


My excitement levels over an anticipated birthday have somewhat tempered over the years. I went from an excited kid waiting for that telescope (that never came) to an expectant teenager hoping for something other than clothes (I’ve since outgrown that sentiment). As an adult, birthdays became reasons to go out and celebrate. Today, whether it be mine or other people’s, I still enjoy birthdays. Who doesn’t with all those offerings of cake flying around? The reasons to look forward to a birthday may change over the years, but for most, it is something we look forward to celebrating.

Looking forward to things isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it’s equally incessant younger brother, “I can’t wait” is not all that bad either. As humans, we look forward to many things throughout our lives – Christmas, graduations, vacations, weddings, summer, and weekends. As time moves on, our anticipatory list seems to expand to include things like retirement, hip replacements, and seniors discounts – none of which I am currently experiencing.

Our entire lives are summed up in that one little phrase, “I can’t wait until…” When we are young, we can’t wait until we become teenagers, after that, we can’t wait until we can legally partake in those vices we wished we’d never started. Once we’ve entered into the adult world, we can’t wait until certain uncomfortable, irritable things are over. Equally, we can’t wait until beautiful, joyful, fun experiences start.

Most often, the anticipation of these things are great fun, but it would seem we spend so much of our lives looking forward to other things, we forget to look at what is right in front of us. Instead of yearning for the end of something that is not enjoyable, we need to re-evaluate what is happening around us in the present.

I for one, have forgotten how to live in the present. Perhaps I never knew. Maybe living in the present would open up a new world of opportunity. Maybe, I would see the forest and the trees. Maybe living in the present would save me from wishing my life away; hoping for the future, yet fearing its propensity to be full of what ifs at the same time. Maybe, at the very least, living in the present would allow me to remember where I parked my car.

My story does not end here. There are many unknowns ahead of me. Although I cannot bring myself to say that I look forward to getting older, I can now look forward to the new unknowns in my life like an old friend coming for a long overdue visit. Then, of course, there is the “careful what you wish for” thing, but that’s an entirely different post.

Renovation to Innovation


I am not a handy kind of girl. What I mean is things like carpentry, plumbing, and drywalling do not come naturally to me. (I have left out electrical because some things should really be left to professionals.) I do not have that inherent handy gene built in. I have never followed any carpentry or handy type courses, nor have I had the luxury of having this type of information passed down to me by more learned acquaintances. I have learned everything I have needed to learn, thus far, from the Internet, YouTube is my usual go to. Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but a video? That, my friends, is priceless.

Of course, videos have their downfalls. As much as I try, nothing I ever do looks exactly like what the person does in the video. It is somewhat irksome because trying to emulate someone takes practice, and I only have one wall to fix or one toilet wax ring to install. Believe me, you do not generally want to do things twice just for the sake of practice, and that last one? Let’s just say my gag reflex, in certain circumstances, is quite healthy and leave it at that.

You may be wondering what if the information in the video is wrong, or worse, not conforming to code? Code, by the way, is a manner of working where best safe and environmental practices are followed to ensure provincial and federal standards are complied with. Personally, I think “code” is code for follow this way or else you will pay dearly later. The best thing to do is learn if there is a code related to the job as needed. If you are building a hat rack, for example, there is no building code to follow. If you need to install a guard rail, then yes, there is a code for that. Shortcuts may be tempting, but I would strongly advise against them.

Generally speaking, my projects have gone fairly well, with maybe the exception of mudding drywall – It really is an art. I can never seem to get it done in one go. It generally takes about three coats of drywall compound to get to the finished product; mudding, smoothing the compound, drying time, sanding it all down, and repeat. Seems pretty straight forward, but I always seem to need to go beyond the traditional three repeats for one reason or another. However, when things go wrong, usually innovation kicks in.

Case in point, I once had a friend help me with an entryway wall that was positioned over a stairway leading to the basement. Once done and painted a nice “Lemon Thyme” green, it looked great. We were all quite happy. The wall did look 100 times better than it was, and I am profoundly grateful for the help. Problem was, once we connected a light, it revealed that the wall had many issues; predominately the joint across the middle resembled the infamous grassy knoll from which Kennedy was said to be shot. Lesson learned: use a light on the wall to determine where any defects may be. Our short-term fix was to use a painting to cover up the flaws that were highlighted by the lighting. The long-term fix is, well, so long-term that I hadn’t really given it much thought.

That pretty much sums up my adventures in the home renovation arena. A Mike Holmes I will never be, but at least I am not afraid to give most things a go. Besides, those little flaws that no one really knows are there? We’ll just keep those to ourselves.


Betting to Win while Hoping to Lose


No one bets to lose, well aside from illegal gaming rackets and some stock market players, almost no one bets to lose. In this case, I am going to try to lose some weight and put some money where my waist is.

I’ve just finished a month long DietBet challenge, and it was so fun that I thought I would give another game a go, and of course, you are all invited to join in should you be so inclined. Whether you have a lot to lose or a little is no matter. The point is getting to a healthier place through exercise and making better eating choices.

Through my month-long escapade of eating right and exercising, I lost 11.2 pounds. (That 0.2 lb is important you know.) If I can keep this up from now until the summer, I should be well on my way to the world of a much healthier me—I can’t wait, but I will have to.

This is not The Biggest Loser, nor is it some sort of extreme excercise regimen. I am not starving, nor am I craving anything. There is no deprivation here. There is no magic pill, there is no one shouting at me to “Stop the Insanity!” There is just a good dose of healthy eating with exercise, which takes time. That is it.

For those who are new to the game, the premise is pretty simple. As an example, you bet an amount designated by the organizer, usually about $30, that you will be able to lose 4% of your weight in one month. You do a weigh-in and a weigh-out with two photos. One is a full-body photo of you on your scale, and the other is close-up of the scale with a “weigh-in word” that is sent to you by e-mail on the days of the weigh-in placed beside the scale.  When you attain your 4% weight-loss goal in a month, you win in so many ways: mentally, physically, and monetarily. The amount you win depends on the how much is in the pot. That’s it in a nutshell.

I hope to see you all there on the DietBet message board and losing to win!

P.S. I forgot to add DietBet’s No Lose Guarantee that says, “If you win your DietBet, you won’t lose money. We guarantee it. Even if everyone in your game wins, we’ll forfeit our cut so winners never lose money.”

With that kind of guarantee, how can you lose, except for the weight of course.