5 biggest myths about cervical screenings you shouldn’t believe 

Following on from our previous article around cervical cancer awareness, we got advice from Dr Tim Woodman, Medical Director at Bupa UK, who shared with us the following information about cervical screenings.

He says; ‘Regular health screenings have been neglected during the pandemic – there are currently 4.7 million people with cervixes in the UK who haven’t been adequately screened for cervical cancer. It’s more important than ever to book your smear test – and to encourage your friends to do the same.

Our previous research found that 1 in 5 women say they wouldn’t visit their doctor if they had pelvic pain or an unusual discharge or bleeding, and 1 in 3 women say they wouldn’t see a doctor if they had bleeding outside of their usual menstrual cycle. 41% of women wouldn’t go to a GP if they had an unusual discharge.’

From believing screening is painful, to the ‘embarrassment’ of seeing your doctor about gynaecological issues, there’s lots of common misconceptions about cervical screening that we shouldn’t believe. These myths could prevent you from attending your screening, or visiting a doctor for any unusual symptoms, such as abnormal bleeding or painful sex.

Here are the most common myths about smear tests you shouldn’t believe:

Myth 1: An abnormal smear test indicates a high risk of cancer

Cervical screening is not a test for cancer – it is used to help prevent cancer. A sample is checked for certain “high risk” types of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). If these are not found, then nothing further is done, but if these types of HPV are present then the cells from the sample are checked for any changes. If any abnormal cells are found and these are left untreated, it could lead to cancer.

Having regular cervical screening will identify any abnormalities – these may not be cancerous, and mild abnormalities don’t always need to be treated.

Myth 2: A cervical screening test is painful

cervical screenings

It’s a common myth that a cervical screening test (previously known as a smear test) is a painful procedure. For some, it can be an uncomfortable procedure, especially if you have endometriosis, vaginismus (when your vagina suddenly becomes tight) or vaginal dryness.

Breathing exercises and distraction methods (listening to music or counting to 100 during the procedure) can help to calm your nerves. You can also ask your nurse about using a smaller speculum (the instrument used during the test) – they come in different sizes, and it can help to ease any discomfort you’re experiencing. 

It’s important to explain any worries you have to your healthcare professional, as they should take additional steps to make the experience less stressful. 

Myth 3: I don’t have any symptoms, so I don’t need to check my health

We have an excellent cervical cancer screening programme, which can detect early abnormalities which can lead to cervical cancer. 

Even if you’re showing no unusual symptoms, you must attend your checks as these can detect abnormalities before you start showing any symptoms. Early detection is key to effectively preventing and treating cancers; attending all appointments – even if you’re feeling well – is vital.

Myth 4: Seeing the doctor about gynaecological issues is embarrassing

cervical screenings

Do not worry – every doctor or nurse in your local clinic will have seen more vaginas and heard more intimate stories than you could ever believe! They understand that everyone is an individual and will not be uncomfortable or bothered by talking about sex, vaginal bleeding, discharge, or painful intercourse. 

Performing intimate examinations is part of their everyday activities, and they want to do this to the cause of the problem you’re having. Try and be as open and honest about your symptoms or concerns as you can, as this will enable your healthcare professional to give you the best care they can. 

Myth 5: If I am worried I can go for a smear test, which will rule out any cancer

No, this is not the case. The cervical screening test only looks for signs that you may be at risk of cervical cancer. It is not a cancer test, nor does it assess the health of your vulva, vagina, womb or ovaries.  A cervical screening test is only suitable if you have no symptoms of concern. 

If you have unusual bleeding, pain or other symptoms you should discuss this with a healthcare professional, who will decide with you what steps need to be taken to assess your gynaecological health.  

Are you up to date with your screenings? Comment below on your experiences or connect with us on Instagram

The importance of cervical cancer awareness

17th – 23rd January 2022 marks Cervical Cancer Prevention week. We’ve joined forces with the experts, bringing you this guide, to raise awareness of cervical screening. If you have a cervix, this one is for you.

Here, Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy talks about the importance of not delaying cervical screening when invited but also to see if there was anything we could be doing to avoid this type of cancer.

Did you know?

  • There are around 3,200 new cases of cervical cancer each year in the UK.
  • Cervical cancer is the 14th most common cancer in the UK.
  • Cervical cancer can be prevented by having regular cervical smears.
  • The most common age group for women to be diagnosed with cervical cancer is in women aged 30-34 years.
  • Since the 1990s, the incidence of cervical cancer has fallen by around 25%. This is likely to be due to the success of cervical screening.
  • The number of cases of cervical cancer is predicted to fall in the coming years due to the success of HPV vaccination.
  • Around 850 women still die each year in the UK from cervical cancer.
  • Since the 1970s, the death rate for cervical cancer has fallen by around 75%. Again, this is likely to be due to the advent of cervical screening.

Risk factors for cervical cancer

HPV – 99.8% of cervical cancers are due to infection with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). This is a sexually transmitted virus. There are over 100 subtypes. HPV 16 and 18 are high-risk subtypes, and these are the target of the current HPV vaccination campaign. Low-grade HPV subtypes, including those which cause many visible genital warts, are not a risk factor for cervical cancer.

Many women with HPV infection never develop cervical cancer, meaning other factors are also important for the infection to progress. Cervical cancer is more common in those who also had an early age of first sexual intercourse, before the age of 14, or who have had 6 or more sexual partners. Cervical cancer risk is lowered in women whose sexual partner has been circumcised.

Women with genital herpes are also at an increased risk of cervical cancer.

Smoking – 21% of cervical cancers are attributed to smoking. The risk of cervical cancer is increased by 46% in current smokers as compared to lifetime non-smokers.

HIV –  Cervical cancer is six times more common in those infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). However, this risk is significantly reduced in women who are taking highly active antiretroviral therapy (HART).

Family history – The risk of cervical cancer is 74%-80% higher in women with a first degree relative, such as a mother or a sister who has had cervical cancer, suggesting there may be some genetic susceptibility.

Oral contraceptives – Up to 10% of cervical cancers are thought to be associated with the use of oral contraceptives. However, the risk is only attributable after five years or more of use. There is no need to panic and stop taking the pill. The benefits of taking the pill are considerable and should not be underestimated. Pill users should not be unduly concerned but are strongly advised to attend for their cervical smears regularly, and to try not to smoke.

Ethnicity – Cervical cancers are more common in ethnic groups who are reluctant to come forward for screening. This means cervical cancer is more common in women who are Black, Hispanic, Asian or from low-income households.

Women who were given diethylstilbestrol (DES) – Some women were given DES, a potent synthetic estrogen, between 1940-1970,  to try and prevent miscarriage. This is known to increase the risk of cervical and vaginal cancers.

The UK Cervical Cancer Screening Programme

One important aspect of cervical cancer is that it has a very long premalignant phase, during which it is possible to identify abnormal cells – by having a cervical smear. These abnormal cells can then be treated. Doing this prevents these cells from transforming into cervical cancer cells.

The NHS Cervical Cancer Screening Programme was started in 1988, and since then there has been a dramatic fall in the number of cases of cervical cancer.

Adult women aged 25-64 years are invited to have a cervical smear once every 3-5 years in the UK. Those aged under 50 are asked to come once every 3 years, and those aged over 50, every 5 years. Trans men (who were female at birth) are not automatically invited but can request a cervical smear if they still have a cervix.

The smear itself is also tested for the presence of HPV. If HPV is present, you will be invited to have smears more often, or referred to colposcopy, where your cervix can be examined more closely with the aid of a special instrument called a colposcope. This gives magnified images of the cervix.

What is a cervical smear?

cervical smear

A cervical smear is a simple test, in which a plastic spatula is gently rubbed over your cervix (the neck of the womb) to collect some cervical cells. These are then sent to the lab to be looked at down the microscope.

To be able to do this, the doctor or nurse taking the smear, needs to see your cervix. This means you do have to remove your underwear, lie on the couch, and allow them to insert a vaginal speculum. This is an instrument, made of plastic or metal, which looks like a duck’s beak.

The secret is to try and relax as much as you can. This helps the smear taker to be able to manoeuvre the speculum as they need to, to get a good view of the cervix. Try not to get too anxious. Doctors and nurses who do smears are very well trained and will do all they can to put you at your ease. It can be uncomfortable having a smear, but it shouldn’t be painful. It usually only lasts – perhaps 30-60 seconds. This is a very short inconvenience for a test that could save your life. You can watch a video of how a cervical smear is taken here.

How many women have not had a cervical smear?

It is very worrying that in 2019, 1 in 3 women aged 25-64 had not had a cervical smear. In a survey conducted by Jo’s Cancer Trust, 2000 women were asked about their experiences of having a cervical smear. An incredible 915 had either never had a smear or had delayed an appointment to have one. 71% said they felt scared, 75% felt vulnerable, 81% were embarrassed, and 67% said having a smear would make them feel out of control. 58% were scared it would be painful.

Having taken cervical smears for over 30 years, I can tell you, taking a smear is a straightforward process, that for the vast majority of women, is easy, quick, and almost painless. The smear taker will respect your dignity, cover you with a blanket, ask permission to start the procedure and stop at any time if you ask them to stop. You do not need to feel out of control. Doctors and nurses who work in sexual health or GP surgeries, spend all day looking at female vulvas and vaginas – they are perfectly used to it, and nothing will surprise or shock them. You can feel completely at ease with these medical practitioners. Any female doctors or nurses will no doubt have had a smear test themselves and know how it feels.

What is far more of a worry, is not attending for your smear, but having to come to the clinic in the future, with a possible undiagnosed cervical cancer.

Getting your smear results

cervical cancer

You should get a letter in the post about your results, usually within 4 weeks. If your smear is normal, you will be told to have another smear in 3-5 years depending on your age. Sometimes, there may have been difficulty interpreting the smear, and it just needs repeating in 3 to 6 months. If you do have abnormal cells, you will be referred to the Colposcopy clinic so a Gynaecologist can take a closer look at your cervix. If HPV is present, but your cells look normal, you will simply be asked to have another smear in 12 months. The important thing is to follow instructions and attend for your subsequent visit as requested.

How accurate are cervical smears?

It’s important to remember that no tests are ever 100% accurate. There is always a small chance the smear could show an abnormality that isn’t cancer, or, could be wrongly classed as negative, meaning something abnormal was missed. In between smear tests, if you have any symptoms such as bleeding in between your periods or after sex, or abnormal vaginal discharge, it’s important to see your GP or go to the Sexual Health clinic without delay.

Prevention is better than cure

After a detailed look at the statistics, experts believe that for a woman aged 33 – 64, attending for cervical screening will reduce her chance of developing cervical cancer over the following five years, by 60-80%, and reduce her chance of advanced cervical cancer by 90%. However, cervical screening is less effective in younger age groups. In general, doing cervical smears in women under the age of 25 has not been found to be beneficial.

If you have any concerns about your smear test, you could book an appointment with your GP or practice nurse, just to discuss the situation and take a list of written questions. They will be happy to help you. You can take a friend or relative to your smear appointment with you.

You can also ask for a doctor or nurse of the sex of your choice to take your smear, although you may be asked to come back on another day if this can’t be actioned at the same visit.

You will also be offered a chaperone when you have your smear. You can accept or refuse – some people prefer another person there to hold their hand, while others prefer as few other people in the room as possible.

Try and find out all you can about having you smear before you get to the clinic. Knowledge is power, and it will help you feel more confident. For example, take a look at Jo’s Trust – Cervical Screening.

What can you do to reduce your risk of cervical cancer?

You can have a smear at any time so long as you are not bleeding. In the past, smears were preferable around midcycle – on day 14 – but these days this is rarely needed. If you are on a form of hormonal contraception, you will not be ovulating anyway, and will not have a day 14. This might be needed in older women, who are having natural cycles, if it has been hard to get enough cells on the smear in the past. But don’t let the day 14 issue confuse the situation.

If you are aged 40 plus, and find smears uncomfortable, you might benefit from using some topical estrogen in the vagina for 4 -6 weeks before your smear test. Ask your GP or the sexual health doctor or nurse about this. You do need to stop using the cream or pessaries at least 2 days before the smear test.

HPV vaccination

In the UK, HPV vaccinations are offered to girls and boys aged 12 and 13, when they are in year 8. They then have a second dose 6 -24 months later. The idea is to create HPV antibodies before they become sexually active and encounter the HPV virus through normal sexual activity. HPV causes cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, penis, as well as some head and neck cancers.

Between 2009 and 2018, over 10 million doses of the HPV vaccines were administered. The vaccines have been proven to be safe and highly effective. In a recent 2019 study, which included over 66 million young men and women, HPV vaccination showed an 83% reduction in high-risk HPV in teenage girls and a 66% reduction in women aged 20-24. There was also a 51% reduction in precancerous changes to the cervix in teenage girls and a 31% reduction in women aged 20-24.

Don’t smoke

cervical cancer

Some studies suggest the viral load of HPV is higher in the cervix of women who smoke than in non-smokers. The reasons for this are not well understood, however, a toxin in cigarette smoke known as Benzo[a]pyren has been shown to stimulate HPV multiplication.

Protect yourself from HPV by using a condom

Consistent and careful use of condoms can help prevent the acquisition, not just of HPV infection, but also other STIs. It can also help cause regression of abnormal cells if they are present on the cervix. However, having sex with an HPV  infected partner, even once,  without a condom, is likely to result in the transmission of infection. Most UK adults will be infected with HPV at least once in a lifetime.

The best sexual health advice at present is that women should use a condom for STI protection as well as, not instead of, a reliable method of contraception to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. If a male partner will not use a condom, women do have the option of using the female condom, the Femidom.

Cervical cancer is linked to an increased number of lifetime sexual partners. For good sexual health, you should try to avoid multiple partners , or overlapping partners, as this is associated with increased risk.

References:

Gov. UK

Cervical screening NHS

HPV NHS

The Guardian

University of Oxford

US National Library of Medicine (National Institutes of Health)

National library of medicine

Helen Baker founded and runs  We Are All Smear Ready, a craftivism campaign to raise awareness of the importance of cervical screening and addressing the barriers of body image and embarrassment, two of the main barriers to attending appointments. She says;

‘With body image and embarrassment being two of the main barriers to attending a smear test, this Craftivist campaign spreads the message that you don’t have to be beach ready to be smear ready, we are all smear ready. It really doesn’t matter how your lady garden looks, nurses have seen all varieties and don’t care what yours looks like.

With so much focus on the external aspect of our bodies we can often overlook how important it is to look after our bodies internally but these mini handcrafted pants as a gentle reminder that cervical screening and HPV vaccines are the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer. By making and sharing mini pants and boxers during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, we can help to spread this important and potentially life-saving message to anyone with a cervix.’ 

You can follow her campaign here

When was your last screening? Join in the conversation by commenting below or following us on Instagram.

Five ways women in their forties are a force to be reckoned with

Roll up roll up all women in their 40s! We need to get the record straight now don’t we? For some reason unbeknownst to us all, 40 becomes a number that became associated with a life going downhill. At some point it was decided that women in their 40s should collectively feel a fear of being in their 4th decade, of being sidelined.

Well I say pah to that! Sidelined indeed…more like hitting their stride, thank you very muchly.

As a 41 year old, I have never felt more alive, powerful, confident, decisive, fulfilled and quite frankly….a force to be reckoned with. OK sure, we might have some challenges to grapple with along the way – you know, just a perimenopause here, then a menopause there sandwiched inbetween an identity crisis along the way.

But then we rise (all hail!), like a phoenix from the flames and POW! unleash the power within (stand back people or you might get taken down along the way!)

So with that, today we have a rather fantastic dedication for all women in their 40s by Yvonne Bridges – Author of YOU Are Relevant -A Guide for Mid-Life Women to Step into Their Power (available on Amazon now here). Here she lays down five ways women in their 40s are a force to be reckoned with (hear us roar!).

*****

When you were a teenager, didn’t you think being over forty was ancient? Or, like some women, you chose to have your children when your career was well established and on a good trajectory and now your children think you’re ‘old’ because you’re over forty. I can relate to that one – perhaps you can too.

The exciting thing about getting to your 40s is the experience and wisdom you’ve gained and are now applying in many facets of your life. Perhaps one of the less exciting things about our 40s are the few extra lines and sags appearing in a variety of places on our bodies. Nonetheless, here are five reasons why women in their 40s (mid-life women) become a force to be reckoned with as they progress through that decade.

They are clear about what is important to them and how their values impact their lives

Values drive behaviors. Professionally, this is a decade where women gain clarity about their personal and professional boundaries. They do this not only because they may hold family commitments or professional agreements which may infringe upon each other, they do it because they choose to be aligned in their thoughts, their words, and their actions. Their boundaries between the two arenas (personal and professional) which may have been in opposition in the past, now hold less tension because women demonstrate greater confidence in their approaches and decision making.

They are beginning to determine who they want to become in this next phase of their life

Arriving at 40 makes women step back and take stock of where they’ve been and where they want to go. This process most often begins with defining who they want to become. Interestingly, this can be a challenge to define. We, as humans, are rarely one thing. A woman in her 40s may be a parent (single parent, co-parent, stepparent … to name a few), be career focused, be a stay-at-home mum, a sibling, a caregiver, or she may be courageous, vulnerable, wise. I could go on and on. The important thing to acknowledge about women in their 40s is the clarity they hold about who they have been, who they are now, and who they want to become. This begins to create an almost omnipotent force as women in their 40s begin this important part of their life journey.

women in their forties

They hold clarity around the actions they will begin to take to becoming the woman they want to be

A woman’s 40s can be a time of continual action that contributes to the wellbeing of others while not always aligned with who she has decided to become. When women slow down and align their actions, they use their experience to step into innovative approaches. They shift their behaviour, so they move forward differently. Here’s an example. A woman who may have found their thirties consumed with moving their career forward, taking care of young children, and being a great partner. Each of these worthy endeavours and associated actions can exhaust women and, in their 40s, they begin to ask themselves – ‘what do I really want to do?’ Do those actions align with who I want to become? If the answer is yes, the forward propulsion for these women is remarkable. If the answer is no, the decade of the 40s finds women making a shift toward greater alignment between becoming and doing.

They can visualize the outcomes they seek

Like high performance athletes, women in their 40s and beyond see there is more for them to pursue. They create their own runway. Some leave significant corporate jobs with accomplished titles because of poor culture or the ongoing promise to become less misogynistic without any evidence of this happening. Some watch their children flourish as young adults and re-evaluate their own path and begin solopreneurship. Some begin to volunteer for causes they believe are worthy. Some even begin registered charities to move and shift people’s knowledge forward about subjects otherwise not spoken about – think of #metoo and #blacklivesmatter and #orangeshirtday and #wearpinkforbreastcancer. The desire to be the change they seek enables women in their 40s to be willing to take a step forward into the unknown while visualizing a future – different for them and different for others.

women in their forties

They are beginning to live in their wisdom and are willing to share it with others

Have you ever enjoyed a conversation with a woman in her 40s, or beyond, and walked away wiser? This is the gift of experience and shared wisdom. I’m fortunate enough to have many friends and colleagues like that. One, who thoughtfully, mindfully, and deftly asks me to consider another point of view without a trite phrase like – have you thought of this? She invites curiosity and the willingness to explore perspectives with such an open heart that all who interact with her feel this shared wisdom. Women in their 40s cultivate that – with and for each other. The deliberate cultivation of collaborative wisdom ensures the next generation of women step into better spaces and hold greater confidence in themselves.

When you consider those five elements of why women are a force to be reckoned with in their 40s, what might you see when you meet one of those women? You would see a woman who confidently makes decisions which align with her values and are good for her, her family, her colleagues, and her friends. This woman speaks with wisdom. She cherishes her connection with others. She speaks her truth – mindfully and thoughtfully. This woman demonstrates tenacity and grit. She is willing to take risks. She learns from her mistakes and accepts the invitation those mistakes present to take a step in a different, new direction.

In short, women in their 40s are a force to be reckoned with because they are stepping into their own power. They hold that power lightly and with strength. They are relevant. They have runway left in their lives. The world will become better, kinder, stronger, more thoughtful when women continue to step into that space. The relevance of women in their 40s, and desire to uplift and uphold other women, expands their runway. Know it. Believe it. Live it.

So whether you are a woman in your 40s, or a woman yet to be in their 40s and wondering what lies ahead, join us in this tribute and leave a comment below and connect with us on Instagram.

Woman photo created by lookstudio

The ultimate survival guide to 2022

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New Year, same you? Don’t worry this is the only survival guide you’ll need. There’s no quick fix. There’s no wake up and magically be 10lbs lighter. We’ve got the expert advice to show you how you can softly, calmly and slowly emerge from the overindulgence of the past few weeks. You’ll be able to grab 2022 by the balls and show it who’s boss!

Go for a daily walk

Penny Weston, fitness, wellness guru and nutrition expert reveals, Walking doesn’t just make you feel good while you’re doing it, studies also suggest that it may reduce your risk of developing a cold or flu by boosting your immune system. It does this by increasing the amount of white blood cells circulating in your blood. These are the cells that fight infection and disease as part of the body’s natural immune system.

Make an immune boosting smoothie

survival guide

Making fresh smoothies is a great way of incorporating ingredients into your diet that can boost your immune system. A favourite of mine is this vitamin rich super smoothie. This smoothie is a powerhouse for the immune system, containing blueberries and spinach that have great immune-boosting properties. It will have you glowing from the inside out, and contains nearly every vitamin and mineral your body needs and giving you a natural boost of energy. And it actually tastes delicious!⁠

There is so much goodness in this smoothie. Use a frozen banana and less milk for a thicker texture:

2 cups Frozen Blueberries

1 Banana

1 cup Spinach

1 cup Kale

1 tbsp Chia Seeds

1 tsp Spirulina

40g Vanilla Protein

Topped with Almond Milk

Meditate

Meditation is an ideal way to reduce stress over the festive period and also throughout the whole year. Meditation helps to relax the mind and body, and focus your thoughts and attention in order to eliminate the thought overload which can often result in stress. This will not only help you to de-stress but also help you learn to be strong for all that is coming  in the year ahead.

Exercise

Regular exercise is the key to staying both physically and mentally fit, healthy and happy. When we exercise the body releases chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine which boost our sense of well-being and suppress hormones that cause anxiety and stress. Fortunately there are now a bigger range of exercise classes and sports out there than ever before and thanks to virtual and on demand training it’s never been easier to exercise at home or when travelling, so even if you’re away with work or family during January there’s no excuse not to be able to exercise.

Create a morning ritual

Start the morning with a ritual that lets you hit the ground running, make the most of your day, stay positive and in control and most importantly stress free! All of our rituals are different, but the key is that by setting them we are taking control of our morning, and therefore our lives. This will help to significantly lower stress levels.’

Ditch the moisturiser

survival guide

Dr Rekha Tailor of Health & Aesthetics says ‘I don’t recommend moisturisers for anyone because I agree with Zein Obagi, M.D, a dermatologist and founder of ZO Skin Health. He suggests that moisturiser is a waste of time and also that it is potentially damaging to the skin. He suggests that when you use moisturiser every day, you run the risk of making your skin older, not younger, because of the fact that skin will become sensitive, dry, dull and interfere with its own natural hydration functions.’

Personally, I’m a big fan of The Ordinary Amino Acids. It’s affordable and leaves my skin feeling totally hydrated.

Get outdoors

Celebrity facialist Lisa Harris, says ‘You can see (safe) sun exposure as your free dose of vitamin D. Feeling sunlight on your arms, hands and face for just 10-15 minutes a day in the UK can boost your mood and energy levels through the release of endorphins. As well as perking up your skin, it will also wake up your mind as the sun reduces the level of melatonin (AKA the sleepy hormone) in your body, giving you energy, inside and out.

Detoxify your tissues with face yoga

Just 60 seconds of a DIY face massage can make your skin look more alive. Using a creamy cleanser or moisturiser, make small circles with your fingertips – this will boost your circulation, bring oxygen to your cells and give you an instant glow.  If you’ve been a little congested, face yoga can help to remove any toxins from your tissue, helping you feel better too. You can supercharge your face yoga routine with our 3D signature facial, which relies on HIFU to restore skin vitality and improve skin health and luminosity.

Put down the needles

While it’s often easy to think that Botox and Fillers are the answer to looking younger and healthier, there’s a safe, non-invasive alternative to Botox and fillers helping you to achieve healthier, younger looking skin with long lasting results. Radio Frequency and ultrasound waves from treatments like Collagen Wave heat up the skin, encouraging your fibroblasts to produce new collagen and elastin – something we all need if we’re looking a little tired during the winter months.

Get more sleep

Sleep is a natural reset button for our brain and body, which is even more required these days because of increased work pressure and stress. Our face is the index of the mind and so naturally a skipped sleep is easily identifiable on our face.’

Choose your cleanser wisely

Consultant dermatologist Dr Ophelia Veraitch says ‘In the mornings and days you aren’t wearing makeup just use a gentle cleanser. When wearing water based coverage makeup you can use an AHA cleanser such as one with glycolic acid. When wearing heavier oil based makeup use a BHA cleanser such as one with salicylic acid.

Take vitamins to support healthy hair growth

survival guide

To maintain healthy looking hair, go for hair vitamins that have relatively high concentrations of the nutrients we know that are needed to support hair growth. Iron and zinc are both very important for hair, but when taken together they don’t absorb well. So a carefully thought out hair vitamin programme (such as mine!) is ideal. If in doubt about the cause of hair thinning or loss, seek an expert opinion.

Check the ingredients of your skincare carefully

Due to lack of regulation in the industry many marketed skincare products don’t have ingredients in them that will be effective despite claims, so don’t and won’t work. Tailor active ingredients serums according to your skincare needs. For example ivermectin is great for redness/ rosacea, azelaic acid/niacinamide/ salicylic acid is great for acne, Tretinoin / antioxidants such as vit C/E for anti ageing and hydroquinone/ Kojic acid/niacinamide for pigmentation etc.

Use almond oil

On the days I’m not going out I massage almond oil into my scalp and hair and onto my children’s scalp and hair too. 

It’s the best way to naturally hydrate your scalp and hair and help both to retain moisture.

This ritual comes from my Sikh background where having uncut hair (which I haven’t stuck to!) and importantly looking after your hair is a sign of respect to personal attributes that are considered god given. It’s common for Asian and Mediterranean cultures to put oil in the scalp and hair like this as a natural and effective way to moisturise our scalp and hair! Massaging almond oil into the scalp and hair like this helps to reduce frizziness of the hair and improve the condition of the scalp too. You can use coconut oil but I find this is smellier and harder, alternatively argan oil is thinner so it’s better for people with finer hair.’

Stop licking your lips

Nina Prisk, AKA ‘The Lip Nurse’, an award-winning cosmetic nurse says ‘When you lick your lips it’s usually to try and moisturise them. However, saliva actually dries them out and creates damaging friction. Sometimes it can become a bad habit which you can help to break by doing something else with your mouth such as chewing gum.

So it’s best to avoid licking your lips as much as you can. Biting and picking them should be avoided too because the lips are made up of delicate skin that can be damaged easily. Usually picking and biting happens when there’s already damage to the surface of the lip, try to resist the urge to pull or bite the rough or lose bits of skin and instead apply a treatment to moisturise and hydrate them.’

Eat more omega 3

Consultant oculoplastic and ophthalmic surgeon Dr Elizabeth Hawkes says ‘Omega-3 fatty acids are important to the health of the macula (the part of the eye that’s responsible for central vision) and the health of the skin, including around the eye area. So trying to incorporate more foods containing essential omega-3 fatty acids helps to keep your vision good and also to maintain healthy skin around your eyes. Omega-3 fatty acids are powerful anti-inflammatories.

Research suggests that the fats protect skin cells against sun-induced inflammation and help control how the body responds to UV rays, thereby mitigating damage. Eating a diet high in good fats and oily fish can help to promote good skin health because they are rich in Omega-3 which is a key nutrient for helping to repair damaged skin cells. Omega-3 fatty acids are responsible for maintaining healthy membranes around our skin cells. If we’re deficient in these it reduces the skin’s ability to absorb and retain water, causing dehydration or dry skin.

Upping your intake of omega-3 fatty acids may help improve hydration by boosting the skin’s natural barrier. Omega-3s may also help to protect our skin against the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays because studies have shown that supplementing with a combination of certain types of Omega-3s may reduce the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays.’

Look after your gnashers

survival guide

We all want our pearly whites to be whiter than white. Cosmetic dentist, Dr Hanna Kinsella says ‘My Icy Bear whitening toothpaste is shown to not only brighten the smile but also to protect the teeth against cavities. Icy Bear is an earth conscious brand – palm oil free, SLS free and animal cruelty free and all of the products are produced in the UK adhering to strict industry guidelines. 

The unique toothpaste has a rare ingredient combination containing the finest diamonds. Thanks to its extremely low abrasiveness, tooth surfaces are gently cleaned and stains reduced with no damage to the tooth surface. Designed for twice-daily use for complete oral care, the cult product in the making uses diamond dust to effectively reduce stains – the diamond dust is a natural abrasive agent that reduces staining whilst polishing the surface of the enamel to restore teeth to their natural whiteness.’

What are your self-care plans for bossing 2022? Let us know by commenting below or reaching out to us on Instagram.

Fun with social media (when you’re not a teenager)

Some people can think of social media as something that’s for younger people. Even if you use some social media, you might feel like some apps are meant for young people while others are more suited to people over 30 or 40. Maybe you shy away from TikTok because it seems like it’s for teenagers and you can’t let go of Facebook because all of your family and friends are on there. Social media can be a lot of fun but it can also be a pain if you’re not using it in the right way. If you want to use social media more, there are a few rules for having fun.

Find Which Apps Are for You

social media

Not everyone will find every social media app or site enjoyable. You might think Facebook is too full of older relatives with terrible opinions or that Twitter is far too shouty. But most people can find a social media app that they do like. Think about what sort of thing you’re looking for and why you want to use social media. Is it to view and share funny videos and images? Do you want to have conversations with other people or engage in a community relating to your interests?

Learn to Find the Content You Like

Once you’ve got started on your chosen platform, you need to know how to get the best from it. If you’re not using it in the right way, you might just find it boring or annoying. Being able to find the content that you want will help you to make your experience better. Depending on the platform, this might involve following the right people, following hashtags or topics, or searching for the right things. As you engage with different people and topics, you’ll also be presented with new content through the platform’s algorithm.

Play with Ways to Post

Creating your own content is part of the fun of using social media, but it’s something a lot of people might feel unsure about. You’re not a teenager posting about your day, so what are you meant to post? But there are lots of things you can do, whether you want to document your life or make funny or interesting content for entertainment. Try exploring different ways to post, such as how to do voice effects on TikTok or using different filters on Instagram. There are different post types you can explore or ways to engage with people, such as stories or live streaming too.

Find Your Community

social media

One of the best things about social media is that it allows you to engage and connect with other people. It can be a great way to find new friends and discover a community based on your interests. Whether you’re obsessed with a TV show, you love to knit, or you’re a history nerd, you can find other people with shared interests who can help you have even more fun.

Discover all of the fun you can have with social media by finding your space and all the ways you can use it. Follow us on Instagram to see how we are trying to get down with the kids and make fun reels!

Fitness after 40 and motivational activewear

I’m very much a work in progress when it comes to getting fitter in my 40s! I know how important it is to put the work in now. Because if I do, surely my 50s will be less painful? Who knows. But what I do know is this: When I exercise, I feel happier. I love running but have noticed my knees are starting to creak. I talked to Nick Swettenham, a personal trainer since 2014. He has helped hundreds of clients reach their fitness goals, through one on one coaching as well as group fitness classes. I asked him to offer his top tips for fitness after 40.

5 Tips for fitness after 40

Tip 1: Strength training

At any age, strength training should be one of your top priorities for total fitness after 40, but it’s also vital in the fight to shed body fat. You’ll find it’s one of the best ways to burn calories both during and after your workouts. With consistent training you will gain some muscle – as muscle is heavier than fat, you might notice that there is no change on the scales. To get around this, focus more on circumference measurements and body composition (i.e. fat vs. muscle mass) rather than just emphasising your overall weight, which will give you a better overall picture of your body’s changes. Always do your measurements at the same time of the day, preferably in the morning before you eat. If your body fat starts to drop and muscle mass increases consistently, that’s a good sign you’re on the right track.

Tip 2: Hydrate

Hydration is everything. It helps brain function to keep you focused on your training as well as everyday tasks. Being dehydrated by as little as just 2% can significantly impact exercise performance. Plus, when you are well hydrated you are more flexible which will also help exercise performance and avoid injuries . Drink up to a pint of water as soon as you wake up. If you drink a small glass of water before meals it will also make you feel fuller quicker so you don’t need to eat as much.

Tip 3: Move

Up your movement. If you do 45-60 minutes exercise a day but then spend the rest sitting at a desk, car or sofa, you simply haven’t moved enough. Going for an extra run – or even just a walk – can make all the difference. Try and get up a few times a day to walk around briefly and do some quick mobility exercises like leg swings, trunk rotation or cat-cows. The key is to move at every opportunity you have.

fitness after 40

Tip 4: Control

Portion control and mindful eating is essential for fitness after 40. When you eat, turn the TV off. Really take the time to sit with your meal at the table and actually think about each bite. Take the time to enjoy your food properly and not rush through it. I know this isn’t always possible but try to do this for at least one meal a day without excuses!  Buying smaller plates is also a neat psychological trick to make your brain into thinking you have more food than you do. Finally, if you’re making bulk meals for lunches the next day, portion them up before you eat so you cannot go back for seconds.

Tip 5: Fuel

You should still keep track of your calorie intake but do not deprive yourself of vital nutrients. Don’t think of it as “how little can I eat?” but “what’s the best thing I can eat?”, particularly if you exercise regularly. A good example are carbohydrates. Remember, carbohydrates are not the enemy but it’s the right carbs that matter (and of course how much of them). Try to avoid those that are high on the Glycaemic Index. These will raise and lower your blood sugar quickly so you will more likely feel tired through the day. Eating lower GI carbs cause your blood sugar to rise and fall slowly which will keep you fuller for longer and help control your appetite. Get to know the Glycaemic Index so you know what to cut down on. Replacing certain foods with healthier alternatives is also a great way to help not only in keeping your nutrients high, but also in losing weight.

Bonus tip: Obvious but very important!

Alcohol. All I need to say on this is that alcohol contains 7 calories per gram but with zero nutritional value. And when you drink you are more likely to make poor food choices .

Motivational Activewear Reviews

During lockdown, hubby and I had a fantastic fitness regime and we were probably the fittest we’d ever been. During the day from 12-5, we set an alarm every hour and for one minute had to perform a HIIT workout. It was really fun and the kids loved it too. As things started going back to ‘normal’ our enthusiasm wained and we stopped. We had a fantastic summer and I started feeling really blue. I really do rely on those endorphins to get me through. I knew I needed to do something and after reading Nick’s book, I decided to take action. I’ve joined an online community for accountability and every morning at 6am, we log onto zoom and workout together. It is fantastic. The one thing I noticed was seeing other people’s activewear and how motivating it was to look fabulous. So I decided to get reviewing some cool brands and here’s what I found.

Lucy Locket Loves

Their mantra is; Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be Strong. Just looking at their website makes me happy and entices me to get into the gear and get busy. This bright, funky range had my 6am ladies cooing with envy. The material is so soft and stroke-able. It stayed in place throughout my workouts and it genuinely made me feel happy and fun. At that time of the morning you need all the motivation you can get! These threads will 100% boost your mood and make you feel fantastic. I particularly love the leopard print ranges as that’s my jam, but there is literally something for everyone. Take a look and get their Christmas prints ordered before they all sell out!

Crop Tops £17, Rainbow Casual Leggings £16, Wild Spots Active Leggings £33 From Lucy Locket Loves

Badass Mother Runners

I can’t stand boring black running leggings so when I heard from Bev, who set up this company three years ago, my prayers had been answered. Feeling fabulous in running gear is not something I’ve experienced…. until now. Such funky colours and patterns to choose from. The fit is perfect and it absolutely gave me that extra pep as I ran. The top kept me warm while keeping the sweat (I mean glow obvs) at bay and the little thumb loops are an added bonus. I particularly loved the running buff. Mainly because I didn’t know what a running buff was so I was delighted to discover it was a really cool headband that kept my wispy, thinning locks out of my peepers! I am now a bonafide, Badass Mother Runner!

fitness after 40
Hoody £32.50, Leggings £29.95 From Badass Mother Runners

Tentree in Motion

Tentree in Motion is sustainable activewear which plants 10 trees for every item bought…seemingly a poignant choice in light of Cop26. Made from recycled polyester using discarded plastic bottles and Tencel which is a wood pulp fibre. There is a four way stretch for easy movement. I put it to the test that’s for sure. Not sure my boys knew what on earth their mummy was up to mind! This set is beautiful. I felt like a chic ballerina and it totally enhanced my workout. I wanted to keep my posture and stand tall. The fabric certainly does not feel like recycled plastic and just knowing that it is, and the ethics of the company, I enjoyed my workout that little bit more.

In Motion Longline Active Bra £40, In Motion 7/8 Legging in Grey £50 From Tentree

GiJ Fitness Apparel

With the shop recently launched on Facebook, I got to review this fantastic brand and new small business, GiJ Fitness Apparel. I literally felt ready for action when I donned my Dark Camo Set. I felt strong, sturdy and quite frankly sexy as it gave me a cleavage I haven’t seen since 1999! GiJ are passionate about activewear and have created a brand that is fit for purpose. Squat with pride, jump for joy and you will feel strong. I just LOVED the GiJ Original Cap. It’s awesome. So many prints and colours to choose from, you’ll be bootcamp ready before Christmas.

Forest Green & Vivid Red Set £60 From GiJ Fitness Apparel

Fairlie Curved

Stretchy and seamless, this is the perfect work out top for the fuller busted girl. With thick straps and a wider racer back, you can hit your workout routine in confidence knowing that your favourite sports bra is well hidden. The silhouette-shaping style comes in a tubular knit fabric to give you maximum flexibility, performance and comfort. In the same fabric as the vest, these leggings are the stylish but comfortable way to do your workout. The silhouette-shaping style will give you flexibility whether you are running, jogging at the gym or doing a fitness class. Now I am FAR from the fuller busted girl but I felt so supported in this set I didn’t even wear a bra underneath. Quite the juxtaposition yet this brand clearly got it right.

Seamless Ombre Workout Vest £24.99, Seamless Ombre Workout Legging £29.99 From Fairlie Curved

Peachylean

This brand’s message is to empower all women to redefine what being healthy and fit means for them, both physically and emotionally. Their soft-as-butter leggings are high waisted and made with high compression to ensure you feel snug from waist down to hem. Double lined at the bum and tummy to ensure they are squat proof and engineered to support any wobbles! The bralets are double layered with double adjustable shoulder straps, ensuring that you are supported and ready for action. Peachylean teamed up with a partner to work on sustainable, eco-friendly scent to eradicate odours in clothes and that are sensitive to women’s needs. This nano tech – Mica Nanotech Ltd – are disrupting the textile market by providing innovative finishing techniques with high durability and environmental sustainability on performance textiles. You all know I love a bit of animal print. My absolute favourite thing about these leggings is the heart your bum makes when you put your legs together!

Leggings £65, Bralet £34.99 From Peachylean

Dagsmejan

Sleep is proven to play a major role in athletic performance. Dagsmejan and its revolutionary new Recovery Sleepwear line will apparently help you become a better sportsman overnight. They use a breakthrough fabric technology that is scientifically proven to help muscles recover faster & to perform better. I was day eight into my workout program and at the stage where I felt like I’d been kicked in the kidneys when I tried these out. What I liked about this range was all it require me to do was to sleep and I’m actually really good at that. (really not looking forward to those bastard night sweats!). These are honestly the most comfortable sleepwear. I know what’s on my Christmas list this year!

The Dagsmejan recovery line includes t-shirts and shorts for both men & women with sizes ranging from S – 2XL.

fitness after 40
Sleep T-Shirt £73.99, Sleep Shorts £73.99 From Dagsmejan

Modibodi

I was super intrigued to try period pants and was thrilled to trial a pair during my workout. There’s nothing more annoying than a turtle heading tampon or a sliding pad that leaves trails of blood at the sides of your knickers. In full flow, I donned the classic full brief which claims to be pee and period proof. I was concerned about feeling like I was wearing a giant nappy but these thoughts were immediately expunged and I was pleasantly surprised. I felt supported, safe and really comfy. Although nervous for the ‘flood,’ I finished the workout feeling clean, fresh and comfortable. I shower straight after my workout so I rinsed them as directed. At this point, I did feel like a suspect at a crime scene but I knew how much happier the planet would be without all that extra plastic floating around so it was 100% worth it and I would totally recommend giving these a try.

Modibodi®, is modern, protective apparel created to give all bodies more confidence and comfort, and a more sustainable solution to disposable hygiene. Prices ranging from £15.50 to £25 for underwear collections and the swimwear starting at £72.

fitness after 40
Classic Full Brief £25 From Modibodi

I fully concur that there is such a thing as motivational activewear and I’m loving hearing my tribe on the morning zoom coo over all my latest fashions. Who would have thunk such a thing was so exciting! What is your go to fitness attire? What can you see yourself wearing from all the above? Let us know by leaving a comment below or connecting with us on Instagram.

10 ways to build a healthy mindset

In case you have been living under a rock of late, you will know that mental health has become a humungous issue. But here’s the real doozy. In our 40s we need to pay more attention to our mental health and creating a healthy mindset than ever before. Why? Simply because women aged between 40 and 44 years old are five times as likely to suffer with depression compared with younger women. Sheesh….well aren’t we the lucky ones?

So. Here’s the bottom line. Mindset is the foundation of your mental health. So a healthy mindset = good mental health. Thankfully, it’s never too late to change your mindset, and use it as the foundation to bullet proof your mental health. In fact, your fourth decade is the perfect time to change your life and live differently and that all starts with – yup you guessed it – mindset.

Want to build a heathy mindset and reap the benefits? Well, quite honestly who is going to ever answer no to that?! In your 40s you can either choose to a) make progress or b) make excuses. Those of you who fancy a bit of a) come closer as we share 10 ways to build a healthy mindset in your 40s courtesy of Nick Bracks, author of Move Your Mind: How to Build a Healthy Mindset for Life:

Move Your Mind

Simple movement can make all of the difference. Find a small space at home and do at least 15 minutes of exercise. It can be anything…push ups, lunges, skipping…just move at your own pace! 

Feed Your Mind

Make sure (to the best of your ability) that you are eating well and drinking enough water. Also make note of the content you are feeding your mind with (social media, news etc) and discipline yourself to only spend a certain amount of time per day on them.

Connect Your Mind

Call your best friend or a loved one (or a few of them) and offload your stress. Make it clear that they can do the same to you. Being heard can go a long way. And if you are feeling adventurous, spark a conversation with a stranger and see where it leads!

Still Your Mind

Take 5 minutes or more a day to sit with your thoughts. There is no perfect way to do this…you can use a mantra, focus on breathing, or use an app (there are hundreds of free ones online). Just give yourself the time out. Also, stress can affect our sleep patterns. If we follow the healthy behaviours above, we will sleep better and in turn have less stress.

Make it a habit

If we do not create daily habits we will not make long term change in our behaviours. Start by picking the most important thing you want to change and do it regularly for a month. You will be surprised how much change happens in a small amount of time and will become empowered to create other new habits.

Change it up

We can get caught in a rut as time goes by. Humans really are creatures of habit. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If we stay conscious about things we want to change and don’t allow ourselves to just go through the motions we will keep ourselves feeling fresh and vibrant.

Do things that scare you

As above, by doing things that scare us we keep our sense of adventure alive. What is something you have always wanted to do but have been too scared? I am sure you won’t regret it if you give it a go.

Reframe how you look at failure

As I discuss in my book, we often view things as either ‘succeeding’ or ‘failing’. If we can reframe that into ‘succeeding’ or ‘learning something’ then we will be more likely to take risks as it becomes a win win.

Challenge stereotypes

We are told by society that we should be married, have a certain job, live in a certain place, have kids etc by a particular age. But why? Who actually decided this? It makes no sense at all. Sure if someone else wants that then good on them, but we get to set our own system of what a successful life means. Ignore what others think and live life the way you want…at any age.

Surround yourself with people that inspire you

It really is true that we become a product of the five people we spend most of our time with. As time goes by we can get stuck spending time with people who no longer serve us. Challenge this and assess those around you. If people are no longer serving you then maybe it is time to look at meeting new and more like minded people.

How are you trying to build a healthy mindset in your 40s? Do share in a comment below and connect with us on Instagram here where we will be continuing the conversation.

NICK BRACKS is the author of Move Your Mind: How to Build a Healthy Mindset for Life (published by Wiley). He has pursued various entrepreneurial projects since earning a Bachelor of Business at RMIT. He has successfully launched five companies including founding his eponymous men’s underwear label, underBRACKS; a successful restaurant venture; co-founding a nutritional supplements company; and co-founding Happy Waves. Nick has presented two TED Talks – one covering how creative and entrepreneurial drive can help combat depression, and a second on the growing suicide epidemic.

Nick now spends his time creating educational content through his Move Your Mind podcast and courses. Nick’s professional life and personal development are perfectly intertwined. He lives between Australia and the United States.  

Photos by Binti Malu, Karolina Grabowska, Nina Uhlíková from Pexels

Brutal truths about being 40

We aren’t going to sugar coat this shit show for you people. This is real life. I bought a coffee today from 2 young lads who could easily have been my teenage sons. For the first time, I thought to myself, I wonder what they think when they see me. Do they acknowledge me as a frumpy old ma, an older woman? What category am I now? It makes no difference to me whatsoever what they thought of me as I know I do my best to live my best life and I take as much care as I can of my body. But here are some brutal truths about the realities we are experiencing in our 4th decade. This is being 40.

  • You start becoming as blind as a bat. Reading the ingredients on food labels makes your eyes strain like a bear on the toilet.
  • A moment on the lips = a lifetime on the hips! Those days of wallowing in a bucket of Hagen Daaz are long gone. Your metabolism has just slowed down another 5% so trying to maintain your current weight just got 50% harder!
  • You’re closer to the M word than ever before. You constantly wonder whether this might be the year your body stops producing eggs and shrivels up.
  • You start losing the fight against wrinkles. But hey these are not wrinkles – they are survival lines right?
  • Hot Flashes! From head to toe and even in the roots of your hair ffs!
  • If your parents are still around you become acutely aware of how much longer they might have in them leaving you with an unhealthy obsession with mortality.
  • The epiphany that the buck stops with you always – and nobody can sort out your shit for you.
  • You can not hold in a fart even if your life – or the planet – depended on it.
  • Your brain is starting to feel like the biggest tangle, plagued with misremembering, forgetting words, names and being replaced with a load of mumbo jumbo.
  • Running home to the toilet becomes a regular occurrence as you fear the reality of wetting your knickers as your pelvic floor muscles aren’t what they used to be.
  • The younger generation might consider you a m.i.l.f (if you’re lucky). You may even have been lucky enough to be wolf whistled by a teenager (cringe!).
  • You’re no longer in the 18-35 category so jog on and tick the next box down please.
  • Being called ‘ Aunty’ by people in their thirties. Yup, you’re now the crazy aunt everyone!
  • When you consider work colleagues to be of a similar age but discover they were actually born in 2001 which WASN’T 10 years ago btw…..
  • Realising that you’re making groaning noise that only old people make when you get up from a chair or the floor.
  • When you’re explaining to teenagers about the Spice Girls and they ask ‘are they still alive?’
  • Not ever being asked to show your I.D when purchasing your daily gin.
  • Being so out of date with the lingo of the youth and having to ask what the abbreviation means!
  • You can no longer jump on a trampoline for the fear a bit of wee coming out. So happiness is…erm…NOT jumping on a trampoline!
  • Staying in, not going to the party, not leaving your house – your childhood punishments have now become your adult goals!
  • 9pm is pretty much equivalent to midnight. But hey you are still a rockstar, you whisper to yourself as you hunker down under the covers with your book of choice.
  • You remember the time before mobile phones, the internet and having to go to the library to look something up.
  • Your kids don’t know who Britney Spears is. Ugh! So toxic having to explain to them.

Anything to add to the list? What else do you expect you’ll encounter in your 40s? Get in touch by leaving a comment below or connect with us on Instagram here.

Spinster Chronicles: The one with the breakup text

Are you dating in your 40s? Have there been any unexpected challenges? Technology has advanced so much since our 20s that it’s not uncommon to have a text message relationship before even meeting each other. Well, imagine being sent a breakup text before you’ve even had your first date….Meet our favourite spinster, Jennifer Walters.

10th June 2021

Have you ever gotten a breakup text from someone you didn’t know you were dating, someone you’ve never even actually met in person?

Well, neither had I, until last week.

CfromTinder texted me to let me know he’s had enough of me not putting forth the proper investment into our budding relationship and he’s not interested in a woman who won’t make him a priority.

I told CfromTinder that I have two kids, two dogs, a job, and as of late I spend a ridiculous amount of time watching videos on the internet about fixing broken toilets because for the past several weeks, at least one of them in my house is out of order at all times.

I also told CfromTinder that he is right. It’s highly unlikely I would make him a priority because I’m not really interested in knowing someone that is hard work to know before I even actually know them, because I’ve never met them, in real life.

Two days later CfromTinder texted me to say that he thinks he jumped the gun and wants to give it another try. I told him we probably wouldn’t be a good match, but his persistence, combined with my sister’s insistence that his pics were really cute, and my having nothing to do that Thursday night, led me to agree to meet him for a glass of wine.

We met, at the wine bar down the street, where they always see me with a different dude. I have a feeling they may be starting to wonder if I’m some sort of lady of the night.

CfromTinder showed up in purse pants and spent maybe fifteen collective minutes, out of the hour and a half we were there, actually sitting down at the table. The rest of the time he was in the bathroom, at the bar, running to his car for something, or taking a call outside. I’m pretty sure that in truth he was either preoccupied with tending to what I suspect might be a nagging cocaine habit, or suffering from a severe case of untreated ADHD. Either way, my notion that we weren’t a good match was confirmed. 

Back to the swiping board. And no, CfromTinder, I’m not going to meet up with you to explain why I don’t want to see you again.

9th July 2021

I met B online. B is a Marine, but the true display of his bravery came when he agreed to meet me for the first time while I was out on a girls night. He survived the shenanigans and interrogations from my besties, so when he invited me out on a real date I accepted.

We went to my local wine bar (yes, that same one I go to on all my dates) and had a nice time. During our evening, we realized this was not the first time we’d met. Not only was it not the first time we’d met, he had been to my house before, been swimming in my pool, sampled my world famous guacamole, and maybe even pooped in my toilet. I don’t know if he actually pooped in my toilet, but I assume since he was there for several hours eating snacks, it’s very possible.

We also discovered we have a mutual nemesis. The same evil twat that wreaked havoc in my life wreaked havoc in his, during the same time period. Apparently she was so masterful at being an evil twat the it was no problem for her to fill this role for multiple people in parallel. We bonded over this hatred for TwatyMcHoebag and decided to go on another date.

As the week progressed, we discussed possible next date activities. I suggested maybe bowling, axe throwing, or painting. He said he didn’t want to do those things. I said, “okay,” because I’m a reasonable human being who doesn’t try to convince people they like to do things they don’t like to do. He suggested we go shoot guns. I told him I don’t like shooting guns, and rather than him simply saying, “okay,” B, who shall henceforth be referred to as Pushy McPusherton, spent several minutes too long explaining to me how he could change my mind about shooting guns, and that I should ignore the likelihood that I would have a trauma induced emotional breakdown if we shot guns on our second date.

I told him I’d think of some other ideas and call him back. I did not think of any other ideas, nor did I call him back.

Jennifer’s Top Tips for avoiding text messages

For those of you who love to complain that you get too many text messages that you’re too busy and too important to be bothered with, but can’t seem to figure out what to do about it:

1. Turn your alert off. You may not know, but you can turn both your audible and vibration alert off, unless you have a phone from 1994.
2. Turn your phone off. Although this may interfere with your ability to interact with others, you’re clearly in pursuit of less interaction, so, win!
3. Get a bag phone. They can’t receive text messages.
4. Give your phone to a toddler. Let them answer your texts. If you don’t have access to a toddler, give your phone to a dog. If neither of these options are at your fingertips, put it in the toilet.
5. Stop giving people your phone number.
6. Get a pager.
7. Activate the Do Not Disturb feature on your phone. You likely have this feature on your device, unless you have a bag phone, in which case, problem solved.
8. Build really thick walls in your house so the signal can’t get to your phone when you’re inside.
9. Fashion yourself track suit with signal blocking technology that you can wear around town. It is critical that your suit has a pocket to securely transport your device. I suggest a zipper closure as Velcro often losses it’s locking power with wear and tear.
10. Remove the battery.
11. Never, ever charge your battery.
12. Switch to walkie talkie technology.
13. Every time someone texts you, text them back a picture of you making a mean face.

You can catch up on Jennifer’s debacles here. Do you find dating in your 40s challenging? What are the most random messages you’ve been sent?

Leave a comment below and follow us on Instagram here where we’ll be keeping the conversation going.

How to keep calm and carry on in your 40s

Being in your 40s can be a funny old time. On the one hand you can feel mentally fierce and fabulous, on the other hand your body starts letting you know its age, and you are teetering on the brink of hormonal calamity otherwise known as the menopause. But hey! who are we to let all of that stop us from living our best life in your 40s?

But the thing is, in your 40s, you can no longer take for granted all the things you had done previously – especially when it comes to health (both mental and physical). The fact of the matter is, whether you like it or not, you are on a one way ticket towards perimenopause – a whole can of worms hormonally – as you edge close to the menopause (more on that in our upcoming article!).

Here, Kate Chaytor-Norris author of I Wish My Doctor Had Told Me This shares her top ten tip for keeping calm and carrying on in your 40s:

Be calm

Do anything that makes you feel calm – this helps the adrenal glands to work optimally – if we are running lots of stress, they then cannot take over the job of producing sex hormones to maintain a balance. 

Balance your blood sugar levels

This is so that the adrenals do not have to produce stress hormones when they are swinging up and down.  Try to avoid refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta rice etc) to reduce your sugar intake as much as possible and make sure that you have some source of protein with every meal or snack.

Breathe

This is probably the single most important thing that we can do for our health – breathing deep down into the diaphragm (fill the balloon in your abdomen) and practise exhaling more slowly.  This calms the body and so that everything works better.  If you extend the out breath this also helps to switch the body out of fight/flight.

Meditate

This for me is about stilling the mind so you can do this whilst walking, running or with any activity where you can switch your mind off. When I walk the dogs, I try to really focus on what the dogs are doing to bring me into that moment, instead of pounding along thinking about all the emails I need to send. It really helps.

Embrace nature

Be outside in nature and ideally with your bare feet on the earth/grass or if it is in the midst of winter, hug a tree.  This fills the body with free electrons which act as antioxidants helping to reduce the ageing of our body. Nature sounds help to switch off the fight/flight stress response.

Sleep

Sleep is a hugely undervalued activity – my rule of thumb is if you have to wake up to an alarm you are probably not getting enough sleep.  Try to be strict about bedtime, and as much as you can, go to bed at the same time each night.  If you struggle to get off to sleep watch your bedtime routine, keep it gentle and calm (no heart thumping thrillers or news at 10) with low lighting if possible.

Support your liver

Man-made toxins in our environment, such as pesticides and household detergents can overwork the liver. The liver is responsible for clearing out excess hormones, so to help it work better eat more cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts – as they help support the detox pathways in the liver. An optimally functioning liver can really help you through the menopause.

Drink more water

Try to make sure that you are hydrated every day as our bodies do not function properly if dehydrated. To work out how much water to drink, take your weight in kgs and multiply by 0.033 – this will give you the amount in litres that you should ideally be having daily.

Eat a rainbow

…of different coloured foods every day (think red pepper, broccoli, sweet potatoes, red cabbage, kale). Not only is it a joy to sit in front of a colourful plate but the antioxidants in the different coloured pigments help to reduce ageing and inflammation in the body.

Hug

…as much as you can and if you are on your own or self-isolating hug yourself- wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze tight.  This helps to increase levels of oxytocin, a hormone that lowers stress hormones, balances sex hormones, reduces cravings and helps with sleep.

How do you keep calm and carry on in your 40s? Share your tips with us in a comment below or keep the conversation going on Instagram here.

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Kate Chaytor-Norris is a Nutritional Therapist who has made it her mission to empower people to heal themselves. She trained at the Institute of Optimum Nutrition and has been practising for the past ten years. Kate is also trained in Health Kinesiology, Nutrigenomics, counselling and PSYCH-K®. She lives in Yorkshire with her husband and three children.

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny from Pexels