• The key to success: unmask your self-defeating behaviors

    Do you have a friend, relative or co-worker who keeps making the same mistakes over and over? For example, shopping while their credit cards are maxed out, paying them, and getting in debt again. We all have behavioral patterns, some are good and some not so good.

    I had a friend who used to tell a story. She was a Catholic and knew her priest well. One day during confession, the priest told her: “Jane, do you realized that you have been telling me the same sins, gossip and jealousy, every time you come here since many years ago. Are you going to change?” And I can tell you she didn’t.

    I was reading a fascinating interview with a therapist and author in the New York Times and something caught my attention, the term “self-defeating patterns.” It is not a new term but it is a very powerful concept.

    The author described that her patients have “self-defeating patterns that are contributing to their struggles, and once they see why the same thing keeps happening over and over — the same fight with their spouse, the same difficulty with family or bosses at work, the same fear of not being good enough … — they realize that the reason their lives feel like “Groundhog Day” is because of something they’re doing that they can change or do differently.”

    What are self-defeating patterns?

    These are behavioral patterns that are producing results that you do not want. They are stopping you from getting what you want. They are distracting you from the life you want to live. They are a form of self-sabotage. They cause troubles, destroy relationships and make you sad and sick. Nothing good comes out from them.

    Why do we have self-defeating patterns?

    We all have some of these patterns. In some people they are more destructive than in others, but we all have them. We have acquired them unconsciously through our lives. They mostly originate with limiting thoughts and manifest in bad results. They are also defense mechanisms that we no longer need. They can be the result of fear, insecurities and feeling unlovable. They can manifest in the form of:

    • Controlling personalities
    • Abuse
    • Criticism and judgement
    • Jealousy
    • Envy
    • Gossip
    • Playing the victim
    • Procrastination
    • Anger
    • And many more

    Many of these patterns affect our health, others our happiness and peace, and the remaining our success.

    Destroying the self-defeating behavioral patterns

    Sometimes it is easy to see the results of the patterns such as broken relationships, anger, incomplete projects, unhappy careers, abandoned diets, lack of exercise, procrastination, etc. It is up to us to look for the patterns, their causes and break the cycle. And how do we do that?

    The therapist in the interview said that:

    “The work of a therapist is to hold a mirror so the patient can see the causes of the problems and resolve to change the behavior”.

    Lori Gottlieb

    During therapy sessions we listen to ourselves, the therapists ask questions and we answer them. Somewhere else I read that we go to therapy to learn to be our own therapist and solve our own problems.

    In real life, we can hold that mirror ourselves if we choose to, and see our behavior and its results. This is a very powerful exercise that can be done using many techniques such as:

    • Journaling
    • Guided imagery
    • Affirmations
    • Meditation
    • Circles of friends
    • And many more

    We can also see our patterns when we read other peoples’ stories and relate to them, but this can be an indirect way and too time consuming.

    Hold the mirror

    The trick is to see and accept that we are producing the results we do not like and we need to correct the pattern or behavior. We do not need to feel guilty or sorry or bad for our self-defeating patterns we just need to see them and be willing to correct them if we want to change the results.

    Some people think that they cannot change, that “that is the way they are”. This is the first limiting thought to change. But we are not our patterns or our behaviors, we can change, we can grow, we can improve. If we are willing to see and analyze we can break self-defeating patterns.

    You can find the interview of therapist Lori Gottlieb author of “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed” written by Judith Newman in NYT

  • Aromatherapy for menopause and perimenopause

    Can you smell something delightful to reduce or eliminate perimenopause and menopause symptoms? I am talking of essential oils and aromatherapy.

    I love essential oils. I started to study aromatherapy in the early 90s, almost 30 years ago. I have used aromatherapy for many conditions and I find it works really well for hormonal and mental balance. These attributes make essential oils perfect to improve some of the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.

    Aromatherapy for menopause and perimenopause

    Why aromatherapy for perimenopause and menopause?

    There are many essential oils that can help us during this time. This is in part because aromatherapy is very good at lowering stress and promoting joy. By lowering stress, our estrogens are available to fulfill their role instead of helping to keep cortisol in the body.

    Those preserved estrogens will help in many aspects, including to sleep well, avoid hot flashes, keep weight under control and protect the skin and vagina against dryness. (Suggested reading: stress during menopause and perimenopause).

    Promoting joy and wellbeing is another important role of essential oils. Depression, insecurity, irritability, and sadness are very common in women during perimenopause and menopause. These feeling are bad enough, but in addition they can help to trigger other bad symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia and low libido.

    Essential oils with phytoestrogens

    Many aromatherapy experts and fans believe that some essential oils have molecules that have similar effects as sex hormones. There are only small studies on this subject. Only a few essential oils have been found to have a possible phytoestrogen (estrogens from plants) effect; these oils are geranium and rose otto. However there are studies proving that certain essential oils alleviate the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. With or without phytoestrogens, essential oils are still very effective.

    Which are the best essential oils for menopause and perimenopause?
    There are two ways to approach this question. We can treat specific symptoms or use oils to balance hormones.

    Essential oils for hormonal balance

    Essential oils for hormonal balance


    There are a few small studies suggesting that geranium has an estrogenic effect on the body and it helps to balance hormones. I have noticed that when people have too much estrogen they tend to dislike geranium, finding it too strong, too floral or too sweet. Maybe it is a natural body response to avoid more estrogen. During menopause and perimenopause we normally need more estrogen, so it works very well.

    Geranium has many other properties and benefits including reducing stress and improving blood circulation.

    Rose otto

    I could write a book describing this marvelous oil. Imagine holding sixty beautiful roses on your hands, picked for you at dawn, so they are at their peak. Imagine the incredible aroma and the lavish, delicate beauty of these flowers. Imagine how many bushes it took to produce those roses. From all these 60 roses it is said that one precious drop of essential oil will be produced, that’s right one, uno, eins.

    This oil is the stuff of legends, from queens in biblical times to the Maharanis of India. It is one of the most expensive oils and one of the most adulterated ones, it is difficult to buy the real thing.

    Ok, back to menopause and perimenopause. Rose otto may be estrogenic, this will help increase our estrogens and alleviate some menopausal symptoms. It has been used for a long time as an aphrodisiac. Beyond that it is very powerful for relaxation, happiness, and to induce calm.

    At a spiritual level, rose otto helps to resolve anger, fear, and jealously, and it boosts confidence and happiness. We all can use these benefits.

    Clary sage

    This is the most recommended oil for women’s issues, including perimenopause and menopause. Many people with expertise in aromatherapy believe that it has phytoestrogens, but some experts who have studied the chemistry of the oil believe that that is not accurate. In any case this is a wonderful oil.

    Many studies have confirmed that it is very relaxing, antidepressant, calming, and can produce an almost anesthetic effect. Clary sage oil has been shown to lower blood pressure, relieve anxiety and stress, and boost memory. This will help many menopausal symptoms.

    Other oils

    Other oils commonly used are fennel, cypress, angelica, lavender, peppermint and coriander.

    Beyond hormones

    We can also use essential oils that treat specific issues such lack of sleep, depression, irritability etc.

    A study to lower menopausal symptoms

    There was one study with about 52 women with perimenopause symptoms. The women got massages every day for 8 weeks. Half of the women had massages with essential oils and the other half without essential oils. The women with the essential oils experienced a lot of relief in their symptoms, the other women did not. (I am surprised with this result as I believe both groups should have benefited from stress reduction).

    The oils used during this experiment were:

    4 parts lavender, 2 parts rose geranium, 1 part rose (not clear which type), 1 part jasmine (not clear which type).

    The carrier oils were almond 90% and primrose 10% at a 3% concentration of essential oils.

    For people not used to essential oil preparation this is a more of a do-it-yourself recipe that I prepared for you if you want to try it.

    Massage oil for menopause and perimenopause symptoms

    You will need a 4 ounce (120 ml) bottle to store the oil
    Carrier oil
    3 ounces (90 ml) almond oil
    1 ounce (30 ml) primrose oil

    Essential oils (EO)

    • 36 drops lavender EO
    • 18 drops rose geranium EO
    • 9 drops of rose EO
    • 9 drops of jasmine EO

    Mix the essential oils separately, let them settle for a few minutes and add it to the carrier oils. You have now got your massage oil.


    Aromatherapy is without a doubt a good solution to treat perimenopause and menopause symptoms. It is easy to access and normally without side effects. The essential oils can be used in personal care products, inhalers and in diffusers and burners. You can use essential oils to treat specific symptoms or to balance hormones. Get our free menopause symptoms tracker

  • Spring self-care for women in their 50

    “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough,” brought to us by the unforgettable Mae West. Self-care should be part of that life, right? Of course it should be, especially for women in their 40s and 50s. We have given so much and worked so hard already; we need some self-care aka “me time.”

    What is self-care?

    There is no one definition, but most people agree that it is doing something just for pleasure, just because we like it. There is no profit, no benefits (other than pleasure and satisfaction) and no obligation. With this out of the way, here are some activities to inspire your Spring Self-Care journey:

    self-care in midlife

    Try to go to bed early (and sleep)

    The long days of spring and summer bring a lot of activities and sometimes we sacrifice sleep. As you know, sleep is super-crucial for our wellbeing and health. If you are going to take care of yourself, this is an easy, wonderful activity that will yield great results.

    Do more of what …

    Do more of what makes you happy. What makes you happy? Dancing, singing, painting, and pottery-making, just watching a great movie or reading a book. Pick an activity and try to do it at least a couple of times in this season. Put it on your calendar to make it real, to make it happen.


    If you like to cook, try a couple of recipes using seasonal ingredients. For example asparagus, artichokes, arugula, beets, leeks, radishes and others. Use one or more of these vegetables to create something yummy like a soup, salad, smoothie or a great dish.

    self-care 50

    Go outside, enjoy nature

    There is nothing more relaxing than nature. Go out and enjoy your garden or just take a walk in a park. Being in nature helps us to calm down, reducing the levels of cortisol and helping us to balance our hormones, and it is easy and nice.

    Spa treatment at home

    Prepare a space to have your favorite treatment. For example, a pedicure, manicure, facial, self-massage, foot massage, head massage, hair mask, whole body exfoliation, etc. Play some great music, or enjoy silence if you like, spray essential oil and prep reading material if you want. Put your phone far, far away, where you cannot reach it. Prepare everything, get your favorite herbal tea and do your treatment. Book yourself time and put it on your calendar; make a do not disturb sign, so that family members leave you alone for a bit.

    Prepare a new music list

    Include new and old music. Include one or more songs from your childhood, from teen years, college, late 20, 30s, 40s and whenever else you like.

    Learn new makeup

    If you use makeup, learn a new technique with videos, a free Sephora class, or a paid lesson or makeover.

    Have a tea party

    With friends or family. Or an ice cream party if you prefer, or any type of small party with minimum effort.

    self-care spring 50

    Take a weekend off

    Even if it is only one day and even if it is in your house. Do only activities that you will do during vacation.

    Put positivity in your social media

    Delete or unfollow people who post negative things or do not bring joy to your life in social media. Such as negative politics, news, scares, conspiracy theories etc.

    Take a mental health day.

    We all need it. Plan it out and do something you love

    Other ideas

    • Make or buy an awesome herbal tea
    • Make or buy a flower arrangement
    • Go karaoke with your friends
    • Visit a museum. Ideal activity for a rainy day
    • Get a massage.
    • Try a new hair style
    • Write a list of 10 things that make you happy
    • Make infused water with fruits you love and try to drink it at room temperature
    • Doodle

    What else would you add to your list of spring self-care?

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  • Favorites this week

    This is my collection of interesting things that I read, watched, ate, smelled, tried during the week, and that I think they are so good I have to share them with you. If you have your favorites leave a comment and share them.


    The Sinus Cure
    This is the newest version of an interesting old book. For allergy suffers, or people who suffer nasal congestion, the book offers interesting tips. The author is a MD who worked mostly as a functional doctor. I do not share all the opinions with the author, but I think it has some good advice when it comes to nutrients to treat sinus infections. I want to clear my sinus and there are no effective medical treatments, so I am hopping I can find something natural. This book was a first step in that direction.

    weekly favorites


    La Tribu
    If you want to have a good laugh, this is a great choice. I am into comedy and laughs lately, it was one of my New Year resolutions. This Spaniard comedy, La Tribu, is super funny. I am new to standup comedy and I am also loving some old stand up comics such as: Trevor Noah and Ali Wong.


    I am loving Tory Burch Bel Azur. It is a very refreshing, but sophisticated fragrance. Maybe it is more summer than spring, but still wonderful for this time.

    weekly favorites


    Viceart mini palette eye shadows. Viceart has an amazing quality. The fall out is minimal, they blend beautifully, and the colors are highly pigmented. Their prices are very high and this small eight color palette sold in Sephora offers a lot of value. It is a very warm palette with four matte colors and four shiny ones. I took it with me to Europe because of its size and versatility and it delivered.

    Skin care

    I tried a new sunblock, Anthelios 60 by La Roche-Posay. It is a favorite of many magazine editors and I understand the reason. It spreads easily, it does not leave a residue, tackiness or color on the skin. It did not cause me any irritation and it held well under the foundation. If you do not have problems with a chemical sun block this is a good product. I prefer a physical sunscreen and for that reason I will not continue using it. I wish I could find the same quality in a physical sunblock. However a few reviewers are saying that with heat it turns yellow on the skin, it did not happen to me, but the weather is pretty cold here.

    making bread


    My husband and I are into the Great British Baking Show and it was one of my goals to start baking bread this year. Oh well, he started to bake ahead of me and we have been eating a lot of awesome homemade bread. I got two books from the library and we have been trying a lot of recipes including pop-overs, I used to love them in the Neiman Marcus’ café and now I can make them at home.


    Days are getting longer and it is time to spring-clean. I am getting ready to celebrate this wonderful season and Easter. I have a list of activities I want to do and cool new things to try. Did you read my 20 ideas for health and beauty in spring?

    How was your week?

    Photos by Nadya Spetnitskaya Melissa Walker Horn on Unsplash

  • Vital for Women over 50, protect your gut bacteria.

    Imagine something in your body that can help you maintain your healthy weight, make you happier and keep you healthier. That is the role of the microbiome or good bacteria in our bodies. It is found all over the body, but especially in the digestive system (gut bacteria) and the mouth. During perimenopause and menopause the bacteria can suffer changes and it may have an effect in weight gain, depression, lack of sleep, hot flashes and other symptoms.

    Importance of good bacteria o microbiome during menopause and perimenopause

    As you know we are full of bacteria, we have more bacteria than cells, about 10 times more.

    That bacteria is critical for our wellbeing. Our microbiome, microbiota, or just bacteria, has a direct effect on our health, both physical and emotional. For this reason the microbiome is important for everyone, and at the time of menopause or perimenopause a healthy microbiome can help us have and easier transition. A non healthy microbiome can make us sick.

    The microbiome can have an effect on the development of diabetes, obesity, depression and other illnesses common during midlife. It is very important to keep our bacteria happy.

    Microbiome and hormones during menopause and perimenopause

    It can get very complicated when talking about endocrinology, in other words hormones, but we will keep it simple. The good bacteria in our bodies contribute to the composition of our blood which influences hormone levels. This has a direct effect on our immune system.

    The microbiome influences the hormones, and the hormonal levels also influence the microbiome, it is a give and take relationship. During menopause and perimenopause the lowers levels of estrogens change the bacterial composition in the body, and this affects other hormones.

    Many scientists suspect that this has a direct effect on belly fat accumulation.

    The microbiome becomes one more very important aspect in bringing balance to our body. When talking about bacteria, we are talking of a new medical frontier. There is still much to be discovered and proven. But it has become accepted that it has a role to play in many of the menopause and perimenopause symptoms.

    Keeping the microbiome healthy after 40

    Some practical tips to keep the microbiome healthy during post menopause and perimenopause.

    Old fashion

    Our bacteria is very old fashioned. It does not like anything modern, including any foods that are not found in nature. Preservatives, artificial colors or flavors and processed foods alter the microbiome, destroying the good guys and helping the bad ones.

    Our bacteria is very old fashioned. It does not like anything modern, including any foods that are not found in nature. Preservatives, artificial colors or flavors and processed foods alter the microbiome, destroying the good guys and helping the bad ones.

    The good bacteria does not react well to animals raised with antibiotics and hormones and with vegetables full of pesticides. Organic produce and ethically raised animals are better.

    From food

    The bacteria also prefers nutrients from foods instead of vitamin pills and this could be a reason why many vitamins are not absorbed well by our bodies.

    Loves plants

    Our bacteria is very health conscious. It loves plants. It prefers non soluble fiber. Some of its favorite foods are onions, garlic, asparagus, leeks and similar foods. These foods have non digestible fibers. The fibers reach the big intestine and there the bacteria interacts with them and as a byproduct creates some important nutrients and it reproduces keeping the colony healthy.

    The good bacteria’s favorite nutrient seems to be glutamine. This is an amino acid found in meats such as poultry, beef, and fish. It is also found in vegetables like the ones mentioned above.

    Our bacteria loves vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. These are the prebiotics, in other words the food for the micro-biotics. Some foods like onion and garlic and some spices also help to kill bad bacteria, helping the good one.

    good bacteria o microbiome and hormone connection

    Loves a healthy lifestyle

    The good bacteria thrives with nutrient-rich foods, low stress levels, regular exercise and sleep. In return the good bacteria help us sleep better, lowers inflammation, and regulates our stress levels.

    Likes good fats

    Omega 3’s are also important for the microbiome. These fats help us keep the intestinal lining healthy and this avoids the overgrowth of bad bacteria.

    It doesn’t do drugs

    The microbiota does not like medicines, especially if they alter the balance of acidity-alkalinity in the body. Most medicines are not microbiome friendly but some are more damaging than others such as anti-acids, and the worst are the antibiotics.

    Antibiotics kill all bacteria, bad and good. Even natural antibiotic substances can have a very negative impact.

    Fermented foods

    We can include foods that naturally contain good bacteria such as lacto-fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, miso and kombucha to add more friendly bacteria to out gut.

    We are all different and for that reason some of us benefit more with some types of foods containing bacteria. You can rotate between yogurt, sauerkraut and other foods to see which help you improve your digestion and bowel elimination. For me that food is sauerkraut, for you it maybe a type of yogurt.

    Kefir is one the richest sources of bacteria, but try to have the non-sugar version.

    What to do if you suspect your bacteria is under attack

    We are constantly eliminating bacteria so we need to keep feeding the one we have. If you incorporate some of the advice above, especially when it comes to food, your microbiome will be healthier.

    In normal circumstances there is no need to take probiotic pills. The bacteria depends on our health and for that reason we need to improve our lifestyle in general. Follow some the advice above and you should see some improvement. You may try a macrobiotic supplement, but usually they only work if you make lifestyle changes.

    In extreme cases a few doctors are recommending fecal transplants in order to improve menopause symptoms, but this is rare.

    Keep it real, peaceful and easy

    Many people recommend radical healthy diets for menopausal women, I do not. There are a few reasons for this, stress is bad, and a new diet will create stress and bad hormones. We first need to love ourselves so we can listen to our intuition because we have too many choices. How do you find the real diet? Who are you going to believe?

    There are a lot of diets out there, most of them by people with little science background. Some of those people become fervent preachers promoting their diet to a level of extreme fanaticism. This scares away a lot of people. For those reasons I recommend to go slow and steady.

    What I told you in this article is scientifically accepted by almost all the scientific community. It includes things that are easy to incorporate in our lives and most of them are pleasant.

    Our bacteria wants the best for us, by doing the best for our bacteria we are also affecting in a positive way our hormones and with that our energy levels, sleep, capacity to concentrate and mood. It is a win-win situation.

    In conclusion

    Our microbiome plays a crucial role in our health and it is affected by the hormonal changes that occurred during menopause and perimenopause. During this time we have to be more consistent in helping our bacteria so we can be healthier and even happier. Just a few changes can have enormous benefits.

    Read: perimenopause and menopause without bad symptoms


    Photos by Gabrielle Henderson and Mel Elías on Unsplash

  • 20 spring time rituals for health and beauty for mature woman

    Spring is the season of awakening. It provides us with the opportunity of a new beginning, to renew our inner forces and strengthen our bodies. During this fabulous time in our lives we can create a spring routine based on Ayurveda and European natural traditions to help our bodies to more easily adapt to the season of growth.

    Spring routine for women over 50

    Spring is a season of transition when nature wakes up to life, from cold to warm, from seclusion to life outdoors. Our bodies have to adapt to the changes and this time potentially with less estrogens due to perimenopause or menopause. Our bodies are trying to balance the new energy, they are looking for harmony. The natural medicine traditions offer solutions to help us have more energy, sleep better, feel happier, sexier, and be more productive.

    According to Ayurveda, winter is dominated by the energy of kapha. This energy is heavy and it creates mucus and heaviness in our bodies. The cold weather and dry heat in our homes dries out the skin and makes us a little lethargic. Spring is the time to clean the body of the heaviness of kapha, renew our mind and bring “new” and growth into our lives, new energy, new ideas, new foods, new colors, new activities, new habits, and new flavors.

    20 ideas for a new spring routine after 40

    For the body

    1. Breathe, take deep breaths through the day, especially outdoors. Breathing cleanses our body.
    2. Try one nostril breathing. Gently cover the right nostril and breathe deeply with the left nostril, imagine how the air goes all the way to the tummy, hold for a few seconds and slowly release. Repeat with the other nostril and try to do 3 times. This helps to balance our body, releases stress and helps us to sleep better.
    3. Try to do some stretching exercises. It does not need to be complicated, just extend your arms, up, front, down and sides a few times a day and try to stretch your legs and feet.
    4. Morning exercise is always great. Try to sweat (real sweat) at least once a week. Try a new type of exercise.
    5. If possible try to walk in nature for a few minutes. If you can try to walk under the trees. Nature walking helps us absorb negative ions. In other words, it helps us eliminate radiation toxins. Our homes are full of radiation from all the electrical devices and Wi-Fi, these are positive ions. Touch the soil and hug the trees if you can.


    1. Lighten up. Invite spring vegetables and fruits into your diet.
    2. Try new recipes.
    3. Continue to use warming spices and herbs such as pepper, ginger, cayenne, cardamom, cloves etc. As the weather warms up we can start to use “colder” herbs and spices.
    4. Drink warm water with lemon through the day to aid digestion.
    5. Avoid fried foods. They are too warm for the season.
    6. As the weather warms up include more salads and smoothies.

    Mind renewal

    1. Listen to a few songs from your high school years. This tricks the mind into feeling younger and it tells your body that it is younger.
    2. In your essential oil burner or diffuser, you can use a 50% mix of lemongrass and geranium to bring happiness to your environment. You may also try lavender to cleanse.
    3. Try affirmations and visualizations. Every time a negative thought comes to you mind, have a positive affirmation ready. For example: If the thought is “I am fat,” change it to “I am in harmony”, “I love my body”.
    4. Watch comedy, read funny stuff, and try to laugh every day.
    spring care for women menopause and perimenopause

    Pampering/healing ideas

    1. Add some nice herbal tea to your routine. One of my favorites for the season is lemon and ginger.
    2. Give yourself a daily massage for a week. For only 2 to 5 minutes. Just put some oil on your hands and lovingly massage your body with long strokes in direction to your heart. Start from your feet and keep going up until you reach your head. You will feel great.
    3. If you have sinus issues, try a saline solution bottle to rinse your sinuses.
    4. You can also do a sinus steam with lavender essential oil. This can be done with a face steamer or put water to boil over the stove and bring your face close so you can breathe the steam.
    5. Bring a new plant to your desk to clean the air

    One more
    Try dry brushing. During winter we accumulate toxins and dead cells; dry brushing helps eliminate both of them.

    Photo by Sharon McCutcheon, Uby Yanes on Unsplash