Month: May 2019

  • Why do we gain weight during menopause?

    No doubt gaining weight is easy, but during menopause even the skinniest people add on some pounds, especially around the tummy. In the past everything was blamed on hormones, but that has changed. The reasons for menopausal weight gain are complex. Let’s take a look at some of them:

    Calories add up

    Through the decades of our lives most of us gain a little weight every year. Little by little it becomes more noticeable.

    Drug effects

    Many drugs cause weight gain. Some of the worst are anti-depressants and antibiotics. Antibiotics are now part of our normal food; they are fed to animals so they become fatter. Even some vegetables contain tiny amounts of antibiotics because animal manure or feces get in contract with the vegetables.

    Our gut bacteria is affected

    Our gut bacteria is fundamental to controlling weight. During midlife the gut bacteria is under a lot of pressure caused by antibiotics, stress, hormonal changes, and others. (Read gut bacteria during menopause).

    Lack of muscle

    As we age and don’t work out, we lose muscle. With muscle loss we need less calories to maintain our body so the extra calories go to our fat reserves. In other words, our metabolism slows down.

    Weaker organs

    By midlife some of our vital organs are tired or overwhelmed. We are surrounded by toxins and have not-so-healthy eating habits that affect our liver and thyroid. We have a ton of stress that affects our adrenal glands and some mindset habits affect the whole body. If the liver and/or adrenals are not working properly that will further affect our thyroid. This will have a direct negative effect on our weight, energy levels, mental clarity, happiness, hot flashes, etc.

    Combination factors for weight gain

    Some menopausal symptoms such as insomnia alter our gut bacteria and this causes weight gain. On top of that we don’t have enough energy during the day and move less. Some people suffer from depression during menopause and tend to eat a poor diet. This and other causes create the perfect storm for weight gain.

    Stress at midlife

    Stress causes weigh gain in most people. Many people resort to calorie-rich foods such as sweets, carbohydrates, fats and alcohol during stressful periods. For many women these are years of changes or personal dissatisfaction that result in stress, sadness, and worrying a lot. Stress creates many hormonal issues that contribute to weight gain. (Read stress in menopause)

    Menopausal weight gain is different than previous weight gains

    This is something that shocks many women. During perimenopause and menopause we don’t only gain weight, our body shape changes. We accumulate weight around our tummy and in the back. Belly fat is the main characteristic of menopausal weigh gain. In some women the breast may also grow, in others the contrary happens.

    The worse type of weight gain

    Belly fat is not good news. Belly fat is associated with heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and other illnesses.

    Menopausal weight loss is totally possible

    Weight loss is always challenging because it requires habit changes. Menopausal weight loss can be more challenging because there is no one size fits all diet, or no calories-in-calories-out. Our hormones and gut bacteria are different and are stopping us from losing weight. And as always there are a lot of diet options and misinformation and selecting the right choice is not easy. Totally not fair, but do not worry menopausal weight loss is possible.

    How to lose weight in midlife?

    The first thing that many women (including myself) find out is that the diets that used to work so well, do not work anymore. It is important to understand the causes of weight gain in midlife, because this makes it clear that it is not only a matter of a diet; we also need to:

    Control stress, eat healthy, eat nutritious food, be happy, sleep well, etc. And the hormones? We also need to balance our hormones. Fortunately the same things that help us balance the hormones and strengthen our organs help to lose weight and to have a happier life. If we see the whole picture:

    During midlife, our bodies are calling us to live a fuller, more meaningful life, to live every moment and protect our bodies.

    That is the gift of menopause, an invitation to live a better life during our second half, or as it’s called in Chinese medicine “second spring.” Spring is a time of re-birth and awakening.


    To lose weight during perimenopause and post menopause we need a gentle reset. Good news, it is possible, more good news, it will improve your total health.

    At this time more than a diet we need some lifestyle changes. I lost weight doing just that and you can do it too.

    That is our motivation during midlife. Weight control is not about vanity, it is about health and quality of life. We are improving and protecting our current and future health, both physical and emotional, by learning to control our weight.

    This is a series of articles in which I will share how you can lose weight during perimenopause and post menopause. Next article: Intermittent fasting to lose weight in menopause

  • 7 Day self-care must do challenge for women in midlife

    Most people agree that self-care is any activity that can make you feel recharged, peaceful or joyful. In this spirit, I have created a 7 day self-care “challenge” to motivate you to try something that will help you to recharge and refresh.

    self care for women in midlife

    Any activity can be self-care if it is mindfully done. The contrary of mindful is mindless, when we do things without thinking about it, without enjoying them.

    Life is every second we live. Let’s make every second count

    For this self-care for midlife women challenge, I have selected simple activities that deliver great results. Here we go:

    Day 1: Breathe

    Yes, that simple. Take small breaks during your day (3 or more) and do deep breathing, three at a time. Breathe with your nose, mouth closed. Inhale slowly, filling all your lungs, hold and slowly release. Repeat and enjoy the relaxation that deep breathing brings.

    Day 2: Stretch

    You will try to take at least 3 stretching breaks during the day. It could be as soon as you get up, midday and before sleeping. Just stretch yourself in all directions. Bonus: also do deep breathing before stretching.

    self care challenge

    Day 3: Drink

    We are going to drink water, plain water, and unsweetened herbal teas or infused water. How to infuse the water? Just add some lemon, lime, oranges or any fruit you have. There is a catch here, the water has to be room temperature or warm. Try to drink at least 6 cups of water. The warm water will improve your digestion and bowel elimination.

    Day 4: Be in the nature

    Being in nature is one of the easiest way to relax. Just go to your garden or anywhere outside where there is some vegetation. If possible, lovingly touch the plants or the soil, or take your shoes off.

    This is not a mad new age ritual, we carry positive charge in our bodies because of the radiation we are constantly exposed to, such as wi-fi and screens everywhere. Trees and plants can absorb some of that positive charge leaving us more neutral and relax.

    Day 5: Vision

    We are not talking of vision boards here, although they are also self-care. We are talking of your precious eyes. We are going to relax the eyes. Take 3 breaks during your day to practice long distance vision.

    This is simple:

    • Focus on something distant from where you are. For example if you go outside you can focus on a mountain or tall trees, observe the details.
    • Close your eyes for a few seconds
    • Now look at something close to you, it can be your hand (not your phone)
    • Repeat the process 3 times.
    • Now gently cover your eyes with the palms of your hands, do not put pressure on the eyes. Breathe normally but consciously a few times. Take the palms out and open your eyes.

    Our eyes are stressed because they were mainly designed by nature for long distance viewing and we are using them most of the time for very short distances (phone, computer, books etc.) so it is important to look at a distance frequently during the day. Relaxed eyes are healthier.

    self care for women

    Day 6: Chewing

    Today is a day to chew well our food. This has many advantages, the first is that it allows us to really taste the food. Second, it slows us down, so we eat less. And when we chew we are helping our stomach, and therefore, improving our digestion. Chew each bite (or a lot of the bites) 20 times, count from one to 20. We are not used to chewing and it is an important activity to avoid digestive issues, and it also helps to avoid overeating.

    Day 7: Laugh

    Best for last. Laughing is very relaxing. It helps us to decrease cortisol, the stress hormone that consumes our estrogen (read stress and perimenopause). Pick a standup comedy on TV or a funny movie and enjoy.
    Bonus: pet a pet or play with a kid. A sweet activity that connect us to other living beings.

    I hope you enjoy these activities and develop your own self-care routine.

  • You need these 2 awesome healing plants in your home

    Home sweet home and with healing plants, home with a sweet healing garden. I am not a good gardener, many of my plants commit suicide, but I try and my garden more or less looks nice.

    Besides beautiful plants, our garden can also have healing plants. The two plants I will recommend you today are so easy to grow indoors and outdoors and they are so sturdy that even I can grow them successfully.

    Properties aloe vera

    Those plants are aloe vera and Melissa or lemon balm. You probably know aloe very well, it is a powerhouse when it comes to healing. And Melissa or lemon balm is very soothing. Let me tell you more about each one of them and why it is a good idea to have them at home.

    1- Aloe Vera

    Aloe is one of those plants that we can write books about. You can cut a little part from a leaf and use its meaty center or gel to:

    • Aloe juice. It promotes good digestion, soothes the stomach and digestive tract and it can help with constipation (if used with the yellow substance).
    • Burns and wounds. Aloe gel appears to accelerate wound healing. Aloe is used directly on the skin for burns and irritations. It refreshes the skin and helps to control burning sensations and inflammation. It also promotes skin reparation.
    • Aloe has antibacterial properties.
    • Some people think that it reduces dental plaque. The diluted juice can be used as a mouthwash.

    Aloe in skin care.

    • Aloe is fantastic to soothe the skin and prevent inflammation.
    • It helps to eliminate, improve or prevent discoloration and dark spots. It is especially good for melasma. It has to be used directly from the plant every day for at least a couple of months. It takes effort, but I have seen it work great.
    • It may help to treat acne. Because of its soothing effects, it can also help treat the inflammation and irritation caused by acne medicines.
    • It may help treat Psoriasis and reduces redness and itching.

    Growing aloe

    Aloe normally is bought as a small plant and it can grow substantially if you plant it directly in the garden. If planted in a pot, the growth is proportional to the size of the pot. I keep it in a small pot; my sister lives in warmer weather and she has big plants in the garden. It is a nice looking plant that requires little care.


    If you use aloe in moderation, there are no side effects; however larger amounts taken orally may interfere with some medicines, so check with your doctor before deciding to take it internally frequently.

    How to use your garden’s aloe?

    Cut a leaf or a piece of the leaf. Make a few incisions in the leaf. Place it vertically for at least an hour. The plant has 3 parts, the outside, the gel and a yellow liquid. By placing vertically we are eliminating the yellow liquid which has latex and can cause allergies, irritation and loose motions if taken internally.

    You can use the gel directly on the skin or use it in smoothies for other effects.

    properties lemon balm or melissa

    2- Melissa or lemon balm

    Melissa or lemon balm is a type of mint. It is very easy to grow from seed and it is mainly used as a calming sedative tea. The plant can be invasive so it is better to plant it in a pot.

    Melissa’s leaves are used to make an infusion. The flowers can also be used. The essential oil is very expensive because the plant does not have a lot of it and it is difficult to extract.

    Some properties of Melissa or lemon balm

    • It is used for anxiety and depression
    • It can be used for tension-caused headaches
    • It helps to sleep better
    • It promotes happiness
    • The tea is used for colds and flu.
    • The essential oil is believed to lower triglycerides
    • It can help eliminate candida.
    • Some people use it to control ADHD in children

    How to use your garden’s lemon balm?

    To make the tea, just heat water to a boil and place some clean leaves in a cup and add the water. With a mortar or the back of a spoon, press the leaves, so they can release the essential oil. Let the water sit for about 10 minutes and the tea is ready to drink. You can add a sweetener if you want.


    Lemon balm tea is safe to use, but in larger amounts, especially in the essential oil form, this plant may interfere with thyroid function, so if you suffer from hypothyroidism, avoid to use it in larger amounts. In larger amounts it may also interferer with hormone replacement therapy medications.

    Do you have any healing in your garden?