Healthy Breakfast Options to Start Your Day

Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day

It has often been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  A healthy breakfast can energise you and nourish your body with important nutrients so that you perform at your optimum capacity. 

The morning rush can lead people to choose convenience food which can be a poor choice, or skip breakfast altogether.  I have compiled a list of healthy easy breakfast choices to start your day, so that you perform at your optimum best.

Quick, Easy Breakfast Choices

  • Smoothies (see my favourite recipe below) – 340 kCal
  • Cereal with low fat milk, yoghurt and a banana (see below for the healthiest cereal options) – 300 kCal
  • Smashed avocado on sourdough bread 140 kCal
  • Fruit salad and yoghurt with a sprinkling of granola 250 kCal
  • Wholemeal toast with nut butter and sliced banana – 420 kCal
  • Boiled eggs (may be cooked ahead of time) on wholemeal toast – 270kCal
  • Microwaved porridge satchets – 130 kCal
Blueberry Smoothie Recipe - Blend blueberries, yoghurt, sugar, vanilla extract, reduced fat milk and nutmeg to make a refreshing healthy smoothie
Blueberry Smoothie Recipe (adapted from recipe in Canva)
Blend blueberries, yoghurt, sugar, vanilla extract, reduced fat milk and nutmeg to make a refreshing healthy smoothie

Healthy Breakfast Options that Require Preparation 

  • Poached eggs on wholegrain toast – 356 kCal 
  • Homemade granola or muesli 
  • Healthy feta and spinach muffins (see my favourite recipe below) 167 kCal
  • Rolled oats, skim milk and honey – 242 kCal
  • ½ avocado on a slice of sourdough bread with grilled tomatoes or mushrooms – 258 kCal
  • 2 slices Short cut bacon, grilled with a poached egg, grilled tomato and steamed spinach – 312 kCal
  • Overnight oats (see my favourite recipe below) – 160 kCal
Overnight Oats Recipe
Combine oats, shredded coconut, dried fruit and nuts, oat bran, milk powder, salt, cinnamon, Greek yoghurt and water.  
Leave overnight.  Make in batches, stores well in pantry
Overnight Oats Recipe
Combine oats, shredded coconut, dried fruit and nuts, oat bran, milk powder, salt, cinnamon, Greek yoghurt and water.
Leave overnight. Make in batches, stores well in pantry

Cooked Breakfast Options 

Many people prefer to start their day with a cooked breakfast but often choose fried bacon and eggs over healthy alternatives. Your serving of bacon and eggs can be made healthier by:

  • Poaching the eggs
  • Using short cut bacon
  • Use a non-stick frypan with a spray of olive oil
  • Drain the bacon by placing it on a paper towel before serving
  • Add cooked vegetables to the plate – tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms are popular choices
Spinach and feta egg muffin recipe
Whisk egg, milk and salt and pepper.  Pour over baby spinach and feta cheese.  Top with grated cheese and bake. Delicious hot or cold
Spinach and feta egg muffin recipe
Whisk egg, milk and salt and pepper. Pour over baby spinach and feta cheese. Top with grated cheese and bake. Delicious hot or cold

Healthy Cereal Choices

Cereal is a popular choice, but many commercial cereals are not healthy, because they are high in sugar and saturated fat.  The unhealthiest cereals contain up to 30g sugar per 100g cereal, or 3 teaspoons sugar per serve.  They may be sabotaging your weight loss goals on a daily basis.  Read more in this article by dietician Claudia Cramer.

A healthy cereal provides nutrients and leaves you feeling full for longer.  It is an excellent source of wholegrains, antioxidants and gut friendly fibre.  Many breakfast cereals are fortified with other ingredients such as B group vitamins.  Eaten with dairy products such as milk and yoghurt, they will also supply much of your daily calcium needs.

Choose cereal by reading the food label.  Look for cereals with the following:

  • Low in sugar – less than 10g per 100g cereal.  Watch for hidden sugars which may be listed as fructose, maltose, honey, fruit juice concentrate, corn syrup, caramel or invert sugar, dried fruit
  • High in fibre – >10g per 100g.  Fibre is gut friendly and fills you up, leaving you satisfied for longer
  • 50% Wholegrains
  • A high health star rating
  • Low in saturated fat – <3g per 100g

The healthiest cereals in Australia are:

  • Barley + Freedom Foods
  • All Bran Kelloggs
  • Simply Fibre Muesli Food for Health
  • Active Balance Buckwheat & Quinoa Freedom Foods
  • 5 Grain & Seed Granola Carmans
  • Plus Fibre Uncle Toby’s
  • Shredded Wheat Uncle Toby’s
  • Organic Honey Roasted Almond Bircher Muesli Macro
  • Wholegrain Mini Bites Be Natural
  • Great Start 5 Grains & Seeds Woolworths
  • Gourmet Porridge Carmans
  • Guardian Kelloggs
  • 10+ Natural Muesli Sunsol

Your morning cereal should be served with protein such as Greek yoghurt to provide a healthy start to the day.  An alternative to cereal are my chocolate chia pots, which combine chia wholegrains with cacao and almond milk for a sweet healthy treat.

Choose healthy breakfast cereal - low in sugar and saturated fat, high in fibre (50% wholegrains) and high in health star rating
Choose healthy breakfast cereal – low in sugar and saturated fat, high in fibre (50% wholegrains) and
high in health star rating


Blueberry Smoothie Recipe

Blueberry Smoothie Recipe

A healthy smoothie to start your day
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Breakfast, smoothie
Cuisine Smoothie
Servings 1
Calories 340 kcal


  • Blender


  • 1 cup blueberries fresh or frozen
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar Optional. May use alternative sweetener if desired
  • 1 container plain yoghurt 227g or 8 oz
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup 2% reduced fat milk Use dairy free alternatives if vegetarian or vegan
  • teaspoon ground nutmeg


  • Blend the blueberries, yoghurt, milk, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg in a blender until frothy
  • Scrape down the sides of the blender with a spatula occasionally
  • Serve immediately


340kCal per serve.  Sugar may be omitted.
Blueberry Smoothie Recipe
A healthy smoothie recipe to start your day
Keyword Breakfast, Easy, Healthy, Smoothie
Overnight Oats Recipe

Overnight Oats Recipe

Christina Henry
A healthy overnight oats recipe to start your day. May be made in batches.
Prep Time 10 mins
Resting time in refridgerator 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 10 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Healthy
Servings 1
Calories 235 kcal


  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Air tight containers or mason jars


  • cup instant oats
  • 2 teaspoons oat bran
  • 2 teaspoons milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar optional
  • teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons dried fruit or nuts of your choice
  • ¼ cup Greek yoghurt
  • ½ cup cold water


  • Mix all the dry ingredients well
  • Place in a mason jar or other container with lid until you’re ready to use
  • Mix in water and yoghurt. Shake jar/container
  • Leave in refrigerator overnight


Multiply quantities to make a batch (the quantities above are for one serve)
I usually make one week’s worth at a time.  The dry ingredients are approx. 160kCal,  mixed with yoghurt and water the total is 235kCal.
Overnight Oats Recipe
A healthy breakfast to start your day. This overnight oats recipe may be made in batches and stored in the pantry until needed. Mix with yogurt and water and leave overnight in the refrigerator.
Keyword Breakfast, Easy, Healthy
Spinach and Feta Egg Muffin Recipe

Spinach and Feta Egg Muffin Recipe

Christina Henry
A healthy muffin recipe that may be eaten for breakfast or lunch. Serve hot or cold. Multiply the ingredients depending on how many muffins you need. The ingredients listed are for one muffin. Keeps in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Breakfast, Lunch
Cuisine Healthy
Servings 1
Calories 167 kcal


  • Whisk
  • Muffin Tin
  • Oven


  • 1 egg
  • 20 g feta cheese crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon shredded tasty cheese
  • ¼ cup baby spinach Wilted in microwave or boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Spray a muffin tin with oil spray
  • Heat oven to 220 degree celsius
  • Whisk egg, milk, salt and pepper
  • Place feta and spinach in a muffin tin (it’s easier if the spinach has been wilted in boiling water and drained well)
  • Pour egg mixture over feta and spinach
  • Sprinkle shredded cheese on top
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot or cold


Spinach and Feta Egg Muffin Recipe
A healthy recipe for Spinach and Feta Egg Muffins. May be eaten hot or cold, for breakfast or lunch.
Multiply ingredients and make in batches. The quantities above are for one muffin (I usually make 4 – 6 at a time)
I also eat these at lunch time with a salad
Keyword Breakfast, Easy, Healthy, Lunch, Spinach and Feta Egg Muffins

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Know Your Family and Personal Health History

Know Your Family and Personal Medical History

This post is for general informational and educational purposes only. Please refer to the Disclaimer. It is recommended that you seek advice from your medical practitioner if you require specific medical advice.

Knowing Your Medical History is Essential

It is important to keep a track of your health history, especially your family’s history of diseases and other health issues. Your family’s medical history can reveal a pattern of certain diseases which may indicate whether there is a familial risk for developing a medical condition. Common diseases that can crop up in families are:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease – heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes
  • Kidney disorders
  • Diabetes and other endocrine diseases
  • Asthma
  • Genetic disorders such as haemophilia and Down syndrome
  • Some types of mental illness
  • Osteoporosis
  • Huntingtons disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Albinism

Some diseases are caused by mutations in a gene, while others are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors such as diet, exposure to toxins, skin damage by exposure to UV light, and substance abuse. Further information is available from Health Direct at this link.

It is important to know your family's health history because it may show an inherited disease.  This post includes a printable medical history form to record your personal and family health.
It is important to know your family’s health history because it may show an inherited disease. This post includes a printable medical history form to record your personal and family health.

My Own Family Medical History

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Sue Loncaric for her series Women Living Well Over 50. One of the subjects we discussed was the importance of knowing your family and personal medical history. I shared my own family history of cancer, and how it lead me to have genetic testing to diagnose me with BRCA2 gene mutation which puts me in a high risk for certain cancers.

My family also has a high risk of cardiovascular disease and I have a congenital heart defect which was inherited from my father. Knowing my risk meant that I could have increased surveillance and appropriate treatment at an earlier stage, before I developed cancer or cardiac issues.

Knowing your family history can guide your doctor to investigate and treat you for medical conditions in their early stages or even prevent them before they occur. For example, because I have BRCA2 I had my ovaries and breasts removed before I developed cancer. I also started on cholesterol reducing medications before I developed plaque which could have lead to blocked arteries (arteriosclerosis).

My family has a high risk for melanoma so I have taken my sons for yearly skin checks since they were young. My son developed a melanoma at 24, but it was diagnosed at stage 1 and he is now cured. This is due to the regular check-ups and knowing our family history. We both now have 6 monthly skin checks.

Knowing your family health history is important because it could highlight hereditary medical conditions or risk of disease. It can guide doctors to investigate symptoms further and even guide them towards choosing one form of treatment over another. Drawing up a family tree may help to pinpoint certain diseases in the family. Using my own family as an example, your family tree may look like this:

Example of a family tree showing important health history.  BRCA2 gene mutation has been passed down to two generations.  It has an increased risk of breast, ovarian, pancreatic and prostate cancer and may also cause an increased risk of melanoma and other cancersMy Family Tree showing Our Health History

Keeping track of your personal health history is also important. I write everything down and update my records to keep a track of medications, allergies, illnesses and operations, vaccinations and the contact details of the medical practitioners who treat me.

The file is updated regularly and I carry a copy in my handbag in the event of a medical emergency. I cannot count the number of times I have had to refer to it. Keeping track of allergies, immunisations, medications and what procedures you have had done, is easy with this Personal and Medical Family History form.

Personal and Family Medical History

I have developed a useful printable personal and family medical history form that you may use. Print a separate copy for each member of the family and keep it somewhere safe. There is a printable version at the end of the post:


Personal Medical Information


Date of Birth 

Place Born


Next of Kin


Contact No. Or Address

Medicare No.

Medical Insurance Policy: 

Provider:                        Card/Policy No.


Social Security/DVA No.





Medical Conditions 

Medical ConditionDate Diagnosed

Surgical Procedures 




Major Illnesses


General Practitioner 




Medical Specialist




Surgical Specialist 




Medical Specialist 




Surgical Specialist 




Additional Notes

Family Medical History


Medical conditions 

If deceased – Age & Cause


Medical conditions 

If deceased – Age & cause


Medical conditions 

If deceased  – Age & Cause


Medical Conditions 

If deceased – Age & Cause 


Paternal Grandfather – Medical Conditions 

If deceased  – Age & Cause

Paternal Grandmother – Medical Conditions 

If deceased  – Age & Cause 

Maternal Grandfather  – Medical Conditions 

If deceased  – Age & Cause 

Maternal Grandmother  – Medical Conditions 

If deceased  – Age & Cause 


Significant Medical Conditions

If deceased  – Age & Cause

Write significant hereditary medical conditions on this family tree

Printable Family and Personal Medical History Form

Download and print as many copies as you like. You will need one for each member of the family.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like to read:

Signs You Need to See a Doctor

Being a Patient in the Midst of a Pandemic

Beating BRCA2 – How it Has Affected my Life

Please share this article as it may help someone else.

2 thoughts on “Know Your Family and Personal Medical History”

  1. katey26 says: July 29, 2020 at 10:03 am Edit The form is a great idea Like Reply
    1. Christina Henry says: July 29, 2020 at 7:23 pm Edit Thankyou Katey. I’m glad you like it Liked by 1 person Reply
  2. Jo says: July 29, 2020 at 10:06 am Edit This is a fabulous resource Christine. Two of my grandparents were heavy smokers and died of lung cancer (paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother – at 94), my maternal grandfather passed from complications of a routine operation and my paternal grandmother died of old age (at 98). My mother (78) is as healthy and fit as a horse, but my father (82) has had prostate cancer, non TB lung disease and asthma. Number 6 in 8 kids he lost his eldest brother at 92, but all others are living. All of Mum’s siblings are still living. My husband, however, was adopted and we know nothing at all of his family history. You have definitely got me thinking. #MLSTL Liked by 1 person Reply
    1. Christina Henry says: July 29, 2020 at 7:28 pm Edit Hi Jo, somehow I think you will have a long life! It must be difficult for your husband at times, not knowing his family history. I had my DNA tested through and found a new first cousin who was adopted. That’s one way your husband could find family if he ever wanted to know. Regards Christina Liked by 1 person Reply
      1. Jo says: July 31, 2020 at 7:56 am Edit Yes, we’ve done the DNA testing, but the closest matches we got were 3rd/4th cousins. We’ve also now got a birth certificate so the next step is to see if we can getthe records unlocked (Scotland). Liked by 1 person
      2. Christina Henry says: July 31, 2020 at 12:31 pm Edit Oh wow! Good luck with it. Liked by 1 person
  3. leannelc says: July 29, 2020 at 7:38 pm Edit Hi Christine – I take my family’s medical history for granted and keep forgetting about the diseases etc that took some of them early. My father died in his early 70’s but that was largely from poor lifestyle choices, however you’ve reminded me of the heart issues in my mother’s side of the family that I need to keep in mind as I get older. I’m grateful that overall we’re a pretty healthy bunch.
    #MLSTL Liked by you Reply
    1. midlifestylist says: July 30, 2020 at 2:45 pm Edit Hi Leanne, I unfortunately inherited some dodgy genes from my dad, so I envy you having a healthy family. Luckily all the creativity we inherited came from my parents so you take the good with the bad. Some people prefer to put their head in the sand with health issues but I think it’s better to keep family history in mind and get on to it quickly if anything worries you. Thank you for commenting, regards Christina Like Reply
  4. Debbie says: July 29, 2020 at 9:29 pm Edit Hi Christina, this is a wonderful resource and your reasons behind it are really informative. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas with us. We are looking at issues with my grandson and family backgrounds are proving required information. Very timely to read your post #mlstl Liked by you Reply
    1. midlifestylist says: July 30, 2020 at 2:47 pm Edit Hi Debbie, I’m so glad you found it useful. I really hope it helps with your grandson. Thank you so much for your feedback, regards Christina Liked by 1 person Reply
  5. Helen says: July 30, 2020 at 12:34 am Edit This is so important! I come from a family that does not talk about family illnesses and It too a long time to draw the information out! It also helped remove some of the shame I was feeling when I realized that some of my medical conditions were not my fault, but actually due to family history. Like Reply
    1. midlifestylist says: July 30, 2020 at 2:38 pm Edit Hi Helen, yes I agree. The time for sweeping things under a rug is long gone. I still have family who choose to put their head in the sand where it comes to their health and I definitely disagree with that approach. It’s better to avoid illnesses or treat them in the early stages. Thank you so much for commenting, regards Christina Like Reply
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Gift Guide for The Older Gentleman In Your Life

Gift guide for Father's Day

How to Buy Gifts for Your Grandfather and Father

I have read that some people are already shopping for Christmas presents! That is incredibly organised, but with shopping still not the experience we are used to due to social distancing, it is understandable that people want to get their shopping done early, and online. We have Father’s Day coming up in September in Australia so I thought I’d make a list of gifts that would be suitable for the older gentleman (father/grandfather) in your life. They are notoriously hard to buy for, because they either have everything or are stuck in a time-warp and not keen to try new gadgets or technology. But I have some ideas that might hit the spot, having shopped for my father, father-in-law, brothers and husband who all fit the description.

When Choosing Gifts for Older Men, keep in mind: 1. their comfort, 2. their safety, 3. convenience, and 4. let it be an expression of your love for them
When Choosing Gifts for Older Men, keep in mind: 1. their comfort, 2. their safety, 3. convenience, and 4. let it be an expression of your love for them

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

Choose gifts for older men with the following in mind: comfort, safety, convenience and love

As my father and father-in-law have aged, their mobility and dexterity have decreased. Gifts that can help them with tasks like reaching or picking things up, removing lids etc. would be much appreciated. Try these ideas:

  • Long handled brush
  • long handled shoehorn
  • jar opener
  • grabber
  • long-handled loofah

With age, many people suffer back pain and poor circulation. Add some comfort to their days with the following:

  • Lumbar support pillow
  • Wheat hot pack – please avoid buying if he has problems with his memory or sensation. Leaving heat wheat packs on for long periods, heating them too high or placing them on an area of the body with reduced sensation can lead to serious burns. Use with caution
  • Throw rug
  • Tray table
  • Portable fan, heater or air conditioner – ensure they have a safety cut-off switch if they are knocked over. Avoid heaters with a naked flame or gas fuel.
  • Foot stool

The safety of your older loved one is important, so make sure you look at the design of slippers and shoes. They should be non-slip and fit snugly to their feet so that trips and slips are avoided. Try these:

  • Non-slip slippers
  • Non-slip socks
Gift Guide for Older Men - 1. non-slip socks 2. long handled loofah 3. heat pack 4. tray table 5. dexterity gadgets 6. magazines and puzzle books 7. weather station 8. Kindle eReader 9. lumbar support pillow
Gift Guide for Older Men – 1. non-slip socks 2. long handled loofah 3. heat pack 4. tray table 5. dexterity gadgets 6. magazines and puzzle books 7. weather station 8. Kindle eReader 9. lumbar support pillow

As my parents and parents-in-law have aged, they spend more time at home. In order to keep their mind active, and improve their quality of life, the following gifts would be appreciated:

  • Kindle e-reader loaded with his favourite books
  • Subscription to their favourite magazine or newspaper
  • Weather station – for his obsession with the weather
  • BBQ set (long handled) and gourmet sauces
  • Valet stand to keep all their necessities in one place
  • Puzzle books to keep his mind young
  • Keyring locator so he never loses his keys again.

What Not to Buy For Older Men

After many years of buying presents for older men, I would recommend that you avoid buying the following:

  • T-shirts and shirts. They usually don’t fit well, and are not to your loved one’s liking. For example, they may only wear crew neck, a certain colour or style, or spend their days wearing old t-shirts and not the beautiful button-up dress shirt you lovingly chose for them. Most shirts end up in the back of the wardrobe or as oil rags.
  • Shoes or slippers that are poor fitting or not safe e.g. scuffs. Slippers and scuffs are the cause of many falls which is detrimental to their health – elderly men don’t bounce, they break.
  • Anything to do with their hobbies, or a hobby that you think would be a good idea for them to try. For example the men in my family all love fishing and gardening but they have very specific requirements when it comes to equipment for their hobby. Likewise tool organisation – I bought my husband a work bench and tool organisation system and I have never seen him use it. The shed still looks a mess.
  • Lotto tickets or gift cards. One of my relatives buys these for every birthday, Christmas etc. as gifts – I personally think it’s a cop-out with very little thought put into it. The one actual present she bought us – a beautiful soft baby blue blanket – is memorable and very special.
  • Alcohol – This falls into the same category as lotto tickets. Alcohol is neither special nor memorable and why feed a bad habit?!
  • A coffee mug – he will still drink out of his coffee stained, chipped mug because it’s his favourite one.
  • Anything that is too technical, for example a smart phone. My in-laws both went back to their old mobile phones because they couldn’t get used to a smart phone.

I hope you can find something suitable from my gift guide for older men – feel free to comment if it has helped you choose a gift, or if you can suggest any other gifts that he would like. You may also like to read Gifts that Inspire a Healthy Lifestyle.

Gift Ideas for Father's Day - how to buy gifts for older men.  A complete guide to selecting the best gifts with his comfort, convenience and safety in mind.
Gift Ideas for Father’s Day – how to buy gifts for older men. A complete guide to selecting the best gifts with his comfort, convenience and safety in mind.
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10 Ways To Improve Your Wellbeing

10 Ways to Improve Your Wellbeing

Make a commitment to yourself to get back on track with your healthy lifestyle. The upheaval in all our lives with restrictions, lock-downs and changes to our daily routines has impacted our personal health. It is understandable that people have let their diet, exercise and self care routines go by the wayside, but now that travel restrictions and lock-downs are being relaxed in many areas we should be getting back on track in our personal lives as well. It doesn’t matter how old you are, the following ways will improve your well-being:

10 Ways to Improve Your Well-being

  1. Exercise at least 30 minutes per day preferably in the fresh air
  2. Drink at least 1 litre of water per day
  3. Eat the rainbow – include a healthy balanced diet to nourish your body
  4. Measure your waist and track it as it is a more accurate indicator of our health than what the scales say
  5. Get your chill on – use mindfulness, meditation or listen to music
  6. Listen to inspiring people – podcasts, vloggers or YouTube. If you prefer, read inspiring books
  7. Make yourself number 1 – prioritise your self-care
  8. Limit alcohol and fast food
  9. Declutter your life by dropping bad habits, belongings and relationships that hold you back
  10. Reach out to your loved ones. Don’t be isolated even if you can’t see them in person. Use the telephone, or video chat with them

The Global Pandemic has Impacted our Well-being

The global pandemic has impacted our lives in many ways. My dear friend John lost his wife this morning after a long illness – she was only 55. John is like a brother to me, I have known him my whole life. He was like a son to my father which was an amazing connection to have. My father lived in New Zealand while his children lived in Australia, so having John there was great. He grieves dad just as we do. He has been there for our family through the loss of mum, my sister and my dad and now, when he needs our support, we can’t be there for him due to travel restrictions. It breaks my heart. There are many families with stories like this, and it’s no wonder our well-being is being undermined.

On another note, I have been at home recovering from my bilateral mastectomies for over two months. I will soon start back at work on light duties which I’m looking forward to. It’s been a very slow recovery. I will be very tired at first and I will have less time to write, so may not be posting consistently for a while.

10 Ways to Improve Your Wellbeing

The Impact This Year Has Had on my Wellbeing

Editor’s Update: This post was originally published at the end of July 2020. In the following weeks I have moved my website Midlifestylist to another platform, and in the process “lost” six blog posts. My website is going through a total revamp as I learn the new platform.

An update on my personal life – I have not returned to work as my employer will only allow me to work if I am completely 100% back to full health. It is almost three months since my bilateral mastectomies and I still have some swelling. Moderate exercise and chores causes pain and more swelling so I’m not up to returning to my busy job as a nurse. This is tough for me because I’m so used to working and nursing is not only my role, it is part of my identity. Everyone keeps telling me to be patient and allow healing to happen, and I’m being very well supported to do that by my family and friends.

Some days I feel very emotional – my body has been through a lot this year (four surgeries). Queensland has once again closed its borders so I’m still cut off from my family. The pandemic continues to cause major problems for all of us and this feels like the longest winter I’ve ever had. I’m mindful of the fact that we have been very lucky to have escaped the high numbers of Coronavirus statistics that other states and countries have had.

Striving to Improve my Well-being

The ten steps I wrote at the beginning of this article have proven to be lifesavers. Having that daily walk, eating a healthy diet and taking time for self care have boosted my morale. Reaching out to loved ones has improved my well-being immensely. Relaxing with music, completing jigsaws, watching some great movies and series, and experimented with cooking different recipes have all helped to while away the days. Healing is a slow process but I feel like I’m healing my mind and spirit as well as my body.

Stay well everyone.

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My YouTube Debut – An Interview for Women Living Well Over 50

Staying Positive Despite the Setbacks in Life

I was interviewed by Sue Loncaric for her new YouTube channel on Women Living Well Over 50. This being the first time I’ve ever done a live interview, I wasn’t sure how I’d go. But Sue put me completely at ease and the conversation flowed freely! I had some notes written down but didn’t have to consult them once.

We talked about my recent surgery, my history of genetic and other health conditions, making health a priority and knowing your family’s health history, and how I lost weight despite having health issues. Take a look at the transcript of the interview on Sue’s website and her YouTube Channel, the links are as follows:

Be sure to check out Sue’s website, it’s an absolute wealth of information for living a healthy lifestyle in your midlife. Sue lives on the Gold Coast as well. She’s an inspiration to me, both in the blogging world and in what she strives for by living an active lifestyle and achieving her goals. I’d love to hear if you enjoyed watching my YouTube debut!

You can read more about my weight loss and other health issues I have overcome in the following posts:

My Weight Loss Journey

BRCA2 – How it has Affected my Life

Living the Healthiest Version of your Life

Interview for Women Living Well Over 50 - Staying Positive Despite the Setbacks in Life
Interview for Women Living Well Over 50 – Staying Positive Despite the Setbacks in Life

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What You Need to Know Before You Start Walking for Your Health

Walking for Health - What You Need to Know

Please note, this article is for informational purposes only – see my disclaimer here. It is aimed at people who would like to start walking for exercise, especially those who have other health problems that may hold them back from starting to walk for their health.

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

The benefits of walking for health

Walking has many health benefits including increased cardiovascular fitness, improved weight control and increasing your life span. This guide tells you all you need to know before you start walking for health. Walking has been shown to lead to sustained weight loss, especially if you walk regularly. It is the only exercise I do, and I lost over 17kg last year and have kept it off. If you incorporate walking in to your healthy lifestyle, along with other choices of a well balanced diet, stopping smoking, minimal alcohol and plenty of sleep, you will derive multiple benefits including reduced stress, weight control and improved tolerance to illness. Just 30 minutes brisk walking per day has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes and extend your lifespan.

Start walking for health - even if you have health issues
You can start walking for your health even if you have health problems, under the supervision of health professionals trained in this field.

Why you need to see a doctor before you start a walking program

Any walking plan should begin with a trip to your GP. If you have other health issues such as heart disease, arthritis in your joints or chronic back pain, you will need to have an individualised program under the supervision of a physiotherapist or other trained specialist in this field. This is especially relevant if you haven’t exercised for a long time or have a significant amount of weight to lose. Starting off slowly and building up your tolerance will mean that you have less issues such as strained muscles.

I don’t want to put you off altogether, however, there are some precautions to be aware of. If you experience any symptoms such as palpitations, severe shortness of breath or chest pain, seek medical attention straight away. Any muscle aches and pains can be treated by a cold pack, resting and elevating the affected leg, however anything more serious should be examined by a medical professional. Apart from these precautions, there is relatively very little that prevents you from starting to walk for your health. Walking is the best exercise for anyone with other health issues because it is less stress on your body.

Why I started walking for health

10 years ago I was relatively fit. I went to the gym at least three times a week and swam 1 km on the other days. I trained for triathlons and competed in two. My stamina was deteriorating, but I just thought I needed to train harder. The harder I trained, the worse my exercise tolerance became, until one summer evening when I collapsed in a heap at boot camp. My heart was racing and palpitating, and I was gasping for breath. I had developed a cough as well which I thought was just a cold or flu. After a trip to my GP, he referred me to have a cardiac echo done. I thought that was a bit over the top: it couldn’t possibly be anything cardiac.

The cardiac echo showed I have an atrial septal defect, which I’ve had since birth (another genetic condition thanks to my dad’s mother who had the same thing). To be diagnosed at 43 was a huge shock to me, but it explained why my symptoms had got worse with increased exercise. I have two holes in my heart, plus an aneurysm in the wall between the top chambers (atrium). This allows unfiltered blood to circulate into my blood system, and the symptoms include palpitations, migraines and shortness of breath. I manage it by minimising the work my heart does – no high intensity exercise, and medications to stop the palpitations and lower my blood pressure.

Walking is the only exercise I do now. I swim in the summer but not as much as I used to, and I do some yoga although I’m out of practice now. Contrary to what one might believe, I don’t miss the heavy schedule of training that I used to do. I was often nursing injuries and my life revolved around training which left little time for anything else. My running used to be on a treadmill and I rarely walked in the fresh air. I had a lot of migraines, not surprising really.

Now I walk my dog every day and it is the best part of the day. I enjoy the fresh air and feel completely stress free when I’m walking. I’m telling you this story as a word of caution as to why any symptoms should be checked out by your doctor. It may be something completely out of the blue like mine. You always need to be checked by your doctor prior to undertaking any exercise program.

How to start walking for your health A complete guide to walking for health. How to start walking for health - all the precautions you need to know, and the essential equipment. Walking is a great way to stay healthy at any age, even when you have health problems.
A complete guide to walking for health. How to start walking for health – all the precautions you need to know, and the essential equipment. Walking is a great way to stay healthy at any age, even when you have health problems.

What you need for walking:

You can walk almost anywhere, in any weather (with adequate clothing for extreme temperatures and rain or sun), and it costs very little to get started. This is what you will need:

Shoes – Good shoes are a must as they take all the impact and need to support your feet so that you don’t get strains in your leg muscles. My favourites are Asics and Sketchers Go Walk. In the summer a good pair of sandals such as Planet Shoes (with arch support) may be more comfortable. I know a lot of people wear Birkenstocks but I’ve never tried them so I can’t rate how they are.

Hat – I always wear a cap but a wide brimmed hat is better for sun protection. Sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Sunscreen – SPF 50+ is the best. Neutrogena make a great spray-on one called Beach Defence. I bought a fantastic one in Japan by Biore – if you can buy it I recommend it as it is light, and goes on like moisturiser without leaving a greasy film on your skin. In Australia, Cancer Council make the best range of sunscreens and skin protection.

Clothing – walking doesn’t require any special clothing, but comfortable loose fitting clothes will be better. I wear shorts or long pants with pockets so that I can carry keys, phone, dog poo bags and hand sanitiser, leaving my hands free for the dog leash and a water bottle. You may prefer leggings which are definitely more comfortable. T-shirt and light sweatshirt are usually enough, and a lightweight jacket on rainy days.

Collage of What You Need for Walking - 1 drink bottle, 2 shoes, 3 hat, 4 exercise tracker, 5 sunscreen, 6 comfortable clothing
What You Need for Walking – 1 drink bottle 2 shoes 3 hat 4 fitbit 5 sunscreen 6 comfortable clothes

Optional – a dog, preferably a border collie! Even when you don’t feel like walking, they always do, and their pleading eyes will motivate you even on your laziest days. Being out in the fresh air is the best remedy for a glum mood, and my dog is a social butterfly so I get to meet all the other dog walkers even when I’m feeling antisocial so it helps take my mind off things. Seeing how happy he is lightens my mood so much and it definitely is the highlight of my day.

My dog Banjo and I walk daily for health.
My dog Banjo and I walk daily for health.

Fitbit or other fitness tracker – to record your steps for the day, pulse rate, weight, calorie intake and sleep. I am in challenges with other people on Fitbit which keeps me motivated.

In the above photo I’m wearing my Asics shoes, Uniclo pants (Ultra Stretch Leggings), Uniclo long sleeved shirt (Ribbed Cotton Crew Neck) and Katies jacket.

Other ways to increase your step count

The optimum number of steps per day is 10000. If you don’t have the time to take a 30 minute to one hour walk every day, you can increase your step count by doing the following:

  • Park further away
  • If you sit at a desk all day, set a reminder on your phone to get up and move every hour. My fitbit buzzes to remind me to take 250 steps every hour during the day
  • Walk in your lunch break
  • If you meet a friend regularly for coffee, get the coffee to takeaway and have a walk while you drink it
  • Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier and go for a quick walk in the morning
  • If the weather is bad, go to your local shopping centre and walk around there
  • Take the stairs at work. Walking up stairs burns calories 2-3 times faster than walking on level ground
  • Invest in a treadmill or join a gym so that you can use theirs

By gradually increasing the amount I walk, and by taking the stairs at work, I have increased my stamina so much that when I was in Japan a couple of years ago we used walking as our primary means of transport (apart from the train), and we managed to climb a mountain! I was so happy that my fitness had allowed me to see something that was only accessible by walking and climbing. Some days we walked up to 14km while we were there.

I hope I have inspired you to start your own walking program. You may like to read these other articles:

Slow and steady wins the race – how I lost weight by walking

How to make goals that stick – how to set realistic goals that you will achieve and stick with

Living the healthiest version of your life – even if you have health issues, you can still live the healthiest version of yourself

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Journalling as a Self Care Activity

Journalling as a Self Care Activity

How Journalling can help you deal with emotions

Journalling may be used as part of your daily self care routine. I have always found journalling to be a very positive way of channeling my emotions into something positive. Writing has always been my preferred form of self expression, ever since I was a teenager. I read my journal from when I was a 17 year old and that was an eye-opener! So much teen-aged angst.

My most productive period of journalling was when I was going through my divorce. I filled whole journals because the emotions I was feeling were often so extreme, and changing day to day, that I didn’t feel like I could share them with other people. A divorce is similar to losing a loved one – it is a type of grieving and it is a type of loss. My journalling helped during my times of loss of my mother, sister and father as well. My confidantes weren’t always available, and therapists weren’t much good at 11pm when I needed them!

Journalling can help with insomnia

I suffer extreme insomnia and can lie awake for hours with my anxious mind working overtime. Journalling is the best way I have of stopping those constant cogs rotating in my brain. As a self care activity, it has obvious advantages – it’s free, it’s easy to do, and you can do it almost anywhere. There are even apps for your phone to record your thoughts.

Self Care Journal Prompts
Journal Prompts to be used as a self care activity

Journalling as a self care activity is a constructive way to deal with your emotions. Just writing them down can clarify those emotions for you and help you to understand how you really feel. Often our emotions are so confusing that it’s hard to put a finger on what it actually is that we’re experiencing. Journalling can help you to frame those thoughts and make sense out of them.

Journal prompts are a great way to start you off when you are journalling. You may just need one journal prompt, or you may want to write something about all of them. I have put together a list of the journal prompts that I find most helpful.

What didn’t go well today?

Start with this if you have had a bad day. Journalling can help to identify the emotion and channel it into a positive activity. Bottling up feelings or using vices like alcohol and drugs to cope, are not positive ways to deal with emotions. They may offer a temporary fix, but the feelings will still be there

What emotion am I feeling? Anger, sadness, guilt, grief, disappointment

Feel the emotion. Write down everything you are feeling. It may help to write a letter to the person you are angry at – not to give to them of course. Some people burn the letter as a way of symbolic release of those emotions, and coming to terms with feelings about that person.

If you still are struggling to cope with extreme emotions after a few weeks, seek help. If you are feeling like self harm or suicide is the only answer, please seek immediate help

What am I Grateful For?

Writing a gratitude list can help us to become more optimistic over time. There is always something to be grateful for, even when things seem really grim. Some suggestions may be:

  • Having a nice meal
  • My job
  • Our home
  • My family
  • Something I am good at
  • The sunshine
  • Rain for my garden
  • My health
  • I am safe and secure

What Have I done for Myself Today?

My recent blog, Prioritising Self Care had some suggestions on self care activities. Self care activities can be small things we do for ourselves like take a walk, have a bath, listen to some uplifting music, read a book or get a professional massage. If you realise you’ve gone the whole day without doing a self care activity, can you finish the day off by doing something? If not, can you start tomorrow off by doing something for yourself?

What were the Good Things I Noticed Today?

This is similar to What am I Grateful For, but it’s all the little things that made you smile. Think of simple things like coffee, sunshine, nice perfume, your pet doing something funny, an uplifting conversation, an enjoyable movie. Today while I was walking my dog I smelt an exquisite perfume – there must have been a tree in bloom because it was very strong but the tree was hidden from view. It’s moments like this that make you smile. The first whiff of coffee brewing always makes my morning routine go well.

When I first had a smart phone I loved the fact that I had a portable camera with me all the time. I loved taking photos of everyday things like birds on a wire, a lovely flower or cloud formations. I had a new appreciation for the beauty around me in the everyday things we take for granted. Try doing this as a simple exercise in boosting your morale.

What Am I Most Looking Forward To?

This year has shown us that life is not about superficial things like prestige and possessions. With restrictions to our activities and losing the freedoms we once took for granted, society has realised that the most important things are our loved ones and our health. Not being able to move around freely has taken its toll. Without a doubt, we are all looking forward to something, and hoping this pandemic gets under control soon so that we can go back to normal life.

Write down what you are most looking forward to.

  • When do I think it will happen?
  • What can I do to aim towards that?
  • If I can’t do it now, is there an alternative thing I can do? (for example, if it’s seeing my family interstate, can I organise a Zoom meeting? If it’s going to the gym, can I do a class online?

Journal Prompts Printable List

I have created a printable list of the journal prompts that you may use to record your journalling. Feel free to use it.


  • Click “Download”
  • Either download to your computer files, or print (top right hand corner)
  • Print as many copies as you like
Self Care Journal Prompts - this free printable may be used as part of your daily self care routine. Journalling can help you to cope with life's stressors by increasing your wellbeing.
this free printable may be used as part of your daily self care routine. Journalling can help you to cope with life’s stressors by increasing your wellbeing.

I hope you find these journal prompts useful. Please comment and let me know of any other journal prompts that you use.

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Please note: I am not a registered mental health practitioner. The information provided in this article is for general informational and educational purposes only and should not replace information provided by your own mental health practitioner. Please refer to my Disclaimer

Australian Mental Health Services
Phone and web contact details for Australian Mental Health Services

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Don’t try and Do It Alone

Updated post on getting professional and personal help when you are starting any healthy lifestyle changes.

Getting support with healthy lifestyle choices

When starting out on your journey of self improvement, whether it is for weight loss, improving fitness, learning to cook or another healthy lifestyle choice, reach out for the support of others. The reason why I was able to succeed in losing 17kg this time as apposed to all the other times I’ve tried, is because I had support. Firstly, I was part of a program that matched me up with a coach. I was able to choose out of a dietician or an exercise coach, and I chose a dietician. Secondly, my brother was also on a journey to lose weight and we have supported each other through this.

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Prioritising Self Care

Prioritising Self Care Builds Resilience

Many people have remarked on how well I’m coping with all the setbacks I’ve faced in my life, especially this year. Developing resilience doesn’t come naturally, it needs to be learned and nurtured. I thought I’d share some of the ways I incorporate self care into my daily routine, and hopefully inspire others to develop their own resilience.

Until I prioritised my own self care needs, I was a bundle of nerves to the point of social anxiety. I had difficulty enforcing my boundaries so that I was a punching bag for others’ abuse. My self esteem was so low that I had absolutely no confidence. If I did speak up I was knocked back down so I built up barriers and sunk into my shell.

I went to therapists and they helped to some extent but I still lacked confidence. Getting really fit helped with my self image but I was still lacking in self esteem. Even though my external appearance was the best it had been for years, my inner self was struggling with self doubt and negativity. I was rushing around trying to fit all my responsibilities into my daily routine, which left little time for myself.

Prioritising Self Care Builds Self Esteem

The real change came last year, when I finally lost a lot of weight. I had a coach for my weight loss program who rang me every three weeks, not only to set goals with me, but also to give me positive feedback about my progress. Having that regular contact helped me lose over 17kg and graduate early from the program.

That success gave me so much confidence. The changes I had made included regular exercise, a new healthy diet with lots more vegetables and the joy of cooking and gardening. With it came the realisation that I had to prioritise self care.

My top tips for self care are:

  • Get outdoors daily. Natural light is better for you
  • Ladies wear makeup (even just tinted moisturiser and mascara) even when you’re not going out, and men shave. You feel better about yourself when you’re groomed. It goes without saying, but shower and brush your teeth too. You’d be surprised how many people don’t, as a nurse you see it all. Wear clothes that make you feel good, and that make you look good too.
  • Exercise daily, even just a walk. You will get natural endorphins.
  • Eat healthy food and drink plenty of water. Eating junk food depletes your energy and will have long-term repercussions if you base your diet around it.
  • Listen to your body. If you’re tired, rest.
  • Have regular massages, beautician visits or manicures purely for the enjoyment of it. If this is outside your budget, you can do at-home spa sessions . My favourite routine is a soak in a bubble bath with a face mask on, and lovely soft music playing, followed by beautiful scented body lotion. I definitely make time and room in my budget for regular professional massages though because it helps me manage my chronic back pain.
  • Listen to the sound of water. We have a pond with a fountain and the sound is so relaxing. You can get the same effect from white noise apps or a small water feature. Bubble baths, swims in the ocean and looking at waves lap on the shore are also calming.
Tips for prioritising self care collage
Tips for self care
  • Practice gratitude. Regularly write down a list of all the things you’re grateful for. Thank other people too, it goes a long way.
  • Spend time with your pets and loved ones. If you have young children or grandchildren play with them. Being around pets and children allows you to see things from a different perspective. Play games with them and their laughter will cheer you up.
  • Hug someone! Social distancing laws made this impossible and a lot of people struggled with not being able to have physical contact with their loved ones. I really missed not being able to hug my best friend and relatives that didn’t live with us.
  • Do something creative for example drawing, painting, baking, music or writing. I found a great colour-by-numbers App, very similar to the paint-by-numbers paintings we did as children. It’s so relaxing. Jigsaws are also calming.
  • Write in a journal daily – my article Journalling as a Self Care Activity has free printable journal prompts to get you started.
  • Use your brain – do crosswords, puzzles or Sudoko. Learn something new like a language or skill.
  • Read books written by people who are inspiring in some way. I’ve read a lot of books by people who have faced the worst adversities and come through them. That gives me confidence to tackle anything that comes my way.
  • Have less screen time. Avoid reality TV especially – it’s just trash. Only watch news from trustworthy sources – don’t get all your knowledge from Facebook and Instagram. Knowledge is power, so don’t get sucked into believing everything you read or hear.
  • If you’re sick stay home. I know we’ve heard that constantly this year but I’m shocked by how many people go to work and school when they are sick. By resting and recuperating your body has a chance to heal. If you’re working and mixing with other people, it takes a lot longer to fully recover and you’re passing it on to other people. Those people may have compromised immunity or other health issues which would lead them to develop much worse illnesses than you.
  • Most important – reach out to someone if you are not coping. There are resources there to help you. Avoid people who suck your energy from you or make you feel worse. These are some help lines available in Australia:
Australian Help lines for people struggling mentally
Help lines in Australia for people struggling

Once you start prioritising self care, it will become part of your daily routine. It will be easier for you to assert your boundaries and say no to people. Your confidence will grow, and you’ll feel so much better within yourself. You will be more resilient when life throws unexpected stresses and crises your way.

Go on, you deserve it.

Please share if you enjoyed my article. I would love to hear what your tips for self care are in the comments below.

Please note: I am not a registered mental health practitioner. The information provided in this article is for general informational and educational purposes only and should not replace information provided by your own mental health practitioner. Please refer to my Disclaimer

Midlife Share the Love party

Shared at the above Link-up parties

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We Went PINK for Breast Cancer Research

As an update to my last blog, I am raising money for breast cancer research by taking part in the GO PINK campaign for the National Breast Cancer Foundation of Australia. GO PINK encourages people to dye or shave their hair, wear pink or hold events in order to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation

“National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) is Australia’s leading national body funding game-changing breast cancer research with money raised entirely by the Australian public. We receive no government funding. What we do, would not be possible without the support and generosity of people and organisations like YOU. Our mission is simple: stop deaths from breast cancer. How? By identifying, funding and championing world-class research – research that will help us detect tumours earlier, improve treatment outcomes, and ultimately – save lives. Since NBCF’s inception in 1994, the five-year survival rates for breast cancer has increased from 76% to 91%. It’s proof our strategy is working. More than ever, NBCF is focusing keenly on how we can do more with less in order to achieve great outcomes that will impact the longevity and quality of life for patients with breast cancer.  For us, this means identifying new and effective models of funding and ensuring that we don’t stand alone but work collaboratively and creatively to achieve our mission of zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030.” Source:

Our team, The Tough Titties

My niece Ally, her friend Coralee, and I are the Tough Titties! Our dye day was on Friday. We went live on Instagram, so that our followers could watch us dye our hair pink. During the live feed we explained why raising money for breast cancer research is so important to us. We have raised $754 so far – our aim is $1000. If you would like to donate, here is a link to our fundraising page:

As promised, I am posting photos of our big day!

Breast Cancer Research

I have written about why I am raising money for breast cancer research in this blog post. I am passionate about raising money for research into breast and other cancers, particularly cancers that have a genetic link. Unfortunately I have the BRCA2 gene mutation that increases my risk of breast cancer to 60-80% and ovarian cancer to 20-40%, as well as other cancers as I have outlined previously. Both my parents died of cancer and my son, brother and sister have all had a melanoma. Ally’s grandmother also passed away from cancer before she was born, and her other grandmother (my mother-in-law) is suffering from lung cancer. In our family alone, cancer has had a huge impact.

Update on my Bilateral Prophylactic Mastectomies

I am recovering at home after my bilateral prophylactic mastectomies that I had done on 13 May 2020. (Read about it in this post). Recovery hasn’t been as straightforward as I would have liked due to complications after my surgery. My wound is healing slowly and I still have a lot of swelling and bruising. I’m seeing a haematologist now, to try to uncover why I had a large post-operative bleed. Even with all the complications I have had and how much this has impacted my life, I do not regret having surgery to remove my ovaries and breasts. With my high risk of cancer, I could be going through these surgeries with cancer which would have been so much worse.

Doing something positive like raising money for breast cancer research has given me something to do other than feel sorry for myself. I’m not saying I haven’t had days where I’ve been very emotional. I’ve had some days where I’ve been very upset. But having something to focus on has been really positive and helped me to focus on something during this time. I’ve also had some really great support in the way of lovely messages and kind words. That’s the sort of impetus I need to get me through.

Having our dye day was so much fun, especially with Banjo as our mascot. Here is a collage of photos from our photo shoot with him, which was hilarious!

We went pink for the GO PINK campaign to raise money for breast cancer research
Banjo our mascot – photo shoot for the GO PINK campaign.
GO PINK raises funds for breast cancer research. It is organised by the National Breast Cancer Foundation
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