Podcast, Uncategorized

Episode 166: Writing about Jewish culture with Lynne Golodner

Lynne Golodner is a novelist writing about strong Jewish women and Jewish culture. She shares her background and journey as a writer, her focus on writing about Orthodox Jewish life, and the challenges and research involved. Lynne recently set up her own independent publishing house for women over 40 with strong voices that need to be heard. Her first novel, Woman of Valor, joins two poetry collections and six nonfiction books, including Hide and Seek: Jewish Women and Hair Covering and The Flavors of Faith: Holy Breads. This is a fascinating dive into an often hidden culture.

We talk about:

  • How Lynne became a writer
  • Writing about compelling Jewish characters
  • Educating others about Jewish culture
  • The role of food in Jewish culture
  • The significance of hair covering in Jewish culture
  • Becoming religious and then leaving Orthodoxy
  • Career pivots and founding a publishing house
  • Differences in perceptions of older women across cultures
  • Benefits of self-publishing and challenges in the publishing industry
  • Lessons learned in midlife

And more!

Lynne’s website: lynnegolodner.com

Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Linkedin | Twitter/ X

Podcast: The Make Meaning Podcast

Mentioned in the interview: Beattie Deutsch | @marathonmother

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Maturing into hagitude with Dr Sharon Blackie

Dr Sharon Blackie is an award-winning writer, psychologist and mythologist, and the author of Hagitude: Reimagining The Second Half Of Life.

Choosing to live in the Arctic with Laura Galloway

Meet Laura Galloway author of Dalvi: Six Years in the Arctic Tundra, a heart-rending memoir and a love letter to the landscape.

Making the most of your heart beats with Julie Owen Moylan

Julie Owen Moylan is the author of That Green Eyed Girl and 73 Dove Street. We talk about life, writing, ageing, authenticity and lots more!

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share it and leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening.  Thank you!

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Episode 165: Midlife update, solo with Rachel

Rachel Lankester

A midlife update from Rachel on what’s been happening lately and what’s coming up for her as we move towards summer. 

She talks about:

  • Cherishing loved ones and coping with grief
  • Recent podcast episodes
    • Being a veteran
    • Black menopause and staying curious
    • Staying strong and healing
    • Embodied experience of postmenopause
    • Discovering the joy of volunteering
    • Finding what works in midlife
    • The power of herbs
  • Questioning big claims about hormone therapy and future health
  • The Mind Body Spirit Festival (London) and Everywoman Festival (Cardiff)
  • Poverty in later life being a gendered issue
  • The growing concern of digital exclusion

And more!

Mentioned in the podcast:

Let’s Focus On Known Facts About HRT | MenoClarity IG

Jean Hailes research

Everywoman Festival | Mind Body Spirit Festival

This podcast is dedicated to Rachel’s friend Uwe Mathon

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The embodied experience of postmenopause with Stella Duffy

Talking to writer and psychotherapist Stella Duffy about her PhD on postmenopause and the impact of gendered ageism on women’s third act.

Staying strong and healing well with Dr Kristie Ennis

Dr Kristie Ennis wants to empower people to do more than they think they can and realize they are stronger than they think.

The power of herbs for menopause with Hannah Charman

Hannah Charman is a medical herbalist specializing in helping women who prefer a natural route through menopause.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share it and leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening.  Thank you!

Rachel Lankester
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Episode 164: The power of herbs for menopause with Hannah Charman

Hannah Charman

Hannah Charman  has been a medical herbalist since 1999, having first become interested in alternative medicine when she used it to recover from chronic fatigue syndrome in her early teens. She specialises now in helping women who prefer or need a natural route through menopause, combining herbal medicine with health coaching.

We talk about:

  • What a medical herbalist is
  • Hannah’s journey to becoming a medical herbalist
  • Holistic approaches to menopause and health in general
  • The gifts of menopause
  • The role of trauma in menopause
  • How herbal medicines work and especially for menopause
  • The misconceptions and benefits of herbal medicine
  • Embracing the discomfort of menopause
  • Empowering menopausal women
  • The environmental impact of hormones
  • Navigating menopause based on individual experience
  • The power of herbs and Hannah’s passion for herbal medicine

And more!

Hannah’s website: physichealth.uk

Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram

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Natural Treatment For Menopause – All You Need To Know

Everything you need to know about natural treatment for menopause. Make positive changes in diet and lifestyle and you may not need HRT.

Episode 137: Being wiser about menopause with Tania Elfersy

Tania Elfersy talks about how we can be wiser about the menopause transition, so we suffer less and feel its power more.

10 Natural Remedies for Menopause Aches and Pains

Don’t put up with pain and discomfort. Or assume you necessarily need drugs. Here are 10 easy natural remedies for menopause aches and pains!

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share it and leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening.  Thank you!

Hannah Charman
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Episode 163: Finding what works at midlife with Dr Maria Luque

Dr. Maria Luque is a menopause fitness expert, a health science professor, and an Air Force veteran. She’s passionate about helping menopausal women become healthier, stronger, and happier. Her PhD dissertation was all about enhancing quality of life in menopause.

We talk about:

  • What quality of life in menopause means to Maria
  • Maria’s research on menopause
  • Misinformation and fear surrounding menopause
  • Embracing menopause and aging
  • Challenging menopause narratives
  • The influence of marketing and misinformation
  • Overcoming analysis paralysis
  • Trusting your own knowledge and instincts
  • The impact of polarizing menopause narratives
  • The need for nuanced conversations women’s health
  • The complexity of hormone therapy
  • The power of polarization in marketing
  • The importance of doing the work
  • Body image issues in menopause
  • Finding balance

And more!

Website: fitnessinmenopause.com

Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

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Episode 160: Staying strong and healing well with Dr Kristie Ennis

Dr Kristie Ennis wants to empower people to do more than they think they can and realize they are stronger than they think.

Episode 156: Staying fit as we age with Elaine Reynolds

Elaine Reynolds is a master trainer who teaches women over 50 to not give up or give in with the crazy things happening to our bodies.

Episode 74: Getting real about long-term health with Sam Palmer

An interview with Sam Palmer, of the Midlife Makeover, getting real about what it takes to achieve long term health and fitness.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share it and leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening.  Thank you!

Dr Maria Luque
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Episode 162: Discovering the joy of volunteering with Ann Marie Jackson

Ann Marie Jackson

Ann Marie Jackson is the co-founder of microlending organization Mano Amiga and works with Casita Linda, which builds homes for families living in poverty in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She’s lived as an expat in Mexico for a decade, is a columnist for Mexico Daily News and recently wrote a novel inspired by her life called the Broken Hummingbird.

We talk about:

  • Why Ann Marie moved her family to Mexico
  • The joys of living in San Miguel de Allende
  • Ann Marie’s passion for volunteering
  • Her experience working on human rights in China
  • The dangers of white saviourism and how to navigate that
  • The migration of Mexicans and other people to the US
  • Issues at the Mexico-US border
  • Casita Linda and how it helps families in poverty
  • Microlending organisations
  • The Healing Words Project
  • Writing a novel
  • How we can all give back more

And more!

You can also watch this interview on YouTube.

Anne Marie’s website: annmariejacksonauthor.com

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter/ X

Her book: The Broken Hummingbird: A Novel

Organizations & Project: manoamigasma.org | casitalinda.org | healingwordsproject.com

Las Abogadas Documentary Film Trailer

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Episode 64: Making a difference in the world with Alisoun Mackenzie

Alisoun Mackenzie’s mission is to enable all of us to make more of a difference in the world. It’s easier than we may think!

Fighting for social justice

Episode 55: Fighting for social justice with Iffat Shahnaz

A moving conversation about the importance of social justice, exploring where it’s lacking, and how we can all make a difference.

Episode 110: The joy of adventure with Alice Morrison

Alice Morrison has been described as ‘Indiana Jones for girls’. She‘s an adventurer who treks through the toughest of habitats.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share it and leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening.  Thank you!

Ann Marie Jackson
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Episode 161: The embodied experience of postmenopause with Stella Duffy

Stella Duffy is an award-winning writer of 17 novels, over 70 short stories and 15 plays who’s also worked in theatre for 35 years as an actor, director and facilitator. She’s a psychotherapist and a yoga teacher. She recently completed her doctorate in existential psychotherapy and her research was in the embodied experience of post-menopause. She’s been post-menopausal since chemotherapy for breast cancer in her mid-30s. Stella has been active in equalities and diversity work in the arts and LGBTQ+ communities for many decades.

We talk about:

  • Stella’s experience of menopause coinciding with six months of chemotherapy
  • Menopause as a global issue
  • Challenging existing narratives
  • Societal factors and the impact of money
  • Cultural differences in menopause
  • The UK’s influence on menopause narratives
  • Alternative perspectives on menopause
  • The importance of lifestyle factors
  • Societal perceptions of post-menopausal women in a patriarchal culture
  • Dismantling misogynistic stereotypes
  • Being inclusive about societal expectations and challenges related to aging
  • The societal pressure on women regarding fertility and how it contributes to defining their value.

And more! This is such a rich and empowering conversation.

You can also watch this interview on YouTube.

Stella’s websites: stelladuffy.blog | stelladuffytherapy.co.uk

Twitter/ X | Instagram | Threads

https://stelladuffy.blog & https://stelladuffytherapy.co.uk


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Being wiser about menopause with Tania Elfersy

Tania Elfersy talks about how we can be wiser about the menopause transition, so we suffer less and feel its power more.

Normalizing menopause with Prof Martha Hickey

An important conversation with Professor Martha Hickey about normalizing menopause. It may be difficult for some, but is completely normal.

Episode 148: Why we need more MenoClarity

Talking to the founders of MenoClarity about why we’ve come together and what we hope to achieve with this group.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share it and leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening.  Thank you!

Stella Duffy
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How Riding A Bike Indoors Strengthened My Bad Knee!

Recently I’ve had to completely rethink my exercise regime. Because of a knee injury I had to stop running and look at more low-impact exercise options. I discovered that riding a bike indoors is good for bad knees and I’m here to tell you what I’ve done to integrate this great form of exercise into my daily routine. 

riding a bike indoors

I’d long been a runner. I was never a very fast one, more of a slow jogger, but I loved it and it was very much part of my identity – I was a runner. I was even a half-marathon runner having completed my first and only half marathon at the tender age of 50. My goodness I felt proud of myself when I completed that. But at age 57 I was getting niggles in my knee joint and I stopped running and consulted a physical therapist. I was doing lots of physio to improve my knee health and strength, and everything seemed to be going quite well. 

But then on one day in Midsummer, a combination of a slight knee niggle when doing my morning yoga, a long walk which perhaps wasn’t very sensible given that niggle, and some breaststroke in a swimming pool in the afternoon, resulted in a trip to the emergency department of my nearest hospital in the evening! I could no longer bear weight on my leg and it was very alarming.

I then proceeded to have six months of waiting to find out exactly what was wrong with my knee! Nothing was broken but I had three different diagnoses on 2 MRI scans, all of which seem to be impacting my knee in different ways. The upshot was eventually that while I didn’t (yet) need surgery, I was told by the consultant that if it was his knee, he wouldn’t be running on it. I was pretty devastated to be honest.

My key priorities were getting back to some form of cardio exercise and weight-bearing exercise too so that I could maintain my bone density as I age. I’m now able to walk much longer distances than I was and that’s good for my bone density, but I wanted something more intense. I had also become a recent fan of my jump rope. This is such an easy and fun form of cardio exercise. But I will never know whether that led to the problems with my knee and it doesn’t seem to be a very good option for me at the moment. Boo hoo. 

Initially I wasn’t confident of maintaining balance and weight on the injured leg, so outdoor cycling didn’t seem like a very good idea to build up muscle strength. I have a tendency to fall off my bike at the best of times, and I didn’t want to have my knee giving way again when I was in the middle of a road! But I certainly needed to build up muscle strength to rehab my knee problems and strengthen my patellofemoral joint (the kneecap joint effectively). 

Indoor cycling has become my new passion and I want to share with you how brilliant it’s been as a low-impact form of exercise that enables me to feel that I’ve really made some effort. Another thing that running did for me was release my stress and I’ve been very grumpy not being able to to run! Now I can get on my bike for 15 to 20 minutes and cycle away my cares.

So how did I do this? First of all I checked that indoor bikes were a good and safe form of aerobic exercise for me. It turns out that with a bad knee, an exercise bike is one of the best tools in the arsenal. You can pretty much exercise the entire body although obviously the focus is on the leg muscles. You can quickly raise your heart rate and go through a full range of motion in your lower body maintaining flexibility. And moving our bodies is what it’s all about, even when they’re damaged. We need to move. 

Riding a bike indoors or outdoors is a great exercise routine for cardiovascular health and muscle strengthening. You need to ensure that you always have some resistance on the bike to protect your knees. But unless you go silly with the resistance and overdo it, the repetitive motion of cycling shouldn’t lead to more knee damage. 

Obviously with any form exercise, you need to listen to your body. This is why I stopped running long before I had the actual problem that landed me in hospital. I knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what. It also helps to get good advice on how to do any form of exercise safely. This can sometimes appear daunting when exercising at home, but there are some fantastic resources online now that can help you get the proper form, so you can stay safe while doing your exercise program. 

I bought this exercise bike from Decathlon (image below – at time of writing it’s on special offer at £199) having googled best exercise bikes UK (just google for your country to get local results). It was actually almost the cheapest upright stationary bike I found, but I think it is absolutely brilliant and more than sufficient for most people’s needs. I also bought this tablet holder stand for my bike which enables me to read or watch videos while I’m cycling. When I first got the bike, I was having to read a lot of research papers and was able to do that on my iPad while cycling away. I love to multi-task efficiently!

I then discovered Kaleigh Cohen on Youtube who has an entire channel devoted to indoor cycling sessions. She has playlists for beginners, lots of alternatives for different levels, and an all-important cool-down stretch routine, which I do after every workout to sort out any sore muscles. She also has a video all about how to set up your bike – which is incredibly important to watch to avoid injury – getting the saddle height and handlebars correctly positioned so you have the correct body position is key. 

She’s super motivational without being annoying, gives out easy to follow resistance instructions (it really helps if you have a computer with RPMs on your bike which mine came with) and constant reminders about maintaining good form. You can easily adapt the intensity of your ride to suit your fitness or rehab goals. I quickly feel like I’ve done a really great workout to start my day well.

With this combination, I see absolutely no reason for anything more expensive and certainly not a Pelaton – unless of course you have money to burn! While I have now joined my local community gym so I can swim and sauna at my leisure, I also see no need to go to a spin class, as I have everything I need in the comfort of my own home, saving me time and money in the long run.

A recumbent bike is also an excellent way to maintain movement and flexibility, as well being good for cardio strength. But you won’t be able to do the same movements (what Kaleigh describes as position 2 and 3) standing up, for example, on a recumbent bike, like in a spin class. But do be careful with these positions too, as anything out of the saddle will increase the pressure on your knees.

Listen to your body and only do what feels good. It all depends on your fitness levels and the extent to which you need to maintain low impact on your joints. Recumbent exercise bikes are very good for older people where any risk of injury is of even greater concern. They also provide a more comfortable and supportive riding position.

I am absolutely delighted with my indoor bike. My overall health feels so much better since I got it. I reckon it will help with weight management too – and I need help with that since I stopped running! My knee range of motion and strength are improving all the time. It turns out riding a bike is good for bad knees after all. 

An indoor stationary bike can be a great way to rehab from knee injuries, as well as being great for low impact aerobic exercise. I think I’m probably at risk of knee osteoarthritis too in the future. Cycling is also good for that, so it’s win win. 

My bike doesn’t take up much room either. It sits in a corner of the bedroom and is a great clothes hanger when not in use! If you’re looking for a great, efficient form of low impact exercise, it can’t be beat, I reckon. 

So why not get on your bike! 

You may also like: An Easy Overnight Hike From London

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Menopause And Disability – Need They Be Linked?

Guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has clarified employers’ legal obligations towards women experiencing menopausal symptoms that may be interfering with their work. This isn’t new law. Rather, the guidance has reiterated and elevated existing legislation, bringing greater awareness of the protections in place for menopausal women in the workplace. In the past, if women wanted to make discrimination claims because of menopause, they could only do this by making a claim for menopause being a disability. This is still the case. 

Generally I think the new guidance is a welcome move. I’m happy to see efforts to generate greater awareness around menopause and that women will be supported more and also protected. I’m pleased that employment law does enable women to push back against unfavourable treatment and that more and more organisations are putting in place a menopause policy.

However, I struggle with any association made between menopause and disability, because I consider menopause to be a natural stage of life and even when women have severe menopause symptoms, I don’t think that pushes them towards disability. But before I talk more about that, first let’s take a look at what exactly the EHRC has said.

Employers legal obligations are set out thus:

“Under the Equality Act 2010, workers are protected from discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the basis of protected characteristics including disabilityage and sex.

If menopause symptoms have a long term and substantial impact on a woman’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, these symptoms could be considered a disability. If menopause symptoms amount to a disability, an employer will be under a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments. They will also be under a legal obligation to not directly or indirectly discriminate because of the disability or subject the woman to discrimination arising from disability.

Women experiencing menopause symptoms may also be protected from direct and indirect discrimination, as well as harassment and victimisation, on the grounds of age and sex.

Under health and safety legislation, employers also have a legal obligation to conduct an assessment of their workplace risks.”

The reasonable adjustments to working conditions that the EHRC recommends for menopausal employees are better ventilation and cooling devices to accommodate hot flushes for example, the provision of quiet rooms and relaxing uniform policies or allowing women to wear cooler clothing if needed.  The guidance also recommends facilitating flexible working and changing shift patterns, for example, to accommodate women experiencing symptoms of menopause, such as difficulty sleeping, hot flashes and brain fog.

If employers fail to make these accommodations, they could potentially be sued under disability legislation. The guidance also sets out how taking disciplinary action because of menopause-related absence could be unlawful discrimination unless it is justified. Similarly, using language that ridicules a worker in relation to their menopausal symptoms could be considered harassment on the basis of age, sex, or disability. This last point, I love!

This all seems to be good news and it’s important to get more guidance on best practices. Just being able to wear natural fabrics and not synthetics can make a radical change to a menopausal woman’s comfort levels at work. But she also needs multiple sets of uniform to accommodate frequent changes and especially in case she suffers from menstrual flooding during her menopause transition.

These are all important ways to accommodate women at work. We also need to think about toilet facilities which are often woefully inadequate. If a woman is flooding during menopause and she has no access to a wash basin in the toilet stall, how can she possibly take care of herself in the workplace. It’s important that employers also provide toilet facilities that enable women to practice good personal hygiene without making any embarrassing issues obvious to everybody at work!

It’s interesting to consider that pregnancy is a protected characteristic but menopause is not. The guidance talks about harassment or discrimination on the basis of age, sex, or disability, but women cannot currently bring a claim for discrimination on the basis of two of these protected characteristics, only one. I believe that is why, in the past, when anybody wanted to make a claim in connection with menopause, it had to be done on the basis of disability. But pregnancy isn’t a disability and neither is puberty. Why does menopause take us into disability territory? 

Is a menopausal woman a disabled person? The guidance talks in terms of when there are long-term severe symptoms that can impact a woman’s work, the symptoms could then be considered a disability. So, technically, it’s not menopause itself that is the disability, rather it is the menopause symptoms, if they are severe. But is this just semantics? It still puts menopause in the disability camp, I think. It still seems to me, to be an unfortunate use of terminology.

Natural hormonal changes are something that happen to all women in midlife, and I believe with more knowledge, support and understanding, most women should be able to transition through this period without having to call on the disabilities act. If, in fact, we were able to call on two protected characteristics to make a claim, then menopause would fit neatly in age and sex. We go through menopause because we are older and female. 

Another element of the guidance is that menopause-related leave needs to be classified as menopause-related leave. This strikes me as a very grey area. How are women and managers to classify what is related to menopause and what isn’t? Will a doctors note and medical evidence be needed? There is no test for natural menopause, unlike for pregnancy.

If a woman is suffering from sleepless nights, that could be menopause-related or it could be stress related to life in general. There can be so much going on in a midlife woman’s life! She may be grappling with an empty nest, she may be stuck in the sandwich generation, caring for children and elderly parents, she may be experiencing her first real dose of gendered ageism, which could be knocking her confidence even further. 

If a woman suffers from joint pain, how do we know that is specifically menopause and not another reason? Do we look at the average age of menopause and if the employee fits that profile, then we put everything down to menopause? There is much disagreement about what exactly is caused by menopause and the extent to which it has a significant impact on women. And every woman has a different menopause.

Could menopause now be used as an excuse for poor performance standards with employers fearful to say anything in case they get sued? What time period will be used to accommodate women needing support during the menopause transition? We know all women have their own individual experience and deserve to be accommodated on a case-by-case basis. There is no one-size-fits-all, but it does make it all quite complicated. But menopause and women’s health in general is complicated. We need to work with that.

There are certainly positive steps being taken to support women at work and hopefully improve the employment rates of older women, so they don’t feel the workplace no longer works for them. If women are leaving work because it can’t support and accommodate them during their menopause, that’s not a good thing! We need to ensure we keep older women at work – society needs them! 

But it’s not just about ticking the menopause box either. It’s also about considering the impact of age discrimination and sex discrimination, and how we can also tackle those. Both have a big impact on how women experience menopause, as well as just being an older woman in general. There’s lots more to be done to combat the often unfair treatment of older women at work, and stop the need for any woman to attend an employment tribunal!

You can hear me talking about the new menopause guidance on Times Radio.

You may also like: Government Policy On Menopause – What Exactly Is It?

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Episode 160: Staying strong and healing well with Dr Kristie Ennis

Dr Kristie Ennis

Dr Kristie Ennis is a physical therapist, nutritionist, and strength and conditioning specialist. She wants to empower people to do more than they think they can and realize they are stronger than they think they are. She has a fantastic YouTube channel, which is where podcast host Rachel found her when she injured her knee.

We talk about:

  • The importance of letting the body heal itself
  • Fascia and its importance in body movement
  • The importance of drinking enough fluid 
  • The dangers of sitting too long
  • Hormone related aches and pains in women
  • The importance of considering the whole body when addressing pain
  • How hormonal changes in menopause can contribute to weight gain and fat distribution
  • Exercise and injury prevention for older adults
  • Common injuries in older adults
  • Strengthening the glutes
  • Pelvic floor exercises and common mistakes in women’s fitness
  • Fitness and nutrition for a healthy lifestyle
  • Cardio exercise guidelines and options

And more!

Dr Kristie’s website: drkristieennis.com

Instagram | YouTube

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Staying Fit And Healthy Through Menopause With Tania Dalton

Meet Tania Dalton, healthy aging coach and fitness trainer who’s passionate about redefining age and empowering women to embrace menopause.

Best Health And Wellness Podcasts

Here are some of our best health and wellness podcasts to help you stay fit and healthy through midlife and beyond!

The Power Of Yoga For Menopause With Niamh Daly

Niamh Daly is the founder of Yinstinct Yoga and is passionate about the transforming power if yoga especially during menopause.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share it and leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening.  Thank you!

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Books I Read Last Year – 2023

I was inspired to write this post about the books I read in 2023 by the very fabulous Kate Codrington who stunned me with her fabulous review of her own books read last year. And she’s been doing it for five years. So I feel I have to catch up! Not that I’m at all competitive of course!

She’s also an inspiration to me in that she borrows books from the library instead of feeding the Amazon machine. I’m a sucker for a Kindle book and I need to wean myself off that addiction most probably!

Looking back at the books I’ve read this year, it’s been a real hodgepodge. I’ve clearly been doing a lot of soul-searching, definitely looking for healing, analyzing relationships, reading about how we can age well and occasionally dipping into some great fiction, which I’ve mostly neglected for years.

My Kindle says I’ve read 36 titles, but occasionally there’s a hard copy and there have been academic books too for my gerontology master’s. Kindle also counted some books I marked as read in 2023, but actually finished earlier. But I’m averaging around three a month which is pretty cool ‘in my book’.

I’ve increased my reading speed exponentially in recent years. Sometimes I get the Audible version of the book and move between that and the Kindle version. That all speeds up how much I read. And trying to always read books written by my podcast guests, I need to be able to get through them fast! (My podcast was nominated in the book category of the Independent Podcast Awards.) Not to mention all the research papers I need to read for my master’s!

So here we go, a gander through the books I’ve read and mostly enjoyed last year. There are quite a few others I’ve dipped into but not actually completed. I’ve made a pledge to myself that this year I will try to write a short note about each book when I finish it, as I so often forget what I have read very quickly.

The Four Winds – Kristen Hannah

Starting with fiction, which I don’t often read! I’m not sure how I found this book, but I really loved it. Perhaps on a podcast I listened to? When there’s a strong female character, I’m immediately hooked and the story is very powerful. One woman’s epic fight to survive in the American Midwest. Fabulous!

Hagitude: Reimagining The Second Half of Life – Sharon Blackie

I was lucky enough to interview Sharon on my podcast which you can listen to here. This book opened up a whole new world for me about women in non-patriarchal history, mythology and folklore, and how we can look to these strong, feisty role models of older women to help us redefine and reimagine the second half of life. I learned so much from this book, which reinforced my excitement about the post-menopausal phase of life. Enlightening.

The Wiser Women’s Guide To Perimenopause And Menopause – Tania Elfersy

I’ve long loved the work of Tania Elfersy and quote her extensively in my book. I was very excited when I discovered she has recently published her own book. This is such a revolutionary look at perimenopause and menopause. It’s empowering and reassuring, revolutionary and back to basics wisdom. Tania’s also been on my podcast. Highly recommended.

Unwell Women: A Journey Through Medicine And Myth in a Man-Made World – Elinor Cleghorn

This is a fascinating look at how medicine has been designed for men in a man-made world. It looks at how women have been treated medically through history and exposes the truth of our medical world and women’s place within it. This is the book to read to understand why women’s health has either been mythologized based on nonsense or overlooked as irrelevant. It unpacks the roots of the perpetual misunderstanding, mystification and misdiagnosis of women’s bodies. Excellent.

The XX Brain: The Groundbreaking Science Empowering Women to Prevent Dementia – Lisa Moscone

This is a fascinating look how women’s brains evolve through life and how we can protect ourselves against dementia, which so often strikes women more than men. While estrogen decline plays a significant part in brain changes, there is so much else we can be doing to protect our brains in later life. Informative.

Working Daughter: A Guide to Caring for Your Aging Parents While Making a Living – Liz O’Donnell

Another of my podcast guests, Liz O’Donnell runs a community online for women combining work with caring for their aging parents. A topic very close to my heart and I was delighted to welcome Liz to talk at length about her book and personal experience. It’s a very powerful book and a very powerful podcast. It’s always reassuring to see one’s own life experience reflected in other people’s. And know that we’re never actually alone. Empowering.

Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain – Lisa Feldman Barrett

A fascinating and easily readable book about the brain – what it is, what it does and why. Turns out there’s no such thing as the ‘lizard brain’. It’s short, entertaining and accessible, explaining the basics of current neuroscience research. Cool.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – VE Schwab

This novel was recommended to me by an online contact. It wasn’t really the sort of book I would normally read and it was a bit long, but it was a engrossing story about a woman who is unable to be forgotten and also damned to live forever. Fascinating to see how her life played out. I realized it was really young adult fiction, but fun none the less. Once started I wanted to find out what happened to Addie and the Audible version helped my get through the whole story! Engaging.

Who Cares: The Hidden Crisis of Caregiving, and How We Solve It – Emily Kenway

Another awesome podcast guest. A lot of the books I read are by guests on my podcast. This book was utterly brilliant and I recommend it to everyone. Inspired by Emily‘s own tragic caring journey with her terminally ill mother, this book shines a light on the hidden and ignored world of caring and carers. It calls for a radical rethink of how we approach care, which we’re all going to encounter at some stage in our lives, either giving it or receiving it. You can listen to the awe-inspiring podcast here. Challenging, revolutionary and inspiring.

The Change – Kirsten Miller

I’m nervous about reading fiction about menopause as I like a different topic to the one that often fills my days and I don’t want it to be a winge fest. This was absolutely glorious and really celebrated the magnificence of the menopausal transition and the magical powers it can bring us. It was a brilliant read, fast paced and lots of fun. Rollicking.

The Overstory – Richard Powers

This again wasn’t a book I would naturally have picked up, but my other half was raving about it, so I thought I’d give it a go. I found it rather long and heavy but also fascinating. It’s a novel about trees and the people who learn to love them. That may sound bizarre, but it was incredible and as Barack Obama says, it changed my thoughts about the Earth and my own place in it. Compelling.

The Power Decade: How To Thrive After Menopause – Susan Saunders

I love everything Susan Saunders writes and she’s been on my podcast twice talking about how we can age well and keep our brains healthy. I love this latest book which explores the power inherent in menopause and how to make the most of life after it. I’m featured in it too which was absolutely delightful! Highly recommended.

Yellowface – Rebecca Kang

If you’ve been in my world for a while, you may know I studied Chinese and am fascinated by Chinese culture. Finding this novel by an acclaimed Chinese writer about someone pretending to write a China themed novel as a white woman was particularly fun for me as a white Chinese speaker. I didn’t think it was quite as good as some of the critics have said and the ending was perhaps slightly disappointing, but as an enlightening dive into the literary world and clashes between cultures, it was fascinating. Quirky.

What Fresh Hell Is This?: Perimenopause, Menopause, Other Indignities and You – Heather Corinna

I try and read a variety of menopause books so I have a complete picture (unless I know I will be tearing my hair out after reading the blurb and the first page, then I tend to avoid it!). Having written my own book, I’m aware it wasn’t the most inclusive. I was keen to read this one written by an author who identifies as non-binary. At the beginning and given the title, I feared it was going to be a negative winge fest but it actually turned out to be pretty positive and I recommend it as a well-rounded look at menopause. But I kept wanting to say to the author, please stop smoking and your menopause experience will be that much better! Inclusive.

Breaking The Age Code – Dr. Becca Levy

This book has been on my Kindle for ages, recommended by many including Ashton Applewhite. It is absolutely brilliant, looking in detail at how we age, what we can do to age as well as we possibly can and all the myths and assumptions that contribute to the negativity around aging. As Anna Maxted said, less self-help manual than a manifesto for a revolution. Dr Levy is the source of the research that found that positive age beliefs can add 7.5 years to your life. I loved this. Fantastic.

Hold Me Tight: Your Guide To The Most Successful Approach To Building Loving Relationships – Sue Johnson

Despite years of therapy I’ve never really explored attachment theory. This book opened my eyes to the crucial importance of how we attach early in life and explains a lot about my own life. It’s a phenomenal tool set for understanding hiccups in relationships especially when you haven’t got a clue why things keep going wrong. It provides a completely new lens with which to explore issues. Even if you understand reactions and feelings intellectually, it will be your experience of attachment and that of whoever you’re in relationship with, that dictates how you both behave. Life-changing.

Queen Bee – Ciara Geraghty

I decided to read this because I was sent it by the publisher, as a novel about menopause. It wasn’t the sort of book I would normally read and not really my cup of tea, but it was entertaining. It felt slightly as if it was jumping on the menopause bankwagon (you read that term here first!). I wanted to shout several times where menopause facts were misleading and had clearly being gleaned by a superficial media search. Regular readers and listeners to my work will know I’m a stickler for the true truth when it comes to menopause! If you like chick-lit, I think this one will be a fun read for you. Amusing.

A Smoke And A Song – Sherry Sidoti

Another podcast guest and you can listen to the interview here. Sherry is a yogi and writer living on Martha’s Vineyard (which is very much a character in her book). I didn’t know what to expect from the book but I loved it. It’s a memoir about Sherry’s personal healing journey through revisiting and excavating episodes in her life. I found it really powerful and beautifully written. She describes these episodes in the present tense and it’s highly evocative. I’ve been on my own healing journey this year, so I found it very moving. Cathartic.

Bourneville – Jonathan Coe

This was a very random book for me but I had to read it, because I grew up 5 miles from Bourneville in Birmingham. And I wanted to check it out before buying it for my mum. It was a lovely novel following a family through major events of the 20th century and was incredibly evocative for me as a Brummie. My own suburb of Hall Green even got a mention towards the end. This is a real delight to read. Highly recommended.

Fault Lines: Fractured Families And How to Mend Them – Dr Karl Pillemer

Families are complicated. I love to hear from people who’ve done research in interpersonal issues and I always find something of use to help me, often just by reframing things from a more objective standpoint! This was a really interesting read and certainly helped me reevaluate my own complicated family. Full of interviews and strategies to repair rifts or live in peace when nothing can be done. Reassuring.

Lessons In Chemistry – Bonnie Garmus

I absolutely love this book and was sad to finish it. It deserves all the accolades it has had and the TV series available on Apple TV is also sublime. I just loved everything about it, so if you haven’t read it yet go and do that! Brilliant.

The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness And Healing In A Toxic Culture – Gabor Maté & Daniel Maté

If you read one book in 2024, make it this one! Another book I part listened to, part read- it is very long. This is Gabor Maté’s latest work and my goodness I will be recommending it to everyone. Absolutely life-changing. So powerful. Gabor analyses the mind-body connection and applies it to individuals, communities, societies and the world as a whole. It’s a truly brilliant book and incredibly ambitious. It feels like the amalgamation of his life’s work. The audiobook is read by his son who also contributed to the book and (apart from the dodgy British accents he likes to do) it’s excellent. A MUST READ.

Remarkably Bright Creatures – Shelby Van Pelt

I was desperately seeking another novel to grab my attention like Lessons in Chemistry and this one was beautiful. It was such fun and I’m very grateful to the woman in a Facebook group who recommended it to me. Such a lovely story and a real page turner too. If you liked Lessons in Chemistry, I think you’ll like this one too. I need more books like this! Gorgeous.

The Slow Moon Climbs: The Science, History, And Meaning Of Menopause – Susan P Mattern

A history of menopause written by an eminent historian. This book reflected many of my views about menopause but gave me the concrete historical evidence I had previously been lacking. Of course we are designed to go through menopause. Of course there is an evolutionary reason for why we do. Of course we have a massive role to play in society post menopause as older women. I love, love, love this book and keep trying to persuade the author to come on my podcast. Fantastic.

Brothers, Sisters, Strangers: Sibling Estrangement And The Road To Reconciliation – Fern Schumer Chapman

Another book I read trying to make sense of the world this year. Part memoir and part warm, empathetic guide. This was a very useful read and enabled me to shift my perspective and see things with more compassion. Empowering.

A Monk’s Guide to Happiness: Meditation in the 21st Century – Gelong Thubten

I heard the author speak on Dr. Rangan Chatterjee’s podcast and was inspired to buy his first book. This is a highly accessible book about the power of meditation and how it can help with the stresses of modern day life. Highly recommended.

Handbook For Hard Times: A Monk’s Guide To Fearless Living – Gelong Thubten

I was so impressed with the first book I just had to buy the second! This takes meditation to a deeper level and has inspired me to both revisit and revamp my own meditation practice. It has lots of easy tips on how to make this a fundamental part of how you live and the power it can provide for dealing with the hard stuff. This is another very accessible book and I highly recommend it too. Enlightening.

Wise Power: Discover The Liberating Power of Menopause To Awaken Authority, Purpose And Belonging – Alexandra Pope & Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer

I wish I’d discovered these clever women while I was still menstruating! I’ve also read their pre-menopause book about menstruation, Wild Power, and really wish I’d known about the power of our menstrual cycle when I was still cycling. This book shows how menopause is a time of positive transformation in a woman’s life and while it may be difficult as we go through it, it brings great bounty. I interviewed the authors on the podcast before the book was published and in fact before it was even completed. You can listen to that podcast here.

The Power of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment – Eckhart Tolle

I’ve been on quite a spiritual journey this year, exploring new ideas and trying to get closer to what really matters in life. This book has been on my Kindle for years but I hadn’t read it. I finally made the time to read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. I particularly appreciated the reminder that it’s my ego that lies behind so much of life and that letting go of things that don’t serve you can be a positive thing. Staying in the moment is the power of now. Enlightening.

A New Earth: Awakening Your Life’s Purpose – Eckhart Tolle

Having finally read the life-changing Power of Now, I decided to follow up with this book which Oprah Winfrey says is a wake up call for the entire planet. It really is a life-changing book. I part read, part listened to both these books and it was very good to be able to do that. That is how I manage to consume so many books often by listening to them while walking or just moving around! A global shift in consciousness can be the balm we need in these troubled times. Empowering.

The 100-Year Life: Living And Working In An Age Of Longevity – Linda Gratton & Andrew Scott

As a student of gerontology I’m fascinated with how we age, how our life expectancy is increasing and how changes may impact our lives and lifespan. This is a fascinating book that looks at the specific implications for life when we’re living to 100. How we’ll need completely new systems and to reconfigure the arc of our lives. My one criticism of it was that care wasn’t mentioned once in the entire book. If we’re all going to live to 100, we’re going to need so much more care, and it wasn’t even raised. Thought-provoking.

And my book of the year, of all the books I read in 2023? It has to be The Myth Of Normal – if everyone read that, we would live in a very different and much better world! It’s an amazing book! Get it!

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Episode 159: Black menopause and staying curious with Pamela Windle

Pamela Windle

Pamela Windle joins the podcast to talk about menopause, at work, for Black women, diversity of experience, the importance of representation and staying curious about big statements about women’s health, especially when those relate to race. Pamela is a women’s health coach and menstruation and menopause consultant for the workplace. She trained with the Integrated Women’s Health Institute and the International Menopause Society. She’s an adviser to the British Standards Institute for the new standard on menstruation, menstrual health and menopause in the workplace.

We talk about:

  • Menopause and perimenopause in the workplace
  • The new BSI standard on menstruation and menopause in the workplace
  • Pamela’s personal experiences with perimenopause, challenging societal shame and embarrassment around menstruation and aging
  • Emphasizing the diversity of women’s experiences and the importance of self-care
  • Scepticism about research on menopause for Black women 
  • The lack of representation of Black women in medical research
  • The importance of including diverse perspectives in medical research 
  • Still being perimenopausal at 57
  • The spread of misinformation about menopause
  • Menopause and HRT stigmatization in the UK
  • Black women and risk of cancer
  • Menopause and hormone imbalance for Black women

And more!

Pamela’s website: smarterchange.co.uk

Facebook | Instagram

Why not explore more…

Menopause whilst Black with Karen Arthur

Meet Karen Arthur, host of the Menopause Whilst Black Podcast, set up to amplify the voices of Black women and their experience of menopause.

The Menopause Revolution And Getting Truly Revolutionary

How the narratives around the menopause revolution need to change, if it’s to be truly revolutionary and empowering for women.

Being wiser about menopause with Tania Elfersy

Tania Elfersy talks about how we can be wiser about the menopause transition, so we suffer less and feel its power more.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share it and leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening.  Thank you!

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Episode 158: Being a veteran with Cat Corchado

Cat Corchado

Cat Corchado is a US Air Force veteran turned founder of the Small Space Pilates Community. She’s made it her mission to help women veterans transition from the military, and is the host of the Sisters in Service podcast.

We talk about:

  • Why Cat is still very active in the military community
  • Women veterans’ transition challenges and successes
  • The Sisters in Service podcast
  • The importance of identifying oneself beyond military service (as the transition to civilian life can be challenging)
  • What first took Cat into the military and where she served
  • Cat’s transition from the military and feeling a sense of loss and uncertainty after leaving 
  • The importance of acknowledging and embracing ones veteran status
  • Recognizing and supporting veterans in the UK and US
  • Cat’s experience of being a single parent in the military 
  • Cat’s journey of leaving the corporate world for fitness full-time
  • The importance of weightlifting for women especially as they age
  • The negative impact of ageism on women’s fitness and the importance of challenging these stereotypes
  • Why women need to do Pilates
  • The importance of finding a qualified Pilates instructor who can tailor the workout to your needs and goals
  • The danger of burnout and getting stuck in busyness

And more!

Cat’s Website: smallspacepilates.com | Podcast: Sisters in Service Podcast

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Linkedin

Why not explore more…

Getting real about long-term health with Sam Palmer

An interview with Sam Palmer, of the Midlife Makeover, getting real about what it takes to achieve long term health and fitness.

5 Things That Happen When You Start Pilates

Kelly Vero shares how life can be transformed and the benefits to your body and self image when you start Pilates.

 Leaving medicine for yoga with Nadine Kelly, Yogi M.D.

Nadine Kelly was a medical doctor for many years but gave it up to be a yoga instructor. She has a fascinating story to tell about how she lives now. 

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share it and leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening.  Thank you!

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