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Symptoms Of Menopause (2019)

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  • February 18, 2019
Symptoms of Menopause

Although I am not fully in the throws of menopause yet, I have plenty of friends that are. Some are sailing through it, whilst others are struggling to deal with the many symptoms and issues it brings. So I thought I would write the first of my blog posts on the symptoms of menopause.

Over time, I want this subject to be less awkward to talk about. It definitely feels to me that it is a subject which is somewhat brushed over. Many people seem slightly embarrassed to discuss it. Well, that stops right here and right now. The menopause is not a dirty word, nor is it to be whispered about. Instead it is a phase of a woman’s life that needs to be better understood. Women going through it need support not to be looked at as if they have just landed from the planet Mars.

What age does the menopause start?

Usually it can happen in the mid forties. But there have been many women who have started the menopause earlier than this, and other women into their fifties. The point that you need to know, is that there is no real set age as to when you can get menopause symptoms.

What defines being on the menopause?

Menopause is when it’s been a year since a woman has had her last period.

What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause can be where a person gets symptoms around 4-5 years (this is an average timescale) before the menopause.

Why do we get the symptoms of menopause?

One word…. hormones! The ovaries gradually decide to reduce the production of oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone. When we get the symptoms associated with the menopause, this is simply the body making adjustments. Instead of the hormones being taken from the ovaries, the body will take them from other areas such as the adrenal glands.

List of the symptoms of menopause.

This list isn’t exhaustive. In fact somebody once told me there are around forty. Crikey, I do hope that I don’t get a full house! Although I am not in the full throws, I have symptoms that come and go. The main one being that I wake up in the middle of the night for no reason. I wake up with such enthusiasm, that I could clean the whole house and do a full supermarket shop. Instead of engaging in such silly midnight pursuits, I just lay there awake. Gradually I fall asleep again, only to feel like the living dead when the alarm goes off. Thankfully it doesn’t happen every night, and I have some of my own little remedies that help me now.

Here are just some of the symptoms of menopause:-

  • Hot flushes
  • Insomnia – sleeplessness
  • PMS
  • Joint/Muscle Aches
  • Irregular Periods
  • Night Sweats
  • Dry Skin
  • Bloating
  • Weight Gain
  • Fatigue
  • Tearfulness
  • Brain Fog Daydreaming
  • Memory Lapses & Forgetfulness
  • Anxiety
  • Mood Swings & Irritability
  • Change in Sex Drive & Dryness
  • Low Mood & Depression
  • Racing Heart & Palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Bladder Control Issues
  • Breast Tenderness

Right, I think that is enough on the list for the time being! Over time with the blog, I shall be looking at some of these symptoms individually and giving some helpful tips. Of course ladies, please let me know of any helpful advice you can give or if you are looking for help. Together we can support each other.

I should also point out that if you feel that these symptoms are unusual to you, or causing you distress, then it is advisable to seek the help of your GP.

Post Menopause Symptoms

There are similarities with menopause symptoms but with oestrogen deficiency there could be some of these too.

  • No Periods
  • Unwanted Hair Growth (due to testosterone)
  • Prolapse
  • Hair Thinning
  • Osteoporosis
  • Skin issues – wrinkling, itching, lack of collagen.

How Long Do The Symptoms Of Menopause Last?

It is very difficult to say as every body is different. For some, they get very little symptoms and breeze through the menopause. Others can be a year or so. Whereas some women can have symptoms for several years. It is estimated that 70% of women experience symptoms of the menopause, with differing degrees of severity. For some people it can be serious, especially when it comes to depression. Always seek help. Remember it is not you, just your hormones. There are different treatments and your GP is there to help.

How Can I Help Myself During The Menopause?

I shall post more on the different symptoms and self help over time. However, there are some general ways that may help you. These involve:-

  • Diet – Reduce red meat, dairy, sugars, fats and general junk food
  • Quit smoking
  • Moderate alchohol intake
  • Keep to a healthy weight
  • Try to keep stress to a minimum
  • Take moderate exercise
  • Make sure you take time for yourself – self care is important.

The thing to remember is that it doesn’t last forever. A friend of mine is having a torrid time. She is constantly blaming herself for forgetting things, feeling exhausted and just being generally low. I tell her she doesn’t have to feel bad whatsoever. It is hormones and not her. I also try and remind her of the last major time hormones came into play in her life. For most women teenage years, were a hormonal mash. It took time then, for things to calm down and our bodies adjust. It is just another phase and you are not to blame for how you feel. Getting the right support, understanding what is happening and knowing that you shouldn’t feel bad for speaking out about it, is the most important thing.

But the most important point which I will always re-iterate, is to cut yourself some slack. It’s a change that you have to accept and then manage as best you can.

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Vitamin D Benefits – Are You Aware?

  • By
  • January 10, 2019
Vitamin D

Vitamin D benefits… more than you think!

Vitamin D benefits are quite surprising…. well they were to me. I always knew that it was good to get out into the sunshine, to ensure I got my vitamin D. However, until I experienced a health issue a couple of years ago, I was (pun alert) “in the dark.” I knew about many other vitamins, especially the B vitamins and vitamin C but just put vitamin D down as a less important one. To me, it was one that nutritionists did not mention much, unless it involved the sunshine. I shall explain more on how I was affected as you read on.

How do I get more Vitamin D?

Well, the nutritionists and health bunnies are not wrong when it comes to sunshine. Vitamin D is made by the body when sunlight is on the skin. In fact most people get all the vitamin d they need from sunlight between the months of March-September.

What foods are high in Vitamin D?

Surprisingly few. That is why I think it is important we should know more about this vitamin. Here is a list of the better known source of vitamin D in food.

  • Oily Fish
  • Mushrooms
  • Red Meat
  • Egg Yolks
  • Liver

The role of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is what helps to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. However, it is now being linked to various conditions and illnesses, some of which you may suffer with. My story and how I found out I was deficient purely by chance may give you food for thought!

What happens when your Vitamin D is low?

My diagnosis happened as a result of me thinking I had broken a finger. One morning I placed my hand into my handbag, and was in excruciating agony. Being occasionally clumsy, I thought that must have broken it and not realised. So after a few days of it not healing, I went to the doctor.

To cut a long story short, I was sent for extensive blood tests (I’ve never seen so many boxes ticked on a form) and x-rays on my hands and feet. I thought this a little excessive for a broken finger, but didn’t argue.

A few days later I got a call from the doctors surgery saying that they were referring me to a rheumatologist as something had cropped up in my tests. There was no broken finger but other possible causes for my pain.

Not long after, I received an appointment from the rheumatologist who confirmed that I had the start of osteoarthritis. I knew that it was something that ran in my family, but he was concerned that it was occurring in my forties. We went through a lot of questions on my medical history and came to the conclusion that because I have reactions to anti inflammatories, that little could be done for me. He didn’t want to give up though.

More questions followed such as “do you go on holiday?” and “what is your diet?” From my answers, he knew that I love healthy food, have regular exercise, wasn’t overweight plus went outdoors a lot. I also work abroad a fair bit, so sunshine and the great outdoors wasn’t an issue.

The Diagnosis…

My lovely Greek rheumatologist scratched his head and said “It appears that even though you do the right things for your body, get plenty of sunshine etc… your body is depleting Vitamin D…. it is most weird because usually we see this with people from ethnic groups….” I have found out that people from black and ethnic groups, can particularly suffer with low levels of vitamin D. In fact, one of my friends moved to the UK but is always better when she goes back to the warmth of the Caribbean. Maybe there lies my answer…. maybe I need to love to the Caribbean!

Trust me to get a consultant scratching his head by having a body that uses Vitamin D like a car uses fuel. Looking more into Vitamin D benefits and deficiency, I can now see some other signals which I have dismissed previously.

Symptoms of low Vitamin D

Here are just some of the symptoms:-

  • Tiredness
  • Back/Bone Pain
  • Wounds Take Longer To Heal
  • Depression
  • Muscle Pain
  • Hair loss
  • Getting Ill More Often

Interestingly, I put tiredness down to a busy life. Back pain down to getting older and getting colds and flu as something that I have always been prone to, since a child.

Can Vitamin D help stop other illnesses?

There is now greater research being done with Vitamin D, and it’s potential to help fight against other illnesses or stop them developing. I think it is definitely something that needs to be looked into a LOT more. Studies suggest it could help with:-

  • Reducing your risk of developing Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Preventing heart disease
  • Flu and colds
  • Depression
  • Manage type 2 diabetes
  • Osteoporosis in women post menopause
  • Cognitive function and dementia
  • Boost weight loss
  • Slow osteoarthritis
  • Improve acne

I’ve been taking vitamin D3 for two years now. After a couple of months of taking them, I noticed how my hand pain had gone, my back pain practically disappeared. Also whilst anyone around me is suffering with colds and flu, I no longer seem to get anywhere near as many as I did. Once upon a time, if anyone remotely near me got a cold, I would be guaranteed to get it. Thankfully my immune system seems to better strengthened. I can only put this down to my healthy regime, exercise and the vitamins I take on a daily basis.

Vitamin D doseage

Before you all start running out and buying Vitamin D, there are a few things you should know. First, not every person has a weird body like mine that sucks up vitamin D. Second you have to make sure you are on the right level of medication. I think if you have any doubts, you get a blood test done by your doctor to confirm any suspicions. My doctor prescribes me 1 x 25ug Vitamin D3 every day. People younger and older have different requirements, so please read labels on the bottles. The next important issue is what type of vitamin D. Yes you read that right. There are different types and it is worth knowing the next section.

Are there different types of vitamin D?

There are different types of vitamin d but the main ones are Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3.

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is preferred by many as this is what is made by the body. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is often the subject of controversy and can be used in many Vitamin D tablets without us knowing. This is where you need to read labels. Even those labels with the pull back top. Read them in the shop and don’t be afraid to pull that top label back.

What is the cost of Vitamin D3?

I was prescribed Vitamin D3 by my doctor, but at £8 or more per month for 30 tablets I felt that it was expensive. When hunting for other options I managed to get a year supply for around £11! I have put the link to them below. One thing I did do as to ensure that I was getting Vitamin D3 25ug. One way to check is to see if the vitamin d in its list has cholecalciferol after it, if it doesn’t have the D2 or D3 number. Also check your dosage properly and with a clinician should you be concerned. This way you will know if Vitamin d benefits could make you feel better too.

Below is the item I use, and is an affiliate link.

https://amzn.to/2CaMYce

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Obesity, Is It A Disease?

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  • January 4, 2019
Obesity Is It A Disease

Before I continue, I want to make it clear that I am not ‘the obesity police.’ However over the past few years, I have had numerous people with weight issues come to me for help. Even though I am not a clinician of any kind, I know plenty about food and nutrition. Those who know me, know I don’t judge appearance whatsoever. That probably comforts them somewhat. There is noting worse than someone having an issue, then the person they ask for help end up making it worse.

I do not and will not go about interfering in people’s lives. I only offer help if it is asked for and wanted. However, help comes with a warning from me. I will state the truth and that might not always go down well. That said, I care for you and especially your health. It is the one subject I am less humorous on, because it matters… because you matter! Other people might not care about you, but please get it into your head, that I actually do.

In my field of cookery (which has been a major part of my life) I feel I have a duty. This is not to just cook the naughty stuff like cake (mmmmmmm) but to balance it out with healthier recipes too. I work on a 90% healthy and 10% naughty rule most weeks of the year. However special occasions, holidays and Christmas I relax those rules. I love food (who doesn’t) but food is not my enemy. Instead it is a way to fuel me and keep me feeling the best version of myself I can be. I do for the record, keep an eye on my calorie intake and do not partake in faddy diets or omitting food groups.

So when asked the question is obesity a disease? I thought long and hard about it.

So Is Obesity A Disease Then?

My thoughts are that it could be an illness, disease or condition. Either way a new approach to it has to be taken. My thoughts are that any unhealthy relationship with food and drink demands treatment. For example, anorexia is an illness and gets treated (although a lot more could be done). Another is that alcoholics are treated for alcoholism with some leading to transplants. So why is it taking so long for obesity to be properly recognised and dealt with? Is it being dealt with? I wish I knew the real answer to that.

Obesity is in my opinion becoming an epidemic problem. It doesn’t just effect the middle aged and older person, but now young children are also a concern. I have seen whole families be obese too, so it is not always an individual issue. Statistics out today have said that:-

  • The UK has the most obese people in western Europe
  • 30,000 deaths per year due to obesity
  • £6 Billion per year is spent treating obesity
  • 30% of all adults are now obese

Without a doubt something has to be done. Labelling people as “fat” and it is “their own fault” is not going to help or change the situation. In fact, I think it makes it worse by people becoming complacent to obesity. Some people do have medical factors which cause weight issues. But for the majority of people I come into contact with, it is a simple maths equation in their life which has gone wrong.

Too much food/drink intake + Too little Exercise = Overweight.

There is no pretty way of writing it. It is what it is.

Other Obesity Factors

A list will be easier for this. It’s not just the fact that too much drink and food is consumed and little exercise is a cause of obesity. Other more complicated factors that can trigger obesity are:-

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Money worries
  • Poverty
  • Mental Illness
  • Physical Illness
  • Medications/Other Illness
  • Bereavement

There are others too, but I think you get the message. There are many routes and reasons other than lifestyle that cause obesity. To just label every overweight person as “greedy” or “eats too much” is simply heartless and quite frankly spiteful.

How Do I Help Others?

Rather than hand out a lettuce leaf, I prefer to talk to people first. I want to know their habits, their lifestyle, and see if there are any potential triggers. I want to know about them and work out their understanding of food, health and exercise. Of course not every person has a trigger….. or so they think. Here is another list of common triggers. Some you may identify with.

  • Too busy to cook
  • Can’t cook, won’t cook
  • Laziness
  • Chaotic work schedule
  • Busy home/family schedule
  • Just not aware of what is a healthy lifestyle
  • Love of junk food and general love of food
  • Addiction to salt, sugar and fat in food
  • Hate taste of healthy food
  • Not a clue of portion control
  • Yo Yo Diet
  • Thinks it is too expensive to eat healthily
  • Constant back and forth to slimming clubs. Ending up overweight again too soon.
  • Coming away from slimming clubs and not having a clue about food and nutrition.
  • Not learning healthy recipes from scratch and relying on crap ready meals. (Yeah I said crap and will not alter my opinion … ever!)
  • Given up on themselves – apathy

Every person that I see, has a different trigger. There is always a trigger. It is only when you scratch the surface you begin to see patterns and can then make the person see where problems and issues lie. You will see me write a about the last set of triggers in particular in future posts. For people who fall into the first set of triggers such as depression etc, may I please urge you to seek help from your doctor or specialist. You still can get my support and love from the site. And you may find a healthier lifestyle actually helps with the what you are going through. However, underlying issues must be addressed if you are to have long term success.

My Thoughts On Slimming Clubs

Hold tight for this one, because some are not going to be happy with what I am about to say. For a few people I have come in contact with, these clubs have worked and they have successfully kept the weight off. For the majority of others who come to me, they are still visiting as if it is a social club ten years later. One member told me that a group of them meet up and she thinks she drinks more wine now, than she did before! More often than not these members have gained further weight and not lost it. These are the yo-yo dieters. The slimming clubs must be rubbing their hands because they know that these people will come back like a boomerang and keep paying their subscriptions.

I take big issue with things like points and syns. Unless you are only consuming water you will find most food and drink has calories. More importantly portion control is a massive factor too. When I ask people who come to me for advice, what their portion sizes are, and what they know about calories, it is utterly shocking. The latest was a lady who said “I could have as much rice as I wanted on this plan…” Really? What type of rice was this and exactly how much are you consuming? Most do not even know what the recommended calorie level is for a woman. No idea whatsoever.

Yet I am still finding that these yo-yo dieters attend the clubs, get a certificate every now and again, fall back off the wagon and end up feeling very fed up. These people have little knowledge about other weight loss factors and about the body in general. It is then that I have to sit them down and explain things a bit better for them.

Why Do People End Up Yo-Yo Dieting?

I think it is because they are just not made aware of what they are eating, how much they are eating and addressing why they are eating. They also know little about the body, especially hormonal changes. Some are also doing little or no exercise as well. You can put all the traffic lights on packets, but unless you educate people about food, nutrition and health you could be wasting your time. There is also the issue of having self discipline. As a woman who loves cake, trust me…. I have to have discipline!

A healthy lifestyle is exactly that. It is a whole lifestyle change for the rest of your life. There is no real yo-yo effect with a healthy living plan. Yes, enjoy special occasions and festivities but treat them as treats not regular living. The difference with a person who is properly engaged in a healthy lifestyle is that they can quickly get off the bad stuff, without feeling punished. In fact they are desperate to get back to a healthy regime, as they love the benefits that come with a healthy body.

Healthy living is also addictive. I know I can start to go crazy if I haven’t had nutritious food and decent exercise. I actually start to feel utterly naff. Now after the Christmas period I am back to eating well and exercising more. Before I know it, I will start to feel less lethargic and sloth like. That extra pound will have zero effect because it will be gone without feeling punished. I really find it hard to understand why some people continue to eat and drink like they do after the festivities knowing how it makes you feel. Maybe the problem is, is that people have forgotten how it feels to actually feel well!

Health Risks With Obesity

  • Strokes
  • Heart Attacks
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gallstones
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Cancer

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Many other conditions branch off obesity such as depression, which is a massive health concern.

Is It All In The Genes?

Well a few experts claim there is some truth in this. Certain people have a high weight gene, others don’t. I think the issue would be to try and identify this at an earlier age, so that more healthy choices can be made at a young age.

The body is very clever it has a memory approach to weight. It apparently knows the highest weight you have been. When people lose weight, their struggle is keeping it off as the body then thinks it can get it back to the high level again. Don’t use this an excuse to not lose weight though. It will just mean you may need to monitor your lifestyle more.

However a healthy lifestyle and ideal weight is yours, should you have the discipline, determination and the desire to feel well. There are more other facts that I shall be divulging in time, but the body is clever and does things we are not automatically aware of! Plus I shall be giving you my tips on what I do, when I have a pound or so to lose… like now after Christmas (whoops).

Conclusion

So to conclude, I think a lot more emphasis is going to need to be focused on educating people properly on food, nutrition and health. Making them listen is the biggest challenge. The minute anyone starts talking about healthy food they seem to want to switch off. Show them a recipe of a burger dripping in grease, and all of a sudden their interest is switched on.

One thing I am certain of, is that more help is needed. I don’t mean by drastic measure like a gastric band, because that has its own potential health complications. No, I think we need to understand the causes and triggers first, before we try to fix the bigger picture. It’s only when we get people to understand their habits that I believe real headway can be made.

More information can also be found at this link to a SKY news article.

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Out Comes The Lycra – New Year Fitness

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  • January 3, 2019

Fitness 2019 – Folk Are In Their New Fitness Gear!

Every new year they are out and about without fail. Who am I talking about? The new year fitness freaks. Bless them, off they pant and sweat in their new trainers and lycra, with their fitness resolution in tact.

Every January is the same. I walk the same routes with my dog day after day, year after year. And every January I have to walk my dog closer to me. Mainly because he is an utter pest and has a tendency to want to lick every jogger that goes past. No new year fitness enthusiast is safe with the phantom licker. However, come February the jogging numbers dramatically dwindle. Those eager fitness bunnies are fed up with the miserable weather that greets them the moment they step out the door. Some choose a comfy gym…. but most quit, for another year.

My Personal Trainer

My personal trainer is relentless. Twice a day, every day and there is no let up no matter what the weather is. My trainer is Max the dog. He could not care whether you are under the weather or battling the weather. I will be made to walk around 4-5 miles minimum per day. In fact some of the fittest people I know, walk their dogs regularly. I definitely toned up and lost a few pounds once I started dog walking. But don’t just take my word for it, there has been some serious research on dog walking for health.

Don’t Go For Gym Membership Just Yet!

If I told you that research showed that in general, dog walkers are often fitter than gym members would you believe me? When I analyse it, I suppose it does not come as a surprise. I do a brisk walk for about an hour and a half per day with my personal trainer (dog). Times that by seven and I exercise for over ten hours per week. Compare that to many people who spend an hour in the gym three times a week, and the maths is easy to figure out. An interesting report showed that many dog walkers exceed the government recommendation for exercise. So maybe my furry friend is doing more for my health than I realise?

My Kind Of Exercise…

The gym and I just don’t get on. I know that it is a great place for many people, but it does not do it for me. Instead of getting a beach body, I get norovirus or the flu. I’m convinced the machines are not sanitised enough in many places. For a person like me, who wipes supermarket trolley handles with anti bacterial wipes before she touches them, this isn’t great. I got sick of being sick. This all stopped when I traded the gym for the great outdoors.

The disadvantages…. Yes it’s not all win win

The disadvantage for me is of course the weather. Some days getting a free dermabrasion facial from wind and hail in your face, isn’t the greatest. Stick on a balaclava where I live, and the local cops will take an interest. Some days being out in the elements is utterly brutal. Add in the fact that my dog hates his waterproof coat and wants to bite me as I put it on, and the whole experience is downright awful. That said, I have learned the art of sheer enjoyment of getting home to my warm comfortable abode. When you have been out in all weather, there is nothing nicer than stepping back into shelter again!

Cheap as chips, with little cost.

The post may contain affiliate links.

Walking with a dog or not, is a fairly cheap form of exercise. Not much is needed to start. I have advanced though as time has gone on, to good walking shoes and outdoor gear. I spend half my year in the Lake District, so good walking boots and clothing has become second nature to me. If the weather is mild and not too bad, I have to say my sketchers are a real bonus. Pounding pavements with the pooch means you walk a fair few miles. I worked out that on average it is 30 miles a week, which is over 1,500 miles per year. So make sure you have good trainers or footwear with support inside.

The sketchers that I use, are these at present, please see the affiliate link below. There are different styles and colours to this, but I love the memory foam inside (too comfortable for words) and they offer good grip.

https://amzn.to/2Sw7s68

The Advantages Of Outdoors!

Fresh air, freedom and good mental health are the key ingredients. There is just something about being outdoors on a good day, that instantly puts you in a better mood. When the weather gets better you also get added vitamin D. You will find out why I am obsessed about vitamin D and why the nation has a lack of it, in my posts to come. The only addition I have to good footwear in the warmer weather, is a small backpack. This is so I can put water in for myself and of course the personal trainer dog. The backpack is not too large and bulky and is great to put bits and pieces in, especially water!

The affiliate link for the backpack I use is here:-

https://amzn.to/2H3YCvh


So if you are struggling to muster up the enthusiasm to don your lycra and jog along the pavements, then you may want to give walking a go. It’s nice and gentle on the joints and relatively peaceful. Plus you will lose weight excess should you wish, depending on how far and how brisk you go. You too can be into new year fitness, but hopefully you can last longer than most new year fitness folk.

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