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 

Nourish your spirit and sleep well

Nourish your spirit and sleep well

Have you had enough of it all? Just feeling sick of your situation?

If you have become tired of the world perhaps exhausted from illness, difficult relationships, overwork or stress you may find yourself loosing heart.
You may find it difficult to sleep or when you do sleep you wake feeling still weary.
In Chinese Medicine, each of the organs is linked to an emotion, a colour, a time of day, a season, a flavour and much more.
The five element system is how we can understand diagnose and treat the body.
The element governing the Heart is Fire and the corresponding emotion is Joy in the positive but bitterness and disillusion in the negative.
So to nourish the emotional and physical heart, make sure you nourish your internal flame and do the things you love and give space and time to explore things that you might find you love.
Your joy is an inside job. External situations cannot bring lasting happiness.
Playing sport, visiting friends, eating a good meal they bring us immense pleasure at the time but what happens when the match is over or dinner is finished, do we cease to feel joy, do we start to feel bitter?

Our culture, society and/or conditioning often asks us not take responsibility for our own happiness. To be distracted or entertained by an outside source.  It can happen, but it’s fleeting. True happiness has to come from within, it comes from a connection to our true being.

“On a deeper level you are already complete. When you realize that, there is a playful, joyous energy behind what you do.” ~Eckhart Tolle

If you are feeling like your flame needs some nurturing, press into this point to reignite your fire.
It’s easy to feel powerless in some situations where you have no control, but you do have power over how you feel.
Connection and touch with your own body is a place to start to feel in control of your body and control of your life.

Heart Protector 8 – Lao gong point – the Palace of Weariness.

Take a breath, breathe as deep as you want to feel well, and press into this point to re-connect with your spirit. Don’t lose heart dear one.
Clench your fist and where the tip of the middle finger falls, give pressure and massage for up to 2 minutes on each hand.
As you press into both hands alternately, feel the point connect with your physical and emotional heart. Find your inner palace and take rest.
The Heart is the emperor of the body, when you are feeling restored to a sense of equanimity all the other organs will follow his lead until the whole body feels balanced and well.
Our hands are especially important in Qi Gong practice, as they help to direct and channel the Qi throughout the body.

Use this point to re-ignite your spirit and don’t lose heart. Relax, press and if you like, let memories of past happier times wash over you with the certainty that there will be more to come.

A great ingredient that nourishes the Heart is Rosemary.

For a good nights sleep, all you need is a small spray bottle, 10 drops of rosemary oil, and 6 tablespoons of water. Mix it well and spray it on your pillows or into the air indoors for a better sleep.

Like most herbs, it is considered bitter in flavour so benefits the heart. For chilblains, Raynaud’s, or cold feet, pop 10 drops of rosemary essential oil into 50ml of sweet almond oil and rub it into the fingers and toes.

Rosemary also disperses cold and phlegm so why not make your own steam bath. Fill a bowl with boiling water, add a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, rubbing them between your hands to release the natural oils. Then drape a towel over your head, close your eyes and position your face over the bowl. Inhale deeply a few times, take a break for a few moments if needed, then repeat. Feel your lungs expanding and your heart relaxing.

For more information on Qi Food Therapy and the Heart in Chinese Medicine see Joanne’s books, full of healthy recipes, acupressure, and advice for a healthy body and mind.

Try a free Chi Flow with Jo class – perfect for a healthy heart and a good nights sleep

Chi Flow with Jo Waitlist

 

All things Health and Seaweed

All things Health and Seaweed

Hi my name is David Millard and I have been employed as a Marine Biologist (MSc) since the early 90’s, working closely with the sea, first as a University researcher, then as a commercial diver in the aquaculture industry, followed by a short stint as a private seaweed consultant to my present public servant position that includes farmed seaweed development. I am rarely far from the coast and enjoy nothing more than poking around in rock pools when the tide is low.

I love eating seaweed, whether fresh straight from the shore, dried and sprinkled over food or prepared into meals. As for taste and experience, my preference is straight from rock to mouth, being mindful of potential water quality issues. Focusing on my proximity to nature, being present in this location, I enjoy the available earthly given bounty. We always have a pot of organically grown, dried, milled winged kelp on the dining table and encourage all to use liberally. Why? Well, it’s tasty for one, adding depths of flavor or what is described in Japan as Umami, the fifth taste, which can be translated as delectable. It’s also good for you providing a boost of nutrients, helping to support a healthy body in a myriad of ways.

For millennia people, especially Irish coastal dwellers, have availed of seaweeds as a source of nutrition both as food and medicine.

They are rich sources of vitamins, especially A, B and E and mineral elements accounting for up to 36% of its dry mass including sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iodine, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, molybdenum, fluoride, manganese, boron, nickel and cobalt. These levels are often ten times as high as terrestrial plants, hence people who regularly eat seaweeds are rarely mineral deficient. They are also good sources of proteins and essential amino acids, between 7-35% by volume, with a large percentage of soluble and insoluble largely indigestible dietary fibre, known to be generally good for digestive health.

A varied diet containing a high percentage of seaweeds promotes health and longevity as shown by numerous studies in Japan, beginning in 1927 when Shoji Kondo of Tohoku University first linked seaweed in the diet and longevity. What is it particularly in seaweeds that we can point to from a Western scientific viewpoint to support these claims? For one the minerals are chelated, meaning they are enclosed within a protein, enzyme or amino acid, allowing the body to recognize the mineral as food rather than as a foreign body. They are also colloidal meaning the minerals are equally distributed in a solution, reportedly, therefore, being easier to absorb.

Taurine is worth mentioning, as an amino acid particularly present in red seaweeds, it assists in the formation of bile, which binds with cholesterol molecules, helping to excrete excess cholesterol. The soluble dietary fibre, which makes up to 50% of the plant is in three forms agar, carrageenan and alginate, has an ability to absorb water in the gut forming a gelatinous mass to aid passage through the digestive system.

One other very interesting component particularly present in brown seaweeds is fucosterol, a bioactive compound that has been shown to be active as an anti-diabetic, anti-osteoporotic, anti-coagulant and anti-oxidant. In addition, plant sterols help lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in humans. These combined effects of fibre and sterols can lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Further combine this with beneficial effects of the presence of omega 3, fatty acid EPA, known to also reduce cardiovascular disease, lowering the occurrence of blood clots whilst inhibiting the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. Why would you not eat seaweed?

I love eating seaweed and I haven’t even tapped into the entire depth of reasons why it’s a vast subject. I plan to keep investigating and sharing reasons for including seaweed in the diet. I believe and have experienced that they are a rich source of concentrated food source compounds that can bring amazing health benefits.

To keep in touch with all that is seaweed follow me here for now, until I have my own dedicated space. Or meet me and walk the shore on the unique restorative seaweed retreat this January from the 3rd to the 5th in Maghermore, Co. Wicklow, hosted by Shiatsu and Conscious Cooking. Where we will

  • Learn to identify safe and useful seaweeds on a Guided Seashore Walk with David Millard
  • Conscious Cooking Classes incorporating many different types of seaweed
  • Learn to prepare a Seaweed Bath at home
  • Reflective Practices, Taoist Energy Exercises and Self Shiatsu
  • Rest & restore in the stunning grounds and secluded beach

Contact David Millard regarding Seaweed in Ireland or Joanne Faulkner about the Restorative Seaweed Retreat below

References / Ole G. Mouritsen . Seaweeds: Edible, Available, and Sustainable. 2013 / Sho H. History and characteristics of Okinawan longevity food. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2001./ Miyagi S, Iwama N, Kawabata T, Hasegawa K. Longevity and diet in Okinawa, Japan: the past, present and future. Asia Pac J Public Health. 2003.

All things Health and Seaweed

Detox Day – Cooking for the Liver & Gallbladder in Chinese Medicine

Saturday 25th March 12am-4.30pm
Only 5 spaces available

Spring is the time of new beginnings and growth. Nothing stops the new green shoots, they are powerful and flexible. This is the life force in our bodies governed by the Liver and Gall Bladder. It is powerful energy for effective action, enabling the unfolding of our life’s purpose. However in our overactive society the Liver/Gall Bladder can become overheated or blocked causing frustration and anger, pain and stagnation. Detox happens in the spring to encourage and support the Liver to regenerate and cleanse, this makes sure that blood flow is even which reduces joint pain and cholesterol as two examples of an unhealthy liver. In this workshop we will learn easy to cook recipes specifically to improve natural flow and flexibility for these meridians and organs.

On the menu is:

  • Thai style Hot and Sour Spring Green Soup
  • Mediterranean Caponata
  • Anti Inflammatory tea made with fresh Tumeric
  • Crispy green sprout salad with Umeboshi plum dressing
  • Apple, Rhubarb & Plum Crumble
  • Warm Goji Berry Smoothie
  • Chrysanthemum Tea

So if you are feeling stodgy and sluggish come and learn what to eat to uncurl from the cold and put spring in your step

The cost of the day is €75 – couple booking €140 and includes recipes, notes and all food cooked and eaten on the day – bring a tupperware to take supper home with you ?
The day will run from 12 am til 4.30 pm and is hosted in the light and bright kitchen at the Hunky Chunk House. There is plenty of parking and the Bayside Dart station is a 2 minute walk away. There is only 6 spaces available so book early to avoid disappointment.

To book a place simply call me on 086 607 0432 or email joannefaulkner@live.ie for paypal or EFT instructions

All things Health and Seaweed

Conscious Cooking to Beat the Blues

Cooking for the Kidney & Bladder
17th January 2015
12 – 4pm – Kells Wellbeing Centre, Co Meath

The date I have chosen for this one day workshop is no coincidence, its the day before Blue Monday – supposedly the saddest day of the year. So no surprise if you feel low at this time of year; “the dead of winter”, light is scarce meaning many living organisms have retreated to their core to hibernate and conserve energy; using simple recipes and acupressure points you can increase the vitamin D, Serotonin and other happy hormones in the body to beat those blues.

The Kidney/Bladder meridians represent the winter and the core foundation energy. It’s function is to make the most of our constitutional energy, to provide the basic impulse toward life, the ability to grow, to reproduce and to control healthy responses and stress levels. Learning easy to cook recipes specifically for these meridians is a great way to nourish, comfort and calm the body. If you have always wanted to learn to cook with seaweed – this is for you

On the menu is

  • Simple Sushi Rolls
  • Walnut and Feta Corn Bread
  • Cucumber and Dillisk (Seaweed) Salad
  • Barley, Leek and Arame (Seaweed) Side dish
  • Caramalized red onion and Seaweed quiche
  • Baked Porridge with dark black berries
  • Traditional Lemon Barley Water

The recipe I am asked the most for – baked porridge

Cost €65 includes all written recipes and food eaten on the day (bring a tupperware to take home supper ?
To book a place call Caroline Dixon on 087 218 5113
Or email kellswellbeing@gmail.com

All things Health and Seaweed

Sweet Summer Cooking for the Stomach and Spleen

Do you strive to eat healthily but get lost in cravings or habitual eating patterns?
Do you eat plenty and still feel low in energy? Is there a sense of lack that cannot be satisfied in your life?
In Chinese medicine this would suggest your stomach and spleen energy is out of balance. Energetically these are the meridians of the nourishing mother earth element, they are the time of harvest and abundance and their flavour is sweet.

Learning these easy to cook recipes specifically for the Stomach and Spleen is a great way to connect with the body and soul’s need for sweet and comforting food without submitting to cravings for refined sugars and starches such as chocolate and bread.

On the menu is:

  • Fennel and Pea Paella
  • Light and Lemony Turkish Lentil Soup
  • Sugar Free Millet Muffins
  • Sweet Potato, Feta and Coriander Snack Patties
  • Herby Millet
  • Carrot, Corguette Salad with Sweet Orange/Tarragon dressing
  • Stuffed Butternut Squash
  • Licorice and Fennel Tea and a Licorice Stick to take home

Come and unload the mental stresses and physical strains, have some fun and learn skills that can nourish your sweet self in everyday life

The cost of the day is €60, concession €50 (€20 deposit is required).
This includes all food cooked and eaten on the day.

The day will run from 12 am til 4 pm and will be hosted in the light and bright kitchen at the Hunky Chunk House: Easy parking and the Bayside Dart station is a 2 minute walk away. There is space for 5-6 participants per day so book early to avoid disappointment.

To book a place simply call 086 607 0432