Last night we had a terrific chat about our breast health with Dr. Melinda Wu, a family physician and Oncologist at Women’s College Hospital and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto. Dr. Wu provided such an informative presentation (which you can see in the video below) that I think you will be inspired to take more time for self care, especially for the health of your breasts.
Did you know your breast tissue changes when you go into menopause?
As soon as I turned 50, my family doctor encouraged me to get a mammogram and this was the first time anyone had ever mentioned something about my breast health. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so I invited Dr. Wu to be part of the conversation around our breasts, because we shouldn’t wait for our doctor to say something about it.
As Dr. Wu says in her presentation, getting to know about your breast anatomy and any changes that may be occurring in the tissue (especially as we get older and estrogen drops) is very important. We are the ones who can sometimes see and feel when things have changed in our breast tissue, so never wait to talk to your health provider or doctor if you have concerns.
“We should have a good understanding of these bodies that carry us through our lives”… Dr. Melinda Wu.
Lifestyle factors for breast health
(taken from the video)
minimize alcohol – one glass of alcohol a day can raise your cancer risk
focus on fruits and vegetables – these will provide valuable nutrients and antioxidants
eat fewer saturated fats – like cheese, red meat, butter and curred meats
take vitamin D – speak to your provider about how much is best for you
work towards a healthy weight – especially around the belly area
exercise at least 30 minutes/5 times a week – you can split this up in your day if needed
Much thanks to Dr. Wu for sharing her time and such great information with a kind and compassionate heart. If you are looking to donate to breast cancer research and support you can go to the Canadian Cancer Society.
More information about treatment and programs for women’s cancers in the Toronto area is available.
Dr. Melinda Wu is a family physician at Women’s College Hospital and a general practitioner in Oncology at both Women’s College Hospital and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Wu is the Clinical Education Lead for the Peter Gilgan Centre for Women’s Cancers. She is engaged in medical education and administration, and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine at the University of Toronto.
Cindy Willems, host
Cindy is the creator of My Fit Over 50 and a practitioner in two clinics in the Toronto area. She is a registered Acupuncturist, Certified Pilates instructor and Holistic Nutritionist. Cindy is very passionate about helping others support their body’s health & wellness, especially as they get older.
Brain health has been a hot topic over the last 20+ years, as more of the populations around the world grow older, dementia and Alzheimer cases also grow. I know personally my memory has been waning as I hit menopause and that is something that researchers are looking at now, but will that lead to memory issues as I get older? Menopause and the loss of estrogen has been found to be a major player in dementia – that may be why more women are diagnosed more than men?.
According to the Alzheimer society, our global population is seeing a drastic change in age, so it is important for us to try to understand aging and learn how we can support our body and our brain health. We recently had a conversation with the Alzheimer Society of Durham about MEMORY, which was great, so here is the video for you all to watch again or for the first time. Please note this is not for diagnostic purposes only educational.
Top 8 ways to support your brain health
Here are some of my top ways to support your brain health, while supporting your whole body health too!
FIBRE rich foods – helps to keep things moving
Fibre (such as ground flax seeds, vegetables and fruit) help to slow down the breakdown of our carbs to ensure balanced blood sugar levels and it helps support elimination! Super important ladies as we get older.
Eat regularly – your brain gets hungry
Our brain needs food for energy and when we get hungry there is a tendency to choose things that are not always that nutritious for us. Eating regularly helps to keep our blood sugars balanced and helps you to make better food choices.
Essential Fatty acids are great!
Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to provide the nutrients needed by our brain and nervous system. Oily fish (wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring), nuts/seeds (walnut, hazelnuts, almond, flax, chia, sunflower, pumpkin) are great options to add daily.
Having a colourful plate with fruit and vegetables (green, orange, yellow, red) will help provide nutrients that support our whole body, with valuable vitamins, minerals and antioxidants!
Amino Acids within a balanced meal – yum
Nuts, beans, whole grains, seeds, vegetables, fish, eggs all provide us with valuable amino acids which our body needs to create neurotransmitters used by our brain. They help us feel happy, relaxed and sleep well!
Exposure to environmental toxins – not good for our brain
Try to avoid pollutants in your home – no artificial scents or air fresheners (try essential oils instead), avoid using conventional laundry/dish detergent, parabens and chemicals in your shampoo, soap, creams, toothpaste and makeup. (see www.ewg.org for more info)
Avoid things that are bad for you
This is easy, we know the things that aren’t good for our body – smoking, pollution, too much caffeine/alcohol, dyes/artificial or processed foods, sedentary lifestyle and processed white sugar.
STRESS management – you can do it!
Even though this is last, to me it is the most important for most of us. Stress is becoming the new normal way of living, but research has shown too much of it can be detrimental to our health – meditate, exercise, deep breaths are always helpful.
Please speak to your doctor if you or someone you love is experiencing memory issues or loss.
As a holistic nutritionist, I work with clients to improve their dietary intake, but that’s only part of the work we do, there are many factors that affect our health and many of these we have the ability to change and improve. If you can’t do this on your own, talk to your practitioner or contact me and we’ll get you started.
About the author and guest speakers
Cindy is the creator of My Fit Over 50. She is a holistic nutritionist, registered acupuncturist and Pilates teacher. To contact her email firstname.lastname@example.org
I noticed my inability to sometimes quickly recall the name of simple objects in my late 40’s, but didn’t think too much about it because I had always been a little bad at remembering names and dates throughout my whole life. Now in my 50’s (at times) I experience “brain fog” and it has become a bit frustrating to not recall the name of a toothbrush or stapler right away, when I know it’s sitting right there on the back of my tongue ready to come out. What feels like minutes is actually only seconds, but that inability to remember quickly was disconcerting until I started to learn a little about my brain and what was going on.
I work hard to strengthen my body with good nutrition and exercise but don’t always think about my brain health and I am starting to learn that it should be an important focus as we get older. Sadly, women see more of a cognitive decline with age than men which includes our ability to think, speak, judge, remember and learn new things.
Why do women have more cognitive issues as we age?
Having difficulties recalling things is often typical of menopause and it is our declining estrogen levels that can affect how our brain functions. Thank goodness, I thought it was just me! Now that’s not to say if you are having cognitive issues you should just chalk it up to the decline of your hormones and that’s that…if you are concerned about your ability to not only recall but make good decisions or recognize things please seek the help of your doctor.
Here’s the other part of our brain health as we age women…sleep disturbance can become a major player from perimenopause onwards and that will also have an influence in how we feel and recall in our day. If you just don’t sleep well you’re probably going to feel grumpy, unfocused, irritable or depressed. Again, we can blame the drop of our hormones for this disruption, but following good sleep habits is super important to help support not only our sleep but our brain health. Find out more about the connection between insomniaand menopause.
Cindy is registered acupuncturist, Pilates instructor and holistic nutritionist. She is an educator and health professional, aiming to inspire all women to be their best as we age reaching maximum vitality!
On Wednesday June 16th our guest speaker Louise Camilleri from LC Natural Health & Beauty joined us to talk about Juicing and its affect on the health of our skin. It was such a great event I wanted to offer the video for anyone to view, to inspire and encourage everyone to take part in your own health care. Juicing is just one simple thing we can do to support the health of our body as we get older and it can be simple or as complex and nutrition packed as you’d like. Louise offers suggestions for great juices with ingredients you might not normally think to add in!
You can juice for general health & wellness or for the maintenance of good body weight, but don’t think of juicing as a weight loss approach. If you are wanting to lose some weight, take a whole body approach that includes eating a whole foods diet (with some juice added in), exercise, make good lifestyle choices, follow good sleep habits and reduce stress.
Here are a couple of quick tips for successful juicing:
Make a list before you shop – take a look online to find a recipe or two that you’d like to try and go for it!
Prepare all your ingredients – cut, slice, chop and put it in the fridge or freezer for quick access
Keep the ingredients low on the glycemic index – the higher the sugar content of a fruit or vegetable the bigger affect it has on our blood sugar
Drink your juice at room temperature if possible instead of cold – this will be easier on your digestive system
Thicken your juice with 1/2 an avocado, some nuts or seeds and gain valuable omega fatty acids too!
(click on the pic for a free green juice recipe!)
Watch our virtual conversation here
Louise offers her approach to Juicing and Menopause, which involves the 4 ”M”s and great information about choosing a well balanced juice for yourself…
Mindset or mindfulness, which helps you to combat stress. We want to lower Cortisol levels and raise Endorphins!
Movement, which controls stress and helps the body to produce less fat storing hormones. With movement comes better elimination of toxins from the bowel and the pores of the skin!
Meals, which help control calories and assures good nutrition. Juicing also gives the internal body a rest (when you rest you repair) and allows for better digestion.!
Metabolics, the is the stuﬀ that stimulates and moves our metabolism like exercise and supplements. Our metabolism is like a stress barometer and it needs to be taken care of and BALANCED.!
Directions for a well balanced Detoxifying Juice:
Choose a base liquid
You can use 1 to 2 cups of filtered water, raw coconut water, unsweetened almond milk or hemp milk, fresh apple or orange juice, herbal tea, green tea, unsweetened kefir or kombucha
Choose your base ingredients
Add 2 cups of fresh or frozen fruits or veggies, like apple, orange, kiwi, melon, berries, beets, cucumber, pineapple, mango, or peaches
Add some creaminess
Banana, avocado, coconut meat, unsweetened natural yogurts, blanched almonds, or almond butter, walnuts and cauliflower all add richness and creaminess to smoothies
Add some greens
Next add 1 to 2 cups of spinach, romaine, or radish greens; 1 cup kale, bok choy, Swiss chard, collards, beet greens; or 1/4 cup arugula or dandelion greens
Boost the nutrients
Choose one or more of the following: 1 tablespoon of chia, hemp or flax seeds; 1 tablespoon of coconut, flax, or hemp oil; 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of superfood powders like açai, pomegranate, camu, goji, wheatgrass, or broccoli sprouts; 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Spirulina or chlorella; or add 1/4 cup frozen raw broccoli or cauliflower. One of my favs…Hibiscus flower powder
Add some magic
Inspire flavour with spices! Add a pinch to 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne, red pepper flakes, turmeric, or curry powder, or 1/4 to 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or fresh ginger. Or try fresh (not dried) herbs like 1-1/2 teaspoons of rosemary, or 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of parsley, cilantro, basil, or mint. Lift the pungency of earthy root veggies or leafy greens with 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of lemon or lime juice and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of lemon or lime zest
Throw all of the ingredients into your blender, and blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds until smooth and creamy
Would you like to get some great juicing recipes? Try Louise’s Top Juicing Recipe ebook chocked full of nutritious and delicious juices!
(just click on the pic)
About the authors
Cindy is a registered holistic nutritionist, registered acupuncturist, certified Pilates instructor and health educator. She is the creator of My Fit Over 50, working to empower women before, during and after menopause!
Louise Camilleri, founder, and CEO of LC Natural Health & Beauty has been an Entrepreneur for over 10 years working in her business as a Natural Health Practitioner, Beauty Food Advisor, Skin Care Consultant, Holistic Skin Care Formulator, Natural Perfumer, and Author. Find out more about Louise here.
Summer arrives around June 21st and as the atmosphere begins to heat up and the trees continue to fill in it’s important to take care of your body through good nutritious food and lots of outdoor activities. This time of year is full of energy and considered a time of growth and maturation, when the sun shines longer each day and our watery crops become ready to consume. For most of us our eating habits have shifted from slow cooked, warm and heavy meals to lighter, quicker fares. The trees and gardens become lush with colour and the birds converse with their unique songs throughout the day.
Summer from a TCM perspective…
(Traditional Chinese Medicine)
The energy of the summer is very yang in nature, moving up and outwards, which is a great time of year to enjoy, especially those who tend to have a deficiency condition (poor digestion, gets cold easy, often feels tired, weak muscles etc).
Fire is the element that is associated with summer as is the energy of our heart and small intestine organs. During the height of this season the heart is said to be at its most active, pumping and regulating the blood that carries oxygen and nutrients all over our body, supporting our muscles as we hike, bike, run, swim and play outdoors.
The flavour associated with summer is bitter and foods that have a little bitter, such as endive, watercress, most lettuces and herbs can be a great addition in small amounts to the diet. Because the summer is so warm, having cooling and watery fruit or vegetables can help keep the fire of the heart under control. Adding too much heating foods (like hot spices, alcohol, coffee) can add more fuel to the heart fire, so beware and try to avoid if you already have a warm or hot constitution.
Picture from Staying Healthy with the Seasons, Elson M. Haas, M.D.
The summer season always brings out the kid in me…the memories of school almost being done for another year and the anticipation of getting another year older (my birthday falls in the summer). It is a great opportunity to try something maybe you have never tried, stretch out your branches, such as hiking on the trails within your city or trying your hand at gardening (or expanding your green thumb). Sit back and observe where you are so that when the fall comes you can start to plan for where you’d like to go.
As our physical activities kick into high gear, we must all be mindful about our body and nutritional needs. If you are outside sweating and doing fun sports or strenuous tasks around the house, make sure to keep hydrated! My go to when we are sweating is drinking some coconut water – often I mix half of it with my favourite kombucha like the Tonic brands. Also make sure to stretch, especially if you are doing an activity over a long period of time, such as gardening. Below are 3 easy ones you can do.
The hip stretch
The arms & spine stretch
The calf stretch
Here are some Summer do’s to try…
Summer is the time to get up and go – walk, bike, swim or enjoy your favourite outdoor activity
Enjoy lighter meals that are chocked full of nutrition – but keep the raw meals limited (especially if you’re always cold), slightly steamed is perfect
Swimming in the lake is a great way to support your kidney energy (TCM) and exercise your cardiovascular system (especially your heart) – but don’t stay in to long if you get cold and dry off to avoid getting cold after
Get to bed early so you can rise with the sun – keep your circadian rhythm in sync with the season
Eat locally – support your farmers, butchers, fish mongers and small local grocers – everything will be fresh and seasonal too
GUEST SPEAKER EVENT…
Join Louise and Cindy on Wednesday June 16th, 2021 at 7pm for a fun and informative conversation about Juicing! We’ll talk about how it can support your skin and overall health – especially as we get older. Ask us questions and join us in an interactive demo. To get the link and the ingredient list to join us in the demo contact me at email@example.com.
How can summer juicing nourish you during menopause?
Juicing in the summer is a great way to support your body prior to, during and after the menopausal changes. Fresh juices (especially those with beets, spinach and carrots in them) can provide essential nutrients for our body and cells plus valuable moisture, which is super important for us women as we tend to get dryer with age. Please avoid conventional juices in plastic bottles as they can contain extra sugars and additives.
The recommendations I make next are very general in nature and shouldn’t be used to self diagnose what is going on with you…for more personalized help, let’s work together!
Focusing on juices that have a bit of a cooling (not cold) nature is great for someone who is dealing with feeling hot alot, spontaneous sweating, night sweats and hot flashes.
Cucumbers, watermelon, celery, pears and citrus fruits not only provide that cooling temperature but lots of good water for the bowels and body to use.
Juices can support your small intestines, especially if you just blend your fruit and vegetables and drink it with all the pulp and fibre still in it. Using a product like Vitamix can help you accomplish this.
Don’t add ice to your drink or take it right from the fridge! Drinking cold beverages can actually leave you feeling cold and put extra pressure on your digestive system to work harder…as it is, digestion often decreases as we age.
For more information join us on June 16th – I will share a few tips for getting the most out of your juices!
So what are your summer plans? If you’d like to share a pic with me to feature on my Instagram or FB page just email it to me with a little info about the picture.
About the author
Cindy loves gardening and growing simple herbs and heirloom tomatoes. When she’s not teaching or writing a blog, you’ll either find her on her bike, swimming or curled up enjoying a book outside under the shade during the summer.
Mindfulness is loving all the details of our lives, and awareness is the natural thing that happens: life begins to open up, and you realize that you’re always standing at the center of the world.
Well it’s been over a year since we shifted from our normal every day to day life to a state of upheaval and change and at times I still struggle with feeling ungrounded and unsteady. Like so many others, life is made up daily reminders that don’t make me feel warm and fuzzy such as – oh ya gotta grab your mask as soon as you leave your house, keep social distanced, avoid visiting others (let alone hugging others), can’t travel right now and wash your hands a billion times a day all in an effort to stay healthy and avoid passing this crazy virus on to others. My business has reduced and shifted (like so many others), but this shift has forced me to find different ways to connect and work with people, which I am very grateful for.
This year I will be exploring another aspect of my own self care – delving into the subject of mindfulness. For years I have been talking about mindful intentions when it came to eating and moving, but I personally haven’t spent the time to explore the spiritual, emotional and mental side of it, until now. Let’s start a conversation about what mindfulness is and how we may be able to tap into the expansive power it can add to our daily lives.
I believe an aspect of Mindfulness lives within our own spirituality, culture or religion, however some of what I will explore in this post will come from Buddhist teachings that have resonated with me over many years. I won’t be talking about this subject based upon my own scholastic knowledge, as I too am on a journey into how mindfulness can support my own mental health, so to help I will be referring to a few of the amazing teachers who tackle mindfulness with grace, compassion and humaness (which I know is not really a word, but you get the gist).
First of all, Mindfulness…what does that term even mean?
I don’t know if I can really isolate a specific definition for MINDFULNESS as the term means many things for many people, but it is definitely a mental state of being, a focus of awareness, a presence of what is around us and a cultivated practice that is often followed daily or throughout ones life.
A mindful practice may be cerebral for some and ethereal for others and it may be influenced by someones background and spiritual beliefs. I have listened to buddhist monks, therapists, doctors, scholars and yoga teachers talk about “mindfulness” from slightly differently perspectives, but all share a common ground which is to support the body, mind and spirit, connecting to a deeper level of being.
With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Why is mindfulness so important for our health?
There have been so many articles written about the health benefits of mindfulness on our body, mind and spiritual health, that include improved sleep, better ability to deal with stressful situations, better focus etc., but I think the most important benefit is its ability to reduce stress, and we all could use that! Positive psychology describes 23 benefits of having a mindfulness practice and best thing of all is we can tap into it at any time, any where and it’s free to do.
Although mindfulness is a state of being, it takes time to cultivate this practice and doesn’t come easy for everyone. Mindfulness can exist within many aspects of our daily life – how we exercise, eat, breathe, walk and for some pray. If you have never tried creating a mindful practice start simple, begin with one element that resonates with you or tap into many of the resources available on line, within your community, within your church or religion or via a webinar or podcast. Explore what mindfulness can offer you.
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.
Mindfulness in your toolbox
Now I think more than ever we have all been thrown into a position of discomfort or unsteadiness and that presents an opportunity to take the time to work on our own health and wellness. Use this idea of mindfulness as a tool or an exploration to help support your whole body’s health.
So on my journey into mindfulness, I came across a podcast on Spotify called Practicing Human with Cory Muscara and he has helped me to stop and think every day, even if it’s just for a moment, about how I can cultivate my own practice. He offers ideas and thoughts (see some of the them below) that stem from his experience living with monks as well as being an instructor of positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Cory talks about feeling the sensations of our breath rather than thinking about our breath (which is what I talk about in my mindful breathing video below) and he talks about the importance of acknowledging what comes up with our thoughts and trying to go back to feeling the breath again. So if a thought or emotion comes up repetitively, stay with your thought for a while then get back to feeling (not thinking about) the breath. I think this is the essence of the practice of mindfulness.
Here are a few hints from Cory Muscara, Practicing Human to help support your mindfulness practice:
Trace your pointer finger up and down each of your five fingers in the other hand. As you slide up the finger, inhale slowly through the nose, and as you slide down, exhale slowly through the mouth. This takes less than 30 seconds and can help ground and calm you in the present.
RAIN is a another acronym: Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Nurture. You can use with difficult experiences as they arise. Notice the experience, allow it to be there, explore what it feels like and what the mind is doing in relationship to it (e.g. fighting, resisting, pouting, etc.) and then show yourself compassion, perhaps with a phrase like: “I’m here for you. We got this.”
Presence in Daily Activities
Mindfulness is not just about focusing on your breath. In fact, one could argue that the only reason we would meditate would be to bring more mindfulness in our daily lives. See if you can bring mindfulness to your daily activities — eating, showering, driving, brushing your teeth, etc. These are all opportunities for mindfulness.
To connect to CORY check out his podcast on Spotify PRACTICING HUMAN. (Thanks Cory!)
Mindful breathing – how is this important to our health?
So let’s talk a little about mindfulness and our breath – because in my mind we can’t really connect to one without the other. When we bring mindfulness to our breath we bring intentionality and focus that will help to deepen it. Take a second and close your eyes and slowly, focusing only on your breath, inhale and exhale a few times…take note of what’s going on.
Is your mind trailing away to your to do list for the day?
Is it harder to breathe in than out?
Does your breath get stuck somewhere in your torso?
Are your shoulders elevating and your neck feeling tension?
How does mindful breathing make you feel?
These are some the questions that may come up as you explore your breath mindfully…here’s the key, stay with those questions and explore the answers as difficult as that may be. In the end you will come out feeling better than you did and if you can’t answer the difficult questions that arise seek the help from a practitioner like a psychotherapist to help you navigate your way to better health.
Here is a video to help you connect to your mindful breath
WISHING YOU ALL THE BEST IN YOUR DAY
About the author
Cindy is the owner and creator of My Fit Over 50 and Pilates with Cindy. Much of the information above has come from years of research and her own personal journey towards living a more mindful life.