Review: Six Nutrition Vitamins for Men

six nutrition vitamins for menAs a blogger, I get a fair amount of emails from brands and PR agencies to do product reviews on my blog. Recently, I was asked to do a review of Six Nutrition Vitamins for Men. I replied to the email saying, “I am not a man, but my husband is. And he is willing to do a review.” They were happy with that response, sent the vitamins, and Taylor has been taking them for the last month.

So, ladies and gents, here is Taylor’s first product review!

In my career as an airline pilot, health and fitness are vitally important. In addition to very long duty days in stressful conditions, I am required by the FAA to have a comprehensive medical exam annually. If I do not keep my health in top form, especially my weight and cardiovascular health, I can risk my license and career.

Staying healthy in an environment where I can’t get consistent sleep and be in a regular routine can be difficult. I try to eat healthfully, but I am often at the mercy of packaged meals and airport restaurants. I’ve tried to make up for that by taking a multivitamin on a daily basis. When asked to try Six Nutrition Vitamins, I was willing to see if this made a difference in how I felt.

20131129-151529.jpgI had never heard of Six Vitamins before, but their product philosophy makes sense. Six Nutrition believes in pinpointing 6 areas: heart, joint, sex, muscles, mind, and energy.

My first impression of the product was the slick packaging. After taking generic Centrum vitamins in a giant bottle from Costco, this was a nice change. I wasn’t thrilled about taking 6 pills a day, but the packaging made it easy to rip open and throw back the pills with a chug of water. The individual packets were much more convenient to pack in my suitcase than a large bottle.

One funny note: the foil packaging is similar to a condom One morning when I opened up a package in the cockpit to take my vitamins for the day, the pilot I was flying with heckled me a bit.

six vitamins for men

It’s difficult for me to decide if Six Vitamins made an impact on my health in the last month. There were a lot of stressful factors that I dealt with: cross-country commuting, preparing to move, and recovering from a head cold. It’s possible that the vitamins made me healthier, but I can’t say that for sure. I feel like I had more energy after a few weeks of taking them, but it’s difficult to quantify energy levels with my varied sleep schedule. There is an element of placebo affect whenever you take a pill…I felt like a healthier man by taking the vitamins, but I don’t know if I truly improved my overall health.

All in all, I think these vitamins are a quality product. I haven’t spent a lot of time researching vitamins and supplements, but they seem more targeted to active men’s health than most of the vitamins on the shelf. I liked knowing I was taking a product developed to improve total body health. The price of the vitamins is a more than I’d personally like to pay, but the Six Nutrition website offers some deals for multi-month discounts. If you’re looking for a better pill than a generic multivitamin, give Six Nutrition a try.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Six Vitamins for Men for free from Six Nutrition as coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations in consideration for review publication.

How I Survived My Adult Tonsillectomy

surviving adult tonsillectomyThree weeks ago I had a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. Much to my surprise, I’ve had people ask me to write a blog post full of TMI and the gritty details of recovering from an adult tonsillectomy. So here’s the full story…you may want to skip this post if you have a weak stomach.

I feel like I have a pretty good pain tolerance, but this surgery knocked me down good for two solid weeks, and I’m still not quite normal. I’ve had a few surgeries, and this was definitely the worst.

The Backstory

I had spend the previous 6 weeks battling peritonsillar abscesses. Three rounds of antibiotics (IV, shots, and oral) didn’t help. I was not positive for strep. Steroids only worked as long as I was taking them (and I gained 15 pounds in a week from them). In addition, I had a bout of viral tonsillitis and the worse sinus infection of my life within a 2 week period.

On my 3rd visit to urgent care, the doctor did a large variety of viral testing. The abscesses were cause by Epstein Barr, which meant I had an active episode of infectious mononucleosis. My ENT doctor said the only way to stop the abscesses was to have a tonsillectomy. So I scheduled it as soon as I could.

The Procedure

My tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A) was done at a surgical center under general anesthesia. This was a relief to me, as an urgent care doctor has suggested that I go to the emergency room to have the abscesses lanced (and would probably just numb me up and take out the tonsils). My doctor used electorcautery, which basically cuts out the tissue and seals it by burning it. Pleasant, eh?

The average T&A takes 20-30 minutes to complete. However, my procedure took 45 minutes because there was so much swelling from the peritonsillar abscesses. I was numbed up pretty well when I came back into consciousness. The nurse gave me a few refillable ice packs to help with swelling, and those became some of my most necessary items on my recovery.

Post-op Recovery

I got a prescription for both tablets and liquid Lortab Since my gastric bypass surgery, pain meds absorb differently. The liquid works more quickly, but the dose doesn’t last as long (about 4 hours). The tablets are harder to swallow, but tend to last closer to 6 hours. So I played around with a mixture of half-doses of liquid and tablets at once so it worked fast, but didn’t drug me out too much.

On my first night at home, I was surprised at how well I felt. I are some mashed potatoes with no problem, and came under the false assumption that recovery would be easy. Boy was I wrong.

tonsillectomy popcicles

Between post-op days 2 and 8, my pain and misery became progressively worse each day. I kept to a strict dosing schedule for my pain meds, but it never seemed to be enough. For the breakthrough throat pain, I gargled with “mouth magic,” which is a combination of viscous lidocaine and liquid antacid medicine. Unfortunately, the liquid numbs up your whole mouth. I was glad when the numbness wore off so it didn’t make me drool.

Eating and Drinking

The day before surgery, I did a lot of shopping…sports drinks like G2 and Propel, popsicles, mashed potato mix, cream of wheat, and broth-based soups. I am a big fan of the real fruit based quality Popsicles, but they ended up being far too acidic for the first two weeks. So many people recommended cheap twin pops and Otter Pops…and they were right. The artificial flavoring and slushy consistency was easier to swallow. Sometimes I mashed up the popsicles and mixed it with diet ginger ale.

One of the strangest things for me was how my tease buds changed. I hated the taste of plain water because it tasted like dirt, so I used sugar-free Italian syrups to flavor my giant cups of icy water. I craved black licorice, black olives, and anything really salty. I also craved curry, and it was funny how the slight burn of the mild yellow coconut curry I drank was soothing to the burning pain of the tonsillectomy. I also craved pumpkin at first, but got burned out on it after making pumpkin smoothies and pumpkin protein pudding.

sonic iceComfort Measures

Two of the items that were the biggest comfort measures were ice and a good humidifier. My friend Julie offered to be on ice delivery duty, and brought by gigantic coolers full of pebble ice. When she wasn’t able to be there, I got bags of Sonic’s pebble ice. Between the bags and coolers of ice, I went through over 100 pounds of ice in two weeks. Obviously some of the ice melted in the coolers, but it stayed a better non-clumpy consistency than it would in the freezer.

I used a cool mist humidifier constantly. I had it propped up on a table so the mist hit me directly in the face while I laid in bed. When I sipped water or sucked on ice, my throat stayed moist. But when I couldn’t handle swallowing, the humidifier helped make up the difference.

The day that surprised me the most was day 10…the day the scabs started coming off. Scabs in your throat sent like scabs on your skin. They are not thick and hard and red. They are white, thin, and slimy. And they hurt like a mother when they slough off. This will happen a few times.

Miscellaneous Details

Insomnia was a big issue for me. Because I was dealing with acute pain, my ability to sleep was dependent on how long my Lortab dose lasted. I spent a fair amount of time sleeping through the first 10 days, but never more than about 4-5 hours at once. I watched a lot of Netflix and read on my iPad, but dozed off really easily. I wanted to delve into some shows that I’ve been meaning to watch for a while, but my attention span was so short. I ended up spending most of my time watching Gossip Girl and 90210. Don’t judge.

Expect to drool a lot. Make sure you have something you can spit into when it’s too hard to swallow your saliva. For me, it was thicker than normal, and was much easier to spit out.

Around day 5, I started a gargle routine. First I would swish with warm salt water. Then with the viscous lidocaine. Then with water again. Then with mouthwash. That seemed to keep funky tastes out of my mouth…and keep my bad breath at bay. No matter how much I brushed my teeth, my mouth was not a happy place to be around.

I had a hard time with food getting stuck on the healing pockets of my throat once I was back to solids. They would fill up and have so much pressure, it could make me dizzy. I figured out this way to get them out with this open-mouthed gagging neck-scrunching move. It sounded frightening and looked even worse, but it was the only way I figured out to her the stuck food out when gargling wasn’t enough.

Three Weeks Later

At three weeks out, I still think a lot of food tastes funny. I want things that are strongly flavored…spicy (but not too spicy) and very salty. I crave drinks with lots of ice, and sip often to keep my mouth moist. My pain comes and goes, and is manageable with Tylenol. The only time it REALLY hurts is when I yawn…it feels like I’m stretching and breaking the newly healed tissues. There are some slightly raw spots in my mouth where the most recent scabs came off. I still feel fatigue, but I think it’s due to all that I’m doing (traveling, moving, etc) instead of just the surgery recovery. I’m up 10 pounds since August, but I know that’s a combination of so many weeks in bed, steroids, and being limited on physical activity. Once I’m back to the gym, I’m sure it will come off without too much hassle.

If I’d had the chance to get this done as a child or teen, I would have preferred it. So many years of strep throat and tonsillitis episodes have been rough, but it’s never been frequent enough to warrant surgery. If you ever get a peritonsillar abscess, get those tonsils out ASAP. Don’t wait 6 weeks like I did.

Narcolepsy, Necrophilia, and National Public Sleeping Day

insomnia and narcolepsyThis morning while trolling the interwebz, I found an article that caught my attention. Today is National Public Sleeping Day. According to the article, National Public Sleeping Day was established on February 28, 2011, and it is celebrated by taking a nap in public.

A 2012 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 40 million workers in the U.S. get fewer than six hours of sleep a night, significantly less than the seven to nine recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. 20% of vehicular crashes in the U.S. are caused by drowsiness, approximately 100,000 per year. Sleep deprivation is very often due to unrecognized sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, anxiety, and other social factors.

I’ve had a tough time with my sleep patterns since 2003, which is when I first began seeing a sleep disorders specialist. I was originally diagnosed with upper airway resistance syndrome. In patients with UARS, sleep quality is disrupted to the point of causing clinical consequences such as difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep (insomnia), non-refreshing sleep, or excessive daytime sleepiness. Further sleep tests, such as the multiple sleep latency test, confirmed that I also have 5 of the 5 markers for narcolepsy: Irresitable daytime sleepiness, sudden muscle weakness, sleep paralysis, hallucinations, and microsleeps with automatic behavior.

provigilFor the last 8 years, I’ve been treated with Provigil (or Nuvigil, which I didn’t like as much, but has a much more awesome website.) As I gained weight, the UARS progressed into Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). In the past nine years, I’ve had 8 overnight sleep studies, met with 6 sleep specialists in 4 states, and came to the conclusion that the only thing that would successfully treat the symptoms of my sleep apnea was massive weight loss. All of my sleep doctors recommended bariatric surgery, which is one of the reasons I chose to have gastric bypass.

Most of the time, I feel like I can get enough sleep, either by medications, exercise, naps, or caffeine. But since the beginning of the year, my narcolepsy symptoms have been rearing their ugly head again. I’ve had several cataplexy attacks, microsleeps, and the neurological symptoms I often have when I’m having a particularly irresistible sleep episode mirror my episodes with reactive hypoglycemia. I have appointments in March with my sleep specialist, an ENT, and endocrinologist.

Many people have strange ideas about narcolepsy, and sometimes all they’re aware of is references in pop culture (like in the movie Patch Adams). One of the funniest things about telling people I have narcolepsy is when they reply “And that’s something you share publicly?” Apparently, many people confuse narcolepsy with necrophilia, which I indeed do not have. Phew!

So, here’s to a restful day. Fluff up those pillows and enjoy a nap for National Public Sleeping Day!

Wordless Wednesday: Dental Drama

Blogging Everywhere But Here

The last month has been pretty crazy for me. I’ve been doing lots of blogging, just not on this site. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided to have weight loss surgery. On February 7th, I underwent laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. I decided to publicly share my surgery journey, and created the blog Beauty and the Bypass.

The last 6 weeks I’ve thrown my heart and soul into that blog, sharing the trials and triumphs of weight loss surgery. The awesome thing is that I’ve already lost 35 pounds, but it’s been harder than I expected. Rapid weight loss isn’t always fun and success. I’ve had to deal with pneumonia and severe dehydration, which has necessitated extra trips to the hospital. If you want to read more about it, they’re well documented on my other site.

As you can see in this photo, I’m already looking a lot different in my face. My cheeks are much less round, and I’m finally losing my triple chin. This is the difference of 3 weeks…not bad, eh?

Notable Posts on Beauty and the Bypass

But my blogging efforts haven’t just been limited to blogging about weight loss surgery. Between my employment at SEO.com and doing contract blogging for companies like ZAGG, I’ve been putting out a lot of content into the bloggosphere. After blogging for 9 years, it’s so nice to be able to get some good recognition for my blogging abilities. I’ve had offers from several other companies, and I’m hoping to find a good balance between personal blogging and being a voice for brands and businesses. Here are some other cool posts I’ve recently written elsewhere:
I’m not sure how much I’ll be blogging on this site for the near future. Cuteculturechick.com is my baby, and I’ve poured my heart and soul into it for so many years…but my writing skills have been in demand elsewhere. My goal is at least once a week, but that will vary with available time and content ideas. I’ve got a BUNCH of posts in draft for my Flashback Friday series. But if you’re missing what I have to say, I’m always around on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Beauty and the Bypass

beauty and the bypass

I’m excited to announce two things:

I’ve been approved for weight loss surgery, and will be undergoing laparoscopic roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery on February 7th.

I’ve decided to share my weight loss journey publicly, and have launched a dedicated blog to document the process. It is called “Beauty and the Bypass.”

If you’re curious to know why I’ve decided to have gastric bypass surgery, or what the surgery approval process is like, I’ve already blogged about those topics. The blog will include video blog posts, food diaries, and a detailed account of what my surgery and recover process is like. If you’d like to get updates about the process, you can like my Beauty and the Bypass Facebook page,  or you can subscribe to the Beauty and the Bypass feed on Feedburner.

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you know that I’ve had a long time struggle with chronic health conditions, and I have a difficult time losing weight. If I have breathing problems, I go on steroids and gain more weight. It’s taken a few years to know that surgery is the right move for me, and it took over a year to get my insurance to authorize it. I’m excited for my “new life” to start, a life where I am not perpetually bound by hunger and food addiction. I know it will be a difficult process, but I’m ready for it. And I hope that you will join along with me.

I’m Going Off Soda

giving up diet cokeI’ve been threatening to do it for year.

And now is the time.

Today is my 5th day completely soda/carbonation free. It’s actually day 8 in the process, but I caved to a can of Diet Mtn Dew when I had a headache on day 2.

There are a lot of reasons why I needed to give it up. First, it was an addiction, pure and simple. I couldn’t get through the day without a McDiet #PDR, or a “Route 44 Coke Zero with vanilla” at Sonic. I would wake up thinking of how bad I wanted a Coke to get me going in the morning. I wanted a drink to get me through the lull of the afternoon. I wanted a drink to help me focus at work. It was overwhelming.

Second, it was expensive. Many days I drank well over 100oz, much to the chagrin of my wallet. My husband called my daily need for soda my “pack a day” habit. Even trying to get the cheapest refills, it was easily costing me over $100 per month. I can think of a lot of things I’d rather spend $100 on a month.

Third, it was not good for my health. I’ve been taking mega-doses of Vitamin D and Calcium to make up for the mineral deficiencies that diet soda causes. Plus, it was stretching out my stomach. I can down a 32oz drink in no time, which made it that much easier to overeat. Although I got to the point that I would choose a soda over a decadent dessert…it still was a little messed up to be thinking that way. After watching this video, I knew I needed to do it:

I’m getting ready for a big change in my life that I’ve been preparing to undertake for over a year. If all goes as planned, it will happen sometime in February. It will change my life and my health for the better. I’m even working on a separate blog to document the process, which I will announce shortly. I’m even going to VIDEO BLOG on it, which I haven’t every ventured into before. I’m scared and excited at the same time.

So raise your glass (of water) and congratulate me on 5 days “sober” from soda. I’ll need support on this one. Just the sound of carbonation is a temptation.

Wordless Wednesday: Wires and Electrodes and Cannulas, Oh My!

sleep study electrodes

Zapped

I’m not just tired – I’m zapped.

Almost a month ago, I started coming down with a sinus infection. My husband and daughter were also hit pretty hard that week. We spent time at urgent care. We made repeated trips to the pharmacy. We lounged around as a family, consuming ridiculous quantities of Kleenex, Netflix and popcicles. We fought over the thermostat because one of us had the chills or a fever at any given time. Within a week, they were back on their feet, with just a little residual cough.

But not me.

Sinus yuckiness migrated to my chest. I had full blown bronchitis and started another round of steroids. And the cough – the mighty walrus-barking, neighbor-wall-permeating, chesty cough was awful. Painful. Disruptive. Gut-wrenching….as in literally vomit-inducing. My sleep apnea worsened, but I couldn’t properly wear my mask through the night without choking on phlegm. It was gross.

All my doctors say that REST is the best medicine. But what’s a working wife and mom to do? I’ll tell you –  work, and try to keep my husband and daughter happy. I’d push myself to keep going and going until my body collapsed.

And if finally did. I was so exhausted that I started to sleep again. Long, glorious stretches of slumber that would last 5-7 hours! It’s been ages since I could sleep that much! Unfortunately, I also feel tired all the time. If I’m able to grab a nap in the afternoon, I do. I finished up my third round of antibiotics, and finally cleared up the chest yuck with a pill also used to treat anthrax and tuberculosis. Seriously.

So a month later, I’m 10 lbs heavier, weak from so much “rest” and desperate to feel healthy. I started a fitness challenge, Fitness Battle Royale UT (or #FBRUT on Twitter) and I’m trying to push myself without overdoing it. Wish me luck.

Do Good Anyway

“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank people may cheat you;

Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;

Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness they may be jealous;

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today people will often forget tomorrow;

Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough;

Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God;

It was never between you and them anyway.

Mother Teresa

(Adapted from Kent M. Keith – The Paradoxical Commandments)