Jeanne Tripplehorn 06.10.1963

Posts Tagged ‘girlfriends’

Relationships: The Menopause Test


As you’ve probably figured out by now, menopause can wreak some serious havoc on your mind, body, and relationships. Which actually might not be such a bad thing. If this sound familiar to you, Dr. Hyman, a functional medicine expert known for the Ultra-wellness series and one of Dr. Ozs favorite guests, recommends that you take a peak at The Wisdom of Menopause, a menopause wellness guide by Christine Northrup, MD. One thing she points out is how a Menopaused Mind can actually offer you a creative and social renaissance!



Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Northrup’s book that Dr. Hyman highlights in his most recent post:

“It is no secret that relationship crises are a common side effect of menopause. Usually this is attributed to the crazy-making effects of the hormonal shifts occurring in a woman’s body at this time of transition. What is rarely acknowledged or understood is that as these hormone-driven changes affect the brain, they give a woman a sharper eye for inequity and injustice, and a voice that insists on speaking up about them. In other words, they uncover hidden wisdom—and the courage to voice it. As the vision-obscuring veil created by the hormones of reproduction begins to lift, a woman’s youthful fire and spirit are often rekindled, together with long-sublimated desires and creative drives. Midlife fuels those drives with a volcanic energy that demands an outlet.

“If it does not find an outlet—if the woman remains silent for the sake of keeping the peace at home or work, or if she holds herself back from pursuing her creative urges and desires—the result is equivalent to plugging the vent on a pressure cooker: Something has to give. Very often what gives is the woman’s health, and the result will be one or more of the “big three” diseases of postmenopausal women: heart disease, depression, and breast cancer. On the other hand, for those of us who choose to honor the body’s wisdom and to express what lies within us, it’s a good idea to get ready for some boat rocking, which may put long-established relationships in upheaval. Marriage is not immune to this effect.”

Check out the rest of Dr. Hyman’s post for Dr. Northrup’s tips on navigating those stormy social waters.


Memory Tip #4: Avoid Multitasking!


As the holidays approached, my girlfriend Tina began calling her cat Seymour. Her cat’s name is Garvey.  Seymour was the cat who lived next door many, many years ago. Tina wasn’t dementing. She wasn’t losing her memory. She was just another victim of Holiday Haze - a state of mind that occurs when you try to keep track of way too many things at one time and usually gets worse around the holidays.

Multitasking, keeping “too many balls in the air” or mental tracking (as psychologists call it), requires a great deal of attention and it’s exhausting. In fact, in terms of using up the brain’s energy, multitasking  is very expensive. Think about it this way: when you have a ton of programs running on your computer, it’s processing speed just isn’t as fast as when you’re only checking your e-mail.  Mental tracking is also a cognitive skill that declines dramatically with age. Hooray.



Unfortunately, we tend to beat ourselves up when we can’t manage everything as well as we  used to. Even though my gal pals now work full time, they’re still the ones who remain determined to create the perfect family holiday: festive decorations, yummy sweet treats, merry gatherings and thoughtful gifts for everyone. The need to recreate a 1950s vision of the holidays is probably nuts, but it seems that most moms suffer from this delusion. Mom may be the glue that holds the family together but she’s starting to melt!



So how do we avoid the overload of multitasking ? Here’s how:

1) Cut out anything superfluous. Learn to say “no” to commitments and delegate tasks to others. Acknowledge that you only have so much cognitive capacity and if  you commit to handling too much, you’re going to probably do a crummy job of it, or worse, drive yourself batty. Keep in mind that this will require some of us control freaks to get comfortable with others helping out and doing things their way. I know, perish the thought. But remember that this is all in the name of saving your brain. Trust us. Real Simple offers some great tips on how to politely say “no” to extra commitments.

2) Don’t try to juggle details or hold information in your mind, write it down, make a list, add it to your “log of the dayand then dismiss it. Keeping things off of your brain’s hard drive will allow it to run more efficiently.

3) Get organized! Don’t waste precious cognitive energy trying to retrace your steps to find those keys and that lost mitten. Organize your life so that it requires as little extra attention as possible.

4) Try to create a quiet, distraction free environment in which to work. Even something as simple as extraneous noise or voices drains attention.  In my office, voices permeate the walls.  I have found that a simple white noise machine or the background noise from a fan improves my concentration immensely.

5) Focus on one task at a time and finish it before moving on. Tell yourself that until you finish your task, you are not allowed to check your e-mail, answer the phone or roam the internet (yes, that includes Facebook).

Obviously, we can’t completely avoid multitasking, so here’s how you can perform your best while doing it:

1) Complete your multitasking  in the morning when you are fresh and rested. As the day progresses and you get fatigued, your skills will decline.

2) Eat a piece of fruit in the afternoon. The brain relies on glucose (sugar) and when glucose is depleted, attention skills suffer.  If you don’t have access to fresh fruit, keep prunes, raisins or cranberry juice on hand. Your attention should improve and you’ll be  getting those important antioxidents as well.

3) Avoid stress. Worries use up brain energy and diminish our ability to pay attention. (Yes, easier said than done, but we’ll be posting a list of some stress busters soon. Stay tuned!)

4) Avoid alcohol. Surprise, surprise: alcohol impairs our ability to perform tasks that require a lot of attention.  Now, before you throw your laptop across the room in protest, there’s good news: At the end of the day, when the multitasking demands are over, that one margarita may not be such a bad thing. In fact, in the long run, it might even improve your memory. Say what? Yes, you read that right! Cheers!




Feeling Alone in the Menopausal Abyss? Throw a Party!


Going through menopause not only can make you feel like you’re losing your marbles, it can also be pretty isolating. Memory lapses, irritability, fatigue, and a host of other physical symptoms can leave you frustrated, burnt out, and a acting little demented…which can send your friends and family hightailing it to the hills!


Instead of the typical social withdrawal, why not throw a party?

Ellen Sarver Dolgen, author of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, has been bringing women together to teach them about growing older with menopause-themed parties. Or, as we call them here, menoParties!  It’s a time to vent, share your menoPaused moments, get informed, feel supported,  and boost each other up, all while having a merry time.


Not unlike a support group, these shindigs  can help to “normalize” your menopause experience. This is psychology speak for: you’re not the only one going through this and you’re not a freak of nature…you’re simply menopausal.  And you can share how it’s anything but simple with women who get it.


Want to throw a menoParty of your own? Invite your gal pals over, have some tasty eats and sips, and read through Menopause Mind together for  titillating discussion topics! (How’s that for a plug?)

Can Margaritas Improve Memory?


It’s Friday afternoon and the end of a horribly stressful week.  I know that stress is bad for the brain and that this past week brain cells must have been dying off by the dozens.  Sure, I can protect my brain by producing stress-resistant brain cells through aerobic exercise. I know that I should go home and use the elliptical until I can’t stand up any longer. I should, I should, I should… but I don’t want to!  I’d rather get-together with my girlfriends, grumble about my week, laugh and drink a giant Cadillac Margarita. Luckily, there’s evidence that my plan may not be the worst thing for my brain. If fact, it may even protect it… 


 Recently, a large, systematic review of research on health behaviors and dementia produced some unexpected results. Moderate alcohol consumption tended to be protective against cognitive decline and dementia. So, it turns out that folks on either extremes of the drinking spectrum, nondrinkers and frequent drinkers, exhibited a higher risk for dementia and cognitive impairment. Is this not a fabulous finding ?


 Unfortunately, there isn’t a consensus on how to specify”moderate” drinking.  Some studies defined moderate drinking as up to three glasses of wine a day! The American Heart Association disagrees. In terms of cardiovascular risks, they define moderate drinking as one drink per day, such as 4 oz of wine, 1.5 oz of 80-proof spirits, or 1 oz of 100-proof spirits. They also claim that wine is not necessarily better for us than other types of alcohol.  In their view, the jury is still out on that one.


Well, the best known benefit of moderate alcohol consumption is an increase in HDL cholesterol–the good cholesterol. Antioxidants may also play a role. So, if you are concerned about anti-oxidants but you want that margarita instead of a glass of red wine, enhance the antioxidants.  Stay away from those fattening, sugary mixes and use lots of fresh lime juice or make a pomegranate margarita. Fresh limes have lots of Vitamin C and flavinoids. Flavonoids are being studied for their antioxidant, anticarcinogenic and antibiotic properties.  To get the most juice out of those precious limes,  roll them on the counter and make sure that they are at room temperature before juicing.

Be careful not to  smoke or eat lots of chips while drinking your margarita.  The same review showed that a history of smoking elevated the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Midlife obesity had an adverse effect on cognitive function in later life.

There are added health and brain benefits from spending the evening with my girlfriends, kvetching and laughing, as opposed to alone on my elliptical. Keep an eye out for our post on the health and cognitive benefits of socializing and social support.  I do know that I come home in a much better mood. So, at the very least, my Friday night margaritas improve my family’s health and cognitive functioning.


Going Back-to-Work? Think BIG: A business support network for women


Tara Gilvar and Becky Hull of B.I.G.

Now that your children are older,  are you thinking about going back to work or changing your career? This can be a scary time and feeling like your mind has turned to mush doesn’t help. Watching my girlfriends struggle through this process I realized how much easier it was for them if they had a girlfriend to act as a colleague or mentor –  to give them encouragement, support, ideas or a kick in the butt as needed.

Luckily a group of smart, talented and motivated women created B.I.G “a business support, education and networking organization for women.” B.I.G has become a ”growing community of intelligent, creative and entrepreneurial women who want to share their business ideas and build upon their dreams.”

B.I.G is based on the concept of believing (B) in each other, inspiring (I) each other with support and confidence and helping each other grow (G) ideas and businesses.

Rebecca (Becky) Hull, a founding member of the group, explained, “As women, we become each other’s support group. We understand each other’s challenges as we try to fit what could be a 24-hour work day into a manageable life/work balance scenario.”

B.I.G. currently has communities in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts with interest from women in Illinois, California and Ohio. They are looking for strong leaders who want to establish B.I.G in their own town.

Check out their website to learn more and see if they have a community near you