This painting of Queenstown’s Four Seasons that was in the stairwell of the Event Centre where I held my live-event this week was stunning. It depicts everything I love about this beautiful part of the world and it’s why I keep returning to my old stomping ground. I’ve been in and around this region all my life so when I turn up to take my seminars, I’m always hoping that there is a wonderful past or present friend who turns up to surprise me. And there she was.
“You might not remember me?“, she said as she came in the door. I peered at the face and immediately said, “Joy, it’s you.“ Old primary school friends who have not seen each other for 40 years. But although the years pass by, there is always a glimmer of recognition that takes you back in time and place. I always love the connections that I make during my live-events – sometimes it’s old friends, sometimes it’s women who are on the MyMT programmes. It gives me a thrill and reinforces the research of Dr Susan Pinker, that face-to-face connection is important for our health as we age.
It was during the seminar this week that I mentioned the research of Canadian healthy ageing researcher and social behaviour neuro-scientist, Dr Susan Pinker. Thanks to her research on women’s health, I was able to explain that “Exercise and fitness is not the main determinant of our health as we age. And whilst it is important, if we aren’t sleeping, too much exercise becomes problematic. The purpose of sleep is to heal and restore and when we don’t get it, our immune health suffers. In fact, the major determinant of your health as you age is simply, ‘social connection’ and it’s more powerful than we think.”
In a beautiful environment such as Queenstown in New Zealand with the great outdoors, well … just outdoors, there were a lot of sideways glances. But knowing that our menopause transition is the biological gateway to our ageing, I went on to explain that there are numerous physical and biological changes in our body and this is why, when we make this biological passage towards the next phase of our life – our older age – it’s important to follow the women’s health research. Being fit, is not the same as being healthy. There are many women in menopause, who are really fit, but if they have sore joints, sore muscles, poor sleep and regular hot flushes, then this is a sign that their body is becoming increasingly stressed. I discovered this myself.
Understanding what menopause is, was life-changing for me.
This is because much of the research on women’s health as they age is replete with information about inflammation and the contribution that this makes to worsening health as we age. Yet, much of the popular information about lifestyle change, nutrition and exercise resonates with younger people, athletes and males. But as I said to women in the seminar this week, we are unique! We have had a different life compared to our mothers generation (the first of the Baby-boomers) and we exercise, eat and manage our lives with information that is not suited for this stage of life.
Women in their 50’s today are the first generation to be going into menopause facing the complexities of modern life – and the scientific exercise and nutrition research hasn’t kept up with this pace of life-course change. For example, the highest incidence of poor health as women age stems from post-menopause heart disease and many exercise practitioners and health practitioners have not had the understanding about this from an exercise and lifestyle perspective, so they continue to train women with exercise prescription that has been intended for younger people and athletes. After all, this is the main content of sport, exercise and health-education curricula.
What is ‘healthy ageing’?
When I began to put the menopause-jiqsaw together and look at why so many women experience worsening symptoms in their 50’s especially with changing cardiac, liver and muscle health, I followed the women’s health research. That’s when I began to look at other cultures and how, around the world, there are women from different cultures who don’t have the symptom experiences or health changes that many women from western cultures experience.
This led me on a journey to explore our changing health in mid-life and most, importantly, how we could reverse the effects of symptoms in menopause, not by following research that has been undertaken on younger people and males, but by looking at research that has been focused on women in mid-life.
The more I read, the more I began to leave behind the traditional models of menopause management. I also began to question the fitness and nutritional messages that we were subjected to as well. I had become so confused about how to look after myself because of the changing messages around nutrition, ketogenics, paleo, exercise, weight loss strategies, menopause supplements, HRT and more. And if I was confused, then I figured that a lot of other women might be confused too.
This was the start of how I began to think about how we could remove the confusion of menopause.
Which bought me to the Blue Zones research.
Blue Zones refers to a geographic area in the world where residents have greater longevity and health and from this research I was able to develop my 7 Pillars of Health and symptom reduction as women go through menopause into their healthy ageing.
The island of Ikaria off the coast of Greece is home to some of the healthiest, most vibrant older women on earth. Their lifestyles were researched by Dr Gianni Pes, from the University of Sassari in Italy and Ikaria became part of the Blue Zones group of countries. This is a term coined by Belgian demographer Dr Michael Poulain, who together with Dr Pes, have been studying the pockets of countries around the world who have the healthiest older people on the planet. These are called Blue Zone’s countries. Australia, New Zealand, the UK and USA are at the bottom of the ‘healthiest countries’ lists and with hormonal changes in menopause throwing thousands of women into obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, depression and joint problems in their post-menopause years, I knew I had to understand what women in these countries were doing to enjoy symptom-less menopause and a healthy older age. For the hundreds of women who have joined me on the revolutionary MyMT™ programmes, they are pleased I did as well.
Understanding this research changed my life and I hope it will change yours too when you join me! What changed my life the most though, was understanding that to reduce symptoms in menopause, lose weight, get more energy, and restore joint health, I needed to use this research to focus on healthy ageing and reduce the decades-long inflammation that menopause hormonal changes had made worse. Now this research that I have in the MyMT programmes is changing hundreds of women’s lives as well.
With MyMT™ and women’s healthy ageing research by your side, you discover the freedom of feeling healthy again!
Putting on our healthy ageing hat and following the research also means that we need to eat differently as we age as well. Whilst this is only one component of enjoying a long, healthy and vibrant life for women. For example, Ikarian women eat at least 2 cups of green, leafy plants a day. More than 150 varieties of wild greens, such as purslane, dandelion, and arugula (rocket), grow all over the island of Ikaria. These rich, dark, wild mountain greens are a great source of minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, as well as carotenoids–the colorful pigments the body converts to Vitamin A. So, one of the first things I did, was to eat more green-leafed plants.
To increase the absorption of my greens, I did start to juice them, but I also put them in salads and made it my goal to eat them every day. This is now one of my ‘non-negotiable’ daily nutritional strategies and it is the same for women on the MyMT programmes as well. Centenarians in all of the “Blue Zones” regions have access to leafy greens and hearty vegetables and they make up a large portion of their daily diets. In New Zealand, Australia, the UK and America, where many of you are from, there are plenty of these wild greens available and access to organically cultivated greens like collard, mustard greens, beetroot greens, spinach, silverbeet and kale that have nearly the same plenitude of nutrients. Today, Ikarians are almost entirely free of dementia and some of the chronic diseases that plague Western countries.
The basis of the MyMT symptom reduction programmes have come out of my doctoral research on women’s healthy ageing as we transition through mid-life. With menopause as the gateway to our ageing years, this is why some of the Blue Zones research features in the MyMT programmes as well as in the coaching posts and nutritional information I provide as part of each 12 week programme. If you are finding that your health and energy levels are changing during your menopause transition, then I would love you to have access to all the fabulous information I have in these programmes. Not only do I teach you how to turn around your sleep, liver health, energy and symptoms, but for those of you who need to lose your menopause weight, then will you join me? Because I have an entire programme dedicated to your weight loss – it’s called MyMT Transform Me.
There are food plans and recipes in the MyMT Food Guide and recipe book which I have put together so you no longer have to worry about what to eat from now to the end of your days! Everything is sourced from your exclusive member area on the website.
Every day women tell me how much healthier and energetic they feel. I love it when they feel like this, because we all have a whole lot more living to do (30 years in fact) and we need to remain healthy, happy and free of the diseases that plagued our mother’s generation. Come join me on your healthy ageing journey…. and leave all your menopause symptoms behind.
Happy weekend everyone.