I will forever remember Thursday 5th May 2022, the local elections..and the day that I signed the consent form for removing my fallopian tubes to prevent ovarian cancer. The day I effectively signed my fallopian tubes away to reduce my inherited risk of developing ovarian cancer.
After almost a year of fact finding, a rollercoaster of emotions and weighing up the best next step forward in light of my BRCA1 gene mutation diagnosis, I have finally taken the first step towards my cancer risk reduction.
With a heavy heart
I still have no idea whether this is the right thing to do, but this is my body, my mind, and my physical and mental health. It’s a big leap of faith. I am not going for the belt and braces gold standard approach of having both removing my fallopian tubes and ovaries, which is the best way of reducing the risk of developing ovarian cancer. I just can’t get my head round parting with my ovaries yet. The thinking about the removal of the fallopian tubes first is that according to current research, in many women with ovarian cancer it is believed that the disease may originate in the fallopian tubes.
Perhaps I am being cowardly but the thought of having my ovaries removed and being sent into surgical menopause and the will it or won’t it work of HRT frightens the life out of me at age 41. With the average age of menopause 50 I am just not ready to go there yet. I know everyone kept on saying if it was them, they would have both the fallopians and ovaries removed, but I am not everyone, I am ME.
I am also frightened that once they do go in there and go about removing my fallopian tubes, and take samples of the tissue from around that region that they will find cancer cells in there anyway (this happens in about 20% of cases), and I will have to have both my ovaries out and start cancer treatment. Or that ovarian cancer could develop before the later date of having my ovaries out, closer to the time or natural menopause.
I could drive myself crazy with these thoughts but have to take baby steps and trust that at least I am now in the system and what will be will be come my operation which is likely to be in November.
I keep telling myself, at least I can take comfort in the fact that I am in excellent hands. The world class team running the Protector Study that I will be part of – running out of St Bart’s. I will never forget the warm yet firm handshake of Ranjit Manchanda, a Professor at Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts CRUK Cancer Centre, QMUL, and Consultant Gynaecological Oncologist at Barts and the Royal London Hospital – and that smile which told me I was in kind and extremely capable hands.
Still, I couldn’t hold back the tears as I agreed to all the risks and caveats involved in surgeries, the woulds and would not and signed the consent form for the removal of my fallopian tubes and my ovaries at a later date.
The secret is out
I am beyond relieved that my daughter now knows the secret I had until last week been keeping so close to my heart, waiting for the right time to unfold the truth.
There were tears as I tried to tell her that the upcoming preventative surgeries were for the best and would only start with a little one. She sobbed as I told her about the preventative double mascetomy which I would probably eventually have and asked whether she would be able to still cuddle me? Would my breasts still feel soft and squidy? I cried for the future loss of my good old friends which had fed my daughter in her infancy which were now a ticking timebomb.
Ultimately I know that my risk reducing journey is a marathon not a sprint, and I need to stay strong for the long haul and pray that my body will not renegade or submit to the worst case scenarios along the way as I countdown to receiving my operation date. I pray that time will be on my side, and that a positive outcome awaits.
About the PROTECTOR study
PROTECTOR is a research study for women who are at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. Some women may have an increased risk due to:
Carrying an alteration in ovarian cancer causing genes such as BRCA1, BRCA2, RAD51C, RAD51D or BRIP1.
Having a strong family history of ovarian and breast cancer or ovarian cancer alone.
PROTECTOR aims to assess the impact on women of a new two-step surgery to prevent ovarian cancer. This involves initially just having your fallopian tubes (or ‘tubes’) removed to prevent ovarian cancer. This is followed by removing your ovaries in a second operation at a later date of your choosing or once you have reached menopause naturally (which on average is 51 years in the UK).
The study assesses women’s views and the impact of this two-step surgery to prevent ovarian cancer on sexual function, hormone levels, quality of life and overall satisfaction. Outcomes from this new approach are compared to the traditional approach of removal of both tubes and ovaries in the same operation. We will also compare this to the well-being of women who do not have surgery. Women are able to choose which arm of the study they wish to take part in: single operation removing both tubes and ovaries, two-step surgery, ‘controls’ (no surgery).
Approximately 30 hospitals across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are recruiting participants for PROTECTOR. We aim to recruit 1,000 participants in total (333 in each study arm). If you would like to take part, please ask your GP to refer you to your nearest recruitment centre which can be found using this interactive map. Alternatively, you can contact the team for further details on how to take part.
Whether you’re struggling with the perimenopause or menopause, we’re sharing five important ways to cope courtesy of Vitaminology – a health tech company reinventing how consumers discover and shop for vitamins helping them discover and compare the best supplements for them.
5 ways to cope and manage menopause without HRT
Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle coupled with nutritional supplements or botanical therapies offer natural, yet effective strategies to help manage symptoms for many peri-menopausal or menopausal women.
Eat a whole foods, balanced diet
… to help balance hormones. Avoid refined carbohydrates, sugars, processed foods and saturated fats. Opt for a wide variety of brightly coloured vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, good quality lean protein and healthy fats. Remember that spicy foods as well as alcohol and caffeine are triggers for hot flushes and night sweats. Eating oily fish 2-3 times a week (think SMASH – salmon, mackerel, anchovies and herring and sardines) will also help to support hormone balance.
…has so many benefits including our ability to cope with the menopause. It supports a healthy weight, cardiovascular function, improved sleep and the ability to cope with stress. Regular exercise doesn’t have to mean hours in the gym (although weight-bearing exercise is known to be extremely beneficial for bone growth and repair, reducing the risk of osteoporosis) so find something that fits into your lifestyle such as a yoga class or a long walk every day.
Keep stress at bay
…and promote calm using self-help techniques such as deep breathing, gentle exercise (ie, walking, Pilates, Yoga, Tai chi), meditation or journaling. Complementary therapies such as acupuncture may also be beneficial when coping with the menopause. A calmer mind will help to achieve a calmer body.
When we sleep our body uses this time to rejuvenate, so good quality sleep is vital when battling menopause symptoms. Try good sleep hygiene techniques such as switching off devices an hour before bedtime, reading or listening to music before going to sleep, taking a hot Epsom salt bath (contains magnesium to help relax the muscles and mind) to help get a good night’s rest. It is super beneficial to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, and sleep for 7-8 hours.
Sometimes in life, we need a little extra help – and this is no different when it comes to our health and wellbeing. There are number food supplements that can help with the perimenopause and menopause including multivitamins specifically formulated. In addition to these, a Vitamin B Complex will help to support energy, mood and brain function or try Vitamin E to relieve hot flushes and vaginal dryness.
Whether you are considering HRT or trying to find a suitable alternative, always discuss first with your GP who can advise you of the benefits and risks in your individual case. Consult with a registered Nutritional Therapist who can support you through the menopause with advice on diet, lifestyle and supplementation.
Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a balanced diet or healthy lifestyle.
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I won’t lie. The first time I had a mammogram, I really didn’t know what to expect. But being at high risk of developing breast cancer in my lifetime due to the fact I have BRCA1 gene mutation, then well let’s just say I am going to become very familiar with mammograms! But apart from the fact I expected it was some kind of scan, I had little idea about what happens when you have a mammogram.
Having said that, it doesn’t distract from the fact that having a mammogram is not exactly the most pleasant of experiences in my personal opinion just because it does tend to be pretty uncomfortable as your breast tissues gets pulled and manipulated into certain “flatter” positions before it gets positioned into place ready for the scan.
That said I would rather take a mammogram every day of my life rather than having a malignancy undetected in my breasts. The alternative – not knowing the status of your breast tissue and any potential changes and what they may mean, is unthinkable to me.
Do not put your mammogram off
Whatever the pain and discomfort you feel, I want to lay down now how important it is NOT to let this deter you from having your routine mammogram and attending breast cancer screening. All women are invited for a routine mammogram in the UK from age 50 up. If you have an increased risk of breast cancer due to hereditary factors then you should be having a routine mammogram annually from the age of 30 of 40.
Worries about the procedure, along with COVID disruption saw a 44 per cent fall in the number of women screened for the disease nationally in 2020-21 according to NHS England, but mammograms and early diagnosis of cancer can rapidly improve the long-term prognosis and chances of recovery.
If you are worried about having a mammogram, not sure what a mammogram is, or yet to have your first mammogram, here Kate Whittaker, Superintendent Mammographer, at King Edward VII’s Hospital explains all.
I’ve been invited to attend a mammogram. Should I go and what should I expect?
When women turn 50, they will be contacted by the NHS Breast Screening Programme Unit, inviting them for a mammogram. All patients registered as female will be contacted every three years, until they turn 71.
Mammograms are a straightforward, non-invasive short procedure, but increasingly women are missing appointments, or declining to attend their screening. Worries about the procedure, along with COVID disruption, saw a 44 per cent fall in the number of women screened for nationally in 2020-21 according to NHS England. But mammograms and early diagnosis of cancer can greatly improve a patient’s long-term prognosis and chances of recovery – so why should women attend them, and how can they prepare?
Before the appointment
As mentioned above, breast screening can save lives. Identifying and intervening early can dramatically improve the outcomes for breast cancer, but attending a mammogram is obviously a personal choice.
If you do decide to attend and feel nervous about the procedure, try to book an appointment at a time when you’re not going to be rushing around. If you feel comfortable doing so, ask a friend or loved one to take you to the appointment for moral support, and have something nice planned for afterwards that you can look forward to and distract from any worries.
When you have a mammogram, you’ll be asked to undress from the waist up, so try to wear something comfortable that’s easy to take on and off. You’ll always be imaged by a female mammographer, but if you have any queries or concerns, including mobility issues or special requirements, it’s best to contact the screening unit before your appointment. That will allow them to make any necessary changes to your appointment, such as duration or location, as some sites are remote and may not be accessible to disabled service users.
During the mammogram
When you’re ready, you’ll be invited into an x-ray room by the mammographer, who will explain the procedure and answer any questions. Your breast is imaged by gently placing it onto the x-ray machine and applying some compression. This only lasts a few seconds and releases the moment the x-ray has been taken. You’ll have four images taken in total, two on each breast. All you’ll need to do is take a few small steps in front of the machine and raise your arms when asked, to help with the breast positioning in the side images. The whole process is over very quickly, in around five minutes, but keeping still is really important to get an accurate x-ray.
Breast screening can be uncomfortable, or occasionally a little painful for some people, so talking through any concerns with the mammographer can be very useful, you can also tell them to stop at any point if you’re feeling discomfort.
Getting your results
Results will be sent to you by post and they generally take between two and four weeks. A copy will also be sent to your GP for your medical records.
Your results will either say ‘No sign of breast cancer’ or ‘Need further tests’. If you have no sign of breast cancer, you can wait for your next mammogram in three years time, unless you notice any breast changes, including any lumps in your chest or armpit, discharge from your nipple, or an unusual texture on the skin of your breast. Do a check once or twice a month, and contact your GP if you notice any changes or have any concerns about your breasts.
If you need further imaging, don’t panic. Most people who need further tests will not be diagnosed with breast cancer. But if you are worried, you can discuss the appointment with a breast care nurse, who will be able to explain to you the result, and what next steps will be taken.
You’ll be offered an appointment in a screening assessment clinic where you’ll be offered an examination of your breast and sometimes more mammograms, an ultrasound, or sometimes a needle test. Results from these tests normally take around a week. All of this will help the Breast Unit team and your GP to best support you and offer any further investigations and treatment you may require, which, in some cases, can limit the need for invasive treatment, or surgery. So when you receive your next invitation, I’d urge you to come forward and attend your mammogram, or if you notice any breast changes or symptoms in the meantime, speak to your GP to access support as early as possible, which may save.
We hope the above helps you overcome any fears you may have about attending a mammogram screening. Focus on the end game in that when you attend a mammogram, you are doing something amazing for your body and yourself, and empowering yourself with the knowledge you need about any risk factors, warning signs and potential treatment down the line. To find out more about assessing your breast cancer risk see this useful guide over at our friends Breast Cancer Now or speak to your GP.
Perimenopause is a time of change. Each woman’s journey will differ, but it can be an uncomfortable and confusing time for most women. Luckily, there are many ways to feel better during perimenopause. You can try hormone replacement therapy or natural supplements to relieve your symptoms.
You could also try meditation, yoga, or acupuncture to make yourself feel more balanced. Here we will discuss how you can ease into perimenopause to reduce the effects.
One thing you can do to help ease into perimenopause is to stop smoking. Smoking causes several health-related problems, but it also contributes to menopause symptoms. Quitting is easier said than done, but you might be able to make it happen with patience. You can try nicotine patches to help you stop, visit a Vape store for nicotine-free vape liquids to substitute for smoking or chew on gum to ease your cravings during the early weeks of quitting
Reduce or eliminate alcohol intake
Many women find themselves drinking more during perimenopause. This can lead to many problems. When you drink alcohol while going through perimenopause, the effects are even stronger and more pronounced.
Avoid drinking alcohol as much as possible during this time in your life. If you do drink, try to keep it limited to only one or two drinks a night and for every drink of alcohol, have at least one glass of water to stay hydrated!
Maintain a healthy weight
A common symptom of perimenopause is weight gain. Hormones fluctuate during this time, making it tougher to control your appetite and maintain weight.
The first step to easing into perimenopause is maintaining a healthy weight. Eating a balanced diet and incorporating physical activity can help with this. You might also try eating more fibre or drinking more water to curb your appetite.
Additionally, you should get plenty of sleep so that your body has time to recover and regenerate hormones. Sleep deprivation can lead to decreased energy levels and increased levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Finally, if you suffer from night sweats, wear loose-fitting clothing, so you aren’t uncomfortable while sleeping.
Add calcium to your diet
Perimenopause can make you feel tired and irritable. You might notice mood swings or other symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. One way to ease into perimenopause is by taking calcium supplements. Calcium supplements are often recommended during perimenopause because they can help reduce the severity of symptoms. They are also helpful for protecting bones in the long term, which may be an issue during this time since perimenopausal women are at risk for osteoporosis. Plus, calcium supplements have reduced PMS symptoms like cramping, bloating, and mood swings.
Try natural remedies
There are several ways to ease into perimenopause. One way is to try natural remedies. These remedies are usually herbal and can be purchased in-store or online. Some common natural remedies include soy, vitamins, minerals, herbs, and essential oils. All of these items have different benefits for perimenopausal symptoms. For example, soy may reduce hot flashes or vaginal dryness, whereas minerals could help with mood swings or headaches.
Are you going through the perimenopause? Share your experience with us by commenting below or join our community on Instagram.
I’m always sure to have a bottle of extra virgin olive oil in my cupboard. I’m such a generous drizzler. I have an unnatural obsession with olives and I pretty much eat them every day. The Mediterranean diet always fascinated me so when I was given the chance to speak to Dr Simon Poole and share our passion for this incredible way of life, I jumped at it.
Dr Simon Poole MBBS DRCOG is a Cambridge-based medical doctor, author, broadcaster, commentator and is an internationally renowned authority on the science and application of the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle. So I’d say he’s pretty much the best human to give us his top 10 reasons why us old broads should look at adopting this way of eating.
1. Managing the Menopause
As a practicing doctor, I see many women in their late forties and early fifties with very troublesome perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms. Hot flushes and night sweats, so-called vasomotor symptoms, can be especially intrusive. It has been known for some time that diet can be effective in significantly lessening some of these symptoms which can have a dramatic benefit to quality of life during the hormonal changes of the menopause.
Whilst individual foods or supplements have been promoted for these effects, the most convincing evidence is that the Mediterranean diet is the best nutritional prescription for the challenges of the menopause. One particular prospective study of 6000 women in Australia showed that those consuming a Mediterranean diet of vegetables, pasta, fruit and red wine were twenty percent less likely to have significant vasomotor symptoms, whilst those with a high sugar, “western” style diet were 23% more likely to be affected.
2. Preventing Heart Disease and Stroke
As we reach our forties and beyond, it is even more important to embrace a lifestyle which is enjoyable as well as healthy. Maintaining good physical health can be a challenge, but it is possible to significantly reduce the odds of heart disease and stroke by making some relatively simple changes to our diet.
The prestigious annual US News Report expert scientific committee convened to assess the merits of different diets has, for the fifth year running, awarded that accolade to the Mediterranean diet. This is because of the body of evidence which supports its ability to protect us from the commonest of medical conditions. For example, the Predimed Study – a large randomised controlled trial based in Spain showed that participants on the Mediterranean diet were thirty percent less likely to develop heart disease, even showing by ultrasound that potentially dangerous cholesterol plaques in the carotid arteries of many people in the trial regressed, thereby reducing the risk of stroke.
A separate study conducted by the University Bordeaux showed an extraordinary seventy eight percent reduced relative risk of stroke in people regularly consuming extra virgin olive oil, perhaps the single most important ingredient in the diet.
3. Achieving Weight Goals and Avoiding Diabetes
There are numerous diets promoted for weight loss, many of them difficult to sustain for a long period of time, some restrictive and frankly unpleasant. Research has shown that calorie counting is less effective than choosing the right types of healthy fats and low GI carbohydrates and that is important that a diet results in consistent travel towards a healthy weight and is enjoyable and therefore more able to be sustained in the long term.
The Mediterranean diet performs as well as most other diets for weight loss and also reduces the risk of developing diabetes by as much as forty to sixty percent. This is based on a number of beneficial effects of the diet – from the wholegrain carbohydrates and low levels of processed foods with added sugars, to the effects of extra virgin olive oil directly increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing sugar spikes by slowing the absorption of carbohydrate meals. In the Mediterranean, bread and pasta is almost always combined with extra virgin oil, adding great flavour, increasing satiety and a feeling of fullness at the same time as ensuring a slow and low glycaemic rise.
4. Reducing the Risk of Dementia
Our generation has seen a dramatic increase in dementia affecting the over sixties and a failure to find medications to reduce its devastating consequences. Yet in the traditional lands of the Mediterranean – the mountains of Greek islands and the harbours on Italian coastlines, there are very low rates of dementia. This is thought to be due to the diet and lifestyle and perhaps in particular because the colourful vegetables, herbs and spices and ubiquitous extra virgin olive oil are so rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, protecting our bodies, including our brains, from harm.
A study from Thessaloniki University in Greece showed that a tablespoon of high polyphenol extra virgin olive oil, instantly recognisable by its beautiful fruity, deliciously bitter and peppery flavours, reduced progression of disease in people with early dementia in comparison with those given low polyphenol, poor quality olive oil.
5. Protection from Breast cancer
It is said that a woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer in western societies is as much as one in seven. These are uncomfortable odds, yet we see much lower rates across the countries which follow the traditional Mediterranean Diet. The researchers who led the Predimed study found a reduced risk of breast cancer of sixty percent in those participants on the Mediterranean diet. This may also be due to the presence of foods rich in antioxidants as well as a reduction in consumption of processed foods, which we know increase the likelihood of developing cancers.
6. Improving Wellbeing
It is good to talk about a diet which reduces the risk of diseases and which therefore increases the chances of healthy aging with a good quality of life, but there is an even more positive effect of the Mediterranean diet for people who adopt this pattern of eating at any age. Wellbeing is a concept which is difficult to define and even more elusive to measure scientifically.
Researchers at the university of Granada however, not only found lower levels of depression in university students scoring high adherence to a Mediterranean Diet, but their wellbeing, sense of energy, and social functioning parameters were also much higher. Maintaining good mental health is important for us all at any age, and especially key for children passing through vulnerable stages of adolescence and leaving home for university.
7. The Joy of Food Preparation
Women have traditionally been at the centre of home making and food preparation for the family, although we must be careful not to reinforce gender stereotypes. That said, preparing delicious Mediterranean meals from scratch is such fun and so rewarding that it might be difficult to keep other family members out of the kitchen. On a serious note, learning to cook Mediterranean style together with children at the weekend is a wonderful experience.
8. A Diet that is Value for Money
There is a perception that the Mediterranean diet is more expensive than a standard, more processed western diet. The reality is a bit more complicated than that. Although supermarkets often offer price reductions on processed foods, fresh seasonal vegetables and wholegrains can be inexpensive and a very affordable alternative.
A good quality extra virgin olive oil is not an industrial product and its production costs cannot be compared with cheap refined oils. But the health benefits are clear to see. Often buying in larger quantities can reduce the price per litre and make regular consumption of fresh extra virgin olive oil much easier to afford. Preparing food from scratch is cheaper than buying ready meals and much better for us. To some degree, it is perhaps also about valuing good food and considering it as a higher priority call on our income in comparison with other expenses .
9. Increasing a Sense of Community
In the Mediterranean time is spent “breaking bread” together with family and friends. Being part of a community where time is spent in company (a word which incidentally derives from the od Italian “con pane” – with bread) and enjoying food together has been shown to improve health and longevity in itself. A focus on the Mediterranean diet is also a focus on communal enjoyment of the sharing of food.
A pressing reason for our generation to eat healthily is not only to increase our chances of a long and healthy life, but to also play our part in reversing climate change for the sake of our children and future generations.
The Mediterranean diet is lower in red meat and industrial processed foods. It is a plant-based diet based on local seasonal fresh, natural foods and extra virgin olive oil at its heart can be well produced such that the olive tree is not only capable of flourishing in arid, almost desert environments with minimal water use, but sinks 10kg of carbon for every litre of extra virgin olive oil produced.
You can learn more about the Mediterranean diet by reading Simon’s latest book, The Real Mediterranean Diet. This book demystifies why a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle can improve the health of everyone, young and old. Explaining its origins in Ancient Greece to the modern day, this book is packed with recipes, photography and the science that joins up all the dots.
Keep the conversation going by commenting below or joining in with our Instagram community.
Our 40s seem like the optimum time to take stock and really think about how happy we really are in all aspects of our lives. Career wise we might be stuck in a rut. Imagine you have a power house job in the corporate world but decide to find your own focus and create a business around yourself? This is exactly what Claire Antill did. She advocates that we are all ‘more than what we do for a living’. Here, she shares her experience leaving the corporate world.
‘At 40 I left a ‘stable’ corporate job in a company I’d worked in for over a decade. I stepped away from security to set up my own creative business venture during a global pandemic, because there is never the perfect time, right?!
Why did I do this? I’m someone who has always measured their value through what I do for a living and what others think of me. Since school, I’ve always been a study, and a grafter. If I want to do something, I learn everything there is to know about it and then strive to make it work.
However, despite working in high profile roles, companies and institutions, I felt that there was an invisible barrier stopping me achieving my potential, whatever that was. I felt like I was always waiting to be found out.
Then the identity change of motherhood hit (I’m a mum of three very close in age). Suddenly, I could no longer be all things and work all the hours. If you’ve experienced it you’ll know, it’s like walking a tightrope, with people just waiting for you to fall.
You spend your whole time apologising for not doing or being enough. Stepping through the minefield of daily office politics erodes your confidence and self worth. You can also feel like an easy target.
I had never thought of myself as creative, these are skills that are not encouraged. Working in male-dominated industries (politics & energy) in the corporate world, I tried to mould myself on those around me and downplayed my ‘soft skills’ of being a mentor, communicator and builder of successful teams.
The breaking point came for me when my twins started school, which is a whole new milestone to contend with. School hours and work hours simply don’t match up. You then try to condense more into less time and have to make sacrifices right, left and centre.
No more. I decided to take my experience and my skills to go it alone and create something new.
I had retrained in social media marketing and then advertising while on my second maternity leave. So I created a business helping e-commerce businesses to grow and thrive, built around a life they want. It’s about building meaningful connections and creating stories to resonate with people.
I love what I do. It’s very rewarding to tap into creativity and work with others to achieve their goals while shaping the life that I want for my family. i
I’m most proud of the fact that I have re-defined my self-worth on who I am as a whole person and not just through my work.
To inspire others to take action I have written a chapter for a best -selling book called Step Aside and Rise where 21 women share their stories of how they have got out of their own way and overcome challenges to succeed.’
We talked to Jo Swann, a hugely successful director at Chocolate PR and asked her for her top five tips for taking the plunge.
1. Remember why you left in the first place
We move on because we are moving away from something that didn’t make us happy, fulfill us or align with us. Remember your move will give you the chance to be who you REALLY are and take the control back.
2. Be brave
It’s not easy ‘starting from scratch’ – leaving a highly successful corporate career – but remember you are NOT starting from scratch. The career you have built up – whether you loved or hated it – is still ‘collateral’ – it is still proof of your knowledge, experience, and provides credibility. Don’t sweep this under the carpet as many do, make it work for you by highlight elements that showcase your level of expertise.
3. Be prepared to be you
When you have a blank slate this is an exciting place to be as it means you can really show up as you – but yet many of us don’t when we become business owners initially! This is because we feel we have to fit into a certain box, or feel we still need be ‘corporate us’ to be seen as professional. This can waste years of not really attracting your ideal clients so please dive head first in and let people see the real you!
4. Try not to compare yourself to others in your space
This is HARD – but it’s not helpful. If you follow people who are further along their journey than you, you are not comparing like for like and so not being fair to yourself if you then see them reaching goals you haven’t yet. Also watching others too closely takes your eye off your own path and you’ll become confused, distracted and misaligned which makes for marketing that wanders off track.
5. Get yourself some recognition early doors
Be it media exposure, a startup award, endorsement from an industry body. Our minds are not always kind to us and you may well suffer bouts of imposter syndrome feeling that you are not good enough and have made a terrible mistake leaving your ‘safe’ job! Third party recognition helps you build up your self belief as when others trust you it’s easier to trust yourself, and it builds up trust with your audience too.
Are you thinking of making the leap? Let us know about it by commenting below or follow us on Instagram.
As life starts to throw more challenges as we get older, whether it’s in terms of our health or just the sheer volume of tasks we need to complete every single day, the fact is that we’re not always in the mood for a bit of naughtiness, if at all! We can be very surprised by changes that occur in our sexual activity, especially after 40. There are very common reasons for this, such as decreased libido, hormone decreases, and changes in our sexual response. But there is more to it than this. Here, we explore, 4 common sexual concerns after 40.
1. Loss of libido
It’s a very common thing women experience, but we must remember that men experience it too! As women go through perimenopause into menopause, women are less likely to think about sex, if at all. And they may be very surprised at this sudden change. But it’s not just women. But men can have decreased libido too. And this is predominantly because their testosterone levels are starting to dip.
While some methods and medications can help with this, such as Testogel, the fact is that when both partners are losing their libido, this can throw up a confusing number of components. Commonly, if one partner is sexually active and the other one isn’t, this can pose relationship problems, where breakups and divorces can occur.
2. Perception of the self
Something that is not always spoken about in relation to sex is the fact that as we get older we are going through so many physical changes that we can feel less desirable, which means we can be less interested in sex. Over the age of 40, there is more of a chance of us gaining weight, losing fitness levels, as well as our mood altering throughout these times.
But we have to bear in mind that the challenges in dealing with each of these aspects can be overwhelming all in themselves. If we don’t feel attractive, which will impact our interest in sex, the best approach is to do what is manageable and reasonable to improve our overall health and appearance. But this alone is not enough. We then need to move on and learn to accept that we are who we are as we enter a new stage of our lives.
Having that sense of self-perception is so important, regardless of your sex drive, but the more important component is to learn to accept who you are. Once we begin to feel more comfortable in our own skin, this is when we’re going to feel more attractive and open to possibilities. So many of us don’t feel attractive, even during the act of sex, which means that we’re going to not want to even initiate this because it’s going to have a negative impact on our frame of mind.
3. Gender role behaviour
In mid-life, partners can begin to fall out of sync with each other. Women in mid-life will experience a number of changes, not necessarily because of pre-menopause but the focus in their lives changes. For women who have had children in their 20s or early 30s, now they are beginning to focus more on their own needs, but will also have more time to devote to themselves. This is why we see many women changing careers in mid-life. The same thing applies to men, as they are more likely to start slowing down in their careers and want to have a balance in their lives.
Overall, these things will impact sexual behaviour and will mean that when both partners are going out of sync with each other, they won’t necessarily have those same desires to focus on the other person. As we get older we can feel that we may have given too much of ourselves to others, especially if we’ve been in a parental role. We see many women and men in middle age going out and socialising more as they may have felt they missed out on a lot of this over the last decade or so.
The main solution to this is about, very simply, learning to sync up with each other’s lives, even to the smallest degree. It’s almost like we’ve got to let our partners get these things out of their system. After all, we deserve to let our hair down, but if our partner is looking to do the same thing we’ve got to be aware that as we try to reclaim our lives for ourselves, there is another person in the equation.
4. A change in sexual response
In women and men, there is a lot more difficulty in coming to orgasm, or orgasms may be less satisfying, and could potentially be an early warning sign of underlying health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease.
What can we do to help with these problems?
As we get older, there needs to be more focus on sex in a holistic manner. The fact is that it’s not just about being able to do it as in when you please. As we get older, we’re going to encounter more health problems that pose obstacles. Here are a few things that you can do to help move things along:
As we go into mid-life, our stress can increase. And this is where taking a look at your common stressors and eliminating these will help. Because if you work to manage your stress, you’re going to improve your general well-being which will have a positive effect on your sexual appetite. Managing stress doesn’t have to be about meditating for 2 hours a day, in fact, even as little as 5 minutes a day can have a positive impact, as long as you choose the right practises for you. Learning to breathe low, slow, and deep can have a positive impact on your abilities to deal with stress.
Having a healthier diet
Our bodies respond very well to certain diets. And because there’s so much information around being healthy, we can find ourselves going down certain avenues that don’t benefit us on an individual level. Physiologically speaking, you have to ensure that you are increasing blood flow and helping your body to regenerate in the right ways. In many ways, the solutions are simple: eating for energy and having whole foods without any preservatives or additives. But it’s also important to remember that fat can also be beneficial here, especially good fats.
Women who take part in exercise have been shown to display fewer menopausal symptoms. It also increases cardiovascular health, resulting in a better sexual response.
It may be beneficial to go to the doctor and discuss the right methods to medicate any form of anxiety or depression. It’s worth noting that medication like antidepressants can inhibit sexual function, but having this in combination with a type of therapy such as CBT may work for you.
Finally, having adequate sleep is vital for every aspect of your life. Having a solid 8 hours is not just going to reduce your stress, but will increase your hormone production which has a natural impact on increasing sexual desire.
Because getting older, for many people, means naturally losing interest in sex, this doesn’t have to be the case. The reality is that we all deserve a healthy sex life, and having an understanding of the common issues that underlie a lot of middle-aged sexual anxieties, as well as having the best health solutions, will make a massive difference.
Keep the conversation going by commenting below or connecting with us on Instagram
What are the tell-tale signs of a mid-life crisis? This is a question that many people ask, especially those who are in the midst of a mid-life crisis. There is no one answer to this question, as the signs can vary from person to person. However, some general signs may indicate that you are experiencing a midlife crisis. This blog post will discuss some of the most common symptoms of a mid-life crisis. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek help and get support.
Dramatic changes in relationships
One of the most common signs of a mid-life crisis is a change in relationships. You may find yourself withdrawing from old friends and family members, or you may become more involved with them than ever before. You may also experience changes in your romantic relationship, such as increased fights or a decrease in intimacy. If you are experiencing these changes, it is important to seek help and get support. You should also keep in mind that relationships are not static, so this may be normal if your relationship with someone has changed significantly over time.
Loss of interest in hobbies & activities
Another common sign of a mid-life crisis is losing interest in hobbies and activities. You may find that you are no longer interested in doing the things you used to do, or perhaps your interests have changed entirely. If this is the case, ask yourself if these changes may have a negative impact on your life. Of course, some hobby changes are normal, but if you are experiencing changes that negatively impact your life, it is important to seek help and get support.
The loss of interest in hobbies and activities can also be caused by depression or anxiety. If this is the case, these conditions should be treated before they lead to more serious problems such as substance abuse or suicide.
Increased substance abuse
Substance abuse is another common sign of a mid-life crisis. You may find that you are using drugs or alcohol more than usual or that you are engaging in other risky behaviours such as gambling. If you are experiencing these types of behaviours, it is important to seek help and get support. Substance abuse can lead to more serious problems such as substance dependence, which can be detrimental.
Another sign of a mid-life crisis is when someone starts spending recklessly. This can be on things like cars, vacations, or even gambling. Often people in the throes of a mid-life crisis will feel like they need to “live it up” before they reach the end of their life. The key here is to carefully consider your spending habits and make informed decisions of which you’ve assessed the consequences. For example, a person experiencing a midlife crisis might be tempted to buy a new car that is out of their budget like a Maseratti, when they can, in reality, afford something more reasonable like a new Jaguar. Mismanaging your finances at this critical stage in life can seriously affect the next twenty years of your life, where you should be building towards a solid retirement strategy.
There are many tell-tale signs of a mid-life crisis. It’s important to be aware of these warning signals and take the necessary precautions, so you can make the most out of the second half of your life.
Have you fallen into crisis? Keep the conversation going by commenting below or follow us on Instagram.
Trying to stay fit and healthy is a challenge for most people at the best of times. Lifestyle choices, work patterns and other factors will undoubtedly influence how a person can stay in shape and eat healthily.
The temptation to forego regular exercising and avoid take-out food is often too great to resist in today’s modern world. Do you find it hard to stay fit and healthy while leading a busy lifestyle? If so, don’t worry because you aren’t alone.
The following tips and suggestions will inspire you to stay healthier without needing to do much or make any significant changes in your life:
Eat lighter versions of your favourite foods
You’ve likely seen all kinds of diets advertised, and you’ve probably even tried some of them. The truth is, trying a diet and sticking with it can be highly challenging, both mentally and physically. Plus, if you keep “yo-yo” dieting, you could even harm your body in the long term.
A better idea to get fit and healthy is to eat the things you enjoy but swap out some of them for “lighter” versions. For example, you could swap your butter and cheese for versions with low fat and cholesterol in them.
Swap Smoking For Vaping
Are you a smoker? If so, consider giving up your cigarettes and switching to vaping instead. Vaping is something you can do to get your nicotine fix, and you could even try other “juices” like CBD e liquid to help you improve your wellness further.
What’s more, vaping means your clothing and your body doesn’t smell like you’ve been standing near a bonfire for too long! Also, you can choose from all kinds of flavours and varying levels of nicotine to help ween yourself off smoking for good.
Park Further Away From Your Destinations
Do you drive? If you spend a lot of time going to various destinations in your car, avoid parking close to where you have to go. Instead, purposely find parking spaces that require you to do some more walking than usual.
For example, park by the car park exit rather than close to your workplace’s entrance if you drive to work. Not only will you get in some extra physical exercise each day, but you can avoid queuing to get out of the car park when you finish work each day.
Avoid Eating Large Meals
Last but not least, you should avoid eating large meals each day. Instead, it’s a better idea to have several small meals spread out throughout the day and evening.
Why is that a good idea, you might ask yourself? The answer is simple: you diminish the chances of needing to snack on unhealthy food like chocolates and crisps to satisfy any hunger pangs between your meals.
The above isn’t an extensive list of what you can do. However, it gives you some ideas for getting started on your health kick without tiring or wearing yourself out in the process. Good luck!
Have you made a pact with yourself to eat better this year? If you’re reading this because you’ve already hit the 40 mark – which you most probably have – then you will know that we can’t quite get away with shovelling any old thing into our system and not pay the penalty for it. The bottom line is that at 40, we need to start thinking about eating well to age so we can feel more vibrant and vital for longer. Because that’s the aim of the game now folks isn’t it?
So what’s the schtick here? At 40, eating well to age means we should all be eating plenty of veggies – the more colourful and intense in colour the better, a variety of fruits, wholegrains, the right amount of protein, healthy fats and the like. As our metabolisms slow down, quite simply…we need to be more selective about what we eat if we want to walk the path to improved wellness.
With that said, today we are sharing some of our favourite recipes for eating well to age from the very appropriately named book – Eat Well to Age Well – the inspiring new cookbook by Beverley Jarvis – which is a veritable bible for eating well to age. It’s packed full of delicious whole food recipes, as well as insightful nutritional and invaluable practical guidance to help us all become super agers, without the hard work!
Vegetable medley with chickpeas and almonds – V
This filling vegetable dish is ideal served as a light lunch or supper, needing only the addition of a dressed, mixed-leaf salad to make it into a complete meal. If you don’t eat the whole dish at one sitting, leftovers can be chilled and re-heated the following day. You may prefer to cook the vegetables on the hob while you cook the sauce in the microwave.
250 g washed and diced butternut squash
1 celery stick, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
1 medium-size courgette, sliced
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
Juice ½ orange
25 g flaked almonds
1x 200 g chickpeas, drained
You will need a shallow microwaveable dish (about 1 ½ litre in capacity), a citrus juicer, microwaveable dinner plate, chopping board and knife, spoon for stirring and microwaveable dinner plate.
Butternut squash is a good source of dietary fibre and contains 22 g carbohydrate per cupful. One cup also contains 57% of the RDI for vitamin A and 52% of the RDI for vitamin C, as well as vitamins B1, B3, B6 and B9. It also makes a valuable contribution towards the RDI for the minerals calcium, iron, phosphorus and copper. The chickpeas provide 7.4 g fibre, 7.2 g protein and 15.7 g carbohydrate per 100 g.
Dressed, mixed-leaf salad with chopped apple; wholemeal bread rolls.
1. Put the prepared vegetables into the shallow dish, sprinkle with the herbs and then add the orange juice.
2. Cover the dish loosely with greaseproof paper, wrapping it under the dish to prevent it from blowing off.
3. Microwave on High for 5 minutes.
4. Remove the dish from microwave and carefully stir the vegetables, then recover and return to microwave for a
further 3½ minutes on High.
5. Set aside to stand, covered.
Toast the almonds:
1. Arrange them around the outside edge of the dinner plate and then microwave on High for 5 minutes, opening the door and rearranging the nuts once during cooking. They will turn lightly golden.
2. Add the drained chickpeas to the vegetables and return to the microwave for 1 minute on High.
3. Serve the vegetables with their delicious juices, topped with the toasted almonds, accompanied by the bread rolls and salad.
Cod and courgette kebabs with pineapple
These tasty fish kebabs, flavoured with lemon and garlic could be cooked on the BBQ, or under a pre-heated grill. They are as attractive to serve as they are good to eat.
250 g cod fillet (or salmon fillet if
preferred), skinned and cubed
6 button mushrooms
½ tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
Juice and finely grated zest of
½ lemon or lime
1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
1 medium courgette, cut into 6 equal slices
1 small red pepper, cut into 2.5 cm pieces
2 canned pineapple rings in natural
juice, drained well, then cut into chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
You will need a chopping board and knife, small mixing bowl, shallow dish, fork, teaspoon, tablespoon, skewers, a pastry brush, citrus juicer, small bowl and fork.
The cod makes a valuable contribution towards your RDI for protein. It can also provide all or more of your RDI for vitamin B12 and is a valuable source of selenium and iodine. The potato mash makes a good contribution to your RDI for carbohydrate with the sweet potatoes adding vitamins A and B6, plus 6.6 g fibre per 100 g. The bell peppers are a good source of antioxidants.
Serve with the pickled vegetables on page 114 and a mash made from equal quantities of sweet and ordinary white potatoes, such as King Edwards, peeled, then cooked together in a covered large pan of boiling water until completely tender. Drain well, then mash, beating in a little semi-skimmed milk and a seasoning of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
1. Put the cod and mushrooms into a shallow dish.
2. In a mug or small bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic, lime/lemon zest and juice and the coriander.
3. Whisk with a fork and spoon over the mushrooms and fish. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
4. Carefully thread the fish and mushrooms onto 2 kebab skewers, alternating with the courgette, red pepper and pineapple pieces, if using.
5. Brush each skewer with some of the remaining marinade mixture and season with a little salt and pepper.
6. Grill on a grill rack, lined with tin foil, for 6-8 minutes, turning occasionally, or until cooked through.
7. Serve immediately, with the pickled vegetables and the mashed potatoes.
If you are using wooden/bamboo skewers, soak these in water for ½ hour before use to stop them burning.
Curried lamb soup with broccoli
Any leftovers can be cooled, then stored in the fridge, for up to 3 days. The soup also freezes well; re-heat until boiling and simmer for 3 minutes before serving. Filling and sustaining, serve the soup as a complete meal, accompanied with some warmed naan or chunky wholemeal bread.
2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
3 tbsp tikka curry paste
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
2.5 cm piece fresh ginger,
peeled and grated
1 x 400 g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
350 g lamb leg steaks, trimmed and diced
1 rounded tbsp plain flour, seasoned with
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.2 litre lamb stock
1 x 400 g can cannellini beans,
drained and rinsed
1 head broccoli, florets only
You will need a chopping board and knife, 2 dinner plates, absorbent kitchen paper, a measuring jug, tablespoon, grater, teaspoon, wooden spoon, slotted spoon, large saucepan with lid and large frying pan.
The protein in the lamb contributes significantly to your RDI. Lamb also contributes vitamins B6 and B12, iron and magnesium. There are fibre and vitamins A and C in the carrot, tomatoes and broccoli and protein, fibre, vitamin B9, and the minerals copper, and iron in the cannellini beans.
1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large saucepan, on a high heat.
2. Add the onion and carrot and stir-fry for about 5 minutes, over a medium heat, until the onion is soft and translucent.
3. Stir in the curry paste with the garlic, chillies and ginger and keep stir-frying for a further minute.
4. Add the tomatoes and tomato purée to the pan; stir well.
5. On the dinner plate, toss the lamb in the seasoned flour.
6. In a large, shallow frying pan, heat the remaining oil.
7. Add the lamb to the hot oil in the frying pan and stir-fry, over a medium-high heat, until golden on all sides.
8. Lift from the pan, using a slotted spoon, and drain on absorbent kitchen paper.
9. Add the lamb stock to the saucepan and bring to the boil.
10. Cover and simmer gently, for 30 minutes.
11. Stir in the drained beans and broccoli.
12. Continue to simmer for 5-7 minutes, covered, until the vegetables are just tender. Return lamb to pan. Stir.
13. Serve, in warmed soup bowls
Avocado and chicken bake
Avocados are highly nutritious and simply delicious, quickly baked in the microwave. This easy recipe makes a great light lunch or supper dish. As an alternative to the chicken, try chopped cooked prawns or drained, flaked, canned tuna fish.
50 g cooked chopped chicken thigh
or breast meat
50 g freshly made brown breadcrumbs
1 tbsp Greek-style natural yoghurt
1 tbsp freshly chopped tarragon or parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large ripe avocado, halved
Juice ½ lemon
25 g parmesan cheese, grated
You will need a 1-litre mixing bowl, tablespoon, teaspoon, citrus juicer, pastry brush, microwaveable avocado dish, 2 microwaveable dinner plates, chopping board and knife, and cheese grater.
Avocados have many nutritional benefits (see page 23). The chicken makes a significant contribution towards your RDI for protein. The breadcrumbs provide carbohydrate and fibre.
1. Put the chicken into the mixing bowl with the breadcrumbs and yoghurt then stir in the herbs with a seasoning of salt (keep to a minimum) and pepper.
2. Brush both halves of the avocado with lemon juice and wrap one half to chill in the fridge for use in a salad the following day.
3. Fill the remaining avocado half with the prepared filling.
4. Sprinkle with the grated cheese.
5. Put the filled avocado half in the microwaveable avocado dish, then stand the dish on a dinner plate.
6. Microwave, uncovered, on High for 2½-3 minutes. Serve immediately with the crème fraîche and parsley.
This recipe can easily be doubled. If cooking two avocado halves together, allow about 4 minutes, and space them apart on a dinner plate.
Sweet jacket potatoes with smoked mackerel, horseradish and parsley
Sweet potatoes cook quickly in the microwave and can be counted as one of your seven-a-day. I often serve them for a quick lunch, straight from the microwave, with just some crumbled feta cheese and a dressed, mixed salad with a sliced kiwi fruit and some chopped dates added.
2 medium-size sweet potatoes,
washed and dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
75 g smoked mackerel fillet, skinned
3 tbsp Greek-style natural yoghurt
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp horseradish sauce
1 dsp freshly chopped parsley
You will need a vegetable knife, microwaveable dinner plate, 1-litre mixing bowl, fork, measuring spoons, chopping board and knife.
A good source of fibre, and providing 6% of your daily requirement for carbohydrate, and 4% of your daily vitamin C needs, sweet potatoes also provide 10% of the daily requirement for vitamin B6. The mackerel and yoghurt contribute significantly towards your daily protein requirement and the mackerel also provides more than the RDI for vitamin D, significant B3 (niacin) and B12 and the minerals iron, magnesium and selenium. Greek yoghurt contains 121 mg calcium per 100 g.
Accompany with a dressed, mixed salad.
1. Score a cross in the top of each potato you wish to cook.
2. Stand the potatoes, spaced apart, on the dinner plate and spray them all over with a little spray oil and season with a little salt and pepper.
3. Microwave them, uncovered, on High for 5-6 minutes for one potato or 8 minutes for two.
4. Set aside for 4 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In the mixing bowl, mash together using a fork, the mackerel fillet with the yoghurt,
lemon juice and horseradish sauce. Add the parsley and fork in.
6. Serve the opened jacket potato(es) with the mackerel filling, divided between them, accompanied by the salad.
Baked sweet potatoes are delicious served with a dollop of lightly seasoned Greek yoghurt, with a little finely chopped red onion or a few snipped chives.
Eat Well to Age Well is available to buy at Waterstones and on Amazon. Check out the first chapter of the book here.
We hope you enjoyed these recipes which are a fantastic way of eating well to age. Have you started eating well to age? Which is your favourite recipe from the above? And if you haven’t why not join our Instagram community where we share all things related to life in your 40s here.