Menopause Course Update

Test Don’t Guess.

What gets measured gets managed.

These are a couple of the pearls of wisdom from Dr. Anna Cabeca and the menopause course I’m close to completing.

I promised an update on how I was doing with the course information and so here it is!

Results:

  • Blood pressure is down 20 points on top number and 10 points on bottom number
  • Lost 6 1/2 pounds without trying
  • Lost 2″ off my waist and 3″ off my hips
  • Lost 1.5% body fat (per FitBit scale)
  • Break out sweating and strip off clothes hot flashes that were about 2-3x a day are gone (I still notice about 4 or 5 warm flashes a week)
  • I’m sleeping more soundly
  • I don’t wake up at night 3 or 4x to pee
  • I don’t have as much body pain
  • Intimacy is more comfortable
  • I have more energy throughout the day
  • My body feels stronger
  • Had a 50% decrease in menopause symptom severity in just 6 weeks (sleep, vaginal dryness, tearing eyes, hair thinning, weight gain, low energy, hot flashes, dental health issues, pain, joint stiffness, stress, underlying anxiety, social withdrawal, urinary frequency, decreased joy in life, fibrocystic breasts, headaches, and irritability with flashes of an intense feeling of anger)
  • AND I just feel more happy … joy in the small things in life

What is the program about? It’s basically about getting information about how our bodies age from a knowledgable doctor on different menopause related topics and then empowering us to make our own healthy lifestyle choices and to have a better partnership with our own doctors (or to choose a new doctor who is supportive and holistic).

The key to the program is living keto-alkaline. And we use test strips created by Dr. Cabeca every day to determine if our body is in a keto-alkaline state.

The first thing we worked on was getting our urine to test alkaline. We did that by detoxing (which I have been advocating for years, so this was easy), by eating more green organic vegetables, by cutting out caffeine and by using a supplement called Maca. We learned that testing alkaline indicates we have less body inflammation and are handling stress and we experienced the results in feeling more energy and less pain. The program advocates for tea but I was able to be alkaline and still drink several cups of coffee a day (I used the following recipe: 1 Tablespoon roasted organic chicory, 2 Tablespoons organic decaf coffee, 2 Tablespoons organic regular coffee to 12 cups water).

The next thing we worked on was ketosis. We achieved ketosis by something called intermittent fasting … this just means that we try and go 15 hours between dinner and breakfast. Eating the alkalizing greens also helps with ketosis and we were given a protein shake product that was very low carb. The shake was delicious and filling, it was vanilla and I made it with unsweetened coconut almond milk … tasted like I was cheating and having a milk shake anytime I had it!!! We were also given lower carb recipes each week, were encouraged to eat only 3 meals a day, and were asked to limit sugar/dairy/flours/alcohol. Oh, and we were taught to make our own bone broth and to enjoy a vegetable bone broth every day.

I didn’t do much of the meals except the intermittent fasting, the shake, eating more green veggies, and having some bone broth. What I did do during this period was enroll in Home Chef meals that were lower in carbs and calories but entirely flavor filled, easy and DELICIOUS. These are changes that are sustainable for me. My birthday fell in the middle of the program and I enjoyed several slices of my German Chocolate Cake and I went to the movies and had buttered popcorn and I snacked on potato chips now and then. I also had a bottle of light beer 2 or 3x a week, a glass of wine once a week, and a mixed drink with vodka 1 to 2x a week. I was no martyr with food and I knew I had to make changes that I wouldn’t become tired of or resentful of.

Another part of the program was writing down in a daily journal what you were grateful for, what blessed your life that day, what you’re glad you did, what gave you joy, and who you connected with each day. We were to start each day with a “Cheer” word, some thing that would anchor us in the positive. We were also a part of a Facebook group to share our trials and successes. That was important when I had a questionable mammogram during the period the program was running … I had a doctor and a wonderful group to offer support during the stress of that time.

Being it’s a menopause program, we learned a lot about hormones. Surprisingly the most important hormones were oxytocin and cortisol. Connection/bonding and stress hormones. When cortisol (stress) is high, oxytocin (feeling connected to others and thus wanting to isolate) is low. When cortisol is high over a long period of time, adrenal fatigue occurs and both cortisol and oxytocin are low which leads to feelings of exhaustion, disconnection, loss of joy, and burnout.

The next hormones that were discussed were thyroid, insulin, and melatonin … the energy and sleep hormones. And of course finally we discussed estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, pregnenolone, and testosterone. Did you know progesterone is stolen to make the stress hormone cortisol?

During the program I had my annual health visit at my regular doctor and asked to get hormone labs done and I was told it wasn’t medically necessary. So, I went and purchased my own labs, the Elite Panel, through Ulta Lab Tests. I went locally to have my blood drawn and they sent it out for testing. I found that I was doing a lot of things right and there were a few things I could tweak … like getting off the $300+ out-of-pocket estrogen prescription Estrace (which wasn’t working for vaginal dryness). I began using a natural progesterone cream and Dr. Anna’s Julva cream.  I also learned that coconut oil is one of the healthiest vaginal lubricants. These changes are saving me money, are actually working and are solving my menopause symptoms at the root level.

Testing has helped take the guess work out of what’s going on with my hormones. And daily measuring my weight, blood pressure, mood, ketosis, and urine alkalinity has helped me stay on track with what works for my body and what doesn’t. And so far I’m reaping the rewards. I’d happily recommend the program to others when it’s offered again (even though it won’t be for a number of months from what I’ve heard). It was about an $800 investment for the online program and another $700 investment for the lab tests and I am totally worth it! And I believe you are you too! What do you think?! I will be signing up for round two and completing the program again when it reopens, it’s that motivating and supportive and I hope to be ready to step into even more changes.

If you’re interested, I’ll let you know when the program is starting up again or you can get on the waiting list to experience Magic Menopause!

 

 

Life Lesson

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Last week I drove 400 miles for a color tour of Michigan with my parents. My father is in his 80’s and has had memory problems for a half dozen years, sleeping much of the day. My mother is the caretaker and I can’t imagine the stress of losing a life partner in this way and also having to pick up the slack from the help he used to do around the house, but no longer can.

My brother comes on the weekends to visit and do the “fit-it” tasks and I go two days during the week to give my mom an aromatherapy relaxation massage and to help clean the house and garden. We talked her into hiring a lawn service last year and that has been a welcome relief.

When I first decided to help out a few years ago it felt overwhelming … how could I run a business and support my husband and give up two days a week, traveling the 125 mile round trip each time to go to my parents house.

I thought of caretaker support and how massage would be great, I was sure the craving for loving supportive stress relieving touch must be huge. And why not start a non-profit and reach out to others. I’ve started a non-profit before, I know the steps. And as the thoughts spiraled, the anxiety skyrocketed. I stopped, took a breath, and thought “one step at a time” and “do what you can now, not what you can’t.”

What I could do was commit to giving my mom a massage and so I did. I answered the need directly in front of me and stopped trying to solve the problems of the world. Actually if everyone answered the need directly in front of them, there would be a lot less problems in the world. So, in a way, I was solving the problems of the world. And I was called to answer in this small and doable way.

What I learned is people my parents age look at massage as an unnecessary frivolous thing. My mom was open to therapy on her aching neck and shoulders, so that’s where I started. After easing the decades long pain and limited movement there, I began to support the treatment with inflammation relieving essential oils. I explained the chemistry of essential oils and how God created nature and gave us plants for medicine.

Next we worked on strengthening her immune system and I used immune boosting essential oils and massage on her spine. And it slowly progressed to the entire aromatherapy massage that my mom looks forward to without guilt or judgement each week. She’s even commented on how it helps her relax and get through her week, and that makes me happy. Doesn’t she look great in the photo from our color tour last week?

I’m enjoying these days. I enjoy the connection with my parents. I enjoy giving support and feeling the appreciation. I even enjoy the long drive there and back with the help of Great Courses learning CD’s and Catherine Coulter’s FBI series on CD.

And I really needed to learn the lesson that doing one small thing can and will make a big difference. I had always thought you had to do big things to make a difference or to give your all and be totally stressed out to make a difference. But I learned that’s not true and it’s been a great life lesson.

Mortality

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Whenever I drive by a cemetery I say a little prayer for the deceased souls: “May the souls of the faithfully departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace.”

Last week when I was in limbo waiting for the retest on the breast lump, my own mortality came into clearer focus and I went through a type of life review.

I first thought of the people who depend on me, those who need me and would really grieve when I was gone … my husband, my parents, my nephew and I thought of my animals, my dog, my horses, my kitties. I began to feel a deep sadness over what they would experience if I were gone.

I also thought about my relationship with God and felt a great deal of gratitude over the ways He has acted in my life, I felt joy at the thought of meeting Him.

Then I thought of my life, a simple review … I have too much “stuff” … too many clothes, things that are sitting unused. I’ve been decluttering for the past 5 years and I need to keep at it.

I also thought of regrets … if I were to die, I’d regret not sharing my therapy gift more … not helping others through their emotional and physical pain. It became clear that I need to make myself more visible and available for therapy sessions. Even people I see daily at church do not know what I do, I’ve kept a pretty low profile and I felt regret for that.

Things I wouldn’t regret leaving also flashed through this review … the hateful politicking and division in the world. Good riddance.

It was only a week between the tests and I ended up being fine, albeit stressed, but the hidden gift during that week was the ability to allow myself to come sincerely face-to-face with my own mortality.

This week is Halloween (10/31), All Saints Day (11/1), and All Souls Day (11/2), a good week to think about your mortality. What would your life review bring forward? Who is blessing your life and are you spending time with them? Do you have too much stuff? Would you have any regrets? Could you act now and change those? In what ways can you strengthen your relationship with God? What would you be glad to leave behind? And can you spend a little less energy today on those things you would bid good riddance to? Are you willing to come face-to-face with your own mortality?

Breast Cancer Awareness

October is breast cancer awareness month. I haven’t had a mammogram in 2 1/2 years, it was time. I went last week and received a call a day later to come in for another test … there was a “mass” detected that they needed to evaluate.

Talk about a flood of fear and stress hormones! The “what if’s” overwhelmed my thoughts and I immediately began to grieve. Yikes! There wasn’t even any diagnosis and my body was fearing for it’s life already.

I had to get a grip. The first thing I did was reach out to the menopause group I just recently joined. It was filled with hundreds of caring women my age who are all going through similar symptoms and a doctor who specializes in women’s issues. The love and support poured from these people I barely knew.

The next thing I did was to keep living. I did everything I normally do except I noticed I was hyper-aware of the beauty and preciousness of all the routine things that usually pass by unnoticed. I was kinder while driving, I talked in grocery checkout instead of rushing through, I paid attention and my mind didn’t wander in church. There was such peace in that presence of mindfulness.

I began to use all the tools in my arsenal for health:

  • Putting frankincense essential oil and black seed oil on my breast daily.
  • Tapping out the fear (emotional freedom technique).
  • Asking for special blessings through the church and lighting a candle. I was even blessed by the Bishop with a relic of St. John Paul II.
  • Making sure I got 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Taking 10,000mg of Vitamin C and zeolites each day.
  • Resting on my amethyst heated massage pad and soaking up the healing infrared rays.
  • Practicing the Eden Energy Medicine daily routine to keep the healing meridians open and flowing in the correct direction.

It was actually a very proactive and peaceful week mixed in with only brief breakthrough moments of terror.

I had my re-test yesterday. A 3D mammogram and ultrasound. I was shown the pictures and they were looking at something so small it wouldn’t be detectible on a self-breast exam – 7mm long and quite narrow. Why they hadn’t told me the size before, I have no idea, because I was imagining a huge lump. Anyway, it turned out to be a normal breast changing with age. Relief flooded in and I called my husband. (I think his blood pressure suddenly dropped into the normal range, he had been worried.)

I usually try to blog on Mondays but this was an unusual week. I’m not making excuses, I just had to let the blog go for a few days while I focused on self-care and absorbing all that was going on. I was in the exam waiting room with several other women who were also in there for their second exam due to a mass. I pray they have the healing support they need and end up free of cancer.

It’s breast cancer awareness month. Have you had your exam lately?

Angry

I had my annual checkup today and go to a set of holistic doctors. I was seen by a new nurse practitioner. I came prepared for the visit. A three year graph printout from my Fitbit scale showing my weight changes with menopause, my low basal body temperature readings for the past month, a list of my menopause symptoms rated with a severity scale, and a panel listing of blood tests (hormone, cortisol, and physiological) recommended by Dr. Anna Cabeca for women with menopause symptoms. I also brought a bottle of the hormone balance calcium d-glucarate, natural progesterone cream with DHEA and a brochure on Julva (the vaginal cream that is working wonders and healing that area whereas two years of using the $337 a tube Estrace cream did nothing).

I also was excited to share that I was being proactive and to talk about what I was learning in Dr. Anna’s menopause program. But the NP had her own agenda and that was to check off the questions on her computer, renew my blood pressure prescriptions, delete the Estrace script, and schedule the annual blood work and mammogram.

She briefly looked over the papers I brought for her and my chart (10 seconds tops), gave them back (they were for YOU and my record), and said hormone testing wasn’t indicated and that some people in menopause have symptoms and others don’t. WTF?! Boy was I angry. She did everything by the book but she didn’t “care” about her patient. That’s what I expect from a traditional medical practice but not a holistic one. I bet she won’t last long there. Plus I notice she couldn’t turn her head … she was literally stiff necked.

What is wrong with women taking women’s issues more seriously? Blood pressure pills only address the symptoms, whereas estrogen imbalances affect nitric oxide which affects the relaxation of the blood vessels which affects blood pressure. What do you mean hormone testing is not indicated? It is if you want to get to the root of the various problems I’m having.

I went home angry. I don’t like feeling angry. First I reached out to my social network in the Magic Menopause course group and vented – within a short time several other women shared their similar stories with doctors visits. Second, I heated up my amethyst infrared healing massage table and put on an anger releasing meditation from Louise Hay.

The meditation had me think of five people I was angry with and bring them forward. The five people that came to my mind were: 1. a prominent woman in my upbringing, 2. a rock like structure representing those I’d loved and lost, 3. me as a little girl, 4. a general representation of men who have hurt me, and 5. authority figures who have let me down (like that NP today). I like visualizations, they are extremely easy for me, and work well for giving me wisdom from my subconscious.

We were guided to feel the anger in our body. I felt it in my stomach, in a clenched jaw, in holding my breath, and in general tightness here and there.

The next part of the visualization was to confront each “person” and really let them have the brunt of my anger. That just seemed weird, I can see things from their perspective too and I know that they didn’t intend to make me angry.

When I looked at the prominent woman in my upbringing, underlying the anger was a sense of failure and the inability to do anything right because it wasn’t “perfect.” She had high standards because she had her own fear of being judged inadequate by others.

When I looked at the rock structure and thought of those I’d lost (who had died), under my anger at the loss was my fear of being unable to survive without them. I have survived and sure didn’t feel right to vent on them for dying and leaving me.

When I looked into the eyes of myself as a little child, I felt compassion and forgiveness for my own past faults. I couldn’t unleash a torrent of anger at that little girl. I just wanted reached out and took her in my arms and hugged her close.

When I looked at the men who have broken up with me, I was angry at their rejection, but it opened up the opportunity to have my relationship with my husband. It felt weird yelling at them now even though they left scars, those scars have healed made me stronger, so I can now thank them for moving on.

When I looked at in the face of the authority figures who have let me down, I felt anger but I also felt sorry for them. They will never be remembered as good authority figures unless they change their game. Like the nurse practitioner, they will get a stiff neck and have their own problems for lacking patience, empathy and compassion. Those things show up eventually in problems during aging.

The next part of the meditation we were supposed to vaporize these old images, turn them to ashes. That didn’t feel right to me either. They weren’t toxic poisonous images and instead I decided I’d transform each image and heal it with a shield of love flowing from above, over, and around. Instead of a pile of ashes, I had glowing people similar to beautiful flowers.

Then I napped and woke up ready to take on the remainder of the day. The anger is gone, my body feels relaxed and I can breathe deeply. I don’t think I’d recommend the anger releasing guided visualization to my clients but I made it work for me. I’d love to hear what helps you when your anger is triggered!

Menopause

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50’s.

Change of life.

Old injuries making themselves known again.

Pain, Dryness, Weight Gain, Hot Flashes, Sleep Troubles, Moodiness …

Menopause.

I’m worried. The aches are a literal pain, the dryness is bad (eyes, skin, hair, and down there) but the worst is the weight gain. I don’t like being the weight I’m at but it seems all but impossible to get the scale to budge. I tried running for awhile but that aggravated an old broken ankle and it began to swell, so I put jogging on hold yet again and went back to walking. I’ve counted calories and did Atkins, both worked but were not sustainable and then stopped working.

Horseback riding is good exercise. I should be fine and my horse should be fine … I have a well fitting saddle, I’m not going very fast, not riding too long, and I’m working on staying very centered. I know the 20% rule of thumb … weight of the clothed rider + weight of the saddle on a sound fit horse with good confirmation should be 20% or less of the horse’s weight. My horse is around 1100 pounds so that means the total weight should be about 220# or less.

I may be cutting it close and I don’t want to cut it close. I want to feel flexible and fit and thin again. I want to ride like the wind. I don’t want gimmicks or short-term successes. I want to live and age gracefully into menopause. Estrogen is linked to blood pressure and to weight and to hot flashes and dryness and everything else. Isn’t there a natural doctor out there to help us women?

I found one! Dr. Anna Cabeca is an holistic OB/GYN who has stepped into this needed area and is helping women through menopause. She has products like Julva for vaginal dryness and urinary incontinence (absolutely amazing) and she has an online program to support women in understanding hormones and getting their bodies back into balance. I’m trying the program and the first thing I learned is that health is found in having an alkaline urine pH … we test this using Dr. Cabeca’s test strips. And in 1 week of getting alkaline I have lost an inch in waist and hip measurements and I feel less pain and inflammation in my body. The next step is getting into ketosis (fat burning mode) while maintaining alkalinity and this means more veggies and fats and lean proteins.

This is all new to me, so I’ll share my journey through this blog and let you know what else I learn. But Dr. Anna seems like the answer to an unspoken prayer and I finally feel I have some control over my aging body and a clearer path to navigating this process of life.

Do you have any products or tips or programs or doctors that have helped you through menopause? If so, please share!

Happiness

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Walking.

With devoted husband and beloved dogs.

Morning sunshine streaming through the trees.

Fog, quiet, peace.

Praying.

Filled with profound gratitude for this moment.

Happiness.

It only lasts a moment and then thoughts for the day come in. Sweep the house. What groceries do I need to pick up today. Who is on the therapy schedule. Should I commit to this online program that interests me.

Crap. Why am I in my mind when a beautiful moment surrounds me. I consciously let those thoughts go and reflect on what I feel, what I smell, what I see, how I feel in this moment.

My mind tries to wander again but I catch it and bring attention back to this moment. And then I begin to feel anxious. Well that’s weird. I recognize the start of the fight-flight stress response and it’s totally inappropriate to this situation.

Something else is going on, oh yes, something else … I’ve reached the limit of my ability to take in goodness and happiness. And as soon as that comes into awareness, it’s like breaking a glass ceiling and I can take in more and feel more.

I’ve just uncovered a limiting belief … also known by many names: false belief, subconscious programming, psychological construct, core belief, cross purpose, trauma programming, repeating patterns from past experiences, etc. What belief? That I’m not worthy to experience happiness over a certain fixed amount. It’s like something deep inside me feels I don’t deserve unlimited happiness and sabotages even the simple joys of being present to the sun shining through the trees.

Limiting beliefs obstruct happiness in many ways. Some people have a limiting belief that a relationship is dangerous and thus every time they get close to someone, they end up doing something that causes the relationship to end. Or maybe their parents made a certain amount of money and they subconsciously don’t want to outshine them and take jobs that pay less  than they could earn. The motives are hidden deep inside us and it takes a lot of awareness to discover these false constructs.

Guess what? Everyone has one or more limiting beliefs impacting their life and some of those subconscious messages are more damaging to happiness than others! Looking at yourself and your behaviors objectively, without judgement helps to bring limiting beliefs into awareness and this is the first step in stopping their sabotage. After the awareness, what did I do next? Energy psychology is one of the best tools in dealing with these pervasive little buggers. I tapped (AKA emotional freedom technique) and I had an emotion code session done to figure out the root cause of my happiness limit and I prayed.

Have you noticed any patterns in your life that are not allowing you to feel the fullness of happiness? What area of life? Finances? Work? Education? Relationships? Feeling good enough? Being worthy?

There are plenty of articles written about limiting beliefs, research some of those. Be kind to yourself. And if you want extra help to open up to happiness, consider investing in a wellness stress management session and you won’t have to go it alone.