Have you ever felt like you are simply not enough? Not not good enough, well maybe that too, but more like there simply isn’t enough of you to go around? Or enough of you to live all the lives and do all things you know need to be done; worse, the dreams you want to press into, the people you want to love more but can’t make time for? Enough of you to take two forks in the road at once (like going to two colleges in different states at the same time, marrying both the guy next door and the one who makes your knees go weak) and simultaneously achieving accolades as the world’s greatest mother, female entrepreneur of the year, and the first over fifty female to win a stand up paddle competition in Honolulu.
If you share my dilemma, you are not alone. Or perhaps I should say, “Thank heavens I’m not alone.” After turning 50, I felt increasingly less than. I had trouble prioritizing between critical business issues, people I love, writing projects languishing from neglect and my daily exercise routine. Then I felt even worse because – without getting holier-than-thou – I do believe self-condemnation is a sin.
The guiltier I felt, the less I meditated and prayed. A vicious cycle of unworthiness followed by over-activity, chased with emotional despair, punctuated with mental paralysis then compounded by jags of whining on the phone to my friends. And sometimes too much wine. Yes, me: the menopausal maven of our medical practice, supposedly the beacon of hope for all you hormonally-challenged, sometimes wacky women. Women just like me.
Maybe you have your life together, the whole package, and all this sounds as nutty as peanut brittle. Then again, perhaps every once in a while you simmer over choices wondering if you’re on the brink of jackpot or jeopardy. Truth is: When it comes to making choices, you and I are too old to plead naiveté; we do know now what we didn’t know then. So how-come the answers aren’t always obvious.Or are they?
Maybe what we all need to do right now is get back to basics. Really press into the adages about how to be a healthy, happy, vibrant woman no matter our age. Think back to advice from our grandmothers and great-mothers. Heck, some of these age-well truisms are as old as dirt.
1. Exercise puts roses in your cheeks…and oxygen to your heart and brain while it burns calories and melts those pounds around your middle. Exercise also cancels out the stress hormone cortisol, boosts fat-burning brown cells and decreases dangerous circulating, cancer-risk estrogen levels by up to 13 percent. I say: “Exercise as if your life depends on it. It does.”
2. Eat this not that…eat veggies, fruits and hormone-free meats, poultry, fish and dairy. Stay away from fast foods, white foods groups, too much sugar and anything fried. Spit that doughnut out of your mouth. Pour out that white wine and, instead, try a splash of red.
3. We need beauty rest…seriously. Less than eight hours sleep accelerates skin aging at a cellular level and upsets the balance of the hormones ghrelin and leptin setting you up to always feel hungry and never full.
4. Doctor knows best…the right kind of doctor, that is. If you are a woman considering hormone replacement, be sure and do your homework. The emerging field of optimal aging medicine supports clinically-supervised bioidentical hormone replacement therapies but too many medical “amateurs” dabble in this realm. Even safe, natural hormone replacement is intricate endocrinology. You need an expert.
5. Say your prayers…. The clinical data is irrefutable: Faith in a Higher Power outdistances diet and exercise as a positive variable impacting health and longevity.
Here’s how I came to these conclusions. You may recognize yourself over the years in some of these issues.
Some women laughingly say hairdos define their decades. Remember “rat teasing” at the crown or mile-high bouffants for the prom? Swanky (and scorched) long hair perms? Or perhaps a more mature, practical, new-mother bob? And, finally, when plucking gray hairs threatened to make you bald, your first all-over hair color?
I also look at old photos, miss my long naturally brown and curly locks, laugh and cringe at old hairdos. Still what causes me greater chagrin is how certain books have encapsulated the essence of my twenties, thirties, forties and new-fifties. Yes, books.
I was twenty-seven and head-over-heels crazy about David (who I had been dating for four years) when my skinny, twenty-two year old manicurist Cynthia gave me my first theme book. More accurately Cynthia was the seventeenth person that Christmas to give me Robin Norwood’s Women Who Love to Much, When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change.
Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much by Anne Wilson Schaef defined my corporate striving, cubicle-to-corner-office thirties. Receiving one to three copies a year, I stopped counting at number twenty-four.
Gears shifted in my forties. Downsized, divorced, and grappling with the death of both dreams and loved ones, five copies of Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times were gently thrust into my hands.
Core themes across these decades are obvious: hyper-achieving workaholic with codependent relationship tendencies. Is anything different in my fifties? More importantly, am I different?
Yes and no. I am more aware, yet also, still prone to bungee-cord back into unhealthy, unproductive habits — particularly when stressed or fatigued. The difference now is that I forgive myself more easily than before, and I do my best to show up differently and learn as I go. Two things I guarantee to be true: Staying stuck makes you depressed, bitter, and older faster; and intentionally learning from what hasn’t worked by doing something different the next time can be a hopeful, invigorating youth-tonic.
Stimulated by my own questions and struggles, I have dug deep into groundbreaking medical science associated with healthy, happy, optimal aging. To be honest, my own questions combined with the fact that I have skin in the game: I am CEO of Dr. Randolph’s Ageless and Wellness Medical Center and Dr. Randolph (Randy) is not only my husband and business partner, he is also one of the nation’s most respected experts in this emerging realm of optimal aging medicine.
Drawing on my clinical background in psychology and adult neurological processing, I have also put myself under the microscope while exploring the neuroscience of happiness and personal achievement. Having the most fun ever, I have interviewed hundreds of women from nineteen to ninety-three, all traversing the decades in enviable fashion. Some of the new medical science on aging is mind-popping revolutionary. Much of women’s shared wisdom is as old as dirt.
“No matter your age, you can melt those pounds away simultaneously turning back your inner clock. My approach blends groundbreaking lifestyle medicine with no-nonsense truisms as old as dirt. First step, unplug for three minutes, three times a day and pray, meditate or visualize. Next, spend more time with healthy, fit girlfriends. Belly laugh with your girlfriends and you’ll get healthier and fitter faster. Kick off your stilettos and walk, jog or run to a grocery store with an organic food product aisle.”
Just in case you might be interested, I put everything down on paper. My new book is Fountain of Truth! How to Outsmart Hype, False Hope, and Heredity to Recalibrate Your Age.