September 6, 2023

The three things I wish I knew before I turned 40

Photo of Justine Friedman, Registered Clinical Dietician and Mindset Mentor
Justine Friedman
Registered Clinical Dietitian and Mindset Mentor

There is something different that is not always tangible for a woman that happens when she turns 40. Besides the number that can be rather awe-some, beneath the surface lies a sense of maturity and self-acceptance that is ready to emerge.

When this will exactly happen and how is dependent on many factors, and I believe that one of these is the result of hormone shifts and changes that start to occur.

I have witnessed my own transformative journey both as I approached and then crossed over this significant milestone of turning 40.

With regret, I look back on the years from 40 to 46, a time when I was clearly experiencing these changes, but had no awareness of them. You see nowhere was it ever mentioned or spoken of that this milestone includes a drop in hormones like oestrogen and progesterone and what this would mean for my body.

At the age of 43, there were many stressful situations that occurred that perhaps in isolation would have been easier to manage. In the space of 9 months, we planned and moved countries as a family. Despite our excitement in moving to the land of our ancestors, navigating a new system, language, and culture was incredibly challenging (and still is almost 4 years later). Settling teenage children into a new school system was a leap of faith.

I had walked away from a thriving practice that I had run for 17 years, all to start over again in a country where no one knew who I was or the value I could offer. I studied for a final exam to convert my degree in order to work in Israel- half in a foreign language. Oh, and the world shut down with the COVID epidemic.

In the 6 months after we made aliyah - emigrated to Israel - I gained a whopping 9kg. For anyone, this is a lot of weight. For me, it was nothing short of devastating and I watched my body change overnight, no longer recognising myself or feeling comfortable in my body.

So I did what any normal person would, I restricted my intake and increased my exercise. Surely this is the answer? It’s also what I was taught in University- a calorie deficit will help weight loss. But alas despite dropping a measly 2kg on the scale and feeling miserable and craving intensely the rest wouldn’t budge.

I put the weight gain down to the stress of the move, very different foods, and if I am honest a good degree of comfort eating (on chocolate granola-YUM!). But 9kg, that seemed a bit unfair!

At the time I didn’t connect the dots, but there were some other symptoms that I had. I thought they were unrelated, but now looking back they were all part of a bigger picture. I started getting eczema- something I had never had before.

I would get monthly headaches around my period, that were becoming more and more intense. I was taking pain medication far more regularly than I thought was healthy.

I started getting joint pain, particularly in my fingers and hands. Washing dishes, cleaning, cooking, and writing were so painful! I was moody and more anxious than normal.

And then my sleep started deteriorating and I was constantly exhausted.

And then the light bulb moment happened. I was interviewed for a menopause summit and gave my expert opinion on how to eat to support hormone levels and changes in menopause.

Naively at the time I had no idea what perimenopause was.

And when I watched all the other speakers' interviews the realisation dawned on me that everything that I had been grappling with had its roots in one thing PERIMENOPAUSE. It started to make sense, all the symptoms, the weight gain, the moodiness, the joint pain, the headaches, the skin changes (including decreased skin tone and breakouts around my cycle that I had not experienced since pregnancy!).

And then the other penny dropped!

Restricting my eating and exercising harder was stressing my body and that is why I had not managed to lose the extra weight. In fact, this was a common pattern I had seen in all my years working with women in this age group.

They typically had a much slower weight loss process, tended to be more insulin resistant, and needed a significantly different approach.

Once I understood that my body was going through this, I shifted gears and embraced a different way of eating and lifestyle.

Here is the secret to how I supported my body (and still do) which allowed me to finally shed the extra weight- learn the three things I wish I knew before I turned 40 here….download my free mini-course here to learn my secret.

Photo of Justine Friedman, Registered Clinical Dietician and Mindset Mentor
Justine Friedman
Registered Clinical Dietitian and Mindset Mentor
Justine is a seasoned Clinical Dietician with over two decades of experience in private practice. Holding a Bachelor of Science from WITS and an Honorary Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from UCT, she is both South African qualified and Israeli licensed. Justine's journey into nutrition was deeply personal, stemming from her own battles with weight management, emotional eating, and adapting her diet post-40 to meet the changing needs of her body. This personal connection to her field fuels her mission to empower clients to forge a harmonious relationship with food and their bodies. Understanding the complexity of diet, hormones, gut health, and eating habits, Justine brings empathy and expertise to her practice. She is dedicated to helping individuals overcome the cycle of dieting and self-sabotage by fostering a profound understanding of their own bodies. Justine's approach is grounded in the belief that knowledge is power—by understanding your body, you can work with it, not against it, to achieve lasting health and wellness.