wellness

  • Reduce stress in menopause with a healthy diet

    During menopause and perimenopause, stress is one of our biggest foes. Stress alters your hormones and contributes to all the other menopausal symptoms including weight gain, hot flashes and emotional volatility. To reduce stress in menopause with healthy foods is easy and efective.

    Reduce stress in menopause with a healthy diet

    As you know stress can also make us fat. There are many reasons for this. When we are stressed out, we tend to eat more and eat not so healthy. Some of the foods that stress makes us eat are sweets, alcohol, big meals, Chinese take-out, fried foods, and fatty foods among others. Wine and cocktails are particularly tempting, and with nachos, even better. Those foods may offer temporary comfort, but they are only contributing to creating more stress later on.

    Stress also affects your gut bacteria. Gut bacteria is critically important for your overall health and your weight. The hormone that produces stress affects the gut bacteria and contributes to weight gain, especially in the abdomen.

    Stress is not only emotional, it is also physical. The foods we eats have an effect on cellular stress levels and also affect our emotional wellbeing. When the body doesn’t get enough nutrients, you will feel less energetic, and you may have less concentration and focus. All of this may lead to more stress and create a vicious cycle. Reducing stress in menopause is important and the right foods can help you.

    Reduce Stress with nutrition

    A nutritionally dense meal can help you feel more energetic and lower your stress and anxiety levels. The best way to fight stress is to eat a delicious, healthy, and balanced diet. This “diet” ideally should include all the different food groups.

    Reduce stress in menopause with a healthy diet

    Eating healthy, menopause-friendly foods such as whole grains, leafy vegetables, and proteins is the best way to make sure that your body gets the optimum levels of nutrients to avoid hormonal imbalance. There are a lot of foods that can help us lower stress. These stress reduction foods will help you to calm your mind and energize your body permanently, instead of providing a temporary lift-me-up.

    Best foods to reduce stress in menopause

    Some of the best foods are:

    Chamomile Tea

    The wonderful chamomile is my herb of preference to calm down. Either using its powerful smell with essential oils or drinking it in tea. Chamomile tea has been used for millennia in many cultures. You can drink a cup of chamomile tea before bed to help you sleep better or during the day when you feel stress creeping on you. The essential oil is also great for the same purposes, the oil is mainly used in skincare products to calm the skin because the smell is not particularly pleasant. Similar herbs are lavender and Melissa (lemon balm).

    Chocolate

    You probably knew this already. Chocolate has the power to lift our moods. Chocolate besides being almost seductive is also full of nutrients. When you need something sweet, a small piece of dark chocolate is healthier than most sweets with the exception of fruits. Of course commercial chocolate is loaded with sugar and fats and we can only indulge in moderation.

    There are studies that show that chocolate has flavonols and polyphenols, two very important nutrients. To get more of these nutrients try to pick the darkest chocolate you can. Also look at the label; the fat in the chocolate has to be cocoa butter. Because cocoa butter is expensive, many companies separate the cocoa powder from its natural fat to sell them separately and add an unhealthy, cheaper fat.

    Berries

    Berries are fabulous fruits. They have great flavor, they are full of nutrients and they are naturally low in sugar. When you want something sweet and decadent, berries can be your fruit of choice. They are an easy snack that will help you to avoid unhealthy choices. You can create a parfait by adding blueberries and some yogurt or make a smoothie.

    Berries have high levels of antioxidants that will help you to have better focus and lower stress.

    Oatmeal

    The humble oatmeal is one of the most awesome grains in nutrition. Oats are full of fiber that helps to lower the bad cholesterol. The same fiber will keep you feeling full for long time. In addition oatmeal will help you control sugar cravings because it helps to control the sugar levels in the blood. Oatmeal increases the levels of serotonin in the body; this is the feel-good hormone. All of this will contribute to lower stress levels.

    Green Leafy Vegetables

    Full of nutrients and low in calories, green leafy vegetables are the star in the nutrition world. You can have them in smoothies, salads, sautéed, stir fried, curried, and even make chips with them. They are rich in nutrients that will help you balance your hormones, and therefore, your stress.

    Omega 3 fats

    These wonderful fats are very important for cardiovascular and mental health. They help to control micro-inflammation in the body and in the brain. Omega 3 fatty acids are very important during menopause for hormonal balance and they can also help you be more focused, more productive and happier; all of these will result in lower stress. You can reduce stress in menopause with healthy foods such as these great fats.

    Reduce stress in menopause with a healthy diet

    Food rich in omega 3s include salmon, sardines and other cold water fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and other nuts.

    Fermented foods

    As we said before, the gut bacteria is very important for your mental and physical health. During menopause, your bacteria is affected by lower estrogen levels and this aggravates the menopausal symptoms. By eating some fermented foods you are helping replenish your gut bacteria.

    There are many studies linking gut bacteria to depression and mood swings. It is very important to eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, yogurt, etc..

    Citrus foods

    Citrus fruits are so refreshing and full of vitamins, especially vitamin C. There are some studies indicating that vitamin C can directly help lower stress and anxiety levels and improve your mood.

    Water

    Dehydration brings irritability and lethargy. Drinking enough water is very important to lower stress. If you prefer your water with flavor, you can drink infused waters.

    Foods that make stress worse

    The same way that some foods can help you lower stress, there are also some that will increase stress. We already talked about sugar, but there are many more. In general processed foods, especially ultra-processed foods, are really bad for your gut bacteria and subsequently greatly affect hormonal balance. These foods will suck your energy, make you hungry and lower your concentration levels. This happens because your body does not recognize them and they are full of toxins.

    Ultra-processed foods include most commercial cereals, drinks like sodas, some commercial breads, most commercial snacks, some commercial sauces and condiments, etc. You can reduce stress in menopause with healthy foods.

    Too much coffee can also increase anxiety and stress. Alcohol in general is not healthy; if you drink it, try to limit it.

    Eating to lower your stress

    In order to lower your stress you need to eat the right foods at the right time.

    If you eat breakfast try to include complex carbohydrates such as oats and/or protein and some healthy fats. This type of breakfast will fill you up and give your energy. Avoid high sugar and bad fats.

    If you feel like having a snack, try to eat nuts, fruits especially berries and citrus fruits, yogurt or a small piece of chocolate.

    For lunch and dinner avoid too many refined carbs such as commercial breads, too much pasta, noodles etc. You can eat carbs, including pasta and noodles but they should include healthy proteins and vegetables. Try to eat natural foods and try to include vegetables of different colors.

    Try to make your meals delicious. Healthy and stress-reducing foods don’t mean non-tasty foods. I believe that we have to enjoy our food. Food doesn’t only provide nutrients to the body, it also nurtures our souls. You don’t need to eat in a certain way all the time, you can indulge in foods that are not healthy, but try to eat healthy at least 50% of the time. This will help you to reduce stress in menopause and perimenopause.

    Make your meals fun and eat using all your senses. Take your time to eat and enjoy your meals. And last but not least, try to eat at the same time every day. If your body doesn’t get food when it needs, it you will get stressed out.

    I hope this article helps you to plan your meals, reach hormonal balance and a happier menopause.

  • Can Vitamin D help you against Coronavirus

    Can vitamin D help you fight the mighty coronavirus or any other virus? When we made our vision boards, goals and dreams in the beginning of the year we couldn’t have possibly imagined that a microscopic enemy, easily destroyed by soap, will crush them. One nutrient that is being researched as a possible way to help us protect against the virus is vitamin D.

    vitamin d against coronavirus
    Foods rich in vitamin D. Healthy eating

    Vitamin D helps us fight infections, especially respiratory infections. The reason why vitamin D is being mentioned together with coronavirus is that about 50% of people in America lack sufficient vitamin D, especially black and Latino populations. Those populations are the most affected by this virus at this time.

    Can vitamin D help against viral infections?

    Vitamin D has a very important role in our immune system. It helps to reduce inflammation and control immunological response. There are studies that indicate that vitamin D supplements can increase our immune response and protect against respiratory infections, both viral and bacterial.

    Some studies show that low levels of vitamin D are associated with increased susceptibility to infections and other illnesses. There is a correlation between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of respiratory problems, such as respiratory infections, tuberculosis, asthma, and others. I would like to note that although there is evidence, some scientists are still debating these findings.

    Can vitamin D help us against coronavirus

    For those reasons many scientists believe that vitamin D may help us against coronavirus (covid-19, or SARS-CoV-2) and other viruses. However the coronavirus (Covid-19) is the new kid on the block and there are no conclusive studies at this time.

    Personally I take vitamin D supplements because I don’t get enough from the sun or from food and vitamin D is a very important nutrient and it has a fundamental role in bone formation. Vitamin D is considered a hormone; we will cover some of its most important functions below.

    How to get vitamin D?

    We can get vitamin D from the sun or through food, and of course, there are also supplements.

    A lot of our Vitamin D is synthesized from sunlight. The darker the skin color, the less vitamin D is absorbed by the skin, and therefore, the longer exposure time the person needs. Independent of skin color, those of us in higher latitudes need even longer exposure times to get the right amount of vitamin D and most people don’t get it. Vitamin D is obtained from direct sunlight, the sunrays that help us to get vitamin D do not pass through glass — in other words, we cannot make it by exposing ourselves to sunlight filtered through a window and must go outside directly in the sun. Remember that sun exposure is not sunburn, sunburn causes skin cancer and dark spots, moderate sun exposure is healthy.

    Vitamin D helps against viruses

    We can also ingest vitamin D. Vitamin D is abundant in cold water fish such as sardines and salmon, and in egg yolks. It is not very common in non-animal sources but it can be found in mushrooms. In addition to that in America we get some vitamin D from fortified foods such as milk, orange juice and cereals. However, that may not be sufficient and we may need a supplement.

    There are also vitamin D supplements. The most common are D2 and D3, the first is from vegetable sources and the other from animal sources. When it comes to amounts in normal times, the recommended doses is 400 to 800 IU. For coronavirus there are no recommendations, however the normal amounts are a good place to start. If your doctor determines that you have a deficiency he may recommend higher amounts.

    Vitamin D is fat soluble, and for that reason, we should not overdo it. What the body doesn’t use gets stored in the fat cells. Excess vitamin D can cause many health complications, but if you take the recommended amounts it is safe.

    Other benefits of vitamin D

    Besides protecting us against viruses, potentially against coronavirus, vitamin D has many important roles. Some of those are:

    • Vitamin D is well known for its role in bone and teeth formation. Without vitamin D we cannot have healthy bones. This is especially important after menopause.
    • Many studies demonstrate that vitamin D supports brain and nervous system function.
    • Low levels of vitamin D are linked to depression
    • According to studies vitamin D may help in regulating the insulin levels, and therefore, help manage diabetes. There are some studies indicating that low levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of type 1 diabetes.
    • It helps to improve cardiovascular health. Some studies suggest that it may help control high blood pressure.
    • Vitamin D may have an epigenetic effect. It may have a role in the genes involved in cancer development. Some small studies link low vitamin D levels to development of breast, ovaries, esophagus, colon, prostate, and other cancers.
    • And something important to know: vitamin D may promote weight loss. Or in other words, lack of vitamin D may promote weight gain.


    So, there are a lot of reasons to make sure we are having the right levels of vitamin D. Let’s hope that vitamin D can help us against coronavirus or covid-19.

    Read about how to stop hot flashes naturally

  • Are you addicted to sodas?

    Are you (or someone you know) addicted to sodas? I have a confession to make; a long time ago I was addicted to sodas. I wasn’t addicted to all sodas, only to Coke. In the beginning it was regular Coke and later on diet Coke. I didn’t care for Pepsi, only for Coke. I probably drank about 3 cans a day. Addiction to sodas or carboand other sweet drinks is common.

    How to stop soda addiction

    We are addicted to sodas, or carbonated drinks, because to their sweetness and in the case of colas, also to their caffeine. My addiction lasted many years, I kept stopping and returning after a year or so until I finally kicked it off for good.

    What worked for me? How did I stop my soda addiction? For me it was becoming conscious of how bad it was for my health and my looks. Now I have a soda once in a while usually while traveling by road and eating along the way. But you know what? I don’t like them anymore. I know a lot of people drink a lot of soda. We can even say that a lot of people are addicted to sodas, because of that today I want to share some strategies to stop soda addiction.

    Know your why

    Why to stop the soda addiction? There are a lot of good reasons to stop drinking a lot of sodas and other sugary drinks, let’s see some of them:

    1- Protect your bones and teeth

    Sodas are more than sugar or artificial sweeteners. Sodas are a cocktail of artificial ingredients that causes damage to our bodies and our looks, including teeth and bones.

    They have way too many calories and zero nutrients.

    Carbonated drinks are highly acidic and contain high levels of phosphoric acid and carbonic acid. This is terrible for your teeth and bones.

    How to stops soda addiction

    Phosphate affects calcium absorption debilitating bones and teeth. Other ingredients in sodas further affect the now weaker bones and teeth causing even more damage. For women who are at higher risk of osteoporosis, it could be even more damaging.

    Getting enough calcium is very important during childhood and adolescence, when bones are being built. Imagine the damage to those forming bones caused by carbonated drinks. They are also bad at any age, especially when we don’t have the protection of our estrogen after menopause.

    2- Beauty, health and happiness

    One word, sugar. The regular versions of soda have a lot of sugar. Sugar is bad by itself, combined with extra caffeine and all those acids and gas, it is even worse. This is a powerful reason to stop soda addiction.

    Regular sodas have a lot of sugar, and let me repeat, zero nutrients. Regular sodas (12 ounces) have between 7 to 10 teaspoons of sugar. The World Health Organization (WHO, part of the United Nations) recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day.

    Sugar is not bad only because of its calories, but for the cycle of high energy and energy slumps it produces and the inflammation it creates in the body. High sugar consumption is now thought to be the largest cause of heart disease, fatty liver disease, obesity and many other illnesses.

    Excess sugar is really bad for your skin. Excess sugar affects the pH of the skin and makes it more susceptible to damage that shows up as wrinkles, pimples and inflammation.

    3- Bad digestion

    Some people say we are what we eat. In Ayurveda we say, we are what we digest. Excess sugar or artificial sweeteners, gas in the form of carbon dioxide or CO2, and the acidity have a negative effect on our digestion.

    What about diet soda?

    Diet soda is even worse. Our gut bacteria gets affected by artificial sweeteners and this causes all sort of problems, from depression to hormonal imbalance issues.

    Really, is soda that bad?

    To drink one soda occasionally is not so bad. However one can every day or many cans every day will take a toll on your health sooner or later depending on your overall lifestyle. I know women who were addicted to soda and now have Osteopenia (the condition before osteoporosis), others have really bad teeth and have had extensive dental work. And others have digestive issues caused in part by the imbalance produced by sodas.

    Besides all the risks, sodas don’t have any health benefit. We may say that the pleasure they give is a benefit, and it is. But when people drink a lot of sodas, that pleasure goes down, especially when it is only a habit and the person drinks it unconsciously.

    Tips to stop the soda habit

    The first step to kick the soda habit is to know your why

    Know your why or your whys and remember them when you are choosing your drinks. This was the key to my success. Once you know why it is important to stop soda addiction you can pick how to stop it, let’s see some choices.

    How to stop soda addiction in midlife

    1- Make it special

    All sodas are bad, some worse than others. If you treat soda as a treat, it is okay to have it, you can have it once in a while. When you do have it, make it special.

    2- Cold turkey

    Some people prefer to quit sodas cold turkey, others prefer to do so slowly. Try quitting cold turkey first and if it doesn’t work, drink less and slowly cut it off or almost off.

    3- Have a plan

    Water is the best liquid you can drink. But it can lack flavor in the beginning. You can allow yourself to have one glass of soda a day (about 8 ounces). You can drink it at once or divide it during the day. The rest of the day drink other liquids. Remember those 8 glasses of water a day? This is the time to drink them. You can add flavor to your water with fruits (recipes follow) or drink herbal tea, green tea, some juice (only a little) etc.

    If you are having regular soda, you can add maple syrup or another natural sweetener to some of the liquids you drink in the beginning. Don’t overdo it; this is the time to also reduce sugar.

    After a while, cut the amount of soda to only a few times a week. Continue lowering it until you reach no more than once a week. You can reach zero if you like. However be careful not to aim for perfection; it is not necessary and it can create problems and frustration.

    If you create a system you are more likely to succeed. Let’s see some of substitutes you can have.

    Continue reading: Delicious soda substitutes

    I hope these tips can be helpful to you. Subscribe to our newsletter if you like these type of topics. If you have any other tips and recipes please comment below.

  • Delicious soda substitutes

    If you are trying to either drink more water, stop a soda addiction or just lowering your consumption of commercial drinks, there are a lot of healthy, delicious, options.

    These are some easy, healthy options to sodas and commercial drinks.

    Healthy, delicious alternatives drinks to soda

    Infused waters

    Try to take maximum advantage of the opportunity to create a healthy habit. You are trying to change a habit, so it is better to change it for something healthy instead of switching soda for other sugary drinks. Infused water is a great choice. Let’s see some infused water examples.

    Add zest

    You may add any citric fruits and a little of their zest to your water. Orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit and other citric fruits taste great on their own. Just cut the fruits in rounds (don’t peel it) and add the water. Let it absorb the flavor for about 30 minutes and it is ready to drink. You can use the same fruit by just adding more water, as the flavor goes down you will know it is time to make a new batch.

    Add Spice

    You can use many spices to add more flavor and benefits to your water. For example, to the citrus mix you can add even more flavor with ginger. Ginger and lime infused water is one of my favorites. You can also use ginger on its own.

    Ginger is great for flavor and health. It improves the immune system, helps with digestion and elimination, improves blood circulation and more.

    You can also use cinnamon. As you may know cinnamon is good for our metabolism. Cinnamon goes well with apple and some berries.

    Add cucumber

    Cucumber is so refreshing. You can just add cucumber slices to water or mix it with other flavors such as citrus and berries.

    Add herbs

    All minty herbs are great so you can also try basil. Use them on their own or mix it with fruit.

    You may store the flavored or infused water in your fridge for up to 2 days. If you want to store your infused waters for longer than a day, eliminate the fruit, spices or herbs.

    Some tasty infused water combinations

    Here are 10 of my favorite fruit, herbs and spice combinations to add flavor to my water:

    • Lemon and orange
    • Raspberry and lime
    • Pineapple and mint
    • Lime and mint (let’s call it mojito)
    • Lemon and cucumber
    • Grapefruit and orange
    • Watermelon and basil
    • Strawberry and basil
    • Lemon and ginger
    • Peach and ginger


    Herbal tea

    In addition to infused waters you can drink herbal teas. There are a lot of awesome herbal teas. You will need to make the tea in hot water and let it cool or drink it hot.

    Green tea

    Green tea has less caffeine that regular tea and much less than coffee and a lot of antioxidants. If you like the flavor, it is a good substitute for soda. Matcha tea is in fashion right not, but all types of green teas are great options. Prefer organic tea over regular tea.

    Viva Agua Fresca

    If you are not ready to kick off sugar, natural fruit drinks are a better choice. Agua Fresca is a Latin American drink made with a little bit of fruit, water and sugar. You can use small amounts of sugar or stevia. These are like diluted juices made in a blender.

    An example of this is, some pineapple, add all the water you want, ice if you want and sugar or stevia. Blend it and enjoy it. If you add sugar, try to limit these types of drink to one a day.

    Diluted juices

    You can buy regular juice and add 3 parts or more water and 1 part of juice. This will add flavor without adding too many calories.

    What about kombucha?

    Kombucha is a good drink if you make it at home. If you buy it, be careful with the amount of sugar. I personally don’t like the flavor, but some people love it. The advantage of kombucha is that it has probiotics. A glass of kombucha a day is healthy. However, don’t feel that you have to drink something, because everybody is talking about it. As you know today it is kombucha and tomorrow who knows what.

    Coconut water is also popular right now. It is healthy, but only one glass a day or so.

    Bad options

    Bottled teas, lemonades, and similar drinks are not good options because they are very acidic. Some of them are even more acidic than sodas. They are also full of sugar and/or artificial sweeteners and other ingredients. There are some better than others, so check the labels.

    Other bad options are coffee and sugary coffee drinks. They have too much caffeine, the coffee used in these drinks is low quality and full of mold and tend to have a lot of sugar. Coffee in moderation is OK.

    Water flavoring powders is another tricky option. Some of them maybe good, but they are still mostly artificial.

    Read the first part: How to stop soda addiction

    I hope these tips can be helpful to you. Subscribe to our newsletter if you like these type of topics. If you have any other tips and recipes please comment below.

  • Healthy habits for life

    Do you want to sleep more, be more organized, eat healthier, drink more water, drink less soda, less alcohol, etc.? Changing habits is not easy for most people.

    Healthy habits for life in midlife


    Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

    When it comes to habits, most of us are old dogs and some people think that the older we get the more difficult it is to develop new habits. That is not my experience, people of all ages can learn new habits, if they want to.

    There are zillions of books on how to change your habits. They all have good advice, but not all advice works for everybody. There are books about different styles, different techniques, etc. What I have found is that what matters when we want to acquire healthier habits is:

    • Do you really want to do it?
    • Put systems in place

    If you want to eat healthier, workout, have a strict morning routine, control stress, etc. you really have to nail down your WHY.

    Why should you do it?

    Why do you want the results offered by healthier habits? We don’t want healthier habits, we want the results of healthier habits.

    We want to sleep more because it has health benefits such as: more concentration, it makes us happier, more productive, skinnier etc.
    We want to eat healthier because: we want to be healthier, control our blood pressure, blood sugar, look skinnier, put less pressure on our knees etc. and why do we want those effects? Because we want more energy to do what we want to do. We don’t want to spend money, time and effort going to the doctor, taking a zillion pills, lowering our quality of life, we don’t want aches and pains, we want to avoid the “side” effects of drugs etc. We want to keep our bodies young and strong.

    Find the root, why do you want healthier habits

    You have to nail it down, go to the root. For example: I want to lose 10 pounds. Why? Because I will look and feel better. Why will you want to feel and look better? Because I will feel happier and be healthier. Why do you want to feel happier and healthier? Because I want to be there for my children when they need me, I don’t want to be sick and become a liability.

    OK, that is your why. Your why is your children and your future self. That is huge. That is not feel better and look better as you initially thought. Now you have something tangible. Every time you don’t want to work out, picture your kids and you will feel the energy to workout at least a few minutes even when you don’t want to do it.

    If you have a strong why, you will have a strong will

    Sometimes you are going to discover that you don’t have a strong why for something and it will be your decision to do it or not. For example, running a marathon. It is mostly a badge of honor, but for some people it is about self-determination. This is something optional in life, but your health is not optional.

    how to create healthy habits

    Put your habit changing systems in place

    Now that you know your why you are totally convinced that you have to do it, then comes another important part: put your systems in place. Without systems it becomes difficult to change a habit. These are tips that help a lot of my clients:

    Begin with the end in mind.

    What is the goal? Imagine yourself at the end, how will you feel? Savor that moment, keep it in your mind.

    Plan the way.

    Every goal needs to be divided in small steps to measure success. When are you going to do it, how are you going to do it.

    For example, you plan to eat a healthier lunch, maybe a salad, but you don’t really like salads. What else can you eat? Instead can you bring soup and a healthier sandwich from home? You want to eat healthier snacks, you need to plan it, and in most places the snacks are not healthy.

    You want to sleep more. How can you do it? What do you need to do in order to go to bed earlier?

    Invest in yourself

    Invest time and put resources on it if you need to. Maybe an online fitness membership to workout at home, maybe once a month a meal delivery service or menu planning service, maybe a personal trainer, a health coach (contact me), maybe a life coach, a new pair of sneakers, a yoga class, etc. However be careful, as you know most people who buy gym memberships almost never go to the gym.

    Make it easy

    For example workout at lunch time, if you plan to work out in the morning leave everything ready the night before. If you plant to thoroughly clean your teeth, allow time for it, don’t wait until you are sleepy and tired.

    Take the path of least resistance

    Some people complicate their lives looking for exotic solutions. To start with something, do the easiest thing you can do.

    If you want to be fitter, move more in your daily life don’t wait to have everything you need to go to that famous Barre class. If you want to eat healthier, start by drinking more water and eating more vegetables don’t wait to find out which is the perfect diet for you.

    My niece and a friend wanted to do yoga. The friend spend a year reading about yoga, my niece started to do it right away with youtube videos. The friend goes to classes once in a while, my niece has been doing yoga at home few times a week since the first conversation. Guess who is better at yoga and fitter.

    Doing something always beats thinking about something. You know the term paralysis by analysis, this is a problem for me and for many people. Sometimes it is better to go Nike “Just do it”

    Don’t fear failure

    There is no bigger failure than never trying

    Make time

    We all have 24 hours a day. There is that saying, an activity stretches itself to the time allowed. We can limit the time of some activities in order to do others. We can also prioritize, for example no social media until this or that gets done.

    For some people the problem is not time, it is energy. In order to have energy you need good nutrition, sleep well, and have less stress.


    Eat the frog

    This means do what you dread more first thing in the morning. That way it will be out of the way and you will not be thinking about it.

    Be realistic

    You are wonderful, but you aren’t perfect. Life is beautiful, but it isn’t perfect. Always plan for more time, more effort and more energy than you think you will need. If you don’t do it you may be putting unnecessary stress on yourself and it will be more difficult to reach your goals.

    Find joy in the journey

    Life is a journey and the joy is in living that journey. Be present as much as you can and just smile at life. Tomorrow you can try again. Always be kind to yourself.


  • August self-care challenge

    Join me for this fun summer challenge. It is super easy self-care challenge to help us relax. You can join the Facebook group or follow our page to comment and tell me and the other members how you are doing .

    30 day self care challenge for women

    The only rule in self care is say no to perfection, be kind to yourself. Summer is wonderful and it goes by so quickly, sometimes even planning fun activities can be stressful, so let’s chill together.

    self care challenge for middle age women.
    Self care challenge for women

  • 7 Awesome self-care activities for perimenopause and menopause

    What comes to mind when you hear the word menopause, perimenopause and post-menopause? Old age, becoming old? Illness? Goddess time? Rebirth? Renew? Another female time? Hot flashes? Mood issues? What about self-care?

    self care for menopause and perimenopause

    What if you could use self-care or self-loving activities, to combat some of the most common perimenopause symptoms and develop a more loving relationship with our bodies. During this special time we for sure need an extra dose of self-care. Self-care can come in many forms. The activities I suggest here are to address some of the worst premenopausal and menopausal symptoms and they are easy, cheap, and fun.

    Do a happy list

    What activities make you happy? Do you like to paint, to sing, to sew, to garden, to ….? Think back to your childhood and develop a list of the activities that make you happy. This is for you, not for anybody else; it doesn’t matter if your kids or partner don’t like them. The cheesy phrase “do more of what makes you happy” is true and effective.

    self care for menopause and perimenopause

    Pick some of them and try to do them. You have to write them down on your calendar and make them happen. If money is an issue, look for cheaper ways; if time is an issue, look for shorter activities; if energy level is an issue, try less tiring activities.

    How will this help you? It increases good hormones and lowers stress. Less stress is less hot flashes and more sleep. Good hormones is more energy and happiness, less depression, sensitivity and irritability.

    Discover your inner dancer

    My favorite dance is belly dance. It can be hard on your knees, so it may need modifications in midlife. Dance is a great exercise and happiness booster during perimenopause and menopause. Dancing makes us feel sexy and feminine. Some women tend to let their femininity go down with age and responsibilities. It is important to keep our femininity up, because that is part of our power.

    Dance is also exercise. The exercise helps us relax and eliminate toxins. Dancing is a powerful, easy therapy for women. Take some dance lessons (it can be free online) and dance.

    There are many women after 40 who join dance groups to develop closer relationships while doing something so pleasant. If you prefer the gym, try Zumba or similar exercises.

    Clear your mind of nocebo

    Nocebo is the evil brother of placebo. In placebo, we believe that something does good to us and it does it, although it is not supposed to. For example, medicine and sugar pills; some people take the sugar pills and get cured because of the placebo effect. It is our minds telling our cells to get healthy.
    Nocebo is the contrary.

    In nocebo, we believe that something has a negative effect in us and it does, although it is not supposed to. For example, if someone gets convinced that she has an allergy to gluten, although that person does not have it, every time she has gluten she gets sick. This is how superstitions also work.

    If we believe that we will suffer hot flashes because it is common for women in their 40s or 50s, we will. Remember common does not mean normal. Hot flashes and other symptoms are not normal even if they are common. Many women like me don’t suffer them. Don’t expect them; your mind is very powerful, if you expect them they will come.

    Every time a negative age or menopause stereotype comes to your mind, negate it with something positive. For instance you can say things like: age is just a number, I am healthy and strong, I love myself, everything is OK, etc. Create your own mantras and repeat them.

    Don’t let books, magazines or websites tell you that you will get sick, that menopause is a terrible time in a women’s life. They are trying to grab your attention and scare you into buying something.

    Track your symptoms

    If you are experiencing any perimenopause symptoms, keep a diary. Write down what you eat, your emotions (example: angry in the morning, sad in the afternoon etc.) and the time and situation the symptom presents itself. This is especially important for hot flashes (or hot flushes, if you are in Europe). If you identify the triggers you can manage them and have less symptoms.

    self care for peri menopause and menopause

    Look for good company

    Avoid negative people. Avoid negative talk about aging and menopause. Don’t hang around in websites and forums discussing symptoms (remember, nocebo is powerful). Look for positive, uplifting company in real life, online and in books and media.

    Elect the positive

    Listen to your inner dialogue and try to change negative thoughts with positive or neutral ones. Worry and stress create addiction. Avoid becoming an addict to these negative emotions.

    Feel beautiful as you are

    Every time you catch yourself saying something negative about your body, change it to something positive.

    Love yourself

    The media is telling us to hate ourselves, because we are not … skinny enough, rich enough, elegant enough, sexy enough, strong enough, etc. Reject these negative manipulations. They only do it so you buy their products. Remember fear sells.

    I hope I gave you food for thought and you can implement some of these ideas. You may also enjoy other articles on the self-care topic: 7 Day must o self-care challenge Self-care for spring time

  • Intermittent fasting to lose hormonal weight

    The dreaded menopause belly? As menopause approaches most of us start to gain weight or gain weight easier and faster than before. “But I am eating the same and I am gaining weight.” This is a very common experience among women approaching menopause or right after this. That was my case and intermittent fasting was a big part of my solution. Intermittent fasting is a great way to lose hormonal weight during menopause and perimenopause.

    intermittent fasting for weight during menopause and perimenopause

    The most disturbing thing when we gain weight in perimenopause or menopause is the changes in our body’s shape. The good news is that it is possible to lose weight during this time and you don’t have to follow a strict diet or become a gym rat, intermittent fasting can help you.

    My weight loss story

    Let me tell you a little bit of my weight story. I was skinny and started to gain a little bit of weight in my forties, some weight accumulated, but I was still skinny. As I was closer to 50 the weight and the tummy skyrocketed and for first time in my life I was very close to the overweight level. My clothes didn’t fit and the type of clothes I used to wear were not flattering for my body anymore, because the tummy was growing very fast.

    I tried to lose weight by cutting calories and working out more, but the weight continued to go up. After trying a couple of diets I was frustrated because the result was that I gained less weight than without the diet, but I still gained weight.

    Suspecting that I may have hormonal problems I went to the doctor and he told me everything was fine. My hormones and health were fine, and that it was normal to gain weight at my age. I was not happy with the answer and I did a lot of research and even got certifications.

    How I lost the weight during perimenopause?

    Since the low calorie and low fat diet was not working I needed to change something else. So, I tried intermittent fasting and I started to eat more fats, and added more flavor and proteins. I was already eating a lot of vegetables and consumed low sugar. Now (and during my weight loss period) I eat more calories and more fat than before. How is that possible? Two words “Intermittent Fasting” or three “Time Restricted Feeding (TRF);” if you want you can also say time restrictive eating (I think it sounds better, but TRF is more common). TRF is a form of intermittent fasting (IF). There are more strict and complicated forms of intermittent fasting such as the 5:2 diet or the 800 calorie diet.

    I do TRF 6 times a week; Saturday I don’t follow it. Time restrictive feeding or eating have worked for me and for my clients. Many people love intermittent fasting because it isn’t a diet, they have freedom to eat their favorite foods, and they can eat bread, pasta, pizza, ice cream and desserts.

    Why intermittent fasting (or TRF) works?

    • Time restricted feeding helps to balance our hormones and accelerates our metabolism.
    • By only eating in a shorter time window, we allow our internal organs to do their job more efficiently. This is especially true for the liver, kidneys, pancreas and adrenal glands.
    • Energy levels go up
    • It reduces hunger. This doesn’t happen immediately, but after a couple of months your hunger level goes down.
    • Cravings go down. Especially craving for sweets.
    • It may produce autophagy. Autophagy is a Nobel Prize winning discovery about cell regeneration. Some people will tell you “it will” produce autophagy I am saying “it may” because the scientists are still trying to prove this. If this holds true, TRF may also help to keep us healthier and younger.
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    How do you do time restrictive eating during peri menopause?

    For intermittent fasting to be effective during perimenopause and around menopause we need to start slow. TRF simply means that you eat in a specific time window.

    That eating time window can be anywhere from 14 to 7 hours even 6. Some people do it in a shorter window, but I don’t recommend that during peri and menopause. Let’s say that you start with a 12 hour time window. That means that you can eat your breakfast at 7 AM and your last bite or drink of food will end at 7 PM. After 7 PM you will not eat or drink anything with calories until the next day at 7 AM.

    The ideal time window should be 8-7 hours. But during perimenopause / menopause or if the person has prediabetes it is better to start with 12 to 10 hour window. For example you can eat your breakfast at 7 AM, have your lunch at your convenience and dinner or after dinner snack at 7 PM for a 12 hours fasting, or at 5 PM for an 8 hours fasting.

    Every week or every two weeks, you will reduce the window by 15 or 30 minutes to reach 8 to 6 hours. That will mean that you can have a very late breakfast or skip it as most people on this diet do, or have a very early dinner or skip it. For me and my clients the easiest way is to skip breakfast.

    Time restrictive eating for menopause and perimonepause

    Wait, isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day?

    Considering the source of that statement no, it isn’t. It was created by Dr. Kellogg (yes, the one from the cereal company). There have been many studies proving that Dr. Kellogg was right, but at a closer look those studies don’t compare apples to apples so their findings are wrong. The studies compare people who eat breakfast to people who don’t (the ones who rush in the morning) but then they drink sugary, creamy coffee, and right after, go and eat a snack.

    In TRF we consciously don’t eat breakfast, but we have proper meals. During fasting time anything with calories will break the fast and it isn’t allowed. Diet soda although doesn’t have calories is also not recommended.

    There is some debate as to whether black coffee/tea without sugar is acceptable, and while some strict believers drink only water and nothing else, a large number of people, including myself, do have a small cup of black coffee without sugar in the morning. It is said that if you want autophagy only drink water.

    The weight comes down slowly

    Unless in addition to the TRF you also follow a healthier lifestyle or another diet the weight will come down slowly. This is usually not a big problem for most people. One of the most popular combinations is intermittent fasting and Ketogenic diet; with this combination the weight comes down super-fast.

    What can you eat?

    In theory you can eat what you eat normally. However, during perimenopause and menopause I recommend that you lower your sugar consumption, watch for sugary drinks and breads. Try to eat natural foods preferably made at home. Include veggies in your food because we need those nutrients and drink plenty of water or herbal or green teas.

    To get the maximum benefits of TRF and balance the hormones at the same time, we need to follow a healthy lifestyle, something similar to the Mediterrean way of eating, meaning lots of vegetables and smaller quantities of high quality animal products.

    Other benefits of TRF

    I believe not all diets and lifestyles are for everybody, so TRF or intermittent fasting may not be the best for some people. The reasons I picked TRF for myself and for most of my clients are that it is easy, effective and healthy.

    In addition to weight management Time Restrictive Feeding has other benefits such as:

    • Intermittent fasting helps to management blood sugar levels.
    • It helps to eliminate toxins from the body (this makes estrogen more available)
    • Intermittent fasting helps to control leptin and ghrelin (these hormones control hunger levels)
    • It promotes heart health
    • TRF and IT lowers inflammation levels
    • It promotes lean muscle

    In addition to those benefits some of my clients report better sleep, more energy and more concentration. To my clients I also recommend supplements and the diet includes nutrient rich foods, so the effects maybe the results of everything combined.

    And working out?

    What we eat will have a larger effect on weight than working out, but working out is super important for our health. I do 30 minutes 5 times a week. I recommend my clients to do at least 30 minutes 4 times a week. It doesn’t need to be heavy exercise. It can be walking, trampoline (I do this), yoga etc. The best would be twice a week weight training and 3 days some light aerobic with some flexibility exercises (to keep nimble and avoid falling down).

    Should you try Intermittent Fasting with Time Restrictive Feeding?

    If you don’t have any medical conditions to preclude you from it, it is super easy; it’s a well-studied diet with lots of research and it has worked for a lot of us. You can start doing it 3 times a week and increase it to 4 or 5.

    I will try to publish a free ebook or mini-course in the next few weeks; if you are interested please join the mailing list. If you have questions comment below. You may read the first part of this series: Why do we gain weight during menopause

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  • Why do we gain weight during menopause?

    No doubt gaining weight is easy, but during menopause even the skinniest people add on some pounds, especially around the tummy. In the past everything was blamed on hormones, but that has changed. The reasons for menopausal weight gain are complex. Let’s take a look at some of them:

    Calories add up

    Through the decades of our lives most of us gain a little weight every year. Little by little it becomes more noticeable.

    Drug effects

    Many drugs cause weight gain. Some of the worst are anti-depressants and antibiotics. Antibiotics are now part of our normal food; they are fed to animals so they become fatter. Even some vegetables contain tiny amounts of antibiotics because animal manure or feces get in contract with the vegetables.

    Our gut bacteria is affected

    Our gut bacteria is fundamental to controlling weight. During midlife the gut bacteria is under a lot of pressure caused by antibiotics, stress, hormonal changes, and others. (Read gut bacteria during menopause).

    Lack of muscle

    As we age and don’t work out, we lose muscle. With muscle loss we need less calories to maintain our body so the extra calories go to our fat reserves. In other words, our metabolism slows down.

    Weaker organs

    By midlife some of our vital organs are tired or overwhelmed. We are surrounded by toxins and have not-so-healthy eating habits that affect our liver and thyroid. We have a ton of stress that affects our adrenal glands and some mindset habits affect the whole body. If the liver and/or adrenals are not working properly that will further affect our thyroid. This will have a direct negative effect on our weight, energy levels, mental clarity, happiness, hot flashes, etc.

    Combination factors for weight gain

    Some menopausal symptoms such as insomnia alter our gut bacteria and this causes weight gain. On top of that we don’t have enough energy during the day and move less. Some people suffer from depression during menopause and tend to eat a poor diet. This and other causes create the perfect storm for weight gain.

    Stress at midlife

    Stress causes weigh gain in most people. Many people resort to calorie-rich foods such as sweets, carbohydrates, fats and alcohol during stressful periods. For many women these are years of changes or personal dissatisfaction that result in stress, sadness, and worrying a lot. Stress creates many hormonal issues that contribute to weight gain. (Read stress in menopause)

    Menopausal weight gain is different than previous weight gains

    This is something that shocks many women. During perimenopause and menopause we don’t only gain weight, our body shape changes. We accumulate weight around our tummy and in the back. Belly fat is the main characteristic of menopausal weigh gain. In some women the breast may also grow, in others the contrary happens.

    The worse type of weight gain

    Belly fat is not good news. Belly fat is associated with heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and other illnesses.

    Menopausal weight loss is totally possible

    Weight loss is always challenging because it requires habit changes. Menopausal weight loss can be more challenging because there is no one size fits all diet, or no calories-in-calories-out. Our hormones and gut bacteria are different and are stopping us from losing weight. And as always there are a lot of diet options and misinformation and selecting the right choice is not easy. Totally not fair, but do not worry menopausal weight loss is possible.

    How to lose weight in midlife?

    The first thing that many women (including myself) find out is that the diets that used to work so well, do not work anymore. It is important to understand the causes of weight gain in midlife, because this makes it clear that it is not only a matter of a diet; we also need to:

    Control stress, eat healthy, eat nutritious food, be happy, sleep well, etc. And the hormones? We also need to balance our hormones. Fortunately the same things that help us balance the hormones and strengthen our organs help to lose weight and to have a happier life. If we see the whole picture:

    During midlife, our bodies are calling us to live a fuller, more meaningful life, to live every moment and protect our bodies.

    That is the gift of menopause, an invitation to live a better life during our second half, or as it’s called in Chinese medicine “second spring.” Spring is a time of re-birth and awakening.

    Xassy

    To lose weight during perimenopause and post menopause we need a gentle reset. Good news, it is possible, more good news, it will improve your total health.

    At this time more than a diet we need some lifestyle changes. I lost weight doing just that and you can do it too.

    That is our motivation during midlife. Weight control is not about vanity, it is about health and quality of life. We are improving and protecting our current and future health, both physical and emotional, by learning to control our weight.

    This is a series of articles in which I will share how you can lose weight during perimenopause and post menopause. Next article: Intermittent fasting to lose weight in menopause


  • 7 Day self-care must do challenge for women in midlife

    Most people agree that self-care is any activity that can make you feel recharged, peaceful or joyful. In this spirit, I have created a 7 day self-care “challenge” to motivate you to try something that will help you to recharge and refresh.

    self care for women in midlife

    Any activity can be self-care if it is mindfully done. The contrary of mindful is mindless, when we do things without thinking about it, without enjoying them.

    Life is every second we live. Let’s make every second count

    For this self-care for midlife women challenge, I have selected simple activities that deliver great results. Here we go:

    Day 1: Breathe

    Yes, that simple. Take small breaks during your day (3 or more) and do deep breathing, three at a time. Breathe with your nose, mouth closed. Inhale slowly, filling all your lungs, hold and slowly release. Repeat and enjoy the relaxation that deep breathing brings.

    Day 2: Stretch

    You will try to take at least 3 stretching breaks during the day. It could be as soon as you get up, midday and before sleeping. Just stretch yourself in all directions. Bonus: also do deep breathing before stretching.

    self care challenge

    Day 3: Drink

    We are going to drink water, plain water, and unsweetened herbal teas or infused water. How to infuse the water? Just add some lemon, lime, oranges or any fruit you have. There is a catch here, the water has to be room temperature or warm. Try to drink at least 6 cups of water. The warm water will improve your digestion and bowel elimination.

    Day 4: Be in the nature

    Being in nature is one of the easiest way to relax. Just go to your garden or anywhere outside where there is some vegetation. If possible, lovingly touch the plants or the soil, or take your shoes off.

    This is not a mad new age ritual, we carry positive charge in our bodies because of the radiation we are constantly exposed to, such as wi-fi and screens everywhere. Trees and plants can absorb some of that positive charge leaving us more neutral and relax.

    Day 5: Vision

    We are not talking of vision boards here, although they are also self-care. We are talking of your precious eyes. We are going to relax the eyes. Take 3 breaks during your day to practice long distance vision.

    This is simple:

    • Focus on something distant from where you are. For example if you go outside you can focus on a mountain or tall trees, observe the details.
    • Close your eyes for a few seconds
    • Now look at something close to you, it can be your hand (not your phone)
    • Repeat the process 3 times.
    • Now gently cover your eyes with the palms of your hands, do not put pressure on the eyes. Breathe normally but consciously a few times. Take the palms out and open your eyes.

    Our eyes are stressed because they were mainly designed by nature for long distance viewing and we are using them most of the time for very short distances (phone, computer, books etc.) so it is important to look at a distance frequently during the day. Relaxed eyes are healthier.

    self care for women

    Day 6: Chewing

    Today is a day to chew well our food. This has many advantages, the first is that it allows us to really taste the food. Second, it slows us down, so we eat less. And when we chew we are helping our stomach, and therefore, improving our digestion. Chew each bite (or a lot of the bites) 20 times, count from one to 20. We are not used to chewing and it is an important activity to avoid digestive issues, and it also helps to avoid overeating.

    Day 7: Laugh

    Best for last. Laughing is very relaxing. It helps us to decrease cortisol, the stress hormone that consumes our estrogen (read stress and perimenopause). Pick a standup comedy on TV or a funny movie and enjoy.
    Bonus: pet a pet or play with a kid. A sweet activity that connect us to other living beings.

    I hope you enjoy these activities and develop your own self-care routine.