My Menopause Story

My Menopause Story

At 34, I had a rough birth with my twin boys.  That’s me in the photo.  It’s taken just after putting up the Christmas tree so I know I had another 3 weeks and a kidney infection before I gave birth to them on January 5th 2003.  They weighed 6.7 and 6.3 lbs – that’s a lot of baby for a 5-foot woman to carry.  So when they were delivered via emergency C-section at 40 weeks after 2 days labour, I had nothing else to give.

My body didn’t even have the energy to contract my uterus so I haemorrhaged and almost died. Yes I saw the white light and someone had a chat with me.  It was an amazing experience and being so knackered I wasn’t sure I wanted to come back.

But back I came to look after my twin boys and run the environmental empowerment organisation I owned,  The company worked with the regeneration of Ballymun, well known for its high levels of unemployment, drug usage and high-rise tower blocks. It could be a dangerous and stressful area of Dublin to work in. I over identified with the success of the projects and worked way too much. I had qualified as a shiatsu practitioner in 2002 but this job was where the money was.

When the twins were 2, I found out my partner was having an affair within the company. I was just too exhausted to carry on. I turned the business into a community development. I left him and my business.

That’s when my Peri-Menopause symptoms started. I would get so dizzy I thought I was going to black out.  The first one happened on a busy motor way which triggered panic attacks leaving me feeling anxious all the time. My sleep pattern was disrupted and I was so exhausted I would forget my children’s names. I felt so isolated and alone, I often thought I wasn’t going to make it. My whole body hurt. I was only 5ft tall and weighed 14 stone because I comfort ate all the wrong food.

Luckily I had my background of Chinese Medicine and Shiatsu to guide me.  I started to improve my diet following Traditional Chinese Medicine Guidelines.  I began to practice a Chi Gong and receive regular shiatsu. I started with baby steps, little by little. I’m 55 now with no panic attacks, and no anxiety. I sleep well, and can remember what I walked into a room for. My skin is glowing and I have no grey hairs. Keeping the weight off can be tricky but I know what to do when the pounds start climbing on and if I have the odd bad nights sleep I know which points to press, which foods to eat and which Chi Gong exercises to do to ensure that things come back to balance naturally. My life is good, I have a sense of purpose, I wake up feeling rested, and I am happy.

The problem for me is that I was suffering Adrenal exhaustion. My kidneys, had nothing left in the tank to balance my hormones naturally, which meant I was either on overdrive with my heart bouncing out of my chest or too exhausted to move of the sofa.  For you it might be your liver making you feel bloated or gaining weight around your middle or your spleen out of balance, craving sweet food to give you energy but with a brain fog to see nothing clearly.

There are no two people the same / there are no two menopause is the same / there are not two solutions the same.

Which is why I created Chi Flow with Jo Intermittent fasting programme.

  • A fasting schedule that increases gently and slowly – not eating from 8pm to 8am – could you do that?
  • 30 min Daily Qi Gong exercises working on the Spleen and Liver (recordings also sent daily)
  • Daily Live Check in – for Q&A and support
  • Daily nutrition advice and recipes
  • Free access to Live Boost metabolism Talk
  • Join me LIVE in my kitchen for easy simple healthy recipes including Castor oil pack to clear a fatty liver
  • Closed Facebook group for sharing and support

We are often told we need to endure or just wait for the menopause to pass, but that can take years.

Don’t regret getting older – this is your time to shine.


So if you are

  • The queen of stripping: taking off layer after layer, with skill and speed when a hot flush hits?
  • Too exhausted to do anything, but when your head hits the pillow, you find it impossible to sleep?
  • A supplement junkie, trying everything to thicken hair, reduce hot flushes, help you sleep, stop your joint pain but nothing works long term?
  • Too nervous to go out because anxiety and heart palpitations appear out of nowhere?
  • Slowly gaining weight around your middle but your arms and legs are staying skinny?

It’s never too early and it’s never too late to make changes so you can be more confident, less anxious, get fitter and stronger, find your purpose, say goodbye to self limiting beliefs and negative emotions.

YOU CAN DO IT ! 

Your best life experiences are still to come

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”

Lao Tzu – Chinese Medicine Philosopher.

At the end of the month I will be giving a FREE fasting and the menopause Qi Gong class – to receive the live link and the recording sent to your email – simply CLICK HERE or enter your email into the form below.

Fancy a FREE Qi Gong class at the end of the month?

 

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Fasting for women over 40 – Chinese Medicine Style

Fasting for women over 40 – Chinese Medicine Style

I have been intermittent fasting for quite a few years now and it is my saving grace. At only 5 ft small, I have to watch my weight and especially since as I age (I’m 55), extra wobbles and curves can creep up and stay on.  I use Intermittent fasting together with the Qi Gong exercises in Chi Flow with Jo to get fit and healthy not necessarily to get skinny, and it works

At the beginning of every year everybody in Chi Flow with Jo practices intermittent fasting/digestive resting for 6 weeks. (Chi Flow doors open on January 2nd in preparation for fasting the night of Sunday 7th January // Doors will close Monday 8th of January to begin the 6 week Programme)

It’s super easy and supper effective – I use my knowledge of Chinese medicine to do it safely and easily so that following the fasting period I don’t rebound back, end up craving the sweet stuff and piling on more of the pounds I lost.  I am also careful not to stress the body by excessive dietary changes or intensive cardio training.  This combination can often exacerbate symptoms or sore joints, brain fog and hot flushes.

Our main goal in Chinese Medicine and Chi Flow with Jo is to move, often stagnant, Liver energy (akin to Non Alcoholic Liver Fatty Disease) and support the Spleen meridian system by clearing dampness from the body. Which if left unchecked can be the cause of many conditions such as joint pain, inflammation, hot flushes, brain fog, anger, irritation, sugar addiction, heavy limbs and a slow metabolism

I have found my weight has been stable and within my healthy range, my energy levels are clear and consistent throughout every day, I don’t suffer any dietary issues or inflammation and I have not experienced prolonged brain fog associated with menopause and age bracket. I enjoy consistently high mental energy and clarity. 

One menopause symptom I have to watch is Insomnia and after overindulgence at Christmas I can find my sleep patterns all over the place.  Intermittent fasting helps get my circadian rhythm and sleep cycles back to normal.

I am not alone: This method of watching when you eat rather than what you eat has become very popular. In 2019, it was the most Googled diet on the planet.  But Traditional Chinese Medical wisdom has long recommended eating during daylight and resting the digestive organs at night.  This is part of living in harmony with the circadian cycles and following the energy of nature.

The Liver is the organ in charge of metabolism.  After a meal, the fat is stored by the liver around the belly. Between meals, stored fat is slowly released, keeping body cells supplied with energy. However if the liver is congested through over-eating, eating at the wrong time, or toxic overload from medication, excess hormones, alcohol and fats, the liver is not able to metabolise the energy already stored so we can’t shift the belly weight, feel exhausted, suffer sore joints, disturbed sleep, even our nails and hair begin to thin.

Traditional Chinese Medicine always recognised the early meal as the most beneficial to health. If you eat during earlier hours it gives your body more time to incorporate food and repair itself.

According to the TCM meridian clock (a chronological map of the strength of the organs at different times of the day), the digestive organs of the Spleen and Stomach are most active in the morning (Stomach time being 7-9am and Spleen time 9-11am). So it makes sense to load up your calories earlier in the day, when the digestive fires are strongest.

Ensuring there is no food intake in the evening and night allows the Liver to rest and detoxify the body.

 

“I know what I should be doing to lose weight, but I need a way to do it that fits into MY life.”

“I have been thinking about weight loss for a while, but life is so busy I find myself putting convenience first.”

Is that you? Then we are on the same page and this Chi Flow with Jo intermittent fasting programme is perfect for you. When a diet lays down the law, it can be frustrating. Everything ends up being harder than it should be. Welcome to something different. this is so easy. You feel in control of your eating, you feel light and free, pain reduces and sleep becomes easier.

PLUS – You are not alone, there are almost 400 of us, all ready to begin in January.  This is the game changer … acting independently but still being part of a group and therefore accountable

Once you experience this Chinese Medicine method of fasting, you will will be able to use it. This is not a “one-diet-fits-all” plan. You will gain control over your food and you will notice the difference.  Having the support and the accountability of the group is essential to help you stay on track and to help you when you go off track.

This method with Chi Flow with Jo is not about Yo-Yo dieting – it’s about creating new habits and that doesn’t happen overnight which is why it’s a 6 week programme

  • A fasting schedule that increases gently and slowly – not eating from 8pm to 8am – could you do that?
  • 30 min Daily Qi Gong exercises working on the Spleen and Liver (recordings also sent daily)
  • Daily Live Check in – for Q&A and support
  • Daily nutrition advice and recipes
  • Free access to Live Boost metabolism Talk and join me LIVE in my kitchen for easy simple healthy recipes
  • Closed facebook group for sharing and support

Chi Flow doors open to join on the January 2nd in preparation for fasting to begin on the night of Sunday 7th January

Doors will close Monday 8th of January to begin the 6 week Intermittent Fasting programme

Have a look at what others say about the practice:

A recent review article in the “New England Journal of Medicine”, titled “Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Ageing and Disease”1 reviews the scientific research currently available on intermittent fasting, and comes to some very positive conclusions about the practice. It states that, ‘preclinical studies and clinical trials have shown that intermittent fasting has broad-spectrum benefits for many health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cancers and neurological disorders.”

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There are some people that this fasting practice does not suit so I would ask that if you are diabetic/adolescent/pregnant/have chronic illness/kidney issues/recently recovered from illness or surgery/hospital it is best that you do not intermittent fast. 

Also, if you have a food disorder or have had one in the past it is best that you chat with me before taking part. If anyone is unsure about joining in, please contact me and we can have a chat – or ask me anything at my free Qi Gong class at the end of December 

Bone building exercises

Bone building exercises

In my last post about improving bone health and slowing the effects of ageing, I shared what to eat following the 5 element diet in Chinese Medicine.
In this blog post I will share what we can do to strengthen the whole skeleton and prevent bone thinning,

Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the loss of old bone. This affects men and women, but women who are just past menopause, are at highest risk.

Studies show that the right type of activity and movement is critical to maintain bone density and strength. What works best is load bearing exercises such as squats, leg presses and lifting weights. These are standard practices in gym’s, where people use equipment to build body mass, muscle and bone strength. However as a 53 year old menopausal woman, that wouldn’t be my kind of thing at all. I don’t want the fuss and bother of going to gym, working out how to use special equipment and perhaps even injuring myself in the process. So I use my own body weight and gravity as resistance training to improve muscle and bone strength. This can be as effective as training in a gym with weights or weight machine.

Why not try it?

Every morning in Chi Flow with Jo, over 400 of us practice simple, effective exercises, just like the one in the video, to build healthy bones, muscle mass and core strength. All that is required is concentration on coordinated movements and breathing. No special equipment, no special expertise and no previous experience. (sign up for free class at the end of this post)

YouTube player

Tiger what tiger?

The deeply focused and relaxed states we attain in Chi Flow with Jo also help regulate the nervous system. When the body is under stress or fearful situations such as running away from tigers, the body flushes out calcium and magnesium because these chemicals are not needed in the flight of fight response. 

Every so often, this is no problem, as how many tigers do we generally encounter! but if the body is responding to every day events such as project deadlines or dinner on the table as if it were being chased by a tiger, then this is a serious problem.


As I discussed in my last blog about food for strong bones, calcium and magnesium are the two minerals essential for bone strength.
5% of calcium and magnesium is transported around the body in the blood, the rest is stored in the bones. If the flight or fight response is constantly being triggered, and the calcium and magnesium being flushed from our system, eventually the body will have to go looking to the bones for the calcium and magnesium to restore the body to balance.  This is just one of the bone weakening effects stress can have on our body.

To prevent this mineral loss and bone thinning, we must maintain our emotional, mental and physical balance, learn how to self soothe and return to calm after stressful anxious times. Chi Flow with Jo with breath and movement coordination, activates the naturally occurring emotional and physical mechanisms of self-repair and health recovery.

In postmenopausal women, studies show moderate exercise helps preserve bone mass in the spine and prevents fractures, plus it shows increasing physical activity can improve your mood and stop the loss of minerals at times of stress.

Add to this that women who are not physically active are more likely to have heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Sedentary women may also have chronic back pain, insomnia, poor circulation, weak muscles, and depression.


Happy hormones

Endorphins which are morphine-like substances found naturally within the body, account for moods of well-being or euphoria such as we experience after enjoyable workouts or even eating chocolate.  These happy hormones, are released in the brain and this improved mood can last for several hours which in turn helps the body fight stress.  Qi Gong and Chi Flow with Jo will boost these happy hormones to improve your mood and your mental strength. Research conducted by Harvard Medical School indicates that regular Qi/Chi gong practice is a safe and effective way to maintain bone density, relieve pain, improve balance and the ability to do daily activities.

Here’s what some members of Chi Flow had to say

“I can’t recommend this highly enough, a great way to support your body and just in half an hour – go on you deserve it. Best thing I’ve signed up for in years!” Solway Shiatsu

“Totally recommend Chi Flow with Jo. I started the practice last October and my body feels well and flexible.” Maighread

“I do them 3+ times a week and it makes a HUGE difference to my energy levels and general health & coping skills.
Give it a go for a month and see the difference.”  Helen

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Bone Strengthening Foods

Bone Strengthening Foods

As we grow older there’s no escaping the changes that happen to our body, however we can do things to slow this ageing process and the worries we have about it.

Thinning, weakening and brittle bones are one of the dreaded markers of ageing. More than half of all caucasian women age 50 and older are estimated to have low bone mass, which means their bones are getting weaker but they don’t yet have osteoporosis.  If not addressed, everyday tasks such as carrying groceries, opening jars, walking, reaching for high shelves can become difficult and filled with fear for people whose bones have developed osteoporosis.


 

Chinese medicine with it’s 5 element food medicine, Qi Gong and Acupressure can help you manage the physical, mental and emotional transitions of ageing. For the month of December we will be practicing Qi Gong and Acupressure to build strong bones and slow the ageing process.

Im 54 and I have been using Chinese Medicine for over 25 years and I share here how this system of holistic health keeps my bones strong.

From about age 25 to age 50, bone density tends to stay stable with equal amounts of bone formation and bone breakdown. After age 50, bone breakdown outpaces bone formation and bone loss often accelerates, particularly at the time of menopause. The risk increases at menopause, when levels of bone-bolstering oestrogen fall. Men are also at risk as even though they don’t usually experience dramatic hormonal change, because life expectancy continues to rise, men over the age of 70 can experience slow, progressive bone loss.

 

In Chinese Medicine, the body and it’s organs are divided into five energetic systems or elements; wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each of these elements have a time of day, a season, a flavour, a sensory organ and a body part. The water element is linked to the Kidney and Bladder which in turn govern the spine, the bones, brain, reproductive organs, hormonal and nervous system.

Therefore Osteoporosis, in Chinese Medicine would essentially be treated by supporting the Water element and the Kidney System, the flavour for which is salty.

What can we eat?
Let’s look at foods that have a salty flavour and would support the energetic Kidney system and most importantly, the bones.
Obviously salt has the saltiest of flavours so making sure we have enough good natural sea salt in our diet is essential. Because sea salt is minimally processed it contains minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium and most importantly for bones, calcium. It also helps regulate fluid balance and blood pressure in the body.

However too much of a good thing can tip the yin yang balance so don’t over do the salt by eating foods packed with refined table salt such as crisps (chips) popcorn, pre-packaged ready meals, processed, smoked or canned meat, such as bacon, cold cuts, ham, frankfurters, and sausage as this can have the reverse effect and increase blood pressure and weaken bones.

Foods with a salty flavour usually have a high mineral content so eating these foods rather than relying on salt alone will mean your bones stay strong. Calcium is the most important mineral for bone health. However, there are other minerals such as copper, magnesium, boron, iron, potassium and zinc that play an important role as well. The good news is that a balanced diet that include salty tasting foods such as

  • miso
  • bone broth
  • oats
  • barley
  • oysters
  • broccoli & green leafy veg
  • daikon radish
  • dandelion root
  • chicory root
  • adzuki beans
  • celery
  • wheatgrass, barley grass
  • sesame seeds
  • eggs
  • spiriulina
  • and my favourite, seaweed

should meet your daily magnesium and calcium requirements.

Studies show “Magnesium deficiency contributes to osteoporosis directly by acting on crystal formation and on bone cells and indirectly by impacting on the secretion and the activity of parathyroid hormone and by promoting low grade inflammation.”*
All edible seaweeds contains high amounts of magnesium and calcium in a format that’s super easily absorbed by the body. This mineral rich, salty flavoured food will really nourish the kidneys and the whole skeletal system.

You can find lots of seaweed plus salty food recipes and full list of kidney supporting in my 5 element cook books that cover the colours, the foods, emotions, seasons, acupressure points, and energy exercises for each specific organ and system.

I eat seaweed every day, whether sprinkled on eggs or avocado or larger flakes added to stews and rice as they cook.

For the whole month of December we will be practicing Bone Marrow Qi Gong, learning acupressure points and sharing food medicine to build strong bones and slow the ageing process.

Exercise is an important aspect of bone strength you can read more in my next blog or even sign up for a special bone building Qi Gong class at the end of November.

Qigong, combines gentle movements, controlled breathing, and focused meditation. It is designed to cultivate and balance the body’s life force energy, promoting overall well-being. 

Every journey starts with a single step, let a simple daily Qi Gong practice guide you on a transformative path towards renewed vitality, fortified bones, and a joyful heart connected life.

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