Diet, Menopause

Your Holistically Hot Transformation: A New Book!




A post by integrative health and nutrition coach Marissa Vicario:

Thank you to Barbara for letting me take over her blog today! Many of you don’t know me so I’m excited for the opportunity to say hello. I’ve been health and nutrition coaching and writing my healthy living blog, Where I Need to Be, for about 7 years. I always knew I wanted to write a book, but until I found my passion in nutrition and wellness, I never knew what I would write about. So today, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about my journey and my inspiration behind my new book, Your Holistically Hot Transformation: Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle Free of Dieting, Confusion and Self-Judgment

People often ask me if I was always as healthy as I am now and I laugh because I wasn’t at all! My life as a single, corporate professional in New York City meant that I traveled, worked and dated a lot. My meals consisted of takeout, a slice of pizza or whatever I could scrap together in my kitchen – like fluorescent orange cheese melted on top of butter crackers and topped with salsa. I never cooked. I didn’t know how, but now I teach sold-out cooking classes in New York City!

Your Holistically Hot Transformation is a peek at my own health transformation and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I wrote it because even as I type this, I’m sitting in a cafe listening to two women who are co-workers talk about the office juice cleanse, which is inevitably full of high-sugar juices, and how hungry they are. It pains me that women put themselves through this and I see first-hand everyday that there’s a need for more honest and straightforward conversations around wellness. That’s exactly what my book delivers.

The health and wellness industry is at a crossroads. Evidenced by the growing rates of both obesity and eating disorders, women are simultaneously starving and overfeeding themselves, and it goes beyond food. They’re starved for a more meaningful, purpose-driven life and overfed by media messages telling them who and how they should look and be. As a result, they’re using food to punish or self-medicate. Every day I turn on the television, open a magazine or read an article on a popular wellness web site touting a new workout, promoting a trendy diet or spouting misinformed advice.

As a gender, our relationship with food has become severely damaged and something needs to change, but the question many women have is where to start and how to do it with limited time and/or money.

Women constantly tell me there’s too much information and contradictory wellness advice to sift through. They’re confused, misinformed and pressed for time. I totally get it and that’s exactly why I do what I do, so I can help people make sense of it all.

I whole-hardheartedly believe it doesn’t have to be as complicated as we make it. This book is my way of making it clear and simple for those who feel lost, overwhelmed, stuck and confused and if it can empower just one woman to feel that she has the knowledge, tools and motivation to make nutritious choices and take care of herself the best way she knows how, then it has done its job.

If you’d like to explore Your Holistically Hot Transformation for yourself, download a free chapter.

Already convinced you need this book in your life, purchase it in paperback on Amazon.

Marissa Vicario is a Certified Integrative Health and Nutrition Coach, Women’s Health & Lifestyle Expert, and the author of Your Holistically Hot Transformation: Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle Free of Dieting, Confusion and Self-Judgment.  She teaches women how to trust themselves to make slimming, nutritious and energizing choices without fad dieting.

Endometrial Cancer, Menopause

Late Onset Menopause

Tiki Bar

The photo above was taken at the Tiki Bar at Carolina Beach about seven years ago. Even though I was well into my fifties, I wasn’t officially menopausal yet. I remember feeling ready to be done with PMS and periods but proud of my late menopause, as if I had fallen into a slight fountain of youth.

What I didn’t know, and couldn’t have done a thing about, is that a late menopause can be a factor in the development of endometrial cancer. The longer your body is rich in estrogen, the greater chance you have of getting cancer of the uterus. My cancer was diagnosed about five years after this photo was taken.

To counterbalance the increased cancer risk, here’s an article in the New York Times listing the good news about a late menopause, including lowered risk for heart disease and stronger bones. Read the article here.

The average age of menopause is 51, but onset ranges from 45 to 55. Here’s an article I wrote for EmpowerHer: “At What Age Does Menopause Start.”

There’s good info  in these articles, and for those of you experiencing a late menopause, please don’t worry. I wish I’d known the risk factor though. It might have prepared me a bit and sent me to the doctor sooner once I saw the first sight of blood.

I’m hoping by the time those cute girls are of menopausal age, a late menopause will no longer be an issue. Let’s hope medical advances kick cancer’s butt way out to sea.

I’ll drink a pina colada to that one!


Retirement: Meet the Loopers (and the Bloopers)

Strawberry farm

A post by writer Jena C. Henry:

Empty Nest- ✔

Retirement Party- ✔

What’s Next

For 30 years you and your spouse groaned when the alarm clanged on dark mornings. You herded the kids to school, rushed to work, and then orchestrated evenings of dinners, chores, and activities. The years blinked by and now you are spending your mornings sipping coffee, and surfing the internet. You both happen to look up at the same time and you wonder, “I was so excited about retirement. Is this all there is?”

Yes- unless you find new ways to play together. I think we women understand that we have to be open to ways to enhance our vitality and zest. Whether we are single, or with a partner, we want to remain active and confident. Many retirees like to play golf, tennis, or cards. For others, play means gardening, cooking or volunteering together. Some of my friends took a pottery class and crafted new dinnerware for their home. My hubby and I tried ballroom dance classes, funny how the antics of four left feet can make you laugh. We stopped the cha cha but learned that we enjoyed exploring other ways to be healthy and fit together.

Sometimes you need to push your boundaries. Let me introduce you to my friends, the Loopers. They set off last year to circumnavigate the eastern part of the United States. They fitted out a forty-five-foot trawler and are seaing America via the Mississippi, Gulf of Mexico, Intracoastal Waterway, St. Lawrence Seaway and other rivers.

Loopers is the term for those who are completing this Great American Circle Loop. What an invigorating adventure for them so far. From alligators, to Thanksgiving with 50 other sailors in a marina, to docktails at sunset, they are playing and adventuring together. Here’s their blog.

I would also like you to meet the Bloopers (blooper is a baseball term for a weakly hit ball.) There are many Bloopers, as I call them, in America. These folks share a bucket list goal of visiting all the major league baseball parks. That’s thirty stadiums of perfectly mown grass. If you attempt this, you and your spouse or friends can bond over travel and sports, to say nothing of sharing hotdogs, beer, and even cheeseburgers with pizza slices instead of buns.

What piques your interest? For my husband and me our day can be as simple as walking the dog, followed by a trip to the new high tech car wash and a stop at the best ice cream stand in town.

Go play! You will feel younger and happier in your retirement. What’s on your bucket list?

Jena C. Henry is a positive and committed volunteer, encourager and enthusiastic bon vivant. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Akron. She and her husband Alan are retired and live in tropical Ohio. They enjoy their two grown children, family and their darling dog. See Jena and her husband, above, at a strawberry festival in Florida.

Jena is the author of the series, The Golden Age of Charli. Book Two, The Golden Age of Charli-BMI, just came out. Charli’s adventures continue as she faces too much of a good thing! Here’s the Amazon link. 


book 2 cover



Color Me a Happy Quitter


When I was a little kid, I loved to color. I remember the smell of my crayon box. Picking out a new coloring book in the Five and Ten. Outlining Minnie Mouse’s dress in a darker shade of red.

So I was delighted when the adult coloring trend began.I had a fabulous time at A.C. Moore choosing my coloring books (paisley and art deco). I bought a pretty set of colored pencils.

I even got this lovely box to keep it all in.


And that’s where my new art supplies sat.

A few weeks later, I finally opened the box and started coloring. And it was fun!

But it definitely took time away from other activities such as blogging. I figure for every page I colored (the designs are intricate), I could just about write a blog post.

So I gave my coloring books to my friend Brenda.I’m happy other grownups are enjoying coloring, just like I’m pleased others like to ski and cross stitch, but spending lots of time coloring just wasn’t for me.

What about you? If so, what are your favorite patterns? Do you use markers, colored pencils, or crayons?

Here’s an article in the Washington Post about the adult coloring trend and its benefits, especially for the grieving and those in other stressful situations.

Last week, I stepped back into A.C. Moore. I couldn’t resist this pan of watercolors. Haven’t opened them yet, but aren’t they beautiful?




The Sweet Spot (and a Menopause Novel Giveaway!)

CoL front


A post by speculative fiction writer Samantha Bryant:

Somewhere between age thirty and age forty, I hit this sweet spot. I was old enough to be taken seriously as a professional and a human, and young enough to be taken seriously as a professional and a human. I was past being dismissed as too young to know what I was talking about and still too young to be dismissed as over the hill and past my prime. I had self confidence and energy, at the same time. It’s a rare balance, and it’s all too brief for most women, five or six years long at the most.

As soon as you cross over forty, everyone who wants to compliment you starts telling you look great “for your age” or “you don’t look forty.” Backhanded compliments at best. The people who want to hurt you suggest that “you look tired” or wonder if you’ve considered “getting some work done.” They offer you recommendations for diet or exercise plans–unsolicited advice offered on a golden platter of condescension–or tell you about someone they know who got miraculous results from some kind of quackery. Worse, they start asking you about retirement.

My sweet spot went by really quickly.I was busy re-marrying, getting my writing career back on track, and having a second child. (Don’t get me started on how the entire world freaks out if you have a child when you’re over thirty-five, as if your eggs have an expiration date). Sometimes I wish I’d appreciated it more when it was here. Even though I still feel as though I’ve hit my stride, the world doesn’t always agree.

It’s definitely gone now. I’m forty-five, and I’m hearing the nice things to my face and the “she’s really gone to pot” comments behind my back. What I really want to know is why anyone cares what I look like at all. I was never a woman who wanted to be judged on my hairstyle or eye makeup, and now those kind of things are even less on my radar. That’s shallow end of the pool stuff, and I want to swim in the deep end, even if I have to fight sharks here sometimes.

My mother is going to be sixty-six this summer and she’s annoyed with how the simple fact of that number infantilizes her in society. She has to bite her tongue so she doesn’t slap young waitresses and scream at the bank clerk, “Don’t you ‘honey’ me, kid!” I’ve got a sharper temper than her. I worry that you all might have to bail me out of jail when I get there.

So, I’m acting out on the page again, hoping I can vent my spleen in fiction and save my husband the embarrassment and bail money. My menopausal superheroes are back!  Change of Life  picks up a few months after the end of Going Through the Change and finds our heroines in a time of transition.


Patricia retired so she could devote herself to hunting down her best friend gone rogue, Cindy Liu. Linda/Leonel Alvarez and Jessica Roark have been recruited by a secret quasi-governmental organization known only as The Department “where the cases are not only classified, but unclassifiable.” And Helen, well, she’s missing.

Change is difficult, even when it’s just ordinary, so super-changes are super difficult, and tensions are high within families and among the friends in my pages. Writing my menopausal superheroes allows me to explore my anxieties about aging and to find the humor in otherwise fraught situations. Writing the kinds of superhero stories I want to read? That’s a whole new kind of Sweet Spot, one I hope to maintain for a good many years yet.

Giveaway: Friend for the Ride is giving away a copy of Change of Life to one lucky winner. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by June 1. Thanks!


Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her secret superpower is finding lost things. When she’s not writing or teaching, Samantha enjoys time with her family, watching old movies, baking, reading, and going places. Her favorite gift is tickets (to just about anything).

She’s the author of Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel  and the newly released sequel Change of LIfe, both available through Curiosity Quills Press. You can find her on Twitter @mirymom1 or at her blog/website:


Art Credit:  Charles C. Dowd drew the characters from the book. Polina Sapershteyn did the cover.


Menopause Support: If These Porches Could Talk

20160122_102756 (1)

These were the porches on my house around 1912. Sadly, lumber was hard to get after World War Two. The porches were in a state of disrepair, and the upper level and the sides were taken down and not replaced.

I got to wondering: What if these porches could talk? What stories could they tell? What conversations would they reveal? Any menopause discussions?

In “Nine Ways to Even Out Menopausal Mood Swings,” Everyday health writes:

According to research from the University of Michigan, women who feel emotionally close to a friend have higher levels of the hormone progesterone, which helps relieve stress and boost mood. If you’re having a bad day or week or year, round up your closest gal pals for some much needed bonding, or consider joining a support group online or in your community.

Even today, many women keep silent about their menopausal woes. Shatter the silence! Talk with your friends and even strangers. I once had a great hot flash discussion waiting in line at a  7- Eleven.

Don’t miss these tips by my friend and menopause expert Ellen Dolgen, who reports that fifty million women are going through menopause in the United States right now. Porch power!




Mother’s Day: Celebrating with Words and Photos

Page 10 - Mother reading to children - motherhood quote

In honor of Mother’s Day, images and words from We Are Women: Celebrating Our Grit and Wit by June Cotner and Barb Mayer (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2016) Read more about this vibrant and engaging book on this Friend for the Ride post.

Page 14 - Unruly Children

Page 15 - Families are like fudge


Page 32 - Migrant woman & baby

Page 33 - Healthy Baby Contest - LIFE mag


Page 70 - Woman & Mom with Angelou quote

All images and text from:

We Are Women - lighter image