Recently I was asked by Sue from Women Living Well After 50 to talk about my experience of how Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has transformed my midlife in her Conversations with Women Living Well After 50 series.
Sue and I talked about menopause, treatment options, fear and myths about HRT, what to be mindful of when considering natural alternatives, and advice if you’re one of the many women bothered by symptoms.
Proving that age is no barrier to fulfilling your dreams, Sue recently qualified as a fitness instructor and regularly runs 20+ kms! She really is an inspiring example of a woman living well after 50.
At the end of our conversation Sue asked me,
“What does being a woman living well after 50 mean to you?”
What a great question, and one that you too might like to reflect on. Below I share what living well after 50 means to me.
1. The Building Blocks
Exercise, a healthy diet, good sleep and minimising stress are my building blocks for living well after 50. By prioritising these things I give myself the best chance of a midlife I love.
It would be hypocritical of me to suggest that I’m a pillar of virtue and always get this right, but here’s what I strive for:
It’s no secret that regular exercise helps maintain muscle mass, reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and improves cognition and mental health.
I try my best to do some kind of exercise most days. It might be my physio-prescribed strengthening program, a walk, a run or a yoga class. In Summer I love doing a Stand Up Paddle Board session.
If you’re struggling with motivation to exercise don’t be too hard on yourself. Try to find something you love doing and it won’t feel like ‘exercise’.
A well-balanced healthy diet of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, good fats and lean proteins is fundamental to good health and wellbeing and assists in disease protection.
My diet pretty much consists of a rotation of the same meals. Salad or vegetables and a small amount of protein. Muesli for breakfast. Cheese, crackers, nuts or fruit for snacks.
Chocolate, however, is my kryptonite and I eat it every day. Told you I’m no pillar of virtue!
Apply the 80/20 rule to your diet and give yourself permission to enjoy your kryptonite. You’re a grown up, and life’s too short!
Sleep and wellbeing go hand in hand; good sleep enhances your physical, emotional and cognitive health.
Before I started taking HRT I’d wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat and unable to get back to sleep. I constantly felt exhausted and unproductive. Now I get 7 — 8 hours sleep every night, thanks to HRT.
You don’t have to put up with poor sleep – please talk to your doctor to work out what the cause is and what treatments are available.
Ongoing stress can cause serious physical and mental health problems such as a suppressed immune system and depression.
Yoga and meditation are my go-to stress-busters. Yoga has taught me that I have everything I need within me, and that each breath is an opportunity for renewal. I wrote about 5 benefits of yoga beyond the mat here.
If meditation isn’t for you — and it’s not an easy thing to do — is there anything else that puts you in a meditative state? A walk? A hot bath?
2. It’s all about the people
As Sue said in our conversation,
“As you get older it’s all about the quality of the relationships in your life”.
How lucky am I? My partner is the most easygoing, kindest person I know. My daughter and my son are loving and caring and we adore each other. I have a beautiful family, and dear friends who love and support me.
How lucky am I to work with kind and clever people?
How lucky am I to have excellent people to help and guide me in life – yoga teachers, health professionals, … barristas (that’s a Melbourne joke, #sorrynotsorry)?
Life is so precious and I never want to take the people in my life for granted. I want to cherish every conversation, every connection, every moment spent with people I love.
3. Having a purpose
“Rules for happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.”Immanual Kant
I love my job and being part of a team contributing to better health outcomes for people. I love working towards goals for my future and I love writing and encouraging women to have a midlife they love.
I’m actually living my dream.
Your dream will look different to mine but whatever it is you use your heartbeats on — if you don’t love it, if it’s not lighting your fire, find something that does.
Even a small step like taking lessons or doing an online course in something you’re interested in can set you on the path to feeling fulfilled.
4. Your mindset
We all know people who seem so much younger than they are, and vice versa. My 70ish-year-old mum is always learning new things – she took up playing the harp a few years ago and she’s currently taking French lessons. My 80ish-year-old aunt acts like a teenager, in every positive sense of the word!
I bet if you think about the people you know similar to my mum and my aunt you’ll find they all have this in common; they don’t think or act like ‘old people’.
For me, being positive, being brave, finding the funny and absurd in situations, being open to learning and giving things a go is the kind of mindset that equals living well after 50.
I really hope you’re never tempted to say, “I’m too old for that”.
So now it’s your turn. How would you answer the question,
“What does living well over 50 mean to you”?
I’d love to know – you can leave a comment below or contact me here.
PS You can watch Sue and I in Episode 6 of Conversations with Women Living Well After 50 here.