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Beyond Hesitancy: A Midlife Leap of Faith To the Unknown

Sand and Sea © lynette sheppard

Sand and Sea © lynette sheppard

Sirena Pellarolo shares an inspiring story of how to create a vibrant Second Adulthood in this wonderful guest post. Enjoy!

Beyond Hesitancy: A Midlife Leap of Faith To the Unknown

Guest Post by Sirena Pellarolo, Ph.D.

“Over and over I’ve watched peri-menopausal symptoms resolve in women who’ve had the courage to negotiate the rapids of their midlife transitions consciously and in an empowered way in which they finally give their own needs high priority” (my emphasis).

Christiane Northrup, M.D., The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health During the Change. New York: Bantam Books, 104

I’m finally rocked by the magic murmur of the Ocean. It’s soothing and sometimes haunting. I’ve been yearning to live by the ocean for decades, and I always thought it would be impossible. Who would have thought the solution was right in front of my very nose? I just needed to change my perception and open up to the possibilities. As an appointed Sirena, I knew that my Oceanic Mother Iemanjá wanted me close to her healing waters. Now I am, and I feel that each day that I spend in her presence, I’m closer to my own core, my aquatic essence. It took me courage to push the hesitancy aside and just do it.

The story I’m sharing is an exemplary tale of how we can make positive and self-supportive changes at midlife. By telling my story, I wish to convey to other women that it’s safe to listen to our own intuition and follow our deepest dreams. As midlife women, we’ve lived too long making sure that those around us had everything they needed, be they family members, co-workers or bosses. It’s our time now, time to pay attention and listen when our soul beckons us to release more life, be more of who we really are without apologies. The more we do it, the closer we’ll be to our own self-expression and fulfillment.

Take my case. I spent a whole lifetime of obligations as a single mom. Strayed away from my own artistic, mystical inclinations when I migrated to the US with my family of two baby daughters and an artistic husband who refused to give up his own art no matter what happened. Although what I am going to share was probably a biased perception, at that time I felt that I was the one who had the sole responsibility to anchor my focus on the day-to-day survival of the family. I created a life crisscrossed with duties, and although I did pursue a career that was close to my heart, the freedom and creativity that I craved became repressed and acted out in ways that –I see now–, could have been avoided by just letting out some steam and addressing the longings. Too much rational work as an academic thwarted my poetic nature until I hit peri-menopause at forty-five, and it then became unavoidable to shed the masks I had donned to perform the victim role that didn’t fit me anymore.

In a recently completed chapter titled “The Masquerade is Over: Shedding Masks at Midlife,” included in the collection Menopause Mavens, from Mayhem to Mastery, I recall the incredible transformation that I underwent fifteen years ago: the opening of the path that has brought me where I stand right now. Prompted by a series of psychic upheavals and deeply symbolic events, I ended up renaming myself and changing the course of my life forever by simply acknowledging my deepest desires. However, looking back at that transformation, in the mentioned piece I acknowledge that I wasn’t able then to fully “embody the greatness of la Sirena,” as I did not dare to “cross completely the threshold” that separated the old version of myself with my magnificence.

In her comments, the editor of the anthology addresses my hesitancy, “this feels like your next book topic – how to fully embody the new you and releas[e] the hesitancy…. how to explore what the blocks [we]re, [in order] to really embodying her.” I truly appreciate Jane’s feedback for it propelled me to start working on a book guided by my own process of identifying and overcoming my inner fears. In turn, I use this acquired self-knowledge to guide women who have been holding on for too long to old limiting belief systems and behaviors and discover at midlife that they can feel happy, creative and fulfilled.

After my peri-menopausal wake up call, I slowly but surely started to pay attention to the stirrings of my soul and allowing my intuition to move me, tentatively at the beginning, with more courage and heart in recent years. At fifty-five I underwent another turning point when I retired from my position as a professor to pursue my passion and calling as a healer. But the real pivot happened in the past six months, during the last of a five-year transition from full employment to retirement, as I was building my practice as a certified Holistic Health Coach. I plunged into the revamping of myself by listening closely to my yearnings towards service, as I knew I had so much to offer other women by just sharing what I had learnt in my own healing experience.

During those five years, I had consciously embarked in the process of stripping myself of the accoutrements of my old profession, by deepening my spiritual practices and learning everything I could about how to become a heart-centered health practitioner. I knew that this last year of my semi-retirement, was going to be crucial to catapult myself into my new career. Interestingly, several external events inspired me to take a radical leap of faith toward the unknown.

My younger daughter Violeta and her husband decided to leave Los Angeles and move back to Boston, where Andrew and his family are originally from. They were also expecting a baby, my first grandchild! In my various visits with them–and more intensely when BB James was born in July–, it became very clear to me that I had to move out of Los Angeles and start a new life elsewhere. I didn’t know where, but it became crystal clear that I had to let go of a city that had ran its course, and de-clutter my life from old stuff that didn’t serve me anymore.

“I renounce everything to have it all” became the theme for this process of letting go. The admonition haunted me, I repeated it as a mantra, and its meaning helped me move forward. I breathed it, I prayed it, I dreamt it. As soon as its profound meaning became flesh and I stood in the power of that calling, I willingly started selling or tossing everything that I felt was cluttering my life. The more I got rid of, the freer I became. I was feeling lighter and ready to tackle the next stage of my life with a clean slate.

This was the time when my older daughter, Paloma–who had been living with me and was the original instigator of this process of decluttering–, decided to leave Los Angeles too. Wow! I was alone now… Why would I stay in this city past December, when I would be fully retired? It was a perfect opportunity to let go of a place and a lifestyle that had had me running around trying to be productive, spinning my wheels to provide for others and really slow down, catch my breath and recoup all those dreams I had put in the back burner twenty-five years before, like writing and traveling.

These past six months have been the most liberating of my life, as I got rid of things, situations and places that were imbued with the clingy energy of self-limitation and frustration. As I released, I was making space for the new to sweep me up ad move me forward.

In my need to simplify my life and focus 100% on my healing practice, the calling for travelling and going back to the simplicity of Latin America, where I’m originally from, started to haunt me. I wanted to visit my aging mom in Buenos Aires, and spend time in my beloved surfers’ beach of Santa Teresa in Costa Rica.

In mid December, after I posted the grades of my last classes, cleaned up my office at school and sent the 30 day notice to vacate the rental place I had lived in for the past five years, I still didn’t know where I’d go come mid January. However, I was certain I’d receive guidance and stayed in trust that the right place would reveal itself in due time.

Sure enough, one morning in meditation I got a download to reach out to an old friend who had been my grad school classmate from the early 90s, and ask him if he had a room available in his beautiful ocean front home in Baja California. I knew this was a long shot, because my friend is very private and really cherishes his aloneness and is content sharing his ample home with his four cats. In addition to that, he rarely checks his email and doesn’t have a cellphone. Very difficult to get in touch with him!

By the beginning of January, I still hadn’t heard back from him and already assumed that my request had not been well received. Until one day I finally got an apologetic email about the delayed response, where he assured me of his delight to have me share his home with him. I was elated at this and speeded up the process of packing up, storing and getting rid of my last belongings.

As I look back, I really don’t know how I did it, how I found the courage, determination, patience and persistence to go through this protracted process of letting go and trusting the intelligence of the Universe in the process of moving towards my next stage in life. But the fact is I did. Now that I’m settled in this beautiful home, facing my beloved ocean, allowing myself to be rocked to sleep by its continuous cadence, I look back and take stock of this experience that can serve as an example of how to change around our lives at midlife.

Sirena Pellarolo, Ph.D.
Midlife Midwife and Holistic Healer
Co-author of Menopause Mavens: Master the Mystery of Menopause
www.sirenapellarolo.com

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Do Your Clothes Reflect Who You Are?

© meri walker

© meri walker

In my closet are a number of outdated outfits that I don’t wear, that take up space, that I’m saving “in case”. In case of what? That I might go back to speaking to businesses sometime? That the beloved relative who shares not one iota of my taste bought and I might wear just for him/her one day? That I might lose the 10 (okay 15) extra pounds and squeeze back into it even though I have no place to wear it? Every day I look in my closet, hoping for the intestinal fortitude to  get rid of all the clothes that are not reflecting “me” right now.

One of my favorite iPhone artists, Meri Walker, posted a fabulous piece on Facebook and the Joy of iPhoneography website. It was like she was talking right to me. She has given me permission to post it here as a guest post. The photo is hers as well.

Read it – you won’t be sorry. I swear this week, my closet will be purged of clothes that don’t suit that woman I am today.

“I Get That Some of You Just Don’t Get Me” She Said. © 2016, Meri Aaron Walker, iPhoneArtGirl, Talent, OR. All rights reserved.)

In response to my report yesterday on Facebook that my latest “creative action” has been a deep exploration of my clothes closets, a talented mobile artist, Kate Zari Roberts, wrote that every time she opens her closet, she wonders who bought those clothes.

I replied to Kate that I’ve been doing that for years! Like five years. Until last week.

Since moving to Talent, I have been wearing a very few things, mostly clothes I folded up and stacked on the trunk at the foot of my bed or hung on hangers in the door to the bathroom that I’ve been using as an art materials and medical supply storeroom instead of a master bathroom. Quirky wierd, I know. And it’s been my best effort to date. It was way too confusing after I bought a house in a tiny town where none of my big-city clothes made sense anymore. And besides, I started calling myself up on my iPhone all the time, making some crazy new kind of art. I could do that in jeans or my bathrobe. And I have been.

But something flipped in me last week. As I watched President Obama embrace Hillary Clinton on the stage at the DNC, and then heard her make a straight-up acceptance speech as the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, it felt like a San Andreas fault moved deep in me. And it moved a lot.

Not because I’ve been a long-time Hillary fan. In fact, quite the contrary. I have had sincere respect for her as a PUBLIC public servant who has remained focused on improving the welfare of women and children for over three decades. I have been inspired by her persistence and resilience in the face of relentless attacks by the Congress and the press and conservative political activist groups while she proposed new ways of doing things that had stopped working. I haven’t agreed with everything Hillary has done any more than I’ve agreed with everything any politician has done, including our current President, who I can’t help but love and honor at the same time that I’ve watched him take some executive actions that I believe are harmful.

But, something deep flipped when I heard Hillary say with simplicity and grace, “I get that some of you just don’t get me,” and then go on to make the case for her desire and competence to be President of the United States. That line, and the tone of voice with which she made the reset of her remarks, allowed me to welcome – in myself – who I have become as a woman while I’ve been treated like a third of a person for 66 years.

The immersion in my own creative process with my mobile devices for the last five years has reorganized my psyche. It hasn’t changed who I am but it has allowed me lightning fast access to capture, shape and share my personal, creative responses to my actual life experiences anytime and anywhere with a lot of people. Powerful, portable, affordable mobile tools – and the ease with which I can freely express my thoughts and feelings – have reprogrammed my “freelance shooter” mind to attend, full-time, to my own experience. After a lifetime of working “for the man,” these days I focus my attention on telling my own stories – with images and a few words – instead of hunting for evidence for others’ stories.

On this trip with my phone – from tiny Talent – whatever I was wearing has been fine as long as it had pockets and allowed me to move freely. This cut out almost all the big-city clothes I brought with me from Texas after a lifetime as a “stay-at-home Mom,” “working professional woman,” “female community activist,” “tango and ecstatic dancer,” “mid-life jock,” “nature lover,” “culture diva,” “sexually liberated feminist,” “printmaker,” and on and on.

What I had accumulated in my closets were either trophies or fresh, unworn armor – “fabric guns” – that had protected my tender woman’s heart against the blazing, unconscious, systemic misogyny that I have stepped into every time I left home to do something that mattered to me. I collected clothes the way men collect guns – to help me get what I needed for myself and my children and to keep the predators at bay – because I’m not a subservient woman.

And I’m far from the only American woman who has lived – or still lives – this way. There are all kinds of women in the world, not just cookie-bakers.

When Hillary simply acknowledged with grace and humor that some men – and women, too – “just don’t get her” because she’s wants to play big in the world, she shifted my understanding of how to hold the resistance I’ve felt about being an American woman for 66 years.

I realize that’s a funny thing for an American woman to say who’s had a big education, a big career and been a life-long feminist activist. And it’s simply true.

In the days since I watched Hillary speak, I found myself opening the closets, pulling out everything, and physically re-experiencing what each of my different fabric guns has done for me. Living in the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” when you’re a woman, you’re always, always, always in danger – and more so if you’re a woman who resists being treated like a third of a person. I started sewing my own clothes when I was seven and I have loved creating and collecting clothing that would help me take care of myself as a woman. I put the sewing machine away when I went back to graduate school. But it’s out now on the kitchen table where I’m looking forward to redesigning some pieces I love that still have happy-potential.

At this point, there are piles everywhere like the one in the picture above. They’re going to consignment shops and battered women’s shelters because I don’t need them and there are plenty of women who do.

I’ve been laughing my head off, putting what I am keeping together in brand-new ways to cover my now aging, sagging flesh in fun ways. I’ve been shrieking aloud when I come up with a new outfit from old pieces, delighted that I have had all the experiences I’ve had, and that I no longer need to keep clothes as trophies of battles won – or lost – or armaments I’m stockpiling to defend me in years to come.

The jig is up: we’re women. And there are a lot of people who just don’t get us. Dressing for success – so we look good enough to eat (attack) – is just too much goddamn trouble. And it cuts out the fun of being a woman who loves clothing because it’s beautiful.

Regardless of whether or not I agree with her every time, Hillary Clinton has made herself a model of strength as an American woman: a woman satisfied to continue her quest to build a safer and healthier world for women and children – even when so many “just don’t get her.”

Well, me too – I’m with her. Wrinkles and saggy arms and asses and all.

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What A Vibrant Second Act Looks Like

Whatevah © lynette sheppard

Whatevah © lynette sheppard

We drove up to the house and parked. A diminutive red-haired pixie burst out from the front door, multicolored tattoos scrolling down both arms. “This can’t be right,” I thought. “This woman can’t be a grandmother.”

It was our first time using Airbnb. The cozy mother-in-law unit looked perfect. I received text messages from our hostess, Linda (not her real name). She gave me pertinent details and asked why we were coming to Ventura. When I mentioned grandchild, she responded that she too was crazy about her grandchildren.

As Linda neared me, I realized that she indeed was a Menopause Goddess. She flung her arms around me in welcome and ushered us into the charming hideaway. A bottle of wine and several Keurig coffee pods decorated the counter. A woman after my own heart.

Linda  is a nurse midwife who runs two other businesses. She is a dynamo, a force to be reckoned with. I don’t doubt that she jumps out of bed every morning excited to greet the day. She has created her vibrant Second Act.

Menopause Goddess Sandy was in a terrible accident last year while commuting to work. Her convalescence gave her time to assess her life choices. She retired from her job and took a different route to Vibrancy. She spends her days walking, reading, and playing with her grandson. For the first time, her days are completely her own. She says she may volunteer or work at a bookstore someday, but for now each day is a perfect jewel to be admired as it is.

Jess and her husband left the tech industry last year. They bought a motor home and traveled the U.S., wandering wherever they wished, whenever they wished. They came back home and got jobs that have nothing to do with tech – she works in the hospitality industry and is loving the fresh start.

Barbara is a member of my writer’s group. She moved to Moloka`i alone last year. Her family was aghast. Why was she moving to a rural island where she knew no one and had no ties? She explains it this way – “This is my Walden Pond. I want to live a life of contemplation in nature.” She writes much of every day and is thriving in her new life.

My point in sharing all these stories is this: there is no one right way to live a vibrant life. All these women are following their hearts into a fulfilling (for them) Second Adulthood. There are as many ways to live vibrantly as there are Menopause Goddesses. And if we don’t know what or how we’d like to create our next steps? Try different ones on for size – if you don’t like it, go to Plan B. Or C. We don’t get demerits for trying more than one approach. Or for constantly revising it as we go along. Whatevah!

Share with us your vision of a vibrant Second Act, even if you are not quite ready to fully live into it. Sharing our dreams makes them more real to us. And after all, that’s what this site is about: Women sharing wisdom.

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What’s Important to Post-Menopausal Goddesses?

Arch of Celebration © lynette sheppard

Arch of Celebration © lynette sheppard

OK, wow. As of this post, I am officially no longer the go-to Menopause person at Menopause Goddess Blog. I’m thrilled that Ashley Ross has taken over that position. From now on, I’m the Second Adulthood blogger here. Ashley and I will alternate weeks posting most of the time, subject to change if one of us is on vacation, overwhelmed, etc.

Now that menopause is (mostly) in my rear view mirror, I find myself contemplating how I might spend the rest of my life’s time. Not that we didn’t spend hours discussing how we might best live a vibrant Second Adulthood during our Menopause Goddess gatherings – we surely did! It’s never too early to start looking ahead and crafting a vision for the future.

Myriad thoughts and ideas swim through my head. Crafting a vision is important, but so are the changes brought about by aging, coping with elderly parents, dealing with loss. So for this first blog post, I’d like to ask what you are most interested in reading and sharing.

Because that blank piece of paper can sometimes make the mind go blank (happens to me all the time), I’ll list some potential topics. Add others as you think of them. You can post them here in the comments section or email me at lynette@9points.com. That will let me know where you’d like the conversation to start.

Potential Topics
Retirement (or being unable to retire)
Finding a passion
Creating a new relationship (with either a new person or your partner of many years)
Exploring creativity
Caregiving
Health issues
Staying / becoming healthy
Looking good
Aging
Coping with change
Travel
Redefining yourself
Legacy and giving back
Grandchildren
Me time
Nurturing self
Nurturing others
Learning

These are just a few ideas – let me know which of these is most important or intriguing to you or send me topics of your own. I’m excited about experiencing this new adventure together. Again, my direct email is lynette@9points.com  Can’t wait to hear from my sister goddesses, menopausal and post-menopausal.

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Menopause Goddesses: Be Beautiful Naturally

Love Potion #9 © lynette sheppard

Love Potion #9 © lynette sheppard

Lisa Liguori of Simple Beauty Minerals contacted me a couple of months ago to let me know about her company’s mineral makeup and moisturizers. Actually, Simple Beauty has many natural products for face, eyes, lips, and skincare.

She sent me a few samples to try. After two months of using them, all I can say is wow. And it is time for me to reorder. And I need to try some of the other products.

Years ago when I was a sweet young thing, I tried a mineral makeup (powder and blusher) and I liked it fine, as best I can remember. But I went right back to the department store brand I had used previously – probably for no other reason than I happened to be in Macy’s.

These days, I’m a lot pickier about what I use, probably because it matters so much as I age. I don’t want estrogenic substances in my makeup or skin care products, my skin is more sensitive than it was when I was younger, and living in the High Sierra half the year means that all the moisture in my skin is sucked out by the dry mountain air.

Naturally, I was intrigued by the natural minerals and lack of allergens in the Simple Beauty line. I tried three products: a moisturizer, Whipped Olive Oil Creme; a powder, Silk Splendor Finish; and a blusher, Warm Pink Shimmer Cheek Color.

I really like the makeup. It has sun protection, naturally occurring from the minerals. It’s waterproof and anti-acne. It feels so light that it is not like wearing makeup and it looks great.

I LOVE the whipped Olive Oil creme moisturizer. I will admit to using a fairly pricy department store brand prior to this, but I swear that this is better, at a fraction of the price. (I was always a little nervous about what might be in the fancy (ok Lancome) jar, but because I did not want to turn into an apple doll, I kept using it.)

Oh, one more very cool thing – their model photos are NOT photoshopped. Truth in beauty – and I so appreciate that.

You can be sure that I will be trying other products by Simple Beauty. And Lisa was so sweet that she sent me a link for a 20% off coupon for us Menopause Goddesses. Check out their website for more info and testimonials.

Try Before You Buy – and get a 20% off coupon right here: https://simplebeautyminerals.com/mineral-makeup-newsletter-2/

 

simple beauty samples

You know, your self esteem is important to us! No photo editing on our models. https://simplebeautyminerals.com/real-beauty/

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Older Ladies Rock!

Donnalou Stevens

Donnalou Stevens

Donnalou Stevens is a true Menopause Goddess. Her hilarious midlife song Older Ladies has gone viral. Watch it and you’ll see why. This may just be our new anthem as we journey our Second Adulthood. Enjoy. And you can find more on her website at donnaloustevens.com

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Feeling Beautiful in 2014

Bird of Paradise Plumage © lynette sheppard

Bird of Paradise Plumage © lynette sheppard

Sarah from the Daxon blog across the pond shares this infographic citing 15 ways to find ourselves looking fabulous. The best part? It doesn’t involve fancy creams, sadistic workout regimens or cosmetic surgery.

Web

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Medical Information in Your Smartphone? Yep, There’s An App For That!

ipad iphone App RX

ipad iphone App RX

If you are like me, you don’t lug your computer everywhere you go, but you always have your smartphone readily available. And too, if you are like me, you may have questions about anything from diet regimens to treating symptoms while traveling. Now, there’s an app for that – actually several apps. HealthTap has just released their newest venture for taking charge of our own health and well being:  AppRX.  Here’s what is so great:

“Download Two and Call Me In the Morning”: Doctors Review and Recommend the Best Health Apps with HealthTap’s all new AppRx

Revolutionizing app discovery in health and wellness, HealthTap brings its vibrant network of top doctors to rate and “prescribe” mobile apps.

Palo Alto, CA – May, 2013 – HealthTap, the premier mobile health platform that connects people with a network of more than 40,000 top doctors, today unveiled AppRx, the only place for consumers to discover the best and most useful health apps recommended by top doctors.

With more than 40,000 health and wellness mobile apps on the market, and no easy way to determine whom to trust, people looking for help are left alone to navigate a thicket of apps that are of questionable relevance and quality. HealthTap’s all new AppRx alleviates the pain of health app discovery by making it easy for anyone to select doctor recommended apps in 30 different health and wellness categories.

App Rx Categories on Health Tap

App Rx Categories on Health Tap

“There are more than 600 different diabetes apps, 231 different children’s health apps, and more than 105 period trackers with new ones popping up almost every day! With only user reviews in app stores, it’s very difficult and time consuming to assess the quality and personal fit, let alone discern which apps are best suited for specific health issues,” said Dr. David Wyatt, a Family Practitioner from Atlanta, GA. “Together with tens of thousands of my colleagues, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to objectively and professionally rate the quality, reliability and helpfulness of the best apps on all platforms. We’re committed to putting people’s mind at ease with the knowledge that their selection is ‘just what the doctor recommends.’ ”

“AppRx is the latest step in making HealthTap everyone’s one-stop mobile health hub. Each month, millions turn to HealthTap to get the best answers to their health questions and valuable tips from top doctors,” says Ron Gutman, HealthTap Founder and CEO. “Now everyone can also learn from our doctors which apps can help them stay healthy, or improve their health and well being. Connecting consumers with the right apps will also help realize more of the cost-savings potential of data apps in healthcare, which McKinsey & Company estimates at $300 billion. We’re delighted to help consumers and our healthcare system save money, while  continuing to enhance people’s health and save lives every day.”

About HealthTap
HealthTap is the best way to connect with the most trusted health information and doctors. With top-rated web and mobile apps, HealthTap offers immediate and free access to relevant, reliable and trusted health answers from a network of more than 40,000 U.S.-licensed doctors. Sign up today and download HealthTap’s free apps for iPhone, iPad or Android at www.healthtap.com.

Htap2

Stay tuned for Part III of Creating Your Own Menopause Goddess Group in the next post. I didn’t want to wait on letting you all know about the launch of this cool new tool.

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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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Go Coconuts This Holiday Season!

Coconut Dreams © lynette sheppard

Enjoy this guest post from down under authored by fabulous health blogger Justine Vari. I personally love coconut oil and not just because I live in Hawaii. I knew it was healthy but now I know why!

The benefits of using coconut oil for cooking (and you may lose a few kilos on the side)

If you are looking to try something different in the kitchen, give coconut oil a go!  It’s great to cook with because it has excellent flavour, a stable chemical structure and many health benefits.

The coconut tree or palm has been referred to as the Tree of Life in many tropical countries because of its ability to heal many common ailments, from influenza and high cholesterol to diabetes and obesity.  Coconut oil’s anti-viral properties have been known to provide relief for HIV patients and people suffering from herpes, and its anti-bacterial properties ease throat infections and candida. Also, the saturated fats in coconut oil are supportive of kidney function and maintaining thyroid function, which helps to prevent symptoms of hypothyroidism such as tiredness and weight gain.

Coconut oil is the highest source of saturated fats and contains the most medium-chain fats in any vegetarian food source.  Lauric acid makes up 50% of coconut oil and is essential in maintaining the body’s immune system.  The only other source of lauric acid that can compare to coconut oil is breast milk.  Other components of coconut oil include myristic acid, which is used by the body to stabilise proteins used in the immune system, and anti- viral capric acid.

Coconut Oil

Despite the propaganda from the last few decades, including both saturated and unsaturated fat in your diet is essential for health and can promote weight loss.  The ‘bad’ fat that you need to watch out for is trans-fatty acids, which is a refined form of fat that has been altered by hydrogenation.  This process changes the structure of liquid vegetable oils to make them solid at room temperature, like shortening for cooking and margarine.  Trans fats are damaging in two ways – they raise the levels of bad LDL, which increase the risk of heart disease, and decrease the levels of protective HDL cholesterol.

Coconut oil is beneficial to health because its fats provide an important energy source for the body and helps to maintain the structure and fluidity of cell membranes.  Short and medium chain fatty acids have a lower caloric value and are easily broken down by the body for absorption.  Because of this accessibility to energy, it raises the metabolism of the body and provides a sense of satiety after eating.

Fats also facilitate the absorption of various vitamins and minerals such as calcium and magnesium, and help regulate blood sugar levels to fight diabetes.  Coconut oil’s anti-inflammatory properties are great for arthritis and it also contains antioxidants that protect the body from oxidative stress.

Because of coconut oil’s high saturated fat content, it has a stable chemical composition and is resistant to high heats and will only oxidise at 177⁰C, making it great for cooking.  Coconut oil is easy to digest and soothes stomach and digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.  Replace your regular oil with coconut oil when cooking stir fries, meat and baked goods.

Coconut oil is also great as a moisturiser for the skin and hair and has been used medicinally for burns and constipation.

Justine Vari is an enthusiastic researcher and writer of health and fitness, with a keen interest in whole foods and optimum nutrition. She hopes to one day be a part of the movement that eradicates lifestyle-related diseases. For more posts from Justine please visit http://www.health.com.au/blog.

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