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:
Meet Lauren Spencer, licensed marriage and family therapy associate, who agreed to take part in my Inspiring Healthy Lifestyle Series. Her story is truly inspirational – her desire to help people shows how caring she is.
A healthy lifestyle is only possible when we strive for mental and emotional wellness as well as physical health. That is even more true in today’s world where we are faced with more stress than ever before. Please read Lauren’s interview transcript as follows:
Tell me about yourself. What is your background and how does that impact what you do now?
Hello! I’m a licensed marriage and family therapy associate newly married to my favorite Army Captain. I have always wanted to be a therapist (literally since I was in the 7th grade) and graduated with my masters a year or so ago. Seeing couples is my sweet spot, along with people with anxiety disorders.
I was born and raised in Gig Harbor, WA, and have been a self-proclaimed homebody my whole life. Marrying an active duty Army officer has changed a lot of that for me as we will be heading to South Korea in the fall to live for 2 years. My beloved dog will be coming with us as we start our journey of exploring the world.
I am also a Christian, lover of romance, supporter of body positivity, and a Christmas fanatic.
My passions led me to pursue my career as a way to support people on their journeys and to start my own blog as a way of diversifying my time and expanding my reach to those outside of my clients.
What drives you? Where do you get your passion?
I believe my passions are God-given, just like spiritual gifts. My motivation comes from inner hope. I became a therapist with the goal of sharing my hope to those who are struggling to hold it for themselves. I have hope that our relationships can heal, that we can heal, and that the world can work toward healing as well. Sometimes we just need help holding onto that hope when life is hard. Seeing clients, loved ones, and my own story experience healing drives me to seek new ways of supporting people on this journey called life.
What is the defining moment that set you on this course of interest? Who or what inspired you?
I would say I am on 2 courses in life that intersect and diverge from one another all at the same time. What set me on the therapist course was my experience of having a mom who was gravely ill for much of my childhood. I didn’t have the “normal” childhood many have (though what really is normal?), and when I got older, I realized my experience of having support all throughout those hard times was not the norm. I became a therapist so that I could support others and offer them hope.
As for my blogging journey, I had a moment when I realized my life was absolutely wacky. Washington state homebody falls for an Army officer from Texas, he moves away, they do long distance for 6 months, he proposes, she says yes, wedding planning begins, 2 weeks later they find out he’s being stationed in South Korea for 2 years, they get married 2 weeks after the news so that she can get on his orders, COVID-19 happens, she road trips across the country with her dog and college roommate so she can spend 2 months with her husband before he leaves. Pretty crazy, right? That’s where my story is now. I’ll return home when he leaves, prepare for our “big” wedding in November, and then head off to South Korea afterward.
When I realized how crazy my story had become, I started to think of all the other military spouses out there who have even crazier stories than I do. I also realized that in starting a blog to tell my story, I would also be able to share my therapist tips and wedding know-how (especially for brides in a bind like I was).
What inspired me? My own experiences honestly, and the hope that my life story could instill hope in someone else.
What are your goals in life?
My goal in life is to help people, which sounds cliche but hear me out. My career is driven by my desire to help restore relationships, between partners, families, with God, and even with ourselves. I want to restore hope to those battling mental health, improve my own relationship with mental health and body image, and then pass those traits on to my future children. Which leads into my eventual goal of being a mom. Right now I’m a doting dog mom, but I cannot wait for the day when there are mini mes running around. And, as I have said prior, my goal for my blog is to extend my reach to more people so that I can strive to help and provide hope to those I wouldn’t have otherwise met.
What message would you like the world to hear?
That there is always hope. The sun always rises. Even on our darkest days, even when life throws major curveballs, even when there is intense grief, there is hope. And, there are also always little joys scattered everywhere–sometimes we just have to open our eyes a little wider to see them.
In your opinion, what does the world need now that would improve it? Empathy. 100%. Being able to stand in another person’s shoes and honor their emotions is vastly important. Imagine what would happen in social equality movements, marital conflicts, business settings, etc etc if we had empathy. I believe just about every aspect of human life could be improved if we all tapped into empathy even just a tiny bit more than our usual.
Please take a look at Lauren’s website and social media accounts:
I completely agree with Lauren that empathy would help the world become a much better place. Her message of hope is one we all need at the moment in these unprecedented times. If you are finding that you are not coping well as the pandemic continues to affect us in every aspect of our lives, consider therapy as a way of assisting you to get a different perspective, and learn coping strategies. Your first port of call should be your GP, who will be able to refer you to the appropriate services. Here are some phone numbers (Australia) where you can access free phone support:
If you enjoyed this guest feature, please take a look at the other guests in the Inspiring a Healthy Lifestyle series:
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
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 to start you off. 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.
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 and 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. I went through a period of losing my stamina, and 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 racing and palpitating, and 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 which I thought 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 with it 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.
The essentials for walking for health
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 (link to buy online here) and Sketchers Go Walk (buy online here). 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 (buy online here). 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 (buy online here). In Australia, Cancer Council make the best range of sunscreens and skin protection (buy online here) .
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.
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.
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. (Buy online here)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Meet Morgan Fitchett, Vegan Life and Wellness Coach. She is the second guest for my Inspiring a Healthy Lifestyle Series. I felt inspired just by reading her story and I hope my readers are inspired as well.
Tell me about yourself.
Hi, I’m Morgan Fitchett. I’m a Vegan Life & Wellness Coach. I help women adopt a vegan lifestyle with confidence. People often worry about what they are giving up or leaving behind. They can’t imagine fitting veganism into their social, home, family or work life. So I work with women to find ways to fit veganism in without losing or compromising what is important to them.
What is your background and how does that impact what you do now?
I have a background in law, administrative and clerking work. After the birth of my son (he is now 2), I decided that I didn’t want to return to that life.
I’ve been vegan for nearly 7 years, and I wanted to reach others and help them connect and make the swap. I started blogging as a way to reach more people. That then evolved into mentoring for Challenge 22(a free Facebook support group for those looking to transition).
I found that I wanted to be more involved and get one-on-one with people. I had considered mentoring, and through exploring that idea, I discovered coaching!
I then dove in and took some certification programs on both life and wellness coaching. I added in a vegan nutritionist diploma program for good measure!
Honestly, I am always learning. I am currently taking even more programs on coaching methods to further expand my knowledge and help others more effectively!
What drives you? Where do you get your passion?
Well, veganism transformed my life in a lot of ways. It helped me take control of my health and weight and find a cause that was bigger than myself. I see a lot of people struggling in life with things a plant-based diet could help better or even eliminate.
Plus, there are all the environmental, ethical and personal benefits to veganism. I think spreading the word and showing veganism is practical, fulfilling, and affordable is important!
What is the defining moment that set you on this course of interest?
I knew that I wanted to be my own boss and work at something I loved. I took the first plunge with my blog, and then I joined Challenge 22. I enjoyed interacting with the Facebook group and the environment they created, but I felt like it wasn’t enough for me or others.
I kept thinking I would move into something more “one day,” and then I realized there is no such thing as “one day” – I needed to take action now. That shift in mindset really propelled me. Once I discovered the benefits of coaching, I knew I wanted to apply this to veganism. There are so many people that can benefit from working with someone one-on-one.
Who or what inspired you?
Seeing other strong women being visible and confident in themselves and their veganism has been very inspiring. I started following more women online and really loved the way they used their platform to shatter stereotypes and myths.
I also joined a plant-based dragon boat team last year, and being a part of a bigger cause and connecting with so many like-minded people was really inspiring. It was a combination of both those things that pushed me to get outside of my comfort zone and start something!
What are your goals in life?
Wow, big question! I think my goals are always changing and evolving. They shift and become more clear with time.
But right now, my main goals are:
To support women who are interested in starting a vegan lifestyle but just don’t know-how or have beliefs they are holding back
To help others no matter where they are in life or their financial constraints. I’ve been trying to make sure that help is available in my blog posts and other free content in addition to my paid coaching.
Create a successful business, so I can stay at home with the kids and be my own boss!
Continue learning, evolving and exploring new things!
What message would you like the world to hear?
Eat more plants! Your body will thank you, the earth will thank you, and the animals will thank you. It’s easier than you think.
In your opinion, what does the world need now that would improve it?
More plant-based eaters! So many of the world’s problems could be improved or solved with the adoption of a plant-based diet.
You won’t need fad diets to stay thin, or pills to control your blood pressure (though, don’t stop taking them unless you get an okay from your doctor!). Our environmental impact on the planet will be slashed, and the animals will no longer have to live in the worst conditions for food that’s making you sick.
You don’t have to give up anything, you just have to make a shift. All your favourite items and comfort foods are available in plant form.
Morgan can be followed on her website The Veg Query, and social media:
I was featured on the Empowered Beauties With Brains website. This is a community organisation that aims to help, support, motivate, inspire, uplift and empower women. The website showcases women from all works of life. It was an honour to be interviewed by Tiya Gorain, the founder, who is an entrepreneur and a wellness & empowerment coach based in Sydney, Australia.
“My goals in life were to bring up my children to be the people they’re meant to be, to make a positive impact on others’ lives, and to create a life of peace and joy for myself and my family… Your health is your most important asset. Don’t neglect it. Find some way to fit it into your schedule”.
You can follow the organisation on the following social media accounts:
Originally Published on April 24, 2020 by empoweredbeautieswithbrains
“We are a women empowerment community organisation. We believe that every woman has beauty, brains & power within. She just needs to recognise it within herself. Our intention is to help, support, motivate, inspire, uplift & empower women. We implement various programs, workshops, events, training and coaching sessions for the benefit of women in Australia, Singapore and India.”
Meet Sevinj Ahmadova, founder of Healthy Recipes Guru
Inspiring a Healthy Lifestyle Series is a series of interviews with people whose life goal is to inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle. Since I began Midlifestylist I have been privileged to “meet” many people who are passionate about health, diet, and lifestyle so I invited some of them to be interviewed (online). My aim is to inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle, and seeing some of the websites and social media posts of my guests shows that they have the same ultimate goal.
My first guest is Sevinj Ahmadova from Hungary who is the founder of Healthy Recipes Guru. Her website has the most mouth-watering recipes and the best thing is, they’re all healthy. Read on to be inspired by her passion for healthy food.
Tell me about yourself. What is your background and how does that impact what you do now?
My name is Sevinj, I am the founder of Healthy Recipes Guru, I am a master graduate from international economy and currently working full-time for a multinational company as finance specialist. Even though in my background I don’t have any specific study that I can say that is related to food, I could develop myself thanks to my passion to healthy eating by reading a lot and getting the right information. By saying right information, I consider the fact that not trusting each piece information, rather to go and research for empirical clarification of it, because Internet is full of myths that people blindly trust and then get the perception of staying hungry because they “eat healthy”.
What drives you? Where do you get your passion?
My passion had come to me when I started my healthy lifestyle, because I could see the difference in my body, in my skin, in my nails and hair, and most importantly, IN MY MIND! It all starts with brain and thinking. No one wants to prepare burgers, but everyone wants to eat them ready, right? It is because in our mind it is a burden to prepare them (to fry meat, to toast bread, add cheddar slice cucumbers and tomatoes, put all them together, ah nooo, lemme grab Burger King!) and eating them is so satisfying that we can hardly remember the number of preservatives in them (some people do not have even idea of them). But if you think that eating healthy is easy and satisfying and you do not always have to cook, you can even order but the right food or eat outside with making healthy choices, then your mind says: why don’t we try it? So, it all started at this point, when my mind started thinking positively about eating and being healthy.
What is the defining moment that set you on this course of interest? Who or what inspired you?
2 years ago, when I still was a master’s degree student, I had bunch of stuff to do for university such as writing daily assignments, studying for next day, researching the thesis work… So basically, I did not have spare time to cook (or I perceived myself so) and I was eating all the junk stuff that you can imagine on a daily basis. I could eat pizza for breakfast, salami toast for snack, meat sandwich for lunch, Whopper for dinner and chips before sleep. As you can imagine, when I finished school I had 20 kg difference from my weight when I started school, I was 20 kg more than that (and to be honest, I have never been a thin girl, I was just normal before that), and according to overweight calculations based on my height and age, I was already considered overweight. After graduation and seeing my pictures there, it all started.
In the beginning, I want to emphasize that I was very sceptical and not motivated at all “eating healthy” because I had same false perceptions in my head that many of us have. I thought that healthy eating and healthy food are “no more pizzas”, “no more burgers, and especially, “no more enemy potatoes” at all! But then, I have started reading a lot about healthy eating (I think, I will be thankful to myself for this for my entire life) and I realized that all of this stuff were just myths and of course I can eat burgers and potatoes, the only thing I should consider is to change some products to the healthy ones, or if I am going out with my friends and I “have to” eat McDonalds, then I should control my portions!
Even if I could not do this last night because I was too busy with hanging out with my friends, it is not a problem because I can balance it next day with healthy food and not staying HUNGRY AT ALL! Because the most important step in healthy eating is to understand that mixed tomato, lettuce and cucumber salad will not fulfill you, even I am not talking about satisfying. But if you add cheese/chicken and cashews/walnuts and some olive oil with vinegar and lemon or honey-mustard sauce, then it can be your lunch because it is fulfilling and very satisfying. So healthy eating is not about being hungry, eating lettuce and craving burgers, it is about being full, getting satisfied with food and being healthy!
What are your goals in life?
My main aim by creating this blog was to share the best recipes that I have under healthy umbrella because most of the time, people do not really know which food is healthy and which is not and there are some people who consider the food unhealthy when they see that it is dessert (“because you are not allowed to eat dessert if you eat healthy”), or calories are a bit more (“because healthy food is always under 300 kcal, no matter what, and an empty stomach is an indicator of healthy eating and weight loss”). So now, I am trying to create outstanding content and promote my blog basically because I want to make some impact by making a change in minds and to show the real face of healthy food and healthy lifestyle. That turned into my life goal.
Bio: Sevinj Ahmadova, founder of Healthy Recipes Guru.
I was asked to contribute a guest post by Sue Loncaric for her Website Sizzling toward sixty. Sue’s passion is “helping and encouraging women in midlife to reach their full potential living a healthy & active lifestyle”. I encourage my readers to have a look at her website because it has so many resources for women in their midlife to inspire and guide them to live a healthy life. Sue lives on the Gold Coast and we’ve never met in person but I look forward to having a coffee and a chat with her when we are no longer social distancing.
This was my first guest post and I feel very honoured to have been invited to take part in her series Aging Well Living Well. I talked about some of the challenges I have faced in my life and how I overcame them to arrive at this point in my life. Here is an excerpt:
I want my remaining years to be as healthy as possible so I strive to overcome my health issues and live the healthiest version of my life as I can… No matter what your issues are, whether they are physical or mental, a lack of money or support, it is possible to live the healthiest version of yourself. Do what you can rather than focusing on what you can’t.
One of my biggest concerns with my weight was my waist circumference. My waist measured 109cm (42 inches) when I started on my journey. This put me at a much higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. An ideal waist measurement for women is 88cm (35 inches) or less, and men is 102cm (40 inches) or less. Anything above this is classed as abdominal obesity.
All the extra weight I was carrying was fat, which was surrounding all my vital organs like my heart, liver and pancreas. I had been taking tablets for high blood pressure for a couple of years, and for my cholesterol for at least 6 years, so my body was already showing signs of issues caused by this excess fat around my abdomen.
According to research, reducing the size of your waist to a healthy size will increase your longevity as well as reduce your risk for other diseases, such as dislipidemia, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Even if you are relatively smaller everywhere else on your body, the increased weight around your waist will still lead to other health problems.
How to Measure Your Waist Size
Along with wanting to lose weight, I was desperate to reduce the size of my waist to prevent any other health issues. So I started measuring my waist, hips, bust, thighs and upper arms along with weighing myself 2 – 3 times a week. I used a Body Fat Calculator to assess this. My body fat percentage a year ago was 43.3% which is very high, and now it is around 28% and in the healthy range for my age.
I have found that taking those measurements is more incentive to lose weight than just weighing on the scales alone is. I can also see that some days I’m quite bloated with my waist ranging between 84cm on a good day to 88cm on a bad day! The “bad day” is usually from working night shifts or having a day or two of eating and drinking unhealthy food – but we all need a day or two like that occasionally.
Image credit for feature photo: Pixabay on Pexel
If you are interested in starting to do the same measurements, there’s a great website called Calculator.net that has a number of health and fitness calculators that are easy to use, including a Body Fat Calculator. If you don’t want to go to that much trouble, try writing down your waist measurement and weight once or twice a week.
The way your clothes fit will also be a good way to gauge whether you’re losing weight off your waist. I’ve had to totally replace my whole wardrobe twice in the last year, down to my underwear! It’s so rewarding to be able to see the results, and know that I’ve done a lot to improve my health by reducing my waist size.
Cut out all sugar, especially drinks that have been sweetened. A high intake of sugar leads to the liver getting overloaded, resulting in insulin resistance. Because your body can’t cope with so much sugar (fructose) and stores it as fat in your abdomen and liver.
Increase your protein intake, because this reduces cravings and boosts your metabolism. High quality protein is important, such as that found in eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, seafood, meat and high quality protein supplements (whey powder).
Cut carbohydrates, particularly highly refined ones found in cakes, sweets and white bread. Some people cut carbs drastically leading to ketosis (the popular keto diet) which reduces your appetite and leads to rapid weight loss. My brother has done really well on this diet, while I found just dropping all the rubbish like lollies, cakes, muffins etc. was enough for me to be effective. I find that if I have any of those foods now I get a migraine so that just proves to me that this type of food is bad for my health.
Eat food high in fibre, particularly vegetables. This helps to fill you up, and aids digestion. One of the most effective steps I took was to amp up my vegetable intake, replacing a lot of the carbs with vegetables. Vegetables contain plenty of vitamins and minerals which also help our health and wellbeing. Other food sources of fibre include fruit, cereals and legumes. Adding a fibre supplement like Metamucil would be effective as well.
Exercise, in particular aerobic exercise such as walking, running, swimming and cycling. Spot exercises like sit-ups do not work! Improving your core muscle strength will help you overall but it might not necessarily reduce your waist size unless you are doing aerobic exercise. I can’t do heavy exercise but I have found that regular walking has been effective for me.
Count your calories using a macro counter. I use an App on my phone to record everything I eat, and from there I can see my macros (percentage of protein, carbs and fat), and calorie intake. I try to keep to between 1500 – 1800 Kcal per day, and make sure my calories in is lower than my calories out. I still track this every day even though my weight has been stable for months because I find it helps me stay accountable to my health goals.
Another benefit of reducing your waist size is that clothes fit better! I always found it really hard to find clothes that fitted my apple shaped body and was always trying to hide my belly with tunics etc. It’s now so much easier to find clothes that fit, and my body has a better figure (not quite an hourglass shape though!)
In my previous post, I explained that I am investigating self-sufficiency as a prospect for a sustainable future. We plan to supply most of our own basic needs, including growing our own food. My parents taught me some important skills as I was growing up, most of which I took for granted and have not used in my adult life. As I am heading into my later years, I am realising that those old-fashioned skills are relevant now.
If we are to supply our own food, we will need to be able to preserve food that we have grown ourselves, so that we have a steady supply during the months that our garden isn’t producing. Plants grown in season are more easily grown – you don’t need to provide an artificial environment (such as a green-house or water sprinkling system) to keep them alive. This means you harvest a large quantity at one time. Learning how to preserve some of the crop is essential.
My mother was a down-to-earth, practical and savvy woman. She was a stay-at-home mum of four kids under 5. The skills I learned from her were:
Budgeting – she took full advantage of using discount coupons, bought in bulk, never racked up a debt, and seemed to be able to stretch her money so that we never went without;
Sewing – mum made all her own clothes. She taught my sister and I to sew and knit. Mum also had a spinning wheel and made her own wool out of sheeps’ fleece;
Gardening – my parents were avid gardeners and grew most of our vegetables. They researched alternative growing methods and put them to use through having a greenhouse and hydroponic set-up which could produce out-of-season food in a cold climate. We also learned composting from them. Their green thumb has passed on to the rest of the family and we all enjoy growing our own produce;
Cooking – we rarely ate out, and mum cooked all our food. She baked cakes and biscuits, made icecream and other desserts. My dad cooked every Sunday for a house full of guests – he loved to experiment with food and entertain our guests. We all love cooking, and especially love to experiment with new flavours and techniques.
Preserving food – My mum used to make chutneys, jam, and preserved fruit. Dad made brawn – preserved meat. These skills are ones I now want to learn as a skill that will be needed for self-sufficiency. I have made pickles and chutneys, but only in small quantities. I am going to learn about bottling food so that it can be stored safely for future use;
Smoking food – we have a smoker so we can make smoked fish and meat. I know this has been used successfully to preserve food so we will learn how to do this as well;
Fishing – my husband and I both grew up in families that loved fishing. My parents owned a boat and we used to go trout fishing on one of the many fresh water lakes around our city. My husband’s father took him sea fishing and they still enjoy that now on their boat.
Health promotion- my mum was into natural therapies throughout her life. She knew every natural remedy known to man! She preferred to promote health by having a healthy diet and supplements. She practiced yoga and meditation as part of her philosophy of self-care.
Housekeeping and house maintenance – my parents did all their own cleaning, yard work and maintenance. I learned many skills from them and still struggle to hand those tasks over to anyone else. I prefer to do all my own cleaning, and my husband does everything he can in the garden and around the house. We are only able to hire someone else when we acknowledge that the skill required is outside our limits, or would take us too long to finish. As we get older we are realising our bodies aren’t up to doing hard work and sometimes it’s better to hire someone to do it;
Researching – my parents passed on their love of reading. They used to research all different things, and that love has passed on to me. My other hobby was genealogy which I learned from my mother – I was able to use her research as a basis for my own. I have another blog, This Is Who We Are about our family history
I guess I was like any other teenager and did not really appreciate my parents until I left home and had my own family. My mum passed away when I was 24. I really missed her presence in my life – it was very hard bringing up my sons without my mother to advise and help me. I was lucky that she was such a wonderful parent and I learned so many skills from her as I was growing up. I was able to draw on that knowledge throughout my life. I certainly don’t take it for granted – I really appreciate everything my parents taught me.
Many of the skills I learned like preserving food will be necessary as we aim towards self-sufficiency. In the next few years I will be researching different skills in order to be able to live a self-sufficient lifestyle.
Midlife crisis does not accurately describe midlifers as it is reflective of them expressing their true self. Our sense of identity is well developed by midlife and we are more secure in expressing ourselves.
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Originally posted on MidlifeStylist: Updated 24 June 2020 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…