I was born with soft, paper-thin, peeling nails and never understood why I hadn’t been given the gene for my mother’s gorgeous fingernails.
I never bothered to paint them, because in no time, my nails would tear off and look hideous anyway.
The Search for a Solution
As a teen, I’d heard that Knox gelatin could change my nails. I can’t honestly say I consumed lots of this stuff, but what I did eat didn’t seem to make a difference.
I tried getting expensive salon nails, because I figured I was destined to require them. I was at a dance when mine started flying off, leaving even thinner nails behind.
My next attempt at rescuing my nails was to use a nail strengthener. Over the past 30 years, I’ve used many of them. They always worked temporarily. If I was religious about using them, my nails grew a bit before they were torn off.
The most researched solution I tried was biotin. This vitamin is supposed to make a difference in your nails, but alas for me, it didn’t. My nails continued to be weak, despite taking biotin faithfully.
I was hopeful that I had found the answer, however. Lack of iron is supposed to contribute to poor nails. As I’d been anemic in the past, I figured iron supplements would do the trick. Nope! Layers of my nails continued to peel.
I was ready to give up when I read an article online that gave me the surprising solution to my no-nails dilemma.
How to Grow Your Nails
1. Keep your nails from getting wet. If you wash dishes or clean with wet solutions frequently, wear gloves. I knew that wasn’t my problem. Instead, as long as I could remember, I had put my nails in my mouth. A lot. I didn’t bite them off, but I put them in my mouth as a nervous habit. When I was driving or trying to solve a problem, my nails went in my mouth. When I was most anxious, I chewed them like leather.
2. File away the rough edges immediately. I wasn’t doing this consistently. I put it off, ignoring the fact that rough edges made it inevitable that my nails would catch on something and tear off.
I had to be constantly vigilant to put this advice into action. I had no idea how frequently I put my nails in my mouth! And what’s more, I couldn’t believe that I thought I could chew on my nails and have them be strong. But as I refrained from doing so and filed as soon as I saw any sharp corners or ragged edges on my nails, they started to grow.
My nails had grown before, but this time was different. While they weren’t rock hard nails, they were strong. I could actually tap them on the counter and make noise! And that was without nail strengthener. The photo taken above was taken before I had grown them to their maximum length. Surprisingly enough, I’ve found I don’t like them as long as they can be! I’ve cut myself with them playing tennis. For the first time, I actually have to trim my nails with a clipper. They’re so strong that they don’t tear off. They actually break!
What Does This Have to Do With Changing Your Life?
No, having longer, stronger nails hasn’t really changed my life. What has is what I’ve learned in growing them out. As with so many other areas of my life where I’ve desired change, I spent lots of time looking for the unique solution to growing my nails. I was sure there was some magic potion that would accomplish what I wanted. There wasn’t.
Instead, I learned that most of the time, changing your life means not destroying it yourself. It isn’t that we need a new diet or exercise plan. We need to stop eating when we aren’t hungry. It isn’t that we need a better coupon organizing system; we need to stop buying things we don’t need. I didn’t need to find the right nail strengthener. I needed to stop weakening my nails by putting them in my mouth and chewing them. I was like the foolish woman who tore her house down with her own hands (Prov. 14:1). It wasn’t genetics that had destroyed my nails; it was me.
The solution is often so simple, we don’t see it.
The second piece of advice is like it. Filing away the ragged edges immediately is like addressing life’s problems right away. When we eat those cookies when we’ve already had a filling meal, we need to ask ourselves why and take steps to prevent it in the future. When we come home with a purchase we don’t need, we need to return it right away. It’s like my mama always used to say: “Nip it in the bud!”
If we ignore this wisdom, we will continue living with weak nails and a weak life. We’ll waste our time and money on solutions that aren’t solutions at all.
What about you? What have you tried to grow your nails and change your life? What will you try now?
I’m a psychologist, and as such, I try to present myself as being mentally healthy. That facade will be put to rest today.
There are only two things that make me anxious and I experienced them both together as I traveled home from a speech tournament with my oldest son yesterday.
The first thing that gets my OCD juices flowing is public restrooms. I really, really hate using them. It isn’t so much that I am afraid that I will pick up germs from someone as it is that I’m grossed out thinking about who has been in there before me and what they’ve been doing. I am not going to try to justify my abnormality. I tell you this only to explain the events of the day.
As I boarded the plane, I was feeling the call of nature mildly. I have an exceptionally big and strong bladder from years of avoiding using public restrooms. I figured I could certainly make it until the plane landed, at which point I would be forced to use a public restroom at the next airport. Later is always better when you’re anxious.
I smartly refused all beverages on the plane, but it was too late for my bladder because I had had a coffee drink before boarding. I debated with myself for a good hour about whether or not I could survive more than a three-hour flight without using the restroom. The stakes were high. Literally. While I have a distate for public restrooms, I have an all-out aversion for airline bathrooms. I believe in all my 43 years, I have used one once. The experience imprinted upon me the necessity of avoiding a repeat performance.
Anyone who shares my disgust for public toilets does not need me to explain why I was flipping out at the prospect of having to use the bathroom on the plane. But for the rest of you, I will give details.
- Men are using the same restroom
- It’s the size of a casket
- The flush is a massive suction effect that threatens to take you with it
- Poor ventilation
- Impossible to hover
- No bathroom attendant keeping things neat
The other horrors I got to experience firsthand. As I saw over an hour left in the flight, I knew that the misery of holding it had surpassed the misery of the airplane toilet experience. I got up and started making my way to the back. Right then the man sitting behind me decided he would go too. Wonderful. He was in front of me. Standing up made me realize that I really, really had to go.
The toilets were both occupied. For. a. long. time. The only thing that made it better was that the man who was going to use the toilet before me looked just as uptight as I felt. Finally one opened up and he entered. Meanwhile, a sizable line formed behind me. Another bladder age passed and I was finally able to get in there. That’s when my second source of anxiety kicked in: turbulence.
I hate turbulence. It brings to mind all those horrifying airplane crashes I’ve experienced with Tom Hanks, the cast of Lost, and others. The worst turbulence I had experienced personally was a dramatic loss of altitude after flying out of Philadelphia immediately post-9/11. People were screaming. My anxiety level was a 12 on a 1-10 scale.
In that frame of mind, I locked the door and felt like I was in an outhouse connected to the back of a speed boat. The ride was so bumpy that I was doing well to stand up at all. There wasn’t any way I could even get my pants down. It wasn’t long, however, before I realized that I better get busy or the anxiety would finish the job for me, toilet or no.
I’ve already mentioned that you can’t hover in an airplane restroom. I was hopeful that I could at least put toilet paper on the seat. As I tried in vain to get the paper to stick, my third fear kicked in. I wondered what on earth the poor full-bladdered souls in line were thinking of me. As the plane continued to bounce through the air, I realized that any germs I would get on my hiney couldn’t kill me because the plane crash would get me first. I sat down, did my business, cleaned up, and made my way back to my seat, physically and emotionally relieved.
I was actually kind of proud of myself for overcoming my fear. (Pathetic, I know, as I was forced into it). The turbulence calmed down and in no time at all, we prepared to land. That’s when the pilot came on the intercom and announced that there was “weather” at the airport and that we would be in a holding pattern.
Fear number four kicked in: tornadoes. Our airport was recently damaged in a tornado. I wondered how terrifying it must have been for the passengers who were on planes as those storms went through. I reassured myself that we were safe and sound in a holding pattern. Until the turbulence kicked in again.
I called to mind all my psychology tricks to get me through the next 30 minutes of turbulence and announcements that we still couldn’t land because of “weather.” I wondered if this was akin to calling cancer a “health matter.” I praised God from A to Z, imagined myself back home and hugging my kids, took deep breaths, relaxed my tense muscles, and reassured myself that crashing wouldn’t be painful. Hopefully. All of these things really did help and we were finally able to land without incident.
I headed to the restroom once in the terminal, delighted to see that they had automatic plastic covers on the toilets. I sat down gleefully and relieved myself. After I stood up, I read the instructions for the plastic covers indicating how to get a new clean cover–instructions that I hadn’t used. Oh well.
I praise God that He got me home safely to my beloved family last night, dirty hiney and all.
Can you relate to any of my fears? If so, do you have any tips for dealing with them?
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People who hear my “Tummy Trouble” story and learn about my food allergies ask me why so many people have food allergies now. I’m sure I don’t know! But I’ve shared with them the over-exposure hypothesis I’ve read. People may become allergic to foods they over-indulge in. For example, few Americans are allergic to rice, but many Asian people are.
That explanation doesn’t satisfy me though. Are we really over doing it on the peanuts for example? I am usually not one to believe Chicken Little. But my reading about genetically modified (GM) crops has me concerned. When you look at the data about contamination of unmodified crops with GM crops by wind and bee spread of pollen, there appears to be even more cause for concern. Bees are also dying inexplicably. Could GM crops be the explanation? I have read of the dangers of canola and soy and perhaps you have, too. Could it be that there is nothing inherently wrong with these foods, but GM crops are giving our immune systems fits? We worry about bio-terrorism, but maybe we’re terrorizing ourselves?
If this article gives you concern, we should be applying pressure to stop the manufacture and planting of GM crops of all kinds. http://www.seedsofdeception.com/Public/Newsletter/June2007GMCornMayCauseAllergies/index.cfm
A friend of mine asked me to share my battle with ulcerative colitis and food allergies. I wrote so much I thought I would post it here in hopes it may help someone. Please feel free to email me if you have other questions at email@example.com.
I was really at the end of my rope with the intestinal stuff. It was the 2nd bout I’d had with a partial blockage. It was killing me. I knew I was going to have to go to the hospital and they would put me on nasty drugs or do surgery. I knew the ongoing disease process put me at risk of cancer, too. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC) at 17, but was just told to avoid dairy and alcohol. No drugs; no surgery. A colonoscopy in the midst of chronic diarrhea after I had my 2nd baby was normal though. Something was weird since I’d had 2 colonoscopies at 17 that confirmed UC.
So at church I admitted the problem and my friends prayed. I went home and was crying. I told God I’d go to the hospital but that I really wanted healing. I felt a warm tingle go through my whole body. I fell asleep. When I woke up, the pain was gone. At that time, an online acquaintance told me about a book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, that described a diet that had helped her dh who also had UC. I said, NO WAY. I had already been delivered from my overeating problem by giving up dieting. I wasn’t going to go back to a diet! She just said, “OK” which made me want to read it. LOL If she’d tried to convince me, I wouldn’t have ordered the book and read it, but I did.
I was surprised to learn that the diet was supposed to heal you in a year or two so you could eat normally again. Turns out it didn’t work that way for me, but if I had known that ahead of time, I wouldn’t have tried it and found the relief I’ve always wanted. The diet is devastatingly difficult. I cried for 9 months. I’m not exaggerating. To really do it, you have to stay off everything. No licks or tastes or cheats. I went through withdrawals. But within a week, I felt better than I’d ever felt in my entire life. That kept me going. So did the painful diarrhea I got when I accidentally ate the “illegal” foods on vacation.
The diet is no-grain, no sugar (but honey is OK), no yeast, no soy, no dairy except lactose-free cheeses and yogurt, no potatoes, no canned veggies. Getting the picture? The theory is that people with all kinds of digestive disorders (UC, Crohn’s, IBS, Celiac) are eating too many carbs and the body can’t digest them all. They sit in the gut undigested where they feed the bad bacteria. The bad guys overwhelm the good guys and irritate the gut, causing ulcers. In order the kill the bad guys, all carbs that are digested in the intestine are eliminated from the diet. In order to grow the good guys, you eat lactose-free and sugar-free yogurt you make yourself.
I think there is much truth to the theory. HOWEVER, I believe the other reason it works is because of food allergies/intolerances. I am allergic/intolerant to wheat. The reason I keep saying allergic/intolerant is because it’s entirely possible I wouldn’t show a true allergy on a blood or RAST test. However, when I eat it, I start wheezing and my throat itches and I get mouth ulcers. I am also, I am sure, getting ulcers in my colon. Other symptoms include eye redness and burning and reflux. That’s when I really eat a bunch. I’m pretty sure I’m intolerant to corn products (corn syrup) and MSG, too, but I don’t have all the symptoms I do with wheat. I discovered this in two ways. First, when I slowly went off the diet, I had a return of symptoms. I was devastated. I also had a horrible flare up when I was pg with my dd. My blood test showed high eosinophils (a marker for allergy). Research I did on this showed that people with IBD (Crohn’s & UC) have higher levels of eosinophils, especially in the gut.
Whenever I hear about celiacs who continue to suffer despite removing gluten from the diet, I suspect they have other food intolerances that aren’t being addressed. It’s entirely possible that the intolerances have less to do with the foods themselves than with what’s been done to them with genetic engineering, pesticides, and food additives. I’ve heard people who are intolerant to milk, for example, being able to drink unprocessed milk from drug-free cows.
I think the food supply and people’s reactions to it is like a nuclear disaster that no one acknowledges. It’s so huge. Almost every day someone tells me about themselves or someone they love who is in complete agony with this problem. My heart goes out to them and sometimes I wish I were a medical researcher, because no matter what it took I would prove that our diets are killing us. When I saw a GI doc when pg, she told me diet had nothing to do with IBD. I would love to see her eat her words one day.
If you or someone you love is having tummy troubles, please buy Breaking the Vicious Cycle (see the book list at left) and consider trying the diet for a month. If it works, I know it’s disappointing in a way. But I no longer feel sorry for myself because I know people who are deathly ill for whom the diet is NOT effective.