The Midlife Metamorphosis

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The Midlife Metamorphosis

I love this metaphor as a way to describe the transition through midlife and into the second half of our lives – what I like to call our “Butterfly Years”!

It just sums up exactly how I feel about my own transition.

It’s as though the years leading up to my midlife metamorphosis were like those of a caterpillar, devouring life and eating up every experience with so much gusto that I never actually got to slow down enough to do much else than simply survive.

When I hit 50 it was like an awakening for me.  It felt like I’d reached a fork in the road and I had some tough decisions to make.  I realised that my caterpillar was stuffed full and needed to let go of some of the ‘junk’ it had consumed along the way.

Life felt heavy (I felt heavy!!) as though if I didn’t take stock and discard some of the emotional detritus I’d accumulated over the years I would not be able to move forward.

Looking back 3 years later it feels as though this was the start of my midlife metamorphosis.  That fork in the road loomed large and I had to make a choice – whether to continue to remain safe but sorry or to take a few risks, step into the unknown and take the scary path.

Midlife seems to bring with it an inherent need to re-evaluate.   I did some work on my physical appearance: lost weight, got fit and felt the ‘outer’ me had moved on, but the inner me, the real core of who I was, was still carrying all the weight of the Caterpillar Years.

My last 3 years have felt like a rebirth.

My time in my midlife chrysalis has been spent redesigning and redefining what I want from the rest of my life.  It’s been a long process.  Certainly not a sudden ‘aha’ moment.  And the vision of my future has evolved and changed and is still evolving and changing.  But now, rather than it feeling out of my control, it feels much more like a natural, organic growth and I’m learning to trust in the journey.

I don’t even know how I’ll know when this chrysalis stage is complete.  Right now it feels like there are still so many things about myself I need to learn.  Maybe I won’t know I’ve reached the ‘Butterfly Years’ until I’m able to look back.  But for now, I’m just loving the process of change.

What I’ve learned is that in order to really change we have to be willing to confront and own everything that we currently are.  We have to accept responsibility for every single thing that has happened to us during our lives.  And this can feel hard.

I’m not talking about beating ourselves up and apportioning blame.  Blame and responsibility are two very different beasts.  Blame is a negative, guilt or anger ridden emotion.  Blame is the antithesis of responsibility.  Responsibility – the ability to respond – to our experiences and situations, is a positive, empowering attribute.  Responsibility puts you in the driver’s seat, blame puts you in the dog house.

When you start to view experiences from a position of learning rather than regret it’s so much easier to let go of the negativity that surrounds them.  We all have had experiences that felt outside of our control – my parents dying way too young, a violent and abusive marriage – I didn’t ask for these things in my life but they have made me the person I am – and who that person was then, who she is now and who she wants to be in the future is completely my responsibility.

The first and most important step in making change in our life is believing that change is possible.  Believing that we are not set in stone and trusting that we have the power within us to be who we truly want to be.  When I first grasped the concept that we get to choose what we think, it was a game changer for me.   Realising that my thoughts created my feelings, and not the other way around put me firmly in control.    If I could think bad things and make myself feel bad, then surely I could think good things and I’d also feel good.

Simple, yes.  Easy?  Not so much!

The emotional part of our brain, that bit that does all the feeling, is a giant compared to the thinking part.  It takes conscious effort and continued work and energy to feed good thoughts into the brain when the mind is so well programmed to accept negative self-talk.

Much like increasing muscle mass in the gym through strength training, increasing a positive mindset takes time, patience, work and continuous commitment.  Some days feel easier than others.  And sometimes we just need a deload – I find a damn good cry works for me.  Maybe others prefer to punch their fists into a pillow or scream at the top of their voice.  What ever works for you.  But just like a deload week you have to get back into training to see the gains.  But you come back stronger and ready to take on the next challenge.

So, here’s to the Butterfly Years, whatever they may bring.

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Bev Thorogood is a Midlife Transition Coach.  A certified nutritionist, personal trainer and health coach specialising in helping women navigate their way through midlife and beyond.  With a strong focus on mindset she offers personal and group coaching to help women remove the blocks that stop them from living their best midlife.

If you’re looking for help to move you towards a better midlife book a FREE breakthrough call – it might just change your life!

BOOK A BREAKTHROUGH CALL FOR FREE

Oh, and just before you go, why not join our fabulous facebook community ‘Fifty, Fit and Fabulous’ for support, help, inspiration and motivation from other women just like you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is Your Mindset Holding You Back from Living Your Best Midlife?

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There’s something about reaching this middle period in our lives that makes us stop and take notice.

For me it was the huge realisation that I had probably more years behind me than I had in front of me, yet I still didn’t feel like a proper ‘grown up’!

I didn’t feel like I’d done anything with my life at all.  It wasn’t true, of course.  I’d raised two wonderful children, been happily married to a wonderful man for nearly 25 years, was now the proud Nanny of a beautiful granddaughter (ok so I can’t take all the credit for that!) and held down a career in the Ministry of Defence for 30 years.  But, I definitely didn’t feel like I’d reached my potential.

The catalyst for me came when I hit the big five oh!  Fifty years old, how the hell had that happened?  I was dreading turning 50.  It felt so very old.  And if I’m honest I hadn’t helped myself.  I was overweight and unfit.  I was doing a job that whilst I didn’t think I hated, I certainly didn’t love.   Everything felt a bit stale and samey.

My kids had left home and I’m sure I was struggling with ‘empty nest syndrome’.  For over 20 years my main purpose in life had been to ensure that my children were well looked after and that I was there for them in their formative years and now, they’d flown and I had lost that feeling of being depended on.

What a double-edged sword that is.  I now had the freedom to go anywhere and do anything I pleased, but the problem was I was 50!  I was fat.  I was unfit.  I was struggling with lack of confidence.  I was in a rut.  And the main purpose of my life to this point had gone.

And to top it all, the damned menopause had kicked in.

Not only had it kicked-in but it felt like yet another kick in the teeth and further proof that I was, in fact over the hill and close to being put out to pasture.

I’m not going to go into detail about how my life changed, how I lost weight, got fit, regained my confidence, upskilled, changed career, resigned my job and started my own business.  If you’re interested you’re welcome to come and get to know me on social media, my Facebook community is Fifty, Fit and Fabulous.

Instead I want to talk about what has changed in my head over the last 3 years.

First off, I should probably tell you that I’m not a details kind of person at all.  I never really think things through.  I’ve very impulsive and tend to act pretty spontaneously.   On the occasions when I have stopped to think and ponder, I normally manage to talk myself out of taking action anyway.

Again. this tendency has its pros and cons.    As you can imagine, my impulsiveness has often led to bad decisions and probably spending too much money.  Impulse buys of clothes I’ve never worn or relationships I probably shouldn’t have got into.  Arguments I could have probably avoided and career choices I may have regretted.

But, it also means I take action.  Every single best decision I’ve ever made has been on impulse.  From having kids to getting my degree, from signing up for half marathons to resigning my job.

If I could just package that impulsiveness, that courage to take action in every single part of my life it would be amazing.

But, like most people, I overthink things.  Yes I dive into things, but then the self-doubt kicks in, the inner mind chatter that tells me I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, I’m not smart enough, interesting enough, knowledgeable enough….. the list is endless.

Our mindset is the culmination of all the thoughts, feelings, beliefs and experiences we have had and the meaning that we have attributed to them.

Messages we received from our parents, not necessarily deliberately, are absorbed early on in childhood and can stay with us well into our adult years, if left unchallenged.

As the youngest sibling and the youngest of 5 cousins, I grew up believing I was bottom of the pack.  I also grew up in a very low-income family in a not great part of Newcastle so believed people like me weren’t successful.  I went to a school where teachers were more interested in trying to keep the kids from ending up in prison or dead from drugs than preparing them for University.

All of these experiences and beliefs have remained with me, unconsciously, throughout my whole life.

When I started working with a coach, reading books for personal growth and challenging some of these beliefs I started to see them for what they are.  Safety mechanisms based on misinformation and distorted reality.

The beauty is that our mindset is not an immovable rock that we cannot shift.  With commitment and a willingness to change the way we see the world we can start to reprogramme our thinking and imprint new, more beneficial beliefs in place of the old, unhelpful ones.

Of course, these changes don’t happen overnight.  They need to be worked on consistently and intentionally.  They are, after all, a part of our unconscious and therefore automatic.  Changing them means recognising that they exist in the first place and then having the courage to work through the discomfort of changing them.

But what is the alternative if we don’t?  Well for me it would have meant staying in a job I was growing more and more out of love with, remaining stuck in a body I hated and never following my real path and finding work that fulfilled and challenged me.

So I challenge you to ask yourself, what beliefs are you telling yourself that are holding you back from achieving your best midlife?

Grab a pen and paper, or your journal if you keep one, and start getting real about what it is that’s stopping you.

Write down as many beliefs as you can.  Don’t hold back, however uncomfortable it might be.  (Hint, no one needs to see what you’ve written unless you choose to let them!).

Next ask yourself if the belief is true.  Some will be some won’t be.

A limiting belief that says I can’t lose weight is totally untrue however, if your concern is that giving up alcohol might cause backlash from your friends, that may well be true.

If you decide the belief is untrue, then you can choose to disregard it.  If, on the other hand the belief is true, you still get to choose what you do with the situation.

If your mates are likely to give you backlash for not drinking, ask yourself a few hard questions.  Does it really matter?  Is this just a handy excuse for you to not give up?  What are the consequences of giving in to your mates on your health?  Would they be more understanding if you explained your reasons? Etc.

I’m not saying it’s easy to simply ignore the fear that will come with thinking differently.  But if you feel fear it’s just your body’s way of trying to keep you safe.

The mind will do one of 3 things when it senses danger:  fight, flee or freeze.  All of which are great strategies if there’s genuine danger.  If I’m faced with a life or death situation you bet your life I want to know that my fear strategies are going to kick in and either fire me up to fight the threat, or run away.

But look back at the answers you gave to what is keeping you afraid.  How many of them are really life or death?  I’d go so far as to guess that none of them are genuine threats to your safety.

I truly believe that the biggest barrier to us living our best life are the hurdles we put in our own way through the limiting beliefs that we have about ourselves.

Working on changing our mindset is the number one strategy for living our very best life.

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Bev Thorogood is a certified nutritionist and health coach specialising in helping women navigate their way through menopause and beyond.   With a strong focus on mindset she offers personal and group coaching to help women remove the blocks that stop them from living their best midlife.

If you’re looking for help to move you towards a better midlife book a FREE breakthrough call – it might just change your life!

BOOK A BREAKTHROUGH CALL FOR FREE

Oh, and just before you go, why not join our fabulous facebook community ‘Fifty, Fit and Fabulous’ for support, help, inspiration and motivation from other women just like you?

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Time for a New Year Detox?

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Time for a New Year Detox?

Christmas and New Year tend to be portrayed as a time for celebrations, festivities and fun times with friends and family.  But for many the reality can feel anything but fun.

Toxic relationships and negative thoughts can leave us feeling painfully unhappy and whittle away at our self-esteem.

So now that the holidays are over, maybe it is time for a detox?

My good old Mum used to say it was ‘out with the old and in with the new’.

The start of a brand new year is a perfect time to have a clear out and get rid of anything toxic that we’ve been hanging on to that isn’t serving us well.

By the way, I’m not talking about a nutritional detox here.  If you’ve over indulged on prosecco and chocolates over the holidays don’t worry, you have kidneys and a liver that can do a pretty good job of that for you so just get back to what you were doing before and you’ll be back on track in no time!

No, I’m talking about the other toxic parts of your life that you have to filter out consciously.

Like people maybe.

We have a fear of letting go even if we know that someone makes us feel less than we deserve to feel.

But if you are hanging on to toxic people, for your own sake, it’s time to get rid of them.

You’ll know who these people are.  They’re the ones who:

constantly criticise, belittle and snipe at us.

Time to get rid.

mask their criticism as thinly veiled advice.

Time to get rid.

make passive aggressive comments constantly.

Time to get rid.

take advantage, and take more than they ever give.

Time to get rid.

get off on putting you down in order to make themselves feel big.

Time to get rid.

Is it easy to remove toxic people from your life?

Sometimes, sometimes not.

But the easy route isn’t always the best.

When I walked away from my first marriage at 26 years old, with a 1 year old and no money or family around me it was not an easy decision, but it was the right one.

Of course, it doesn’t all have to be quite so extreme.  For example, it’s far easier to unfollow someone on social media or choose not to socialise with a particular person.

But what if you HAVE to see someone?

Maybe it’s a boss or a work colleague, or even a family member such as your mum?

Well there are always choices and decisions to be made.

You could change jobs, ask for a transfer, speak to the other person to see if there’s a way to change the situation or enforce some non-negotiables into your relationship – on your terms!

But, if you genuinely can’t change the situation then it’s time to detox the mind!

If you can’t control the situation then you have to learn to be in control of your response to it.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your permission”.

When toxic thoughts creep in, such as “I’m stuck with this” or “I don’t deserve better”, “I’ve made my bed so I guess I have to lie in it” or “I couldn’t cope on my own”, in fact, any number of other BS rubbish we tell ourselves, it’s time for a mental detox.

It may scare you…. a lot!

You may be fearful of what you will have to go through and yes,  it might be painful but there is nothing you can’t cope with.

You are strong enough to deal with anything and anyone.

Nothing is set in stone and there’s nothing in life that can’t be altered.

You are worthy of being happy, loved and respected.

You do deserve to be your true self, and you do deserve to stand tall in your own power.

Your opinion is as valid as anyone else’s and your life is yours to live your way.

You are pretty enough, smart enough, talented enough, good enough, lovable enough, strong enough, brave enough and sexy enough already –  you need nobody else to validate this for you.

When we clear toxic people from our lives we create the space for better ones to step in to the gap they leave.

When we refuse to harbour toxic thoughts we allow space for healthier, happier, calmer and more empowering one’s to fill the gap.

So, it’s out with the old and in with the new.

And here’s to a Happy New You.

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Bev Thorogood is a certified nutritionist and health coach specialising in helping women navigate their way through menopause and beyond.   With a strong focus on mindset she offers personal and group coaching to help women remove the blocks that stop them from living their best midlife.

If you’re looking for help to move you towards a better midlife book a FREE breakthrough call – it might just change your life!

BOOK A BREAKTHROUGH CALL FOR FREE

Oh, and just before you go, why not join our fabulous facebook community ‘Fifty, Fit and Fabulous’ for support, help, inspiration and motivation from other women just like you?

 

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Overcoming Inertia aka Getting Out of Your Own Way!

 

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Have you ever had that experience where you set yourself a great big kick ass goal?

You’re all fired up and raring to go.

You’ve made lists of lists of things you’re going to do to get into action.

You tell yourself ‘this is it.  This time I’m going to do this thing’!

You set yourself a start date and you wait with excited anticipation for the date to come.

Your motivation is through the roof, you’re feeling totally prepared, totally ready and you know that this time is going to be different.  You can just feel it.

Now at this point a couple of things happen.

Either, you’ll do exactly what you say you’re going to do.  The ‘start date’ will arrive and you’ll dive into action like a rocket launching into space.

Or, in between writing out your to-do lists, getting prepped and actually getting to the start line, you somehow manage to talk yourself out of getting going.  You convince yourself of all the reasons why it won’t work out and why now isn’t the right time after all.

Let’s take a look at scenario number one because this is looking like the better of the two options right?

So there you go, you’re flying.  You’re ticking off items on your to-do list quicker than you can write them and you are ON FIRE!

For a day or two.  Maybe even a week or two.  If you’re really fired up, maybe even a month or two.  Then blow me, one day you get distracted and you miss one of your list items.

Gradually doing all the great new things stops being quite so easy.  The novelty wears off.  You feel your motivation giving way and old habits start to creep back in.

You get despondent and start to feel like a failure – again!

You desperately start looking for that lost motivation.  It must be somewhere, you know you had here before – why can’t you find it again?

You’ve read all the motivational social media memes so you know you need to go back to your ‘why’ and do whatever it takes to remind yourself why you wanted this in the first place.

You’re doing all the right things, but that elusive motivation still won’t show itself.

So you go back to your old ways.  You miss your goal.  You blame yourself for being too lazy or too disorganised or too hopeless to stick to anything long term.

What was the point of starting anyway – you always fail right?

Wrong!

You simply made the mistake of assuming that motivation alone would see you through.

I’ve got some news for you.  It won’t!

But, you’re thinking to yourself, other people seem to manage to stay motivated so it MUST be my fault, my failing, my flaw.

Nope, wrong again.

No one reaches their goal in the long term simply by relying on motivation.  It just doesn’t happen.

So what about scenario number 2, how come you didn’t even get off the starting blocks.

Well, here you’d already convinced yourself you would fail so why even bother starting.

You’ve recalled all the times in the past when things didn’t work out.  Maybe you’ve tried scenario one a dozen times before and it always ends the same way, so what’s the point.

You’ve created stories in your head based on past experiences that you somehow believe are true.  They must be true because that’s what you believe, and all the evidence is just further proof that it’s true!

Wrong again.

You’re basing your beliefs on flawed information and erroneous evidence.

You see there’s a couple of things happening here.

Firstly, let’s understand the motivation issue.  If you can’t rely on motivation to keep you going, and will power is finite, how do you make the changes necessary to reach your goal.

How do you get out for a run when it’s cold and raining outside?

How do you stop yourself from reaching for the wine to help you ease your stresses each night?

How do you stop yourself from binge watching box sets on Netflix?

How do you keep going when every fibre of your being is telling you to give up and give in?

Well, first off, you stop trying to be so damned perfect!

You’re human and by nature of being human you’re imperfect.  You’re flawed.  You’re normal!  You’re not super woman (or man!) and no one except you expects you to be.

Second, you’re trying to change too much at once.  It’s overwhelming.  The mind can’t cope with all this change.  It’s scared and it wants to protect you from the unknown.

Third, you’re over thinking it.  You’re giving your mind time to consider what it wants you to do.   And believe me the mind wants you to do what is easiest.  That way it doesn’t have to work so hard.

The human brain is amazingly efficient.  It finds ways to automate and take the easy route for pretty much everything.  And that’s a good thing.  Imagine if you had to consciously think about every single little decision you made every day!

Imagine if you had to consciously think about remembering to breath, to blink, to digest your food…

You’d be exhausted.  So the brain does a great job of taking the pressure off your conscious mind by automating a huge chunk of your decision making processes – we have a name for these unconscious decisions, we call them habits.

So your mind is constantly looking at ways to automate its processes, building habits that keep your primal brain feeling safe – doesn’t matter if it’s what you want or not.  Your brain defaults to the security of what it knows and trusts.

So how do you overcome inertia, mind blocks and inaction?

You have to make the unconscious conscious.

You have to override your unconscious mind and start making conscious decisions.

You have to accept that motivation is not the answer and fight through all the self-imposed barriers that your mind is putting up.

You have to TRICK the mind into action.

Mel Robbins, in her book The 5 Second Rule, has a very simple tool for tricking the mind into action.

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Here’s what she says you should do.

As soon as you get the intuition to do something towards your goal you count backwards from 5 to 1 then physically move!

That’s it.

Try it, it works.

She backs this simple little life hack up with some pretty solid science.  Explaining that in doing this you’re engaging the pre-frontal cortex, the part of your brain you engage when you take action and change your behaviour.

You see what you have to rely on are small decisions.  Decisions that keep you moving forward, one step at a time.

There is no magic in hitting a goal.  It’s not that some people are more gifted at sticking to their goals than anyone else.  It’s not that some people are smarter, more committed or more genetically wired for success than anyone else.  It’s simply that they have found the way to power through their mind blocks.

They’ve learned to override their subconscious objections.  Their inner resistance.  Their inner fears.

And it takes effort and again, as Mel Robbins says in her book, it takes ‘courage’!

Let me tell you about a goal I set for myself and I how I felt about the outcome.

A couple of weeks back I drove down to London to attend a seminar.  I knew that one my favourite podcasters was going to be speaking there and I set myself a goal to speak to him and ask if he’d be a guest on my own podcast.

This guy is like the number one health and fitness podcaster in the UK – I have a tiny little podcast and I’ve only been doing it for a couple of months so this was a BIG KICK ASS goal I’d set myself.

I had a 2 and a half hour drive down to London, and all the while I was driving I was thinking about what I was going to say to him.   The mind chatter went something along the lines of ‘YESS! I’m going to be brave and just go up and introduce myself and say hi, and ask him outright if he’d be a guest’.  The immediately my monkey brain kicked in ‘don’t be ridiculous you’ll make a complete fool of yourself, he’ll never say yes to you’.

Then again I’d push forward with some positive self talk ‘don’t be stupid, he’s only another human being, what’s the worst that can happen, he says no, so what!’.

But then off I’d go again, my ego getting in the way ‘But if he says no, which he probably will, you’ll be so embarrassed and EVERYONE will know you messed up’.

I’m not sure how I thought EVERYONE was even going to know but that’s the monkey brain for you.

Anyway we got to the first break at the seminar and I got the opportunity to say hi and introduce myself.

I had a choice, give in to my fear of rejection, or dive in and see what happens.

In a split second I had to make a decision.

I’ve never been good at putting myself forward in situations like this.  I’m not the sort of person who can walk into a room full of people and just go up and join in a conversation.  It terrifies me.

My hands were clammy and my heart was pounding in my chest.

But I did something in that moment.  I made a decision to act.

I didn’t allow myself enough time to talk myself out of it.  I smiled, said hello, introduced myself and you can listen to the podcast I recorded with Ben Coomber here.

You see, he said yes.  All my fears were for nothing.  And you know, even if he had said no, no one would know.  No one would even have cared.  But if I’d not overcome the inertia of not making a quick decision I’d have missed the opportunity to get one of my favourite podcasters as a guest on my own podcast.

What is it they say, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!

Without realising it at the time, I’d applied Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule and it worked.

I also applied her rule earlier today when I sat looking at a long list of organisations I wanted to contact to see if they might be interested in hiring me to do some training for them.  I hate making cold calls.  I fear rejection.  It literally fills me with dread.  I’ve been putting it off for weeks.

But I know that if I don’t make the calls I will never get any business and I will never make a sale.  And if I can’t make a sale I can’t stay in business.  And if I can’t stay in business I have to find a job.  And that means all my goals, my dreams, go out the window!

So I made a decision to contact a minimum of 5 organisations today.  I set a timer on my phone and gave myself an hour to do it.  The timer ticking down meant I was under pressure to take action.  I made the calls.

Guess what?

I didn’t die.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought.  I got to do what I love doing most – talking to people.  What’s so scary about that?  It’s what I do in my coaching practice all the time.

But I bet you, when I set the clock tomorrow morning and contact the next 5, I will still feel the fear, I’ll still want to avoid doing it, but it’ll be just a tiny bit easier than last time.

So that’s it – how do you overcome inertia and get out of your own way?

Just make the decision and do it.

You can listen to this Blog read as a Podcast by visiting my Podcast on iTunes and Podbean

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Bev Thorogood is owner and founder of Floresco Health and Lifestyle Coaching .  She’s a PN1 Certified Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach, a personal trainer, exercise instructor, wife, mum and Nan!

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I work with clients to help them make the health and lifestyle changes necessary to thrive, rather than simply survive, through midlife and beyond.

I’d love to invite you to book a FREE 50 minute breakthrough call with me to see how I can help you to achieve your health and lifestyle goals.

You can book directly using the link below.  You’ll be under no obligation and the call is absolutely free.

If you’re ready RIGHT NOW to take back control of your midlife, book you call today

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Dealing with the Embarrassment of Menopause in the Workplace

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The date is 14 August 2017.  I’m sat in the rather uninspiring Squadron tea bar in the Section where I work for the RAF, eating my lunch; a healthy homemade salad of rice and peppers with chicken.  I’m chatting with a male colleague who’s asking me what culinary delight I have in my tupperware box.

My daily food choices had become something of a talking point since I’d refined and changed my diet the year before!

As I attempted to answer his questions, I found myself unable to recall simple words.  For example rice or peppers!  I knew what they were – I was staring at them in front of me – but for some reason I simply could not make the words come out of my mouth.

I tried to make light of it, trying desperately to disguise the embarrassment and rising fear that was building inside of me.

About an hour earlier I’d had an ocular migraine.  I’d suffered from these painless visual disturbances for about the last 5 years.  They occurred roughly every 12 to 18 months and lasted about 20-30 minutes at a time.

But losing my words?  This was totally new to me, and very frightening.

My colleague picked up that something wasn’t right, but as I tried to explain to him that I’d not long since had a ……….. nope, I couldn’t remember the word for headache, or migraine, or the name of my friend and work colleague whom I’d been with when the episode had occurred an hour earlier.

I was frantically trying to explain to him that these migraines were a bit like that creature, you know the one in that film, you know the one called, you know…….. but I just couldn’t remember the name of the film – despite having used the same metaphor less than an hour earlier.  I was trying to say Predator, but the word just wouldn’t come!

I felt myself welling up, then tears rolling down my cheeks.

I felt mortified.  I hurriedly put the lid back on my half eaten lunch and virtually sprinted out of the tea bar to full on cry in the ladies’ loos.

When I’d finally composed myself and at last remembered the word rice, I dried my eyes, splashed my face with cold water and made my way out of the safety and solitude of the ladies’ toilets.

As I stepped from the loos into the corridor, my lunch colleague was waiting for me.  Looking lost and completely out of his depth, but with an obviously caring nature, he was keen to know how he could help.

I didn’t know what was happening myself and wasn’t in the right frame of mind to discuss it in the corridor.  Poor man, I think I must have been rather abrupt as I told him quite curtly ‘I’m fine!’.

Once back in my office I telephoned my husband Mark, who insisted I call and make an appointment to see my doctor.

I did as I was told, and was advised that a doctor would call me back imminently.

The next thing I knew I had a severe pain in my head and felt physically sick.  My memory for words seemed to have recovered but my head felt ‘cloudy’.  That’s the only way I can really describe it.

The doctor called me back as I was being driven home early from work.  He told me to come straight to the surgery.

On arrival about 30 minutes later, a health practitioner carried out a number of tests which, I began to realise, were to check for signs of a stroke.

I was given an appointment to attend the stroke clinic at Peterborough City Hospital first thing the next day.

I was given a CT scan, an ultrasound on my carotid artery and various tests which, thankfully, showed no evidence of a stroke.

As a belt and braces measure I was asked to come back in for an MRI scan and told not to drive.

Thankfully the MRI came back clear and by mid October I had the all clear to drive again.

I can honestly say this was one of the most frightening experiences I’ve ever had.

Interestingly, at no point was menopause mentioned as a potential contributing factor, despite the fact that the ocular migraines had only started since I’d reached the age of about 45.

Now, I don’t share this experience as an opportunity to berate the doctors of medical staff that treated me.  In fact, their swift action in getting me tested was laudable and testament to the amazing work done by our wonderful NHS (it may have its shortfalls but I believe we are so lucky to have it!).

No, my reason for sharing is to highlight that menopause can be a contributing cause of so many symptoms, way beyond the more commonplace hot flushes and mood swings.

Apparently there are over 140 symptoms directly attributable to peri-menopause.

Hormonal fluctuations, as occur during peri-menopause, are a major factor in migraines, although for some women who may have suffered migraines throughout their menstrual cycle, the onset of menopause may actually reduce them.

You may be surprised by some of these other, less obvious, symptoms of peri-menopause:

  • Poor or impaired spacial awareness
  • Acne, eczema and psoriasis
  • Itchy skin – often felt as like ants crawling
  • Bleeding gums
  • Panic attacks
  • Burning tongue
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Body odour changes
  • Electric shock sensatations

Whilst it would appear that menopause is responsible for more symptoms that we may realise, I would also stress that it is important to get any episodes that worry you checked out by a GP and don’t assume it is simply the menopause.

I was relieved to discover my incident was migraine and through my own research I’m fairly convinced that it was menopause related.  But, it could have been a TIA (mild stroke) or a full stroke.

In fact, if I’m honest, at the time I even wondered if it was early onset Altzheimers!

The other point I wanted to make was that I believe had I realised at the time that it was a menopause related issue, I may have been less frightened and more willing to talk about it openly with colleagues.

This may seem to run counter to current research which suggests that menopause is a ‘taboo’ subject in the workplace.   Certainly, research I have done through surveys of menopausal/midlife women suggests that this is the case.

However, my experience is, thankfully, more positive.  When I worked for the MOD, I found I was quite comfortable speaking about menopause, despite working in a predominantly male environment.

I appreciate this is not the case for every woman, but I believe that it is imperative that we, as midlife women, lead the way on opening up the dialogue around how menopause is affecting us.

Let’s face it, if we ourselves are embarrassed to talk about it, can we really expect those colleagues who aren’t going through it, either by dint of age or gender, to feel comfortable broaching the subject?

It’s time to make menopause mainstream and we can help to start this process immediately – simply by talking openly about it.

Bev x

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Bev Thorogood is owner and founder of Floresco Health and Lifestyle Coaching .  She’s a PN1 Certified Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach, a personal trainer, exercise instructor, wife, mum and Nan!

You know, you don’t have to suffer through menopause.  I work with clients to help them make the health and lifestyle changes necessary to thrive, rather than simply survive, their menopause.

I’d love to invite you to book a FREE 50 minute menopause breakthrough call with me to see how I can help you to take full control of your menopause and get you back to feeling like you again.

You can book directly using the link below.  You’ll be under no obligation and the call is absolutely free.

If you’re ready RIGHT NOW to take back control of your midlife, make that call xx

Book My Menopause Breakthrough Call

 

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10 Top Tips for Remaining Cool through the Hot Flushes!

Menopausal woman having a hot flash at the office

Oh Boy!!  It’s pretty hot in the UK right now.  I can’t recall such a long period of dry, hot weather for a long time.

It’s great when you’re on holiday and can sit back and chill with an ice cool drink in your hand, but it’s definitely not so much fun when you’re trying to get on with your day – stuck in an office with no air con feeling that awful, all enveloping surge of heat rising up from your toes.

When you feel it coming on your heart starts to sink.  As if 30º heat isn’t enough without our own, in-built boiler firing up too.

Well, thankfully, there are some things that you can do to deal with the hot flushes as they arise, and also to make life a little more comfortable longer term too.

Here, I’ve put together a quick list of my 10 top tips to help you beat the heat and hopefully feel a bit more comfortable in the Summer heat.

STOP!!!   TAKE A DEEP BREATH

Assuming it’s safe to do so, and you’re not driving or something equally requiring of your full attention…. stop what you’re doing for a moment, close your eyes and take a few long, deep breaths.  Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.

Do this as soon as you feel that first surge of heat beginning to take hold and keep doing it until the heat subsides.

Here, you’re giving the parasympathetic nervous system (that part of the nervous system that slows everything down and basically does the opposite of our flight or fight response) time to take over and tell your body everything is ok.

Don’t underestimate the effect of deep breathing to instantly manage an upcoming flush.

USE THE POWER OF VISUALISATION

The brain is very clever but we can also trick it pretty easily.

When you close your eyes and take those deep breaths above, you should try and visualise something cool and calming.

Maybe standing in the middle of an open field, arms outstretched with cool raindrops raining down on your body.

Or perhaps imagine yourself diving into a cool swimming pool, or riding the cable car in your favourite ski resort, or running into the cool ocean at the beach.

Whatever works for you is fine – just get the imagination working over time.

Trick your brain into believing it’s cool.

CHOOSE YOUR CLOTHING CAREFULLY

Choosing fabrics made from natural, rather than man made, materials will help keep you cool.

Fabrics such as cotton, linen, bamboo (yes honestly!), calico and if you can manage to feel sexy in this heat, maybe try a bit of silk!

Some companies are even making pyjamas that wick away moisture, meaning you can get through the night sweats without having to get changed at 3 in the morning.

Check out this Daily Telegraph article all about hot flush-proof pyjamas here.

START LAYERING

Once you’ve got the right fabrics, it’s time to think about a bit of forward planning.  It’s all very well being prepared for the heat, but what about when that breeze picks up and the sun goes down a bit later in the day and suddenly we’re feeling the chills.

The answer is to wear a few light layers that are easy to take off and on (nothing worse that doing a Harry Houdini impersonation as you struggle out of that sweat top!).

Keep the clothes you choose loose and comfortable.

It’s all very well dressing to impress, but you won’t feel very impressive in the midst of a hot flush, that’s for sure.

Try loose, linen trousers and a light cotton top, light cotton weave cardigan and maybe a linen jacket.

If you really do need to smarten things up, check out this linen trousers and jacket combo from Marks and Spencer

M&S Linen Suit

INVEST IN COOL, COTTON SHEETS

If things are hotting up in the bedroom, you might want to invest in some cooling bed sheets.

In fact, there are a range of sheets available these days that not only keep you cool, but also wick moisture away from you.

Avoid man made materials, for the same reasons as above.

Using a flat sheet as a cover rather than a duvet will certainly help you stay cooler on hot summer nights.

Although high quality, high thread count sheets may sound ideal, in reality a looser weave that allows air flow is more comfortable.

Have a look out for bamboo sheets and linen, both of which are excellent choices.

TRY A MENOPAUSE FRIENDLY MATTRESS

Often as we get older we go for a memory foam mattress to aid with aches and pains, but if you’re suffering with night sweats and overheating at night then this may well not be your best choice.

Going for a mattress made with natural fibres will serve you better.

Hybrid coil and latex mattresses are a good choice during menopause and investing in a ‘sleep cool’ mattress topper might also help, without the need to buy a new mattress.

LIMIT STIMULANTS SUCH AS CAFFEINE

There seems to be some evidence, and certainly my own anecdotal experience, that drinking caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee and cola, exacerbates hot flushes and night sweats.

Changes in oestrogen levels during peri-menopause can affect the body’s ability to regulate temperature and as caffeine speeds up the metabolism, it also fires up the menopausal engine.

Coupled with the fact that the majority of our caffeine intake tends to come in the form of hot drinks, which will also raise the body temperature, it’s probably best to avoid them where possible.

If poor sleep is also a factor in your menopause, then avoiding caffeine will  have a positive effect on the quality of your sleep too.

AND WHAT ABOUT ALCOHOL?

Sorry to tell you this, but there’s also some evidence to suggest that alcohol is another trigger when it comes to hot flushes.

Like caffeine, alcohol increases body temperature and causes ‘flushing’.  We nearly all know someone who, whether menopausal or not, turns beetroot red after just a small glass of wine!

Reducing or eliminating alcohol during peri-menopause may help reduce the number and severity of hot flushes.

If you find you’re sensitive to caffeine and/or alcohol, best to just cut it out temporarily.

FIND YOUR INNER PEACE

We spoke earlier about deep breathing and visualisation as an instant relief for hot flushes, but longer term we want to be finding ways to reduce stress.

Unfortunately worrying about the embarrassing and distressing effects of hot flushes can lead to an increase in stress, which in turn releases stress hormones, in particular cortisol, into the bloodstream, which can actually trigger a hot flush.

So the more we worry and fret about the possibility of a hot flush coming on, the more likely we are to have one.

Using meditation and midfulness practices can be hugely beneficial in reducing the negative thoughts that can create chronic stress and bouts of anxiety.

Incorporating restorative exercise such as yoga can also help to create space to allow you to manage your feelings of overwhelm, worry and anxiety.

There are some great apps available to help with meditative practices including some of my favourites Calm, Headspace and Daily Yoga.

CONSIDER TAKING SUPPLEMENTS

There are a number of supplements that may help to reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flushes.

B Vitamins, particularly B9 (folic acid) can be found in soy and soy products including tofu and soy dairy alternatives, however if you were to take a B Complex supplement it may help.

Omega 3, found in oily fish and fish oil supplements, is vital for cell health and has been shown to help reduce both the frequency and intensity of menopause symptoms, particularly hot flushes.

Fat is also essential for hormone production and balance, and it is this imbalance that occurs during per-menopause that creates the inability for the body to regulate its temperature effectively.

So there you go, a mix of short and longer term solutions to help you get through the hot weather as comfortably as possible.

You might also be interested in downloading a copy of my FREE e-book, Fifty, Fit and Fabulous, Midlife Mastery from the Inside Out, in which I offer some additional strategies to help you navigate this turbulent, but equally exciting, time in your life.

Simply click on the image below to get the ebook sent directly to your inbox.

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Let me know how you get along with the tips above.

Stay cool!

Love Bev x

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Bev Thorogood is owner and founder of Floresco Health and Lifestyle Coaching (formerly Fitness and Fat Loss Coaching).  She’s a PN1 Certified Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach, a personal trainer, exercise instructor, wife, mum and Nan!

You know, you don’t have to suffer through menopause.  I work with clients to help them make the health and lifestyle changes necessary to thrive, rather than simply survive, their menopause.

I’d love to invite you to book a FREE 50 minute menopause breakthrough call with me to see how I can help you to take full control of your menopause and get you back to feeling like you again.

You can book directly using the link below.  You’ll be under no obligation and the call is absolutely free.

If you’re ready RIGHT NOW to take back control of your midlife, make that call xx

Book My Menopause Breakthrough Call

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What Is Chronic Inflammation and Why Is It Important When It Comes to Your Health?

Ankle Inflammation

 

Inflammation can be a very good thing.  When you twist your ankle and it gets red and swollen, you know things are working properly.  That’s your body doing its job to heal.  That’s a good thing.

The problem comes when there is chronic, and often silent, inflammation happening inside the body, at a cellular level – and you don’t even know it.  This type of inflammation can ultimately lead to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and even cancer.

Chronic inflammation is often the result of a poor diet high in processed/fast foods, poorly managed stress and/or sleep deprivation.  By making a concerted effort to consume a well rounded diet of whole foods, practicing stress management techniques, as well as creating a routine to ensure you get deep, productive sleep, you have the power to reduce chronic inflammation and greatly improve your health.

Interestingly, these same lifestyle changes are exactly what help to reduce symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes and brain fog!

A diet rich in antioxidants from whole foods is vital.  Consume a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, well sourced animal or plant protein and healthy fats rich in Omega 3s.  Much of the standard Western diet is overly high in Omega 6 fatty acids, which can be highly inflammatory when consumed in excess.

Both Omega 6 and Omega 3 are essential for the body – Omega 6 has the role of causing inflammation whilst Omega 3 does the opposite.   We simply need to get the ratio in better balance.

Do your best to eliminate or reduce sugar and refined carbohydrates, as well.

Incorporating stress management techniques into your daily routine helps to reduce inflammation too.  Try some simple guided meditation, journalling, deep breathing exercises, or progressive muscular relaxation.  Yoga, dance or even a brisk walk outside can help to take the edge off.  Or try engaging in a “flow” activity like colouring, crochet or sewing.  Whatever works for you is the best practice to include into your daily life.

Deep restorative sleep not only makes for a better day, it also helps to decrease chronic inflammation. If this is a struggle for you, consider trying some of the following strategies:

  • Create a bedtime routine so your body knows it’s time for sleep
  • Go to bed and wake at the same time every day – even on the weekends
  • Turn off all screens at least one hour before you plan to go to sleep
  • Keep your bedroom exclusively for sleep and intimacy – no tv or workout equipment
  • Take a warm bath with Epsom salts

Implementing some of these simple shifts can greatly improve your health and reduce chronic inflammation in the process.  What are you going to try this week?  Let me know in the comments below.

Finally, if you’re suffering with menopausal symptoms too, why not download a copy of my FREE ebook ‘Fifty, Fit and Fabulous – Midlife Mastery from the Inside Out’ for further tips on how to manage your menopause naturally.

Midlife Mastery EBook FREE Download

Best Wishes

Bev

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Bev Thorogood is owner and founder of Floresco Health and Lifestyle Coaching (formerly Fitness and Fat Loss Coaching).  She’s a PN1 Certified Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach, a personal trainer, exercise instructor, wife, mum and Nan!

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Finally Coming to Terms with Breast Cancer

silhouette of man touching woman against sunset sky

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I was 15 years old and I’d just come home from a boring day at school.

Like most 15 year olds I was way too cool for school.  The teachers didn’t get me, the lessons were boring and all I really wanted to do was mess around with my mates until the final bell rang.

It was a typical day, just like any other school day really.

I’d walked to the local parade of shops at lunch break (or dinner time as we called it in Newcastle), with my small group of girlfriends.

We waltzed into Greggs the Bakers giggling and screeching as young teenage girls do, to buy our usual cheese and onion pasty and a bottle of pop.  The staple diet of most kids in my school in 1981.

I had no idea as I chatted noisily through my lunch that I was going to go home to the worst news I’d had in my short 15 years of life.

I was about to find out that my Mum, at the age of just 45, had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

I knew Dad was taking her to the hospital but I believed it was to have a cyst removed, although I didn’t actually know what that meant and I didn’t know where the cyst was.  I think at 15 I was too preoccupied with boys and making sure my leg warmers were the right colour to be concerned about anybody else.

I recall Dad telling me and my brother that when they’d opened Mum’s breast to remove the cyst they’d found that it was, in actual fact, a tumour.

If I’m honest the rest of the story is a bit of a blur after nearly 40 years.

I do have a strange memory of being told that my Dad had been asked to sign a form giving permission to remove the breast there and then, and that the decision to remove the breast or not sat with him.

As I write this it seems somewhat unlikely but that’s certainly how I remember it, and I can only imagine that if that was the case, then it must have been the most horrendous decision for my Dad to have to make.

The following weeks and months are also a blur in my memory.  Although I do recall Mum having to go through radiotherapy and suffering from what I can only liken to the most horrendous sun burn.

An ambulance would pick her up from home and take her to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where they would blast her with doses of radiation to kill the cancer cells.

I recall having to cook dinner because she simply couldn’t stand to be around any kind of heat in the kitchen.

I believe they can be much more targeted in how they deliver radiotherapy now, but it seemed in those days they just zapped everything like a farmer spraying a field!

She lost one breast and they had to remove some of the lymph nodes under her arm.

I recall going with her to a department store in Newcastle to help her choose mastectomy bras into which she would insert a jelly like prosthetic breast that seemed to weigh a ton and felt ‘funny’.

I recall her crying a lot and being snappy and moody.

I also recall, with deep regret, that I was not always sympathetic.  Looking back I realise I simply didn’t understand.  I was so far out of my depth.

My Mum and I – I was aged about 14 so probably not long before her diagnosis.

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I really was a stroppy teenager!

As the months passed and Mum’s treatment came to an end I recall her getting the all clear after a couple of years, but having to be on a drug called Tamoxifen for quite some time after.

Over the next 7 years Mum seemed to really grow as a person.

She joined groups and made new friends.  She started teaching adult literacy classes to adults with reading difficulties.

She took part in shows and performed on stage.  She and my dad took up lawn bowls and got back into ballroom dancing which they’d always loved.

Mum, about 3 years after her initial diagnosis, on stage with the local WI Group

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It was as though she had been given a new lease of life and was going to live it to the full.

She went to Germany to visit my cousin; the first time she’d ever been abroad.  She was so excited.  My cousin Alison was always her favourite niece!

Six years after her original diagnosis, I married my first husband and went to live in Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides.

We had no home phone, but Mum and I would talk for hours on the public telephone in the phone box at the end of my road .  This was way before the days of the internet or mobile phones.

In Dec 1987 I moved to the East Midlands.  Mum and Dad came to visit us in our new house but, just one month later, we received the news that we’d all been dreading.

The cancer had returned, but this time it was in her bones – and the prognosis this time was not good.  It was terminal and nothing could be done for her.

What followed was a long, slow, painful death sentence that left Mum paralysed from the waist down.

She lost her battle with cancer on 22 September 1988.  I was 22 years old.

Nearly 30 years later and I still can’t help but cry as I write this.

My experience of breast cancer has, not surprisingly, formed my belief system around this awful disease and whilst I am fully aware that research, treatments and diagnosis are now so much better than they were in 1980, on an emotional level I still struggle to come to terms with the fact that breast cancer is no longer the death sentence it used to be.

You might think that having been so closely affected by the effects of this disease I’d have spent the last 30 years finding out about it.  Researching it.  Making sure I knew everything there was to know about it.

Truth is, I avoided it.  Avoided anything to do with it.

I started reading a novel once and the leading female character was diagnosed with breast cancer so I stopped reading it.

I won’t watch anything on TV about it either.

I’m not sure why but maybe it saves me from facing my fears that this could affect me too.

As certain milestone birthdays have come and gone I’ve become more curious about my feelings and emotions where Mum and breast cancer are concerned.

Me on the Left Aged 51, Mum on the right Aged about the Same. 

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I love that we look so alike!

I worried in the few years leading up to my 45th birthday – the age Mum was when she was diagnosed.

I worry too as I head towards 54 – the age she was when cancer finally took her from me.

I lead a completely different life to my Mum though.

I’m fortunate not to have the financial pressures she and my Dad had.

My diet and my lifestyle choices are different to hers.

I don’t smoke, she did.  I exercise regularly, she didn’t.

I have had a much easier life in many ways than she had.

And, of course, modern treatments are so much more sophisticated than they used to be.

I try now to live a ‘cleaner’ life.

I eat fewer processed foods, more whole, fresh foods.

I drink very little alcohol nowadays and limit the amount of caffeine I drink.

I relax more and use meditation and mindfulness to calm my mind.

But that little nagging worry is always there, in the back of my mind.  Could it happen to me too?

MEETING FIONA AND COMING TO TERMS WITH MY FEARS

About 6 months ago I met a lady I’d known ‘virtually’ via a Facebook group, in person.

Her name is Fiona Maunder and I recall thinking that she looked gorgeous. She was in great shape, fit, strong and glowing.

She told me that 6 months earlier she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer, had had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and had started blogging her journey.

She also told me that she’d just been given the news that she had come through the treatment and was now officially cancer free.

I started reading her blog, FitnessFi and the Big C and following her on Instagram.  I was inspired by her positivity and her reluctance to let her diagnosis stop her from maintaining her fitness and commitment to exercise.

I began to realise that my own belief – that there was only ever a negative outcome from this awful disease – was simply flawed.

I had the privilege to recently interview Fiona for my Podcast, Generation Exceptional, where she honestly and candidly told me of her journey from diagnosis to the all clear.

Her story has helped me to change my own mindset around breast cancer and fear it less.

Although for a short time, after hearing of her diagnosis, I do recall thinking that if someone as fit and healthy and Fiona can fall victim to this horrible condition, then what is the point of trying to live a healthy, ‘clean’ lifestyle?

As I found out when I interviewed Fiona, her form of breast cancer is known as Triple Negative – which means its cause is genetic rather than hormonal, suggesting that her lifestyle may have played little part in the diagnosis.

But for all I know her health and fitness may have been exactly what helped her to fight and win the battle.

According to the charity Breast Cancer Care, it’s important to eat a balanced diet, low in processed foods and high in whole foods.   And let’s face it, we all know that this is good advice for all manner of reasons, not just cancer prevention.

Cancer Research UK states that almost 8 in 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer are predicted to survive the disease for at least 10 years.  They also state that breast cancer survival in the UK has doubled in the last 40 years.  This is all great news.

My intention now is to do more research into the effects of diet and exercise on prevention and long term management of breast cancer and as I learn more I’ll return to blog my findings.

For now, if you’d like to hear Fiona’s story you can listen to my recent podcast by clicking on the link below.

Generation Exceptional Podcast with Fiona Maunder

Fiona is running in The Great North Run in Sep 18 for Breast Cancer Care and you can help her to reach her fund-raising target by donating on her Just Giving Page

If you’re a breast cancer survivor, let us know in the comments.  I can’t believe I’m alone in needing to hear that there is a positive message here.

*****

For more help with eating well, visit me at www.florescofitness.co.uk or find me on Facebook at Floresco Health and Lifestyle Coaching or you might want to join my Facebook Group, Fifty, Fit and Fabulous, a fabulous community full of information, motivation and inspiration for anyone heading towards, through or beyond midlife.

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Bev Thorogood is owner and founder of Floresco Health and Lifestyle Coaching (formerly Fitness and Fat Loss Coaching).  She’s a PN1 Certified Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach, a personal trainer, exercise instructor, wife, mum and Nan!

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How To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the summer holiday season rapidly approaching, many of us are looking to shed a few pounds in the hope of looking and feeling great rocking that swimsuit.

It’s not unusual to try and crash diet a few weeks before the departure date, often reaching out for quick fix solutions like diet shakes, meal replacements and other severe calorie restricted plans.

It might also spur us on to give it all we’ve got at the gym for a few weeks in the belief that we really can get a bum like Kylie’s in 3 weeks flat!

The problem comes when we get on holiday and within a couple of days we’re feeling more like Jabba the Hutt than Kylie Minogue!

So what can we do to stop the holiday bloat and avoid the pounds piling on?

SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Firstly, we have to be realistic about what we can achieve in a few weeks leading up to the holiday.

Ideally, we’d start the weight loss process way ahead of the holiday date.  The length of time before will depend on how much weight we want to lose but a realistic target is to aim for around 1-2lbs per week (or half to 1kg).

But if you have left it until the last minute then crash dieting is not a good strategy.

Don’t try and ‘cram’ for your holiday – it’s not an exam!

It doesn’t take long for the metabolism to slow down when we severely restrict calories, which means that as soon as we return to normal eating patterns, then the pounds will pile on.

As soon as you get on holiday and start eating and drinking normally you’ll feel bloated and the pounds will pile on quickly.  In fact, most of us don’t eat and drink ‘normally’ on holiday.  We tend to over-indulge – and why not?  Isn’t that why we have holidays in the first place?

So if you have left it all a little bit late, by all means eat sensibly and maybe reduce calories slightly on the lead up to the holiday, but avoid very low calorie, meal replacement style restrictive diets – you’ll feel far worse by the 2nd or 3rd day of your holiday anyway.

Approach your holiday with a strategy for how you’re going to enjoy yourself without coming back feeling like you’re carrying extra baggage and a whole load of holiday guilt!

Maybe you will decide to allow yourself to fully enjoy your evening meal, and yes you will indulge in a dessert or a cocktail or two with dinner, but you’ll compensate by having a light lunch and avoiding the ice-creams and lunchtime drinks.

Perhaps you decide in advance that you will only choose fresh fruit for dessert or that you’ll dilute your drinks with sparkling water or diet soda.

Whatever you choose, try to have a plan before you go.  Set yourself some boundaries, without being overly restrictive, and accept that you aren’t on holiday every day of the year and that some weight gain may be inevitable.

Avoid being too restrictive when you get on holiday.  Telling yourself you absolutely can’t have something will push your willpower to the limit, and when it snaps there’s a good chance you’ll tip the other way and binge on anything and everything you can get your hands on.

PLAN FOR THE AIRPORT WAIT

Airports are packed full of eateries and it can be very easy to get into ‘holiday mode’ before you’ve even boarded the plane!

But do you really need that massive plate full of cheesy nachos and a double gin and tonic and 5.45am!

Many airline companies no longer serve a hot meal on the flight so we’re left to choose from highly processed hot dogs and burgers.  Not great!

Try picking up something a little healthier to take onto the flight with you – and remember the bottle of water too.  In fact, you might also want to pack your own healthy snacks for the flight since the airport is likely to be pretty expensive.

If you’re on a long flight you should try to get up and walk around regularly so you don’t suffer with swollen legs, there’s nothing worse than starting your holiday with ‘cankles’.  Flight socks can also help to avoid swelling.

AVOID BLOATING

Lots of things can affect how our body hangs on to excess fluid, but feeling bloated can really ruin our holiday.

The best way to avoid this is to make sure that you remain fully hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

This is often easier when we’re on a sunny, beach holiday when it’s hot as we naturally want to drink more, however our needs also increase so making sure you get enough is imperative.    Aim for 3-4 litres of water each day.

Alcohol dehydrates so try to have a glass of water between each alcoholic drink and avoid drinking alcohol during the hottest part of the day.

Check the colour of your pee to see if you’re dehydrated.  A hydrated body has very light yellow, almost colourless and odourless urine.  It’s the best way see if you’re hydrated or not.  Don’t rely on thirst – by the time your thirst signals kick in you could already be pretty dehydrated.

Make water more interesting by asking for a piece of fruit or a mint leaf and some cucumber in it.  Try sparkling water in a wine glass and it’ll feel more like you’re having a ‘proper’ drink.

GET ACTIVE

cYCLING

If you’re a regular exerciser than getting your exercise in on holiday shouldn’t be a problem but if not then what better time to get moving than when you’ve got so much more spare time and so many new places to see.

Stick a pair of trainers in your suitcase and get walking.   Exploring the local area can get your step count cranked up.

If you’re put off by walking in the heat of the day take an early morning stroll along the beach before the crowds spoil the view.

Or go for a leisurely walk after dinner to soak in the evening air (and help your dinner go down!).

Try a new activity, maybe surfing or snorkelling or hire a bike and go exploring.

Many resorts and hotels have a gym and getting up before breakfast for a quick workout can make you feel very virtuous and offset some of those extra calories you might enjoy throughout the day.

Or how about a few lengths in the hotel pool?  Cool down and burn off a few cocktails at the same time.

 

ALL INCLUSIVE DOESN’T HAVE TO MEAN “EAT AND DRINK IT ALL”- INCLUSIVE

If your holiday includes all your food and drinks avoid the temptation to go down the ‘well I’ve paid for it so I might as well have it’ route.

You may have paid for the convenience of all inclusive, but if you throw caution to the wind and aim to REALLY get your money’s worth – you could end up gaining more ‘pounds’ than your bargained for.

If you’re faced with a breakfast buffet try to go for some good protein options; cooked meats, eggs and yoghurt.  Also try to include some fresh fruit.

Another good tip is to head to the end of the buffet table and have a good look at what’s on offer before you join the queue.   Remember you’re there for a few days so you don’t need to try everything at once!

Don’t assume a continental breakfast is a healthier choice than a full English – pastries and croissants are packed full of empty calories.

Decide which is going to be your ‘main’ meal of the day and aim to reduce the quantity of food eaten at the other meals.   But, avoid skipping meals as this could easily lead to getting over hungry and over indulging.

NOT SO ‘HAPPY HOUR’

COCKTAIL

If you’re tempted by the hotel bar’s ‘Happy Hour’ try to make good choices.

Fruit based cocktails will generally contain fewer calories than creamier ones.

Choosing olives over the crisps and salted nuts to snack on can help reduce the calories consumed, and avoiding the snacks altogether will be even better.

There’s a very good reason why the barman is offering you salty snacks and it’s not to help with your electrolyte balance!

Salty snacks encourage you to drink more by making you feel thirsty.  Who’s a clever little barman!

Don’t forget too, that alcohol is very good at ruining our good intentions.  Our judgement over food choices goes out of the window after a few cocktails.

EXPECT TO COME HOME WEIGHING A LITTLE MORE

Lastly, remember we don’t go on holiday to feel deprived.  We go to let our hair down and have fun, and often that involves trying new and exciting cuisines, wines and other local specialities.

It’s important that we don’t ruin our holiday (and those we’re with)  by putting severe restrictions on what we allow ourselves to do.

We need to accept that there’s a good chance we might come back a few pounds heavier.

How much weight you put on will come down to the choices you make while you’re away.

Whilst being overly restrictive will spoil your holiday, equally, throwing all caution to the wind and simply eating and drinking to excess isn’t going to help you either.

It’s all about finding balance.

So decide what is ‘on the table’ and what’s ‘off the table’ before you go.

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For more help with eating well, visit me at www.florescofitness.co.uk or find me on Facebook at Floresco Health and Lifestyle Coaching or you might want to join my Facebook Group, Fifty, Fit and Fabulous, a fabulous community full of information, motivation and inspiration for anyone heading towards, through or beyond midlife.

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Bev Thorogood is owner and founder of Floresco Health and Lifestyle Coaching (formerly Fitness and Fat Loss Coaching).  She’s a PN1 Certified Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach, a personal trainer, exercise instructor, wife, mum and Nan!

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Ten Easy Breakfast Ideas

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Breakfast seems to be that one meal where we all struggle to be creative.  It’s so easy to get into a rut of eating the same thing day in day out or skipping it all together.

And whilst gone are the days where we believed that breakfast was THE most important meal of the day, for many people it can still be the best way to get their day off to a great start.

When I work with clients, especially those who struggle with sugar cravings and mid-morning snacking, one of the first things I do is get them to switch their usually high carb breakfast for a more protein and fat based one.

This invariably has an almost immediate effect of not only keeping them fuller for longer, but also stopping them reaching for the biscuits and cake at 10 o’clock and getting that mid-afternoon slump.

Often the result is so quick, literally a day or two, that they think it’s some kind of magic!

In reality, it’s simply that fats and proteins are more satiating, keeping you feeling satisfied for much longer.

They also have much less effect on the release of insulin than carbohydrates and therefore reduce the blood sugar highs and lows associated with sugary cereals and processed carbs.

So I’ve put together my Top 10 favourite breakfast ideas to share with you.   They’re quick, easy, tasty and some can be even be prepared in advance to save you more time.

Often people think they don’t have time to cook breakfast or eat better in the morning, but I promise some of these recipes are ready in less time than you think.

1. Make Ahead Baked Omelette

This has got to be my absolute favourite because it is just so versatile.  You can prepare ahead, it lasts for a few days and you can pretty much pack it with whatever veggies you’ve got hanging around in the fridge.

Baked Omelette

I use 6 eggs, beaten, and add whatever I have to hand.

 

This usually includes things like asparagus, spring onions, red onion, spinach, feta cheese, chorizo, ham, mushrooms, garden peas, broccoli  – honestly just chop them up and mix them through with the eggs.

Pour the whole lot into a lined or greased 2lb loaf tin and bake in the oven (about 180 degrees celcius) for approximately 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

The beauty of this breakfast is that you can cook it in advance, stick it in a food container and take it with you if you’re in a rush as it’s great hot or just as lovely cold.

Slice it up, and it should last about 4 days if you keep it in the fridge.    You’ve got all your protein, fats and veggies in one, portable and very tasty little package!

2. Mixed Berry Smoothie

Another favourite of mine if I need to grab breakfast and go, is a good protein smoothie.

Blueberry Smoothie

Whey protein powders can be a great whey (see what I did there!!) to get extra protein in if you find you struggle.

There are many different manufacturers out there, so try them and see which flavours you like.   In this one I used The Protein Works Banana Smooth flavour.

I just love the rich, deep, pink colour of this Mixed Berry Smoothie and it is surprisingly filling.

I’ve used almond milk and water about 400ml in total. Half a banana. A handful of frozen mixed berries. A dash of lime juice and a tiny squint of runny honey. A handful of spinach. a scoop of whey protein powder and then simply blitzed up in a blender.

Gorgeous and very filling.

3. Boiled Eggs and Soldiers

Alright, I know it’s a bit childish, but hey who wants to have to ‘adult’ all the time anyway!

boiled eggs

The trick to getting this perfect is to make sure that the eggs are at room temperature before they go into the water.  If you keep your eggs in the fridge (that’s a whole other discussion!) take out what you need the night before.

Bring a pan of water to a rolling simmer (that means just bubbling on a low to medium heat if you’re not sure) and then add the eggs and time them for between 4 to 6 minutes depending on how well done you like the whites and the yolk, and also how big the eggs are.  You might have to play around a few times to find out what timing gets you your perfect boiled egg.

Toast a piece of sourdough or multiseed bread to dunk into your golden beauties, spread with a thin layer of proper butter (avoid the highly processed fake butter spreads) and enjoy.

Here’s my dad’s top tip – tap the top of the egg that you’re eating last, so that it just breaks the shell, to stop the egg from continuing to cook.

I have absolutely no scientific proof that this actually works, but my dad said to do it so it must be true!

4. Skyr Yoghurt with Honey and Walnuts

I don’t quite recall when I first discovered Icelandic Skyr yoghurt, although in reality it’s not yoghurt it’s cheese, but I’m really glad I did.

Skyr

It has a fatty, creamy texture but is totally fat free which is great if you’re watching your calories, and it’s packed full of protein.

I prefer the flavour to Greek yoghurt, although there’s no reason in the world why you couldn’t swap the Skyr for Greek yoghurt if you choose.  Remember though if you use full fat Greek yoghurt the calories will be significantly higher.

Here I’ve simply topped a couple of tablespoons of Skyr with about 15g of broken walnuts and drizzled a little runny honey over it.  You could use agave syrup if you preferred.

This really has got to be the quickest breakfast ever, plus, it kind of feels like you’re eating dessert for breakfast so it’s an absolute winner!

5. Perfect Poached Eggs on Toast

Nothing seems to cause as much debate as the question of how to poach an egg.

Do you need a special poaching pan?  Should you prick the yolk?  Do you need to wrap them in clingfilm?  To vinegar or not to vinegar, that is the question?

Poached Eggs

OK I have to say that, at the risk of sounding big headed, poached eggs are definitely my thing.

I have to give credit, once again, to my old dad.  He may not have spent much of his time in the kitchen, (being a proper Northern bloke who spent his adult life working in the ship yards!!) however he did know his way around these little ovoid gems, and he taught me well.

So, here’s my fool-proof guide to perfect poached eggs.

First, and this is pretty crucial, make sure they’re the freshest eggs you can find.  The fresher the better.  If you’ve got a neighbour ‘round the corner who sells eggs, go and get to know her (better still if you can keep a couple of chucks yourself you’ll have a constant supply).

Next is to bring a small saucepan of water to a rolling simmer (see above!!).

Add 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar.  You can use any vinegar but I find that white wine doesn’t add any taste to the eggs.

Get a wooden spoon and slowly stir the water to create a small whirlpool (you do not need to whisk so hard you cause a small cyclone!).

Once the water is spinning break your egg straight into the water, getting as close to the surface of the water as you can without scalding your fingers.  (If you feel more comfortable you can crack the egg into a teacup and pour from the cup, but that just seems like extra washing up to me).

Let the egg cook for about 3-4 minutes, and then gently use a slotted spoon to ease the egg away from the bottom of the pan (assuming it has stuck slightly).  If the egg floats upwards, gently take it out of the water and check that the white is cooked to your liking.  If not, place it back into the water for another 30 seconds and check again.  Repeat until the white is cooked (the time it takes to cook will depend on the size of the egg and whether it was straight from the fridge or at room temperature).

Once cooked, drain onto a piece of kitchen paper and then serve on top of a piece of buttered wholemeal or sourdough toast.

If you want to get really ‘chefy’, stick a sprig of flat leaf parsley on the top!!

6. Waffley Good Pancakes!

My daughter bought me a waffle iron for Christmas a couple of years ago so I could make protein pancakes look fancier.  What she didn’t realise when she bought it was that it also makes them so much easier to make too.

You can pick an electric waffle maker up off Amazon for under £30 and they’re brilliant.

chocolate waffles

Now this really is like having dessert for breakfast but don’t be fooled, it’s still really good for you!

For my waffles I put 1 egg, 1 scoop of whey protein (any flavour you choose, I used Chocolate Silk by The Protein Works), 1 tbsp of rolled oats, half a tsp of bicarbonate of soda, a tiny splash of almond milk and half a frozen banana, into a high speed blender.  I have a Nutri Ninja, 1000w and I love it.

Put the waffle maker on to heat and lightly brush the plates with a little olive oil.

When the ready light goes out, pour in your waffle batter and cook for a few minutes (usually about 4).

I’ve topped these with Skyr yoghurt, some strawberries and a squirt of Sweet Freedom Choc Shots to make it feel a bit more indulgent.

If you don’t have a waffle maker you can easily use the batter to make pancakes in a skillet or frying pan and they’ll be just as good.

7. Super Simple Banana Omelette

This has got to be the easiest omelette ever.  I used just one egg (but you could use two if you’re hungry).  I’ve whisked the egg with a fork, and added half a mushed up banana.

waffles

 

Heat a small knob of butter in a small frying pan and pour in the banana/egg mixture.

Cook for about 2 minutes each side until it’s lovely and golden.

Serve alongside some Greek or Skyr yoghurt and fresh fruit.  I’ve topped mine off with some Omega Seed Mix or you could use flax seeds, chopped nuts or sesame seeds.  Yum!

 

8. Smoked Haddock and Poached Egg on Toast

This breakfast not only packs a huge protein punch but also has the most amazing flavour.

It takes a little longer to prepare but it’s great for a Sunday brunch or weekend treat.

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Using a deepish frying pan, bring a mix of milk and water (to about 2/3rds full,) to a simmer.

Add half an onion, 2 cloves, half a dozen peppercorns and a bayleaf  to the milk and let it simmer for a few minutes to let the flavours infuse.

Meanwhile bring a small pan of water to the boil ready to poach the egg (as per the instructions above).

Slide a piece of smoked haddock into the milk and let it cook for about 5 minutes until the flesh starts to lose its translucent appearance.

While the fish is cooking, cook your perfect poached egg.

When they’re both ready, place them on top of a piece of toast, sprinkle with some chopped up baby spinach leaves and top with some ground black pepper.

TIP:  Try to buy undyed smoked haddock.  The bright fluorescent yellow stuff is full of unnecessary added colours, naturally smoked fish doesn’t glow!

9. Spinach and Red Onion Omelette with Avocado

Another great brunch or weekend breakfast recipe, this spinach and red onion Omelette is paired with half an avocado for some healthy fat to help keep you full.

spinach and onion omelette

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a shallow frying pan and gently cook the red onion until just soft.  Add a big handful of spinach leaves and let them wilt down in the heat of the oil.

Whisk 2 or 3 eggs together (depending on how hungry you are!) and season with black pepper.

Pour the eggs over the onion/spinach mix and use a spatula to move the eggs around as they start to set.

Cook on the hob for a couple of minutes to brown the bottom of the omelette and then place the pan under the grill (broiler) to cook the top.

Serve, folded in half, alongside half an avocado.

10. Broccoli For Breakfast – Honest!

A few years ago the idea of having broccoli for breakfast would have been absurd, but now I think, why not?  It’s packed full of fibre, vitamins and minerals not to mention protein and omega 3 fatty acids.  Honestly it’s one of nature’s great all-rounders.

brocolli and scrambled egg

What I love about this breakfast is that I can make most of it in the microwave in next to no time.

The scrambled eggs are literally just whisked together in a bowl (I used 2 eggs here) and ‘nuked’ for about 60-90 seconds (I do mine in 30 seconds blasts, then whisk and repeat).

The broccoli and mushrooms also get cooked in the microwave.  I put them into a small bowl, cover with boiling water and blast them for about 4 minutes.

The bacon is simply dry fried in a non-stick skillet.

So much healthier than a standard full English breakfast.

Hopefully this has given you a little bit of inspiration to try a few new ideas for breakfast.

My final top tip would be to try and make time to enjoy your breakfast.  So often we’re rushing out of the door with a grab and go slice of toast and starving again an hour later.

Make breakfast just as big a deal as your evening meal.  Sit down, enjoy it.  Savour it.  Take is slowly and enjoy the flavours.

Not only will it help your digestion, but I guarantee it’ll keep the stress levels down too.

For more help with eating well, visit me at www.florescofitness.co.uk or find me on Facebook at Floresco Health and Lifestyle Coaching or you might want to join my Facebook Group, Fifty, Fit and Fabulous, a fabulous community full of information, motivation and inspiration for anyone heading towards, through or beyond midlife.

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Bev Thorogood is owner and founder of Floresco Health and Lifestyle Coaching (formerly Fitness and Fat Loss Coaching).  She’s a PN1 Certified Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach, a personal trainer, exercise instructor, wife, mum and Nan!

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