Category Archives: health

Turning Fifty-ish: Surefire Way for Thriving and Living Well

Fiftyish is a quarterly perspective on health, wellness, beauty and graceful living.

The acceptance of aging is a process that had to mentally unfold before I began to appreciate wellness, health, fitness and anti-aging products.  I’ve maintained good health, always enjoyed clear skin – nary a pimple as a teen or young adult — and my 105-pound young adult and post-pregnancy self really believed I would be Olive Oyl skinny my entire life.

All lies, I say!!!! 

“Age is just a number, and agelessness means not buying into the idea that a number determines everything from your state of health to your attractiveness to your value.” 

― Christiane Northrup, Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Well-Being

My Body is Broken

My brain says I’m 33 but that morning backache and knee pain suggests more my real age of 53.  While internally I feel youthful exuberance, and gratefully, my God-blessed melanin keeps me wrinkle-free, my physical reality is that my body has aged, and it is broken with weight gain, high blood pressure, aches/pains, skin hyperpigmentation, and other effects of menopause.

Okay, “broken” is a stretch…but I have come to terms that my body needs regimented self-care, self-love and some healing during this naturally-progressing stage of my life’s journey.

Pioneering women’s author, health and wellness expert, and board-certified ob-gyn Christiane Northrup, M.D., wrote in her New York Times best-selling book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing, that “the secret to thriving is the knowledge that we are never simply victims of our bodies. It’s very reassuring to know that we all have within us the ability to heal from anything and go on to live joy-filled lives.” 

Me on my 53rd birthday sans makeup.

We cannot stop aging or turn back the clock, so the goal for us fifty-ish age women should be looking and feeling good no matter what age we are.  Northrup has widely used terms such as “gracefully aging” and “ageless” beauty to describe an overall mindset for women to embrace and own their body’s changes, and she has written extensively in books and on her blog about the subject.

These are themes that have also become more commonplace in my friend groups and amongst peers as we embrace graceful aging and laugh about being the old ladies in the room. However, we don’t sit idly by as if we have no say in the matter.  My belief is that if there is breath in our bodies and we can move, we can – no we MUST — adapt and modify our lifestyles to embrace and love our matured, beautiful selves with intentional focus and some lifestyle, dietary and skincare changes.  Oh yes, and some inspiration and motivation, too.

Finding Inspiration

My fitness inspiration comes from my Goddaughter’s mom and friend, Lorna. For pretty much the 15 years I’ve known her, she has always gone to the gym. And in the last five years, she considered training for a fitness competition.  I didn’t think she was serious because at that time, she was married with four kids, worked full time, active in church ministry, working on a master’s degree, started a storefront retail cake bakery, got a divorce, then later earned a doctorate. 


Dr. Lorna, 51, a natural body pro fitness competitor.

But in the past several years, each time I saw Lorna, I exclaimed “girl, look at your arms and legs.” She was transforming right before my eyes.  And then last year, I attended one of her first natural body fitness competitions, and I was in awe and shock (in a good way) about the whole experience and what I saw.  She was 51 but looked 25.

It also gave me pause to really think about my priorities and why I could not commit to ANY type of fitness routine for the betterment of my health and overall wellness. I do want to be healthy and keep my blood pressure in check, feel good about myself, and look comfortable and toned in my clothes. I recognize that stress, mindless eating, and bad habits took over as life happened, but it’s never too late to regain control and make conscious, healthy lifestyle choices.

Yes, I got all of that from attending one of Lorna’s competitions. Here’s her story:

From Step Class to Fitness Pro

Lorna S. Deshay, Ph.D., (Mom, Marketing Expert, Cake Decorator, and Pro Fitness Competitor)

When did you begin your fitness journey?

Dr. Lorna, July 2018

I began working out in 1998 in a step class that was offered at a Rehabilitation Medical Center. In 1999 I began working out at Australian Body Works who later was bought out by LA Fitness. I have been working out consistently since 1999. At times I would work out two times a day, five days a week. My current regimen is working out one time a day, six days a week.

What was your initial motivation for beginning a workout regimen?

My initial motivation in 1998 was just to do something during my lunch hour. Who knew that the lunch time filler would be become an activity that I became so passionate about. I began to enjoy working out and didn’t feel complete if I missed a day or two.

How did that morph into fitness competition? 

As I was working out at the gym, you begin to see the same people all the time. Especially if you are consistent with the times that you may go. There was a guy who asked me if I “competed.” I know I looked at him side eyed because that isn’t anything I ever considered. I worked out consistently and hard just because I enjoyed it. From that point, he began to train me. I still did not make a commitment to compete, I just thought maybe I would consider it. Well, as of May 2018 I competed in my first show as a Figure competitor. Before stepping on stage, I thought I would do one show and be done. The following day after the show, I was looking up other shows that I could compete in. Since May 2018 I’ve competed in six shows and have obtained my Pro Figure status with three natural bodybuilding organizations (SNBF, ANBF, and One World Alliance). My current goal is to compete in a World Championship show and the Natural Olympia.

Throughout your 20-year fitness journey, how have you balanced being a wife, mother, friend, employee, business owner, doctoral student and all the other things you’ve had going on in your life?

All In The Family
Both Dr. Lorna (51) and her oldest son, Sadik (26) have successfully competed and placed in fitness competitions.

Regardless of my responsibilities, I had to keep up with my workout regimen. I specifically designated time at lunch to go to the gym and when I was working out twice a day, I would go to the gym again before I had to pick up my younger kids from after school care. When I knew that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the gym at lunch time, due to a meeting or other work-related obligation, I would get up early and go to the gym at 5am and be there when they opened. When I had to travel for work, one of my hotel requirements was the fitness center. If there was a LA Fitness in the area, I would map out how far was the hotel to the gym. I remember traveling to Columbus, OH and there was at least a foot of snow on the ground. I layered up and went to the gym. I prevented myself from having excuses for not going.  My friends laughed at me one time because Atlanta had an ice storm and we were stuck indoors for a few days. They couldn’t believe I was calling the gym to see if they were open.

A lot of women just may not feel motivated to work out because they don’t feel they have the time or don’t feel they can commit.  What would you suggest?

Dr. Lorna and her Fam.

I think women should consider how they want to see themselves one year, five years, or even 10 years from now. A healthy body will not just happen or sprinkle over you. To prevent medical conditions as you get older, live longer and healthy, and even look better, women must set realistic goals. I suggest that if women need to lose weight, they should hire a trainer so that they can learn the correct way to eat and how to incorporate a workout regimen. Dieting is never the answer, eating correctly to be part of a healthy lifestyle is the answer. Most women may not be motivated to work out so finding a friend who will commit to work out, is the ideal solution. Accountability will help. It doesn’t matter what age women are, deciding to begin working out would be advantageous to a healthy lifestyle. Please remember that if you are having medical complications, on medication, or have had any surgeries, discuss with your physician before you begin any workout program.

Thanks Lorna. You are very disciplined and make good points about nutrition, dieting and accountability. What about women who may not have the financial resources to join a gym or hire a trainer or nutritionist? 

I would suggest looking up beginner at-home workout programs on YouTube. Here is a link I found for a 15-minute beginners at-home cardio workout (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHyGqsPOUHs).  Please remember to take it slow and work at your own pace if you are just starting a workout routine. Over time you will build up endurance to keep up with the instructor. Also, here’s a basic eating plan that is very easy to follow.

Keeping Perspective

Maybe fitness competitions or intense workouts may not be a motivator or even a realistic expectation for most women to consider or pursue, especially in middle age, but a few things can be learned from Lorna’s competitive fitness journey, like discipline, attitude and commitment. She is focused and balances her family life by incorporating wellness, fitness, and health into activities, the types of natural products she has in the home, and preparing well-balanced, nutritious meals.

It also comes down to a matter of perspective and how one can translate lessons from another’s experience and journey into their own personal goals. Age really is only a number and for my fellow fifty-ish aged women challenged with their own wellness and mid-life aging concerns, recognize that feeling and looking good is possible and doable with the right mindset. Free your mind and rest your soul. You can look youthful and vibrant by creating your own style and finding your path for taking better care of yourself.

My #Thrive2019 Lifestyle Goals

In addition to visiting my doctor(s) for a physical and wellness checkup, I continue to seek out natural remedies for improving my sense of physical and mental wellbeing. I now primarily use items like castile soap, shea butter, coconut oil and honey regularly for my facial and skincare regimens.

I am also now more conscious about what I eat, making sure to include salads and raw and cooked vegetables in my daily diet, whether at home or at a restaurant.  I drink primarily water as a beverage, either alone, infused with fruits and vegetables, as an herbal or green tea.

I move more, too.  Either I’m walking at lunch, doing a Zumba class, punching and jabbing in a kickboxing class, periodically doing yoga, meditation and mindfulness activities, or taking advantage of the equipment in my complimentary workplace gym facility. My routine rotates weekly because I adjust based on my schedule and how I am feeling that day. But one thing is constant is that I am committed to doing something every day to actively move my body, even if it’s as simple as stretching to improve flexibility and balance. 

How are you inspired and motivated to be an ageless beauty? What are you committed to doing to improve your health and wellness? Self-care is self-love and involves making actively conscious decisions about one’s wellness. Share your thoughts below.

Just What is An “Odd” Emotion?

embrace your emotionsWhile performing social media consulting work for a child psychologist, my eyes were drawn to a Psychology Today magazine sitting in the office lobby.  The headline for the cover story read “Odd Emotions:  Master The Feelings You Can’t Name.” The title alone was intriguing enough to stoke my interest because, well, I’m a “highly sensitive person” and I often experience emotions that I can’t quite name or explain.

There Are Just No Adequate Words, Or Are There?

So-o-o…not too long ago, I struggled with understanding some emotions that I can best describe as a ball of intertwined feelings occurring simultaneously. It felt like an explosive double roundhouse kick to the gut from mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey that left me dazed, confused, hurt, angry, scared, humiliated, and traumatized.  And those are just a few of the emotions that converged upon my spirit in one fell swoop. But the worst part was not being able to explain or comprehend the emotions, nor that no one else seemed to understand it, either.

Fast forward to the other side of my multifarious emotions, I discover that these “odd” feelings really don’t have one name.  When artist and writer John Koenig was not able to label his emotions of pending death, he just invented one, “moriturism,” and says “it [his emotions] felt somehow okay.” He then created a website that serves as a dictionary describing emotions that have no name using a combination of creativity, linguistic research, and etymology to assign a name and meaning. For instance, “exulansis,” he has determined is a noun which means

“the tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it—whether through envy or pity or simple foreignness—which allows it to drift away from the rest of your life story, until the memory itself feels out of place, almost mythical, wandering restlessly in the fog, no longer even looking for a place to land.”

The word is a present verb from its Latin root exulō, which means “to exile, banish.”

Fluff or For Real?

You may be wondering, if people really remember or use these words. Highly likely not, but psychologists suggest in the article that naming or labeling an emotion “might make it more manageable,” “allow us the opportunity to choose our response,” and “help to put a frame around more complex emotions.” I would agree with them, because I believe being able to name what I was previously feeling would have helped to redirect my energy because I spent a lot of time just processing my emotions and the experience.

Others may see it as a pointless exercise that probably won’t be useful, but Koenig believes it helps individuals to understand that the same indescribable emotions they are feeling have been felt by others. The experience may also encourage the practice of honoring one’s sensitivity and personal emotions in a constructive manner. That’s a lot less exhausting than the alternative, which is running from or suppressing emotions in hopes of an exulansis.

What do you think about “odd” emotions?  Are there inventive words you’ve heard or used to describe an emotion or even an experience, whether good or bad?  Would love to read your thoughts in the comments.

Be Happy in 2015

The first day of the year is always a good place of new beginnings and newfound or renewed commitment towards creating a healthy and prosperous life and being focused on what matters the most in life. That’s why it was no surprise to receive invitations to 1) participate in a bowl burning ceremony and to 2) a dinner celebrating the unity of friendship. While regretfully I was not able to make either event, I was truly appreciative of the thoughts and sentiments.

Image found at http://jasminbalance.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Burning-Bowl-Ceremony1.jpg

Burning Bowl. Image source: http://jasminbalance.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Burning-Bowl-Ceremony1.jpg

I was familiar with the burning bowl ceremony and believe that I participated in something very similar many years ago. If you are not familiar with the ritual, it is a fire ceremony that can take place indoors or outdoors in a ceramic bowl, fire pit, fireplace, anything that can safely contain the fire. It often takes place on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. The purpose is to release negative thoughts, hurts, resentment, and anger from the past to focus on conscious awareness and clarity of love, life, health and prosperity. The concept is to write down on a piece of paper whatever negative thought that you want to leave in the past and to place the paper into the burning bowl. The symbolization of the activity is the smoke carrying away the negativity into the atmosphere to allow for clarity and awareness for the remaining 364 days. It’s a cleansing or releasing of everything you no longer wish to burden your heart and spirit with.

For many people, the intent is great but when real life challenges hit after the honeymoon of the Christmas holiday season and New Years Day, it’s easy to forget to stay in a place of peace and awareness. And we know that people just want to be happy or otherwise Pharrell’s catchy song, Happy, would not have sold over 12 million copies to become one of the best-selling singles of all times while inspiring videos from all over the world of people dancing in the street and feeling free to just be in the moment to the song.

So beyond the ritualistic moments of the first day of the year, there are some easy and simple ways to remember to stay in or return to the moment daily. The key isn’t necessarily what time of day you do it, but what works best for your schedule. The goal is to just be consistent, conscious and aware on a daily basis, even if only for 5 to 10 minutes. It has to be likened to nourishment like eating or drinking water.

So just commit to ONE thing because most of our lives tend to get full and busy.  So consider one of these if you don’t have ideas of your own.  But  mainly, whatever makes you feel happy and feel good inside.

Prayer…whether it’s reading scripture or speaking aloud your hopes, dreams and desires for the day, prayer is grounding and creates focus.

Meditation…allowing your mind to clear itself devoid of anything and just soak in the moment either silently, with music, or guided. Especially in the spring, I love to lay in the bed really quiet before I arise and just listen to sound of the birds chirping while I contemplate and visualize my day.

Music…inspirational, gospel, kid’s song, feel good, whatever makes you smile and be appreciative for the moment you are in, just hit play and listen to it while showering, getting dressed, driving, exercising or cooking.

Yoga/Exercise…stretching your body and releasing tension and sweating out any negative energy.

Signing onto Happify…a science based-approach to inspire happiness through quick fun-based activities, tools, and skills that can increase happiness on your pc or as in app on your phone.

 

Have a Happy and Healthy New Year With $25,000

PP sweepstakesSo you promised yourself to start the new year on a healthy note.  One way you can do that is by purchasing quality name brand discounted vitamins and herbal supplements from online retailer Puritan’s Pride! Over the years, I have purchased all types of health and beauty products including liquid acidophilus, argan oil, vitamin e oil, essential oils, and crystal deodorant and body spray, to name a few. The products are always discounted with free shipping and are delivered generally within a few days. And as a bonus through January 31, 2015, you can also enter the Puritan’s Pride sweepstakes. Even if you don’t purchase anything, you can enter the sweepstakes by sharing your email address. It’s really that simple, the same way that 2015 should be for you.

Here’s to best wishes for happiness and good health everyday, and especially good luck in the sweepstakes.

Is There A Right Time To Forgive?

Cristina Bernhardsen | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Cristina Bernhardsen | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Sometimes we have to accept that everything in life is not supposed to happen as quickly as taking a Selfie and instantly posting it to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, or better yet, doing a Google Search on “finding easy ways to forgive.”  Just ask anyone still reeling from some type of betrayal; forgiveness can often be much more complicated.

Nonetheless, in a recent Huffington Post article on eight reasons forgiveness is good for your health, the author clearly outlined the spiritual, mental and relational reasons that forgiveness is good for overall wellbeing.  And I must admit, the reality is, the very act of forgiveness IS a good thing because it really is about YOU and not the other person.  Why?  Because it allows for forward movement in one’s life rather than being stuck in a place and time of pain and hurt.

Forgiving can hurt, too

But the problem often with articles on forgiveness is that it appears that the act should occur immediately suggesting that it’s not okay to feel the sting of betrayal or anger from a wrong.  Unless we are talking about some minor trivial infractions, the real truth is the severity of the situation can often dictate the forgiveness factor, and it can just take time, and that IS okay. After all, truly forgiving someone is a psychological and emotional process that is, described by the American Psychological Association, voluntary or intentional, and involves working through emotions such as feelings of betrayal, anger, sadness, hurt, pain, and just simply grieving. To suggest otherwise is challenging a person’s right to experience their own emotional complexities and denying their personal rite of passage into the dark side of real life human nature.

So just when is the right time?

There is no “right” time; no one wants to be or stay mad, angry or hurt. But the best time may be when the individual has the willingness to work through the process.  A lot of forgiveness deals with holding on to the actual act of feeling wronged and not wanting to give a pass to the person.  Ask any psychologist or therapist and they can share how painstakingly prevalent this belief system exists within one’s psyche. However, another Huffington Post author makes an argument against forgiveness and suggests saving it for those who have earned your forgiveness. And that could work, too, if emotionally not forgiving someone doesn’t keep you stuck.  We are all different so there is no magical one size fits all approach through life’s interesting journeys.

How About self-forgiveness instead?

© Yuryz | Dreamstime.com - Forgive Yourself Photo

© Yuryz | Dreamstime.com – Forgive Yourself Photo

However, if a person is really struggling with the when, why, where and how of forgiveness, maybe, just maybe, instead of the focus being on forgiving the other person, try forgiving yourself.  In a 2005 research study by Hall and Fincham, the authors describe aspects of self-forgiveness in a social science context as a show of self-love and respect, and from a psychological perspective as a set of motivational changes to decreasingly avoid feelings toward the offense and retaliate against self, while instead acting benevolently towards self).   Now, major aspects of this study suggest that self-forgiveness is cloaked in a self-perpetuated wrong-doing, but this is not always the case when someone feels legitimately wronged.

Even when you didn’t deserve the wrong treatment, forgive yourself for being blindsided by the other person’s behavior.  While it never feels good, “ish” just happens sometimes to us. When you forgive yourself, you own your emotions and decisions, and that allows you to determine when and how you move on from that moment in time.  Self forgiveness is also cathartic and self empowering because it shows courage and strength of one’s character, as quote-Mahatma-Gandhi-the-weak-can-never-forgive-forgiveness-is-337Mahatma Ghandi eloquently quoted when he said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”

As in any process, self forgiveness will take time, too. But allow yourself that time because as you forgive yourself you also derive equal healthy benefits that enrich your life’s emotional and physical well-being as in forgiving someone else, only without the guilt and resentment of giving someone else a free pass.  You will feel better about yourself, your decision making, and gain the confidence needed to stay in the moment for making the choices that best define your life experiences. And that, my dear, is always the right time.

Goodbelly Challenge Update

goodbelly+Maintaining good health through diet and exercise should be at the top of daily the to-do list.  But sometimes, priorities get misplaced in life and the focus is lost on properly balancing the mental, physical and spiritual aspects of life. That’s part of my story.  Stress and poor diet contributed to a bad belly which caused me to have bad headaches, intense stomach pain, extreme stomach bloating and gas, and loud, embarrasing stomach noises.  I didn’t feel physically normal and knew that feeling was not normal.  Well, long story short, I began to focus on healing what I was convinced was living in my stomach, which turned out to be bad bacteria and yeast overgrowth.  The digestive tract is the heart of immune system, so if it’s not right, the result can be all types of physical ailments that we rush to the doctor to diagnose.  That’s where Goodbelly Probiotic Juice Drink comes in.  This juice contains live and active bacteria cultures that are good for you and helps to regulate the flora of the digestive system.  The drink comes in a variety of tasty flavors and is 100% vegan with no dairy or soy. I committed to the 12-Day Goodbelly Challenge and used the Goodbelly+ in Mango (packed with calcium and vitamins) and the Pomegranate Blackberry in the family quart size.  The drinks were quite tasty and refreshing.  It actually tasted like regular juice to me but I must say that my tummy began to feel a lot better and the bloating began to subside.  As a matter of fact, I did not have a headache the entire time I took the product.

I feel confident in my health again and plan to continue using the Goodbelly product on a daily basis. To also assist with my stomach health, I am also adding organic greek yogurt to my diet each morning, taking papaya enzymes after each meal, and excessively consuming water (with green tree water enhancement or a cap full of apple cider vinegar) or lemonade flavored coconut water, all which are supposed to be good for the digestive tract. I truly believe that I am on my way.

I hope this information is helpful to someone who may feel a little off in their stomach and tired of going to the doctor.  It’s more cost effective to take care of your health and spend a little more on good food and drink products rather than pay a $1000 doctor bill to the gastrointestinal specialist, which is what happened to me.

Best wishes for good health and a happy stomach.  If you want more information, check out this video on how Goodbelly improves digestive health. .