Friday 22 May 2020

Making your Health a Priority as a Middle-aged Woman

womens middle-aged health check header with flowers

{This is a collaborative post}

Lockdown has given many of us a great excuse to pause and a lot of time to look at our lives and assess whether we are satisfied with them. I'm lucky that I'm happy with so much of my life as I've spent the last six or seven years spending time in prayer and reflection to ensure I am using my time as I feel God wants me to.

What this period has done for me is to make me reflect on my overall health again and realise that change must happen. I'm not happy being so overweight and it's about more than just how I look. Being 46 and having all this excess weight is causing me to have many other issues, such as carpal tunnel in my hands, urinary incontinence, unexplained pain in the ball of my foot, asthma, menorrhagia (excessive menstrual bleeding) and serious calf pain when I exercise. As we age also, it becomes more important to know how our body works. For example, some women consider using progesterone tablets to help manage symptoms associated with hormonal changes.

So, I'm making changes and figured I'd share them as every middle-aged woman (I hate writing that, have I really reached that stage already?) should be looking after her whole health.

Eat Realistically

Your metabolism slows with age, from 30 onwards it will slow a little each year and this means you can't eat like you did in your twenties. I have to admit, that I am very late to realise this and sadly the pounds (stones!) have crept on over the years. So now it is time to go back to the 'healthy plate' way of eating and to make sure I have a good variety of foods, over three meals with a couple of small, healthy snacks in between and no evening snacking.

Move More

It really is pretty simple, the pounds tend to pile on as you get older and we generally move less, so change that. I have started to do an exercise DVD for 30 minutes as soon as I get up 5 or 6 days a week and that will help my muscles start to tone up and increase my metabolism, so exercise is a winner on two fronts. I've also started to wear a Fitbit again and join in with challenges with friends to motivate me to move more and get the steps in each day.

Get Regular Check-ups

There’s no way of looking after your health without having a professional involved in some capacity. You don’t need to be at the doctor’s office constantly. However, scheduling regular check-ups with a quality medical practice is recommended.

Having these spaced six months apart could be ideal; you wouldn’t have to put in too much effort, and you can rest assured that your health is being looked after. With this, any issues that you could develop are diagnosed and treated early.

In turn, that’ll make sure you’re as healthy as possible, even as you get nearer to retirement. It’s a vital component of making your health a priority, regardless of your age.

Check for any Deficiencies and Supplement

It's very easy to have a blood test to check for any vitamin and mineral deficiencies and it's unbelievable the impact a deficiency can have. A couple of years ago it was discovered that I lack the Omega fatty acids, and since taking a supplement I have found that my skin and hair are better, as well as my joints, but also, importantly for me, my cravings for fatty foods has gone right down, as I am getting the natural source.

Fruit and vegetables
Photo by loanne pasleau on Unsplash

Don't forget your Genital Health

We all know how important it is to have a regular smear test, but if you've had a number of partners over the years, or you're trying to ignore a niggling symptom then it is probably worth having a full panel STD test, to see if you have anything that needs taking care of. Infections like herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhoea can be spread even if there are no symptoms and can undetected for years.

Check Your Breasts

It is useful to check your own breasts each month a few days after your period ends. We all have different breasts but you should get to know what yours are like and the changes that come with your menstrual cycle. When you examine them, if you find something that concerns you, talk to your GP. Then once you hit 50, you'll start to be invited for routine mammograms every three years.

Book for an NHS Health Check

If you're in the UK you can book for a free health check at your GP surgery if you are between 47 and 74. It's designed to spot early signs of a stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia. You'll be at the surgery for about 30 minutes whilst the nurse does various observations and takes your blood for testing and then you'll receive your results and be invited in to discuss any necessary changes to help give you the best chance of a long and healthy life.

Keep Hydrated

I know this one seems really obvious, but it is always worth a reminder to make sure you are drinking enough water each day. Alcohol and caffeine have a dehydrating effect, so you need to mitigate that by drinking at least 2 litres of water a day, and even more, if you are exercising a lot or the weather is very hot. Oh yes, and do remember to keep your alcohol intake down as alcohol can have even more adverse effects as you age, such as triggering menopause symptoms like hot flushes and also exasperating your bones becoming more brittle. Read more over at Drink Aware.

middle aged woman looking in the mirror
Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

Nourish your Skin

This is another area that I fall down in. As we age our skin starts to lose its elasticity and it thins and becomes more fragile with time. Moisturizing regularly after showering can help slow this down and keep your skin plumper.

When I look back over each of these areas, it occurs to me that there is nothing particularly difficult there. We just need to be a bit more mindful to take the kind and gentle option when it comes to eating, exercising and looking after ourselves, rather than, perhaps, the more exciting one that gives instant gratification but regrets later.

All the best friends, I hope your mid-life health check goes well and you can make some small changes to help you in years to come.

Mich x

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