Done with Dieting Episode #126: Navigating Life Changes

Navigating Life Changes

Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and isolated as a woman in midlife? Trust me, you’re not alone. 

Join me as I explore the societal pressures and expectations that can make this phase of life challenging, from our changing bodies to evolving family dynamics. I’m here to normalize the experience and remind you that we’re all in this together.

In this empowering conversation, I dive into the importance of cultivating relationships outside of our partnerships, embracing the physical changes that come with aging, and asking for help as we become matriarchs and caretakers of our families. 

Listen in as I also discuss how to live your best life during midlife and beyond by intentionally surrounding yourself with supportive friends and preserving your health now for a more independent, vital, and vibrant future. 

Chapter Summaries:

Navigating Midlife as a Woman (0:00:05) 

We discuss societal pressures, family dynamics, changing bodies, menopause, and retirement expectations of women in midlife.

Navigating Life Changes in Midlife (0:18:06) 

Society prizes appearance, leading to insecurity; cultivate relationships, ask for help; embrace physical changes of aging.

Living Your Best Life (0:32:27)

Taking care of yourself in mid-life, intentional friendships, and preserving health can lead to vibrant older life.

“Embrace the journey of midlife as a woman, knowing that you’re not alone, and discover the power of supportive relationships, self-care, and intentional living.” – Elizabeth Sherman

Are you loving the podcast, but arent sure where to start? click here to get your copy of the Done with Dieting Podcast Roadmap Its a fantastic listening guide that pulls out the exact episodes that will get you moving towards optimal health.

If you want to take the work we’re doing here on the podcast and go even deeper, you need to join the Feel Good Sisterhood - my group coaching program for women in midlife who are done with dieting, but still want to feel good! The Feel Good Sisterhood is open for enrollment, so click here to discover if group coaching is a right fit for you and your goals.

I am so excited to hear what you all think about the podcast – if you have any feedback, please let me know! You can leave me a rating and review in Apple Podcasts, which helps me create an excellent show and helps other women who want to get off the diet roller coaster find it, too.

What You’ll Learn from This Episode

  • Societal beauty ideals prioritize youthfulness, prompting some women to conceal or falsify their age, driven by the perception that youth is associated with higher value and attractiveness.
  • Societal conditioning ties women’s worth to caregiving, leading to self-doubt during life transitions, retirement, or physical limitations, highlighting the need for personal purpose to prevent depression.
  • During the empty nest phase, women navigate changing social circles and have the opportunity to cultivate friendships based on personal interests, moving beyond convenience-based relationships formed through parenting.
  • Societal norms discouraged healthy habits for younger women, leading to neglect of nutrition, sleep, and exercise, as they prioritized going with the flow and avoiding high-maintenance labels, ultimately hindering the establishment of beneficial long-term habits.
  • Working with a coach can support personal growth in areas such as organization, time management, goal setting, and fulfillment, empowering individuals to clarify their desires, assert themselves, and seek support, especially for those who have been conditioned to undervalue their needs, making this phase of life an opportune time for coaching guidance.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

There are so many changes for women in midlife. It’s actually pretty astounding when I wrote it all out. So welcome to today’s podcast episode where I dive deep into the challenges and changes that many women in midlife face. There are so many changes that happen at this stage of life. We’ll be discussing societal pressures, evolving family dynamics, nurturing relationships outside of our partnerships, embracing the physical changes that come along with aging, and asking for help as we step into our new roles.

Join me as we explore how to live your best life during midlife and beyond by being intentional about what it is that you want. The friends that you surround yourself with and prioritizing your health now for a more independent, vital, and vibrant future. Say goodbye to feelings of isolation and overwhelm because we are in this together.

Let’s get started.

You are listening to the done with dieting podcast. The podcast for women who are experiencing perimenopause and menopause symptoms and want to feel better – like they did before their body started changing.

I am your host, Elizabeth Sherman, Master Certified health, and life coach for women in menopause and peri menopause. I’ve helped thousands of women manage their symptoms, get off the diet roller coaster, and change their relationship with food, exercise, and stop fighting with their bodies. And I do it through a feminist lens – which means exploring how we are socialized as young women has a huge impact on our current relationship with food & exercise, our bodies, health, and ourselves.

What’s different about this podcast is that we’re exploring your health from all sides, not just food and exercise. We also address the mindset shifts that will make you happier and lead to better health.

My goal in this podcast is to illustrate that the reason diets don’t work long term is because your health doesn’t exist in a silo. Your health and your weight are a symptom of the OTHER parts of your life and how you show up. I want to help you to feel good and live the life you desire from a 360 degree approach: body, mind, and soul.

Welcome. Let’s get started.

Hey everyone, welcome to today’s podcast episode number 1 26. And today what I wanted to talk about is everything that women in midlife are going through. And the reason that I wanted to create this episode is because I’ve been talking about this topic with a couple of my friends. And every single time it comes up, my brain kind of explodes as to the amazing amount of pressure and changes that we as women who are in this stage of life are going through.

And so, what I wanted to do today is I just wanted to call out some of the things that we’re dealing with so that maybe you can feel a little bit more normal. So that you can feel like, oh yeah, that is totally happening to me, and now I don’t feel like I’m so alone. Because we don’t talk about our experience enough. We really don’t.

And the reason that we are where we are with our health, with feeling so alone about menopause and perimenopause is because we’ve been taught for so long that you just don’t talk about that stuff. That women’s issues aren’t interesting. So, yes, you’re going to get a big dose of feminism today. You’re probably going to get a few swear words, and we’re just going to have some fun.

So, I have this podcast broken out into different subjects because I started creating a mind map on what it means to be like to turn 50. I started out this podcast actually by thinking about how so many women are dreading turning 50 because we think that our lives are going to be over.

And since I’ve turned 50, I have just felt so much infinitely freer in my life. Well, of a lot of things. I’m going to talk about that. But I started doing a mind map on what all of the different things are that are changing in our lives. And it’s pretty much everything.

If you are a woman in midlife, you are definitely going to want to listen to this episode because I just want to normalize all of this for you. We’re going to be talking about the societal perceptions of ourselves. How that impacts the way that we think about ourselves. Also, how our social circles are changing and the societal pressures that go around that. And then, the family dynamics that are also changing.

And then, finally looking at menopause, what we think about our changing bodies, and then moving on into what our expectations are for retirement and beyond. So, that’s kind of the format that we’re going to be talking about today.

Starting with our societal perceptions. We are now moving into midlife. You’ve heard me talk about this before on the podcast that as women from when we were young girls, we have been taught that we are most prized for our appearance.

Our society also says, or gives the impression, the heavily impression that youth is something to be desired. And that as we age, we are no longer considered attractive. That’s the narrative that we receive from society, right? That youth is better, more physically appealing, that women are not revered for our brains. That men are, that men don’t really need to be concerned about their appearance because they have strength and power. And they can become successful because of their brains. Women are not encouraged to do that.

And so, what happens for us is if we have built up this self-image of being important because of our appearance. For some of you, you may be worried about moving into midlife. And we don’t hear this necessarily directly from women, maybe you do. That once we get older, everything just breaks down. That we’re no longer appealing and so we should just move out to pasture. We aren’t important anymore. And we receive these messages from society that we become somewhat invisible.

It can be really scary to move into this midlife because we really don’t have any other option. What’s the alternative, right? When we move into midlife, it can be this really uncertain time because not only are our quote unquote looks changing, but as we walk down the street, we may not receive the looks that we used to receive as younger women.

If you are someone who wants to be attractive, and who doesn’t. Right? We all want to be attractive. That’s why the beauty industry is doing so well is because of anti-aging serums and doing all of these things that help us to look younger.

I was thinking about this on my walk today that for some reason women are supposed to keep their age a secret, right? That’s a huge thing that no one knows my age, or you shouldn’t ask a woman her age. And there are a number of women who when asked their age will lie, maybe jokingly. And tell the person who’s asking like 20 or 30 years younger.

So, like for me, oh, I’m on my 22nd, 30th birthday or whatever. Well, why would we want to do that? It’s because we believe that being younger is actually better. And that if I tell my real age, then somehow, I don’t know that we are going to not be as important to the person who we’re talking to. That they are going to think differently of us if I tell them my real age.

And I’ve always joked around, like on my birthday when people ask me, how old are you? Are you 30 or whatever? And I wouldn’t have wanted to look like I look at 30 like I look now, right? So, if I told someone that I was 30, they would be like, oh, you’ve had a hard life, haven’t you? So, I like to joke around the other way and tell people, no, I’m 75. Don’t I look amazing?

And so, our role in society is changing because we are no longer being revered for our appearance. And now some of you may think that that’s frustrating or that that’s depressing. But I think that it’s actually very freeing because now, we don’t actually need to do anything, and we can move on to things that are so much more important.

Now, the next area is our self-perception. So, if society isn’t viewing me as attractive, how do I perceive myself? And for many, this really can be a mind f*ck because we may experience perceptions in, well, if I’ve always perceived myself to be attractive, or to appear thin, or funny, or whatever it is. As I get older, do I still have that same identity? How does my body change with that?

And when we’re changing, oftentimes we will also have a lot of self-doubt because we don’t have the confidence that we’ve used to have, right? So, because things are changing, I’m not so sure like what is my body doing right now? And so, that can really erode our self-esteem.

But if you listened to episode number 122 about how we judge our health and how we judge food and how we judge our bodies. One of the really amazing things that we can start doing in at this phase of our life is really start to question the judgements that we have. And really be able to decide how do we want to perceive ourselves.

We do not get our value from how other people perceive us or what other people believe our worth is. Your worth is not determined by other people. Your worth is determined by yourself. If we allow other people to determine our worth, it’s kind of like our worth is a kin to the stock exchange.

My worth today is exactly the same as it was yesterday, as it will be tomorrow. There is nothing that I can do, that will change the way that I view my self-worth, my self-esteem. And so, one of the amazing things that happens at this part of our lives is that we have the ability to decide based on our own decisions, not based on how society sees us to have our own intrinsic worth.

This is some deep work that so many women are struggling with only because we are moving into this age where we really kind of are questioning what is our value. As our family changes, as our children grow up and become more independent and don’t need us as much. We really kind of question how is it that I’m giving value to the people in my life anymore.

And so, for so many women, because we have been conditioned and socialized to believe that our worth is determined by our ability to do and perform for those around us. We question like, well, what am I doing anymore? This especially is true and becomes glaringly obvious if you ever have surgery or some sort of injury where you need to take a step back. Because now you’re no longer able to perform at the level that you used to be able to perform at.

For so many women, we really question like, well, if I’m not doing for others, then how am I keeping myself relevant? How am I earning my keep here. It’s something that I talk with my clients about all the time. And it’s something that if you are starting to question this, when you move on into retirement, it’s really going to start messing with your brain.

Because when we no longer have youth on our side and when we no longer have the doing ability and going to work and quote unquote contributing to society, right? Because we’re taught in our culture that we need to be contributing members of society. When we are no longer doing that, we can really start to get depressed.

And so, really being able to look at what is my purpose in this world? Being able to look at what is it that you want? What is it that your life is made up of? Like when you can start to uncover that, then you will be able to move forward.

Now that being said, for so many of us, we have had decades of not fulfilling our own needs. And so for many women, we don’t know what it is that we like anymore. We don’t know what food do I like. I know what all of my kids like, I know what my partner likes. I know what my kid’s best friend’s favorite color is but I’m not really sure what my favorite color is.

Like we have all of these questions that we really don’t know because we’ve abandoned ourselves for so long. And when we finally get rid of all of the busyness, when all of those things that are keeping our mind occupied, like bringing the kids to soccer practice and running around and doing for others. And we’re starting to have that silence and we’re starting to get that quietude.

So many women come to me because they’re like, I don’t know what it is that I want anymore. I feel lost. I know that I like ice cream. I know that I like cookies, but it doesn’t make me feel good. And so, being able to find the purpose outside of food in your life is going to be so incredibly important.

One of the other areas that I see women really struggle with within this phase of life is our social circles are changing. As we move into this empty nest phase of our lives, so many women have had friendships that have been built on a pillar of convenience. I was just talking to my girlfriend about this yesterday.

That as we get older, as our children age out and go away to college, we no longer are having those friendships of convenience where we see the other parent at a social function that our kids are going to anymore.

And so, we really struggle with cultivating friendships. And you might even question like those friendships that you did have that were based on convenience. Were they really true friendships or were they just friendships out of convenience?

And not that there’s anything wrong with having friendships of convenience but here’s what’s really crucial at this stage of your life is you get to decide who you want to cultivate a relationship with. And here’s what’s really cool about that.

And for some of you, you may be getting really scared because that is a sign of vulnerability. That is an area where you’re like, what do I do? How do I create friendships as an adult? I have no idea how to do that because you’re a little rusty at it. You haven’t had to do it. It’s been that you’ve seen other parents at other functions, and so it’s just been easy.

But now you get to go out and figure out, who do I want to be friends with? What are we going to talk about other than our kids? So, what do you have to talk about? Do you like books? Do you like sports? What is it that is going to engage your friendship with this other person?

What you want to do is you want to think about what are the things that I want to do? And for so many of us, we have been taught that the primary relationship in our life, our partnership. And for many, this is a partnership with a man. What that partnership should be is everything that we are supposed to pick a partner who likes to go shopping with us. Who likes the same movies as us. Who likes to spend our free time the same way.

And what if you love your partner, but you have a need to go garage saleing and your partner doesn’t really like to do that. Or you really want to start painting, you want to start going to a painting class, and your partner isn’t into that. You can create girlfriend relationships in doing some of those things that you want to explore as you decide who is it that I am in this next phase of my life.

It’s okay to have friendships that are outside of what you do within your marriage or your partnership. And so, being able to be okay with that and have friendships. And it’s actually really cool for me because I was never someone who well, my parents never really modeled friendships. Having friendships in later life is something that I’m starting to cultivate, and it is so freaking exciting.

Now, if you’re someone who’s interested in exploring friendships. I have an episode for you. It’s episode number 64. It’s with another coach, her name is Xena Jones, she’s out of New Zealand. It’s all about her “Friendsperiment.” She did this experiment of building up friendships and it’s such a cool idea.

I know that it sounds really scary, but you’re going to be in this situation anyway. Why not cultivate friendships, close female friendships with women who you want to be friends with, you want to build friendships with. And so, really not having that convenience anymore, but really stepping out and creating relationships with people who really speak to your soul. And it’s just such an amazing thing. So, I’m going to encourage you to do that.

Now, I mentioned it in the last piece, but also our family dynamics.

Are totally changing in this phase of our life. So, as our children are growing up, they’re a little bit more independent. But also at the same time, some of you may be experiencing that your parents are starting to need more of your help. Your parents are no longer the people that you go to, and you are becoming the matriarch of your family.

And so, really being able to step into that role. And also, for so many of us, we have never been able to ask for help. But you cannot be in this situation where your children need you, where your partner needs you, where work needs you, where your friends need you, and your parents need you. And not ask for help. Being able to rely potentially on other family members, but also on your friends and being able to give and receive support for those people in your life.

Now, I talked about the physical appearance of our bodies changing as we’re aging. But then, there’s also menopause and perimenopause, right? So, not only is our appearance changing, we’re getting wrinkles. Our body fat is depositing at different places on our body. Our skin is not as elastic. Our body is oxidizing, it’s aging. And there’s parts of that that are just so incredibly cool. Our hair is graying, we’re not producing as much color in our hair. And I don’t know, it’s just such an amazing experience.

That being said, many of you might be like, what the hell is going on here? Because we did not have good habits as younger women because we didn’t need to. We didn’t have to have good eating habits or sleep habits or physical activity habits because we really didn’t suffer any consequences from not having them. And as society taught us as younger women that we should just go with the flow, right?

So many women are just like, yeah, I’m the cool chick, right? I’m not high maintenance because we’ve been taught that being high maintenance is bad. And you know what’s high maintenance, healthy food, and getting your needs met, taking care of yourself. All of that stuff is considered high maintenance when you look at it from the outside.

So, getting your hair done, getting your nails done, eating vegetables, eating a salad is a lot more high maintenance than eating a burger and fries. Eating healthy food is more high maintenance than eating a pizza. And so, when we’re out to dinner with other friends and we’re in our twenties, we’re in our teens. And if we wanted to eat something healthy, they’d be like, oh, come on, you’re such a drag. That’s not fun. Right?

We learned to kind of go with the flow and push down what it was that we really wanted. And in doing so, we abandoned ourselves. And through doing that, we did not create good habits for ourselves to grow up with. And so, now as we’re moving into menopause and perimenopause, all of those bad habits that we have about overeating sweets, and working off the extra calories through exercise, that’s not working for us anymore.

And in fact, if you’ve listened to the other episodes on menopause, you’ll know that it’s in fact influencing, negatively, our menopausal symptoms. So now as we age, as we’re in this phase of life, we need to take better care of ourselves because we’re also starting to think about retirement. And when we think about retirement, what we’re thinking about is what does life look like on the other side of menopause?

So, when I’m not working anymore, what does life look like? Am I with my partner? Where am I living? What are my children doing? What about my parent? And so, for so many of us, I think that we have this vision of an AARP commercial in our heads. And if you’re not familiar with an AARP commercial, AARP finds young people who have gray hair. And it photographs them doing active things.

So, we think about, oh, when I get older, when I retire, I want to be traveling the world. And so, we think about like climbing up a mountain and not being out of breath. We have amazing teeth; we have tanned skin. We are completely active, and we have this shapely body. For many of us, we’re thinking about what does retirement look like? And if you’re not thinking about what does retirement look like, why not?

And here’s why: you’ve heard me talk about the future version of yourself. The version of yourself who is retiring is going to be here sooner than you know. What do you want life to look like? And when we can start looking at that, and visualizing it, and creating clear goals. What we can do is we can start working towards it. And when that becomes more important, then what is our purpose?

So, everything now from the episode is kind of coming together, which is what does my self-concept look like? What do my friendships look like? What does my health look like? What does my family look like? What does my work and life purpose look like? If I’m not spending eight hours going to an office, what am I doing?

And so, I’m really going to invite you to start thinking about what is it that you want. And then, go for it. Of course, if you don’t know, working with a coach is something that can actually help clear up so many of these questions. It’s something that I work with my clients on all the time.

You would be amazed at the number of non-health related topics that I coach my clients on. I coach my clients on things related to organization and time management. But also, goal setting and being able to go out and create the kind of life that you want to lead. So, being able to visualize what is it that you want in your life. What’s missing? What is going to create joy in your life? And then, really being able to stand up for yourself to go out and ask those people around you to support you in that.

I was talking about the cool girl earlier. And I think that for many of us, we have been socialized to believe that our needs aren’t important. And so, we act all, oh, I don’t need anything because we’re afraid that when we do ask for something that the other people in our lives aren’t going to be able to rise to the challenge and offer that to us.

If this is you, then coaching can help. Coaching can help in all of these different areas. And so, if this is something that you are questioning, I’m going to invite you to schedule some time with me. I also have a bunch of other coaches who’ve been on this podcast. If it resonates with you of any of their messages, I invite you to reach out to them.

But we are in this time in our life right now that is so incredibly unique. There has never been a time like it before, and there’s really not going to be another time like it again. Every single aspect of our lives is changing. Every aspect, including our family, our children, our parents, our body. How we look at ourselves in terms of aging and our own purpose, our brains, and what we want to do in life.

What you want to accomplish in this next phase of life, you are not too old to start something new. You probably have a good 30 to 40 years left on this planet. There is still plenty of time to do something amazing in this world.

And so, really being able to be intentional about what types of friendships do you want. What do you want your health to look like? Are you worried about disease or bone health? Like taking care of yourself now is actually going to preserve your longevity when you get older. So, being able to preserve your health now is going to allow you to live a more independent life as you get older. So that you can have a vibrant and amazing third act of your life. All right?

That’s all I have for you today. Have an amazing day, everyone. And I’ll talk to you next week. Bye-bye.

Hey, thanks for listening!

If the show resonates with you and you have a friend, mother, sister, or anyone else who you think would benefit, I’d love for you to share the podcast with them. You can leave me a rating and review in Apple podcasts which helps me create an amazing experience for you. And it helps other women who are done with dieting and want to get off the diet roller coaster to find it as well.

See you next week.

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