Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Chronic Illness- Old-fashioned advice for what you can do to manage and thrive in spite of the pain to continue to live your best and healthiest life.

Like women, fine wines get better with time. Wines become more nuanced and complex with age, also like women. Our value increases as we age and come into our own. We are powerful. However, we’re vulnerable too. Many women who are north of forty have found themselves facing a chronic illness. It can put a damper on our health and affect our mind, body, and soul. The key is to take ownership of it, so we have the condition, but it doesn’t have us.

What is a chronic illness?

Chronic illnesses are defined broadly as conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both. Chronic diseases can include heart disease and autoimmune diseases like MS, Lupus, Epilepsy, and Diabetes. It also encompasses injuries sustained that affect your knees, back, or hips.

According to the CDC, six in ten adults are living with a chronic illness. Four in ten adults have two or more chronic conditions. The leading causes of death and disability are heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. The key risks for these diseases are tobacco use, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and excessive alcohol use (CDC 2020)

https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/chronic-diseases.htm

Ben Franklin wisely stated that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Many women who are north of forty and fifty-plus, are used to being the person who is counted on. Whether as a wife, mother, daughter, or sister, women tend to be natural caretakers and nurturers. All of us have a role we play in our families, and it’s something we take to heart. Nevertheless, we must realize that if we don’t take care of ourselves, no one else will do it for us. We are our own best resource. So, find the time to take care and deal with your chronic condition.

Your Medical A-Team


The right doctor, nurse, or physician’s assistant is an essential part of your healthcare team. A doctor who is knowledgeable and has your full health history is an important asset in determining the measures taken to mitigate any issues of pain and discomfort that arise from your condition. Talk to them if you’re on medication and would like to add vitamin supplements to boost your health. Vitamins, like over-the-counter medications, can interact with doctor-prescribed medications. Also, if you’re on medication, and you lose weight, be sure to see the doctor particularly if you’re taking something for a condition like hypertension. Your doctor takes your weight and height into consideration when figuring out the dosage. If you lose a significant amount of weight, he or she may want to reevaluate it. The same goes for pain medication.

While your doctor has a lot to do with your well-being, you are always in control. Try to find activities that relieve stress. Low-impact exercises like walking and swimming, provide a workout that lessens stress on your joints if you have issues with your legs, knees, or back. Many things like yoga, pilates, and Tai-Chi, can be modified to accommodate your level of fitness and disability. If you don’t want to join a gym, you can go on YouTube where they have channels dedicated to different types of workouts. Fitbit, Peleton, and more have apps to assist you with finding an exercise program suited to your needs. Find a physical activity you can commit to. You’re more likely to keep up with it when it’s something you enjoy.

Design a diet that works for you

Healthy Food Choices

Moderation is the way

Think about your diet. No need to subscribe to any diet program with pre-measured food that comes in a box. Create a diet that works for you. Drastic changes like veganism or no-carb can be a shock to the body. Eating a healthy diet filled with vegetables, lean protein, fruits, and lots of water is a great way to go. Limit processed foods, salt, and too much sugar. That doesn’t mean you are going to graze and eat tofu for dessert for the rest of your life. The key is moderation. Before there were Weight Watchers, Nutri-System, Jenny Craig, or Keto-anything, there was moderation and portion control. Portions in the United States are larger than most countries. In France, they consume butter, cream, and cheese, but they have a low rate of heart disease. By eating smaller portions throughout the day, the French keep their bodies fueled efficiently. It makes a difference.

Focus on your likes and dislikes to come up with a diet that works for you and your lifestyle. If you can afford it, try a pre-made meal service that delivers weekly. If that doesn’t fit your budget, but you’re not crazy about cooking, keep it simple with recipes that require a minimal amount of ingredients and don’t take much time. Eating healthy is possible on a budget. Shop around to find the best deals and sales. Also, change things up with different cuisines. Or try new food. Variety is the spice of life, and it keeps mealtime interesting.

Lean on family, friends, or call a professional for support

We all need a support system. Many of us are used to being the one who is there for others. There are days when even the toughest and strongest of us need an ear and a shoulder to lean on. Allow your friends and family to be there for you. Moreover, feel free to talk to a professional about your feelings. A little talk therapy goes a long way. Then again when all else fails, try chocolate. This one-bowl chocolate cake recipe from King Arthur is low-fat, dairy-free, and a snap to make.

https://anchor.fm/chamein-stillachicklit
Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

North of Forty & Fifty-plus Body Positivity and Health

The face of aging has changed in so many ways. Not only are people living longer, they are looking younger and more fit than ever. In the last decade, the top of the box office, Nielsen’s, and streaming music and television shows starred actors who were north of forty and fifty plus. Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Angela Bassett, Sandra Bullock, Halle Berry, and Jennifer Lopez were just a few of the names lighting the marquees. By the same token, the pressure was on for women who are north of forty and fifty to follow their footsteps with their own body beautiful.

All of the names in Hollywood have the big advantage that staying fit is a part of their job. They have access to personal trainers, gyms, chefs, and child care that the average working mother doesn’t have. Halle Berry deserves every accolade she receives for looking as wonderful as she does, she worked hard for it. Most of us are working hard to provide for our families while trying to carve out time to get a workout in.

Then came 2020. It was the year it seemed that Murphy’s Law came to life. Whatever could go wrong, or went left in a hurry. The pandemic changed our lives in an instant. As sections of industries around the country closed, those of us who were deemed non-essential workers found ourselves either working from home or furloughed and on unemployment through no fault of our own. Conversely, essential workers in healthcare, grocery stores, supermarkets, liquor stores, and communication/media company workers were put under enormous pressure. It wasn’t easy for anyone.

Life/work/school

With little known about the Covid-19 in the beginning, it became clear that we had to do all we could to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. Many of us had a daily routine that included working out at a gym or in local parks. When those places weren’t available, we had to make a change to working out at home. Only now, not only did we have to try to get a workout in at home, those of us who were able to were now working from home. Moreover, if you were a parent, grandparent, or guardian of children in daycare, elementary, or secondary school, the kids were home. Schools were closed and you were faced with trying to figure out how to work from home, keep young kids busy, while trying to keep elementary and secondary school age children on task with remote learning.  It was going to be a long spring.

Then I noticed something I am sure you did too, people discovered their kitchens. I don’t think I have ever so many pictures of banana bread online in my life. I’m a lifelong baker and foodie, I can go through twenty-five pounds of flour and sugar like most people go through a five-pound bag. When I found myself finding staples like all-purpose flour, sugar, and yeast sold out in grocery stores and online, people were getting jiggy in the kitchen in record numbers.

There is definitely something calming about being in the kitchen that bakers and cooks have known all long. When life seems like it’s out of control, going into the kitchen and making something from a recipe or freestyling, it gives you a sense of control over something and it’s straightforward.  Personally, I enjoy knowing what is going into what I eat. I can adjust or adapt recipes to accommodate low-sugar, low-sodium, or gluten-free diets.  However, I suspect that many of the kitchens weren’t turning out diet food.  People turned to comfort food.

Soon not only did we have binge-worthy food, there was binge-worthy series on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO Max and more. There was a bit of cache in being a couch potato and it beat watching the news with endless reports or cases increasing, and uncertainty as the virus began to spread beyond the two coasts to the rest of the country. No one had seen anything like this in over one hundred years. So, if you needed a moment and some chips, that’s what you did.

Now, it’s 2021 and things are beginning to slowly get better. Many states have allowed gyms to open for socially distanced workouts. Some schools are back to in-person learning, and others seem to have gotten in the swing with hybrid and fully remote learning too.  All of that notwithstanding, many of us are still working from home and it’s time to figure out how we can carve out the time to take care of ourselves and like what we see in the mirror.

Make your workout personally

There’s no reason that you can’t maintain your curves, while eating properly, and trying an at-home exercise plan. If you didn’t belong to a gym, don’t fret. You don’t have to run out and join a gym. You have a choice.

These are just a few of the most popular workout apps according to Techradar

  • Peloton. They are best known for its spin and sessions, led live by professional coaches, and these are all present and correct in the app. There’s also a lot more on offer though, including plenty of workouts you follow with minimal equipment or none at all. If you have a Peloton bike or any of their equipment, the app subscription comes with it.  You can take part in their workouts without the equipment, just check on the site to determine the price range and if it fits in your budget.
  • Fitbit: Workouts in Fitbit Coach are led by professional, enthusiastic instructors (you choose yours before beginning the fitness test), who guide you through each movement with clear video instructions. The first time you launch the app, you’ll be prompted to sign up for a Fitbit account (or log in with your existing one), then run through an eight-minute fitness test. After that, you’ll be able to get stuck in properly, and take your pick from a range of programs designed with different goals in mind. You can sign up for Fitbit Coach Premium, which offers more workouts.

If these types of workouts aren’t your style, there are a number of workouts that can be done from home anytime. There’s Beach Body, Jillian Michael’s and more. Check out the gallery for these apps on Prevention https://www.prevention.com/fitness/fitness-tips/g25357974/best-workout-apps/?slide=1

The next thing is something I am not going to push super hard. I know it’s better for us to weigh less to reduce our risk with Covid-19 and many other conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and more. It’s easier to approach healthy eating day-by-day. Personally, I’ve always managed to fake myself out when I add planners and notebooks to the mix, which is sort of funny since I use both for my professional life as an agent and author. However, if it works for you, use whatever tools you need to stay on track.

As important as taking care of your physical body is, your emotional and spiritual health is also an essential part of being healthy and body positive.  Here’s a few easy things you can do

  • Stay in touch with family and friends, through Facetime, Zoom, or just go analog and give them a call. Talking, laughing, and even crying, helps to relieve stress and has even been shown to aid in lowering blood press pressure.
  • Enjoy a little me time. Go to a salon, get a massage or a mani-pedi. Check the guidelines at your favorite place, mask up, and get pampered.
Taking time for you

Do all you can to maintain a positive and healthy outlook on life. Aging is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to be rote, boring, or even too exciting for words. It just has to be authentic for you. If you’re the type who likes to sky dive and live on the edge, there are ways to keep your day exciting. If you prefer a laid-back life of reading, writing, and watching your favorite programs, then do that. There’s no right or wrong way. Enjoy your life.

It goes without saying that healthy eating is important, but taste is important, and so are occasional treats. As a bonus, I have included a recipe that I found from Half Baked Harvest’s Tieghan that I adapted for different dietary requirements. You will see the substitutions in parentheses for:

  • Vegan/Vegetarian
  • Gluten-free
  • Low sugar
  • Sugar-free

Lemon Blueberry Scones with Lemon poppy seed glaze by Tieghan adapted by me

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend flour, sorghum, sweet rice, or brown rice flour) (For more fiber 2 cups all-purpose flour plus ½ cup white whole wheat flour) 

2 tablespoons granulated sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, turbinado, or raw cane sugar, finely pulsed) 

1 tablespoon baking powder 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 

8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, grated on a box grater just like cheese 1 stick (vegan butter)

1 egg (2 tablespoons Aquafaba, ¼ cup silken tofu pureed with 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, 1 flaxseed or chia seed egg, or egg replacer)

3/4 cup buttermilk + more for brushing ( ¾ cup soy, rice, almond plus 2 teaspoons apple cider or lemon juice, let stand for 5 minutes)

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

zest of 1/2 a lemon

LEMON POPPY SEED GLAZE

1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more if needed (Organic confectioner’s sugar or Swerve confectioner’s sugar substitute)

2 tablespoons butter, melted (vegan butter)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice + reserve the zest

1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

1-2 tablespoons poppy seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and toss with the flour. Add the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the blueberries and lemon zest.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and then pat into 1-inch-thick square. Cut the dough into 2-inch squares. Place pieces, about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Brush each piece with buttermilk.

Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let the scones cool slightly and then drizzle with the lemon poppy seed glaze (see below). Serve warm with butter.

LEMON POPPY SEED GLAZE

In a bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, butter, lemon juice, and vanilla, adding water if needed to thin slightly or more sugar if needed to thicken. Stir in the zest of 1/2 a lemon and the poppy seeds. Drizzle the glaze over the scones.