Are You Talking to Me?
Daily it seems someone will remark to me -”I’m not really at midlife yet. I’m still having my menstrual cycles” or “I’m past midlife; I stopped having my menstrual cycles years ago”. This usually makes me smile because my definition of midlife has nothing to do with menstrual cycles and unless you’re in your 20’s (beginning of life) or close to death (end of life) you are midlife. You enter midlife when you turn a corner in your health and notice that to look good and feel good maintenance is required. Gone are the days when you can stay up all night, eat junk food and still function well the next day. Most of us notice this health change after our 20’s. At this health juncture you have a choice – pay attention to what your body is telling you and make appropriate health changes or ignore the signals your body is sending and begin a health decline. The goal at midlife is to plateau your health for as long as you can. So after your 20’s don’t deny being midlife, choose midlife and be proud of it. If you’re not in midlife, you’re at the end of life.
Behind Closed Doors
In this part of my column I want to share with you each month some of the fascinating things I have learned in my office working with women. And on the topic of midlife, I have so much to tell you. In fact, it was seeing women who are so noble and who give so much to others experience such poor quality of life during their midlife years that prompted me to open the Midlife Wellness Center. It’s a challenging time and women never have one complaint, they have a list at midlife. I call midlife the perfect storm. Women feel different, they look different. They are having difficulty functioning, family issues are common and they are worried about what’s yet to come. It’s a very busy, stressful, confusing time of life. Over the years, I have found that the 3 most common areas of health that need attention at midlife are hormonal changes (which include multiple hormones), changes in metabolism and the need for preventive health measures. Suffice it to say, to do well at midlife you need to be a health participant and address these issues. Don’t ignore important messages from you body. If you’re experiencing PMS, heavy cycles and weight gain, these symptoms are not just pesky symptoms that decrease your quality of life; they are potential risk factors for breast cancer. After midlife your health will decline, so take the time at midlife to investigate what is changing in your health and develop an action plan to address it. If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms, get evaluated; quality of life at midlife is important. Because numerous factors can affect your health at midlife, you may need help - recruit it. Use your family, friends and doctors to assist you when needed. Women who I see successfully navigate midlife rarely do it unassisted.
Get a (Mid) Life
The average American is not willing to do health maintenance and at midlife they begin a slow decline that ends in death. Humans like animals survive the longest when they are willing to adapt to their surroundings, not just accept them. Be inquisitive at midlife, be above average. It’s exciting to be a lifelong learner. Choose to live vibrantly. Create a midlife for yourself by doing the maintenance that is required. Look at the diagram I have provided that maps out the two most common health scenarios for women at midlife. Choose to be Patient A- get a (mid) life for yourself – you deserve it.
Action Tips for Midlife
Choose a health plan – see diagram
- Be the expert on yourself. Pay attention to messages your body is sending you
- Develop a plan to improve any health concerns
- Ask for help – get assistance when you need it
- Read You: The Owner’s Manual by Mehmet Oz & Michael F. Roizen
- Read The Wisdom of Menopause by Christiane Northrup