Tell me what you really, really want…

I’m not so sure anymore.

When I first decided to send emails regularly, I made a promise. I’d only send something that I felt sure would give you value. You know, help things be a a bit easier, or a piece of information that would change the way you do or see things.

Before I write these emails (which I do roughly once a week) I take a walk and I ask myself “how can I help and what can I give?”. My emails don’t come from someone on Fiverr (no disrespect) or from a VA.

They come from me. From raw experience, research, practice – and caring.

This week I looked at my ‘open’ rates – this tells me how many (not who!) as a percentage, are opening emails. I know. There are too many and we all get ‘numb’ to them, eventually (though there are some people I really do look out for).

So I decided to be brave, not pretend this is going the way I want it to (i.e. tons of happy bods, eagerly lapping up my words of wisdom! Ahem!) and ask  you outright. One. Simple. Question.

Right now, what would help you the MOST?

Answer me with a word, a ton of words, an image, a feeling… a rant. I don’t mind. I just want to know that you are getting something from me that makes a difference.

Just add your comment under this paragraph and I’ll be able to do a better job!

 

With love

 

Debs

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Weight gain in menopause. Fact, fiction or just something to expect?

Weight gain in menopause.

In addition to some of the other perils of perimenopause, many women will find that weight seems to be slipping on – and not sliding off. Weight gain in menopause has a become yet another ‘thing’ to dread, (along with facial hair, for one thing, which does NOT amuse me)  and to grudgingly accept as part of the aging process.

Is this  necessarily so?  Should we fight the midlife flab or lay down on the collective sofa of later womanhood, looking back with wistful eyes to the days when we were ‘slim’ (if we were) and give in gracefully?

I’ll share a bit about my weight issues here. In reality, I never had any. I was brought up in a very simple way, we didn’t have scales in the house, or snacks for that matter. I ran around outside most of the time, either chasing ponies (and later, boys) because we didn’t have TV.  So maybe I am not the ideal avatar. But I did notice how my body changed shape during perimenopause and now, although I am only a few pounds above my favourite fighting weight, I  just look more ’rounded’. And I am a dress size higher than back in the day.

Look, I know that fat stores are important, post menopause, to keep some type of estrogen production happening (ditto healthy adrenal glands and gut).

But there is no ‘jelly roll’ on my midriff and I wonder if this is because I got such great advice on adrenal health when I needed it. Right slap back in the early days of full on perimenopause, I met an ethnobotanist, who is also a shaman.  Just what you need! So rather than write reams on the causes of most mid-life weight gain, I’m  just going to sit back, nibble on a walnut, and listen to the Doc. He also provides a  nifty quiz, so why not complete it? You may get some help that helps!

 

 

Night sweats, hot flashes. Is there a storm brewing?

How menopause  affects 27 million women every day?

 

Yes, you read that right. 27 million women – in the USA. It’s about 13 million in the UK. And I haven’t looked at the stats for mainland Europe. So, a whole lot of women. And it’s not a one-off  flavor-of-the-month topic. As  far as I can tell, women are not only going to carry on having menopause, but as the life time of a worker extends into their  60s and 70s (in the UK for instance, there is no enforceable retirement age) employers must face the fact that for at least 20% of their female population, menopause is going to cause symptoms that may affect performance. And it’s not just ‘performance’ – it’s engagement, progression,  self belief, colleagues, families and futures that can be negatively impacted too.

 

Is there a storm brewing?  Maybe not. But there are enough women in the same boat to create a massive wave for change. In many ways, the age-old silence has now been broken. Women in media, show business, big businesses and small, are at last, speaking up and speaking out. Just one example is the English radio celeb, Zoe Ball.http://www.womanandhome.com/life/news-entertainment/zoe-ball-opens-up-about-the-menopause-206435/

I believe the onus is on women who want to, to ask for support. It’s not an easy conversation, I’ll admit. But using the voice is an intrinsic aspect of this passage, in terms both cultural and holistic. We can’t pretend we don’t have the cycles that are intrinsic to women’s bodies and maintain balance within ourselves, and within wider contexts.

We have to shape this change. Employers may understand. Some may be helpful and empathetic but without upward pressure, it’s just one more thing on a very long HR ‘to do’ list – and without a clear and immediate bottom line impact to drive it.

Women understand best what is happening to them and what kind of support they need. We can leave a legacy by cutting a new path in the urban work jungle, so that those coming after us. don’t have to suffer in embarrassed silence or  minimise themselves, concerned that brain fog will rob them of a fact, figure or contribution at a pivotal moment.

 

Employers who make room for one menopausal woman to manage  her symptoms and her career, are, indeed worthy, but leaving a policy and cultural shift  for dozens and even hundreds of women, is even more so. And it’s our voices that should be singing the new tune!

 

Menopause discrimination?

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/work/menopause-discrimination-real-thing-bosses-need-get-involved/

 

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Signs of menopause: physical and emotional changes that rock your world!

menopause signs,There are hundreds, if not thousands, of lists  available across the internet, about the  physical signs of menopause. What doesn’t seem to be included often enough, are the less obvious, (but very impactful)  emotional signs of menopause. These stirred emotions, are often the  first rumblings that something – (you) – is changing. Emotional change may even arise with or without the ‘classic’ perimenopause (“peri” meaning “around” menopause) physical symptoms.

It’s really  surprising just how ‘early’ perimenopause starts. As estrogen levels begin to fall – generally given as around 44 years of age – perimenopause begins – albeit, slowly. Amongst emotions that may be stirred up,  I’ve noticed the following:

Broodiness – yes, the unexpected longing for a late baby, or even a first baby, can present itself and it’s not always ‘logical’. But then, emotion isn’t logical. And perhaps Nature has a way of having her voice heard as the fertility levels fall and chances of pregnancy do too.

Wistfulness/random tears A sense of wondering “what if….” – (“I’d done that course/married that guy/had a different upbringing”) can permeate your psyche, and even replay in dreams.

Doubt as to current and/or past  choices may be an offshoot of wistfulness . Doubt can create a sense of worry, concern or restlessness and dissatisfaction about who you have become, and the relationships, career choices and family dynamics that are playing out.

Withdrawal. According to Yogic Tantric wisdom, the Mahadeva (Great or presiding oversoul) of this passage in a woman’s life, is Bagalamhukh. She – or her energy field – causes us women to want to withdraw so that we can reflect, reassess and regenerate and come back to the world, post menopause, having left behind what no longer serves us. In the run up to this, a woman may well journey into her ‘past’.

natural menopause, menopause signs,

Anger and tension. It’s not unusual for a woman to feel more angry and tense at this time. Physically, she may be tired or adrenally exhausted, especially if she is a primary carer and has a career too. She may find that what she could normally do easily ,is now draining her.

Anger may arise from feeling overwhelmed and/or under appreciated.  This can cause mass upset across the board, because whereas once, she may have just ‘got on with it’, now,  in the ‘perimenopause pressure cooker’ of unexplained and disturbing feelings (combined with  physical fatigue), anger may volcanically erupt.  When it does, it can really rock the embedded expectations of others around her.

Anger may also emerge as a (not always very graceful)  boundary defence mechanism. It may be the  knee-jerk response to others,  because boundaries/behaviours that may  have been poorly set in the past, now need a radical overhaul. And anger may just be from on overwhelming desire to be heard and seen: in reality, the need for reassurance. Because one thing is for sure, when the foundations of your being rock,  reassurance is massively valuable.

menopause signs, support,

Support systems and structures are even more important now than ever. Extreme behaviour can lead to extreme consequences. So, if you want to avoid burn out, relationship melt down and potentially loss (to name the most common perimenopause breakdowns) please find people who will truly listen to you. Find people who can guide without judgement, can keep a confidence – for ever – and will be able to reflect back to you what’s valuable, what’s just a trip into the past and what you need to do to keep your sense of self.

 

Oftentimes, physical exhaustion (underpinned in many cases, by adrenal fatigue) makes the emotional symptoms worse. I believe however that it is important – maybe vital – to have an emotional ‘spring clean’ right now, to become more fluent and honest with  your needs and feelings, and to put the past ‘to bed’ The astrological impulses of this time of your life are there to support just that, and I will blog about the Uranian upsurge that is impacting you between the ages of 38 – 44 in future. Meanwhile, the three key things to focus on are: –

 

  1. Remove as much stress as possible from your life, including dietary stressors, too  many late nights, over exercising, overuse of electronic devices, addictions, noise and toxic relationship. I know. That is a big list. Aim to reduce one thing at a time. Honestly, every little does help!
  2. When you need to withdraw then let others know that it’s about you, not them. Time out – an hour, a day – a retreat – with a journal, or simply a place to walk undisturbed, makes ‘space’ for old emotions to surface.
  3. Let the past go with gratitude and ritual. Someone said to me this week that he had boxes and boxes of old photographs. He’s about to move house and really doesn’t want to take them with him but equally couldn’t  bear to just ‘dump them in the garbage’. “So make a ceremony” I said. “Let them go with love and your thanks”. I suggested he  take a few quiet moments, set up a (safe) fire in the garden (an old wok can serve as a fire bucket) or the fireplace (if you have one) and just think on all the joy, happiness, friendship – whatever – these photos recall. Once you have that sense in your heart of being connected – then let it go. And say ‘thank you” – cry, rage, yell, laugh.. whatever you need to do.

 

Remember, this too WILL pass – and with the coming of your “Second Spring” you’ll emerge, like Persephone, triumphant with the seeds of another new you safely embedded in your psyche!

menopause signs,

 

 

 

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The four levels of Perimenopause & why you need to understand them all.

peri menopause help

 

Here is a short radio show for you to listen to. I  recorded it for Silver Tent radio, and in it, I explain my view on the four levels of perimenopause and why you really do need to understand them all.

 

https://m.mixcloud.com/TheSilverTent/menopause-magic/

 

 

 

Understanding the spiritual technology of menopause. Really? (1/2)

menopause help

 

I can almost hear the collective groans of disbelief and exasperation from  thousands of women. These dear souls, worn down by months or years, of peri menopausal symptoms (and just want it TO END ) are now being presented with the hypothesis that there is a ‘spiritual technology’ underpinning their misery. What am I thinking of?

Give me a moment, please. You need to hear this. Read more

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Belly fat, sweating & exhausted? Is it really all because of the menopause?

 

 

If you are suffering from unwanted saggy belly fat, sweating during the day and at night (or having gruesome chills) and feeling exhausted, you’re likely to be told that it’s the inevitable result of the dreaded menopause.

belly fat, menopause,

 

But why would 75% of women never report these symptoms? Or even tell you (as my ‘best’ friend did) ” I just sailed through it” Hmm.

 

Is it REALLY all because of the down regulation of your ovaries? Or could there be other factors at play? Factors that you may be able to work with… have a look at what Dr Berg has to say:

 

 

Have you got your copy of my “30 day sweat reduction programme”? It’s a good place to start taking back control.

Even if your flashes don’t respond and you need more support, you’ll learn a lot about your body and mind. Menopause is not just about your body – it is – in my opinion anyway – a doorway (well, a long tunnel sometimes) to a new and freer life. So don’t write it off, arbitarily medicate it away or feel you are being penalised. Honestly, messy as it can be – a gift awaits you on the other side.

 

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The brain and ovarian hormones

 

 

I’ve shared this video becauses – amongst other things – Marwa Azab has really underscored my “5R Sweat Reduction Plan”s main approach, which is to get to know yourself. She also makes it really simple to understand the HPA axis https://debsdevries.com/2017/09/14/hotter-colder-whatisgoingon/ and sheds some wonderful medical wisdom on female hormones. 17 minute and worth watching!! She is specific in mentioning that it is the ovarian hormones – and related endocrine system – that we are talking about.

Marwa Azab, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor of psychology and human development at California State University, Long Beach. She studied psychology for many years and completed a masters in counseling from Toronto, Canada and her Ph.D. in neurosciencefrom University of California, Irvine, where she taught in the biology department.

 

I particularly like the way – as an academic and scientist – she doesn’t shy away from making the point that the body is one holistic system. It’s OK to teach subjects separately, she says, but not to apply that knowledge separately.

 

Please help yourself to my “5R Sweat reduction programme” where you can begin to dig deep into your own sweat triggers.

 

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What type of menopause change agent are you?

So – what type of menopause ‘change’ agent are you?

 

It helps to know when you are setting out on this journey.

First of all, ask yourself – why is menopause often  mysteriously and rather secretly, referred to as “the change?”

Having been through it, I know why.

It literally caused me to change a lot of things in my life. And I am very happy that I did.

My  5R Sweat Reduction programme is also a mini ‘change’ programme. It’s a way of finding out what doesn’t work for you so you can make changes that will support you. Night sweats are often a real sign that your body is in perimenopause and make life very, very tiring and difficult.

But what kind of ‘change’ agent are you? Depending on your ‘type’ you’ll find that managing change is either a breeze – a bore – or just hopelessly frustrating.

Check it out – which  one are you? Or are you a combination of more than one? Read more

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8 Cool tips for hot flashes.

hot flash relief, menopause,

cooling down the menopause heat

Hi there! You’re in the right place for information and support on your menopause journey and this article is about hot sweats.

Hot flashes and night sweats  are a topic that occupies a lot of time and attention for many pre menopausal women. Approximately 25% of women in menopause (perimenopause too) suffer  them to a lesser or greater degree. If you have them, then you  know, it is not the same sensation as going for a run and feeling sweaty . It’s a crawling, stinging, or burning sensation that comes on unexpectedly.  If you haven’t experienced hot flashes, please don’t write off your sister’s/partner’s/mother’s  experience as trivial. Most of all – please…

 

hot flashes, night sweats,

Key Symptoms (Romm A. M.D. 2010)

  • Sensation of intense heat creeping over the face, neck, and upper chest
  • Progresses to a generalized feeling of being overheated

Additional Symptoms of Menopause (Romm, 2010)

  • Rapid heart beat
  • Dizzy, light headed or faint feelings
  • Cold sweats
  • Sensation of insects crawling on skin
  • Pins and needles

These are symptoms you may feel. That is pretty ‘yuk’ on its own.  What also kicks in is the emotional response to the event. This is very important in understanding why menopause can be so distressing.
Some women handle it, some feel overwhelmed, angry, embarrassed and very frustrated. This emotional response is one of the inner keys to supporting yourself, so hang on for a second, while I get my editor’s head on. I promised 8 tips, and here they are:

 

  1. From an Ayurvedic perspective, your body is on a journey to becoming constitutionally more ‘vata’ (I will write in detail about this in another series). Hot flushes are  a sign of significant ‘ pitta’ (another type of energy that you use in your younger life)  running havoc throughout the bloodstream. Like most other menopausal symptoms, it is a signal to take rest and relax; your sympathetic nervous system is on high alert.  You need to train your mind and body to switch to the Parasympathetic systems (think of P for Peace) as often as possible, so as soon as you feel a flush/sweat begin, you can begin breathe deeply into your belly, then exhale slowly, at least 3 times. I don’t mind where you are, someone else can wait. This is about you and your health. Plant both of your feet on the ground (unless you are driving or doing something where this could be dangerous) and imagine roots or lines of energy running down from the soles of your feet into the middle of the planet. Curl your toes upwards so the arches of your feet are strong. Notice what emotions you feel. Just notice, don’t engage.
  2. Eat cooling foods that are seasonally appropriate. I found that red meat, white sugar,  white flours/pastas fizzy sodas, alcohol and cow products (especially cheese) made me sweat. In fact, cheese had always made me sweat a little but I loved it, so I ignored the signs. Swap these items for oily fish (salmon: mackerel: cod) and buy wholewheat alternatives for every white unrefined product, including rice.  Cooling foods include: cucumber, daikon radish, mung bean, dandelion greens, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower, celery, kale, and romaine lettuce. Eat a least two servings of these a day for your internal ‘air conditioner’ to kick into action. Cold fruits include lemon, cantaloupe, grapefruit, mulberry, apples, pears, watermelon, apricots and persimmons. Mix these foods  into your main meal menus, so you don’t over cool your digestion and get diarrhea.
  3. Honestly, I know you have heard it before – but please keep your water fluids up. And don’t put ice in your drinks. If your face is unbearably hot, by all means open the fridge (if one is handy) door and let the air cool you but ice constricts the veins in your digestive system, which causes greater imbalances.
  4. Wearing layers – it’s obvious but maybe you need to look at your wardrobe again and weed out anything that makes  you feel sweatier (synthetics for example). Silk is NOT ideal because it marks under the arms – so look for short sleeved shirts that you can wear under floaty cardigan-type garments. You can buy underarm sweat pads too.
  5. Resting more. Just do it – it is what your body needs. Meditation, mindfulness, listening to soothing music – all of these help the nervous system to calm down. Make a date, every day, to have at least 20 minutes of this to build the habit – do it in bed, (ban electronics from the last hour of your day as a minimum for soooo many reasons!). Oh and remember, you do need regular exercise to keep your bones healthy. How about 2 x 20 minute brisk walks as a minimum? This will also help elevate your mood and therefore your happy hormones.
  6. Get your kidney energy up and have your adrenals checked. This will support your hormonal (endocrine) system. Traditional Chinese Medicine has a view that loss of kidney Chi drives ageing and the resulting imbalances. There are so many writings on this that I’d recommend you go look (here is one I like TCM/) and  I use Dr Christopher’s Kidney formula daily.Dr Christopher’s Kidney Formula. Likewise, you need to make sure your digestion is working properly. The drop in kidney and liver Chi can negatively impact this and as we know now, our gut makes a lot of important hormones. Don’t ignore bloating, burping, constant low back pain or inconsistent bowel movements. They can indicate a weak digestion and also issues around fibroids or other more challenging uterine illnesses. Go and see a doctor if this is going on for you for more than 3 weeks.
  7. Make a rose water spray/spritz (or make a few and have them in various places where they are easy to find). Add 3 drops of rose essential oil to a small spray bottle of distilled or filtered water (about 20 ml) to which you can add a drop of vodka to purify the mixture. Spray this on your chest when the flush starts (and remember to breathe and ground as well). Avoid your eyes, or anyone else’s eyes, come to that.
  8. My best tip – seek out a highly skilled nutritionalist/herbalist/kinesiologist who can see what your body needs. There are many  herbs that have helped women for centuries, but what works for one woman may not be what another needs. The list is endless – Black Cohosh: Skullcap: Sage: Ginseng:St John’s Wort. I’d advise you not to guess – you can spend a lot of money guessing and that money could be better spend getting an accurate assessment of your needs. Please, don’t short change yourself in the change. You are a valuable asset – unique, and irreplaceable!

 

Flower in menopause,