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Gut Health Above All Else!

{This post is made possible with support from AARP’s Disrupt Aging. All opinions are my own, always and truthfully.}

Did you know there exists a wellness conference on tour for women that uniquely focuses on our changing bodies and hormones? A conference that address all the questions you’ve posed yourself in your head, or maybe even to your tribe, but weren’t able to really get a solid or conclusive answer? Well, I didn’t know there is a bi-coastal one in L.A. an and Atlanta — and the invitation to attend WisePause Lifestyle, sponsored by the AARP’s Disrupt Aging campaign — could not have come at a better time. I happened to be in Atlanta for a TV appearance and no one better to attend with me than my bestie and assistant, Simone.

Last November, exactly 3 days after my birthday, my body did a really weird thing. My metabolism all of a sudden hit the breaks. And in matter of a week, I was constantly bloated and put on what seemed to be 10 pounds of hard fat around my midsection. I didn’t switch up anything in my diet or workout routine so it was really out-of-nowhere. To some, that may not be alarming or a lot of weight, but at my short 5’1” height and considering my really active and obsessive fitness lifestyle (do you follow my IG Stories?), I was stunned, confused and frustrated. The scare set in a few months later. But first, and after I realized it wasn’t just a birthday weekend bubbly sipping reaction, I panicked and started harassing two of my best friends, Simone and Taj. In our daily group chat, I hit them up with the classic “Girls, help!” I shared with them that I had developed an inexplicable belly (one I am very protective of, borderline vain about) and was tripping because nothing I did was deflating the 2-month-pregnant-looking gut.

{READ: Age Aint Nothin’ But a Number:

The Best Lesson I Learned From Anthony Bourdain}

After a few weeks of chatting and reading anything and everything I could think of, I hired a trainer. He was working until I realized that my fitness was not the issue – that no matter how much I worked out and intensified my workouts, I was still bloated and feeling really uncomfortable. My trainer suggested I get my hormones checked out. I did and nothing to see here folks.

And then more research brought me gut health. Oh, this is a real thing! Who knew? My gut’s been fine my entire life and now, in the blink of  false eye lash, I can’t put down food the same way. That put me in a frenzy, probably causing even more stress and I found myself drastically changing my lifestyle. Enter all the supplements you can imagine: Enzymes, probiotics, Vitex, etc. Anything to help ease the bloating but also get a grip on being able to eat all the food I cherish. But, for the sake of comfort, I drastically changed my diet to see if that would help. I want 100% vegan for 30 days and didn’t really see a difference. I felt better, overall (hello, sleep!!) but no real physical difference.

Six months into this journey of very intentional nutrition and fitness started providing some desired results but I still have so many questions.

I met Dr. Nicole Williams, aka, Dr. K, at WisePause ATL last week. While she is a Chiropractor, she is the founder/owner of ViviCare Wellness Center in Atlanta, specializing in liver, gut and balanced health. Hallelujah! A sent angel and she didn’t even know it yet. Before I got a hold of her, Dr. K sat on the opening panel, alongside a few other female Doctors, all whom were there to impart a sea of knowledge and information related to our changing bodies and how our hormonal health — especially during menopause — affects everything.

While the day was full of mini stage talks by all the professionals and experts addressing certain life topics like that having wow sex during menopause, or eating food for good brain health, and discussing why and how stress makes fast, to dressing for your size and body type, the Table Talk sessions were the most informative. Attendees had the chance to walk the space and visit each of the experts’ theme table where we got to ask questions. All the questions.

And I had questions. Lots of them. My few minutes with Dr. K, who was really nice and looked too young to have been in practice for 10+ years, led to a really good conversation about finding time and pausing to look deeper than then surface and getting opinions from more than just your PCP. Girl, say it louder for everyone in the back! Specifically, she advised that different and very specific panel tests can offer insight on our hormones and how our bodies are reacting to those changes, in ways that linear or first layered tests don’t show.more importantly she emphasized that there are a lot of natural solutions to help women go thru perimenopause and menopause. Many symptoms can be eliminated with nutrition, exercise and supplementation. She also mentioned it’s imperative to have your liver and gut health check as poor functioning in these areas can make make symptoms worse that they need to be.

My conversation with her left me feeling empowered and supported in my journey to better gut health. That I can get back to eating in a way that doesn’t have you looking at me like “who’s the father?!”

While the intended message the AARP staged at WisePause was how menopause impacts women’s health, the overarching message Simone and I took away was to have a balanced life. And not just a basic balanced life of a good work/play ratio, rather a very intentional one where you have data to back up and support the decisions you make. To know what to look for, what to ask, who to talk to… how to understand the changes at every stage, whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, approaching menopause, etc… knowing what to expect in order to make smarter and preemptive decisions. One nuanced message was about food and how we eat.

You hear all that time that you can’t eat the same as you get older. Yeah, well, I didn’t believe it, especially considering I’m an athlete. I burn while I’m sleeping.  But I’m here to tell you that oh, no, you can’t eat like that college kid and expect to have your 6-pack on full display. Our bodies simply don’t digest food or burn fat the same as when we were rocking long ponys and staying up til 3am. Additionally, I really appreciated the emphasis on understanding that food impacts our homes and our bodies ability to process insulin. We need different kinds of nutrients at different stages of our life. Knowing those nuances help mitigate the ebb and flow of hormones, regardless of your age.

WisePause brings together professional experts to share solutions to the symptoms that we women experience such as hot flashes, mood swings, foggy brains, belly fat, night sweats, insomnia, fatigue, low libido, weight gain, and bone loss. These are symptoms that we’re told are “normal” and to be “expected” with “getting older”. But THEY’RE NOT, and we’re here to help.

Simone’s takeaways are note-worthy, so she allowed me to share:

“Slow down and pay attention to my body signs such as indigestion, bloating etc., to get to the root cause of my imbalance.

“Continue with your skincare routines consistently, it’s not about how much money you spend on products it’s about the daily regimen to see long term results.

 “Find the right doctor for you, explore and know your options.

While all of the panelists and experts were on point and gave us plenty to ponder and research (I’m looking at you, Dr. Ganz!), the best part was being able to bring my bestie with me — because you know — your sister tribe is everything and sometimes the only thing. But also bumping into one of my OG friends from the OG blogger days. I was reminded that we all have a unique journey to meander and figure out. That we’re not the only ones going through life changes and that if we ask for it, people are often time eager to help. Dr. K exhibited that. We have a pending consultation. My sister’s getting married in 60 days and this gut has got to be in perfect form, in and out!

To learn more about AARP’s Disrupt Aging campaign and the WisePause Lifestyle Tour, check out their respective sits.

B! Intentional about your life!

 

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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