The Best Anti-aging Skin Care Products

The best anti-aging skin care products

The Anti-aging Products that I Recommend

My previous post Caring For Your Skin as You Age discussed how our skin ages, and what anti-aging product categories you can use to care for your skin.  I am now going to tell you what I recommend to be the best anti-aging skin care products based on my own experience.  Please note, I am not a beauty therapist, nor am I an expert in this area.  However, I am a Registered Nurse and the products I use contain the ingredients that are known to assist in the anti-aging process.

My budget is fairly low.  I tend to use brands that are available at the discount pharmacy or supermarket.  I have tried many brands over the years, but I have found I can generally rely on a few brands because they consistently produce positive results in my skin.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure. I have links to Amazon in this article – the highlighted clickable links in text are to Amazon Australia, while the picture links are to Amazon US.  

Anti-aging Skin Care Routine

Cleanser

My skin is sensitive, so I use an NEUTROGENA Extra Gentle Cleanser 200mL""” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener sponsored nofollow”>Extra Gentle Cleanser by Neutrogena.  It is fragrance-free and doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight or dry.  This cleanser is non-soap so it helps to moisturise my skin without clogging the pores.  It has been tested by dermatologists and is safe for allergy prone skin like mine.

Serum

I am very new to using a serum because the price of serums was outside my budget.  However I found the Ordinary brand for an incredibly cheap price at the discount pharmacy.  It contains the same active ingredients as other more expensive brands (hyaluronic Acid 2%) and is vegan and ethically produced.  

I am stunned at how much this has improved my skin.  I had open pores, dry scaly areas, lines particularly around my eyes and sunspots.  All areas of my face improved within a few days.  It acts as a chemical exfoliant, so I no longer use harsh physical exfoliants such as scrubs.  For this reason, this serum is the one of the best anti-aging skin care products that I have used.

Moisturiser

At present I am using a wonderful product that I bought in Japan.  I am unable to source it here in Australia so I will use my favourite product by L’Oreal when it runs out.  L’Oreal is a brand I trust.  Their products are consistently of high quality.  I love the fact that they formulate products for your age group to target specific skin concerns common among all of us.  The Age Perfect day cream is my favourite in this range.

The Classic SPF15 Day Cream contains sunscreen which is an important factor for me.  If I can prevent more age spots from developing on my skin I would be very relieved.  It always leaves my skin feeling hydrated without a greasy residue.

Sunscreen

My favourite sunscreen brands are Cancer Council and Neutrogena.  Their sunscreens are of the highest quality and very reliable.  I need to be particularly sun smart as there have been three close members of my family diagnosed with a melanoma, including my son.

My favourite sunscreen for my face is Cancer Council’s Foundation.  It doesn’t leave my face greasy, and contains just enough tint to use like other foundations.  I have never been sunburnt while using products by Cancer Council or Neutrogena.  

If I am going to be in full sunlight for an extended period of time I apply a cream sunscreen and then follow it up with Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist.  This ensures I haven’t missed any areas.  I also wear a hat and try to avoid the sun between 10am and 2pm.

The Anti-Aging Skin Care Products That I Recommend.  From Left to Right - Cancer Council Foundation, Neutrogena Extra Gentle Cleanser, The Ordinary Serum, LÓreal Age Perfect Night Cream, Garnier Skin Active Nutri Bomb Face Mask, Garnier Skin Active Micellar Cleansing Water, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist
The Anti-Aging Skin Care Products That I Recommend. From Left to Right – Cancer Council Foundation, Neutrogena Extra Gentle Cleanser, The Ordinary Serum, LÓreal Age Perfect Night Cream, Garnier Skin Active Nutri Bomb Face Mask, Garnier Skin Active Micellar Cleansing Water, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist

Makeup Remover

I swear by Garnier’s Skin Active Micellar Cleansing Water.  Any other products sting my skin and make my eyes inflamed and red.  You can use this all over for face as it is very mild, and it is also able to remove eye makeup.  Because I can use it to cleanse my whole face it saves time which is important to me.  I tend to neglect this step if it takes too long, so this product is perfect.

Night Cream

My night cream is L’Oreal’s Age Perfect night cream.  This gives my skin that added moisturiser at night, allowing it to be restored and refreshed.  It reduces the appearance of age spots.  I can use it close to my eyes without it feeling too heavy on the more sensitive areas of my face.

Face Mask

Once a week I use a Garnier face mask.  I choose which to use from their wide range of masks, depending on how my skin is that week.  This week’s mask was chosen for it’s hydrating properties.

Skin care is important as we age because our skin begins to show the affects of sun damage and loss of tone.  I took my skin for granted when I was younger which I really regret now.  The products that I have recommended have helped me to improve my skin texture and tone.  They can’t perform miracles but they can help my skin to be the best it can be at my stage of life.

Please let me know if there are any products you swear by.  I’m always keen to try new skin products if they are suitable for sensitive skin and not too expensive.

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What I Really Want For Christmas in 2020

What I Really Want For Christmas in 2020

Family Unity is More Important Than Gifts

My Christmas wish list is a little different this year. What I really want for Christmas can’t be wrapped and placed under the tree. Christmas is a time for families to gather, often over a celebratory meal and the traditions like gift giving.  In Australia it is one of the main celebrations of the year.  Even if you don’t identify as Christian, most families gather together.

Most mothers take on the role of organising many of the Christmas traditions such as buying the gifts and preparing the food.  It can be a busy time leading up to the day as mothers tend to take on the extra tasks so that Christmas can be a happy time for their family.

Christmas Traditions

Every family has its own traditions for this time, whether it is watching the Carols by Candlelight, eating roast turkey, or going to Midnight Mass.  There is often food that she traditionally cooks every year because it is someone’s favourite.  

Every year there are a few things that I always cook.  My son loves turkey, but it has to be one specific turkey that I cook.  I was a single mother during their teens, and my budget didn’t stretch to buying a whole turkey.  I cooked a rolled turkey thigh that was frozen – it was pretty grim.  Even though I could now cook a whole turkey, my son insists on that awful rolled turkey thigh!  Every year we laugh about it, but that is what I still cook for him!

My Christmas Wish List

As another Christmas looms, I have put some thought into the gifts on my wishlist.  This year’s Christmas is sure to be extra special as most of us will be pleased to see the end of this very trying year.  These are the gifts I would love:

  • My family to be united to celebrate Christmas
  • Security and safety for my family
  • Good health – everyone remains Covid free, with the prospect of a vaccine soon
  • My sons are happy with life and both stay employed in jobs that they enjoy
  • Our country remains free of natural disasters
  • Our leaders keep our country safe and our economy strong
  • We are free to travel and enjoy our freedom again
  • Peace and serenity, gratitude for all that we are blessed with

I am optimistic that I will receive all the gifts on my wishlist this Christmas.  Wouldn’t it be a lovely celebration if we could all receive them?  It wasn’t that long ago that we took most of this for granted, but after this year I don’t take anything for granted anymore.

The Gift I Most Desire

Time with my family is even more precious now, as both sons moved out leaving us empty nesters.  The border was closed for most of the year meaning that I couldn’t see my family in New South Wales.  Our family has had many health issues, not from Covid, but from cancer and other issues.

This year the emphasis won’t be on material gifts, it will be on celebrating together as a family.  One of my brothers will be here, which will be lovely.  

My other brother has sadly distanced himself from the rest of the family after our father passed away.  It’s such a shame as dad’s dying wish was for all of us to be united as a family.  The situation seems insurmountable as he refuses all attempts of reconciliation. 

It may be the last year we spend with my mother-in-law too, as she has reached the palliative stage of lung cancer.  We will treasure every moment we have with her.  

This Christmas Will Be Different

This Christmas has taken on a different meaning for all of us.  We now don’t take for granted that we can cross the state border, or gather together as a family group.  Our health has been our focus and we no longer take that for granted either.  It will be a relief that we made it through one of the most challenging years any of us has ever seen.

I am so grateful for a Christmas celebration with the most precious thing, my family.

What gifts do you most look forward to receiving? Are you wanting intangible gifts like me? If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy:

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Revitalise By Attending a Health and Wellness Retreat

Revitalise by Attending a Health and Wellness Retreat

Attending a Retreat Reminds Us to Value Ourselves

Revitalise yourself by attending a health and wellness retreat. Spending time in a retreat allows us to spend quality time in self care activities such as yoga, meditation and self reflection. Using this time to dedicate our attention on our own needs reminds us to value ourselves. We recognise that we are valuable enough to take time out of our busy schedules to refresh and revitalise ourselves. We can’t care for others if our own cup is empty.

I thought I was getting enough time for self care this year.  It feels like the whole year has been devoted to self care.  But I didn’t realise that I still had room for improvement in this area.  Having spent the morning at the health and wellness retreat, I have discovered that there are some areas of my life that I need to concentrate on.

The Health and Wellness Retreat

The Health and Wellness Retreat was a yoga and self care retreat organised by Carol Wedenberg of Harmony and Healthy Yoga, and Sue Loncaric of Women Living Well After 50.  It was a wonderful way to spend a morning.  I finally got to meet Sue who I’ve known through blogging for the last year or so.  Sue took the self care component of the retreat and it was very worthwhile.  

Numala is a blissfully serene studio in the middle of the Gold Coast rainforest with only the sound of birds and a wind-chime to break the silence.  All the equipment was good quality and clean.  It was easy to feel relaxed and calm in this beautiful setting.

The group of ladies who were there were all on a similar path – trying to carve time out in their busy schedules for self care.  We really felt supported to participate in the group sessions and we could relate to what the other ladies were saying.  It is a testimony to Sue and Carol that they could inspire such warm connections within a group of people who were mostly strangers, in such a short period of time.

The peace and serenity of the rainforest allows you to revitalise.  Photo of a rainforest, representing the rainforest retreat Numala which was the location of the Health and Wellness Retreat
Peace and Serenity Allows You to Revitalise

Creating a Self Care Plan

Sue’s Self Care session helped me to revisit those activities I once loved, that I no longer take time to do.  Using those activities we then could create a self care plan to revitalise those activities in our daily schedule.  There was an emphasis on creating a self care plan because we need to schedule time for ourselves just like all the other tasks we need to complete in a day.

One glaringly obvious area I have been neglecting is my creative side.  That may seem strange when I spend much of my day writing my blog and creating infographics and images for it.  But even though that is creative in a way, I’ve focused much of my blog on raising awareness of medical issues like breast cancer.  Because of what I’ve gone through this year with my own health, I’ve begun to lose the joy of just writing, not with a mission in mind, but just for the creative release.

My Self Care Plan is About Revitalising My Creative Side

When we were children, mum encouraged our creative side through drawing, cartooning, writing and music.  We were lucky to have such a creative and art-filled life.  I’ve always loved being creative and expressing myself through writing.  I feel that I need to return to my roots and write for pleasure again.  I’ve signed up to a creative writing challenge during November to get those juices flowing again.  I feel that if I start being creative again then my other writing will be more enjoyable as well.

Using the activities provided by Sue, I have created a self care plan that incorporates time to be creative. The insight and inspiration that I gained at the retreat helped me to focus on this area of myself that I have been neglecting. Making time in my schedule to be creative will now be a priority.

Mindfulness and Meditation are activities that relax and revitalise us.  Image of a woman in a child's pose (yoga)
Mindfulness and Meditation are activities that relax and revitalise us.

Yoga For Our Health and Wellness

My surgeon wants me to prepare my body for work again.  My recovery from bilateral mastectomies has been very slow, but I’m now at the tail end of the recovery phase.  One of the best things to happen this week was that my surgeon finally approved yoga.  I’ve really missed it and I know that yoga will help strengthen my upper body again.  His approval to recommence yoga practice came just in time.

Carol led us in two wonderful yoga sessions and a daily altar session at the health and wellness retreat.  The yoga was challenging but she was very supportive of those of us who weren’t up to doing all the poses, while incorporating enough for the experienced yogis.  It feels amazing to be able to do yoga again. Yoga is holistic and not only strengthens our bodies, it also strengthens our minds as it requires some concentration.

I normally do my yoga at home using a YouTube subscription as I find that works well for me.  Knowing how out of shape I am I started right back at the beginning with beginners’ yoga.  I’m waking up muscles that haven’t been used in a long time. My body is really feeling it – sore shoulders and neck, increased swelling in my chest and pain in my chest muscles.  I know it will help and I’ve got to take it slowly and gradually work up my strength and stamina.  Attending the retreat has inspired me to continue to build up my strength using yoga.  

Take time to pause.  It is important to includes self care activities such as yoga, into our busy schedule, as it revitalises us.  We can't care for everyone else if our cup is empty.
Image of a yoga position, legs crossed, hands on knees with the thumb and forefinger touching and other fingers outstretched.
Take time to pause. It is important to includes self care activities such as yoga, into our busy schedule, as it revitalises us. We can’t care for everyone else if our cup is empty

The Daily Altar

The daily altar was new to me and reminded me of being mindful – connecting to the natural environment and really seeing things we usually take for granted like leaves, coal, flowers and stones.  I created my mandala with yellow leaves, black coal and purple flowers.  They reminded me of how my year has been – like rising out of the ashes phoenix-like, and buds blooming into flowers.

My Daily Altar Mandala at the Health and Wellness Retreat was made up of coal, yellow leaves and purple flower buds.  These are laid out on a cleared area of the ground in a mandala shape.  They represent myself rising out of the ashes like a phoenix.
My Daily Altar Mandala at the Health and Wellness Retreat was made up of coal, yellow leaves and purple flower buds. These are laid out on a cleared area of the ground in a mandala shape. They represent myself rising out of the ashes like a phoenix.

Carol led us on a guided meditation to conclude the retreat. With only the sound of birds in the trees and the occasional soft sound from the wind-chime, we were lulled into a restful state. The meditation was blissful and the atmosphere was definitely enhanced by the setting.

Future Health and Wellness Retreats

I will definitely be signing up for any further retreats as I gained so much out of this one.  It just goes to show you, we all could do with a reminder to spend time in self care activity.  I received a lovely journal because I signed up as an early bird.  I love it!  The prompts are great and will really help me to get back into journaling again.  When you write a lot for business (my blog) you don’t write for pleasure and I feel I need to do that again as I really miss it.

Sue and Carol plan to continue organising retreats, including online sessions for those who don’t live near the Gold Coast of Australia.  Their websites are:

Harmony and Healthy Yoga – Carol Wedenberg.  There are on-line yoga classes available.

Women Living Well After 50 – Sue Loncaric.  There are many resources for living a healthy lifestyle, including podcasts and YouTube videos.


The Retreat information is at this link

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Caring for Your Skin As You Age

Caring for Your Skin As You Age

Caring for your skin in Midlife

As you enter midlife, you will notice changes in your skin.  The skin care regime you used in your youth will no longer suit your skin.  This article will discuss how aging skin changes and give you some tips on caring for your skin as you age.  You will learn how to choose anti-aging products for your skin and what to look for when you purchase skin care products.

Midlife brings with it changes to your skin. Fluctuating hormone levels during perimenopause leads to itchy, dry skin, and may even cause breakouts. My skin became oily and acne prone in my 40s.  Now that I am in my 50s I have patches of dry skin, noticeable age spots and visible broken capillaries on my chin.

The affects of aging on skin

Aging affects skin in many ways, both on the surface of skin and below the outer layer.  The effects of aging on our skin depends on various factors including lifestyle, diet and hereditary factors.  In Australia and New Zealand we are exposed to harsh sunlight year round and eventually the damage we have accumulated catches up with us. 

The affects of sun damage on skin 

Damage from the sun is arguably the main cause of aging skin.  Sun damage is called photoaging.  UV light damages elastin fibres in the skin, which causes skin to sag, stretch and lose its ability to snap back if stretched.  The skin bruises and tears more easily and takes longer to heal.

Lifestyle factors that affect your skin

Other causes of skin damage are pollution, stress, gravity, daily facial movement and sleep position.  Gravity causes drooping of eyebrows and eyelids, and looseness and fullness under cheeks and jaw.  Facial movement leads to the appearance of horizontal lines on your forehead, vertical lines above the nose, and small lines on the temples, cheeks and around your mouth.

One of the leading causes of aging skin is smoking.  Smoking ages your skin by producing free radicals, once-healthy oxygen molecules that are now over-active and unstable.  Free radicals damage cells, leading to premature wrinkles.

How Natural Aging Affects Skin

As we grow older, the following changes occur naturally:

  • Your skin becomes rougher,
  • Skin may develop lesions such as benign tumours,
  • Aging skin becomes less elastic and will hang loosely,
  • You may notice that your skin is more transparent.  This is caused by the thinning of the epidermis (surface layer of the skin),
  • Skin becomes more fragile,
  • Your skin becomes more easily bruised due to thinner blood vessel walls,
  • Skin is dry and prone to itching due to the loss of oil glands.

Changes below the skin:

Changes also occur under the skin surface as we age:

  • Bone loss around the mouth and chin may cause puckering of the skin around the mouth,
  • Cartilage loss in the nose causes drooping of the nasal tip and accentuation of bones in the nose,
  • Loss of subcutaneous fat, especially on the cheeks, temples, chin, nose and eye area may cause loosening skin and sunken eyes.

(Source: WebMD)

How Our Skin Ages - 1. Lines on forehead, above nose, on temples and cheeks.  2. Drooping eyelids, sunken eyes, 3. Looseness and fullness of skin under jaw.  4.. Puckering of skin around mouth 5. Cartilage loss in nose causes drooping of nasal tip.  Photo of a woman's face (split screen), young version on right and older version on left
How Our Skin Ages

Anti-aging skin care tips

The following tips will help you when caring for your skin as you age:

  • Protect your skin from the sun.  Sun protection is the best way of protecting your skin from further damage, and may even reverse some of the sun damage that has already occurred.
  • Do not use tanning beds or sunlamps as they also damage the skin.
  • Apply moisturiser daily as it traps water under the skin, giving it a more youthful appearance.  Use moisturiser on your face and body and lip balm on your lips.
  • Wash away dirt and grime twice daily with a mild cleanser.  Don’t use soap.
  • Stop smoking as it leads to premature aging and wrinkles, among other things.
  • Eat a healthy diet containing plenty of fruit and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats.  Drink plenty of water to hydrate you from the inside.
  • Ensure you have enough sleep as it gives your body time to refresh and renew itself.

Source:  American Academy of Dermatology Association

How to choose anti-aging products for your skin

Choose products that are suitable for your aging skin.  Look for products with the following characteristics:

Choose hypoallergenic products if your skin is sensitive.  Use mild unscented products to avoid irritating your skin.  Look for creams with bakuchiol instead of Retinol.  Avoid Fragrances, artificial dyes, coconut oil or butter which can clog pores and cause breakouts.  Choose non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic products if your skin is prone to breakouts.

Use AHA or retinoid products to reduce aging.  Retinoids (Vitamin A derivatives) promote cell turnover, stimulate collagen production and help even out skin tone.  Peptides help repair skin damage.  Antioxidants like Vitamins C and E help fight free radicals (unstable molecules that damage cells).

Moisturise after your shower to trap moisture in your skin.  Choose products with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, shea butter and hydrators to lock in the moisture.  An anti-aging moisturiser helps to minimise fine lines.

Buy products in dark opaque tubes as ingredients can become unstable and degrade when exposed to air or light.  Store them in a cool, dark environment.

Source:  Prevention.com

Caring for your aging skin.  How to Choose Anti-aging Products.  Retinoids, Peptides, Hydrators, Antioxidants, Sunscreen.  Three photos of woman attending to skin care regime while looking in mirror
How to Choose Anti-Aging Products

Skin Care Regime

The following regime should be used when caring for your skin as you age:

Cleanser

Use a cleanser with a low pH to maintain optimal skin balance.  Using a cleanser rather than soap preserves your skin barrier and keeps it resistant to dehydration and damage.  Toner isn’t necessary if you use a cleanser with a low pH.

Exfoliate

As you age your skin slows down its rejuvenation process.  Dead skin cells aren’t replaced as quickly, leading to dull skin and an uneven skin tone.  Exfoliation removes the dead skin cells and helps your skin appear clearer.  Avoid harsh physical exfoliants such as sugar scrubs and products with beads.  Use a chemical exfoliant for maturing skin, with ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) like glycolic acid and lactic acid.  These ingredients will also be in toners, serums and at-home peels.  AHAs can fade uneven pigmentation and help hydrate your skin.

Use a Serum

Serums contain a higher concentration of active ingredients than a moisturiser.  The best anti-aging ingredients are Vitamin A derivatives known as Retinoids (Retinol, Retinoin and Tazarotene), and Vitamin C.  As well as increasing collagen in your skin they act as antioxidants to soak up biological and environmental oxidative stress that builds up to cause aging.

Moisturise your Skin

Aging leads to less sebum, which causes dryness and fine lines.  Look for a moisturiser with water-binding humectants like glycerine and hyaluronic acid, and an occlusive like petrolatum and mineral oil to prevent water from evaporating.

Protect Your Skin from the Sun

Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+ to all exposed skin.  Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, long sleeved shirt and long pants where possible.  Seek shade between 10a.m. and 2p.m.  Daily sunscreen use can fade age spots, improve skin texture and flatten wrinkles by 20%.  It allows the skin to take a break from harmful UV rays, and rejuvenate.

Avoid Trauma to Your Skin

Take into account that older skin is more fragile when caring for your skin as you age.  Avoid strong tugging and rubbing as you wash your face and apply skin care products.

Source:  Healthline

Morning Skincare - A step-by-step guide.
1. Cleanser 2. Exfoliate 3. Antioxidant Serum 4. Moisturise 5. Sunscreen
Morning Skincare – A step-by-step guide.
Cleanser 2. Exfoliate 3. Antioxidant Serum 4. Moisturise 5. Sunscreen

See a beautician for a taylored skincare regime if you can afford it.  I had a series of facials leading up to my wedding six years ago because my skin had broken out with the onset of menopause.  I don’t currently have the funds for a beautician,  so I do my own facials at home.

Use a hydrating face mask weekly and you will notice the difference.   Using a night cream has also improved my skin noticeably.  Make sure you test all new products on a small area of your skin before you start using them.

Caring for your skin as you age should be part of your daily routine in midlife. My recommendations for anti-aging products are in this article. I would love to hear if you have found any great products or routines so please feel free to comment. If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy the following:

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Midlifestylist Is One Year Old

My Blog Midlifestylist Turns One

My Blog Celebrated its First Birthday

My blog Midlifestylist is one year old.  Midlifestylist celebrated its first birthday on 24 October.  It has been a year of many challenges for myself personally, as well as a huge learning curve for my blog. I started Midlifestylist because I wanted to promote a healthy lifestyle to midlifers.  Along the way it’s developed into much more than that.  Many of my readers are outside of that age range. 

I started off thinking my blog would mainly focus on weight-loss and midlife interests.  Because of my health issues this year, the direction of Midlifestylist changed to promoting health and raising awareness of cancer and other hereditary illnesses.

I had minimal technical experience prior to starting my blog and have had to learn everything from the beginning.  I’m proud of how far I’ve come.  I started my blog on WordPress.com not realising that using that platform would limit me unless I paid for a business plan which is way above my budget. Changing over to a self hosted platform was extremely challenging.   I’m glad I did it but I’ve had to learn everything from scratch and through trial and error.  My website is almost the way I want it now, after a lot of work.  

The Best and Worst Aspects of Blogging

The most rewarding part of blogging has been all the wonderful people I’ve “met” online.  The blogging community is so supportive and I’m proud to be part of it.  I didn’t realise that there was this community before I started.

The aspect of blogging that has been the least enjoyable is the constant self promotion that is required.  I’d really rather be writing than promoting my blog on social media.  It’s a necessary evil though, if I want people to actually read my blog.

I’ve had some very positive feedback over the past year.  If I can improve just one person’s life in some way then it’s all been worth it.  My family are very supportive even if they don’t read it!

Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle Through My Blog

Having my blog has been a Godsend this year while I’ve been stuck at home recovering from my surgeries.  It has helped me to channel my need for helping people while I haven’t been able to work as a nurse. I have been able to promote a healthy lifestyle and keep my mind active while doing something worthwhile.

Thankyou to my regular readers and to the people who have supported me over the last year.  Thanks to other bloggers who have shared my articles, commented on my posts, and allowed me to be a guest on their blog.  Your support has been valued very highly.

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Guide to The Regular Health Checks You Should Be Having

Guide to the Regular Health Checks You Should Be Having

Health Checks Ensure You Stay Healthy

Introduction

Regular health checks ensure you stay fit and healthy.  Many health problems are not apparent without health checks.  Regular checks you do yourself keep you in tune with your body.  A medical practitioner must also perform some checks.  This article will explain why it is important to have regular health checks, including several you can do yourself.  It also includes a recommended schedule for health checks that your doctor will do.

The advantages of a regular health check-up

The most important reason to have regular health check-ups is the early detection of diseases such as heart disease and cancer.  Treatment is much more successful if caught at an early stage, before complications have set in.  Many life threatening diseases have little to no symptoms.  For example, kidney failure.  Other health issues may have symptoms that are vague or mistaken for other conditions.  Symptoms such as fatigue can relate to many different causes. Vague symptoms are often explained by lifestyle factors such as being busy. Without regular checkups a health issue can be overlooked until you develop a serious illness.

My Back Pain Masked a Serious Health Condition

I have a chronic degenerative spinal condition which is very common in nurses.  CT scans and bone scans show degeneration in the fascia joints in my spine.  When my back pain intensified, my doctor prescribed a cortisone injection under CT guidance.  This successfully treated the pain, so I had them regularly with improvement in my pain.

When I developed severe back pain on the opposite side of the degeneration my GP prescribed stronger pain killers.  I suffered for over two years, believing the pain was caused by degeneration. I did not really understanding why my pain was on the opposite side.  It wasn’t until I developed complications after surgery this year that it was found that I had hydronephrosis.  The back pain was actually caused by a blockage which caused the urine to reflux back into my kidney.  

This would have led to serious kidney problems if it hadn’t been detected as an incidental finding.  I’m a Registered Nurse and I hadn’t even suspected my back pain was kidney related.  This is one example of how serious health issues can be overlooked, especially if they can be tied in with existing, known health issues.

The Regular Health Checks You Should Be Having - infographic
The Regular Health Checks You Should Be Having

The health checks you can do yourself

You can do many health checks yourself.  If you find anything concerning, you can then see a doctor.  Get to know your own body by doing these regular health checks:

Skin – Regularly check your skin, taking note of any moles, freckles and skin blemishes.  A doctor, preferably at a specialised skin cancer clinic, should assess any changes.  The doctors at skin cancer clinics are experienced in assessing skin. They use specialised equipment designed to detect early skin changes. Early changes that might indicate skin cancer can be treated before they develop further.

Weight – check once per week.  It is a good idea to keep an eye on your waist circumference as well.  Any waist measurement over 88cm (35 inches) for women and 102cm (40 inches) for men may mean you are at high risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  See my article Why Your Waist Measurement Matters for more information.

Dental – Dentists should examine any lesions and bleeding that don’t resolve in a week.  Clean teeth at least daily and use floss as your oral health is vital for overall well-being.  Have a regular checkup and clean by a dentist at least yearly.

Mental and emotional health – seek medical help if you have symptoms of anxiety, intense sadness, fatigue, insomnia or changes in appetite that don’t resolve after a month or two.

In addition to the above, women need to do monthly breast self examinations.  See my article How to Perform a Breast Self Examination (and Why) for a complete guide.   Men need to perform a testicular self examination monthly from puberty onwards.  See your doctor if there is any unusual thickening or lumps.

The health checks your doctor will do

Have a regular check-up with your doctor every two years.  Be aware of your family health history as it may mean you need screening more often – see my article Know Your Personal and Family Health History for more information.  Your doctor should be able to tell you if you are at high risk for certain diseases.  Additional screening to the following may be recommended.

The recommended health checks for both men and women:

Skin checks:  Yearly

Heart health – blood pressure every two years from age 40, more often if you have a family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart disease.  You should also have your blood tested to check for high cholesterol and triglycerides every 5 years from age 45, more often if high risk.  If you are high risk you may also have an ECG (electrocardiogram) or cardiac echo, which are both non-invasive checks.  A one-off test is offered at age 45-49 to screen for high risk of heart disease.

Bowel screening every two years from age 50. (A bowel screen kit will be sent to your home if you are an Australian resident)

Sexual health – yearly if sexually active.  See your doctor immediately if you have pain, discharge, lesions or if you have unprotected sex.

Eye tests for glaucoma and macular degeneration – every two years after age 40s if you have a family history.  From age 65 if you notice vision deterioration.

Bone density from the age of 45 (women) or 50 (men) if at risk for example, a family history of osteoporosis.

Diabetes – A fasting blood sugar test.  A one-off test is offered at age 45-49 to screen for high risk of type 2 diabetes.  Those at high risk of Type 2 Diabetes should be checked 1-3 yearly. 3 yearly for people not at risk, from the age of 40.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders should start 3 yearly checks from age 18.  

Hearing Impairment – a hearing assessment yearly after age 65.

Kidney disease – every 1-2 years if at high risk.

Immunity – Flu shots (Influenza vaccinations) yearly after age 65.  If you are high risk or work in the health care industry you should also have Influenza and Hepatitis B vaccinations.

Health Checks for Women

In addition to the above health checks, women should have:

Cervical screening every 5 years from the time you are sexually active.  The cervical screening Test has replaced the Pap Smear. It should be started at age 25 or two years after your last Pap Smear.

Breast screening every 2 years from age 50-74.  If you are high risk you will be offered screening from a younger age and more frequently.  For example, I have been having yearly mammograms and ultrasounds plus MRIs every 2 years because of my high risk.  Some women have them more frequently than that, depending on your doctor’s preference.

Health Checks for Men

In addition to the above health checks, men should have:

Prostate – Annual prostate checks from age 50, earlier if you have a family history.  This involves a blood test (PSA), and may include a digital rectal examination.  See your doctor if you have trouble urinating, pain, blood in your urine, night-time urination frequently, or incontinence.

Women's Health Checks - The recommendations for Breast checks, and cervical screening.  Men's Health Checks - The recommendations for  Testicular and Prostate checks
Women’s and Men’s Health Checks

Be an Advocate for your own Health

You are the best advocate for your own health.  If you suspect you have a health issue, see your doctor.  If you are unhappy with the outcome, seek another opinion.  You know your own body.  Keep track of the symptoms, write them down, and identify any patterns.  If you are unsure of whether you should see a doctor, refer to my article Signs You Need to See a Doctor.  

Let your doctor know of any family history of disease.  Keep track of your personal and family health history – see this article for more information.  Most important, keep up with your health screening and the regular health checks you should be having.

Please note:  I am a Registered Nurse of 30 years but I am unable to give specific medical advice.  If you are concerned please see your GP.  Screening schedules may differ depending on where you live.  The schedule recommended here is for guidance only.  This post is for general informational and educational purposes only.  Please refer to the disclaimer.

Further reading: While researching this article, I found the most thorough information at the following websites:

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How to Perform a Breast Self Examination (and why)

How to Perform a Breast Self Examination (And Why)

The statistics on breast cancer are troubling. Even with all the research and new treatments available, there are still 55 new breast cancer diagnoses daily. The most important detection for early breast cancer is regular breast self examination. This post will inform you of how to perform a breast self examination correctly, and other important facts to be aware of.

Early Detection of Breast Cancer Leads to Higher Survival Rates

If breast (and other cancers) are detected early, they have a much higher survival rate. Options for treatment are numerous. At present the five year survival rate for breast cancer is 91% in Australia, and 96% if the cancer is caught early. That is an excellent outcome, but there are still over 5000 deaths yearly. A free breast screening program is available in Australia, but performing breast self examination is still the best way to detect early cancer. It is important to note that males can get breast cancer too, albeit at a much lower percentage than women.

Breast Cancer Statistics in Australia.  Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer, affecting 1 in 7 women and 1 in 675 men.  Source:  National Breast Cancer Foundation
Australian Breast Cancer Statistics. Credit: National Breast Cancer Foundation

How to Perform a Breast Self Examination

If breast cancer is caught early there is a very high chance of survival. A monthly breast self examination is the best way to detect early breast cancer because every woman’s breasts are different. If you know how your breasts usually look and feel, you will be in the best position to identify early changes and seek medical attention. Some breast changes are very subtle so it is important to know what to look for. The most important thing is to check your breasts monthly. Some guides say to do it on the first of every month, and some say after your monthly period ends. Post menopausal women should do theirs on the first of the month.

I have seen a number of ways to perform breast self examination. I have always done mine in the shower with soapy, slippery skin. Some women prefer to do theirs lying down. What matters the most is that you check all parts of your breast including up to your collar bone and under the armpit. Here is an excellent video which shows very clearly the correct procedure:

Breast Self Examination. Credit Madras Institute of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, India

Signs and Symptoms to Watch For During Your

Breast Self Examination

The signs and symptoms to watch for are:

  • Changes in the size or shape of your breast
  • Dimpling or a ‘pulling’ of skin on your breast
  • Any new lumps in the breast or under your arm
  • Breast pain or swelling (pain is rare)
  • Discharge of fluid (except breast milk) from the nipple, including blood
  • Dry, flaky red skin around the nipple area

If any of these symptoms are found, make an appointment to see your General Practitioner as soon as possible. Some women have no symptoms and the cancer is found during a routine mammogram or physical examination by a doctor. Mammograms should be done two yearly between the ages of 50 to 74. Breast Screen Australia provides a free screening service for women aged 50 to 74. Free screening is also available for women aged 40 to 49 and over 74, if requested. It is recommended that women with a strong history of breast or ovarian cancer are screened from an earlier age.

If symptoms are found, further testing may be required including ultrasound, biopsy and other scans such as a CT Scan or MRI. Treatments depend on the size and type of tumour, whether it has spread, and your general health.

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer:  changes in the size or shape of your breast, dimpling or pulling of skin on your breast, any new lumps in the breast or under your arm, breast pain or swelling, discharge of fluid (except breast milk) from the nipple, including blood and dry, flaky red skin around the nipple area.  Source: ICON Cancer Centre
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer. Credit: ICON Cancer Centre

Preventing Breast Cancer

Some factors that increase your risk of breast cancer include:

  • increasing age,
  • family history,
  • inheritance of mutations in the genes BRCA1, BRCA2 and CHEK2
  • Exposure to female hormones (natural and administered)
  • a previous breast cancer diagnosis
  • a past history of certain non-cancerous breast conditions

While you can’t do much about your genetic history, there are lifestyle factors that can impact your chances of getting breast cancer. These include:

  • being overweight
  • not enough physical activity
  • drinking alcohol
  • exposure to radiation

Know Your Breast Cancer Risk

I have written about my own diagnosis of BRCA2 gene mutation, which lead to my bilateral prophylactic mastectomies. It is important to know your risk because the presence of a gene mutation or family history of breast and ovarian cancers, could dramatically increase your risk. My risk before surgery was 60-80% as opposed to the general female population of around 13%. The only effective way I could guarantee that I would not get breast cancer was to have my breast tissue removed. It was a “no brainer” for me – the type of cancer that people with BRCA2 get is often the worst type with a very low survival rate. I did not even want to take that risk.

It has been a life changing decision for me because I had complications – I haemorrhaged post operatively. I’m still recovering 5 months later and have not been able to return to work. It may seem strange to say that I still don’t regret that decision.

I found out this past weekend that my brother has Stage 4 Prostate Cancer, undoubtedly from BRCA2. My mother-in-law has terminal lung cancer and only has a few weeks to live. The high incidence of cancer in my family gives me a lot of anxiety around it. Mum passed away at my age from cancer, and dad died from pancreatic and prostate cancer (BRCA2). My son had a melanoma at 24, and two of my siblings also had melanomas. Some families seem to cop a large burden, and ours is one of them.

Don’t Ignore Symptoms

One of the messages I want to convey is never to ignore symptoms. I have written about this previously in Signs You Need to See a Doctor. Be an advocate for your own health because without it daily life is so much harder.

Please share this article – it may help someone you care for. If you enjoyed this you may like my previous post October is For Breast Cancer Awareness which lists my previous posts about my BRCA2 diagnosis and surgeries.

Note: This post is for general informational and education purposes only. Please refer to my disclaimer.

Shared on Denyse Whelan Blogs Life This Week Linkup

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Amazon Prime Day Sale is on now

Amazon Prime Day Sale is On Now

Amazon Prime Day is on the 13th October this year rather than July. This means you can get exclusive deals right when you need them – before the busiest shopping time of the year. Prime Day is a two day sales event exclusively for Amazon Prime members. There are already early deals online!

This post may include affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure.

The Amazon Prime Day Sale

To access the exclusive sale, you need to be an Amazon Prime member. You can sign up for a one month trial of Amazon Prime for free, and you will only be charged if you don’t cancel your membership within the month. I have a feeling you may want to keep your membership because it has such amazing benefits, including:

  • Free delivery – unlimited shipping on millions of items (this depends on where you live and the item – see the Terms and Conditions on the Amazon site)
  • Award winning movies and TV shows. Watch exclusive content like Amazon originals
  • Over 2 million songs ad-free
  • Original Audio series from Audible

Why I use Amazon Prime

Prior to joining Amazon Prime I was paying nearly $20 for Netflix, $18 for Spotify and $13.99 for Kindle Unlimited per month. Now I can get all that plus more for $12.99 with Amazon Prime! (Note I still pay a small amount for my Kindle books). The movies and TV shows alone are worth joining up. I will be doing most of my Christmas shopping online this year and the vast choice on Amazon Shopping means I won’t have to buy from lots of different outlets.

Watch this Space for Deals

From now until the end of the Amazon Prime Day sale I will be posting deals as they come up. These will be selected for my readers based on what I know you will love. I am looking mainly at health products, fitness gear, walking shoes and clothes, home beauty & spa products, eco friendly items and books. Watch my social media profiles for more.

For example, here are some deals you can buy straight away:

This Kindle e-Reader Bundle is $169.97, down from $189.97. My price as an Amazon Prime member is $119.97. There are thousands of items with similar savings to this.

These walking shoes are a great price even with the shipping cost to Australia.

Such a bargain for a fitness tracker.

Keep watching this space for more deals as I see them. Some deals will only be available for a short time, but undoubtedly you will be able to buy a similar item for a great price if you miss out.

Don’t forget, the main sale is on the 13th and 14th October. Join up for a free 30 day trial with Amazon Prime to access the sale. Watch this page for great deals as I find them.

Amazon Prime’s Australian Sale has already started!

Here are the best deals I could find:

Fitbit Versa 2 $198.00, down from $299.95

Kindle eReader $99, save $40

Set of resistance bands $49.95, save $10

Nike shoes and clothing from $20.32

Sketchers shoes from $43.17 – $95.00

I will keep an eye out for more deals and add them as I see them.

Best Deals on Amazon US site

Up to 40% off all Adidas clothing, footwear and accessories

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is for Breast Cancer Awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  I will be featuring breast cancer awareness in my blogs, as well as hereditary cancer.  My focus on cancer awareness this month is due to a passion for health promotion.  I can speak from experience because I have been a Registered Nurse for 30 years as well as having diagnostic tests and multiple surgeries.  

If you have been following Midlifestylist.com you may be aware that I have BRCA2 gene mutation which increases my risk of breast and other cancers.  Both my parents died of cancer – mum was my age, 54.  My father had BRCA2 as well.  He had prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer, and passed away when he was 84.  His father also died of prostate cancer and his sister died of ovarian cancer.  My son and two siblings had melanoma.   Cancer has therefore impacted my life dramatically. 

This year I had prophylactic surgeries to remove my ovaries and breasts.  That is because my chance of getting cancer was so high.  Unfortunately I had complications from both operations and required 3 extra operations.   I’m still recovering and have not been able to return to work since May.

Raising awareness of breast cancer and BRCA2

I can use my blog as an avenue of passing on my knowledge and experience of the impact of cancer and hereditary cancer risk.  Raising awareness will hopefully spare other families from seeing one of their loved ones suffer from cancer.

My previous blog posts about BRCA2 and cancer are:

The first of every month is the day women should perform a breast self examination.  My next post in this series will show you the correct way to perform the breast self examination, and what symptoms to look for.  

Shared on Life This Week Linkup by Denyse Whelan

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Reduce Your Kitchen Waste – Save Money & Lower Your Carbon Footprint

Reduce Your Kitchen Waste

Easy ways to be less wasteful in the kitchen 

It makes sense to reduce your kitchen waste as it saves money and is better for the environment.   This article will discuss some easy ways that you can be less wasteful in your kitchen, and ways you can lower your carbon footprint using eco-friendly alternatives.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure.

Eco-Friendly Materials

Just by swapping to eco-friendly products you can effectively reduce kitchen waste. Look for items made from the following materials:

  • Hemp
  • Jute
  • Organic Cotton
  • Recycled Glass
  • Bamboo
  • Bioplastic compostable products made from Sugar cane, corn or potato starch 
  • Wood especially teak, or recycled wood
  • Stainless steel or aluminium
  • Recycled rubber
  • Clay
  • Recycled paper
  • Coconut husks/fibre
  • Linen made from flax
  • Cork
  • Soybean fabric
  • Recycled Polyester Plastic (PET)
  • Wool felt, or reclaimed wool

For further information, read this article from Household Wonders.

Reduce Your Kitchen Waste – Only buy what you need

I discussed this in my article How to Eat a Healthy Diet On a Budget.   By only buying what you need, you can reduce food waste.  Use a list when you shop, only bulk buy if you know you will consume it by the expiry date, and shop at wholefood stores where you can buy ingredients by weight. Avoid products with a lot of packaging, for example fruit or vegetables with plastic wrapping and trays. I cringe every time I see the unnecessary packaging in supermarkets. Buying from markets can be far better for the environment and the produce will be much fresher.

Compost your food waste 

You can reduce your carbon footprint by composting your food waste at home.  Home composting saves your waste ending up in landfill.   Landfills are responsible for much of the methane gas, a byproduct of composting organic material.  Landfill gas, a combination of methane and carbon dioxide, is responsible for much of the greenhouse gas emissions.

Food scraps can be composted and used to fertilise your garden and pot plants.For further information about home composting, read my Complete Guide to Composting and Worm Farms.   

Use alternatives to plastic bags and food wraps in the kitchen

By swapping plastic with eco-friendly alternatives you will drastically reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.   Choose compostable bags and food wraps, silicone lids for containers, beeswax wraps, muslin bags, and storage containers made from glass or stainless steel.

I have a set of silicone lids which are a great way to avoid using plastic wrap. They come in different sizes and can stretch over bowls or to save cut fruit. They may be hand washed or put in the top rack of the dishwasher. My set has lasted at least two years.

Silicone Lids.  These may be stretched over bowls, or used as fruit and vegetable savers.  Hand wash or put in the top rack of the dishwasher to clean.  Reuse again and again.  May be placed in the microwave
Silicone Lids. These may be stretched over bowls, or used as fruit and vegetable savers. Hand wash or put in the top rack of the dishwasher to clean. Reuse again and again. May be placed in the microwave

Reusing and re-purposing plastic

A common question among people trying to reduce kitchen waste is:  should I throw out all my plastic bags and containers?  The answer is, absolutely not!  That will only add to the landfill.  Instead, try to reuse them as much as possible before you discard them.  Re-purpose them elsewhere. 

Plastic containers could be used for storage.  Even ones that have lost their lids could be used as dividers in your sock drawer or bathroom.  Reuse plastic until it’s completely unsuitable for further use, and only buy sustainable products from now on.

Use stainless steel, silicone or ceramic alternatives to disposable or plastic

Reusable items include drinking straws, coffee mugs, drink containers with lids, coffee pods and lunch boxes.  You will save money as well as reduce plastic use.

Swap paper towel and cleaning implements to eco-friendly alternatives 

I love the fact that there are now reusable alternatives to so many products.  Everything from cotton or cellulose dishcloths to coconut pot scrubbers are now available. Look for products made from sustainable materials, including the packaging they come in.  The bonus is that they look great, especially the bamboo ones.  

As someone who has multiple allergies and very sensitive skin, it is vital for me to avoid strong chemicals.  Eco-friendly cleaning products made from natural ingredients are better for the environment and less allergenic to my skin.  Look for pure Castile soap products.

Clever Ways to Reduce Kitchen Waste.  Save Money and Lower Your Carbon Footprint.  Alternatives to plastic wrap, cleaning implements made from environmentally friendly materials, produce bags, reusable drinking straws and coffee mugs
Clever Ways to Reduce Kitchen Waste. Save Money and Lower Your Carbon Footprint. Alternatives to plastic wrap, cleaning implements made from environmentally friendly materials, produce bags, reusable drinking straws and coffee mugs

Where to find stockists of eco-friendly goods

We are lucky to be able to purchase a huge range of eco-friendly products in Australia.  Our supermarkets and department stores have increased their range over the years and there are specialty stores as well.  You can find a lot of eco-friendly products online.  The Well Store sells not only environmentally friendly  homeware, but also food and health supplements.  

Because of my allergies I am always on the search for products that are hypo-allergenic and made ethically from natural ingredients.   The Well Store has an extensive range for personal and home use.  I recommend this company to anyone trying to reduce waste in their kitchen, and lower their carbon footprint. 

Reduce your kitchen waste

To sum up, reducing waste in your kitchen is as easy as swapping plastic and disposable products with reusable or compostable products.  You will not only reduce your carbon footprint, ultimately you will save money.  You may purchase many of the products from supermarkets or specialty stores such as The Well Store.

Can you suggest other ways to reduce your kitchen waste? I’d love to hear what ways you are environmentally friendly at home. Leave a comment below.