Thoughts on Thinx

I bought two pairs of this special underwear called Thinx that’s meant to be worn when you have your period. The underwear has an absorbent and odor-neutralizing crotch panel that can absorb a tampon or two’s worth of menstrual blood (depending on the style of Thinx you choose). In theory, you can go without tampons or pads at all and just wash and reuse the underwear.

In short, did they work? Yes. They are probably not for everyone, however.

This is a pretty long post and has a lot of details in it. If you’re squeamish, find something else to read. I am not affiliated with this product in any way, and I did not receive any free samples or other compensation as a condition of writing this blog. This is really just my thoughts and experiences with this product.

I bought two pairs of Thinx for a few reasons:

  • I’m very interested in new textiles and how garments can be used to support medical needs, be it menstruation, illness or disability.
  • I’m interested in alternatives to standard menstrual products in general. Having consumed these products most of my life, I always think, “There’s got to be a better way!”
  • I like that female engineers, businesswomen and scientists are thinking anew about menstrual products, and that they are able to get funding to manufacture and market these products.
  • I would like to reduce my use of disposable, nonbiodegradable things in general. All the wrappers, applicators and packaging of standard tampons and pads could be reduced or eliminated.
  • I think that women should be able to talk about menstruation openly and without shame. Products such as Thinx open the dialogue.

I read over the product specs (see www.shethinx.com for more) and bought a high-waist style ($38) and a hip-hugger style ($34) to try. Based on the measurements, I ordered a large but they were too small, so I got a refund and bought an extra large in each style.

Because I like to sew, I know when I am looking at a well-made garment, and these were. The lining of the underwear is made of a cotton and elastane blend. The waistband and outer layer is a nylon-elastane blend – the waistband has a pretty, sheer stripe detail. The absorbent inner liner is made of a polyurethane laminate, or PUL fabric. It runs from waistband to waistband front and back and is encased in the lining and outer fabric. The sides are sheer.

I tried them this week. I wore the hip-huggers on Sunday, under jeans, without any back-up tampons or pads. They performed admirably with no leaks. I was aware each time I used the toilet that the underwear was absorbing blood, but it soaked in to the absorbent layer and did not feel sticky, just a bit damp. The underwear was a bit bulky, but not bad, especially under jeans. There was no smell at first, but by the end of the day, I could detect a scent – not the usual menstrual blood scent, but a scent that’s hard to describe – a bit plastic-y and sharp. The scent wasn’t objectionable, really, but it was there.

I wore them for the rest of the day and to bed. I woke up with no stains on my PJs or sheets. The odor was much stronger at this point, but that’s to be expected – I wore them for a full day! The instructions say you should rinse the underwear and then wash it, using regular laundry soap but no fabric softener. I saw a lot of blood come out in the rinse, so I let them soak a bit, then rinsed again until the water was clear. Then I let them soak with some laundry detergent, scrubbed them by hand, rinsed and let them line dry.

I had intended to wear the high-waist pair to work Monday, but when I tried them on with my dress, they rode up a bit and were noticeably bulky in the rear with the style of dress, so I switched to some high-waist trousers. This time, I backed up the underwear with a tampon because I couldn’t take chances at work, but I didn’t use a pantyliner as I normally would. Again, they performed well. There was no odor or leaking, although to be fair, tampons did most of the job. The general fit of the underwear was not great and rode up all day. I wore them to bed without any back-up and they were fine – no leaks or stains and the faint odor. Again, I rinsed them and washed them in the sink with some laundry detergent.

I reused the clean hip-huggers to work Tuesday under a skirt without any tampon backup, and they performed very well, although my flow was a lot lighter by then. There was no odor or dampness.

My takeaways:

  • Thinx are a viable alternative to tampons or pads. They do their job and perform as promised.
  • They look nice and are well made.
  • Thinx are not gross or smelly – not any grosser or smellier than the normal menstruation situation, anyway.
  • Using Thinx alone without tampons or pads, I would not want to wear one pair all day but rather would change them after 8 hours  or so. This makes sense, since I’d normally change tampons every 4 hours or so, and the underwear’s meant to absorb about two tampons’ worth.
  • Using Thinx as a tampon back-up, or on a light flow day, I will wear them all day.
  • I will wear the high-waist pair exclusively to bed, because of the bulky nature and the poor fit. I am OK with this because I usually wear big diapery pads to bed (I don’t want to get up in the night to change tampons) and occasionally have to deal with leaks.
  • I can handwash them and let them dry so that two pairs will get me through a typical cycle.
  • The cost alone doesn’t really justify the purchase. At $70 for two pairs of underwear, I could buy a couple hundred tampons, pantyliners and pads.

I will be interested to see how these hold up and perform over time. I will buy more if I really like them.

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The $5, 15-hour Cucumber

My reluctant garden finally turned out some produce. Behold! The $5, 15-hour cucumber!

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Are you saying to yourself, “This looks like every other cucumber I ever saw?” Well, yes. But this is a magic cucumber. It’s magic because I put some seeds in some dirt and out it grew.

Now, are you saying to yourself, “Um… Duh… Isn’t that how all cucumbers grow?”

Again you are right. It wasn’t magic. It was horticulture.

Happy now?

I estimate this cucumber cost me $5. I bought a packet of seeds. I also bought some mulch. So those are my raw materials. We don’t count wear and tear on other things, such as gloves and tools. We won’t count the soil in my raised beds, since that’s been in place for a while. We also won’t count the cost of water. What do I look like, an accountant? Let’s just say $5 and call it square, OK?

I estimate it took 15 hours of labor to grow this cucumber. The “stick seed in the dirt” bit takes 10 seconds. But you know what takes hours? Weeding, watering, shoveling, tilling, screening the soil, making compost and digging it in. Also peeking at the cucumber vine to see if it’s coughed up anything yet.

So that’s my fabulous cucumber. I’m going to eat it with some hummus. I may get another one next week.

An Artist’s Date on the Linear Trail

This week’s Artist’s Date – solo adventures meant to inspire creativity – was to an old haunt of mine: a linear park perfect for walking, jogging, cycling and rollerblading.

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I used to come here all the time. First, when I was dating my husband, we’d come here to rollerblade or bike. We did a lot of sporty outdoors stuff when we were wooing one another. Now, not so much.

Then, when I used to work at home a lot for my old job, I’d come here for a rollerblading workout after work or during my lunch break.

Over the years I’ve walked here with a pregnant friend, walked with her and her infant daughter in a stroller, walked my dog, and just walked.

The last time I was here was a couple of days after the US election when I was despondent about Donald Trump’s election victory. I wanted to go someplace where I could really think, alone. I am not a very political person. I became a political person that day.

The election encouraged a lot of soul-searching in me. I used to be a journalist, so while I am very well informed about the issues, I rarely have an opinion about them. I can see both sides, and I avoid getting caught up in day to day debates. I read widely, I always vote, but I don’t belong to a political party. Even though I have not been a journalist for years, I had always told myself that I should remain neutral in case I ever want to get into journalism again.

Who am I kidding?

I felt physically ill about Trump. I couldn’t sleep. I would think about him and my heart would race with anxiety. I had never had such a reaction in my life. I realized that I have been very fortunate in my life, selfish and privileged.  I realized I need to do more to share with others, to stand up for what I believe in, to educate myself about issues and speak my mind.

I have tried to do that. It’s hard and sometimes depressing. It’s easier just to avoid the newspaper and talk about fun things and laugh at the Trump impersonation on “Saturday Night Live.” But then reality sets in and I get angry and anxious again.

On my Artist’s Date yesterday I thought about this as I rollerbladed along. I have done several political things I have never done in my life. I marched in protests, wrote letters to congress members, donated money to political causes, signed petitions, and spoke out whenever I felt I should. I have alienated some relatives and a few friends, but I feel good overall. It’s time to pick sides.

I also thought yesterday about what to do next. I am going to give a speech about civil liberties, which have been under siege under Trump. I crafted out the speech in my mind, and next I need to write it and practice it. I’ll give the speech before an audience at my Toastmasters club later this month. It’s my way of informing people, giving back and letting people know where I stand.

The Artist’s Date has been an excellent boost to my thought processes and desires for action so far. Where should I go next week?

Funkytown

I’ve been in a funk for the past week. I was on a business trip to India, which was exhausting and exciting and fun and scary all at the same time. When I got home I dealt with jet lag for a couple of days. But there’s some other kind of lag going on still.

Since I was gone for a week, it seems like everyone has been making up for it by being on my ass about everything. The house needed cleaning. My husband’s needy and whiny. Stuff piled up at work. Bills needed paying. Even the damn dog is like, “Pet me! Pet me NOW!”

All I want is to sit somewhere, quietly and alone, and just not have to deal with anything. I actually had a fantasy of just getting a hotel room so I could sit in it and be quiet for a while with nothing to do, no place to go, no one expecting anything of me.

Of course I didn’t do that…

And because I am pretty out of sorts I am making it worse for myself by hauling around resentment. I struggle to ask people for what I need. I just go along, silently, tired and annoyed, one day after the other.

I finally chose to take a week off in a couple of weeks. This little vacation is meant to get my garden in, and I will definitely do some gardening that week. But mostly I look forward to a few days when I don’t really HAVE to do anything. I will do what I want, as much as possible.

I need to frame this vacation to my husband, or I risk him taking over. Whenever I have some time off, errands always pop up. Or he comes home early from work. Or friends want to get together. Or I have to wait around the house all day for FedEx or the chimney cleaning guy or some such nuisance.

I told my husband Friday that I am taking off a week in May. I am run down, I said. I need some time to just relax and get a break from work. I really don’t want to be bothered with anything, OK?

OK. We’ll see.

Dealing with a Hungry Day

Even after years of (mostly) maintaining a big weight loss, I sometimes still have hungry days. You know, those days when you are truly hungry all day and you can’t do anything about it. Actually, you CAN do something about it. You can just stuff your face with whatever and accept the consequences. Or you can fight through it and be miserable all day.

Yesterday, I chose option #2. Here’s how I got through it, with only a little misery. (This is a detailed run-down of the day, maybe TMI for you but important for me to remember what I did and why.)

I was hungry when I got up. I am often hungry when I get up, but since I had a good protein-packed dinner (restaurant meal of mixed grill of 3 ounces each steak and chicken, plus 3 shrimp, a big tossed salad, a half a sweet potato and some brown bread), I was a bit surprised at the hunger pangs. I always plan ahead and build in enough time before I leave for my 6 a.m. train to cook and eat a good breakfast, usually an egg sandwich and some fruit or plain Greek yogurt with sliced almonds and fruit. Yesterday I was tripped up by bad outfit planning and I needed to iron a pair of pants at the last minute. No time to eat, so I grabbed a package of Kind Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars to have on the train.

A word about Kind Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars: They’re better than nothing, better than a pastry or fast-food breakfast. But that’s about all I’ll say. Some liken them to “eating peanut butter cookies for breakfast.” Not quite that bad, but still, there are three kinds of sugar in them (cane syrup, raisin paste and honey). Nutrition info here if you like gory details.

With Kind bars, I make a little deal with myself. I eat them in a pinch, and I agree when I eat them that I will be hungry a couple hours later and will just tough it out until lunchtime. That is, I won’t eat these bars for breakfast on the go, and then eat a second breakfast when I get to the office like some white-collar Hobbit.

Right on schedule, I was hungry at 9 a.m. I had packed my lunch the night before, including some grapes for an afternoon snack. I tried my usual ways of coping. I had some water. I had some hot herbal tea. I tried to concentrate on work. At 9:45 I broke down and ate the grapes. So I considered myself in a deficit.

Lunch could not come fast enough. I had a glass of water and tried to immerse myself in work until 11:30. Then I heated up what I thought would be a pretty filling, protein-packed lunch – 3 ounces each of leftover chicken and steak, plus 1/2 a sweet potato and 1 cup of green beans with olive oil.

I was hungry again at 3. This was getting ridiculous. I mean, the morning I could see because of some dubious choices, but that was a big lunch. I had more herbal tea. I took a 15-minute walk outside to get some air and distract myself. By 4 p.m. I had a headache, which is the usual outcome of being hungry all day, but I knew if I took something for it, I’d have an upset stomach. My back-up plan – the grapes – were gone. I grabbed an apple from the office fridge. This was not my apple, but it had been hanging around in the fridge for a couple of weeks. I stole it. Yes, I am that person. (I replaced it today.)

At 4:30 I left work for home. The apple made no difference. I had to decide: do I eat something caloric but guaranteed to fill me up, or do I tough it out? I told myself: I’m tough. I can take it.

I got home at 7, ravenous and with a brain-splitting headache. My husband prepares dinner Thursdays. He bought a rotisserie chicken from Costco – no veggies, no salad, no sides, no nothing. So I quickly steamed some asparagus, tossed with olive oil, and defrosted 1-cup chunk of homemade macaroni and cheese. I gobbled down almost half a chicken, half a pound of asparagus and half the mac and drank two big glasses of water. I still felt hungry, but at this point I knew my brain and my body had not caught up, so I waited. The headache subsided but did not go away completely.

I wrote down all my food for the day and was a couple calories shy of my daily intake plan. I also hit my exercise goal (walking 10,000 steps).

At 9, still feeling hungry, I had another choice to make: do I tough it out or eat something else to try yet again to stop the hungries? If I tough it out, I risk insomnia and a worse headache. If I eat something, it might work, it might not. There’s no guarantee the hunger will end, but maybe my brain will finally realize I have had plenty to eat. If I say “the heck with it” and pig out, I won’t feel hungry anymore, but I also might sleep poorly and will feel pretty lousy tomorrow just the same.

At this point, I was feeling desperate. So I ate a small piece of leftover frozen pizza that had been in the fridge since the weekend. I was over my calories for the day by about 200. I brushed my teeth and went to bed. It was 9:30.

I woke up this morning, very hungry again, with a splitting headache again. I am in for a second day of this torture. It’s almost lunchtime, my head hurts, and I am very hungry, despite a good breakfast.

I am telling this story not to get your sympathy or to just vent about how hard weight loss and maintenance are. I am just trying to show what happens, some days, when you do the best you can and you feel like nothing goes right.

I was in a hole from the minute I woke up. I tried to fill the hole as best I could. I made a lot of great choices and a few not-so-great ones. The simple act of eating – the most basic bodily function that most of us enjoy and many of us take for granted – utterly exhausted me. I don’t feel defeated, but I do feel humbled and angry. Even after years at the weight-loss maintenance game, I get down sometimes.

 

 

Why Can’t I Get It Together?

I have been trying to lose 10 pounds for 6 months now. Instead of losing, I gained 5. Why can’t I get it together?

I have kept off over 50 pounds for several years now, so I know perfectly well how to do this. I just cannot get into a groove. I will lose a few pounds and then slack off, for so reason I can fathom.

OK.

Maybe I can fathom a few reasons. Boredom, complacency, laziness, denial. Sometimes, I don’t care all that much. And then I have to squeeze into clothes that fit well 15 pounds ago, and I get so mad at myself. I am just so damn SICK of it all.

You see, I got me what’s called “a bad attitude.”

I was reminded last night of what’s the matter with me. I got my hair done and then went out to dinner with my husband. My hairdresser used to be overweight and unhealthy – smoking, drinking – and then she shaped up. She is very fit and slim and talks constantly about her various exercise, eating and cooking routines. All I can think of when she talks is “what a bore.” As I was paying at the desk, she left for her evening workout, dressed in athletic gear, looking great. And all I could think was, “I don’t want to have to work that hard to stay in shape.”

We went for dinner at an Asian noodle shop that my husband has raved about. I was in such a foul mood – pretentious hipster place, very crowded with college students, Genesee Cream Ale on tap, for chrissakes. I ordered the lightest thing on the menu – a chicken-based pho with veggies – and ate maybe half of it. Washed it down with several glasses of water. Thought, as I was eating it, “You’re going to be bloated AF tomorrow from the salt in this.”

And I am, so I guess I know a bit about what I am doing.

Sobriety

I am laying off the drink for a while. I have never been a big drinker; even in college I’d have 2 or 3 beers and call it a night. But lately even one drink is too much. It’s like my body can’t metabolize it anymore. I was no more than halfway through the gin & tonic for evening cocktails on Thursday when a headache bloomed in my brain. It stayed there for four days.

I had no alcohol on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or New Year’s Day. I haven’t done four sober holidays in a row since I was 16.

Is my husband on board? Perhaps this photo of his shopping excursion last week tells the tale better than I can:

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I am trying a sober January. We’ll see how this goes.