getting older

The Little Pink Pill Update: One Year Later

medications-cure-tablets-pharmacy-51114-largeOne year ago, the FDA buckled to pharmaceutical company pressure and approved the female libido drug flibanserin (brand name: Addyi). Flibanserin had failed as an antidepressant but women taking it reported it gave them more good sex. The drug manufacturer hopes to develop it as a non-hormonal treatment for hypoactive sexual disorder, a condition in which women are not interested in sex, don’t desire it and don’t fantasize about it. Study participants took a daily pill and kept a diary about their sexual thoughts and experiences. As I wrote a year ago, if you believe that what you focus on increases, you might get most of the same benefit just by writing a sex diary without taking a pink pill.
In response to Addyi’s approval, the National Women’s Health Network (NWHN), a well-respected watchdog organization, launched the “Pass on the Pink Pill – Or Pass Out” campaign to warn women of the drug’s marginal benefits and serious side effects. Addyi’s life-threatening side effects were so grave that they warranted the strictest possible warning by the FDA—a “black box warning.” Those side effects include severe, sudden drops in blood pressure that can lead to loss of consciousness for prolonged periods. If you currently take or would ever considering taking this drug, PLEASE click and read these dire warnings.
While the drug company’s goal with Addyi was to create a drug that promotes a noticeable increase in libido, so far, studies show that Addyi has little to no effect. In fact, not only is it proving to be ineffective, Addyi’s market performance has been underwhelming, and the NWHN reports that at its sales peak in March, only 1,500 prescriptions were written. Do we really think a pink pill is capable of ”fixing” the vastly complicated makeup of female desire?
When Viagra went on the market, it aimed to treat a very specific disease: erectile dysfunction in a specific body part. Addyi, however, targets the brain, which may explain its many negative side effects. According to Emily Nagoski, sex educator and author of Come As You Are, there are two types of desire: spontaneous desire, which occurs without any physical prompting, and responsive desire, which comes from being in a sexual situation. Nagoski says it’s quite normal for women to only experience responsive desire. But, when comparisons are made men’s bodies, which work differently, women are led to believe that something is wrong with them if they don’t crave sex every day.
Enough already. The beauty and fashion industries have made us feel inadequate about our looks for decades and now the pharmaceutical companies want to make us feel inadequate about our sexuality. Postmenopausal women who don’t much care about sex anymore are being told they have a medical condition they should treat. Women have long been pushed to look and act a certain way, and now we’re supposed to be able to turn our sexual response on and off. In fact, if you listen to the slick ad campaigns, we’re supposed to be hot all the time.
A woman’s sexual response is complex and decreased libido might actually indicate other issues. Perhaps you need to work on your relationship. Maybe you (and/or your partner) are bored. Maybe you need to spend more time communicating what you like, or maybe you need to spend fewer hours at work, or get more rest. If sex hurts, by all means talk to your doctor, but if there’s another part of your life that is out of balance, a little pink pill isn’t likely to help.

Genie James Age Well – Feel Better Inside Out

Genie James, M.M.Sc.

Genie James, M.M.Sc.

Award-winning author and health advocate, Genie James says aging well and feeling better is an inside-out game. Her seventh book, THE FOUNTAIN OF TRUTH! Outsmart Hype, False Hope and Heredity to Recalibrate Your Age, focuses on keeping us healthy for life. Genie wonders why live 15 years longer if you’re fat, sad, sick and broke? She wrote this book for two reasons: First, a close friend who battled cancer for 25 years begged her to finish the book. Second, she saw a magazine cover showing three pubescent women under a headline, “The Future of Aging.” Her mission became focused on combating chronic disease, today’s byproduct of living longer, and the fiction promoted by our youth-obsessed culture that sets women up for shame and failure.
Genie had her own wake-up call when she landed in the hospital with transmittal angina, which is a stress-related heart attack. Her mother had died at 64 of a heart attack, so she understood her risk. She also understood how she had to field-test her most recent book and use the toolkit she wrote to survive and be well and healthy again.

 Fountain of Truth Tool Kit

Fountain-of-Truth-bookWhen Genie wrote the book, she was CEO of a 7.3 million dollar company with over 30 employees and running on a rabbit wheel. She thought she had it all together, but got lost trying to fix everyone else without paying attention to herself. So after she got released from the hospital, she dipped into her toolkit.
Tool #1: Faith in a higher power. There is incontrovertible evidence that people who have faith in something/someone more powerful than themselves, live longer, happier, healthier lives. Genie gets quiet a few times every day to pray or meditate and get in touch with her faith.
Tool #2: The Girlfriend Factor. Being with supportive, optimistic women in a social network of friends produces the oxytocin factor. This is a hormone that, for women, is released when you’re around other women and it’s sustained for a long period of time. When this hormone is released, we’re able to make better decisions about relationships, finances and goals.
Tool #3: Exercise. Genie likes to exercise outside, but recommends that we have a toy box of exercise options. An important point is that when our bodies get used to doing one kind of exercise, they start to conserve fat instead of working it off. So mix it up, join your girlfriends and have plenty of options to make it fun and rewarding.
Tool #4: The Money Factor. Women need to have their own money. Genie talks about how her mother had no choice. A man was her plan, but not for Genie. She wanted to make a difference. However, she didn’t bank on a nasty divorce liquidating her 7.93 million dollar net worth. She gave up everything to get out of her toxic marriage. Now she is starting over with her own money and she urges all women to protect their finances.

 Beauty and Youth Is Not An Age.

Women who came into Genie’s health center asked for help losing weight or looking younger, but what they really wanted was to be more comfortable with their lives. Throughout this interview, Genie stresses caring for yourself as the best treatment for healthy longevity. Listen to more great stories and advice in this podcast and check out Genie’s other books and her blog to learn about lifestyle choices that can help you stay healthy and age well from the inside out.

Claire Cook: The Mother of Reinvention

Author of It's Never Too Late

Claire Cook

Claire Cook was born to be a writer, but like most of us, life didn’t give her the Great American Novel on a silver platter. Now, she has written the story of how she finally grabbed her birthright when she realized she may never write a book in her lifetime. In Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention, Claire shares how she wrote her first novel in her mini-van during her daughter’s 5:30 am swim practices. Her goal is to help other women who are letting their dreams slip away amidst kids, carpools and jobs that provide a paycheck.
She calls it the suburban success story: from teacher to eleven novels in fourteen years. Her second novel, Must Love Dogs, became a movie and landed Claire on celebrity talk shows. She really was living her dream. Now her first non-fiction book has achieved Amazon’s Bestseller in Women’s Personal Growth category. Claire adds her own spin to George Elliot’s famous quote, “I am living proof that ‘it’s never too late to be what you might have been.’”

Thinking of Reinvention? Here Is Claire’s Advice.

Claire points out how she meets two types of people: Those who are like her and know what they want to do and those who don’t know, but feel bound by life into jobs and circumstances and really don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. It takes courage and focus and you may not be good at it the first time out, but Claire says there is no expiration date on dreams. Whatever age you are, go for it and focus on these five steps:

  • Rise above the negative. Do not listen to people who tell you that you can’t do it. They may ask you who will care for your children, what about your job or your benefits or anything to keep you in your place.
  • Think about who you are and what you liked to do before life and everything got in the way. If it doesn’t feel like a perfect fit, don’t change yourself, change your surroundings.
  • Get tech savvy. Anything you want to learn or anyone you want to meet is on the internet. Learn how to use it to get what you need.
  • Confirm expectations. If someone is already doing what you want to do, add your own twist to make yours different.
  • Share good energy with others. Good things perpetuate good things happening. Needy feelings perpetuate neediness. “Karma is a boomerang.” Choose what you’d rather have.

Never Too Late and Claire’s Free Offers

Check out Claire’s website for more information and her free workbook. Read an excerpt of Never Too Late and buy the book to find out how Claire’s journey can help you chart your own. Listen to this conversation to find out more about Claire’s story and advice Dr. Nancy gives to women who haven’t yet followed their passion and purpose.

Celebrate The Confidence That Comes With Age

DNOFashionwebBeauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself – Coco Chanel
For decades we have been barraged with younger women dominating the runway and fashion magazines. Just recently though, a handful of fashion brands have decided to break the mold and are championing the older woman. Yves Saint Laurent has announced Joni Mitchell (71 years old) as its latest model, and Joan Didion (80 years old) was revealed as the face of Céline. Last fall, 69-year-old Helen Mirren was announced as the new face of L’Oreal, joining fellow Oscar winner Jane Fonda, 77, in representing the brand alongside notable women half — and even a third — of their ages.
Cindy Crawford recently made the news for a leaked, un-retouched image that showed her in all of her 48-year-old glory. Marie Claire doesn’t deny the authenticity of the photos, and said the images reveal, “a body that defies expectations — it is real, it is honest, and it is gorgeous.”
These women have one thing in common – confidence. Diane von Furstenberg, who has made a name for herself admittedly “selling confidence” through fashion. recently spoke at the fifth annual Women Entrepreneurs Festival. During her speech she said, “The most important relationship in life is the one you have with yourself. If you have that, any other relationship is a plus and not a must.”
The older you get, the more comfortable you are in your skin. As women step into their 40s, 50s, and beyond, they begin, often for the first time, to build a relationship with self. With that relationship, a woman’s confidence and authenticity come into play that she might have been lacking in her teens and 20s.
Suzanne Boyd, editor-in-chief of Zoomer Magazine was recently quoted as saying, “There’s a lot of mystique being taken out of fashion, and what these women have is mystique. They have their own style. They’ve never followed fashion. They’ve just been who they are and there’s nothing more stylish or chic than that — and they’re not playing in the same sandbox. To the fashion eye, it’s not about beauty or glamour — it’s about true achievement and authenticity.”
Women are often embarrassed to speak about their fears, yet in my own research I found nearly half of 1,200 women I surveyed (47%) were afraid of getting older. This fear correlates with perceptions of the aging process, including health behaviors, emotional and cognitive responses to stimulus words, abdominal (immune) health, confidence in self-care ability, and more.
There’s nothing wrong with getting older. Who among us would choose not to live longer? Celebrate these women who are removing the cultural stigma of aging, and let their confidence bubble over into your own life. Use the wisdom and authenticity that comes with experience, and march confidently into the boardroom or down the runway!

Celebrating the Wisdom of Women

Fireworks 2In late 2014, NY Times Magazine shared a wealth of articles about seniors. Celebrating men and women who have changed the face of aging, the articles proved that the conventional thinking about seniors no longer applies.
PR for People found one particular article in the series, “Old Masters at the Top of Their Game” by Lewis H. Lapham clearly demonstrates that while we must change our thinking about seniors being useless and befuddled, conventional patterns regarding sexism are alive and well. While everyone profiled in Lapham’s article was indeed over 80, the men outnumbered the women two to one. Statistics aside, two giants among women leaders were missing from the list– Gloria Steinem (80 last March) and Barbara Walters (85).
By the numbers however, according to the last census, as men and women pass the threshold of eighty, there is a marked increase in the number of women. In fact at age 85 and older, there are more than twice as many women as men.
This piece points out the rampant disparity that still exists for women in media representation. The Women’s Media Center  reports that:

  • By a nearly 3 to 1 margin, male front-page bylines at top newspapers outnumbered female bylines in coverage of the 2012 presidential election. Men were also far more likely to be quoted than women in newspapers, television and public radio.
  • On Sunday TV talk shows, women comprised only 14 percent of those interviewed and 29 percent of roundtable guests.
  • Talk radio and sports talk radio hosts are overwhelmingly male.
  • As newspaper employment continues to tumble, so does the number of women in key jobs.
  • Newer, online-only news sites have fallen into the same rut as male bylines outnumbered female bylines at four of six sites reviewed.
  • The percentage of women who are television news directors edged up, reaching 30 percent for the first time. Overall employment of women in TV news, however, remains flat.

The need for parity in the media is vast, especially for the older women that have paved the way. One researcher recently found that a lifetime of learning leads people to make greater breakthroughs between ages 55-65. Data from the Kauffmann Foundation backs that up: people over 55 are almost twice as likely to found successful companies as people between 20 and 34.
We have a lot to learn from one another personally and professionally. An older woman has experiences, insights, and wisdom that can help younger generations break through barriers and step into an empowered life. We need to celebrate her wisdom and learn from these leading women in the media. The rewards and benefits of sharing will empower us all, and help make this a better world.

Women Empowered by How They Feel about Their Looks

Vivian Diller, PhD

Vivian Diller, PhD

In her NYC psychotherapy practice, Dr. Vivian Diller helps women and men discover how to redefine what it means to be attractive as they age. In the book, Face It: How Women Really Feel as Their Looks Change, which she co-authored with Michele Willens, she reported on her research about the role beauty plays in our lives. She also shared her personal story about her career journey from professional ballet dancer, to Wilhelmina model, to psychologist.
It’s impossible for us to feel the same about ourselves at 30 as we did at 18, she says. And to expect to be able to match what we did at 50 when we’re 70 sets us up for disappointment. A more realistic comparison is what your grandmothers were able to do at your age. With our better health and extended roles, we’re inventing new ways to enjoy life in our 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

Empowerment of the New Beauty Paradox

leading-women-cover-150Dr. Diller’s chapter in Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share their Secrets for Leadership, Business and Life pulls from her research finding, “The New Beauty Paradox.” Our culture has programmed us to want to stay looking young and erase the signs of time, she says. Yet on the flip-side we have our feminist forebears saying if you’re focused on your appearance you’re being superficial. Vivian describes “The Beauty Paradox” as being a balance between the two. We all care how we look, but every one of us has an ah-ha moment when we discover that our experience is showing in our appearance. The only way to resolve that paradox is to move toward a more comfortable perspective of how we feel about our looks.

Balance Requires Mourning

Role models, like Meryl Streep, are multiplying with the thousands of aging baby boomers. Dr. Diller says that she has found it’s important to mourn the loss of your youthful looks. In fact, she says that there is a period around menopause where mourning the loss of multiple things: loss of children through empty nesting, loss of parents and loss of youth. It’s important to experience that fully so you can move on.
In addition to completing the process of mourning, Dr. Diller has discovered that women who age gracefully and even gratefully have three things in common:

  1. Their definition of what they think of as attractive changes over time. They don’t get stuck at 18, but see themselves attractive in other ways at 30, 40 and 50.
  2. The internal voice that speaks to them when they see their reflection has grown kinder. Instead of indulging in self-criticism, they focus on what is good about what they see.
  3. They balance the way they take care of themselves. They don’t focus on trying to maintain their youthful looks, but they also don’t neglect their appearance and they continue to stay in shape for their age.

“These Are the Best Years of My Life.”

The best years are not the same as the youthful years, but instead can be the years we have now. Appreciation for things has changed with wisdom, and Dr. Diller says that she is grateful to find something she can get better at as she ages. Especially she is thrilled to be helping empower women to feel better about themselves throughout their lives.
Check out her work on her website, in Huffington Post, Psychology Today and in Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business and Life.
Listen to this conversation to hear more about what she has to say about her work with the beauty and cosmetics industries. She urges them to change their advertising to fit their customers, who are insulted by ads showing women who don’t look like them.

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Body Image Influences Self-Esteem

Radiant Health

Many women tell me they grew up with messages that greatly affected their self-images. These messages continue to influence how they see their reflections in the mirror today, and it often does not match up with the way they think it should look.

They think they are too fat, too short, too tall, not pretty, or not like other women. We think this way because the images we see on the newsstand or at the grocery checkout counter offer a distorted view of reality. The covers either feature young girls smiling because they are young and beautiful or hideously unflattering pictures of stars hiding from the camera because they look fat and ugly. There are never any pictures of ordinary human females women who look like us and feel fine.

Self-esteem is how a person feels about the inside and the outside. Women who have poor self-esteem have heard messages while growing up that said, “You do not measure up to all the other pretty, thin, smart girls.” These messages can have lifelong consequences. Women in our focus groups told us they heard many of these messages and also felt their mothers had a hard time with age and really worried about losing their looks.

How to Avoid Answering a Rude Question

Although coping with society’s external views of older women can be annoying, women have devised a number of coping strategies. Susan tells her age proudly, knowing that she looks healthy and strong. Marla shrugs it off, ignores it, then vents by laughing and complaining with her friends. Kathy refuses to tell anyone her age because she refuses to be categorized that way. Carol answers questions about her age by replying, “That is only relevant if we’re talking about age discrimination.” How old are you? If it bothers you to be asked, go ahead and devise a cute remark to deflect what is, after all, a rude question: “Old enough to know better; Young enough to want more; Oh, I’m about your age; What’s it to you? Why do you ask?”

That way you can leave your age to the imagination of the perceiver.

by Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, author of “Timeless Women Speak, Feeling Youthful at Any Age.”

Beat Aging Anxiety

Do you worry about growing older? About half of women do. At the grocery checkout they see magazine covers of beautiful, young, glowing women. The images present an impossible, airbrushed ideal that can raise fears about wrinkles, weight, and losing in the desirability derby if her man compares her to these beauties.

And appearance is just the start! In fact, most women worry far more about money than about their looks. The struggle to fund single motherhood or a secure retirement worries many women.

Another huge anxiety issue for women is their health. Many saw their mothers and female relatives sicken and slide complaining into an unhappy twilight.

No wonder the women we talked to struggle to grow older gracefully.

What can you do?

First of all, stop the squirrel that is your mind from running round and round in the cage of anxious thoughts. Challenge your thinking and choose to focus on the things you can do something about.

Every woman’s body will change as the years pass.

Do the best you can with a healthy diet, hydration, good skin care, spiritual practice and physical activities you enjoy. After that, work on self-acceptance.

Face up to financial anxiety.

Take a hard look at your spending habits to find places you can save and begin to faithfully put that money into savings. If you truly have no pennies to spare, you might to increase your income, perhaps by improving your job performance, or even by acquiring more skills so you can get a better job.

Harness your health anxiety to develop good habits.

Monitor and screen regularly for health problems. But remember, experts say the majority of health problems plaguing Americans today are caused by poor lifestyle choices.

Get happy and feel great.

Start by identifying the single most important action you can take to fight your biggest worry, then get with your girlfriends to develop your strategies.

It’s your wonderful life and you deserve to enjoy it!

Are you afraid of getting older? You’re not alone!

Fully 45% of women admit to being afraid of aging, according to recent research. Societal pressures, watching our children grow, seeing our parents age, feeling our bodies change, all remind us — every day — of the passage of time.
Fear of aging is most common in women aged 20-39, yet even those in their 70s are not immune. It’s more common in women who are single or separated, but still affects more than 40% of married women. It’s important to face this fear, because it could undermine overall health and well-being.
When Licensed Psychologist Nancy O’Reilly turned 50, she found no books or resources to relieve her anxiety. So, she conducted her own research on women’s feelings and belief, gathering information from more than 1,000 women.
“Just knowing I’m not alone helps a lot,” Dr. O’Reilly says. “Too many of us feel that getting older is a character flaw to conceal instead of an accomplishment to celebrate.” Dr. O’Reilly published her research in the American Journal of Health Behavior and at the American Psychological Association Annual Meeting, 2004. The results of Dr. O’Reilly’s study feature words of fear and encouragement from real women.

Many more women fear getting older than are afraid of dying.

Our society has provided few positive role models to help ordinary women feel confident of their own value and future as they age. (Tips: Find role models. Seek older mentors. Reach out. Form a Red Hat Society. Meditate,  pray. )

Who’s afraid of getting older?

  • More than 45% of all women aged 20-78
  • Nearly 70% of separated women
  • Nearly 60% of women aged 20-29
  • Nearly 50% of women aged 50-59
  • Only 4% of all women are afraid of dying

Women keep their aging fears deeply buried.

They hide their fears even from closest family and friends. When Julia hit menopause early, she had no idea what was happening to her or how to cope. “It was not a happy, rose-filled adventure,” Julia recalls. “It was a rocky horror show in hell.” (Tips: Talk to relatives and friends. Tell daughters good things about getting older. Celebrate your greater wisdom and confidence.)

Surprise! Women’s greatest aging fear is not losing the look of youth.

Appearance ranks low on their priorities. Women have many products and services to help them look their best at any age. (Tips: Take care of your skin. Learn to use makeup. Find fashions that flatter. Use dermabrasion or plastic surgery if you wish.)

Concern about finances tops the list for women under 30.

Women usually earn less than men, and only partly because they take time off to raise families. Women need to get comfortable meeting their own needs. (Tips: Dream big. Envision the career and income you want. Focus on change. Learn a new skill. Volunteer. Pay yourself first.)

Health rises to first place by age 30 and stays there.

Women from 30 to over 70 say they are most concerned about health problems. (Tips: Exercise. Eat a healthy diet. Have regular screenings and checkups. Pay attention to your body. Love. Laugh.)

Denial is queen.

Most women could not identify any specific health concerns. They tend to put others’ needs first: “This can’t be a heart attack — I’ve got to make dinner!” (Tips: Learn your family history and talk with a doctor about your risks. Learn the warning signs for your risks. Take one small step toward prevention each day.)

Women often equate being thin with staying young.

Women who worry about getting older are more likely to diet than to exercise, even though exercise would help more. (Tips: Stop obsessing about your weight. Exercise with a friend. Buy clothes that fit you NOW, not when you lose 10 pounds. Change negative self-talk.)
This information drawn from

  • Dr. Nancy’s book: Timeless Women Speak: Feeling Youthful At Any Age
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