How to be body confident in your 40s

Remember in your 20s when you finally got that taste of sweet freedom and you felt invincible? Your body was probably a lithe machine of a vessel! No neither do I because quite frankly, it feels like another lifetime ago, and almost certainly a different person! Fast forward to now – your 4th decade – and urban legend tells us that you should be feeling confident in your 40s because of a whole list of reasons. The greatest reason is because we are allegdly supposed to no longer give a shit about anything (hmm debatable). But what about being body confident?

For many of us, our 40s are a time of great change in our bodies and this is exactly why it’s the perfect time to rewrite the narrative around our bodies and self-worth. But how do we do that?

Today we’re giving the floor over to Body Confidence Coach Sarah Lyons who having recently turned 40 herself shares her reflections and tips for feeling confident in both mind and body in your 40s – whatever the situation!

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The fact that my body is now 40 years old is not something to be ashamed of, not something to hide or fix but it is a wonderful palace that I live in. My body is my home in this lifetime and I plan on enjoying it.

Having been around the block in regards to body confidence and finally made my peace I am truly looking forward to the next 40 year because it will not be filled with shame, self doubt or worry about  what anyone else thinks about me or my body. It is none of their business !

Being body confident means something totally different to me now  than even a few years ago. Body confidence to me was always about looking your best so people would think the best of you. It  was about trying to be a certain weight. Because being a teenager in the 90’s was all about being thin and thin ment being happy!

Body confidence now is about having an amazing connection with myself. I must be who I am regardless of how I look and regardless of what I weigh. Body confidence is about the relationship I have with myself and my body.

It has nothing to do with anyone else and I have stopped looking to outside sources for my validation and happiness. Yes I still love to wear my beautiful clothes but now I wear them for me to make me happy.

I can hear you asking how I got to this place of  body confidence. Well the answer is self acceptance and kindness.

Keys was to start being kind to yourself and accepting yourself are

  • To focus on your positive qualities
  • Say kind and positive words to yourself everyday
  • Avoid negative self talk
  • Set positive healthy goals and respect what your body can do.
  • Admire the beauty of others but do NOT compare yourself to them
  • Remind yourself that the media images we see are often unrealistic and unattainable .

Once I started to do these things they quickly became automatic, becoming body confidence is a change of mindset but it is something you have to work on daily. Putting in the work on yourself will lead to united rewards for you and the people around you. You deserve to live a fabulous life.

So how can we be body confident in different areas of our lives? As I said it starts with self acceptance and kindness. And here are some tips to get you started.

Social occasions

It is totally normal to feel some anxiety around social occasions , it is a new experience of meeting new people and being in a new place but try a few things to make it a little easier.

  1. Posture, you are a little bit older but there is no need to be slouching down. Stand tall with your shoulders back. Keep your head up and make eye contact.

2. Tone of voice -a friendly or gentle tone of voice is helpful in any kind of communication, especially an uncomfortable one. When you are mindful of how you say things, you will feel more confident. You will also make the people around you feel at ease.

3. Listen -becoming a good listener is always a good thing but especially in social situations. Don’t look at your phone all the time and use kind facial expressions to show you are listening.

4. Reality check -when we are in new situations like social ones our mind can run away with itself and we start to overthink or over analyze our existence and why we are there in the first place! Reconnect back to yourself with some deep breaths or box breathing .

5. Smile – my number one tip for loving yourself and feeling confident. Smiling is scientifically proven to make you feel better. Smiling at others will help you feel confident and make them feel great.

At work

Feeling confident at work can be hard if you don’t really love the job you are in – if it’s making you feel miserable and depressed then maybe consider moving on. Our work environment plays such a vital role in our wellbeing and confidence.

Here are my top tips for confidence at work:

  1. Cut out the negative self-talk. Try becoming your own best friend and use kinder, more reassuring words to and about yourself.By developing a positive mindset it will help you feel 100% more confident in yourself.

2. Focus on your own strengths not on your weaknesses, if anything needs some improvement don’t talk badly of yourself just work on it.

3. Ask for feedback, if you don’t ask for feedback you will never know how to improve and when its positive feedback just accept it and say thank you

4. Eliminate negative language – your body is always listening to you and if you are always talking to yourself in negative terms you will never feel confident.

5. Fake it till you make it, people may not agree with this one but it has always helped me out in a lot of situations. Acting like you are confident, speaking like you are confident is a sure way to start helping you feel more confident. The more you do it the easier it gets then you actually start to feel it for real !

Confidence as you get older

Our bodies change every day, none of us have the body we had 10 years ago let alone last year. Aging is part of life and it happens to us all no matter what expensive face cream we use! In order to start being confident at any age we have to accept where we are right now. Looking back and longing for the body we had in our 20’s is no good to us because we’ll never have that back . If we constantly measure ourselves against something in the past we are setting ourselves up for failure. Comparison is the thief of joy as the saying goes so whether you are comparing yourself to others or to your younger self it is not serving you . By doing this you will be chasing happiness that could be yours right now at this moment .

Here are my tips for being confident as we get older:

1. Write down all of your achievements – having done this myself I am blown away by how much I have achieved. You will be surprised when you start to really think how much stuff you have forgotten !

2. Develop and open mindset – when we have an open mindset we can start to learn new things and have new adventures. Life is for learning and you are never too old to learn.”Never stop learning because life never stops teaching”.

3. Update your image. Change up your look , change your hair or update your wardrobe this can give you an instant confidence boost.

4. Move your body. Our bodies love to move and find out how yours likes to move – is it dancing, pilates, yoga, or walking. Whatever it prefers, just keep moving.

5. Keep up the positive self talk, don’t join in when your friends start talking badly about thor bodies you steer the conversation to a more positive area.It very easy to get sucked in when others are talking but don’t let it. Stay with the positive !

6. Self care – looking after your well being inside and out will always help you feel confident and your body will thank you for it. Put yourself on top of the list.

7. Set some boundaries. This is also a form of self care. Get away from people who are draining your energy or making you feel bad. Think about the consequence of saying yes all the time.

Being confident at the beach or pool

For many this type of situation can cause a lot of anxiety. The thoughts of putting on swimwear can send people over the edge.

Again if you start to accept and be kind to your body this will be a lot easier .

  1. Buy a swimsuit that flatters your body shape.

2. Dont add any extra layers or skirts, this only adds bulk and may draw attention.

3. Remember having a beach body was made up by people in the fashion and weight loss industry to make you buy their product and feel bad about your body. Don’t let them win.

4. If you love the beach or love to swim don’t let the opinions of strangers stop you from doing what you love.

5. Remember fake it till you make it!

Having true body confidence comes from being our authentic self. When we are living as our true self everything starts to fall into place. It all starts with love and kindness towards you and your body. We only have one body in this lifetime and it’s our home so lets start loving and respecting it.

How confident are you feeling these days? Do you feel body confident? Share your thoughts in a comment below and keep the conversation going on our Instagram here.

Sarah Lyons is a body confidence and well-being coach for mums. Drawing from her own experience in motherhood she is passionate about helping mums develop a positive body image & reconnect to themselves. Get in touch through www.sarahlyonscoaching.com or www.instagram.com/themammycoach

Photo credits: Sunsetoned, Laura Tancredi,  Lisa from Pexels 

Tried and Tested: The summer edit + a massive giveaway!

Welcome to our new regular feature at 40 Now What where we hunt down and share with you some of the awesome things that have landed in our inboxes lately! In the name of you – our lovely readers – we have been busy chugging, chowing, nurturing and guinea-pigging ourselves to the max. Read on to find out what has made the cut in our recommendations to you in our summer edition of Tried and Tested. PLUS there is the chance to win over £1000 in prizes in our bumper giveaway where you can win a massive selection of the items featured in this edition.

So without further ado, come a little closer and let us tell you about this month’s shining stars because this month we have been….

Eating/drinking

Melitta epour

To say we are obsessed with Melitta’s new epour filter coffee machine is an understatement. With this sexy-looking machine on your countertop, great-tasting pour-over filter coffee has never been easier. The beauty is in the brewing process, which you will watch with an ohhhh and an ahhhhh thanks to its open filter allowing you to experience the brewing process at a touch of a button with all your senses. Extra brownie points for the pre-brew function which gives the coffee time for ideal blooming, so its full-bodied aroma can fully develop. Mmmmmmm…..coffee! The Melitta®epour® is available in two colour versions: Matt Back & GoldAND Matt Black & Chrome via melitta.co.uk RRP: £199.00

Wheyhey sugar free ice cream

This summer, we have been living our best life by devouring outrageously yummy and guilt-free tubs of Wheyhey sugar free ice cream. Packed with protein and naturally sugar free, made with the best bit of milk, from grass fed cows is a one way ticket to allowing yourself to live outrageously well without skipping on that well earned ice cream at 80 calories per 100ml serving. Because after all, life is better with ice cream! Wheyhey ice cream is available to buy in M&S, Spar and directly via Wheyhey.com across the UK starting at an RRP of £4.50.

Dietly snack boxes

Let’s face it – we all love to snack but when snacking options can start to become so blah can’t they leading to the road of all temptation. That’s why this summer we’ve been loving the snack boxes from Dietly. Choose from either Vegan or Keto boxes and be introduced to a whole world of healthy and yes – yummy! – snacking options you never knew existed be soon be so grateful to have in your life. From freeze dried fruits, to scrummy protein balls, popped cheese bites and nutritionally balanced energy bars Dietly has got you covered. Subscribe to Dietly’s monthly snack boxes for £40 a month at diet.ly.

SO PERF, Prebiotic + Probiotic Bars and Juice

We are big on gut health at 40 Now What which is why we have been chowing down on delicious superfood cold-pressed prebiotic and probiotic bars and juices from SO PERF designed to support the gut, immune system and microbiome health. Perfect for those who want to improve their gut health and reap the associated benefits but not predisposed to chowing down buckets of kimchi at every meal, the range from SO PERF is packed with superfoods, antioxidants, nutrients, fibre, protein and omega 3. Made with high quality fruits, nuts, seeds pre and probiotics which have been hand-picked to support your gut, immune system, microbiome health, brain function and energy which are both nutritious + delicious! Try a sample pack of their bars for £15.80 and juices for £17.25.

Berczy Hard Seltzers – 100% natural, low calorie low abv drinks

We know we should all be drinking more water right? So let’s make it more bearable with this fizz-tacular range of Berczy alcoholic sparking water. Still counts huh? Perfect for those dusk picnics with your tribe. With real fruit flavours of Passionfruit & Turmeric, Lemon & Lime and Peach & Raspberry. Always remember to drink responsibly. Try their taster pack for £14.95 at berczydrinks.com.

Doughlicious – gluten free ready-to-bake cookie dough

Guilt-free snacking at its best. It truly was ‘love at first bite.’ Every flavour is 100% gluten free. There are dairy-free, organic and vegan flavours too. The smell of freshly baked cookies will fill your home. You can choose to have a crispy or gooey cookie. Our favourite was the Double Chocolate Chip. What will yours be? Order now . Boxes from £3.99 at doughlicious.co.uk.

Happi Free From – Oat Milk Chocolate Bars

Having cut back on dairy to help combat eczema, you can only imagine our sheer joy at discovering these bars and we were not disappointed. Bliss is sharing a family-size choc bar with a loved one right? We can honestly agree there was no compromise on taste and we savoured every morsel. What are you waiting for? At £7 for 4 x 40g bars, check them out at happifreefrom.com.

Great British Porridge Co Instant & 100% natural

We’ve been instant porridge fans for a long time. You can add water or milk and create the perfect consistency for you and your whole family without the faff. High in fibre, no added sugar, dairy-free, gluten-free. It’s perfect hot or cold. The classic chocolate has become a breakfast staple in our house! See the range here thegreatbritishporridgeco.co.uk. Single bags start from £3.99.

The Protein Ball Co – 100% natural, bite-size protein balls 

These tiny balls of joy have got us yelling for more at 40NW HQ. High protein, gluten-free, no palm oil, no added sugar and packed with vitamins, these bad boys will get you through that afternoon slump. So many awesome combinations to choose from. We love the Peanut Butter ones soooooo much. You can pick a bag up from £1.99 direct from theproteinballco.com.

Looking after our bodies & minds

tried and tested

Dr. Vegan Supplements

If there are two things that have taken a pummeling during the pandemic, it has to be our energy levels and eyes. Sitting staring at a screen for all hours of the day and battling pandemic fatigue do not good bedfellows make. Thankfully Dr. Vegan’s Uber Energy Complete B-Complex and Screen Eyes Vision Health have been kicking us back into check on both fronts. Think naturally sourced supplements that are more absorbable, more affordable, made in the UK and not just for vegans! The perfect way to better yourself and the planet in one fell swoop. Shop the range from £6.49 at drvegan.com.

Raw Beauty Lab vegan collegen

Taking a collagen supplement when you hit 40 is a non-negotiable in our book. Why? In our forties, collagen has already been reduced signficantly and it is this that leads to wrinkles and sagging. But what if you aren’t keen on the plethora of bovine-based collagen supplements on the market because quite frankly, they can taste foul! Cue Raw Beauty Lab’s Vegan collagen which is made from skin boosting botanicals and harnesses the power of plants to protect and support beauty and wellness, with a delicious natural berry flavour which is hugely refreshing for a collagen supplement. Without a collagen after taste in site, we are converts! Available at Raw Beauty Lab at £34.95 for a month’s supply.

REDjuvenate red light therapy

If you have been battling fatigue, insomnia, pain or an injury recently then let us introduce you to the wonder that is Red Light Therapy. Harnesses the healing power of red and near infrared light, through photobiomodulation (PBM) and proven benefits for aforementioned applications, a 15 minute session at REDjuvenate Medical gave us the best night’s sleep ever (a major win for us insomniacs!) and boundless energy which felt like turning back the clock by twenty years. So how does it work? RLT targets mitochondria which are responsible for the energy generating spark plugs found in every cell. Many chronic illnesses are associated with some element of mitochondrial dysfunction, therefore, RLT is a targeted and effective treatment for many conditions. One session costs £85 (and is worth its weight in gold!). For more information on RLT and to book see redjuvenatemedical.com.

Efamol® Efalex Brain Formula Liquid

We all know the best way to get the nutrients we need is by eating a balanced and healthy diet, but if you are struggling to make sure you eat the recommended amount of oily fish, it may be worth considering taking a supplement. At a very reasonable RRP £9.99 for 150ml it’s available from efamol.com, Amazon, Boots the Chemists, health food stores and independent pharmacies. Always remember that food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a balanced diet or healthy lifestyle.

Wassen Magnesium-OK supplements

Wassen Magnesium-OK is a one-a-day nutritional supplement especially for women to help support general health and vitality throughout the monthly cycle and beyond. It contains a balanced combination of six important minerals including Magnesium which contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue and normal psychological function, plus chromium which helps keep blood glucose levels normal. Magnesium OK also contains eight vitamins including Vitamin B6, which contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity. Wassen Magnesium-OK (£11.99) is available to buy from wassen.com, Amazon, Boots the Chemists, health food stores and independent pharmacies. Food supplements should not replace a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Adbra Happiness Jars

With so many of us spending more time at our screens than ever before, sometimes we need a little prompt to encourage us to step away from the daily craziness of life and be in the moment. The latest addition to our desk comes in the from of an Adbra Mindfulness Jar. Think 30 micro mindfulness challenges to inspire and relax you and help you be more at peace if only for a moment. We absolutely love dipping into our jar when we’ve hit a wall during our working day and need to hit the reset button. The jars are also available in motivation, sustainability, friendship, self-kindness themes and more. Available at adbra.co.uk for £12.50.

The Positive Day Planner

Did you know it takes 21 days to form a new habit? We have been working on our positivity muscle at 40 Now What with the help of The Positive Day Planner. The Positive Day Planner is a 21-day gratitude practicing, affirmation affirming and self-commitment measuring mind dumping essential- that allows you to create your own happiness one day at a time. It’s the perfect tool for reflecting on the good things in your life, holding yourself accountable and feeling more positive about life – no matter what curveballs it may be throwing at you. The Positive Day Planner is available in 5 different styles at £10 each from thepositivedayplanner.com.

Dragonfly and Canamis CBD oils

If you’ve previously wanted to reap the numerous health benefits of CBD oils (anxiety, pain and insomnia relief but to name a few) but have been put off by the taste in on past attempts then you will love the CBD oils from both Dragonfly and Canamis. Think flavours in peppermint, anise, orange and cinnamon which really take the otherwise usual ashray taste away that can often be offputting for people. Needless to say, we are converts! Dragonfly CBD oil is available in a range of strengths available at Boots, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and online at dragonflycbd.com from £19.95. Canamis CBD oil comes in a whole range of favours with prices from £26. You can buy direct from their website canamis.com

Royce Lingerie

You know what we have really started hating over the last year? Underwired bras! So when we discovered Royce Lingerie – purveyors of beautiful wire-free bras, we could have cried with joy. Think incredible support and comfort rolled into one, we are absolutely in love with their super sexy Zahra matching set. The rounded cups are non-padded with a removable panel at the centre front offering the option of more or less coverage and the cups are lined with cotton making them super soft. The Zahra bra is £38 at royce-lingerie.co.uk.

Beautifying with

tried and tested

Eye Amour – Bella Vida Santa Barbara

Be gone eye wrinkles and fine lines! The latest addition to our beauty routine comes Stateside in the form of Bella Vida’s Eye Amour Serum. Creamy, rich and unscented – making it also perfect for those with sensitive skin – its lush blend of organic evening primrose, soothing organic aloe, vitamin E and rich organic oils do a stella job of deeply hydrating, soothing, repair ingand renewing cells of your fragile under-eye skin while you sleep. Eye Amour is $59.99 at bellavidasb.com.

Footner Exfoliating Socks

Feeling repulsed by the dry skin accumulating on your feet? So were we, until we discovered Footner Exfoliating Socks. Good god, the amount of dry skin that comes off your skin when using these babies is nothing short of INSANE. An intensive foot mask that peels away hard and dry skin in one 60-minute application then banishes all dead skin within  7-10 days. Super easy to use with no cutting, scrubbing or pain and not a foot file in sight, our feet still feel like a baby’s bottom 4 weeks on and counting. This is the future of feet people! Footner Exfoliating Socks are available to buy at Superdrug, Boots and Amazon for £9.99.

Face Yoga

Yes you read that right – face yoga! Did you know that just a few simple face yoga exercises each day can help to combat wrinkles, sagginess and puffiness we all battle against in our 40s. Whether you pick a few facial exercises to do in the shower daily or decide to have a massive self care session and dedicated face yoga sesh, you need a copy of Danielle Collins’ Face Yoga: Firming Facial Exercises & Inspiring Tips to Glow, Inside and Out which is packed with exactly that. If you’ve never tried face yoga before then okay…you may be silly….but let’s talk again in ten years time when you will be looking younger and more radiant than everyone else and therefore definitely not silly in the slightest! Danielle Collins’ Face Yoga is available from Amazon for £9.79.

***GIVEAWAY***

Would you like to get your hands on a bounty of items featured above. We love to share, so that’s why we’ve put together a massive giveaway to win a whopping £1000 worth of prizes! Would you like to win 10 sessions of REDjuvenate light therapy, a vegan and keto Dietly box, the whole range of SO PERF Prebiotic + Probiotic Bars and Juices, a selection of Berczy low calorie, low abv seltzers, a box of Doughlicious cookies, some Happi Free From – Oat Milk Chocolate Bars, a selection of Great British Porridge Co Instants, a range of no added sugar bite-size protein balls from The Protein Ball Co, a ADBRA Happiness Jar, a Royce lingerie matching bra and knicker Zahra set, a Positive Day Planner, a stash of Dr Vegan Screen Eyes and Uber Energy, two month’s supply of Raw Beauty Lab vegan collegen, some Canamis Peppermint CBD oil, Efamol Efalex Brain Formula, a year’s supply of Wassen Magnesium-OK supplements, some Footner Exfoliating socks plus some Eye Amour eye serum and a copy of Danielle Collins’ Face Yoga?

PHEW! That is indeed a MASSIVE giveaway! and you can enter it over on our Instagram as soon as it launches.

Follow us on Instagram now to be the first to find out and enter.

Are PMS symptoms worse in your 40s? Hell yes!

Life at 40 is full of lovely surprises and gifts of nature. Despite the fact we should probably be grateful for the bloody monstrosity that periods are (figuratively and literally!), I can’t help being excited at the fact that in as little as ten years time, I might be free of Aunty Flo barging in and turning everything upside once a month. Well, I say once a month, but really – it feels like the best part of the month doesn’t it? So are PMS symptoms worse in your 40s….well let’s open that can of worms shall we?

A life dictated by PMS symptoms

This is how things go down in my world. From the minute I finish my period, I have ooooh a few blissfully days before – boom! it’s ovulation time again. Then if I’m lucky, I’ll have a week of no hormone dramas before the PMS dramas start to roll around again. All of this feels like it’s happening within a blink of an eye.

Recent research Yoppie, revealed that 79% of UK women lose between 1-7+ days a month due to not feeling themselves during their menstrual cycle. I wish I could say it was only that for me because damn does it feel a whole lot more!

Enter the PMS swamp monster

Now I don’t know but ever since I started edging towards my 40s my PMS symptoms definitely started feeling worse. I was never one to want to crawl into bed like an old granny a week before I came on the rag. Now I regularly turn into Stig of The Dump’s sister. For those of you who don’t remember who Stig of The Dump was, he was a caveman out of a classic children’s novel (showing my age baby!). I become more and more like a cavewoman as my PMS becomes worse and worse.

Stay away from the boobs!

Please god, do NOT touch my breasts the week before. I last knew pain like this in my breasts when they were heaving with new milk as a new mother. Then there is the crippling fatigue that makes you feel like you’ve been run over by a combine harvester thousand times over. And not to mention the dark mood and frenzied anxiety which makes you feel as mad as a March hare. Hateful doesn’t even cut it. I become a seething bag of self-loathing and misanthropy, hunting down any chance to throw hypothetical daggers at anyone who so much as looks at me the wrong way. Cross at your own peril!

PMS brain drain

My PMS screws everything up – my ability to think, talk, hold things without dropping them. My ability to avoid injury and a subsequent visit to A&E because I am always walking into/falling over or smashing my head on things. I literally feel like I’ve had a frontal labotomy.

At least one of the benefits of this whole royal Covid mess we are still stuck in is that we get to stay at home and lick our wounds as much as we like.

What gives then?

Lucky us! Reason being for this increased PMS calamity is because PMS symptoms get worse when you reach perimenopause, the five- to 10-year stretch before menopause actually hits. (The average age when women enter menopause is 51.) Generally speaking, whatever symptoms you’ve already been having will likely be ramped up. Ahhh…the gift that keeps giving!

So now that we all know we are going to feel even more hellish with PMS symptoms in our 40s, what can we do about it? Here are some things I’ve started to do which have been helping me to keep a lid on the maniac within in the run-up to the Lady Business.

My – and your – PMS toolkit

Agnus Castus

Take Vitex agnus-castus, a herb that is used for conditions related to the menstrual cycle such as breast pain (mastalgia), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and more severe PMS symptoms (premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD. It’s an acquired taste but worth getting your tastebuds used to it if you don’t want to unleash your wrath on the universe every month. I absolutely swear by this!

Evening Primrose Oil or Starflower Oil Capsules

Although Evening Primrose have always been the PMS favourite in terms of reducing PMS symptoms – especially breast tenderness – some camps believe that Starflower Oil capsules are more effective. I just say take whatever you can get your hands on!

Menstruation Tea

I have only just discovered this wonderful premenstrual support tea from Hottea Mama and praise the lord I did! I swear as soon as I drank a cup of this all my boob ache vanished into the ether. It’s a really comforting brew of select herbs have been used traditionally for millennia to help women soothe cramps, reduce bloating, regulate hormones, improve sleep and regulate periods and now a firm favourite of mine. Buy it here.

Eating right

Step away from Uber Eats right now! As much as you’d like to dive right into a bucket of KFC and drown your sorrows in copious tubs of Ben & Jerry’s and vino, your PMS will not thank you for it! Yeah yeah preach baby I know. Instead, our friends at Natural Nutritional Health recommend the following:

  • Blood sugar is very important in supporting hormone balance. Keep insulin levels stable by eating 3 meals per day and include protein with every meal to ensure slow release of glucose from food. Reduce sugary foods and replace white carbs with wholegrains to help prevent mood swings.
  • Studies have shown that women with plant-based diets high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and herbs have fewer symptoms of PMS. These foods provide a multitude of nutrients (Vitamin E, zinc as well as those below) and antioxidants, aim for 5-7 portions of veg and fruit per day.
  • The above foods also provide fibre which supports gut health and bind to excess oestrogen, carrying it out of the body which helps balance hormones and lessen PMS.
  • Limit salt and replace with spices. Sodium can worsen PMS symptoms due to its role in fluid retention, which leads to bloating and swelling.
  • Drink more water (and less alcohol and caffeine!) – oestrogen and progesterone influence your body’s hydration levels so during PMS when hormones are erratic, increase water intake to help to ensure you are hydrated, this also reduces bloating.
  • Include calcium foods in your diet, such as dairy, salmon, broccoli, sardines, kale, sunflower, sesame seeds and tofu. Studies show eating calcium containing foods, alongside vitamin D (which plays a crucial role in the absorption of calcium), lowered the risk for developing PMS by as much as 40 percent. From Oct- March, it is recommended to supplement with vitamin D.
  • Magnesium keeps electrolytes in balance, without enough, you retain water. Magnesium also supports anxiety and insomnia. You can find it in leafy greens, nuts, legumes, bananas, as well as dark chocolate!
  • B vitamins especially B6 regulate hormonal activity and reduces PMS, think turkey, pistachios, beef, tuna, avocado, chicken, sunflower and sesame seeds. The combination of B6 and magnesium is a real winner for PMS support e.g., avocados!
  • Omega 3 fatty acids may help with the mental health effects of PMS and are found in salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines, nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts) they also have an anti-inflammatory effect, reducing pain and cramping.
  • Go organic where possible not only with your food but also cosmetics and make-up to reduce your exposure to harmful, oestrogen-like chemicals which disrupt hormones.

N.B. Sometimes therapeutic amounts of the above nutrients may need to be achieved with additional supplementation which can be discussed with a registered nutritionist.

Exercise

I know, I know, big fat eye roll here. You would rather drink a cup of sick than do some exercise when you’re feeling all gross and blobby but you need to fight this one out lady! So go on, peel yourself off the sofa as slowly as necessary and try to do some light cardio if you can –  walking, running (ok it might just be a very slow jog!), biking, and swimming are all good. Pilates and yoga also help. Low-volume strength training is also a good choice (especially if you’re feeling extra angry) – but just don’t go all Hulk Hogan on me (as if!) because lifting too heavy a weight puts pressure on your core and could worsen cramps.

Have your PMS symptoms got worse since you hit 40? Let it all out in a comment below my sister!

Picture credit: Photo by Sora Shimazaki & Anna Tarazevich from Pexels

The blight of bingo wings

Bingo wings. Yes we have laughed at old ladies, screaming 88 as their underarms wobble at the excitement at shouting bingo for decades! However, bingo wings are not as funny when they are happening on an arm near you.

One minute, you are minding your own slowly ageing business, as your muscles lose their tone and your skin loses its mojo…and the next, you are wondering – my God! How did those bingo wings get there?

Flappy arm muscles a-go-go

I am certain EVERYBODY over 40 ends up with bingo wings and I’m now convinced myself this is a mean side effect of being in your 4th decade along with all the other things that mother nature starts bestowing on you like saggy boobs, wrinkly tummies and fart-filled bottoms. But when did flappy arms muscle work their way into their equation?

We were only just getting used to bum wiggle, and the boob wiggle when all we are doing is merely brushing our teeth but now we have to deal with bingo arm wiggle too!

Banishing bingo arms? – bah!

But here’s the real annoyance. Not only have I discovered that no matter how furiously I inflict bingo wing exercises on my traitor arms following an army of idiots on You Tube who tell me THIS WILL BANISH YOUR BINGO WINGS FOREVER (yeah right!) that not only is there extreme wobbly business happening, but my underarm skin now has an incredible propensity to stretch way beyond what should be physically normal – akin to the sort of thing you’d find only on a trending TikTok effect.

Time to embrace?

The thing is, I know that bingo wings are just another part of my body, still, the double chubble makes me feel uneasy at their sight. The little voice in my head which subscribes to the body confidence movement says, embrace them! Why not let your bingo wings take flight and let them carry you through the window towards the dazzling light of your 4th decade?!

Or perhaps we can try another tactic which is: if 40 is the new 30, then denial is the new acceptance?

Body faciasm at its best

But the truth comes down to this: There no end to the physical mockery we keep being dealt in this game of weird body changes. And as much as I desperately want to reject the tyranny of bingo wings and raise my arms high and proud like a raver in the place then stick two fingers in the face of perfectionism, somehow my inner dialogue is cruelly supporting this body-fascism. I didn’t sign up for it, it’s just the way my monkey mind has been conditioned which tells me my bingo wings flapping in the sun is not a good look.

Ultimately, deep down I live in fear of the next part of my body misbehaving which it undeniably will do, and that it is secretly – or not so secretly – signifying the beginning of the end.

Do you suffer from bingo wings? Have they got worse since you hit 40? And please, does anyone know a way of getting rid of them that doesn’t involve frantically pumping your poor arms up and down a thousand times a day (sounds like a recipe for RSI if ever I heard one if you ask me!) which quite frankly nobody has the time for anyway.

Photo by Trevin Rudy on Unsplash, Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash, Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Will meditation help me? Here’s why you need meditation in your life

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Have you often wondered “will meditation help me?”.

Well, let me break it down for you like this. Life before meditation, and quite frankly, I was completely crazy. From struggling with insomnia to unleashing seismic fits of rage on my partner, I felt like a terrible parent and human being wound like a tight coil ready to spring at any time. You name the inner demon, I was struggling with it.

I was on the road to 40 and beginning not to like myself very much. I had become so grossly reactionary to pretty much everything and especially when life wasn’t going according to plan – which let’s face it can feel like 99% of the time. I wondered “will meditation help me?”. I desperately hoped the answer would be yes.

I needed to mentally unplug and get away from it all, and six years ago booked myself onto a half day meditation workshop with Simon Hoten for beginners where I learnt the basics of meditation, how to meditate using a candle, moving meditation and more. I had always been nervous about the idea of meditation. Could I actually sit still and meditate when I couldn’t even handle a Savasana at the end of a yoga class without wanting to have a massive twitching fit? And even if I managed to do that, when on earth would I ever fit meditation into my daily life?

I left the workshop feeling deeply and sublimely relaxed. The best takeaway? The revelation that even just three minutes of meditation could help me. And armed with that knowledge that meditation didn’t require a large chunk of my time, I tentatively started my meditation practice, just before light’s out every evening.

Six years later, it’s still going strong. Sometimes it’s three minutes – sometimes it’s 15 minutes. Hey I’m not counting! But either way I am no longer asking “will meditation help me” because I know the answer is a resounding yes.

Will meditation help me? Here are the ways it has done good in my life

Meditation has so far improved my life by:

  • Easing my anxiety
  • Improving my overall mental health
  • Helping me sleep
  • Making me less reactionary
  • Increasing my self-awareness and self-control
  • Making me feel overall happier and more confident
  • Enhancing my productivity, creativity and efficiency

But don’t just take my word for it. Just google “How meditation changed my life” and you will find reams of pages dedicated to people saying the same. This – my friends – is no coincidence. Because meditation works.

Will meditation help you find your right mind?

Recently I discovered Finding my Right Mind: One Woman’s Experiment to put Meditation To The Test. The book follows Vanessa Potter’s journey – where one day she woke up to find herself blind and paralyzed. How absolutely petrifying! She was stunned to discover that it was meditating, not drugs, that saved her mind.

Convinced she had more to learn, she embarked on her own consciousness road trip, exploring the major schools of meditation, along with hypnotherapy and psychedelics. In order to objectively record her journey, Cambridge neuroscientists measured her brain activity, with their observations and results featured within the book. It’s a fantastic whistle-stop your of the different types of meditation out there, and it provides an unusually voyeuristic glimpse into how powerful meditating can be. So if you’re not yet convinced that meditation can help you find your right mind – or even how on earth it can – then I would suggest you read this book!

I loved how perfectly she summed up the impact meditation can have on your life in her conclusion:

“It’s taken effort and time, but meditating doesn’t have to be a straight jacket; ironically, it’s been freeing. I’ve learned to be responsible for myself – what I think, feel and do is up to me….I had to acknowledge the different versions of myself. The nice, patient self along with the grumpy, worried-about-my-kids self. Neither is better or worse.”

She continues, “Meditation doesn’t have an on-off switch. It’s not as simple as doing it or not doing it. Sitting still is only part of it. What happens after that then, twenty or thirty minutes is just as important.” It’s that last part that rings so true for me – it’s about how meditation eventually informs everything that you do in your life, and makes it better.

Help! I can’t sit still and quieten my thoughts for love nor money

I hear you! I also have a brain that behaves like it has been soaked in amphetamines for a week straight plus a back that screams “I hate you!” most of the time. But yet still, I am living proof that it is possible. If you are in the same camp, then you will want to know about Sitting Comfortably by Swami Saradananda – an internationally renowned yoga and meditation teacher who has inspired thousands of people to practise.

It is full of tips for those who are prone to getting distracted, finding sitting painful, lack of time and self-discipline. Read: everybody. Once you have read this there will be no more excuses. You will stop wondering hmmmm will meditation help me and dive in and finally find out for yourselves.

Swami notes, “The mind likes constant stimulation, so when you try to sit quietly during meditation, without giving your mind external entertainment, it may come up with resistance and excuses not to continue. Rather than viewing these as setbacks, it is useful to view them positively, as obstacles to be overcome and lessons to learn from. Below are some common mental and physical challenges of meditation and how to overcome them.”

Be in the moment

Memories of the past and daydreams of possible futures can often distract the mind. If these come up while you are trying to meditate, just bring your mind back to your point of focus – whether it is your breath, a mantra, a visualization, or whatever other technique you have chosen to use.

Avoid fault-finding and replaying thoughts

Try not to review the shortcomings of other people when you are sitting for meditation and also be careful not to get caught up in self-criticism. If you find your mind re-processing the events of the day during meditation, remind yourself to come back to your point of focus, whatever that may be.

Be fearless

You may uncover hidden fears during meditation that have been lurking within your subconscious mind. These can manifest in many forms: fear of death, disease, solitude, criticism, or even just facing yourself. All fear stands in the way of meditative progress, so develop the habit of observing them with detachment. You will find that many will dissipate of their own accord if, instead of allowing yourself to get caught up with them, you simply return your attention to your chosen point of meditation focus.

Avoid muscle cramps

You could take a walk before sitting to prevent cramps. Make sure that you are getting enough potassium in your diet – and maintaining a healthy potassium-magnesium-calcium balance. Consider eating more bananas, dried apricots, prunes and other fruits.

Feeling disorientated?

Sometimes you may feel that your body is whirling or moving in a spiral motion as you sit in meditation. This tends to be more common if you meditate with your eyes closed. If this happens, open your eyes for a moment to reorient yourself and then close them and restart your meditation practice.

Exercise for optimal energy

Doing some form of exercise prior to meditating – whether stretches, yoga poses, breathing exercises or even just going for a brisk walk – can help to energize you for it.

So if you still think that meditation is just sitting around and doing nothing then think again! Still wondering “will meditation help me”? Let’s put it this way – I would be willing to put my house on the line and answer your question with “yes it will!”. Well, go on then and give it a try. After all, you’ve got nothing to lose, apart from all those bad habits that meditation can help you get rid of :).

Photo by Shashi Ch on Unsplash

Do you have the ‘smear fear?’ Fret no more. Let’s talk about it.

I get it. The last thing you want to be doing, especially during a plague, is taking your knickers off for a total stranger to have a consented rummage. Bring on the smear fear.

On a freezing cold November’s day in 2020, I found myself in this exact situation. 

How could 3 years have gone so fast?

It’s absolutely okay to dread it, even more so during a plague. 

What to wear?

I never know what to wear to these things. 

I opted for a pair of stretchy leggings, slip on boots and my hefty parka which I decided I would keep on, no matter what, on account of the plague.

Prevention is key

I mentally prepare myself the smear fear sets in. 

Having lost my mother to cancer, I will do whatever it takes, especially at my age, to look after my body as much as I possibly can. Once the swab is done it will be out of my hands, or vagina anyway!

It’s called cervical screening in the UK which is much less cringy to say and sounds less like an unfortunate after dinner spillage on your top.  

The nurse is such a chatty Cathy which is comforting and annoying in equal measure due to today’s requirement of face muzzles. Partaking in awkward banter prior to her delving hand first into my lady bits is not easy.

I took my place on the gurney, instantly regretting wearing the hefty parka that was now bundled up around my middle. 

Obsessed with not wanting any part of me or my things to touch anything else in an attempt to protect myself from the Rona, I was hot, uncomfortable and she hadn’t even swabbed my foof yet.

For me, the worse part are those words…..’just put your knees together then flop your legs to the side….’ So undignified but I know it will soon be over.

What I hadn’t prepared myself for was what she said next. 

What she hadn’t prepared herself for was my reaction of sheer panic and terror which was marred by my face muzzle. 

She wanted a second opinion on something she’d seen. 

She said it looked like a blood blister but she hadn’t seen one before. 

In a panic, I tried to do random calculations in my head of how many fannys she’d serviced. 

Perhaps mine was one in a million? She wanted to refer me to the gynaecologist. 

Keep Calm and Carry on

I do not cope well in these situations. Really, I wasn’t prepared. 

So, I turned to Dr Google who gave me about 3 weeks to live. All I could do now was wait. 
I needed to know more. I scheduled an appointment with my Dr who agreed he would take a look. A medical student was present and I was grateful. More so because she was able to use my (anti bac’d) phone to take a picture of my cervix and this thing…. Which was still there and was greeted by the doctor (who, btw happens to be a Dad on the school run) with an… ‘Oh yes, that’s a new one on me.’ 

We agreed I should keep my referral but he would fast track if I displayed any other symptoms in the meantime. 

As expected, there was a huge backlog at the hospital. I made a fantastic contact in the department who assured me she’d taken my notes to a consultant and it didn’t seem to ring any major alarm bells. 

Knowledge is key

Meanwhile, and unashamed, I had whatsapped the image to all my friends who might offer some helpful suggestions on what it might be. 

They couldn’t offer a diagnosis but were all very complementarity of my cervical selfie. 

The HPV test had since returned negative which was surely a good sign?

12 weeks after the initial discovery, here I was. Negative thoughts and smear fear plagued me as I walked into my appointment. I wouldn’t even sit down. I just stood there shuffling from foot to foot. 

Well, I was there for all of 4 minutes. He looked less like the hunky gynaecologists you see in the brochures and more like a geography teacher. I didn’t really care at this point. I just wanted someone to know what they were looking at to have a peek and give me the news. 

There was no news, it was fine. It was almost a disappointment. But not really. 

Relieved, I returned home where I will hopefully have an uneventful 3 year wait for the next rummage!

Time to face your smear fear

Since my ordeal, I reached out to friends and was surprised by how many had experienced abnormal smears, often resulting in treatment. It was comforting in one way but I felt sad I hadn’t known as so often we keep private about our privates.

Cervical screening is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer.

Screening can be really hard for some people – those who experience pain or have had previous trauma. There are some great support services available. Here’s one I used because I just needed some reassurance.

https://www.jostrust.org.uk/get-support or to find out more about what happens at cervical screening: https://www.jostrust.org.uk/information/cervical-screening/what-happens-during-cervical-screening

You can also find out more about it here. Get screening ladies and beat the smear fear!

Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels