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Sweet Six-ty

Change For The Better © lynette sheppard

Change For The Better © lynette sheppard

Enjoy this guest post by one of our favorite Menopause Goddesses, Saskia Andreola.

Embracing 60 this past year has been far better and, in many ways, serendipitous than I could have imagined when I was that 16-year-old, wildly-impetuous Jersey Girl. The only thing I miss is my butt. A girlfriend of mine use to tease me that I should turn around and introduce myself sticking out my derriere because of the compliments I’d get. I would have rather had her wonderful breasts, as I was lacking in that department.

There are parts of me that have been rejuvenated and enhanced and didn’t come with my genetic packaging; but that’s been a conscious choice. Because the simple truth is that when we look our best, we feel our best, and everyone in our inner circle “wins.”

Running a plastic surgery practice while working closely with patients on a very personal level has taught me that we all have a basic need to be paid attention to and feel recognized. I admire women who choose to age gracefully, however, I’m not one of them…yet. It is a relief/maybe a release not to have the 3-inch heels taking up real estate in my closet. Gone are the tight jeans, long nails and extra time in front of the mirror. I don’t miss them anymore because I’m not interested in pretending to be younger than my hard-earned and well-deserved years on the planet.

These days it’s much more intriguing to me hearing someone’s story of what hoops they’ve had to jump through, lessons they’ve learned and choices they’ve made that makes them who they are instead of wanting to know where they bought their shoes or had their hair done. Doesn’t mean I don’t ask, I do, because to be noticed and to be complimented is one of life’s easy pleasures.

There is a ring of truth to the statement, whether it is fair or not; “When a man gets up to speak, people listen. When a woman gets up to speak, if they like what they see, then they listen.”

Having 5 planets in Leo, born under the sign of the Dragon, and being an 8 on the Enneagram scale has given me plenty of fire this lifetime. Now that I’m 60, it feels great to be comfortable in my skin….of course if it were a little tighter, I wouldn’t complain (smile).

Saskia Andreola RN runs Dr. Clyde Ishii’s plastic surgery practice in Honolulu Hawai`i. She is also one of our satellite Menopause Goddesses. To learn more, click here.

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Menopause and Varicose Veins: How Are They Connected?

Varicose Vines © lynette sheppard

Varicose Vines © lynette sheppard

In The Big M book (Becoming A Menopause Goddess e-book), I bemoaned all the weird “marks” that appeared on my body with Menopause. I noted that my legs were patterned with blue highways to the golden years – yep, spider veins and varicosities seemed to appear overnight. (Along with brown spots, moles, and a host of other fun dermal puzzles.) Was I imagining that Menopause was to blame?

Our friends at DoctorQA.com have some answers for Menopause Goddesses in this guest post. So glad to know I wasn’t crazy – there really is a connection. And some simple things that we can do to help.

Menopause and Varicose Veins: How Are They Connected?

Women approaching menopause can be glad to live in an era when discussion of the process and its accompanying changes is no longer hush-hush and taboo. Any biologically based changes in one’s body will be accepted and responded to better when accompanied by information and education. Since it occurs naturally, some do not consider menopause to be a medical condition per se. However it does have practical ramifications for women’s health, especially for bones and cardiovascular health.

There are many hormonal changes that accompany menopause, primary of these being decreased production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone by the ovaries. There are also increased levels of two hormones of the pituitary gland – luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone – that usually stimulate estrogen production by the ovaries in the pre-menopausal years. Other tissues in a menopausal woman’s body continue to produce estrogen, and the adrenal glands make some progesterone, but the overall levels of the two hormones become much lower during and after menopause. This brings on the familiar symptoms of hot flashes, loss of bone density and otherwise unexplained episodes of fatigue or depression.

Less well known is the fact that estrogen and progesterone have positive effects on all of the circulatory system, not just the heart. Veins of the leg in particular are known to express receptors for progesterone – even in men! (There are low levels of all the sex hormones in both men and women.) Therefore some doctors believe the decreased levels of progesterone during and after menopause may contribute to the development of varicose veins, which women are more predisposed to than men. The drop in hormone levels may also contribute to the weakening of the valves that veins contain, which is known to be important in the development of varicose veins.

Menopause of course can’t be prevented, but the negative symptoms are often treated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Whether HRT reduces a woman’s chance of developing varicose veins has not been studied directly. However, most HRT preparations include both estrogen and progesterone – the combination seems safer than estrogen alone – and progesterone is predicted to be necessary for healthy veins, based on the presence of its receptors there.

Menopausal women concerned about varicose or spider veins can do a number of things in addition to HRT to reduce the likelihood of their appearance. Perhaps the most powerful preventative is regular exercise for the legs – walking, running, biking and swimming all stimulate circulation in the legs. Good circulation is key to preventing the pooling of blood in veins that causes them to become varicose. One can also avoid some of the common risk factors for developing varicose veins, such as smoking, becoming diabetic and a sedentary lifestyle.

Both sitting and standing in one place for hours at a time increase the risk of varicose veins. Therefore those in jobs requiring long hours of sitting or standing in place should take frequent but very short breaks, just to walk around a bit. Any additional exercise after work hours will only help. Wearing of support stockings is generally good for the veins of the leg and can also help prevent the onset of varicose veins. Lastly, keeping the legs and feet elevated when sitting is helpful – and it feels great, too!

DoctorQA.com helps spider and varicose veins sufferers find information and connect with local vein care specialists.

 

 

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Hot Flash Humor: A Male Perspective

Halema`uma`u Volcanic Vent

Halema`uma`u Volcanic Vent

I’ve been getting more and more mail from men who are accompanying their mates on the Menopause journey. The latest note from James Lawson cracked me up. He has graciously given me permission to post his blog entry about hot flashes from a man’s point of view. You can visit his blog here: Uniting People, through motivation, inspiration, and humor.

She Might Be Having A Hot Flash!

My wife has been having hot flashes for over 8 years now, and believe me we’ve had many laughs over the predicaments she’s been in.

There’s not much written about hot flashes from a male’s point of view so… Here’s a list of ten scenarios I’ve witnessed over the years. Chuckle and enjoy, then share yours!

1. At the grocery store, you see a woman with her head stuck in the freezer. You think she must be serious about reading the box’s ingredient list.

Or

She might be having a hot flash.

2. When you’re outside on a beautiful day, you notice a grandmother snatch a freeze pop from her grandchild. You assume she must be concerned about the amount of sugar that child has consumed.
Or
She might be having a hot flash.

3. At the gym, you look over to see a woman open up her water bottle full throttle and let the water pour out of the corners of her mouth. You figure she must have been doing an intense routine.
Or
She might be having a hot flash.

4. Your wife rushes in the door and strips off all her clothes. You think, “Hey, I’m going to get lucky!”
Or
She might be having a hot flash.

5. During an important office meeting, you notice a female drops her pen on the floor. As she darts under the table with a washcloth in her hand you think she must have a germ phobia.
Or
She might be having a hot flash.

6. You awaken in the night and catch your wife with her hand in a cooler of ice near her side of the bed. You think, “She must have buried a midnight snack beneath that ice.”
Or
She might be having a hot flash.

7. The woman driver ahead of you is swerving in and out of her lane while flailing her arms. You say, “I think that lady’s drunk!”
Or
She might be having a hot flash.

8. You’re driving along on a cold winter day. Your wife suddenly rolls down her window. You think, “There must be a spider in the car.”
Or
She might be having a hot flash.

9. In a hardware store, you see a woman testing out an industrial fan blowing on high, you think, “She must have water in her basement.”
Or
She might be having a hot flash.

10. Your wife has water glasses placed strategically throughout the house. You think, “She must be getting ready to water the plants.”
Or
She might be having a hot flash.

So men, never judge that menopausal woman you see who may be acting a bit strangely. She just might be having a hot flash.

James would love for you to share you favorite  hot flash moments on his Blog. He’s aiming for a list of 100!

 

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Being a Post-Menopausal Goddess Doesn’t Save You from Heart Disease or Diabetes

coffee with heart

This week’s guest post is by Katie Brind’Amour, one of my favorite health writers. In it she offers information and helpful hints for preventing and/or dealing with heart disease and Type II diabetes. I know I get sloppy about my diet, especially when traveling, so I appreciate the reminders. Thanks, Katie!

Being a Post-Menopausal Goddess Doesn’t Save You from Heart Disease or Diabetes

Unfortunately, the hard-won pluses of being past Hollywood’s definition of “prime” do not equal a free pass for taking care of your health. Older women have a double whammy ready to work against them: a high risk of developing diabetes and an all-around increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular events, like heart attacks and strokes, are the number one killer in the elderly. Worse still, women with Type 2 diabetes have the same risk of dying of a cardiac event as do women without diabetes who have a history of cardiovascular disease. That means that diabetes makes you just as likely to die of cardiovascular problems as women who already have heart disease.

As if aging weren’t tough enough on its own, Mother Nature has to make it darn clear to older ladies that they are no exception to the general rule of increased risks for diabetics. The recent study on over 9,200 women found that the relationship between heart disease and diabetes mirrored the rest of the population’s: one disease is bad enough on its own, but diabetes is like having (at least) two in one.

What is a Lady to Do?

Although the latest health news is dim, there is a silver lining: both cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes are often preventable. This means that, with time and effort, you can drastically reduce your chances of succumbing to heart disease and diabetes (and all of their nasty, deadly side effects).

There are two key ways to prevent these conditions that everyone knows but no one likes to hear. A healthy diet and regular exercise are absolutely the best ways to avoid these diagnoses. Maintaining a healthy weight (particularly avoiding extra pounds around the waist) can significantly cut your risk of each illness.

 If you are already living with diabetes or heart disease, there are also a few steps you can take to reduce your future risk of a cardiac event, complications, or death. Take these simple, natural solutions to heart, and commit to a healthier lifestyle to truly make a difference in your future.

Natural Ways to Avoid Heart Disease

In addition to eating a healthy, balanced diet (aim for half veggies, one quarter lean protein, and one quarter whole grains at each meal), exercise is essential. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise (like brisk walking, swimming, water aerobics, tennis, cross-country skiing, ballroom dancing, or biking) at least five days each week. Gardening and walking the dog count, too, and if you love to dance while you wash dishes or vacuum, keep up the good work!

If you are diabetic or if you are currently inactive, talk with your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise routine. Build up to a regular and more vigorous regimen gradually, even if you have to start with just a few minutes of walking each day.

Next, tackle the other parts of your life that can best reduce your risk of heart disease.

Drop the tobacco habit. Smoking does serious damage to blood vessels and the heart. Kicking the addiction can add years to your life—even if you aren’t already diabetic. Check out free online “quit smoking” chat rooms or ask about health benefits from your employer or health program to get a little help.

Eat heart-healthy foods. Even if you are already eating a healthy diet, try incorporating additional heart-healthy foods into your weekly menu. These include foods with healthy fats, like fish and nuts. You should cut down on red meats and processed foods, then up your intake of beans, vegetables, and whole grains. Yum.

Get your waist below 35 inches. Extra weight around the middle is a major risk factor for both diabetes and heart disease. Even losing about 5–10% of your body weight can help slash your risk of these diseases if you are currently overweight or obese. Hence the recommendation above for regular exercise (there’s no getting away from that one, ladies!).

Take advantage of health screenings. Getting your annual check-up and screenings as recommended can literally save your life. An early indication of cardiovascular disease—like high blood pressure or blood cholesterol levels—can be the early warning you need to seek more aggressive treatments. Keeping blood glucose levels in the recommended range will also ensure that your body functions as normally and as healthily as possible.

No matter your inherited risk and current trajectory, you can make a difference in your future risk. Diabetes and heart disease are life-changing (and sometimes life-ending). Make sure that you are doing all you can to live a healthier, happier, longer life. You can do it!

 

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Best Health Blog Vote, Rejuvenair Fan Sale, and Meno Movies

Amaryllis © lynette sheppard

Amaryllis © lynette sheppard

Wow. Menopause Goddess Blog has been nominated by Healthline for Best Health Blog of 2012. That is why you’ll find a large red button that says Vote For Me on the right column of this site. I know, I know, you are as tired of elections as I am, but it’s for a good cause! Namely, the more exposure we have, the more women have a place to get wisdom from their sister goddesses. Oh yes, there’s a cash prize too, which would be appreciated to defray website costs, but that’s not the biggest reason. So please, vote. And share it with your friends.

Speaking of Healthline, they recently put together a collection of the best online videos relating to Menopause. You’ve got to see these: Best Menopause Videos. Good for a laugh, a ponder, and maybe even a a good cry. These folks “get it”.

To celebrate the New Year, Dr. Klein is offering her Rejuvenair fan for only 29.99. (List price is 49.99, so if you want one, get it now.) No coupon or special code is needed – just visit their website at rejuvenairfan.com.

And a team of MBA students at Washington University in St. Louis are studying the education level of women regarding Menopause (great idea, if you ask me.) They  have created a survey to gather data from real women regarding their experiences and would love if we would participate. (And it could be of so much help to pre and peri Menopause Goddesses.) Ideally, we’d share the survey with pre-menopausal women to see if the level of education is better than when we started the Pause.  Here’s the link:  http://olinbusiness.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_2ttGBQw7Q9Ux54x

And they’ve promised to share the results of the final study with us.

And if you like Menopause Goddess Blog, cast your vote for us. Women sharing wisdom – that’s what we’re all about. That and laughter and girlfriends and chocolate.

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Jettison the Resolutions and Make New Year’s Intentions

Torch Ginger Blossom © lynette sheppard

I don’t make resolutions anymore.It’s too stressful to make them and break them. I do make intentions, however. Intentions for me are large global visions of how I want to live for the next year (and maybe more.)

I am in the habit of drawing an angel card each morning. The one word on each card serves as a daily focusing, a mantra if you will, for noticing or expressing a certain quality throughout 24 hours.

For example, today, I drew Kindness. Musing on kindness throughout the day allowed me to slow down when my cat was walking all over my keyboard and just pet him for awhile, rather than push him away. Work could wait. And it did. I was nicer to the people I met in town and even to myself, usually last on the list.

Similarly, I’ve found intentions to be helpful for me in focusing on a larger scale, on defining what might be important to me to notice and embody for the coming 365 days. Under each intention are ways in which I might accomplish it, but I am in no way absolutely wedded to them as goals.

That said, here are my intentions for 2013:

Notice and follow Beauty.
Photography
Prose: read and write
Butterflies – follow them.

Artify
App and paint photos
Write
Make jewelry

Nourishment
body: exercise, yoga, eat healthy most of the time
mind: Scrabble, reading
spirit: solitude, music, quiet, butterflies

Connection
Spouse: quality time, shared pursuits and adventures
Family: spend time w kids, parents, pets
Good friends: spend time

Celebration
Being on the top side of the dirt (that’s big!)
Each moment
Celebrate What’s Right With The World site

Give Back
Blogs
Healing Images

I will re-view these throughout the year – maybe find that some are easy to focus on and others need more attention. I use them as a sort of fuzzy logic compass to give my meanders through life a sense of direction and purpose.

Your intentions may echo some of mine or they may be completely different. I offer mine only as a template and you may find a better way to define your New Year visions. Please share them if you do. That’s how we become Menopause Goddesses – growing and sharing. I wish you all a peace and joy filled New Year.

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Holiday Deals for Menopause Goddesses (And Those Who Love Them)

Christmas in Paradise © lynette sheppard

Menopause Goddess Lana Abrams is offering a special 25% off holiday sale on her wonderful mulberry silk products for our readers. I have one of her light and warm comforters and I love it! Mulberry silk is the perfect temperature control fabric for menopausal women – it’s cool and warm – whatever you need when you need it. (Like the Stanley thermos that keeps hot things hot and cold things cold – how do it know?) Here’s your link to the holiday sale: Mulberry Silk Sale. Happy Shopping!

Hyalo GYN vaginal moisturizer was recently spotlighted on our blog. If you read that post, you know how highly I think of this. My hubby applauds it too. The Hyalo GYN folks are now offering a discount code for Menopause Goddess Blog readers: visit their site, enter HYALODeal5 at checkout on www.hyalogyn.com and receive $5 off a full order. Have a romantic holiday this year.

Cool-jams wicking sleepwear has a cool new product that I can’t wait to try:  wicking smart panties that are supposed to be the most comfy panties ever. They are also  offering free shipping through December 31, 2012 and a free gift with purchase when they gift wrap your order. Visit Cool-jams.com to order and/or  learn more.

So finish your shopping for girlfriends of a certain vintage with a few well placed mouse clicks, pour a glass of your favorite libation, curl up with a good book or movie, and toast yourself on a job well done.

 

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Cool Off With Menopause Aid: The Hot Flash Pillow

Snowy Bells © lynette sheppard

Whew. I just “finished” my semi-annual migration from Tahoe to Hawaii. When I left Tahoe it was a chilly 32 degrees – ideal for a Menopause Goddess. Now I’m back in the land of eternal summer and while I am not flashing, I am generally pretty freaking hot.

Thanks to my new friend, Nancy Peardon, I’m acclimating nicely. Nancy sent me her wonderful creation, the Hot Flash Pillow.

You just throw it in the freezer, take it out a little later, place it around your neck, and Ahhhhhhhh. Blissful comfort. I am not longer thermically challenged.

I remember Menopause Goddess friends of mine who used bags of frozen peas and frozen chicken breasts to cool down. True stories. The Hot Flash Pillow not only lasts longer, it’s pretty. And you don’t have to cook it or refreeze it later. I know, you wonder why someone didn’t create it sooner. Doesn’t matter, it’s here now.

So say good-bye to night sweat discomfort, overheated insomnia, and hot flash hell. And congratulate yourself on choosing a remedy that delivers relief with no side effects. Check it out on the Hot Flash Pillow website.

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Celebrate World Menopause Day with Natural Hot Flash Relief – and a Giveaway!

Up up and away © lynette sheppard

It’s World Menopause Day (yes, I know that’s every day for many of us.) Still, we are delighted that consciousness is being raised. With that in mind, please enjoy this guest blog by Rebecca Hulem, certified menopause clinician, widely known as “The Menopause Expert”.

The International Menopause Society, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, has designated today, October 18, as World Menopause Day. While there are a variety of symptoms associated with the onset of “the change,” one of the most common, negative symptoms women experience are hot flashes. Those exasperating hot flashes!

There are a variety of options for overcoming unpleasant hot flashes. While each woman can offer advice on relief, I’ve found that different treatments work for different women. But, one common ground many women find in their treatment plans is that we are looking for natural solutions. Natural remedies typically involve plants or habitual lifestyle changes that help alleviate hot flashes.

In honor of World Menopause Day, take a moment to make sure you’re aware of these effective options for natural hot flash relief:

Focus on Nutrition – The right kind of diet is full of fruits, vegetables and plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils, legumes and soy. For some women, certain foods trigger hot flashes. Common triggers include coffee, spicy foods or alcohol. I recommend avoiding caffeine or alcohol within three hours of bedtime to decrease the likelihood of night sweats interrupting sleep.

Exercise Regularly – Exercise has been shown to reduce hot flashes as well as a host of other menopause-related issues women face, including sleep disturbances. However, to reap the full benefits, it’s important to incorporate a variety of techniques including aerobic, weight-bearing, strength training and relaxation exercises like yoga.

Take a Supplement based on Nature – Supplements containing soy isoflavones rich in genistein, naturally-occurring compounds with a chemical structure similar to estrogen, have been scientifically proven to reduce the frequency and severity of menopausal hot flashes by approximately 20 to 30 percent. To make sure the supplement contains the right amount of soy isoflavones, just look for the green NovaSoy® brand leaf on the labels of over-the-counter supplements widely found in drug, grocery, and health & nutrition stores.

Nova Soy Shopping

Deflate Stress with Therapy – It’s been proven that lowering stress levels helps decrease menopausal hot flashes. There are many ways to alleviate stress, such as deep breathing, meditation and yoga exercises. Some women are turning to more creative therapies such as hypnotherapy, herbal therapy and aromatherapy.

It’s important to remember, though, that you should still consult your health care provider if you are using nature’s remedies. Discuss your symptoms, treatment plan and how it may impact your overall health.
Interested in discussing hot flash relief and your menopause journey with other women going through the same experience? Join the NovaSoy Facebook community!

Discussion topics include exercise inspirations, healthy recipes, and menopause blogs, videos and cartoons. There’s also an interactive symptom checker to let you know if you’re experiencing menopause. And if that’s not enough, you have until Noon CT Today (10/18/12) to enter to win a copy of my CD: 101 Most Frequently Asked Questions about Menopause! To enter, simply fill out this form.

As the saying goes, it truly is all about the journey. Let’s learn a little, share a little and experience the natural transition of menopause together.

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Oh Libido, Where Art Thou?

Redwall Cavern and Dories © lynette sheppard


Hi there Goddesses. I just got back from a long, glorious trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. And yes, there were a number of menopausal goddesses on the trip. You can imagine that the conversation turned to the Big M, now and again. We all fared wonderfully on our trip with Grand Canyon Dories. A big shout out to my webmaster, Bill, who posted the blogs in my absence, and graced us with his photos.

Upon returning home, I jumped right into our annual Menopause Goddess gathering – and we all agree that it was the best one yet. I’ll be debriefing in further blog posts – just have to digest it all. One of our perennial topics is libido or the lack thereof. Many of us who see the worst of menopause in our rear view mirror find that our libido returned. Somewhat. I have to say that unbridled lust seems to be a thing of the past. If Brad Pitt showed up naked at the front door, well, I’d definitely take pix, but otherwise? Too much trouble. Just sayin’…

Naturally, we want to be intimate with our spouses or significant others. That’s part of a life we’ve built together. Still, we may long (together) for the days when libido ruled.

That’s why I just LOVE Celia Ramsay’s music video “Lament”. Check it out:

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