A new year is coming. And I recommend to my clients something I always do myself at the end of every year: I look back at the year that has passed and review my list of goals for that year. After that, I start a new list of goals for the upcoming year.
I look back at what I have accomplished (Yay!) and at what I've missed or didn't achieve for whatever reason (oh, well). No judgment. I'm very realistic about life's ups and downs and don't expect it to be perfect. I recommend you do the same. Maybe reflect if you want to keep pursuing that goal for next year and what will be different this time.
It's all good.
The reflection is just part of an awareness of what is essential for you and for your life.
For me, for most of my clients, and probably for you who's reading this, HEALTH is an important asset worth taking care of.
My goals usually include a few aspects related to health.
If you're over 40, either nearing or past menopause, chances are you have felt some of the symptoms related to the changes in hormones and/or simply the changes that come with aging.
That's why I constantly say that this moment is a great opportunity to take care of yourself and your health.
Because chances are you will be living until your 80's (since the average women's lifespan in the US is 80.2 yrs old). If you take care of your health by exercising and nourishing your body? You can add anywhere from 5 to 20 years!!!
But it's not all about living longer – it's about living longer with quality of life. It's about being able to be active, to go to places, to do things, to enjoy life.
So, when you think about the next year – and all the future years to come – think about ways on how you can implement positive routines and lifestyle habits that can contribute to a healthy, joyful life.
From my experience, I recommend focusing on these main pillars of health: Sleep, Stress Management, Nutrition, Movement, and Emotional Well-being.
What women over 40 should prioritize in regard to their health.
Take care of your sleep.
I can't say enough about how sleep is crucial for our health and well-being. It's when our brain repairs and cleans itself from the "junk" accumulated during the day. It's when our muscles recover and build. It's when our parasympathetic nervous system gets a break from the "fight or flight" mode that daily stress brings. It's when our hormones are regulated.
But don't panic yet – there are ways to improve sleep, even if you need to see a doctor. The key message is: don't just accept that you can't sleep most nights.
I'm attaching a PDF file with some tips about sleep hygiene and ways that can help. Do your research and try it on your own first and if that doesn't help – find a specialist.
Plan your nutrition
Of course, I prioritize my nutrition, and I certainly recommend you do the same.
A balanced, nourishing diet is the key to optimal health; we all know that. But unfortunately, there's so much confusion in this field and most women find themselves lost.
All I can say is that, after more than 25 years of being a nutritionist, is that I recommend women 3 things when it comes to nutrition information:
Look at the source – is someone or a company benefiting from whatever information they're putting out? Are they selling supplements or products? Are they from a reputable background or organization?
Be skeptical – if the claims are a bit sensationalist or if they "villainize" a food, it's probably to cause some emotional reaction – a marketing strategy.
Learn about nutrition – Be curious, find reputable sources and people to follow for information, and research your own as well. Knowledge is power.
With that in mind, you can plan to improve your nutrition for next year.
Each one of us has different aspects that we can improve. Mine is to get enough vegetables and protein into my diet. Yours can be that and/or something else.
And forget about including goals such as "I'm going to go on a ______ diet." Please don't. If you follow my work, you know I don't recommend any diets. But If you need help with your nutrition, you can contact me or another professional. Just make sure they have a solid foundation on nutrition and that you agree with their approach.
Plan your exercise routine
Movement is an essential component of health. If you're moving less than 150 minutes weekly, you must prioritize some more time. And yes, there are specific exercises that benefit more than other types. But if you're a beginner or not as active – start with the basics first. If you are a pro, you can refine your exercise routine to include components such as plyometrics, Sprint training, power training, heavy weight lifting, and so on.
It depends on where you are yet.
And yes, I'll also recommend seeing a coach or a trainer to help you out, especially if you are starting weight training. You need to learn the proper form and posture so you don't injure yourself.
Emotional and Stress Management
Stress is a silent killer. And on top of that, during perimenopause, our emotional regulation and resilience are compromised – we are more prone to depression and anxiety.
So please – don't try to be "tough." Don't gaslight yourself.
Self-care is an overused term that makes some of us roll our eyes, but I have to say it is essential to our mental health.
The thing is that people are connecting self-care with things like getting a pedicure – when in reality, each one of us have our own way to give ourselves some much needed time or attention.
For me is realizing when my heart is racing, when I'm caught up in anxious thoughts, and taking 15 minutes to relax. Deep breathing, sometimes tea. Sometimes a walk around my backyard. That's self-care.
If things are particularly tough, here I go again: find help. It could be a therapist or a friend. But don't take it all alone.
Putting it all together
Here's a sample of a 2023 Goals Form I send to my clients. And I'm sending you one too! 😊
I hope you like this. Let me know.
And… Have a wonderful 2023. May it be a healthy & joyful year for you and your family!