Menopause

Over iT: A New Book by Mary Buchan (and a Giveaway)

Over It Cover

Just in time for the brand new year, a post by wellness nurse and writer Mary Buchan:

I believe that everyone has a book in them. I knew there was one inside of me in my early 20’s, I just didn’t know what it was.

I struggled to work through my issues (my iTs) as I navigated through the decades of my life. I knew that I needed to get Over my iTs before I shared my writing with the world. The biggest changes for me started in my 40’s when I realized that my mother had not ruined my life ,and my husband could not fix me.

And that is how my book of Over iT: How to Live Above Your Circumstances and Beyond Yourself  came to be.

Enjoy this excerpt from my second chapter:

Side Trips and Dead-Ends on the Road to Well-Being

Each decade of life seems to carry its own epiphany. During that decade between 10 and 20, for example, I discovered that boys really did make a positive contribution to the universe. Between 20 and 30, I learned that, just like my parents always said, money does not grow on trees. From 30 to 40, I learned the joys—and the agonies— of parenting.

The biggest changes of all started when I was 40. That’s when I learned that my mother had not ruined my life and my husband could not fix my life. Before that, I was pretty angry at times for all the nurturing and unconditional love I believed I had not received from my mom. Up until that point, I blamed mom for just about all the ways my life was imperfect.

I see it differently today, of course. It is always difficult to share family secrets and I have struggled with whether or not to share mine in this book. Quite frankly, I am tired of pretending that my personal struggle as a child had no effect on me. Decades later and years of counseling have proven that I had to learn how to get Over many “Its” so that I could live above my circumstances and beyond myself.

You see, Mom suffered from bi-polar disorder and several other mental illnesses. In those days, when it was diagnosed at all, it was called manic depression. Also in those days, there was virtually no effective treatment for a mental disorder that made life a living hell for the people who suffered from it and for the people who loved them and tried to live with them.

Sometimes Mom was too depressed to get out of bed, much less do the hundreds of things mothers are expected to do to keep a household running. Other times, her manic states drove her to rage or other irrational behavior that children have no way of understanding or protecting themselves from. In other words, my childhood wasn’t perfect.

For a long time, I thought yours must have been perfect. I spent a lot of years angry about how unfair that was. Since then, I’ve learned that very few of us grew up in an episode of “Father Knows Best” or “The Brady Bunch.”

I was in my 40s before I realized that my mother did the best she could. I forgave her and my father for my imperfect childhood. Finally, I even realized that I could be forgiven for blaming them for circumstances they certainly would have changed if they could have.

Becoming a mother myself and realizing how hard it is to get it right was a big part of my healing journey. I started to recognize that I was doing the best I could and that, even without the degree of health issues my mother had faced, I was far from a perfect mother. In fact, at times I was pretty much a wreck because I still hadn’t managed to get over my own far-from-perfect childhood.

Because of the circumstances I grew up in, I spent many years doubting whether true well-being was even possible in this life. And even if well-being was a possibility for others, I was skeptical that it would be given to me. Maybe, I reasoned, I was just destined to have a messy, unraveling, and sometimes painful life.

I’ve also spent much of my life looking for well-being in the wrong places. I thought that if I had the right husband, right house, right job, right church, right friends, and right investments, I would feel satisfied inside. Then all the external trappings of my life fell apart and I realized that all of those things were really only side trips and dead ends on the road to well-being.

Life has taught me that true contentment is an inside job. Ironically, a true sense of well-being began not when my circumstances were at their best, but when it seemed that the bottom was falling out of my life. My husband was between jobs. We had to move out of a house I really loved. I needed to go back to work. Our financial future looked very cloudy.

And yet, even during those uncertain times, I experienced amazing peace as a gift from God — because I had quit expecting my happiness to come from people and things.

In his book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, Martin Seligman identifies five key components of a vibrant life: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. All of these are vital ingredients to help us flourish as individuals—and all of them are spiritual attributes available to every one of us.

Sometimes I still pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming and won’t wake up again to the sadness and turmoil I experienced before.

But no, my well-being is real, and it is a gift from God, who taught me how to live above my circumstances and beyond myself. Since the world didn’t give it to me, the world can’t take it away.

Giveaway: I’m giving away one copy of Mary’s book, Over iT: How to Live Above Your Circumstances and Beyond Yourself For a chance to win, simply enter a comment by January 15 saying that you’d like to be the winner. U.S. and Canada only. Thanks!

mary-buchan

Mary Buchan RN has over 30 years of health and wellness experience. After helping a wide range of people lose weight, reduce stress, fuel energy and reinvent their lives she recently repurposed her nurse’s cap as a life reinvention coach, speaker, and author of the award winning book Over It How to Live Above Your Circumstances and Beyond Yourself .

As a mid-lifer with an empty nest, Mary blogs about self-discovery, relationships, reinvention, and healthy living.  Mary’s blogs have been featured in Friend For The Ride, Midlife Boulevard, and Boomeon

 Visit www.MaryBuchan.com to learn more

Mary's Website

Menopause

Love Your Heart Month!

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A post by wellness nurse Mary Buchan in honor of Love Your Heart Month. Thanks, Mary!

I have a family history of heart disease, and as nurse I have taken care of hundreds of heart patients. So this subject is very personal to me.

I doubt if you need just another FAQ sheet that describes the signs, symptoms, and treatments of heart disease. That information is readily available on websites such as heart.org.

Although heart disease is often thought of as a problem for men, more women than men die of heart disease each year. One challenge is that the heart disease symptoms in women can be different from symptoms in men. Fortunately, though, women can take steps to understand their unique symptoms and begin to reduce their risk of heart disease.

Research shows that about 35,000 American women under 50 have a heart attack each year. An increase in heart attacks among women is seen about 10 years after menopause. We have heard about how cancer affects many women, but heart disease is actually the leading killer of women.

This topic really got my attention several years ago. The mother of one of my daughter’s best friends came home after church and said she wasn’t feeling well. Thinking she had the flu, she skipped lunch and went to bed. But her family members were stunned to find her on the bedroom floor that afternoon, not breathing and without a pulse. They called 911, and when the paramedics were unable to resuscitate her, she was placed on a gurney and taken to the hospital via ambulance. But it was too late. She was pronounced Dead On Arrival.

A similar scenario took place when a close family member woke up in the middle of the night with jaw pain. As morning approached, she began experiencing what felt like a bad case of nausea, indigestion, shortness of breath, and upper back spasms. She thought she had the flu and didn’t go to the doctor. When the symptoms escalated, her family convinced her to go to the ER. She was having a heart attack and ended up passing away soon after she arrived at the hospital. Needless to say, we all were shocked.

When we think of a heart attack, the image of an elephant on someone’s chest often comes to mind. But typically the symptoms are subtler. Often they are confused with other medical conditions.

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or completely cut off. This happens when the arteries that supply the heart with blood gradually narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and other substances, such as plaque.

Women tend to minimize their symptoms and feel reluctant to go to the ER. Don’t fool around if you are having symptoms like this! Any hospital would prefer that you come in and not be having a heart attack, than to have one at home while waiting to see if you get better.

So what’s a girl to do? Here are my Nurse’s Nuggets…bite-sized, easy to digest, easy to remember, and super-duper important. So important that they could save your life. Even when the signs are subtle, the consequences can be deadly, especially if you don’t get help right away.

Recognize the symptoms or indicators. The most common heart attack symptom in women is some type of pain, pressure, or discomfort in the chest. But it’s not always severe or the most prominent symptom. Women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain such as:

  • Digestive Changes. This may start with basic indigestion and then escalate to severe heartburn, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Shortness of Breath. An early warning sign may be windedness even when you have minimal exertion.
  • Unusual Fatigue. An early warning may be waking up with extreme fatigue and then experiencing difficulty carrying out your daily activities.
  • Mood Changes. This may start with unfounded anxiety and then become persistent shortness of breath and a sense of impending doom.
  • Sleep Disturbance. Take notice if you experience a change in your sleep habits and difficulty falling to sleep or staying asleep.
  • Weakness. This may start with symptoms similar to the flu or pneumonia.
  • Blurry Vision and Headaches. These symptoms are particularly significant if accompanied by cold sweat or clammy, pale skin.
  • Discomfort in Your Chest, Arms, or Hands. Pay attention if you experience pressure, discomfort, burning, pain, or symptoms like a pulled muscle in your chest. And you may be facing an impending heart attack if this increases to crushing chest pain radiating down either arm or unusual pain in your jaw, neck, or shoulder.

In the early stage of a heart incident, the symptoms may come and go. Sometimes they increase in intensity and frequency as an attack nears. With an impending heart attack, there may be six or more different symptoms that increase in intensity at the same time.

But remember: In over 40% of women who experience heart attacks, there may be no symptoms of chest discomfort at all. It’s important that you become aware of the various symptoms and indicators that are unique to women. And in the meantime, I encourage you to practicing healthy lifestyle habits to prevent disease and keep your heart in tip-top shape.

Sources: WebMD.com /heart.org/mayoclinic.org

♥  ♥   ♥

PLEASE NOTE: I am not a physician and cannot advise you if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Please see your doctor for a competent medical opinion if you are.

Mary Buchan

Mary Buchan RN has over 30 years of health and wellness experience. After helping a wide range of people over the years, she recently re-purposed her Nurse’s Cap as a Life Reinvention Coach, Speaker, and Author of the new book Over ItHow to Live Above Your Circumstances and Beyond Yourself.

As a mid-lifer with an empty nest, she blogs about self-discovery, relationships, reinvention, and healthy living.  Her motto: Make the rest of your life the best of your life.  For more information, visit www.MaryBuchan.com.

Menopause

Shape Shifting!

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I found this funky iron gate on my visit to the Shack Up Inn. Now that’s a lady whose figure won’t shift! No downward drift or sideways sprawl for her.

I’m not sure this is actually a lady, but let’s pretend, because she’s the perfect intro for Mary Buchan’s post on shape shifting

Take it away wellness nurse Mary Buchan!

Shape shifting occurs in mythology, folklore, and modern fantasy like the TV series “Fringe.” It’s the ability to physically transform into another form. That’s what I mean. My body is shape shifting.

As I get older, maintaining my ideal weight becomes more difficult. Perhaps you’ve found that, like me, you are becoming a shape shifter too. In fact, many women change shapes around the time of the menopausal transition. On average, women gain between 12 and 15 pounds between the ages of 45 and 55.

Sadly, this extra weight usually doesn’t distribute itself evenly. The weight tends to accumulate around the belly, and our figures slowly lose their hour-glass shape taking on a more rounded appearance.

The good news is that menopause shape shifting isn’t inevitable. The hormonal changes of menopause make it more likely to gain weight around the abdomen than around the hips and thighs. But hormonal changes alone don’t necessarily trigger menopausal weight gain.

For example, muscle mass typically diminishes with age, while fat increases. Loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories, which can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight. If you continue to eat as you always have and don’t increase your physical activity, you’re likely to gain weight.

Age, Lifestyle, and Shape Shifting

Even though physical changes are an unavoidable part of getting older, lifestyle factors including lack of sleep, increased stress, and bad eating habits can lead to weight gain. Beginning at about age 30, physical abilities begin to decrease and continue deteriorating until about age 60 or 70. The rate of decline depends largely on physical activity and lifestyle. This decreasing physical ability affects weight, because a person becomes less able to engage in physical activities that would have helped them burn calories and maintain a stable weight. To compound the potential for weight gain with age, the metabolic rate begins to slow after age 30, which also leads to shape shifting.

Genetics and Shape Shifting

Genetic factors also play a role in menopause weight gain. If your parents or other close relatives carry extra weight around the abdomen, you’re likely to do the same.

Life Transitions and Shape Shifting

Sometimes menopause weight gain is triggered by factors such as the stress of children leaving — or returning — home, divorce, the death of a spouse, or other life changes that cause you to modify your diet or exercise habits.

Hypothyroidism Shape Shifting

Women with an under-active thyroid often experience weight gain because their metabolic rate slows. In some cases, hyperthyroidism can also cause weight gain, but that is rare. Thyroid hormones regulate calorie consumption. With an under-active thyroid, fewer calories are burned and converted into energy. Instead, they are stored in the body.

Hormones and Shape Shifting

A woman’s hormones fluctuate, preparing her for a permanently reduced hormonal level. Various hormones and hormonal conditions can affect weight gain and cause shape shifting: estrogen, progesterone, androgen, testosterone, and insulin.
It’s helpful to understand some of the factors that lead to menopause shape shifting.

But through it all, never forget the good news: Menopausal weight gain isn’t inevitable.  Your diet and lifestyle choices can help you keep the shape shifting to a minimum.

Mary B

Mary Buchan has spent the past 30 years as a wife, mother, registered nurse and singer/songwriter.  In 2012 she re-purposed her nurse’s cap to start her own coaching practice with a focus on life reinvention. Mary is also a blogger and the author of the soon to be released book  Over It: How To Live Above Your Circumstances and Beyond Yourself  (Spark Publications).

Check out Mary’s website, where you can also find her blog:  http://marybuchan.com/

Menopause

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho: Winning Your Battle with the Seven Dwarves of Menopause

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A post by wellness nurse Mary Buchan:

In the last post, I identified and described the 7 Dwarfs of Menopause in detail. My encounter with them helped me with my own defensive strategy for dealing with these annoying creatures.  Now it is my turn: Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, it’s off to work I go.

When they began to show up at my house a few years ago, it was like a mini invasion. Very suddenly without warning, it was as if a switch to my inner furnace was turned on and I began waking up in the middle of the night hot and drenched with sweat. I would get up, change my night gown, go back to bed, sleep awhile then repeat until the next internal heat wave hit.

I was hoping the hot flashes were just passing through and would stop but they didn’t.  I was tired, cried at the drop of a hat, irritable and basically miserable. After 3 months of hot flash bombardment I realized, it was time to ask for help.

I want to share about how I mounted a counterattack against these troublesome tormentors…

First of all I want to say that addressing and alleviating the factors that contribute to hormonal imbalance is vital and not a one-size-fits-all proposition. A multifaceted approach is the best strategy. Dr. Christiane Northrup states in The Wisdom of Menopause, “It is important to realize that hormonal support can be a smorgasbord.”  In other words, there are many alternatives and strategies that can be used in addition to hormone therapy.

I did my research and assessed my lifestyle habits including: diet, exercise routine, sleep habits and stress level and realized that I needed to make a few changes if I wanted survive and thrive in this new phase of my life.  So I created my own personal Menopause Care Plan…

I took a look at my diet and identified the toxic foods that needed to be removed. I worked more fruits and vegetables into my diet and made sure I drank plenty of water. I increased the good fats like legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and oils. These good fats are the starting point for hormone balance.

I created and followed a more consistent exercise program including both cardiovascular and strength training components.   I walk 5 days per week for at least 30 minutes and strength train 2 days per week. It is well documented that regular exercise reduces physical and emotional stress and releases endorphins, the happy hormone, a great tool for zapping the dwarves.

I gave more attention to my sleep schedule and bed time ritual.  I personally need 8 hours of sleep on most nights. I’ve learned that hormone balance occurs mostly during deep sleep which also supports a healthy serotonin balance.  Serotonin helps keep our moods balanced.

Finally I looked at my life and listed all of the energy sappers. I listed 50 items that I needed to delete or get in order so that I could experience less stress and more peace. This exercise not only helped me decrease my stress but increased the productivity in my life.

Ready or not, these dwarves may show up in your life. You can take control and alleviate your discomfort in natural ways with lifestyle changes, hormone replacement therapy (preferably Bioidentical Hormone Replacement), and alternative medicine strategies.

One last tip… Create your own Menopause Tool Box. This critical toolbox should be amply supplied with the following items:

  • Combat Sweaty (hot flashes) with a fan, a tank top, and a cool, damp rag.
  • Overcome Itchy (dryness) with lubricants, moisturizing lotions, and by drinking lots of water.
  • Outsmart Forgetful by doing puzzles and other activities that exercise your brain cells.
  • Do aerobic activities to put Bitchy and Weepy on the run. And if needed, don’t feel bad if you also require the help of an antidepressant and a box of tissues.

Finally, be sure to limit caffeine and alcohol consumption. And avoid such things as smoking and spicy foods, which can open the Menopause Pandora’s Box. Trust me: Nobody wants to open that box.

The good news is that when you get past the battle and learn how to deal with these miniature tormenters , you can experience more energy, fun, passion for life.  I am living proof!

Let me close with this thought about the seven dwarves of menopause: (1) They are sneaky little guys, and you may not be able to avoid them entirely, no matter what you do. But don’t despair, because (2) With a few simple tools—and lots of patience—you can WIN this battle and maintain your sanity. At least most of time.

 So hold on to your seat belt. Before long, “happily ever after” is bound to return.

 Don’t forget to send me your personal stories about how you encountered and overcame the seven dwarves of menopause!

Mary B

Mary Buchan has spent the past 30 years as a wife, mother, registered nurse and singer/songwriter.  In 2012 she re-purposed her nurse’s cap to start her own coaching practice with a focus on life reinvention. Mary is also a blogger and the author of the soon to be released book  Over It: How To Live Above Your Circumstances and Beyond Yourself  (Spark Publications).

Check out Mary’s website, where you can also find her blog:   http://marybuchan.com/