How To Not Overeat During The Holidays

One of the things that I love more than anything at midlife is the opportunity to completely debunk the so called “traditions” and expectations that have been laid on us for a lifetime but are really dysfunctional, damaging and down right dumb. While there’s lot of them the tradition that I’m talking about right now is that idea that it’s okay to stuff ourselves to the gills during the holidays.

I feel like in the past decade of so, this idea of excess at the cost of our health has extended far beyond how we behave at the table. It’s gone on to concepts like “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” and all the other supposed holiday traditions that we’re supposed to buy into (literally) even if it isn’t necessarily in line with our bank account.

The truth of the matter is that this insatiable hunger isn’t about food or things. It’s about looking for comfort and security. Most of us have not been raised with the tools to recognize other ways to feel nourished and in turn we end up with a rude awakening come January when our clothes don’t fit and our credit card statements arrive. Speaking of credit cards, did you know that around 80% of American households have on average $15.000 worth of credit card debt? Something’s not being addressed here and food and things aren’t the answer.

In this week’s video, I share five of the key things I do so that my food is a pleasure and not a punishment. I apply the same philosophy to my spending habits as well. It means that I don’t look at this time of year as a way to go into denial and that to me is a tradition worth enjoying, year after year.

My question for you is what holiday tradition would you like to upgrade or ditch altogether? What new way of celebration is in line with your life? You have complete permission to do it – we’re all big girls now, after all.

x
Sue

The Five Things I’m Grateful For

A few days before I recorded this vlog the terrorist attacks in Paris happened. And that same day bombs went off in Beirut. And a couple weeks before that a bomb exploded on a Russian plane over Egypt. If you only watch the news it can feel like the world is coming apart at the seams.

But it isn’t. For all the horror there is heart and warmth and beauty and peace. But the thing is that if we are only glued to the television or a newspaper or even the wrong places of the internet, it’s tough to see. This is one of those times where a dedicated gratitude practice really reveals its benefits. When you focus your mind on finding the goodness in the world on a daily basis, it’s more likely to go there on almost an autopilot function when hell is unleashed. It doesn’t mean that you walk around in a state of ignorance when life goes pear shaped but what it does do is remind you that there’s an escape hatch somewhere. It lets a little bit of light in to at least provide some kind of balance to the dark. I found this for myself this week. For nearly a year I’ve been keeping a little gratitude journal. It takes me about a minute or so to do and often it feels like I’m going through the motions with it, knowing that it’s the right thing to do but not feeling sure if it really means anything more than a momentary reality check – which don’t get me wrong is perfectly great, but whether it helps in other ways, I’m never quite sure.

Until stuff like this happens. This week I realized that without my gratitude practice I’d probably be frozen in front of the television in a state of despair rather than moving in the world with a realistic attitude that now more than ever we need to be more present and kinder to ourselves and each other.

AS I write this, a few days before Thanksgiving happens in the U.S., I know that many of us love this time of year because we’re encouraged to go into a state of gratitude. It’s a beautiful thing. But I think one of the awesome things about living in the world now is that there’s actually scientific proof of the importance of being thankful all the time, of appreciating the stuff that we tend to take for granted. It builds a sort of resilience, a protective barrier during a time when we need it most.

So my suggestion is to give the whole “gratitude every damn day” thing a try using this “most wonderful time of year” to act as a kickstarter. I think you’ll find, like I did, that the little effort it takes to do matters in magnitudes when you need it most.

And by the way, thank you very much for taking the time to read this- I appreciate you. xx Sue

How To Plan Your Day

It’s been a big few weeks. I’m on the final days of editing the audio version of my book Gray Hair Adventure. There are many steps that I have to take to get it done and It’s been a bigger job than I expected. That’s okay though. It’s a massive learning experience but I’ve really loved doing it and hope it will reach others who prefer to listen to their books rather than read.

But by the time that I finally go to bed, I notice that my head has been spinning and no matter how much I work on chilling out before I hit the sack, I’m still trying to figure things out and plan and….you know what I mean. It’s hard to shut down.

I stumbled upon this practice recently and I have to say, it really helps. It allows me to get out all the stuff that I need to and finally, when I’m ready, I can get into it. Like any practice, you have to actually do it, again and again and again. Even if the mind resists and even if you’re too tired to do it. I think putting a little picture by your bed, like Dr. Dyer does could be a powerful way to always remember to do it. I love that pic and love how intently he is looking at the sign.

So give this a try and let me know what you think. It’s really helping me and it’s a habit that I can see working for me through the rest of my life.

When Perimenopause Symptoms Go Too Far

Lately I’ve been getting very similar questions regarding perimenopause (the lead up to menopause) and they revolve around a couple common but problematic symptoms: anxiety and thinning hair. While both of these can be associated with hormonal changes related to perimenopause, they can also be symptomatic of underlying issues. The even bigger problem is that because we women have basically been forced to be our own change guru’s, a lot of us think we have no choice but to suck it up and in turn become vulnerable to trying potentially harmful to useless DIY approaches, from self medicating to endlessly testing miracle cures to figure out solutions.

I manage my perimenopause symptoms daily. You know my drill already. I have my daily yoga, meditation and walking practice. On top of this a glass of wine or a cup of coffee is a rarity rather than a part of my life. Refined sugar is gone as is flour products (except for a piece of nice bread for a special breakfast out once or twice a month). I’ve been doing three months of acupuncture treatments and am down now to once a month. I journal, I nap, I this and that. The list of things I’m actively doing to feel good seems to grow. And all of this isn’t just a quick fix. These habits began years ago and have been added on and practiced consistently, especially over the last couple years.

It’s not a quick fix. It’s a long game strategy to not only get through this key time but to set myself up for as much good health as I can control in the decades to come.

Through email messages and the Interwebs, I’m understanding that many of us are suffering more than we need to. We’re expecting to feel like crap during this time and the levels to which we’ll tolerate sub-health are getting extended as we become more disillusioned with doctors who don’t seem to know how to help us. It’s no surprise that when something really troubling happens to us, we either don’t want to go to the doctor or we may not even have one who can help us.

So in this vlog I ask you to hone into your intuition, into your gut. Let your gut be the guide to if you need to take your health to the next level. Perimenopause is a natural transition that happens to also be a very brilliant messenger. Answer the mail. You deserve it.

 

 

Gray Hair: Trying New Things When You Ditch The Dye

It’s so hard for me to believe that two years have passed since I started on this gray hair adventure. I can really remember this time last year so clearly because I was about to tell my hairdresser that I was about to stop coloring my hair. In fact, I’m sitting in a cafe right now about a block away from that place.

I remember before I walked into the hairdresser I was excited about what I was going to do. I had no idea that it was going to be something that pushed buttons, that actually scared people. Ahhh, I was so innocent.

I didn’t think much about the adventure other than it was a new beauty thing – like discovering waxing for the first time. I had no idea that I would be spending two years talking about it in videos or meeting wonderful women from all walks of life who were interested and especially that I would write a book about it.

It’s been a huge gift in many ways – a gift in patience (waiting for my hair to grow has been like watching paint dry) and being willing to be okay with NOT knowing the outcome. Just these couple presents alone have translated to many ways for me right now. Case in point, I’ve been without internet for the past two days  -“system outage impacting 100 residences” – lucky me! Considering 75% of my work is online right now – especially at a time where I have so much to do with my new book – I could easily be freaking out. In fact I think a couple years ago I would’ve been. But I think, I’m kinda mellow about it all. I know aside from finding a place to hunker down and hoping the wifi is fast enough, there’s nothing much I can do today other than be patient and be okay with NOT knowing if I will be able to post this today. I know it will eventually be okay and I just have to ride a very unusual situation out.

In the vlog I talk about my discovery of a new way to wash my hair – WITHOUT shampoo – or as the cool kids call it “No-poo”. What a revelation that’s been! I do a version called the Curly Girl Method or “Co-poo” method, which substitutes a conditioner for the shampoo. Some people are very strict with the “no-poo” method and I might be committing a cardinal sin using conditioner but what can I say, following the Curly Girl Method has done wonders for my hair. That said, it’s been a little trial and error. Like I say in the video, you leave the conditioner in after a brief rinse and you have to find your personal sweet spot of what amount left in works for you. I also find that some conditioners – even without the silicone and sulphate -are better than others but overall, this way of washing my hair – and I’ve had 5 months of testing it out- has completely kicked butt over any shampoo habit I’ve had for many, many years.

This video shows how it’s done:

Have you tried no-poo or co-poo? Let me know if this inspires you to give it a whirl!

My 30 Day Cold Shower Challenge

A little over a month ago I decided to commit to something that for me is completely insane. I took on the challenge of taking cold showers for 30 days. I’ve heard of this challenge around the interwebs and while there are so many reported physical benefits I didn’t learn about the idea from a well-being website. The seed was planted from marketing gurus and a bunch of business sites like Fast Company and Career Addict. The reason? According to them, and actual for real research is that cold showers deliver alertness, increased productivity and mental toughness, all of which I need big time as I get ready to launch my new book Gray Hair Adventure: Things I Learned About Life When I Stopped Dyeing My Hair.

 


 

The book wasn’t the only reason that the benefits of experimenting with extreme temps caught my attention. I’ve been doing a lot of things right now, as I get to the business end of this perimenopausal adventure, to try and crack my personal code. I want to feel good. But boy it takes some elbow grease. As I’ve mentioned in past podcasts and vlogs one of my main symptoms has been being super tired. For that reason I’ve put my life under the microscope and have taken active steps to rejig my system. I recently spoke about how I’ve reduced my alcohol and coffee consumption to a very impressive level, at least for me – right now I’m at about one coffee and one wine every couple weeks. That feels good for me and considering I was only going to do it for the month of July, I’m happy. I’m also doing other things to get myself out the door in this chapter of my life.

The beauty of this 30 Day Shower Experiment is that if you have a shower you can try it. It doesn’t cost anything but water and will probably save you money because, based on my personal experience, long cold showers aren’t that popular. You don’t have to dress up or leave the house to do it. It all comes down to whether you can wrap your head around the idea. If you’re curious but are like me, a practically card carrying member of the “I Don’t Like To Be Cold” club, here are a few tips that might help get you over the line.

1. Create Your Own Cold Shower Rules – There are a lot of ways of doing this challenge so do what you need to do to take it on. For me that meant starting with warm showers before turning on the cold blast. I learned later that this is called a “James Bond shower” because supposedly that’s how 007 rolls.

2. Work Your Way Into It – My first attempts were pretty hilarious. I don’t think I lasted more than 30 seconds and it was like I had the wind knocked out of me. I could barely breathe. It was only because I felt so good after, like for hours, that I was able to try again. I doubt if there was some rule that I had to stay in there for any longer that I would’ve made it that first time, let alone kept it up. By about Day 10 I noticed that I started getting more used to it and was able to extend the time a bit without hyperventilating. So, trust me, it does get better, or at least more doable.

3. Give Yourself An Opportunity To Bail Out – This is a strategy I’m using a lot in my goal setting and it’s basically giving myself an out if I need to, without abandoning the whole challenge. For example, there were many days on this challenge, that I couldn’t imagine that I could do it. It was cold outside (I did it during winter), I felt mentally weak, etc. So I told myself that I didn’t have to 007 it if it didn’t feel right at the time. Of course, when the time came, I manned up and went for it and I think that psychology of giving permission versus being rigid with goals is very powerful.

4. The Cold Shower Challenge Is Good To Do In Winter – That I did this challenge in the heart of winter really surprises me. It surprised me that I didn’t feel chilled to the bone afterward. Of all people, this is where this challenge would’ve gotten me the most and it just didn’t happen. In fact, I feel my tolerance to cold might have been beefed up a bit because I found I was less bothered by cold days and I even have in my head that I might get in the ocean water earlier this season, simply because I’m not so freaked by cold water.

Have you taken the cold water challenge or have I convinced you to give it a try?

 

 

How Wayne Dyer Will Change The Second Half Of Your Life

Living on purpose is an essential part of my life. Scratch that, it is my life. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing or where I am or who I’m with, nearly every moment of every day I’m reminding myself that I’m alive, that I have something to give in my own unique way to connect with others and that life is amazing, even at it’s lowest lows.

It wasn’t always like this. I sought purpose for years and years, wondering what the secret sauce was. I think I should’ve started paying attention to Wayne Dyer a lot earlier. I’d heard of him for a long time. I lived in San Diego where Hay House is based and in the early, fringy, days his name would pop up from time to time. But what he spoke of didn’t connect with me then.

Fast forward to the last five years. I grew to really admire Dyer on different levels. He got to me for his prolific writing and making it seem so easy – he never said it was – but he did say it came from something else, not him, and that was a technique that I’ve learned to lean on when words don’t come easy to me. He was diagnosed with leukemia but it absolutely didn’t define him and he proceeded on in his life, stepping up to health. He spoke often on his radio show about his daily Bikram yoga, his swims in the ocean, his Master Cleanse fasts (I’m not a fan of that but he seemed to love it). Between his work, his thirst for knowledge, his practices and his health, he was a walking demonstration of how to live life.

Wayne Dyer’s message of not dying with your music inside you is a haunting one. Often through my work – and just in general life – I meet women who have no idea what that music even is. Our lifestyles have us conned into thinking that that thought is for another time in the future when we’re less busy, have better circumstances, etc. But what would happen if we use Wayne Dyer’s philosophy to experiment a little with that music. To spend a little time, each day asking our soul what it’s trying to say? Even asking the question is an awesome first step towards getting to know the unique tune you were born to play.

Last year, I spent 100 days consciously practicing abundance and part of that exercise was to only watch uplifting content. One of the movies that I happened upon was “The Shift”, a movie starring Wayne Dyer. I’d heard him promoting it a lot on his radio show and wasn’t too sure on whether it would be something I’d like but when I watched it, I was surprised. It’s well done, moving and really shows how special Wayne Dyer is. “Is” not “was” – I’m banking that somehow, somewhere he’s continuing on his grand adventure.

Energy Boosts When You’re Going Through The Change

It’s really easy to think that when we take certain actions to feel better, to get on top of whatever it might be that’s dragging us down, that we’re punishing ourselves. We can’t fathom not having “our coffee” first thing in the morning or to not have a wine at the end of the day is like a kind of torture.

 

 

I think there was a time, not too long ago when this was true. This is really the first time that I can remember where we actually have an abundance of options and ideas for wellness. And they stack up on each other. When you make a change in one area, it invites you to change in another. And even better, if we do these changes in a way that is right for us, these new ways of incorporating health into our day to day actually are anything but a punishment. They’re fun. They’re an adventure.

As mentioned in the vlog, I’m doing a lot of things for my spiritual/mental/physical and emotional health on a daily basis to the point where it’s challenging to identify one specific thing that is really making a difference for me. Off the top of my head, here’s what I did today:

Ashtanga yoga

sitting practice

journal writing

cold shower

80% no refined sugar, wheat, dairy.

Break from coffee

Break from wine

Drink hot water w lemon/fresh ginger through the day

Morning protein smoothie

supergreens drink

Walking

Reading

Creative writing

educational podcast listening

Limited television

supplements

Connecting with people I love

Aiming to help someone every day

If I wrote this list tomorrow, I’d add acupuncture treatment to it.

It seems like a lot but many of these things are sandwiched into each other or done during “dead” times like commuting, work breaks, cleaning, cooking, getting dressed. Some of these things – like writing and reading and helping someone every day are actually part of my work. And I didn’t include things like flossing and sunscreen, etc..

I love that this list get bigger and I also love that some of the things on the list would be impossible for me to wrap my head around during another time. No way would I have taken a cold shower even a few months ago. And taking a break from coffee and wine at the same time? Forgetaboutit!

Next month the list might look a little different. Who knows what will be on there next year. Maybe something will replace another thing. But one thing’s for sure. There will be a list.

I’ll bet you’re doing so many things in your day that you don’t even realize it. Have a go and add it up? If you could use a little more “fun” on your list feel free to try out anything that’s on mine. On the other hand, if your list is pretty hefty already, make sure that there’s something about each thing that really makes you feel good, even if it’s a bit of a tough lover, like a cold shower.

What’s on your list? I’d love to know!

 

 

 

 

 

How To Reduce Problems From Coffee/Wine During Perimenopause

Something inside told me that red wine was doing me no good and rather than ignore it, for the pleasure of a temporary buzz, I listened and obeyed. And guess what happened not long after that? Another “something inside” told me that my ritual double espresso was also doing me no favors. So, guess what? Rather than ignore it, I listened and obeyed.

 

 

I have to admit, my first thoughts about taking a reprieve from wine AND coffee at the same time seemed intense. But these feelings all happened at the same time which makes me think that our bodies are sooooooo damn smart. They know exactly how we need to heal but often, our monkey minds think it knows best and can override that “silly” talk.

We get pretty attached to our “things” don’t we? “I need my coffee in the morning” or “I wind down with a glass of wine while I cook.” Both common declarations that I’m sure you’ve said or heard others say throughout your life. These rituals are enjoyable, a pleasure. But what happens when your body starts giving you blatant signs that these aren’t what it needs right now? Would you be willing to take a break from them?

That’s what happened to me recently. I’m 53 and while my transition through perimenopause has been relatively smooth, over the past few months I can tell that there are changes afoot as each month goes by. I got my first night sweat – although jury is still out on what that was as I was very bundled up with blankets. I felt more wiped out than normal and even with naps, I’ve been walking around with less clarity. Weird symptoms like an aching scalp and stuffy ears also came into the picture a week before my period happened, and immediately vanished once it did.

I do a lot of things to support my body. You know that I practice yoga and I walk. You also know that I have a sitting practice. I also eat really well. But the occasional wine and the coffee seemed like they were clashing and against what I need right now. My system just wants to be loved up. It doesn’t want things in it that drain it or make it work harder. And so I decided to take a break.

Taking regular wine and caffeine breaks is something I’ve done quite a bit of over the last few years. It’s definitely inspired by going through this whole transitional journey of my cycle and trying to find that sweet spot for feeling good right now. More than that, I’m very interested in a long game plan of taking the best care I can of myself so I’ll be loving life 20 years from now.

One thing I want to say, I’m not into punishment. I’m also not extreme with how I treat myself. I’m very into moderation. I love having fun. Actually fun is a priority in my life but I also want to feel amazing. I use these breaks as ways to recalibrate my system so that I never have to rely on these things to get through my day or get through a social situation.

So I first took a break from wine and funny enough, I didn’t miss it at all when others were partaking around me. I didn’t feel boring. I did feel great the next day and that’s what I’m loving the most. Even if I have an interrupted sleep, I wake up feeling clear headed. Taking a break from coffee was the biggest surprise because I like my coffee strong and I was certain I would have withdrawal symptoms. I had none. No headache. No desire. Nothing. Clearly, my body needed a time out from it and I’m so glad I answered the call rather than cling to a notion of “I need my coffee in the morning.” Sometimes we think we have to do things when in truth, we don’t!

As per the weird symptoms that I’ve been having. I need a few more months to be able to really say if this break specifically eases or wipes them out all together. I’m also doing other things that could be helping as well. Bottom line is I’ve brought out the big guns to feel good. And more than that, I’m having fun doing it. This break hasn’t been a chore or a marathon of punishment. Probably that tip I gave about knowing I can enjoy if I really want to, helps keep me from feeling deprived. It’s actually the opposite. I feel empowered that I let myself have a choice in my actions rather than letting a habit or a pattern lead the way.

So my question to you is what are you doing that isn’t serving you but you’re doing it anyways? Do the tips from my video give you any ideas for maybe taking a break? I’d love to hear.

 

 

Don’t Feel Like Yourself? Here’s What To Do

In this week’s vlog, Wendy wants to feel like herself again. It’s such a great request and there are so many times I can relate. I can’t think of any other time in my life, including three pregnancies, where I was so plugged in to how I’m feeling, asking if I’m in the right place, looking for paths to get through. I’m convinced that what’s at play here is the combination of hormones and a lot of years on the planet. If you don’t ask questions, you find yourself in the middle of a Talking Heads song ala “This is not my beautiful house….”

 


 

I’m also certain that this situation presents us with a unique opportunity. What if we used the angst to really take a step back and ask ourselves “What do I need right now?” “What IS working and what ISN’T working?”. These are huge questions because the answers often reveal that we need to make some kind of lifestyle shift.  For instance, it might mean examining whether you really like the work you’re   doing or if you’re really inspired by the people you surround yourself with. It might mean digging deep and examining whether your daily routine is really supportive of your life. I feel like right now, while body chemistry is in flux and while we’re at a place to ask all these big questions, we’re almost on a sort of bridge. If we choose to cross it in a thoughtful way, we’re going to get to the other side even more as ourselves than we ever imagined.

In the video I mention the importance of starting first with understanding where you’re at with your hormones. For anything that involves our body or not feeling energetically “right” I think this is an important step. I wrote out some ideas for finding the right kind of doctor for this and you can get it here.  I also mentioned my free Wellness Journal and it’s yours for the taking, just by signing up for my newsletter at the banner below.