Music has a positive affect on our emotions. I have always used music as a tool to uplift my mood. Spotify sent me my list of songs I listen to the most, and it’s too good not to share. I have dubbed my playlist the Mood Boosting Song List for Midlifers because listening to these songs never failed to uplift me this year.
Music Evokes Pleasant Memories
Music evokes memories of growing up in a very creative family. My parents met because dad spotted mum singing in the Church choir.My parents loved music and we were brought up loving a variety of genres from classical music to rock. My mother was a beautiful singer and I learned to harmonise by singing along to Eagles, Simon and Garfunkel and Fleetwood Mac. At Christmas we would stand around the piano while mum played Christmas Carols, and we’d sing along. Mum would also entertain by playing the ukelele and singing fun folk songs.
Our family’s love of music goes back generations. Dad’s father played the piano while silent movies played at the cinema. Dad had 8 brothers and sisters and they all learned to play an instrument. As a group they would play on stage to entertain a gathering. Some of the extended family became accomplished musicians. My cousin played viola for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
Passing My Love Of Music On
Both my sons both inherited the music gene and can play multiple instruments. My elder son has played the drums in several bands and has a Diploma of Music. He has made a business out of creating band tour videos and music videos. My love for music extended to singing in the choir. I taught my younger son to cook while playing our favourite tracks in the background. He is a content writer, but the first expressive material he wrote was song lyrics.
So you could say that music is in my blood. I have used music a lot this year to uplift my soul as it has been a really tough year. Music never fails to improve my mood.
Here is my Mood Busting Playlist for Midlifers:
What music do you use to uplift your mood? Please share in the comments.
My previous post Caring For Your Skin as You Age discussed how our skin ages, and what anti-aging product categories you can use to care for your skin. I am now going to tell you what I recommend to be the best anti-aging skin care products based on my own experience. Please note, I am not a beauty therapist, nor am I an expert in this area. However, I am a Registered Nurse and the products I use contain the ingredients that are known to assist in the anti-aging process.
My budget is fairly low. I tend to use brands that are available at the discount pharmacy or supermarket. I have tried many brands over the years, but I have found I can generally rely on a few brands because they consistently produce positive results in my skin.
This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure. I have links to Amazon in this article – the highlighted clickable links in text are to Amazon Australia, while the picture links are to Amazon US.
Anti-aging Skin Care Routine
My skin is sensitive, so I use an NEUTROGENA Extra Gentle Cleanser 200mL” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener sponsored nofollow”>Extra Gentle Cleanser by Neutrogena. It is fragrance-free and doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight or dry. This cleanser is non-soap so it helps to moisturise my skin without clogging the pores. It has been tested by dermatologists and is safe for allergy prone skin like mine.
I am very new to using a serum because the price of serums was outside my budget. However I found the Ordinary brand for an incredibly cheap price at the discount pharmacy. It contains the same active ingredients as other more expensive brands (hyaluronic Acid 2%) and is vegan and ethically produced.
I am stunned at how much this has improved my skin. I had open pores, dry scaly areas, lines particularly around my eyes and sunspots. All areas of my face improved within a few days. It acts as a chemical exfoliant, so I no longer use harsh physical exfoliants such as scrubs. For this reason, this serum is the one of the best anti-aging skin care products that I have used.
At present I am using a wonderful product that I bought in Japan. I am unable to source it here in Australia so I will use my favourite product by L’Oreal when it runs out. L’Oreal is a brand I trust. Their products are consistently of high quality. I love the fact that they formulate products for your age group to target specific skin concerns common among all of us. The Age Perfect day cream is my favourite in this range.
The Classic SPF15 Day Cream contains sunscreen which is an important factor for me. If I can prevent more age spots from developing on my skin I would be very relieved. It always leaves my skin feeling hydrated without a greasy residue.
My favourite sunscreen brands are Cancer Council and Neutrogena. Their sunscreens are of the highest quality and very reliable. I need to be particularly sun smart as there have been three close members of my family diagnosed with a melanoma, including my son.
My favourite sunscreen for my face is Cancer Council’s Foundation. It doesn’t leave my face greasy, and contains just enough tint to use like other foundations. I have never been sunburnt while using products by Cancer Council or Neutrogena.
If I am going to be in full sunlight for an extended period of time I apply a cream sunscreen and then follow it up with Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist. This ensures I haven’t missed any areas. I also wear a hat and try to avoid the sun between 10am and 2pm.
I swear by Garnier’s Skin Active Micellar Cleansing Water. Any other products sting my skin and make my eyes inflamed and red. You can use this all over for face as it is very mild, and it is also able to remove eye makeup. Because I can use it to cleanse my whole face it saves time which is important to me. I tend to neglect this step if it takes too long, so this product is perfect.
My night cream is L’Oreal’s Age Perfect night cream. This gives my skin that added moisturiser at night, allowing it to be restored and refreshed. It reduces the appearance of age spots. I can use it close to my eyes without it feeling too heavy on the more sensitive areas of my face.
Once a week I use a Garnier face mask. I choose which to use from their wide range of masks, depending on how my skin is that week. This week’s mask was chosen for it’s hydrating properties.
Skin care is important as we age because our skin begins to show the affects of sun damage and loss of tone. I took my skin for granted when I was younger which I really regret now. The products that I have recommended have helped me to improve my skin texture and tone. They can’t perform miracles but they can help my skin to be the best it can be at my stage of life.
Please let me know if there are any products you swear by. I’m always keen to try new skin products if they are suitable for sensitive skin and not too expensive.
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Look up midlife in any search engine and the top 10 or more results say Midlife Crisis. Why is that, when all the midlifers like myself are happy, secure and leading productive, full lives? Midlife is a time when we have passed the stage of striving for self improvement and career change, and are confident and happy with ourselves. We know ourselves well and have come to terms with our life choices. To me that’s not a crisis. Definitely not a crisis of identity. We’re not comparing ourselves to the younger generation enviously because we’ve been there. We’ve lived through it, and we don’t want to relive a time of developing our character and climbing the career ladder. Midlifers are already established and are looking ahead to retirement, an empty nest and freedom from a lot of the responsibilities of our younger years.
The Labels we Grew Up With
I do not like the term midlife crisis. Come to think of it, I don’t like to label anyone at all. It stems from my youth, when I was labelled a geek, a nerd, a shy girl – all accurate but not fully describing me. I was pigeonholed into this boring person. I brought my sons up with the message that they shouldn’t label themselves because it doesn’t allow them to fully express their identity. That didn’t stop them though, as I will explain later.
Hurtful nicknames hurled at me like gingernut (red hair) probably made me acutely aware of features that I was already insecure of. My self image plummeted in my younger years. There was too much emphasis placed on our appearance in our family. My dad was the worst – pointing out features like one crooked tooth or acne, and making us hate our bodies. He tried to lecture my sister about her outfit one day when she was over 40. He had her in tears with his cutting words. I jumped to her defense and told him he had no right to comment on our looks. No right to even comment on his wife’s looks either. I don’t think he realised how much his comments had affected my sister and I over the years.
The Labels We Identify With As Adults
I’ve never found a label to fully describe me. Star signs are way off, I never fitted into the Catholic school girl mould even though we were brought up with those views. In my nursing training we had a seminar on Myers Briggs. That was the first time I ever came close to having a label that fitted me. My personality is rare – INFJ, and it describes me as introverted. Yep, that’s me. But I’m still much more than that. My new label is Previvor – because I have BRCA2, a genetic mutation that gives me an increased risk of cancer. I can now identify with that group of people who seem to wave the label around with pride.
Raising Children with a Strong Identity
Being aware of the damage it could cause their self esteem, I tried very hard to bring my sons up with a strong identity. It didn’t always work though as I’m not the only one to influence their self identity. Even though I’ve tried to bring my sons up without the limitations of a label, that approach hasn’t always had the positive outcome that I would have wished for.
I found some old school photos not long ago. The change between one year to the next showed a marked difference in my son. He went from an innocent smiling boy to a sullen sneering pre-teen with black dyed hair and an ear-ring. I was brought to tears because I know that was brought about by my sudden separation from his father. He really struggled with it, and turned his angst into writing lyrics and starting a punk band. That was the start of his writing and his ability to turn his emotions and thoughts into the written word. It eventually had a good outcome but in it’s early days was a reflection of the anger he was feeling.
Parenting a Child Struggling With His Identity
He chose some pretty sketchy friends at that time. I could only sit back and hope he would eventually come to the realisation that these kids were no good. He has always been the type of kid you can’t push in one direction because he’s likely to go the other way. I was very relieved when he decided to go Straight Edge in his teens. They follow a death metal band called Parkway Drive and vow to abstain from drugs, alcohol and sex, so I thought “great, at least he’ll stay away from drugs!”
That stage lasted a while, and his self image improved over the years. His first foray into university was a complete letdown. I was hoping that he would benefit from all that university life has to offer, including the social aspects, but he felt incredibly out of place. The Gold Coast is very “clicky” and it’s hard to fit in unless you have a buff, toned body, are into the beach, surfy lifestyle and the gym. My sons are definitely not that way inclined. They find it hard to fit in here so they both dropped out of uni in their first year. That was so disappointing for me, but I completely understand as it would be hard to enjoy it if they’re constantly alone.
Struggling with Identity as an Adult
They’ve found their own way much easier as they’ve aged, and both identify strongly with the group of friends they now find themselves part of. My urging them to not label themselves worked in some way. They’ve been able to mould themselves into confident adults. My older son is very secure in his identity. Even though he is heavily involved in the music industry, he hasn’t gone down the path of drugs and alcohol and is very staunch on that fact. He’s had a lot of pressure to conform over the years but it hasn’t swayed him at all. His music has taken him all over the world on band tours and he’s very much a part of that community. I’m very proud of the fact that he has such strong self image that he sticks to his principles and doesn’t care what people think.
My younger son still struggles with self doubt at times. He likes to express himself by his clothes and his eclectic music taste but he struggles to pick one path in life for his career. My family growing up was extremely conservative and there was often damnation if you tried to break away from the Catholic nuclear traditional mould. God help us if we turn out gay, get divorced or believe in something other than the Catholic religion.
My dad was praying for us till he died because he was genuinely worried about our chances of making it into heaven. Me, because I’m a lapsed Catholic and divorced, and my son because he’s an atheist. I don’t want to go too much into my views on that because I fully respect everyone’s right to their opinions. I feel sad for my dad that he could not see any other view from his own.
Parenting Children So They Can Express Themselves
Watching my kids grow up into adults with strongly held beliefs and ability to verbalise those beliefs and express themselves has been a wonderful gift to me. I wanted them to grow up into adults with their own beliefs. I didn’t feel it was my place to impose my beliefs on to them and condemn them if theirs’ were different to mine. Who am I to say my beliefs are right? I don’t want my sons to become mini-me’s!
I do think it’s a shame that my son felt he had to move out to be able to express his sexuality freely. I’ve been waiting for the big “coming out” talk to happen for years but it never has. I think he’s still trying to figure it all out but he couldn’t do that while living here. It’s not my opinion that made him feel like that. My husband did not vote “Yes” in the vote for gays’ rights to be married. Obviously for someone who may identify as gay or bi, that would upset them even if there’s no outward animosity towards them.
Time will tell, as my son will declare himself soon enough. We’ve talked around the issue many times but I don’t think he really knows the answer. He’s still trying to work it all out himself. My extended family is not very open-minded on this issue. It would be hard to fit into my family unless you’re straight.
Midlife is a time when we are secure about our identity
We are all individuals but we like to identify with others as a way of finding community. Our sense of self is increased when we find like-minded members of our group. It strengthens our sense of self worth because we’re having reflected back at us the validity of our values and beliefs. It’s character building in one way, as long as we don’t lose part of ourselves in order to conform to other peoples expectations of us. Our self esteem should be strong enough that we don’t care what other people think.
A person’s midlife “crisis” is probably brought about by them finally getting to the stage in their life when they no longer care what other people think. They’re sick of living a way that keeps other people happy. They finally want to be and do what they’ve known in their hearts is right for them. It happens in midlife because we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as our children are leaving home. We’re more financially secure and we’ve probably got as far as we can in our careers.
Hope For The Next Generation
I just think “crisis” is the wrong word to use. It’s too negative and doesn’t express the positives that can come out of midlifers finally expressing their true selves. I sincerely hope that the next generation can break out of the barriers that were built in front of our generation. Hopefully they won’t need a midlife crisis to be able to express their identity.
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. It aims to inspire and guide them to live a healthy life. Sue lives on the Gold Coast like me. 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. 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.
My husband and I have a goal – to become self sufficient by the time we retire. We have been researching how to be self sufficient, and what we need to consider before we can regard ourselves as self sufficient. Considerations for self sufficiency include how to meet our basic needs: water, food, energy and shelter.
Investigating Self-sufficiency as a Retirement Goal
My husband and I are in our early 50s so we’re not at the official retirement age and won’t be for over 10 years (67yrs in Australia for those of us born in the mid 60’s). The prospect of working for the next 13 years is daunting for me. I have chronic back pain caused by several back injuries and general wear and tear from over 30 years as a nurse. I’ve already reduced my work hours but the writing is on the wall – I know I won’t be able to work as a nurse for much longer.
I have been looking towards retirement for the last few years. Our current situation is that we have a large mortgage on a big property in a very busy city. It’s a rat-race and we feel like we are just rats in a wheel, chasing our tails – working long hours in jobs that aren’t easy, often not seeing each other for days at a time. Quality time together is limited. Our overheads and cost of living are huge. Living here is not sustainable in the long term, either financially or practically. So we must look at alternatives to our current lifestyle.
Downsizing is our First Goal
We have been considering downsizing as the first obvious choice. Once my older son leaves home and there’s just the two of us, continuing to live in our large house would be silly. It’s not designed so that we could create a self-contained unit to rent out so that’s not an option. So our first step would be to sell it and buy a smaller house on a smaller block – one that is easier to maintain.
We would still have a mortgage, however. To be able to buy a house mortgage-free we will have to sell up and move to a regional area where the cost of housing is much lower. The drawback is that we would probably be too far from medical services to be able to do it. That is why we are looking into becoming self-sufficient.
Being self-sufficient to us would mean being able to provide for most of our needs ourselves. It would mean that we would have to set up a property with energy, water and food supplies so that we didn’t have to rely on outside sources.
How to meet our basic needs
Our basic needs are shelter, energy, food and water. To be self sufficient we would need to provide most of them ourselves, and have the necessary resources in place to reduce our living costs. Using sustainable resources is another goal because we would like to reduce our carbon footprint.
Here are our most important considerations for self sufficiency:
Shelter – a small house on a small block. If we can afford it, a separate dwelling to rent out for income.
Energy – solar power, with a generator for back-up. Sustainable energy such as solar is cheaper in the long run. We may even earn money by feeding the excess back into the grid.
Water – rain tanks, with town supply as a back-up. Another sustainable choice.
Food – gardens with a variety of food such as vegetables and fruit. Chickens for eggs. A beehive for honey. Any surplus can be sold, or swapped with other gardeners. Any food that we can’t grow ourselves would be bought in bulk from bulk food supplies, or from local producers to inject money back into the economy. We love fishing so we could catch our own fish. I’ll be learning how to make my own preserves, bread, etc. – going back to skills my mother had like bottling fruit, making jam and sauces and cooking everything from scratch. It’ll be healthier as well as cheaper.
Other Considerations for Self Sufficiency
Waste – Recycling and reusing everything we can. Septic tank for waste. Compost and worm farm to use our garden and food waste up and improve the growing conditions for the soil in our garden. We already have those in our current property.
Community – You need to have a network of people who are willing to share their expertise when you are starting on this type of venture, especially if you’re moving to a new area to set up your self sufficient household. Our future plans include being close to my brother so that we have support and can help each other. Getting involved with the local community is also important – being self-sufficient doesn’t mean isolating yourself behind a wall. Just the opposite – you need to be connected to the community in which you live. We’re no doomsday preppers!
A suitable property
Suitable property – My brother has been researching self-sufficiency for over 30 years and much of his knowledge stems from our parents. They researched much of this in their life-time, incorporating vast knowledge of using your property to provide most of the food you will need. They were avid gardeners and often experimented with alternative growing techniques – the first hydroponic system in New Zealand was set up by my father. I’m lucky to have this knowledge base to assist me.
He has stressed the importance of choosing land that is rich and fertile and slopes or faces North. We currently live in an area where the soil is very sandy and doesn’t hold water or nutrients which poses a huge problem for growing plants. We’ve dealt with this by having raised garden beds and containers, and choosing the right type of plants for our climate.
Town planning / Council Restrictions – we would have to ensure that the property we buy is in a Council area that allows us to use tank water, keep chickens etc. Most Councils have restrictions on keeping animals, dwelling size and use of the dwelling for commercial purposes, for example.
The Benefits of Becoming Self-sufficient
Self-sufficiency makes a lot of sense to me, both financially and as a way of being more environmentally friendly and reducing our footprint globally. It comes as no surprise that it’s a cheaper lifestyle and it appeals to me to not have to pay large energy bills and rely on the government to supply our every need.
Other considerations for self sufficiency are the costs of setting ourselves up. The initial costs will be the house and land, solar system, water tank, gardens, and septic tank. If we purchase a dwelling that has the basics, we can supply the rest initially or over time.
Comparing ourselves to our parents, my husband and I will probably have at least 30 years of retirement because most of our predecessors lived to at least 80. Our superannuation will not stretch that far and the Government pension will not be enough to live comfortably on, so reducing our cost of living is essential. Providing most of our own needs will save money in the long run, even if the initial set-up costs are high.
I’d love to hear other ideas that my readers may have for self-sufficiency or reducing their living costs. Please feel free to comment.
A week ago my son moved out of home. I knew it was coming – he’s nearly 25, but it still caused an upheaval in my life all the same. I have my other son at home still, so the nest is only half-empty. Despite this I’m feeling a sense of loss akin to grief that only another mother could relate to. Empty Nest Syndrome, while being a cliche, is very real.
This is the son who I bonded with immediately after birth when he latched on in the delivery suite. It was complete love at first sight with my second baby. My first baby had been born three years earlier when I was mourning the death of my mother. This meant my bonding with him was affected by post natal depression and anxiety. And from not having the one person there for me – my mum, whose presence would have made such a difference to a new mother. He had colic as well so he cried a lot. In contrast, my second baby was a calm, relaxed and cuddly child, and I was a more experienced and confident mum.
The Close Mother-Son Bond
For years my second son was my shadow and clung to me. Our bond was strengthened by our similar sense of humour as he grew older. We enjoyed banter where we fed off each other, talking about diverse subjects at great length. This was often to the bemusement of the rest of the family who didn’t really ‘get’ us. Our mutual love of animals and our taste in music, our enjoyment of cooking together, and our daily walks with the dogs meant that we spent a lot of time together over the years.
My son went through a period of depression a few years back and he dropped out of university. 18 months later he decided to re-enroll in a different course in another university. I told him I would be keeping a close eye on him to make sure his mental state didn’t suffer by taking on another course of study. Our conversations became more in depth as I didn’t hold back with communication. I needed to make sure he was OK this time around, and that the pressure of studying, working and internships didn’t impact his mental health.
To my absolute joy he thrived under pressure, and was able to take on a heavy study load while working full-time and doing two internships at the same time. He was more motivated to accomplish his goals when his schedule was full. He completed his degree in communications, public relations and journalism in just over two years.
Coping With Disappointment
My son applied for jobs all over Australia in his chosen fields. He was keen to start his new career and leave the crappy retail position he’d held since the age of 14. He struggled to get so much as a reply to his application. The few interviews that he attended did not even bother to let him know he’d been unsuccessful. After six months of knock-backs we were both disheartened and incredibly disappointed. For me as a mother, it was like a stab in the heart to watch him go through this.
Honestly, I do not know what is wrong with employers these days. They do not even send out an email to let applicants know they’ve been unsuccessful. No wonder young people struggle to find a job, and when they do, there’s not the sense of loyalty that we had to our employers. I’m disgusted by how rude it is. The least they could do is send out a polite email thanking them for their application and telling them they have been unsuccessful.
So my son stayed in his retail position, stayed living at home and gave up on applying for jobs. My husband and I went on holiday. While we were there my son rang me to tell me he’d quit his job. He couldn’t work there anymore – it was making him ill, both physically and mentally. He was getting migraines nearly every day and spiraling into depression again. Of course this caused alarm and I begged him to reconsider. His employers met with him and pleaded with him to stay as he is a hard worker and reliable employee. He dropped back to casual and took on another job (retail as well!).
Then he decided to go back to university and do his Masters Degree in Secondary Education. He’d be able to teach high-school English and History. I wrote about it in my last blog post Don’t Hold Back . He was all set to start university this month then out of the blue he decided to move out of home and take on a full time position in his new workplace. Just when I thought he was set on one path, he did a 360 turn. He has now put off going back to university just so he could move out of home.
The Turmoil Caused by a Child Leaving Home
Our household has been in turmoil for the last few weeks. Quite a few deep discussions have occurred between my son and I as I attempt to persuade him to reconsider this decision. But he was set on this path and has now moved out. My main concern is that he’ll regret this down the track, and he won’t be fulfilled in his current job. I know it won’t be challenging enough for him mentally. He needs a job that will stimulate him intellectually for his own well-being. He acknowledges that but is still keen to spread his wings and become a fully functioning adult by cutting the apron strings.
I was fine until I drove toward our house the evening before he was due to move out. I realised it would be the last time our family of four would sleep in the same house together. The floodgates opened and I couldn’t control the tears for the next 12 hours until I had to show up for work again. It felt like I was grieving for my father again – he’d passed away 18 months prior. That’s understandable because a partial empty nest is a loss, just like all the other losses I’d experienced. I’d had the same reaction when my mother and sister had passed away, and when I separated from my ex-husband. No-one died obviously but I was losing a massive part of myself all the same.
Close Bond Reinforced Through Shared Experiences
I was prepared to be emotional because my son and I had been together during several of the hardest periods of my life. Despite his youth, he had proved to be an incredibly resilient person and very supportive, emotionally mature and caring. When my father was suffering from cancer and spent the last few months in and out of hospital, it was my son who came with me to New Zealand to see him.
I leaned on him more than what a mother would normally do with their son. His strength of character showed that he could handle this. He did it willingly and generously, not holding back from seeing the brutality of his grandfather dying from pancreatic cancer. We grew even closer from that shared experience. We both felt honoured to have spent that time with my father, who, despite being in pain and hallucinating from his condition, displayed utter peace at being so close to dying. He was praying that God would take him and he had incredible faith right until his last breath.
If my son had moved out a year ago I would not have coped as well as what I have, because I was still grieving my father. For anyone who has lost someone that close, you know that the acute stage of grief varies. It has been different for each person I’ve lost – my mum when I was 24, my sister when I was 45 and my dad when I was 52. But eventually it becomes easier to bear. So in no way do I feel that my son moving out is in any way as bad as losing someone who has died. I still see my son as he’s only 20 minutes drive away. But it won’t be the same without our daily walks, cooking sessions and nightly banter at the dinner table.
How Has Your Empty Nest Impacted You?
I’d love to hear from you, my readers – how was the empty nest for you? What helped you to adjust to the gap left in your life? Do you still miss your children or are you enjoying the freedom of not having dependents at home? My immediate way to adjust was to clean out his room and turn it into a study for me. A space where I can write freely without interruption, and decorate it according to my taste, in soothing colours. I write surrounded by my pets who are great company.
We’ve all heard about the middle aged spread. Many of us in our 40’s and 50’s start to put on weight which seems to cling to our abdomen, hips and thighs. But why is that, and what can we do about it?
I’ve always put weight straight on to my tummy. Looking at photos of my family, we all have a “pot gut” which we inherited from our father! Weight gain around our waistline is sometimes caused from hereditary factors, and sometimes from just learning about food from our families. We’re all foodies in my family – we love our food, we talk about food in detail, and love to experiment with cooking. Being good cooks means we enjoy it just a little too much at times and all our social occasions are based on lavish feasts. All well and good when you’re young and fit and can keep your weight down with exercise and eating well the rest of the week.
How Menopause Affects Weight Gain
But after the age of 40, the reduction in sex hormones in both men and women (yes there is a “manopause”!) can lead to excess body fat being stored around the abdomen for men and the buttocks and thighs of women. Women and men store fat differently and it can change due to aging.
I went into a sudden and severe menopause when I was about 46 where my ovaries switched off overnight. I suffered hot flushes every 5 to 10 minutes, severe anxiety and insomnia. For me, going on to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was vital for my health. I started to put on weight at the same age, but put it down to lifestyle factors. It wasn’t until this year, at the age of 53, that I managed to slowly wean myself off HRT over the course of about 6 months. It’s only been since then that I’ve been able to lose weight more easily than before. Scientific studies dispute the link between weight gain and HRT, but for me, I believe HRT made it harder for me to control my weight.
How to Control Middle Aged Spread
Because weight gain in middle age is so common, it is important to look at what we can control, especially our diet. I genuinely did not know that the recommended number of servings of protein and grains is lower after the age of 50. Here was I, eating the same amount of food as my sons who are in their 20’s, and wondering why I was putting on weight! It wasn’t until the dietician told me this that I had a light-bulb moment and realised that I needed to change not only how many servings I was eating, but the amount of food per serving as well.
Once I did this, the weight actually came off easily. I could no longer eat 3 stalks of broccoli and call it a serving, and 200g of red meat and think that that was a reasonable amount for dinner. An adjustment in both my number of servings of food, and the amount of food I ate made a huge difference to my waistline.
Recommended Number of Servings Per Day
Here are the recommended number of servings per age group:
You can see from this table, the number of servings changes after the age of 50, so it’s important to adjust our eating habits accordingly. I had assumed that my diet was full of healthy fruit and vegetables, but when I looked more closely at it, I realised that I really wasn’t eating many vegetables at all. It was easy to fix – I just started eating a large salad or some homemade vegetable soup for lunch, and loaded extra vegetables into my night time meals. My serve of meat is now much smaller, and I’ve started incorporating legumes with my meals. My son went vegetarian at the beginning of this year and we’ve really enjoyed cooking sessions where we experiment with different recipes. He’s becoming a good cook as well. His meals look far nicer than our carnivorous ones!
It really is as simple as that: keep to the recommended guidelines for your age and sex, and you will begin to lose weight. Add in exercise, and you’ll not only lose weight, you’ll feel so much better too.
The Midlifestylist blog covers some of the joys and challenges of midlife. Midlife is the period in our lives between the ages of approximately 40 to 60. I have experienced many of the milestones of this period of our lives – health issues, divorce and remarriage, work-life balance, loss and grief, traveling, creating a home, and many more.
At our age (40’s and 50’s), we have friends who are having their first baby, as well as friends who have grandchildren. We can be in different stages of life. You may have chosen career first, or just not found the right person to settle down with earlier, so are just starting off married life together. Fertility problems may have delayed that first child too. On the other hand your kids might be off your hands and you’re experiencing freedom from school fees and weekend sports for the first time. You also have more cash to spend on travel, yourself and your home.
Midlife is an exciting time and one which brings challenges too. Some of us may have to care for aging parents, or even have some health problems ourselves. We’re looking at retirement in the no-too-distant future and funding that so that our finances support a lifestyle that lasts 20 or more years.
I hope this resonates with my readers and would love to hear of some of the challenges and joys they experience in their lives. Please feel free to comment if you are facing different issues to the ones mentioned, and you may see an article about it in the future!