My guest Alice Morrison is an adventurer. She’s the Indiana Jones for girls. She’s done so many things that would test anyone’s endurance. The Marathon des Sables, the Tour d’Afrique, she was the first woman to walk the full length of the Draa River in Morocco where she lives. She’s trekked through the Sahara and completed the Everest Trail Race. She’s written several books, and the most recent is Walking With Nomads. If you’ve ever wanted to go on a big adventure, this interview is for you!
We talk about:
Where Alice’s love of Africa and the Middle East came from
Alice’s childhood and how it went from great freedom to rigid structure
Alice’s latest book and her love of expeditions
What it’s like traveling as a woman in the places Alice visits
How English speakers can make friends better when traveling
Why Alice practices Ramadan even though she’s not Muslim
What it’s like living in a rural community in Morocco
Coping with fear and the problems of Covid when it comes to traveling
What it’s like for Alice now traveling as an older woman
How other cultures approach aging, especially for women
When I started my Mutton Club e-zine in 2016, one of my first writers was the very lovely Lynnda Pollio who wrote an article about turning 60 and how very strange that experience had been. Lynnda described getting older and particularly turning 60, as entering the youth of her old age.
I’m not about to turn 60, but have just turned 56. This means I am officially closer to 60 than I am to 50. My husband, being ever precise about these things said, you’ve been closer to 60 since you turned 55, a year ago. That’s splitting hairs I reckon.
At least until now I was still officially 55 which was in the middle between 50 and 60. But now I’m 56, which is officially closer to 60 than to 50. That feels quite momentous, even for me.
If you’ve read my work or listened to my podcast, you’ll know I’m very pro aging. We’re all aging from the day we’re born and getting past 50, 60, 70, 80 is a privilege denied to many in this world.
So I don’t see aging as anything bad and I certainly don’t attribute any shame to it. That wasn’t always the case, but it’s something I’ve learned as I’ve gone on my magnificent midlife journey.
I like the silver highlights coming into my fringe. I appreciate the wrinkles around my eyes and the frown lines between my eyebrows. The wrinkles mean I’ve smiled a lot. The frown lines… ah well!
But it still feels significant to be getting ever closer to 60, even for me. I’m sure the next four years will pass in a flash and I’ll be celebrating my actual 60th birthday before I know it.
I’ve already decided, unlike Lynnda, I’m not going to think of it as the youth of my old age. There’s a new term I’ve come across recently and I really like it as a way of describing the next stage of my life. It comes without the negative connotations which sadly are still deeply associated with older and old age.
That word is elderhood and I really like it. So I feel happy to be getting ever closer to the youth of my elderhood. I like the idea that I’m becoming an elder. Being an elder carries all sorts of positive connotations for me. In history, and still in many places around the world, to be an elder means you’ve reached the top of the tree.
Since about 45, I’ve not minded getting older, but I do still mind if anybody thinks of me as old, simply because that is such a finite term. In our modern world, where we increasingly distance ourselves from the binary to appreciating more of a spectrum, age is one area in which we don’t do that.
We still seem to go from young to old with very little space for nuance or variation along what is actually a very long timespan. We forget that even when we’re 60, we’re young compared to a 90-year-old. An 18-year-old is positively ancient compared to a two-year-old. The binary definitions of young and old just don’t make sense!
We also lump great swathes of population into categories without differentiating between them. The European Union still talks about the silver economy as being everyone over the age of 50. That strikes me as such a lazy and damaging categorization.
How can you possibly lump a 50-year-old into a statistical grouping with a 70-year old or 90-year-old? The needs of those different ages are so very different. We wouldn’t dream of putting a 10-year-old, a 20-year-old and a 30-year-old in the same age category, even though there are only 20 years between them, in the same way there are 20 years difference between 50 and 70.
We need to stop being binary about age and believing that as we get older, we turn into one big amorphous, undifferentiated mass which no longer requires the subtlety (or respect) of differentiation.
Yes I am older, but don’t call me old. Don’t put me in a box. I don’t think I’ll be old until I’m at least 90, and even at 90, I’ll be young compared to a 100-year-old. You can call me older and you can even call me an elder. I like being an elder.
Listen to this podcast episode where I talk about how we get better with age on the Magnificent Midlife Podcast
So what am I noticing as I turn 56? I care even less what other people think about what I say or do. I’m more willing to stand up and express my opinion when it goes counter to the prevailing ones and often gets me into trouble.
I’m getting better at appreciating the moment. Whenever I can, I try and slow things down because generally the world spins round at light speed.
I care about people and experiences, not things. So long as I have a roof over my head, I really don’t care what’s under that roof (so long as it’s tidy!)
My body aches when I get up in the morning, but I know that’s its way of telling me I need to go and stretch and do some yoga. And increasingly that yoga has to be done every day.
I’m interested in finding out why my body aches more and I’ve identified that I have very tight hips, so I’m working on opening those up as I get older. Yoga is one of those delightful practices you can get better at the older you get.
The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. And the more I want to make a difference.
Gratitude is something I try to practice regularly. I don’t always remember, and I often get swept away in the minutiae of the day. But getting myself grounded in the moment with a bit of mindfulness and gratitude is always a good thing to do.
So these are my ponderings around my 56th birthday. I’m getting closer to my elderhood, but I’m not worried about that. I’m just very very grateful to be here and I’m still busy trying to change the world.
Jo Pybus is a writer, feminist and what she calls late-onset to many things. She’s an Ironman (Ironwoman) and represented Australia in triathlon and cycling in her 40s. She’s latterly become a writer and a champion for raising awareness of menopause. Her mantra is better late than never!
We talk about:
What inspires Jo and what being late onset means to her
Why Jo set herself extreme physical challenges
Running 102km in perimenopause
How physical activity helped her cope with grief
Having a low intolerance to regret
How women can stop settling for the way things are
How she learnt that her body needed to adapt through perimenopause
Why we need to talk about menopause more
What it means to be a late onset feminist
The Me Too movement and the way we see things differently now
Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugh Wurlitzer are the founders of Red School and the authors of Wild Power: Discover the Magic of Your Menstrual Cycle and Awaken the Feminine Path to Power and Wise Power: Discover the Liberating Power of Menopause to Awaken Authority, Purpose and Belonging.
This is such an empowering conversation about the innate power of women. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
We talk about:
What their book Wild Power is all about
The importance of Menstrual Cycle Awareness (MCA)
How menopause prompted Alexandra to change course and focus on menstruality
How Alexandra and Sjanie met and how Red School came about
How Red School is preparing for Sjanie’s menopause
How being in tune with our menstrual cycle can make menopause less of a trial than it’s usually portrayed as being
The Red School view of menopause
What women can do to prepare for a good menopause transition
The awakening that comes with menopause
Changing the narrative around menopause and making self-care non-negotiable
The changes that come with menopause
What Alexandra and Sjanie hope to achieve with their new book
Books: Wise Power: Discover the Liberating Power of Menopause to Awaken Authority, Purpose and Belonging and Wild Power: Discover the Magic of Your Menstrual Cycle and Awaken the Feminine Path to Power and
If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share it and maybe leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening. Thank you!
Many women experience weight gain around the time of menopause. Menopause gets blamed for many things and increased belly fat is certainly one thing that gets attributed to it. There is some truth in this because our bodies definitely change shape as we age and changes in hormones have an impact on where our body fat is distributed.
When menopausal bodies try to cling on to belly fat it may also be because after menopause when we have less oestrogen in our bodies than before menopause, estrogen is still found in our adipose tissue (fat) and also produced by our adrenal glands.
So reducing our body fat has to be done in balance with what the body wants to do to protect us if it sees us as needing protection. When the body perceives us to be under stress it will lay down fat stores to protect us rather than allowing us to lose weight. So it’s all about balance – both for our hormones and our weight.
So getting a handle on our menopause belly fat is good not just for self esteem about how we look, but actually far more importantly, for our long term health. So if you feel inclined to think, I’m older now, it doesn’t matter what I look like, remember actually it really does matter how much excess weight you may be carrying if you are aiming for a long and healthy life span.
The one thing we sadly cannot do is spot reduce our weight. No matter how many situps you may do if you do not reduce your overall weight, you are unlikely to reduce your belly fat. I was actually quite pleased to discover this as I felt it could stop me wasting hours trying to reduce something in the most inefficient way possible! Things like planking are still great for building a strong core, which is all going to help reduce our tummies.
How can we get rid of menopause belly fat or at least make it less of an issue?
Eating a healthy diet is absolutely key to supporting our menopause transition. Good, organic sources of protein, not necessarily from animal sources, lots of leafy green vegetables, beans and pulses, reducing our intake of sugar and refined goods and eating organic as much as possible.
Reducing levels of stress are also crucial. When our body thinks it is under stress it lays down fat stores. We may be living a stressful life and not managing our stress levels very well. We may also be putting stress on our bodies by not balancing our blood sugar levels.
As we go through menopause the adrenal glands take over from the ovaries in producing estrogen. However if our blood sugar levels aren’t balanced and we are spiking them by consuming sugar alcohol and caffeine processed foods et cetera then the body will prioritise production of stress hormones over oestrogenic and contribute to the hormonal imbalance that we experience as we go through menopause. (You can read more about that here: How To Have A Happy Menopause.)
When the body is stressed it will be much more difficult to shift excess menopause belly fat. There is some truth in the adage mind over matter. We have to engage our mental health as well as our physical health when we want to lose weight. If you are depressed, for example, your body is unlikely to let you lose weight because it will know you are under stress and will therefore try to protect you by laying down more fat stores.
As we age we need more exercise not less. From about the age of 30 our metabolism naturally starts to decrease. By the time we reach menopause if we have not made efforts to maintain muscle mass, our metabolism will be much lower than it was when we were younger. Sometimes women will say, “I don’t understand what’s going on – I’m eating what I have always eaten, I’m doing the exercise I’ve always done, but I’m still putting on weight”. The issue is that this is completely to be expected because of our lower metabolism.
If we want to lose weight or even actually just maintain our weight, we need to eat less and exercise more. We also need to prioritize weight bearing exercise including actually lifting weights. This is particularly important for women as we go through menopause. Incorporating weight bearing exercise and some actual weightlifting into our exercise regime strengthens our bones and also maintains our muscle mass and therefore our overall strength.
Gone are the days when we can just skip a meal or two and return to an earlier weight. It takes time and effort but it can be done. Personally I have found the Noom app very helpful for helping to knock off some excess pounds I had accumulated and I was very happy to see them dropping from my belly too!
Another thing to consider is interval training – high intensity interval training or HIIT, which can provide quicker results in terms of improving fitness and weight loss when time is of the essence. Reducing carb intake is also important. Unless we are actually doing a lot of aerobic exercise we don’t need to eat many carbs at all. You may find it helpful to stop eating carbs after 6 PM for example. And beware of where you may be consuming carbs without realizing – in fizzy drinks and fruit juice for example.
Keep an eye on how you are emotionally and take action if you’re feeling down. Emotions can cause us to comfort eat or not do the exercise that we know will help us. Depression and anxiety are often common issues around the time of menopause, not just because of hormonal changes, but because of everything else that’s going on in life at the same time. So be sure to take care of your mental health as well as your physical.
To protect both your mental health and help with weight loss make sure you get enough sleep. If you are not sleeping sufficiently you are putting your body under stress and again if your body feels you are stressed it won’t allow you to lose weight. If sleep is an issue check out this post: Fighting Insomnia – How To Sleep Well
There are many factors to consider when trying to get a handle on menopause belly fat. It really pays to take a holistic approach to the issue. It’s important to get it under control as much as possible for your long term health, as well as how you feel about yourself as you age.
If you want to lose weight and get fit, I really recommend Pahla B Fitness on YouTube. She’s a menopausal women herself and understand all of our issues! Good luck!
Sam Palmer is a menopause fitness expert. She’s passionate about getting women in their best shape so they can thrive through menopause and beyond. She’s a qualified nurse, teacher, fitness instructor and menopause coach.
We talk about: • Dealing with the anxieties of midlife • How we all benefit from being open about menopause • Why taking care of your body is so important • Why midlife fitness is no longer necessarily about looking good • Ways to change our everyday life to be more active • How changing your lifestyle takes discipline • Why Sam takes comfort in running • Other ways to be active • Making sure you don’t overdo it with exercise • Finding what works for you • Not carrying your wine • Changes of lifestyle not needing to be drastic • Why having an exercise partner can be good
My guest today is Becky Quicke who describes herself as the Menopause Psychologist. She’s dedicated to helping women cope especially with the emotional aspects of menopause. We talk all about managing anxiety but also about the tremendous power of hormonal change for women.
We talk about:
Becky’s personal experience of perimenopause
Connecting with and understanding your menstrual cycle and how it affects your body
Understanding anxiety around menopause
Helping women live through menopause in the modern world
How to not fight or deny the anxiety that comes with menopause
Channelling mid-life feelings into passion
Exploring the extent to which moon cycles can affect women
How menopause becomes a journey of deep connection with those around us
Sex isn’t just about reproducing and evolves as we age
Becky’s 6 step process to help women transition through menopause
Tuning into your body and facing menopause head-on
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.