Ageing Well, Living Well Health & Wellness

Living the healthiest version of your life

April 5, 2020
Living the healthiest version of your life

My final guest in the current Ageing Well, Living Well series is a neighbour of mine although we haven’t yet met in person. I’ve only known Christina from Midlife Stylist for a few short months but we share a passion for healthy living . When I read Christina’s story I was shocked and inspired by her health journey which has been far from easy. In her post, Christina shares her story and how she is trying to live the healthiest version of her life. Be inspired by Christina and don’t forget to connect with her through her website and social media links at the end of her post.

Living the Healthiest Version of your life

I have been asked to contribute a guest post for Sue’s Aging well, Living Well series on what it means to me to age well.  I feel very humbled and privileged to be in this position because I have only had my blog online for 4 months.  However, health promotion is my passion and my life’s work, having been a Registered Nurse for over 30 years. 

When you reach midlife you start to consider what the way you want to retire means to you. 

My dad retired at 54 – the same age I am now, and for the same reason that I may need to retire early – degeneration in his spine and hips.  I used to caution him against getting immobile because it would lead to more problems like muscle wasting and weight gain.  Unfortunately he didn’t listen and he became more and more immobile and disabled over the years.  He lived another 30 years past retirement but much of that was with a low quality of life because of all his health problems, and an increase in reliance on other people for his activities of daily living and self care.  I knew from an early age that I did not want to become disabled and immobile – even if my longevity is short like my sister (44yrs) or mother (54yrs) or long like my father.

I want my remaining years to be as healthy as possible so I strive to overcome my health issues and live the healthiest version of my life as I can.

After my sister passed away suddenly 8 years ago I went into menopause suddenly, brought on by the shock of her sudden death.  I had what laymen would call a mental breakdown – I had severe insomnia and anxiety and my hormones went haywire from the shock of sudden menopause.  HRT was a saviour in that regards, and I am still taking medication for my anxiety and insomnia.  The side affects of these medications was weight gain – approximately 20kg.  Most of it was a rapid gain while my father was in the last 6 months of his life.  He already had prostate cancer but he was given a poor prognosis when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  He lived in New Zealand so I spent his last few months doing several trips there to see him. 

My weight ballooned to 84kg with a waist size of 109cm.  I was alarmed by this, knowing that it predisposed me to other conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  I had tried many ways to lose weight over the years but as soon as I went off the diet I packed it all back on, and more.  I was eligible for  a Government-sponsored program called Get Healthy due to my risk of developing diabetes.  The program provided me with a dietician to give me support.  Together we formed goals – to lose the weight around my abdomen and increase my stamina.

Degeneration and arthritis in my spine limits the type of exercise I can do, but by focusing instead on what my body could cope with, I implemented what I could do – which was walking every day, decreasing my serving sizes of food, eating more vegetables and eating around 1500 Kcal per day. This lead to steady weight loss – a total of 17kg over 4 months. 

The best part is that I’ve maintained the weight loss and I’m now in the healthy range for fat percentage and BMI. 

By limiting the amount of alcohol and sugar I was consuming, I had more energy and felt amazing.  My migraines became less frequent and debilitating and now only occur when I succumb to the temptation of sugary treats.

No matter what your issues are, whether they are physical or mental, a lack of money or support, it is possible to live the healthiest version of yourself. 

Do what you can rather than focusing on what you can’t.

 If I am going to live another 20 or 30 years after I retire, I want it to be the best years of my life, in a body that is as healthy as it can be. 

I met with a good friend recently.  We’ve known each other for about 20 years and are around the same age, with our children about the same age as each other as well.  We don’t see each other often but when we do we spend the whole time discussing life and our various problems but also sharing positive things as well.

We’re both in the stage of life where our kids are leaving home and we have a lot more time to spend on ourselves.  Our discussion around self improvement made us realise that it is common at our age to get more introspective and start working on ourselves.  This might involve finally dealing with physical complaints that we’ve had for years – they don’t necessarily have a physical reason for being there so the cause must be from some other reason.  Natural therapies, such as massage, hypnotherapy and naturopathy are probably better avenues to explore to deal with these sort of complaints by looking at our body and mind from a holistic viewpoint.

When you have more time on your hands to spend on yourself, it can be daunting.  We might have been ignoring things and just scraping by, usually by using work or vices to deal with the issues without actually getting to the root of the problem.  That’s when a lot of people find they are regularly going home from work and having a couple of glasses of wine to relax them.  They use busy-ness to distract them from the true underlying issues.  To get to the root of the problem, you have to look deeply and this can be confronting.  What if it’s some issue from childhood, or a trauma from the past – if you have to confront it, it can alter your perception of the event and may even cause family rifts when you finally acknowledge that it is the root cause of physical ailments you have been experiencing.   

I told my friend about a therapist I saw who used a type of hypnotism – she would take you back to an event in the past that first gave you an emotion that you were dealing with.  For example, I felt a lot of guilt, so she used regression hypnotherapy to take me back in my memory to the first time I felt guilty.  It happened to be my birth!  My mum had a really difficult time giving birth to me and apparently I was storing this memory of guilt – she was able to clear that for me and other negative emotions that I was experiencing at the time.  Using therapy to improve my mental state was vital before I could begin to work on the physical problems I was experiencing. 

At this age we know ourselves better and are less likely to put up with people or situations that cause us stress.  I find I’m able to be more assertive and won’t put up with things I would have in the past.  I’m more in tune with my inner voice.  I’ve done a lot of work on myself to get to this point in my life.  Part of it was identifying traits in myself that needed work, and part of it was avoiding situations and people that make me feel terrible.  I’m much more at peace with myself now.  I have fewer friends but they are strong friendships where we both benefit from a mutual love and respect for each other.  Our conversations are deep and meaningful where we can both feel heard and supported by each other. 

Looking forward

The next few years will be spent preparing for retirement.  My husband and I will be downsizing to a smaller house with the aim of reducing our living expenses and the amount of home maintenance required.  We’re researching becoming self-sufficient so that we don’t need to rely on the Government and our superannuation for our living expenses. 

My focus will be on remaining as healthy as I can, even if my chronic back pain forces me to retire early.  I’ve found my passion which is writing about maintaining a healthy lifestyle in your midlife and beyond.  Being able to create Midlifestylist, my blog, which allows me to connect with other people in the same stage of life as me, has been extremely rewarding and validating.  It allows me to inspire other midlifers to live the healthiest version of themselves, and to enjoy their midlife years to the fullest.

Thank you to Sue for giving me the opportunity to contribute to your very worthy website.

Meet Christina

Christina Henry is a Registered Nurse who lives on the sunny Gold Coast of Australia.  She has a passion for health promotion and writing.  Her website Midlifestylist.com combines both passions and aims to inspire other midlifers to live the healthiest version of themselves.  Having overcome several health issues herself, she is able to use her knowledge of the issues people may need to overcome to achieve their goals.  Christina is married to her second husband, has two adult sons and  a house full of pets.  She enjoys cooking, gardening and traveling.

Connect with Christina

Blog- midlifestylist.com

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32 Comments

  • Reply Christie Hawkes April 5, 2020 at 04:34

    Thank you for sharing your story, Christina, and for the introduction, Sue. My parents were both quite sedentary and suffered the effects later in life. I am determined not to repeat that pattern. I have been purposely physically active for decades, and it has become an integral part of my life now. I pay attention to nutrition, but that’s also an area in which I could improve. I also am mindful of my sleep habits and mental health. I do feel some physical effects of aging, but I was to live the healthiest version of my life that I can. Best wishes to both of you, Sue and Christina. Here’s to our health!

    • Reply Christina Henry April 5, 2020 at 08:47

      Hi Christie, seeing how our own parents lived their lives is often why we strive to live differently. Living healthier, more active lives than our parents is often the case. I’ll toast to our health as well! Thanks so much for your comment, regards Christina

  • Reply Rita A Towns April 5, 2020 at 07:02

    Christina, Your strength and perseverance are inspiring! I am happy that you have managed to be the healthiest version of yourself. I’m working on that myself.

    • Reply Christina Henry April 5, 2020 at 08:49

      Thank you Rita, I’m so pleased I inspired you! We are all a work in progress, so enjoy each victory, regards Christina

  • Reply Jo April 5, 2020 at 07:27

    Thanks for sharing your story. Focus on what you can do not what you can’t is a great message.

    • Reply Christina Henry April 5, 2020 at 08:50

      Thank you Jo, I’m glad you enjoyed my story and took something away from it. Regards, Christina

  • Reply Donna Connolly April 5, 2020 at 07:53

    Hi, Christina – It was nice to meet you the other day (via Inspirational Quotes for Women). It is also wonderful to learn more about you here. You look fabulous and your story is very inspiring. Sending warm wishes for your retirement planning. I loved the planning stage – don’t forget to savour it!

    • Reply Christina Henry April 5, 2020 at 08:54

      Hi Donna, thank you so much for your comment. I’m glad I inspired you with my story. I am enjoying planning our retirement – I wish I was closer to it because living self sufficiently away from the crowds is looking very attractive at the moment! Take care, regards Christina

  • Reply Christina Henry April 5, 2020 at 08:41

    Thank you Sue for inviting me to take part in your series. I am honoured to contribute to your website and share my story. Hopefully I can inspire others to live the healthiest version of their life and to embrace middle age as an exciting part of our lives. You are an inspiration, regards Christina

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 7, 2020 at 09:45

      Hi Christina it is my pleasure to have you as a guest on my blog. Your story is so inspiring and once life gets back to normal (if it ever does) it would be lovely to catch up for a coffee. Take care and look after yourself after your recent surgery. xx

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au April 5, 2020 at 12:32

    Hi Christina – I’ve been enjoying your blog and find your story so inspiring. We can all make changes that give us a better quality of life if we’re willing to toughen up a bit and put in some effort. I retired early last year and have found my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health has significantly improved as I’ve worked on putting a lot of the drama and discontent behind me. I’m even finding this COVID season to be more positive than I expected because I can embrace it on my own terms – for me it’s all about positivity and choosing to grow and enjoy this stage of life.

    • Reply Christina Henry April 5, 2020 at 14:41

      Thanks Leanne, you inspire me too! I’m looking forward to retiring and being able to get out of the rat-race and live my dream life. I wish I was there now. I’m not finding the social distancing hard either because I love my home – I think it’s possible to see positives in every situation. Thanks for your feedback, regards Christina

  • Reply Erica/Erika April 5, 2020 at 13:02

    Thank you Sue, for introducing Christina to me.

    Nice to meet you Christina. I suspect knowing your genetic background possibly helps with managing and overcoming your health issues. Your post is very inspirational and I appreciate you sharing your difficult journey. I especially like “do what you can rather than focusing on what you can’t.” I also agree with one of your comments on how Sue is an inspiration. For the brief time I have known her, I see how she brings out the best in people. She shares valuable information on how we all can live our best life. A great post, Christine and Sue!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 7, 2020 at 09:44

      My pleasure, Erica. I love bringing inspiring Women together. x

  • Reply Debbie Harris April 5, 2020 at 14:31

    Hi Christina, it’s lovely to meet you here at Sue’s blog. I enjoyed reading your story and commend you for taking such positive steps to improve your health and well being. I’m now following your blog and on other social media too! Take care and thanks for sharing your inspiring story, Sue has a way of getting the best out of us doesn’t she?

    • Reply Christina Henry April 6, 2020 at 14:36

      Hi Debbie, yes Sue definitely has a knack for drawing out our best! I’m pleased to have “met” you too, this community of midlife bloggers just keeps giving! Thanks so much for your feedback, regards Christina

  • Reply Christina Henry April 5, 2020 at 15:02

    Thank you so much Erica. You are correct – knowledge of my genetic background definitely has a bearing on how I deal with my health issues. I’m all for preventative measures so knowing my family has a high incidence of melanoma and heart disease has meant that I have skin checks 6 monthly and stay heart-healthy through diet and exercise. You are right, Sue does bring out the best in people and inspires us to be healthy. Thanks for your feedback, regards Christina

  • Reply Kris April 5, 2020 at 16:03

    Hi Chris,
    That was well said and spot on. Having a connection with you Is wonderful. So pleased I inspired this topic. Self care and self love is so important, and finding a way to deal with ailments. On that note I’m off to have a long magnesium and lavender oil bath. Look forward to our next coffee catch up. Love Kris

    • Reply Christina Henry April 6, 2020 at 14:41

      Hi Kris, if we could record our conversations I’m sure other women would relate – it’s wonderful to have a friend who you can bare your soul to, who really “gets” you. This social distancing is hard – not being able to catch up for a coffee in real life! I hope you enjoyed your bath 🙂 I am truly lucky to have you as my friend, love to you too, Chris xxx

  • Reply Natalie April 6, 2020 at 09:15

    Hi Christina, Nice to meet you here. Your focus on what you can rather than what you can’t do is right on. Congratulations on living the healthiest version of your life! Enjoy your retirement planning as well. Thank you to Sue for introducing Christina to us. #lifethisweek

    • Reply Christina Henry April 6, 2020 at 14:44

      Hi Natalie, thank you so much for your comment. I’m glad my story resonated with you. Hopefully it will inspire other women to overcome their adversities and live their healthiest life too. Regards, Christina

  • Reply Deborah C April 6, 2020 at 11:33

    Hi Christina! The ‘doing what you can rather than what you can’t’ jumped out at me as well. I think we assume everything has to be hard or unpleasant or we have to be perfect but something… (anything) is better than nothing and that’s something I need to remind myself of more!

    • Reply Christina Henry April 6, 2020 at 14:47

      Hi Deborah, that is so true – we don’t have to be perfect. Perfect holds us back and makes us procrastinate and miss opportunities to grow. I say, just give it a go! Any effort is better than not trying at all. Thank you so much for your comment, it’s given me more food for thought. Regards, Christina

  • Reply Phil Henry April 7, 2020 at 09:19

    I’m very proud of my wife for her passion and drive on this topic. It’s very inspiring to see how committed she is, and she has come a long way over the past few years. I hope her journey can inspire others to live a healthy and happy midlife

    • Reply Sue Loncaric April 7, 2020 at 09:43

      Hi Phil! I’m sure you are very proud of Christina and her story is certainly very inspiring. I can’t believe we are neighbours and didn’t know it! Take care and thanks for stopping by to leave a comment.

    • Reply Christina Henry April 8, 2020 at 12:30

      Aww thanks Phil. Having you there by my side makes it possible. Not many husbands would understand the hours I have spent disappearing because “I just have to write this down” when the inspiration for a story strikes. I still have a job to do to inspire you to be healthier – that’s a work in progress! (Phil’s a workaholic who doesn’t stop even when he has an injury – I’m constantly nagging him not to dig the garden when he has a sprained wrist or a sore back but to no avail!). Love you honey

  • Reply Angie Emde April 8, 2020 at 23:11

    Thank you Christina for sharing your story, While reading it I saw and felt many similarities especially that in holding the pain from the past. I’ve never tried hypnotherapy but I know I will one day soon. I love that you share the benefits of focusing on what you can do over what you can’t.

    • Reply Christina Henry April 11, 2020 at 11:37

      Hi Angie, Hypnotherapy definitely helped for me. I’m glad my story resonated with you. Thank you for your feedback, regards, Christina

  • Reply greenglobaltrek April 9, 2020 at 03:48

    Christina thanks for an inspiring story. I too have had immense health challenges (breast cancer) that I have survived, overcome and which led me to a healthier me along the way. I have been to a hypnotherapist in the past for some challenging times and thought it was a wonderful tool for coping. Thanks for sharing your struggles and your achievements.
    Peta

    • Reply Christina Henry April 11, 2020 at 11:42

      Thankyou for your feedback. It’s amazing that big wake-up calls like cancer can change our lives in so many ways, and if we can eventually live a healthier lifestyle that’s all the better. Hypnotherapy definitely can help when other types of therapy and counselling haven’t. I’m a pretty down-to-earth person so if I’d known that the counsellor that I was going to see used hypnotherapy I probably would have backed out! I’m so glad I didn’t because she helped shift so many blocks for me over a few sessions. I hope you are in good health, take care, regards Christina

  • Reply Denyse Whelan April 9, 2020 at 11:24

    Great to read more about Christina here Sue. She has agreed to be part of my Women of Courage series too. It’s so good to read about others and know we are never alone thanks to blogging and sharing.

    Thank you for linking up for Life This Week. Next week’s optional prompt is 15/51 Share Your Snaps #3 13.4.2020 Happy Easter. Stay Safe. Stay Home. Stay Well. Denyse.

    • Reply Christina Henry April 11, 2020 at 11:45

      Hi Denyse, I agree, reading other peoples’ stories is so helpful when we’re facing challenges of our own. That’s why I write – I hope to inspire others to overcome their challenges. Your series undoubtedly inspires many people in this way as well. Regards, Christina

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