Menopause is getting much more attention in the press than it used to, once upon a time it was a subject to be kept quiet and never to be acknowledged in public. But slowly opinion is changing and women are more prepared to speak out. This means that there is now more information available to help us navigate, what can for some women, be quite a challenging phase in their lives.
Last week I attended a fabulous workshop - Wellness in the Menopause. This half day programme was put together by three inspiring women:
Janet Padfield from Apples to Zinc Nutritional Therapy
Chloe Leibowitz - Inspiring Women (Life Coach)
Jen Roach from Fearless in the Kitchen
They came together to provide a unique combination of support and advice during the menopause - based on nutrition and lifestyle.
This half day workshop took place at Jen's pretty cottage in the Berkshire countryside (see my post about her cookery classes here), it included a presentation from Janet and Chloe and a practical cookery demonstration from Jen finishing with a delicious healthy lunch and a chance to chat to everyone.
The focus of the day was very much on natural solutions and how we can help ourselves through nutrition and lifestyle. Janet (Nutrition and the Menopause) very clearly explained the processes, the myths and the symptoms (of which there are many and we are all different). Stress plays a huge part in how our body copes during menopause and a very good place to start with managing our symptoms is to address the stress. Once our ovaries stop producing oestrogen the adrenal glands take over and produce oestrogen (although not as much) so it is important that they are working really well and can take on this job efficiently.
The key areas we need to address are:
Stress and sleep
Environment and toxins
Next Chloe gave a presentation on mindset and lifestyle during the menopause. Unfortunately we are all guilty of focusing on the negatives rather than the positives and Chloe encouraged us to look at it differently and explained how different cultures view menopause. How a woman perceives menopause in her mind and how her culture views aging can have a huge impact on how a woman feels mentally and physically during this time. I was interested to learn that in our Western culture menopause is viewed negatively but in many cultures it is seen as a positive thing and often these women report far less physical symptoms. Certainly something to think about.
Chloe shared some really practical ideas on how to manage our lifestyles and create a positive mindset with suggestions for how to embrace the changes that our bodies are going through.
Finally, Jen from Fearless in the Kitchen gave us a cookery demonstration, sharing how to make some nutritious recipes that will really help our health during menopause.
Gut health is really important and Jen showed us how to make Sauerkraut - fermented food is really good for our guts and we should be including it in our daily diets. Jen runs a workshop that is dedicated just to fermented foods and gut health. This recipe was so easy! I will definitely be trying it at home. And no the stuff you can buy in jars at the supermarket is not the same!
Jen also demonstrated a pancake recipe using yellow pea flour which is really high in protein (and we should eat lots of good quality protein). I've made these at home and they are excellent. And a sunflower seed ricotta served with high protein seed crackers - this was absolutely delicious!
We enjoyed a few snacks too - we tried the sunflower seed ricotta, some apple and almond cake and tasted the pancakes.
Jen gave us healthy hints and tips throughout the demonstration and shared lots of ideas to make life easy!
Then we enjoyed a delicious lunch all made by Jen.
I honestly can't recommend this workshop enough. It really was enjoyable and enlightening. Janet, Chloe and Jen did a fantastic job at sharing their knowledge and offering non-HRT solutions! The menopause is a natural process that our bodies go through, it isn't a medical condition and it is possible to treat the symptoms without resorting to medical intervention. Of course that isn't always the case and everyone is different but nutrition and lifestyle is absolutely worth looking at first.
I have had a few messages from women who follow my blog saying they feel they have nowhere to go for support, unfortunately most GP's are not trained to help with the menopause and getting a referral to a specialist isn't always easy. If you do live near Berkshire then do get in contact with Janet, Chloe or Jen and sign up for their next workshop - they are hoping to run it again on a Saturday in March.
I would also point you in the direction of this excellent blog post from Dr Chatterjee - have you seen his programme Doctor in the House on TV? Dr Chatterjee is championing lifestyle changes to common medical problems and has written a very good summary about how to help yourself during menopause - take a read here.
The day was made even more fun by the fact that I met a lovely lady who has been following me on Instagram for a while now and when she read about my cookery day with Jen she decided to come along to this workshop - Jackie it was really great to meet you!
I left full of inspiration to cook a bit more and work on more ways to help myself.
And we got some lovely goody bags! Samples from Elemis courtesy of Sunrise in Marlow, a jar of Balsamic Fig Conserve made by Jen, primal pantry bars to try, herbal tea and lots of vouchers and special offers for follow-up consultations. We also got a copy of the slides from the presentations and lots of recipes from Jen so we can try them out at home.
For more details please visit:
Janet Padfield - Apples to Zinc Nutritional Therapy
Chloe Leibowitz - Inspiring Women
Jen Roach - Fearless in the Kitchen
I'll leave you with my top tips, my 'take-homes' from the day ...
Manage your stress - for every stressful moment in your day make sure you balance it with some me time, some time for recovery, like a hot bath, time to sit with a book, have a massage once a month maybe.
Work some sort of exercise into your routine - it has been proven that weight lifting is one of the best forms of exercise for menopausal symptoms but even just getting out for a 15 minute walk every day is a good place to start and will pay dividends for your health.
Eat well - start small, sprinkle flaxseed on your morning porridge or add it to yoghurt, include fruit or vegetables with every meal, eat more protein, minimise caffeine, sugar and alcohol. Don't overthink it just start incorporating a more nutritious appraoch into your life.
Supplements - there are many supplements that are promoted as good for menopause symptoms but it is best not to self-prescribe, I would suggest asking for advice from a qualified practitioner as there are lots of interactions with other drugs and it is best not to buy cheap - you get what you pay for.
Don't beat yourself up if you are not perfect! Start slowly, introduce a few simple changes and work on changing your habits but we all lead busy stressful lives and it is important to realise that we can't do it all at once. Be kind to yourself.
If you do decide to book onto their next Wellness in Menopause Workshop do let me know and mention where you read about it when you contact one of the ladies!
Last year when I met with my friend who is a stylist she said what was missing in my wardrobe was an animal print scarf. Now I have a scarf obsession and have hundreds but off I went in search of the perfect animal print scarf. I found one in John Lewis, I didn't need to think about it long and it came home with me. I have worn it and worn it and it goes with everything - she was right! Thank you Katherine!
But whenever I wear it and post on Instagram I get asked where it is from. Sadly John Lewis discontinued it and I have struggled to find something similar I can recommend.
But I have scanned the internet for you and I have a few suggestions:
First just to compare, here is mine from John Lewis ... it does work very well with red.
The first one is from Mango, I spotted this when Donna at I won't wear sludge brown featured it on her blog. Now as you can see this is a pretty rubbish image of it! But do click on this link and take a look - Mango Leopard Print Scarf £15.99.
Next up a few from Oliver Bonas. Top is the Brushed Animal Print Scarf £28 then bottom left is the Animal Shimmer Scarf £42 and finally the Leopard Print Scarf £28.
Then this Warehouse one is very good value at £19 and perhaps the closest in colour to mine? Leopard Print Scarf £19.
As you all know I am a really big fan of the online scarf and accessories shop, Sweet-Bea but unfortunately they haven't got quite the right animal print scarf this year but do take a look at their belts! My sister had one on the when we met up last week and was very pleased with it. Plus they have a really good selection of bracelets and cuffs - great ideas for Christmas gifts, do pop over and explore their site!
Hope this gives you a few ideas, let me know if you purchase one! I have been extremely busy these last few weeks running the office for my husband's business but it should all calm down again now and I can get back to blogging! I have a really good blog post planned later in the week, I want to tell you about the Wellness in Menopause Workshop I attended recently.
I'm not a great cook, well I can follow a recipe but I am not very creative or imaginative. I get fed up coming up with ideas to suit the family and to make sure that we all eat a healthy and balanced diet, it really isn't easy, everyone has different tastes. And now they are teenagers, with different timetables too, so that adds in a new problem - who will be in to eat and at what time? If I could afford to employ a full time cook I absolutely would!
I've been wanting to find somewhere for cookery lessons for a while but various google searches hadn't turned up any ideas so it just stayed at the back of my mind. Then a friend recommended Jen at Fearless in the Kitchen and I booked myself onto one of her 'Healthy Eating Main Meals and Snacks' half day workshops.
I hadn't met Jen and I didn't know anyone else attending but off a I went. Jen runs all her cookery workshops from her pretty cottage in rural Berkshire. It was easy to find and I arrived at 10 am, there were three of us attending that day. The kitchen is warm and welcoming and we sat down at the table to meet each other and Jen took us through the recipes she had chosen for that day. We tried some of her 'fermented' snacks and we chatted about healthy eating and gut health. Jen is clearly very knowledgeable and is skilled at communicating ideas and making suggestions to improve your health. She has a passion for food and cooking and loves to share her enthusiasm.
The cottage is set within a beautiful garden and Jen grows a lot of her own fruit and vegetables so I borrowed some garden shoes and we went for a little wander in the garden armed with a basket to pick some fresh produce for our recipes. Sadly it was raining so we were unable to spend as much time in the garden as we would have liked - but I will do that next time!
We returned to the kitchen to start our cooking, lots of chopping and chatting with advice and ideas thrown in. We stopped for a light snack and then later we sampled some of our dishes and other delicious bits that Jen had prepared for us.
We took home two main dishes to enjoy that evening. In fact mine lasted me for two lunches as well and they really were fabulous!
Jen has lots of different workshops available, take a look at her website (details below) or contact Jen if you would like something more tailored or a specific date, she is always happy to accommodate if there is a group of friends interested.
I fancy doing Healthy Baking and Sweet Treats next but then I am also interested in the Fermenting and Preserving day as fermented foods are so good for gut health. There are also workshops on Losing Weight Without Trying and Lose the Sugar.
I'm back at Jen's lovely cottage next week for a Wellness during Menopause Workshop - Jen will be doing a cookery demonstration and she is joined by Chloe Leibowitz - a life coach who inspires women to focus on themselves and Janet Padfield - a nutritionist who is passionate about helping support peoples health in a natural but science based way.
Fearless in the Kitchen
This wasn't my planned post today but having reached the end of my tether yesterday I decided that for my own accountability as well as sharing what I learnt with you, it would be good to post this today.
Sleep. We love it! We feel better for getting lots of it! When we don't sleep well though we feel sick, miserable, fed up and frustrated. And it can affect our health and fat loss - it is just as important, if not more important for fat loss, than calories!
I have a long history with insomnia and each time it gets me it is for a different reason, baby not sleeping through the night, stress, phobia, anxiety to name a few.
Unfortunately though it is very much a modern problem that is causing so many of us to lack quality sleep now. And yet we don't do anything about it. We keep ignoring the problem and hoping tomorrow will be better.
We are addicted to our smart phones (TV or iPad) - modern technology. I talked about going 24 hour phone free a few months ago, unfortunately I have not repeated it often enough - see my post here.
Modern technology emits a blue light and this blue light interrupts our circadian rhythm and ability to produce melatonin, the essential hormone needed to make us feel sleepy.
I'm not going to delve into the science bit, it is readily available online but I am going to share with you my action plan and the advice I have been given both from doing The 8020 Lifestyle Plan and from speaking to a sleep expert yesterday.
I've had a difficult summer with stress and it hasn't helped my ability to sleep properly, I either can't get off to sleep (probably due to the blue light of smart phone addiction) or I wake up in the middle of the night with a hot flush/night sweat (due to peri-menopause). The result is I'm exhausted.
It does make my insomnia harder to solve due to having Sleep Initiation Insomnia and Sleep Maintenance Insomnia but first of all I am going to deal with the Sleep Initiation:
I've got into bad habits and here is my action plan for change:
My plan is to have a wind-down time and be more strict about keeping to it. So no mindless scrolling on social media after about 8 pm, then I shall watch some TV downstairs in the lounge, have a relaxing hot bath then read a book. The experts suggest that you should not even read in bed. Bed is for sleep and sex. I am not sure I am keen to give up reading in bed so I am going to experiment with that one and see how I get on.
Even light-bulbs emit a certain amount of blue light although a bedside table lamp is still far preferable to the blue light from our devices. There are alternative light-bulbs and a quick google search turned up this article but so far I've not found a UK company that sell this type of bulb - more research needed!
I am told that it will take 2 -3 weeks of sticking to this new routine to break my old habits and see results. If I can tackle the Sleep Initiation then I can then look at the Sleep Maintenance around my peri-menopausal symptoms, but one thing at a time!
There is some more great advice at The Sleep Council, or take a look at the 8020 Lifestyle Plan where you will learn about nutrition, mindset and movement and sleep has it's own chapter on the weekly course, or I spoke to an expert at The Sleep Disorders Clinic.
Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my fifties, I share fashion, beauty, lifestyle and exercise/nutrition tips to inspire others to be fifty and fab too … join my mailing list below for regular updates and offers. And don’t forget to take a look at my social media pages Facebook and Instagram.