Just for clarity.....the '3rd Age Woman' is defined chronologically as 35/40+ (Peri-menopause and beyond), starting to feel the changes associated with an unbalanced endocrine system both on a physical and psychological level but she's smart enought to see this life phase as an opportunity for a behaviour, attitude and lifestyle adjustment that will serve her way past this current life phase. The 3rd Age Woman is empowered not defeated by her chronology and 'time in the trenches' and knows that at this point in her life, she's smarter and surer than she's ever been and in an awesome place to create the change that will make life work for her now and going forward......So, I thought I'd share with you the philosophy of the 3rd Age Women's Club and our top 10 Ways to REALLY Rock Your 3rd Age and Power Up your Peri-Menopause and Beyond......
1. Empower yourself. See this life phase as your brand new shiny project. Restoring balance and harmony throughout all areas of your life are now your priority. Approaching your life and the tasks at hand with the mindset of 'you've got this life thing more or less' is a really powerful standpoint. Most of us KNOW by now that we can trust our gut.....most us KNOW by now how so many scenarios that present themselves will work out eventually and so can make so much better choices.....most of us KNOW what we DO want simply because we've gotten a taste of stuff we DON'T want.....most of us now have a very clear idea of how we want the rest of our lives to be......most of us KNOW what's got to go and what needs to come into our lives....what's working and what's not and maybe for the first time in our lives have the guts to make those big decisions....
2. Truly take time out to evaluate where you're at & do 'the science stuff'. Making choices that will probably affect the next decade of your life requires space to ask yourself some deep questions and then sit back and wait for the answers. Take time to truly identify your symptoms, if you are feeling a bit 'off', both on a physical and psychological level. For example, symptoms of low Progesterone may include weight gain, poor sleep, forgetfulness, tender breasts, increased anxiety, depression, mood swings........are you Oestrogen Dominant? Sitting down and getting clear about the areas in which you feel 'off' is time well spent and the beginning of piecing together your peri-menopause puzzle.
3. Drop the victim/I'm getting old mindset....you are officially entering your 'Power Years'....the 3rd Age is a time to celebrate the 'beginning'......not the end! The 3rd Age is the opposite of a pity party. Michelle Lyons (also co-author/tutor on the '3rd Age Woman' certification describes the Peri-menopause as 'the opposite of puberty'. Do you remember what you were like when you were going through puberty? Do you remember the feeling that the world was simply opening up to you? I think here too, when viewed through a polished lense, the 3rd Age should be getting us excited....we may feel a little crazy too but hopefully crazy/excited. I adore this amazing book by Marianne Williamson.
4. Assess then revise how you drink and eat because what you eat and drink in this life phase you most surely will wear and what you eat and drink now REALLY MATTERS in a way that it never has before. What suited your metabolism in your 20's & 30's most probably just isn't going to work now. Time for a reset. There seems to be 4 big issues in the 3rd Age as far as nutrition is involved for women and they are.......SUGAR, EXCESS STARCHY CARBS, EATING PROCESSED/NON-HOME COOKED FOOD and ALCOHOL. Most of our socializing in this life phase involve eating and drinking and if we're not careful to adjust to what our bodies actually NEED as opposed to simply continuing with outdated habits, we might end up with a body, energy and health that's very much not where we want to be.
5. Assess then revise how you exercise, again, the exercise sessions of your youth, when you had excess energy, time and a lower Allostatic Load, probably won't suit you at this point. Time for a reset and exploring other 'movement' avenues. Those long, slow exercise sessions ie., 1 hour on the cross-trainer at a steady pace whilst watching the soaps isn't a good fit for this life phase either. Most women at this point have elevated cortisol/stress hormones and long exercise sessions will further increase one's stress hormones.....increased Cortisol ultimately leads to a storage of fat, especially around the middle. The very place that most women are desperate to lose fat. What do you need to be doing instead?
a) Resistance/Weight Training & Interval Training - it's a MUST. To build muscle, boot your metabolism up the bum, increase Human Growth Hormone (your fountain of youth), keep your bones strong, stop your skin looking saggy, keep your cardio respiratory system in top shape.....the list goes on. Either way, if before you had the headspace of 'not wanting to build muscle' you need to ditch that headspace. In the 3rd Age, muscle is your friend.
b) You need also need to 'up' your total daily movement, especially if your work-day is sedentary - adding a walking habit to your day as a means of transport is a great way to get more movement. eight- building muscles. If you were 'weights shy' before, that really needs revising. As your hormonal profile starts to change, you will start to lose muscle.
c) Next up, you need to add some 'restorative activity' - yes......it's YOGA & MEDITATION TIME. The benefits of both are outstanding for the 3rd Age Woman on so many levels......movement, introspection, mindfulness, doing nothing, silence, listening to one's body.....these activities suddenly become A MUST DO rather than a COULD DO. Find your style, find what really speaks to you and apply liberally to your life.
6. If you haven't been, this is the time to start paying attention to keeping your bones strong and your Pelvic Health, a good exercise programme that involves resistance training and impact will do the job for your bones but in terms of your Pelvic Floor and general 'down there' health.....time to pay attention to any less than optimal performance whether it down to chronic poor digestion issues, excessive monthly bleeding - basically all the stuff that you've been 'putting up with'. Let's do a little 'life laundry' here and start asking the questions that will bring you closer to great health. I think we've all go the message that ANY continence irregularities are NOT NORMAL and shouldn't be 'put up with' and the same goes for any other Pelvic Health issues. Help is there, ask for it and don't stop until you're happy with the answers.
7. Revise your attitude to 'self-care'. It's a bit of a buzz word at the moment but still poorly practised by many women for fear of appearing selfish. Ultimately, regardless of the other hats you wear (mom, sister, carer, wife, partner) you are still YOU! And when anyone spends too much time tending to the needs of others ahead of themselves, this eventually creates resentment and a loss of identity. Not good on any level. Dr. Sara Gottfried talks about declaring 'Tiara Time' which basiccally involves wearing a tiara on your head to show those around you that you are officially doing 'ME TIME' and not to be disturbed. Such a simple way to define the boundaries that you wish to establish with those around you. Remember.....we teach people how we want to be treated!
8. Revise your vision of YOU! Are you where you want to be in your work, your friendships, your closest relationships, your nutrition, your fitness, your hobbies and interests? NOW is a good time to have a re-invent and do/try that thing that you have ALWAYS wanted to. NOW IS A GOOD TIME! Many of us were born to good at more than one thing in this lifetime.....where you started isn't necessarily where you need to stay. I love the infographic below and how many well know success stories, began in the 3rd Age.
9. KNOW that there is help for you in this time of transition....how you actually get to your 'hormonally happy place' may be a challenge, but know that every step of the journey will be illuminating. Will you need to seek some kind of hormone therapy to regain balance? Will you need to leave a toxic 'friendship' behind that add stress to your life? Will you need to finally admit defeat regarding the housework and hire help to create some TIARA TIME? I personally feel that all the time spent soul-searching and all the information I personally have ingested on the path to understanding what's going on with my body and mind and what it needs to feel awesome has been time and money well spent. I also invested in seeing an endocrine specialist where I underwent a series of blood tests to truly establish what was going on with my hormones only to find that my Progesterone, Thyroid, Testosterone and Vit D3 levels were all in the toilet and quite literally within a week of beginning to take a course of Bioidentical Hormones, pretty much all the symptoms I was experiencing (moodiness, hot flushes, itchiness, poor memory/concentration, brain fog, swollen breasts, bloated tummy) all subsided if not completely vanished. Caveat: of course this wasn't the magic bullet, I have most certainly had to do my bit and indeed done a lot of 'life laundry' on every level. Ultimately, either via your GP or a Private Endocrine Specialist, THERE IS HELP. Seek out good people who are both passionate and knowledgable and don't stop until you feel that have the answers you sought.
10. Finally, PLEASE make reducing your stress a HUGE PRIORITY - Both poor control of your blood sugar and stress can be the catalysts for a 'hormonal cascade' that will wreak havoc on all aspects of your life from your sleep, how you feel after you eat certain foods to your very peace of mind and sense of sanity.
If you are working in wellness and/or fitness with 3rd Age women and would really like to go deeper with your education and be able to provide a dedicated service for women at this special life phase, you'd probably like first of it's kind (in the UK), global, on-line certification tutored by myself Jenny Burrell of Burrell Education, Jessica Drummond of the Integrative Pelvic Health Institute and Michelle Lyons, global educator in Women's Health and Physiotherapy. A new class starts at the beginning of March 2015 and runs for 12 consecutive weeks......we'd love to have you class......wherever you are in the world!