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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Libido in the time of COVID-19

Libido in the time of COVID-19

Fight or flight? Survive, thrive and procreate, these are the two basic instincts of human behavior controlled by the Nervous system. The first stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which controls the body’s responses to a perceived threat by stopping digestion, triggering stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol plus prolactin, the celibacy hormone. It shuts down the lateral thinking parts of the brain, it contracts the vagina and releases the bladder. However, the second, parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is the opposite.  It controls natural balance in the body so it can relax, rest, digest, thrive and procreate.

At this time of COVID-19, most people seem to be falling into the first response section and procreating is the furthest from their mind. This flight or fight response is ok if you are under immediate threat but on a long-term basis, the body and mind will become unwell, causing the very situation that you were trying to avoid. So how can we calm down and replenish joyful love into everyday living? In my last blog, I described how to bring romance back to life with spontaneity and trying new things. But maybe you aren’t there, perhaps there has been too much change and you are feeling terrified in a world that doesn’t seem so certain anymore. Attending to your libido seems the furthest from your mind and that’s ok right now. You have to dig where you stand and take action in a way that suits you. So rather than forcing your sex drive to kick start, begin by simply increasing calm and focusing on relaxation, good health will follow.

Infographic from Good Food: Better Sex

The Kidney and Bladder are the organs in the 5element system of Traditional Chinese Medicine that govern the nervous system. Working on these meridians can release tension from the muscles, relax the organs and improve the breathing so that oxygen can feed the body and the mind. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we use food, acupuncture points and Chi Gong exercise to balance and relax the body.  The good news is that it is relatively easy to help the body switch to the parasympathetic nervous system where all parts of the brain are in use, heart rate slows, digestion, absorption and elimination of food happens. It also allows the erection of the penis plus lubrication and opening of the vagina to take place, all you need to do is breathe.


Many practices blend body and breath such as Chi Gong, Ujjayi breathing, Yoga and Tai Chi. Here I share a couple of simple breathing exercises from Good Food: Better Sex.


The first exercise – place your hands on your belly, just below the navel. Take some large breaths. As you breathe in feel your hands rise and as you breathe out feel your hands fall. The belly will decrease as the diaphragm pushes the air out. Focus especially on the out-breath. Breath out as long as possible, right to the end of the breath and hold it for three seconds, let the in-breath take care of itself. Do this at least ten times. Taking your attention along with your palms to the area just below the belly button.

The second exercise – sweep your arms up overhead to gather the energy all around you as you breathe in. As you breathe out, bring down your palms over the front of your face and body, as they come to your belly take them to the back, over the kidneys, sweeping them down the backs of the legs and up the inner legs. Come to rest with your palms holding just below your belly button. Do this ten times and feel your body relaxed, kidney’s restored and nervous system reset.

In the book you will find more exercises including breast and testicular massage, practiced to increase health and longevity, plus beneficial acupressure points and food medicine. https://joannefaulkner.ie/product-category/cook-books/

You don’t need a partner to have Good Food: Better Sex you simply have to be your own best lover. Put your health and wellness first and good things will follow. It is perfectly normal that libido changes especially during times of an unforeseen pandemic and hormonal shifts. Don’t begin to think there is something wrong with you or your relationship. Just breathe, and know that all this will pass.


If you would like to work with me to increase your vitality and energy, to connect with your body, balancing hormones and jump starting your libido – why not book a 1-1 session with me  and I can help you access the innate health of your body, to tune-in with your sexual energy which in Chinese Medicine is at the core of feeling well and ageing slowly.

I can help you know which points to press, which foods to eat and how to communicate with your body

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Feeling afraid in Lockdown?

Feeling afraid in Lockdown?

Flow with the figure 8 and feel the mind & body relax.

Just before COVID-19 hit, I had invested my savings into self-publishing my new book, Good Food: Better Sex. I’d taken a leap of faith and thought I can do this, it’s time for me to expand and flourish, the world needs what I have to offer. So relying on sales of the book, my online courses, upcoming retreats and regular Shiatsu clients, I stepped into my spotlight and was suddenly blinded by the unforeseen impact of a virus I had seen start thousands of miles away in China. My clinic closed, retreats canceled and upcoming TV and media appearances no longer had space to talk about Good Food and Better Health. The threat of the virus was very real as one of my sons has an underlying chest condition so I made plans to take him and his twin to stay with their dad, living on an island off Ireland. That seemed to be the safest place for them to be.

At this point, it felt like I’d lost everything. I had no money, no family, no clients, and it seemed like my new book could be dead in the water. I too left my home in Dublin and moved in with my partner in Castletownbere, West Cork, the end of nowhere. No more bustling city, and interaction with neighbours, now there’s only fields and sheep. What was going to happen now that I had lost all control of my life? DRAMA – I thought poor me!!

I soon realized I’m not dead. I have access to running water, a warm bed to sleep in and food in the fridge. I am just having change forced on me when I was not expecting or prepared for it. However, nothing in life stays the same – the one constant is that everything changes.

The first law of thermodynamics states “Energy cannot be created nor destroyed”, energy is infinite, it goes on and on and on. To our narrow perception, this does not seem to ring true. It seems like we use energy and then it is gone. We burn coal or collect wind for electricity which turns on the TV, the lights or charges our phones. But when the TV is turned off, or the batteries run low, it seems like the energy is used up. But that is not true, it has just changed form. Fire converts chemicals into thermal and light energy. When you turn off the light, the electromagnetic energy is still present, it just is not visible. An easy example is sunlight which transforms earth to give the food which we, eat, digest, and transform into our energy, along with waste material which goes back into the earth.

The symbol used to represent this flow of energy and therefore life is the endless horizontal figure ∞. It is used in mathematical equations and I am using it in my daily Chi Gong practice to calm the mind and body. It’s one thing to know something, but another to feel it. To help the surges of anxiety, chest tightening, poor sleep, overwork, overthinking, panic-inducing, grief and uncertainty we may be feeling, I’m sharing a few Chi Gong exercises that help the mind and body loosen the fear by using the figure ∞. Energy doesn’t travel in straight lines. As I said before, it doesn’t have a beginning and an endpoint. It loops and flows, spiraling and swirling as it travels. We see it in the way rivers flow and the breeze blows. Large retail companies make use of this knowledge when guiding shoppers through their stores so they don’t come through one door and out of another. They meander through shops and end up in the sections full of temptation they had not anticipated. In my Shiatsu Clinic, I diagnose where energy is stuck in the body and help it flow through the meridians which flow in circles and figure 8’s through the body.

 

Making these fluid 8 shapes with our body has a wonderfully calming effect on the mind. I have been sharing them on Facebook Live at 8.30 every morning since lockdown began so that I can remain within the flow of the current situation rather than be frozen in fear. This transitory state of lockdown during the coronavirus will pass. It will change and transform. I will change and transform, with the help of a practice grounded in a strong back and an open heart. I look forward to seeing where we all are when the world emerges. Acts of kindness to others have become commonplace and there is a deeper understanding of working together for a common good.

PS – after my initial despair, unexpectedly sales of the book and the online course began flowing I could not have predicted a sales spike when my daily work was less than ever. It seems that during lockdown we all have time and space to explore Good Food and Better Sex


Now is the time to make changes to your health and your diet

I can teach you how to understand your body and take control of all areas of your health.

Courses include: Online Consultation PLUS Copy of Conscious Cookbook sent straight to your door
Tailored Videos – bitesize cookery programs, Chi-Gong exercises, and self-shiatsu acupressure points in your own home.

Choose from:

  1. Stopping Sweet Cravings
  2. Sexy Savvy Menopause
  3. Reduce Pain in Fibromyalgia  and Chronic Fatigue
  4. Good Food: Better Health

Watch the video to find out more at https://joannefaulkner.ie/online-courses/


 

 

Healthy Heart – physical foods and emotional tips

Healthy Heart – physical foods and emotional tips

During this time of uncertainty and fear, we may be experiencing insomnia, dizziness, chest tightening, shortness of breath, palpitations, or unexplained rashes and temperature fluctuations. These anxiety-related symptoms, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, point to the heart. Every organ in the body is in service to the heart and it is central to our wellbeing. So at this jittery time, it is essential to keep it calm and healthy. Here are a few tips to keep the heart pumping easily and the blood flowing smoothly.

 

In Chinese Medicine, red foods benefit the heart. It is the antioxidant anthocyanins, that give foods their red and deep purple color, which together with bioactive polyphenols, help detoxify the blood ensuring easy distribution. Good circulation and easy flow of blood are essential at times of high stress to prevent a rise in blood pressure.  Good blood flow makes sure all your organs, tissues and muscles are oxygenated reducing inflammation and heat. So up your intake of red peppers, beetroot, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, Chinese red dates, goji berries, watermelon, rosehips and pomegranates.

 

This can be in a mixed fruit salad or a summer lettuce salad but for something different try mixing pomegranate with a carbohydrate such as bulghar wheat and flat-leaf parsley. Use a squeeze of lemon juice and a splash of olive oil for a wonderful warm salad.  Recipe on page 200 of Good Food: Better Sex

 

All these red fruit and vegetables contain high doses of vitamin C. Most people are aware of the health properties of Vitamin C for the immune system. When we have a cold we reach for the orange juice but did you know Vitamin C can do more than just protect us from the common cold. It helps convert cholesterol into bile and prevents gallbladder disease. It destroys free radicals in the bloodstream, which are responsible for cell damage and the obvious signs of aging. It helps the body absorb Iron, it helps us burn off stored body fat and most importantly for the heart, it helps to rebuild damaged tissues and arteries which transport the blood to all parts of the body. It helps synthesize collagen which keeps arteries flexible and flowing reducing blood pressure, shortness of breath and chest pain.

Tomatoes are perfect heart-friendly food. They even look like a heart
with their blood-red outside and cavities inside. In the 5 element system of Traditional Chinese Medicine where organs have a colour, a flavour, an emotion and a time of day to keep them tip-top healthy, it is the bitter flavour that serves
the heart. In western medicine, the tomatoes high lycopene and potassium content dilate and protect the blood vessels, meaning lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease. Unlike other vegetables that lose their minerals when cooked, lycopene is more easily absorbed by the body when cooked. So a tomato sauce with plenty of red onions, red peppers and sweet potatoes, would be perfect heart-healthy food to keep us in the pink.

 

Then we come to the emotional aspect of the heart. The element for the Heart is Fire so don’t let emotions feed the flames so they overwhelm you, leaving your heart damaged and your spirit overwhelmed. Take a little distance from events. Just for ten minutes allow yourself to settle. Park thoughts and feelings that are occupying your mind. Allowing ten minutes of solitude. When you sit in silence, without distractions of the news and external events, something begins to happen. At first, you may feel frightened and alone but gradually, with practice, you will hear only your heartbeat which helps develop a sense of deep unwavering internal rhythm. By establishing a sense of self you won’t be swept away on the tsunami of other people’s panic and fearful outcomes. Your heart will a peaceful home in which to rest.

 

 

Try this next exercise either whilst sitting in silence or when you feel overwhelmed and anxious. Open and close both hands into fists. Make sure your fingers curl down to touch the palms of your hands, then stretch out to fully expand the fingers. Use the middle fingers to find the calming point in the centre of your palm. Open and close your hands at least 15 times and feel the circulation. Try doing it with your arms open wide for extra expansion and blood movement. This increases blood supply to the heart and distracts the mind from overthinking and worry by bringing the attention back into the body and our peaceful, steady heartbeat.

If you’d like more food medicine tips, take a look at the books.

Why not try a free class with me at the end of the month.  Register here and I’ll send you the recording if you can’t make the live.

Free Class Sign Up

 


 

Avoid Family Tension and Hang on to your Mojo during COVID-19

Avoid Family Tension and Hang on to your Mojo during COVID-19

Everyone needs to eat but these days when we are all inside, we may not be eating from hunger but to pass the time.  Grazing and overeating is a real problem when we can’t get out and about.  Perhaps your daily commute, striding trips to the shops or taking a walk with friends has disappeared.  Here are some tips so we don’t exit cocooning with more problems than we went in with.
Love your food but don’t overindulge.

Think of your food as a special lover, keep it sexy.  

Remember sexual energy isn’t about sexual intercourse.  it’s about keeping your passion and joy for life, making sure the Chi is metabolized and flowing.  So keep food light and tactile.  Eat food that won’t slow down your body’s digestive systems such as red meat, cheese or heavy cream.  Rather go for grilled mackerel with poached eggs or a tactile tomato and onion salad with a tangy lemon dressing.  Mix your carbs into a salad so that elements of your diet are raw.  Try the Bulghar and Pomegranate Salad on page 200 of Good Food Better Sex.  These types of food support the liver and detoxify blood so that it flows easily, nourishes organs and maintains libido energy.  To increase intimacy, eat using your fingers including plenty of eye contact with your partner over a table.  Even though the meal could be a chaotic throng of kids and grandparents, your partner will know you are thinking just about them and the delights to come later.  If you are cocooning alone savor your mealtimes and your food.  Turn the TV or radio off.  Enjoy the silence and relationship you have with the food that will become your energy.  Eat your salads with your fingers, take your time, there’s plenty of it.

In Chinese Medicine, the Liver is also responsible for flexibility and frustration.  So to make sure you stay calm with kids, avoid confrontation with teenagers and maintain your libido avoid other liver straining foods such as alcohol.  Create mocktails instead. Using fresh juice, add sprigs of mint or use a potato peeler to create cucumber slivers so the drink becomes a treat, not a chore.  On a practical note try watermelon and beetroot, as these foods contain vitamins and minerals that aid erectile dysfunction and reduce vaginal dryness.  (more info: Good Food Better Sex)

When everyone is inside, finding space for intimate moments can be tricky but it’s important to remember that sexual intercourse begins way before the bedroom.  Great intimacy requires connection so set a timer for 10 minutes and listen to your partner as they tell you their thoughts and fears.  Maybe they are unsure about the CoronaVirus or the future.  Maybe there’s a particular thing you are doing that’s annoying them.   Listen to them without comment or interruption as they tell you how they are feeling.  You may encourage them with phrases such as “tell me more” but don’t judge, try to fix or explain yourself.  Then turn the tables and you talk. This requires really deep listening and acceptance for the other person’s opinions and beliefs.  You can use this technique with any family member or a person you are sharing space with, it relieves tension and aids communication.

If you want to take this to the next level, set the timer again but this time ask them where they would like to be touched and how they would like to be touched.  This can be done via skype or over the phone.  It can be sexual or sensual.  You can describe how you would like to be stroked, it is with a feather or fingernails, which part of the body and for how long.  Or you can simply ask to be held and rocked. Honest communication is key to healthy, happy life full of love.  You can also do this exercise solo.  Your pleasure is never someone else’s responsibility and remember:  Outercourse comes before intercourse

I hope this insight into how you can use Chinese Medicine to complement your health by simply using food as medicine.  To keep the body active, join me Facebook Live every morning during lockdown at 8.30 for Chi Gong and Makka-Ho meridian stretches


Now is the time to make the change to your diet and health
I can teach you how to understand your body and take control of all areas of your health.

Courses include: 2 Online Consultations PLUS Copy of Conscious Cookbook sent straight to your door
PLUS 30 Days / 30 Videos – bitesize cookery programs, Chi Gong routines and self-shiatsu in your own home.

Choose from:

  1. Stopping Sweet Cravings
  2. Sexy Savvy Menopause
  3. Reduce Pain in Fibromyalgia  and Chronic Fatigue
  4. Good Food: Better Health

Watch the video to find out more at https://joannefaulkner.ie/online-courses/


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