I had two cavities filled yesterday. And no, my blog has not been hijacked by a 7-year old.
But I realize that statement doesn’t make sense.
Eating Frosted Flakes and Pop-Tarts for breakfast and snacking on candy necklaces gives you cavities. How the heck do you get cavities from eating plain Greek yogurt and kale salad?
Somehow, I managed to do exactly that. I saw the X-rays, so it’s not as if my dentist made up the story.
Besides, at my age he could’ve come up with something more believable, such as, “The last time I saw teeth this old was at an archeological dig. I think it’s time for some dentures.”
But there they were, projected on his high-tech TV for everyone to see. (By the way, if you ever have the option of viewing the inside of your mouth on high-def, take a pass.)
First, let me provide a little back story.
I am not a big fan of dentists. In my formative years, my parents took me to an orthodontist who apparently hated kids. He yelled at me all the time. It was torture. I felt like a prisoner on my way to the gallows each time we went.
I survived, but to this day I usually need to take a little anti-anxiety medication before I go.
Yesterday I decided to put on my big girl panties and go without.
That was a mistake.
This dentist is new to me. I like him, at least as much as a person can like someone who inflicts pain and then demands payment.
Between the shot to numb my gums, the rolled-up gauze that instantly dried up every speck of moisture in my mouth, and then the extreme Apollo Mission backward tip of the chair, I could feel my heartbeat going into overdrive.
I felt a combination of claustrophobia and pure panic, not unlike being dropped into the ocean in a cage surrounded by great white sharks. Only instead of teeth the shark’s mouths were filled with dental drills going at full speed.
I focused on my breathing and tried going to my “happy place” (Sephora’s, for the record), Unfortunately that’s tough to do while getting a tooth drilled and being simultaneously waterboarded by the dental assistant.
To make matters worse, the TV in the corner of the room — which, when not showing the grossness of the inside of your mouth, was supposed to help calm patients while undergoing procedures — was locked on “Inked,” a reality show where tattoo artists compete by trying to outdo each other on “human canvases.”
It’s as frightening as it sounds.
So while my dentist was drilling, the people on TV were also drilling. The only difference was they ended up with pretty designs and I ended up with a numb face and drooling out one side of my mouth.
The best part was when the dentist asked me questions while up to his elbows inside my mouth. “So, did I tell you what my friend said when asked why he didn’t have tattoos?” he says, looking down at me through his magnified scuba diving glasses.
I shake my head, trying to quell the ever-rising panic.
“You don’t put a bumper stick on a Ferrari!” he quipped. A real knee-slapper, doc. How about just finishing the job so I can avoid completely freaking out and using this drill on you?
To his credit, he was fast and the whole thing took only 45 minutes. But time in a dental chair is like dog years, so multiplied by seven it felt like about five hours.
The good news? I am writing this with a cavity-free mouth.
I keep up with my dental appointments because it’s all part of having an ageless body after 50. If I’d let those cavities progress farther, I’d be in a much bigger world of pain down the road.
Enduring a bit of fear is a small price to pay to avoid future, bigger, issues.
Same goes for keeping fit and not letting weight gain go gangbusters before you reel it in.
When I coach women about their biggest weight loss and fitness challenges, I look for clues during our conversations.
Rarely – in fact, never – does someone say, “I know the problem. I eat too much pizza, enjoy a few glasses of wine a night and can wipe out an entire buffet line if I’m hungry enough.”
Instead, weight gain is often a mystery…
“I don’t know what happened — I never struggled like this… “
“I eat healthy and still can’t lose…”
“I never had a weight issue until menopause…”
“I think my husband’s adding mayonnaise to my smoothies…”
Okay, maybe not the last one. But you get the idea. Among the greatest wonders of the world — the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal you will find women’s weight gain after 50.
It’s on the list.
To create an action plan, I’ve learned to listen for small clues during initial consultations that tell me what may help a person unlock whatever prevents them from making progress.
The problem is, these topics are often hidden within a person’s subconscious. In other words, while you talk to me you may not even be aware of these issues until I bring them to your attention.
Fact is, you can’t change something if you don’t know it’s there.
For example, statements wrought with clues include:
1.“I eat healthy all week long so I can splurge a bit on weekends.”
Whenever I hear anything being glossed over, I dig deeper.
I ask for specifics on each end — what does a day of healthy eating look like to you? What sort of splurging do you do on weekends? If you’re truly eating clean all week, no junk food, fast food, recording your meals, etc., a weekend of eating can easily undo all of that.
Ditto for ways of coping with stress.
2. “I unwind with a glass of wine each night. It helps me sleep and I look forward to it.”
Translated: It’s not negotiable. Ooh, I know I need to tread lightly unless I want to hear a dial tone. But think about what you may consider “non-negotiables.” Whether it’s a piece of daily chocolate, a glass or two of wine each night, or going all out on weekends because you “deserve it” after a tough week — these could be the exact areas you need to change if you really want to see results.
3. “I eat the same way I’ve done for years, but am starting to gain weight after menopause.”
Did you know you burn fewer calories after menopause? Not adjusting for this drop equates to an 8-lb weight gain a year — even if you do all the right things.
In each instance, follow-up questions can help uncover the core issues at hand. Only then can you make progress.
YOUR TURN… what do you say to yourself that may unlock the key to progress? Let’s chat! And if you enjoyed this post, please forward it to your BFFs and send it out through social networks. I would be forever gr♥teful.
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Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.