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Reimagining Midlife – Women And The Midlife Transformation

Written by: Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC

Conduct a Google search of 'midlife women,' you'll find that 7 out of the top 10 results revolve around the concept of a midlife crisis. And while there are definite challenges–physical, emotional, psychological, social – that some women endure, I offer that this time can be an amazing opportunity for a woman to rediscover, cultivate, or rejuvenate the aspects of herself she may have set aside when she was younger. Instead of a crisis, this can be her Renaissance.

Mature woman dancing

To begin, I'd like to recognize that in today’s world, numerous women in their 40s- 60s are grappling with substantial levels of stress and an array of demands. Reports indicate that women in this age group are facing profound depression and anxiety, with the highest rates of antidepressant prescription usage. The seriousness of this issue should not be ignored. See here.


Simultaneously, we are emerging as the dominant demographic within the midlife population. This presents an opportunity to direct our attention, and research, towards this phase of life as it pertains to women. It's an occasion to reshape the prevailing narrative surrounding midlife and reconsider what we’re willing to embrace as our midlife experience. As a Board-certified Health Coach focusing on midlife women's health and wellness, I encourage my clients to view this stage as an opportunity for a personal Renaissance.


1. Midlife is more than menopause


Menopause is a major part of the female midlife transition whether a woman breezes through it or deals with challenging symptoms like hot flashes, brain fog, mood swings, disrupted sleep or genitourinary symptoms from the hormonal changes happening in her body. Either way, a woman deserves to learn about Menopause, understand the changes she’s experiencing and make educated decisions about how she’ll navigate through those changes as opposed to being told, “It’s just what women go through.” Working with a qualified medical professional who’s an expert on Women’s Health is vital to successfully dealing with any symptoms.


Yet, Midlife is a multifaceted phase. Beyond Menopause, this stage presents an array of transitions that will shape the rest of our lives. Parents age, careers come to a close, children leave the nest, and we encounter losses. However, amidst these challenges, there also lies the potential for newfound freedoms. Some women rise to the top of their professional career. We may find ourselves with more leisure time and we can channel additional energy and attention into projects and passions that were previously out of reach during the early stages of our careers or while caring for our families. This is a time when we can draw upon well-deserved confidence, forged through years of resilience, determination, and the ability to navigate life's ups and downs.


Each woman will have her own unique journey. That’s the good news. The caveat? Going through midlife and its diverse experiences will require a deliberate and purposeful approach as we redefine our well-being and happiness. For a mature woman, the decisions she makes about ‘who’ she’ll evolve into during this transition and the ways she goes about it, will be some of the most influential and empowering choices in her mature life.


Where do I suggest we begin? The first recommendation I make to a woman who’s ready to address her health and well-being is to develop and solidify the Foundation. The Foundation will help with menopausal symptoms, help facilitate this midlife transition and rebirth and potentially make it a more fulfilling journey.


2. Focus on the foundation


Looking at the current research, we can identify shared principles that apply to health, weight management, overall well-being, life challenges and self-care. I refer to these principles as the 'Foundation.' In my approach, I begin with these essentials. I edit the process down into simple, straightforward actions to make it easier for each woman to adopt and master them. Put it plainly, mastering these essential behaviors positively influences our emotional and physical health in every way.

A. Get Sleep: The current recommendations are 7-9 hours of sleep although many women in midlife report getting 6 or less of interrupted sleep. This can happen because of hormonal changes and/or life stressors. Consider creating a Sleep Hygiene Ritual. The benefits of mapping out a ritual that will encourage better quality & quantity sleep are numerous. It can enhance mood, boost self-regulation, improve metabolism, support tissue repair, balance hormone levels, and enhance brain function. See here.


B. Eat Fruits & Vegetables: The CDC reports that 1 in 10 adults in the US gets the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables daily. The value of consuming fruits and vegetables to one’s health and well-being are tremendous. Fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients have positive effects on ALL our biological systems and for women who are experiencing weight gain, positive effects on metabolism and appetite. Current base recommendations are 5 servings per day. For my clients who rarely consume them, I recommend they start with 1 serving at each meal and build from there.


C. Move: According to the Mayo Clinic Proceedings (2016), daily exercise is one of the hardest habits for people to develop. Yet, exercise is considered the 1 thing associated with living healthier and longer. I suggest broadening the concept of what exercise is and instead, decide to Move. Move most days and throughout the day. Dedicate a specific amount of time to ‘movement’ that’s more challenging; fast walking, biking, weight lifting, dancing, swimming, jogging. But above all else, move. When the negative connotations of exercise are removed from the equation and we understand the full importance of moving our bodies, the willingness to do so becomes easier. We find the time.


3. You’re in charge


Ultimately, midlife offers a time of introspection and a sense of anticipation for what lies ahead and how we'll embrace it. When we accept responsibility for our self-care and decision-making, we may discover that instead of facing a crisis, this stage of life can be a revitalized sense of self-empowerment, a reconnection with ourselves as an individual, and an optimistic outlook on the future. A Midlife Renaissance. The choices we make can range from substantial to subtle; the power is in our hands, and that is our greatest strength.


To follow me and learn more information about Midlife Confidence, health coaching and my online group coaching program connect with me through Facebook, IG, and LinkedIn.

Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC Brainz Magazine
 

Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC is a board-certified & Mayo Clinic-certified Health Coach and an ACE-certified Personal Trainer with a PhD. in Holistic Nutrition. She is the CEO of a 26-year coaching business, successfully guiding adults in transforming their health, fitness and weight loss. Michele has been featured in the IDEA Health & Fitness online magazine as well as numerous television appearances speaking about fitness, weight loss and health. She is the host of the Facebook group, MIDLIFE CONFIDENCE: Women Conquering Weight Loss and the creator of an online 12-week weight loss intensive for midlife women. Her mission is to support midlife women in creating their own health & wellness Renaissance.

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