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Fiona Fine

Fiona Fine is an Author, Speaker and the Editor-In-Chief of “Women Who Run It: Your Life – Your Love – Your Terms”, an in-box magazine that advocates for and empowers strong successful women around the world; women who are used to running the show at a high level and know how tough and often isolated it can be as a top professional juggling career, relationships, family, health & fitness, and community, while still finding personal time. After a long, unfulfilling and unsatisfying relationship and years in the traditional male world of engineering, IT and corporate recruiting, she decided to put the pleasure back into her existence and to start living life more on her own terms. Now she advocates for women (like her) who wonder how to keep it all from unravelling but still have a harmonized life of love, work, passion and …fun! She is the founder of Goddess Connections (Where Women Create Their Footprint in the World). She is also growing a movement: “How To Put The Fun Back Into Dating” to help women who are at the end of their dating rope to reignite the excitement and fun and create amazing love lives. You can find her at www.goddessconnections.com, www.fionafine. com or on www.facebook.com/fionafine

20 Minutes to Feeling Like You’re 20 Again

What if I told you that there is a way to not only exercise quickly but way more effectively AND that you would be releasing a “youth hormone” at the same time? Sounds like a win-win situation, doesn’t it?

I recently read about the Sprint 8 method of exercise in an interview with Dr. Mercola, of health and wellness fame, and Phil Campbell, a fitness expert with over 35 years experience in training professional athletes. It opened my eyes to a new and more effective way to get fit, with a commitment of 3 days a week for only 20 minutes. As a woman who runs it all and has very little free time, how could that not appeal to me?

Why you need to try this It turns out that the way many of us have been approaching cardio workouts isn’t going to necessarily give us the health benefits that we need. Here’s why:

  • Your body has 3 kinds of muscle fiber: slow (red muscle which contains more oxygen), fast (white muscle), and super-fast (also white muscle). If you’re not working all 3, you are not working out your heart muscle completely.

  • Your heart needs both aerobic and anaerobic exercise but if you are doing long, slow cardio exercises, you are not getting the anaerobic work-out that your heart needs – long distance running, long times on the elliptical machine or stationary bike etc. are just not going to get you there because they only work the slow muscle fibers.

  • If you do not work your fast and super-fast muscle fibers, not surprisingly, they will atrophy ,which is a huge detriment to your overall health and fitness.

The fountain of youth Aside from the obvious cardiovascular benefits, the Sprint 8 method releases the human growth hormone (HGH) – something we produce in abundance in our youth, but which declines as we age. HGH can increase bone density, increase muscle mass, decrease body fat, and increase exercise capacity (MayoClinic.com). Doing Sprint 8 exercising can cause as much as a 530% increase in this growth hormone in your system, which actually mimics the effects of taking these hormones by injection.

Burn fat longer and better Working your fast and super-fast muscles and releasing all of that HGH causes it to stay in your blood stream and means that you continue to burn fat up to2 HOURS after you have finished exercising. Your body simply does not produce HGH after long, slow exercise.

Even doctors are convinced I know that none of us have time in our busy lives to fuss around with fad diets and exercise routines, which is why this final tidbit really got my attention. Both the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine are now recommending moderate intensive cardio 5 days a week for 30 minutes or vigorously intensive cardio for 20 minutes 3 days a week. It would seem that Mr. Campbell is really on to something. After all, as he points out in the interview with Dr. Mercola, which type of athlete looks healthier overall, the sprinter or the marathon runner? The physical differences are quite pronounced.

What you need to do Whether it’s an elliptical machine, treadmill, recumbent bike or any other method of exercise you choose, follow these same guidelines.

  1. Warm up for three minutes.

  2. Exercise as hard and fast as you can (sprint) for 30 seconds. You should feel like you couldn’t possibly go on another few seconds.

  3. Recover for 90 seconds.

  4. Repeat the high intensity exercise and recovery 7 more times.

Here are the positive signs you need to look for after your sprint time:

  1. Relative difficulty breathing or talking after your sprint because you are in oxygen debt.

  2. Profuse sweating, typically beginning in the second or third repetition.

  3. Rise in body temperature.

  4. Muscle “burn” caused by increase in lactic acid.

If you are out of shape or have any health concerns at all, please speak with your doctor before undertaking any new fitness routines. Dr. Mercola recommends starting with only 2 or 3 repetitions and working your way up to 8 gradually.

Once you’ve tried the Sprint 8 method you won’t look back. Well, maybe you will, but it will only be at your old photographs to help you see how youthful this method is making you look!

The Missing Pieces of YOUR Success Picture

Suzanne Evans is a force to be reckoned with!

She is a coach and consultant who teaches over 30,000 women in her wealth and business building program (https://womenwhorunit.com/HellYeahMarketing), she transformed herself from a secretary who was $100,000 in debt to “multi-millionairess” – surpassing the 7 figure mark in only 3 years! Her company was ranked by INC. as #225 of the 500 fastest growing companies of 2012 and again this year in 2013. She is an entrepreneur, a role model, a businesswoman, a performer, a loving partner, a lover of the finer things in life (including Manolo Blahniks), and… she can swear like a trucker (in other words, she’s my kind of woman!). She is truly a woman who runs it, which is why I was thrilled to get her to talk leadership, mentorship, and some of her surprising keys to achieving business success.

What came out of our conversation were a few expletives, a good laugh or two, and some of what I consider to be several of the most important questions any woman in business should ask herself and therefore I asked of Suzanne:

“Do you recognize a mentor when you see one?”

Not a ridiculous question when you consider how some women view mentorship in business today. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg spoke in her book ‘Lean In’ about younger women, building their careers, who seem to be under the illusion that finding a mentor will be the key to their own success and who go about aggressively pursuing those who they feel can fill that role for them. Suzanne felt that was a “forced, misguided approach and that mentorship comes about in a much more organic way.”

Suzanne embodies those sentiments in her own life, feeling that women need to realize that mentors come in all forms and are of all ages. Recognizing those who have truly mentored you comes with age and maturity. Suzanne not only attributes her own hard-working entrepreneurial parents for teaching her to persevere and achieve, but recognizes mentors from throughout her life – from a famous basketball coach she admired when she was 8, to a manager she worked under in her teens who taught her to be a great and motivational leader, to a college professor who taught her how to be a person that other people truly wanted to be around.

Some of Suzanne’s current mentors include those she has never met; authors she has studied, even those whose own core ideas may seem diametrically opposed to her own. She attributes keeping an open mind and employing a good filter in order to “take what is useful to you and your business from those who you may have otherwise dismissed”. If you can be open to mentorship coming from new and unexpected sources, you can be opening yourself up to a world of knowledge and experience.

“Do you believe that hard work equals rewards?”

Again, a question whose answer may seem self-evident but it can be easy to confuse “do what you love” with “work less, be a success.” After all, our society is all about taking the easy road and the quick path. The brutal truth is that there is still no replacement for good, old fashioned hard work. Suzanne attributes her own unprecedented work ethic to her entrepreneurial parents who always committed to doing whatever it took to achieve their goals, believing that with hard work, you will always get what you need when you most need it. Suzanne herself feels that you do not need to be the smartest person in business, the most talented or skilled, but you do need to ‘outwork’ everyone around you. She quotes actor Will Smith (again, a mentor in an unlikely place) who said “The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked, period… You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple, right?”

“How do you deal with pressure?”

The fact is that if you are looking for success in the corporate world or as an entrepreneur, you are at times going to be put under a lot of pressure. Do you perform under pressure or does it paralyze you? Are you a slow and steady person or do you thrive under deadlines and crunches?

Suzanne describes herself as a “pressure perform” personality, to the point where she admits that for her “nothing good comes out of planning.” For all the great plans and long-term forecasts, when it comes to crunch time, she will always go with the flow because she believes that her best results come from spontaneity. But – and this is crucial, no matter your style – the key for Suzanne has been to learn her boundaries and her tipping point, where she knows that she needs to step away from a situation. If you have been working on adrenaline, if you are making that sprint to the finish line, know when it is time to bow out and have a beer!

“Are you a dreamer or a realist?”

If you think there is just one answer to this, you would be wrong. Suzanne makes a strong point for being both. Realism means knowing the financials, managing your staff, knowing how to run a business, working hard. But it is the innovators, the dreamers and the creators who truly make things happen. She again quoted Will Smith, who says “Being realistic is the fastest path to mediocrity.” (as she said – it must be Will Smith day). Letting your dreams seep through the cracks of reality, that’s where the magic happens.

Suzanne spoke about reading Suze Orman’s book Women and Money, specifically a chapter on how to know when to give up on your business. She laughed and told me she was grateful she hadn’t read the book 5 years previously because she may have very well given up based on Orman’s advice. But, the dream was too big to let go. Suzanne persevered, and look where it has taken her. Dreamers and innovators she believes, change the world – and these are two things at which women, in particular, excel!


Is D the New C?

Not enough of this vitamin could be killing you – and the remedy is absolutely free!
Sound extreme? Not really. We seem to have an epidemic in North America of deficiency in vitamin D – about ⅓ of the population according to the latest statistics.* I have been one of them and you could be too. Here’s why it’s critical you find out.

If you’re like me and other women conscious of the effects of aging, you have probably been avoiding sun exposure to a lot of your face and body. Sun spots, wrinkles, leathery skin, not to mention melanoma are a growing concern for all of us, especially as we age. We buy the expensive 60+ spf sunscreens and spend a fortune on self tanners that give us that “sunkissed” look, even in the winter. Many of us have grown to fear any kind of sun exposure and yet the truth is, we could be doing irreparable damage to our health in the process.

No, I’m not advocating for all of us to start laying out in the sun, reflector in hand, slathered in baby oil (remember the good old ‘70s and ‘80s?) or hitting the tanning beds, but I do think it’s important to talk about how and why we may want to reconsider our vampiric ways and let sunlight back into our lives.


A lack of vitamin D can lead to or increase your risk of osteoporosis, depression, breast cancer, prostate cancer, high blood pressure, pulmonary disease, chronic pain, immune dysfunction, and/or diabetes. “D” is now increasingly understood to play an important role in metabolic and immune system functions, as well as being linked to sleep problems and daytime fatigue.

Does that send you running out to your local pharmacy for supplements? In fact, many experts are advocating a minimum of 4000-6000 IU per day which is way more than most of us even consider taking as a supplement. Yet we should, according to experts like Dr. Gary Null.

Ah, but here’s the catch 22.


The ultraviolet rays of the sun spur our bodies into producing vitamin D and no matter how many supplements we take, sun exposure is still the most effective tool for maintaining appropriate levels. Remember, we are born naked and our ancestors spent their lives frolicking out in the sun. Our bodies need sunlight to survive well and even the weakest of sunscreens are going to block your body’s ability to create vitamin D through sun exposure by 95%.(Source: Dr. Michael Holick, author The U.V. Advantage).

A current recommendation for sun exposure in order for your body to create appropriate levels of vitamin D is approximately 20 minutes a day without sunscreen. However, our body’s ability to create vitamin D through sun exposure decreases with age. Also, people with darker skin pigmentation may need 20-30 times as much sun exposure as fair skinned people in order for their bodies to create sufficient amounts.*


Some of the best food sources of vitamin D are: cod liver oil, fatty fish, fortified milk, fortified orange juice, egg yolks, canned tuna, sockeye salmon, and beef liver. If you are “watching your weight”, lactose intolerant, cutting down on dairy or on a vegetarian/vegan diet, you can see how getting enough through your diet could quickly become an issue.

Vitamin D supplements are of course still a good option and in most cases better than nothing. (Note: They should be taken with the heaviest meal of the day because they are absorbed best with fatty foods.) Get tested for vitamin D deficiency and get yourself out into the sunshine to see if it makes a difference to your overall mood.


Thinking of taking that step out of the shade and into the light? Here are some important things that you need to know about how to do it safely.

Start slowly. If you are very fair skinned or have been hiding out of the sun for years, start with only a few minutes a day (without sunscreen) to let your body’s melanocyte cells kick into gear. These are the cells that allow you to tan and also give you the pigmentation to protect your skin from the sun. If you are going to be outside for a while, take some sunscreen with you to apply later. Going from pasty white to lobster red is extremely harmful to your skin and each time you burn, you increase your risk of skin cancer.

Protect your face and eyes. The skin of your hands, face, and especially around your eyes is thin and sensitive. When you are going to be out for a duration of time, wear a hat or a light sunscreen on these areas to help avoid wrinkles and UV damage.

Timing is everything. Believe it or not, the best time to get some sun exposure is noon. Because the sun is highest in the sky and there is more UVB radiation in the spectrum than harmful UVA rays, you can maximize the amount of vitamin D you can absorb in a shorter period of time. So a 15-20 minute walk out your office door and into the sunshine during your lunch break is a great way to get your sunshine vitamin D quota.

Cover up those tattoos. Maybe it was an ill-advised 18th birthday drunken dare or a beautiful piece of body art to celebrate a life milestone – but tattoos should NEVER be exposed to the sun. Not only will any sun exposure fade them out over time, but the amount of sun a tattoo can tolerate versus non pigmented skin is very different. If you overdo it and manage to sunburn your tattoo, your immune system will see that as a cue to take the foreign pigments away through the lymph nodes at an even greater rate. That is another potential source of “dis-ease”.

NEVER go in the sun after a photofacial or chemical peel. If you have ever tried these cosmetic procedures, you are likely familiar with the side effects, which can include redness, swelling, slight bruising, itching, peeling, scabbing, or hyper/hypo-pigmentation (darkening or lightening of the skin). It is crucial to keep the treated areas out of the sun for a long duration after you have had these procedures because your skin is very vulnerable to burning, irritation, and long term irreparable damage (follow your specialist’s advice to the letter). Evidently Restylane, Botox, and Juvederm are all ok with natural sun exposure but obviously be aware that any tanning you do is going to contribute to reversing the effects of your treatment.

So do I regret going sunless at 30? Nope. Regrets are a waste of energy – I made decisions based on the best information I could obtain at the time and over 20 years later I have youthful looking skin on my decolletage, hands, throat and face (the primary giveaways of age and sun damage) to show for it.

Would I do things differently? Probably. Decades of health issues have led me to take a long, hard look at their causes and I do believe that part of my immune system being compromised was potentially due to a lack of vitamin D. So now I choose to do both – I tan responsibly and I take additional vitamin D supplements.

As with anything in life, information is power. I have made a decision to look at the sun differently now, so to speak. It is not my enemy but a tool I can use with caution and respect to help optimize my health – on my terms! *(Source: U.S. National Institute of Health).

How To Be Happy – At Any Age!

“Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.”

Frank Sinatra sang it in My Way but how many of us can say the same? My biggest regret is the time I’ve spent worrying and being anxious -especially about the small stuff in life! Literally it makes me sick and gets me nowhere.

The UK Guardian* published an article about an Australian palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware who wrote a blog, and eventually a book, on the top five regrets of the dying. The message hit home – big time!

In this youth obsessed culture, we do not respect or even want to see our elders. They are a reminder that no matter how many creams, potions, and diets we use, we are all headed down the same inevitable path. Morbid? No. I think of it more as being extremely shortsighted. Because who is better able to tell us –  more accurately and with more insight and experience – what REALLY matters in life  than those who are facing the end of it?

Counting down, here are the top 5 regrets outlined by Ware’s book and some lessons they can teach about how we can all lead happy lives, no matter our age.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Happiness is a choice. We lose sight of that when we get bogged down in the minutiae of living day to day. Ask yourself “Am I happy?” and if not, “why not?” Simple yet not necessarily easy because the answer may not be something you want to hear.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Make time for coffee, send an email or a card to that girlfriend who lives across the ocean. These are the people who choose to love you not out of some sense of familial obligation but because they truly want to be around you, to listen to you, and share in your life.Study after study has shown that people with more friends, particularly in old age, live longer. Don’t let these relationships drift away due to distance or apathy.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

How many times have you bottled up what you were feeling in order to keep the peace? Bottling up your true feelings is not only stressful, but manifests itself physically. Sore backs, neck aches, ulcers… Men are taught not to show sadness in order not to appear weak, women are taught not to show anger, to remain demure and feminine – it is an epidemic in our society. As I say: to be a “Babe In Total Control of Herself” you need to be able to “party with your inner B.I.T.C.H.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.  

This one isn’t just for men anymore. If you are a “woman who runs it” then you know what it is like to need a least an extra two hours in a day. Find time for pleasure. Put your smartphone away while you have dinner with your family. Yes, many of us love our jobs, but a truly healthy life is one that is well-rounded and leaves time for rest, relaxation, and pleasure as well as professional accomplishment.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

How many of us are in floundering relationships, or jobs that we hate, because we were afraid to make a radical change and pursue what we truly want? So many expectations are piled on women, from our children, our spouses, our bosses, and society that it can be almost impossible to hear that tiny voice whispering to you that there could be something more, something better. Always make time to listen for that voice. Clear your head, meditate, sit quietly in a cafe, and listen. Would your life choices be ones that your 90 year old self would condone? If not, time to rethink.

(*Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying)

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying


Contributed by Cindy Lu and Fiona Fine

Romantic Science? If you are thinking that those two words go together about as well as oil and water, you are about to be proven very, very wrong.

Author, actress and relationship expert Cindy Lu thought so as well, until she decided that listening only to her heart was getting her absolutely nowhere in her love life. When she decided to turn things upside down and combine her heart and her head, that’s when she developed The Four Man Plan and found love. So, get out your pencils and your graph paper, because you are about to learn the science of romance.

The Four Man Plan flies in the face of conventional dating wisdom and thumbs its nose at society’s expectations about how ‘good girls’ should conduct their love lives, which is why we at Women Who Run It! and our sister company  HowToPutTheFunBackIntoDating.com love the idea so much and use it ourselves.

Cindy started with the idea that she would divide up her expectations and try to fulfill her love life without it all having to come from one man. Why? Because, as she explains, “I was expanding into a world of men that was just delicious and different and things that I’ve never experienced before.  So, I went from just always trying this ‘one food, my favorite food, every food was going to be my last meal’, to realizing that the world was an absolute buffet and variety was the spice of it.”

Sounds kind of yummy? Then sharpen those pencils and let’s get started.

Science 101: The Mantris Graph

Make yourself a graph with four squares. Now divide each of those into four again. This is going to represent your love life. Here’s how it works:

  • The ¼ Man. These guys obviously takes up only one of the tiny ¼ squares. These are the guys you are chatting with online, who you meet on dating sites and may not have even met yet.

  • The ½ Man. This is the guys who you have met at least once and you have been clear with him that you are seeing other men.

  • The Whole Man. This is the guy that you are starting to develop feelings for. Maybe there has been some kissing and holding hands, but you haven’t slept with him yet.

  • The 2 1/4 Man. Nobody expects you to live like a nun, but if there is sex, then that guy definitely needs to take up more space on your chart. By ranking him at 2 ¼, it means that by the numbers, you don’t have room for another guy like him in your love life!

[Editor’s Note: To get a great visual – buy the book “The Four Man Plan” by Cindy Lu in our Check It Out section!]


Now that your graph is starting to fill up, its important to remember that many guys actually enjoy a little healthy competition for a woman’s affections. Remember that you need to be very up front with the men you are dating and they should know you are “not dating exclusively” as Fiona puts it. Many men like a little time and space, they like to meet a little resistance, before they decide how they feel about you. Don’t forget, throughout history, men until very recently, had to make a bid for a woman and possibly compete for a woman’s hand. The fear of loss for them is greater than the hope for gain, so if a man knows he could lose you to another man, that is a much greater motivator to step up and win your affections.


No matter how much a woman may insist that she wants a casual relationship, men can always tell if they are mentally being fitted for their wedding tux. What The Four Man Plan does is allows us as women to diversify and to not pin all our hopes on one man. We can enjoy the dating process, learn a lot about ourselves and be more prepared for when we are ready to enter a more serious relationship. In addition, a woman who is not looking for every man to be ‘Mr. Right’ is more appealing to a man and he can get to know YOU, and contemplate you as a person and as a match, rather than being scared off by too much too soon.


Now that you’re on the plan, you may be wondering how on earth you find time for all those men. Cindy and Fiona maintain that it’s nowhere as difficult as it seems. One whole weekend day, or maybe half a weekend day should be set aside for your favourite. The others should be limited to a coffee or lunch date during the week, and then perhaps phone calls, emails or texts. That should mean you could see everybody within a two week duration, which is a completely reasonable timeframe.

The lesson in this part of the exercise is that if you can’t make time for half a weekend day and a coffee, lunch or dinner date during the week, plus a few phone calls, then you have simply not carved out enough space in your life for a relationship.


Forget your long list of demands and expectations. If he misspells something in his email or wears corduroy, that can no longer be a deal-breaker and this kind of pickiness can shut you off from a world of possibilities. A man must be honest, loving, and willing.

  • Honesty: He gives you data that you can work with. He tells you about himself and is open.
  • Loving: He is willing to show affection and be loving with you.
  • Willing: He is willing to be more for you; to try your yoga class even though he’s never done it before.



Men find women mysterious and it is important for them to know that they are pleasing us. Because they know they are competing with other men for your affections, it is important to let them know what they are doing right and that they are still ‘in the game.’ You may still not have made a decision about who is your favourite and you may never make that decision, but it is important for each man to know that they are pleasing you.


If you care to compare yourself to a Disney Princess, make sure its Snow White and not Cinderella. Snow White had the seven dwarves madly in love with her; they would do anything for her and in the end, she chose the Prince (with no hard feelings). Cinderella, on the other hand, had to fight her step-sisters for the Prince and it resulted in some pretty unattractive behaviour – all for the sake of one man. The lesson to be learned? Many men ‘adoring’ one woman seems to make everybody happier than many women ‘adoring’ one man.

Ready to give it a try?

As Cindy (and Fiona agrees): “I would just want to give all women, whether they follow The Four Man Plan or not, permission to have fun dating and not make it a serious process because it is a wonderful experience and part of our lives.”



With Guest Expert: Dr. Vivien Brown

Should I have a mammogram or not?

What about perimenopause: is HRT the way to go or is it a health risk?

Should I stay completely natural and go the naturopathic route?

And what about vaccines, and anti-depressants and…

OMG – you get the picture. Life is super busy these days and juggling our health with all of our other commitments can be a stretch.

I know my opinions on all of these topics (and they’re not always in line with ‘popular’ opinion), so when I had a chance to sit down with Dr. Vivien Brown to hear what she had to say about keeping healthy into and through menopause, I jumped at the chance. She is not only the Vice President of Medical Affairs at Medisys Health Group Incorporated – a large provider of healthcare services within Canada – but she is also a recipient of the 2012 Family Physician of the Year award for the region of Toronto, Canada. I figured there could be no better person to talk with about some of the most up-to-date medical opinions on women’s health at midlife and beyond.

Use It or Lose It

The first thing I wanted to know (of course) was what Dr. Brown considered to be the very best way for women to stay libidinous and “juicy” as they go through perimenopause and beyond. Dr. Brown’s answer didn’t surprise me – “use it or lose it”.  Our libido changes and can decrease as we age if we are not diligent.  As women, I always maintain that ’our orgasms start between our ears’ and that becomes even more true as we move through this stage of our lives. The stresses of work and children and life mean that the thought of initiating intimacy can seem daunting or just plain exhausting.

Dr. Brown’s advice is take the plunge, so to speak. Sex is a habit that you don’t want to break and for women, it is a cycle. Once you start having sex regularly, you will want to keep going and will find it easier to get into the experience; but if you stop, it is hard to work up the momentum again. Although it may seem daunting to initiate, most women enjoy the experience once they are in it, so you may have to be completely ‘unromantic’ about it and actually schedule time for intimacy. If you make a point of finding the time, you will likely enjoy it while you are in the experience and it gets simpler to keep the momentum.

Is It Hot In Here?!

Then we moved on to another topic near and dear to my heart – HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy). One of the really surprising things that I learned from Dr. Brown was that a lot of the ‘fear’ of HRT causing cancer and heart problems came from the way the original trials were done more than 10 years ago. The original studies used high doses of hormones on women of an average age of 63 – the majority were smokers and overweight. Not surprisingly, the conclusions of those trials led to linking HRT with heart disease and cancer. How could it not, with a group so predisposed to those problems to begin with!

In newer studies, Dr. Brown explained, the test subjects have been conducted with overall younger (50-55), healthier and more active women, which has led to much more positive results under the right circumstances. They were given low doses of hormones, topically and orally, and compared against groups given no hormones. Many women responded remarkably well and the group that was on oestrogen alone even showed a lessened risk of breast cancer.

I know that for myself, HRT has been something I have been avoiding. My body does not do well with chemicals and my doctor and I work together (with my naturopath) to figure out what is best for me – something that Dr. Brown fully supports. She jokes that women’s health should be a “team sport” and that doctors now are open to women having the ultimate decision concerning their health when the decisions are well thought out and well researched .

The ‘Booby’ Trap

Mammograms: another potential minefield of women’s health and one where there has been a lot of controversy over the last couple of years. Dr. Brown recommends following the current Canadian guidelines which mean no mammograms for women under the age of 50 unless there is a lump detected, or if there is a close first degree relative who has had breast cancer (daughter, sister, mother). After 50 mammograms are done every 1-2 years depending on the doctor’s recommendation and the density of the woman’s breast tissue.

Having grown up with needing a lot of xrays (including mammograms), I don’t personally want more radiation going into my body if I can help it. It can be tempting to request a ‘baseline’ mammogram in your ‘40s but you need to remember that there are a fair number of false positives in this testing and based on that, the discomfort and the radiation, are they worth it? I know it isn’t for me. In fact, for some people I take it to an ‘extreme’ and avoid the new airport security scanning and choose to get a hand scan. I know of way too many frequent flyers (including the airline personnel) that have some serious and pervasive health issues and they are starting to do the same thing.

Oh, My Aching Back!

Here is where I learned something new about peri/menopause. You know those aches and pains in your joints? Those are (potentially) symptoms of your decreasing oestrogen levels. I think sometimes we forget that there are more symptoms to peri/menopause than hot flashes!

Many women have a lack of energy, depression, insomnia and vaginal dryness. But, the #1 complaint that Dr. Brown gets is achiness and pain in the joints (and here I just thought it was my old fibromyalgia health issues flaring up). Oestrogen acts as a lubricant in your joints and when your levels decrease, as in perimenopause, you can get stiffer and more uncomfortable. So, Dr, Brown suggest mentioning it to your doctor and don’t just write it off as the perils of ageing.

The Eye of the Needle

Somehow I didn’t think at the age of 50+ I would still be talking vaccinations with my doctor but  the ‘new’ HPV vaccine had changed all that. I wanted to ask Dr. Brown what the common medical opinion was for who should be getting the shot.

There has been so much controversy over whether we should be vaccinating our daughters, that we don’t even think of ourselves  – yet Dr. Brown says that the HPV vaccine has been approved for women up to 45 years of age, and should be a ‘consideration’ for those of us who are single, (or newly single) and who are regularly sexually active. The point she makes is that, for the first time, we now have a vaccine which can actively reduce the risk of cancer: cervical cancer by 70%, oral cancers by 35%, as well as penile and anal cancer. Add to that a vaccine for Hepatitis B, which reduces the risk of liver cancer as well, and maybe you can give yourself extra peace of mind while you are out there in the world  (my interpretation of the possible good ‘side effects’).

Deep Cleansing Breaths

If you look at the statistics, 80% of women in perimenopause will have symptoms and 20-30% of those women will feel disabled by them. Just like with pregnancies, every woman goes through it differently and will need different solutions. While I have become over the years not shy about sharing my personal health symptoms with the world, I am usually part of the 80% that can get on with things despite what my body is doing (why did nobody ever tell me that hot flashes are followed by bone-deep chills?!!). Dr. Brown agrees that a big reason for that is because although stress is my achilles heel, I generally live a healthy life, I eat well, I exercise, I do things that help my mental health and I keep blissing out in the bedroom.

Whether you choose to follow more closely the naturopathic route like I did or follow the traditional medicine route, being in touch with your body and speaking to a professional about your symptoms is the most important thing you can ever do. Your menopause may not be just like anybody else’s but there is never a reason to endure it alone!?


The Six Hats of Strategic Leadership

As a woman who runs her own business and a media/publishing company, I spend a LOT of time reading about what I believe you, our audience, would find helpful to make you to the most successful ‘you’. Leadership, and ensuring we are the best leaders we can possibly be, is a big topic for the “women who run it” tribe. We all strive to be not just a “good” leader, but a good strategic leader. A great article in the HBR about strategic leadership really caught my attention and I wanted to share with you what I learned and how I will be applying it to myself and my business. Broken down, there are 6 main components to being an effective strategic leader and I now plan on asking myself every day if I have covered all of these bases. In a nutshell, a strategic leader must: Anticipate….Challenge….Interpret….Decide…Align…Learn* It sounds simple enough but the reality is that every one us as a leader has our strengths and weaknesses. The trick is to examine all six components and make sure that you are improving on those areas where you need the most help. Anticipation is an area that takes quite a lot of persistence and research. For example, I know that I need to keep up with what is happening in my own industry as well as those industries adjacent to mine. I need to find out what direction my competitors are heading in, and beat them to it. As an Editor-In-Chief I can’t be mired only in my own magazine (ie. my “baby”). I need to see what others are covering, where the trends are, and try to anticipate where the trends are going. I need to attend industry conferences and seminars and I need to ASK QUESTIONS – LOTS OF QUESTIONS – both of my team and our readers/audience. I need to know what they like and what they don’t; which subjects seem to be a turnoff and which garner great reactions. From this, I can anticipate what is going to continue to make us successful in the future and therefore allow us to serve our audience at an even higher level. Anticipating is all about keeping your “ear to the ground.” Challenging, on the other hand, is not letting myself get too comfortable with the status quo. It may be working for now (hopefully!), but I know that I have to be open for ways to improve and move forward. The best way to do that can be to open myself up to challenges from my staff, my peers, and my readers. I need to welcome critiques from my staff and as such I have given them a “safe zone” to speak their minds. I also have to find great mentors I trust who are outside of my organization, who are not as intimately involved and who will give me unbiased advice. In turn, I continue to learn to be open-minded and patient with constructive criticism. “Feedback is my friend” is one of the mottos I live by. The ability to Interpret is directly related to the ability to Challenge. If I ask questions, I am  going to get answers and ideas. If I have been doing it right, and seeking a wide range of input, I should be getting back divergent answers which I can then submit to intensive scrutiny. If I find a problem, I, as a strategic leader, should want at least 3 possible detailed and well-researched interpretations of why the problem exists. Then I have several angles I can  work with in order to solve the problem. Decision-making is probably the most important skill of any leader and yet it can be so easy to get yourself into a situation where you are forced to make decisions without all the facts, on the fly, or under-informed. If I am functioning as a strategic leader, this should never be the case. If I have been anticipating, challenging, and interpreting, I should always have multiple scenarios and options when it comes time for a big decision and I should have a team whose opinions I can rely on to give me all of the possible scenarios and outcomes. I should also have the strength of my convictions that when I make a decision, it will be the right one. Alignment can be the trickiest skill to master because it involves dealing with conflict and nipping it in the bud. It means communicating with my  staff and my shareholders, keeping them informed, and addressing disagreement or dissent before it has any time to fester. What I never want to hear as a leader is for a key team member to say “Nobody told me,” or “Nobody asked me.” I need to be vigilant to keep those in the loop who should be in the loop, all the time. This is what keeps shareholders and staff (and clients!) happy and feeling valuable and heard. The last point is probably the most important, and that is to cultivate an environment of Learning. I should always be inquiring and studying my successes and failures in order to learn from them and I want my staff to know that they are encouraged to always be learning as well. I want to reward staff who are thinking of new ideas and taking their own time to learn more about competitors and the industry. I know that I need to “create a culture in which inquiry is valued and mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities”* Do you think you’ve identified your weak spots as well as your strong suits? I know I have… life is never boring! * Strategic Leadership: The Essential Skills (article title from Harvard Business Review Jan/Feb 2013)

Make Over Your Metabolism

(contributed by Elizabeth Anderson) Is there a war going on in your body? Every year I have to be more diligent and work that much harder at keeping weight off and being fit but as always, it’s so hard to find the time. I know a lot of you out there are in the same boat – with the corporate treadmill or running a business, raising kids, relationships, social commitments, ageing parents… We women run it all, and it’s easy to put your own health and fitness on the back burner. So, I called in our health and fitness expert Elizabeth Anderson for some help on getting and keeping motivated. Not only is she Mrs. Utah USA, but she is a Certified Sports Nutritionist and owner of Elizabeth Anderson Fitness: The perfect woman woman to give us the kick in the butt that we sometimes need. In fact, I met up with Elizabeth on a recent business trip in Scottsdale and she did exactly that with her “hotel room workout”! “When you put your health on the back burner you may not feel the results right away but then you start to feel the bulging waistline, and the clothes fitting too small and the low energy. You need a wake up call to make the shift.” Don’t let an either/or mentality get in your way! You can have a great job or a busy life AND be healthy. It’s all about getting your metabolism back in gear! Here’s where you start: Exercise (the Basics)
  • Get your butt moving: Anything you do to get moving is great. Take the stairs, get off the subway a stop early, go for a walk on lunch. Be conscious of ways to move more during your day and don’t ever let them slip by. They are free exercise time!
  • Try a quickie: An hour at the gym can occasionally be murder to schedule. Get an aerobics step and use that for 10 minutes at a time, or jump rope for 10 minutes or take a quick walk outside for 10 minutes. Get your body moving and blood flowing.
  • Breathe! When you are stressed your breathing becomes shallow. Exercise deepens out breathing into the diaphragm, fills up the lung capacity and lets all your cells get better and fresher oxygen.
  • Release the happy hormones: Exercise not only creates endorphins which are the ‘feel good’ hormones, but it also releases and gets rid of cortisol and adrenalin which are two hormones that cause stress.
  • Drop the drugs: Evidence shows that exercise has as many benefits as some antidepressant drugs on the market – with a ton less side-effects.
  • Quit making excuses! The busier you are, the more you need to exercise so you can manage the stress and demands of your life, versus “I’m so busy, I don’t have time to take care of myself.”
Exercise (How to fit in a “lunchtime quickie”):
  • ‘Burst’ training or high intensity interval training burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time.
  • Start with a warm-up for about two minutes, and then begin your chosen exercise, whether it is running outside, biking, or using a treadmill. It is important to exercise for 1 minute as hard as you can.

  • Scale down your intensity slightly for 2 minutes, then repeat another minute of intense exercise. Go through this cycle 6 times!

  • This will give you an excellent 18 minute workout which burns a lot of calories, gets tons of oxygen into your system and challenges your body.

Last but not least: de-stress! Your health is more than just the physical. Stress plays a major part in busy women’s lives and we can deal with it for a while, but chronic stress starts to degrade your body, your love of what you are doing, and your relationships. Stress also produces the physiological hormones cortisol and adrenalin that keeps weight on your body and makes you gain weight. Yep. Stress will make you fat. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the best way to combat stress is to give yourself a 5 minute ‘time out.’ Whether its meditation or just listening to 5 minutes of soothing music or sitting in your office with the door shut, set a timer and let yourself go. Close your eyes, clear your mind, and focus on breathing. A small break can refocus your mind and shift your manic, scattered energy into a much more effective, efficient, focused approach. Just like with physical exercise, this will become easier to do the more you practice.

“Why Your Wallet Is Like Your Vagina”

(contributed by Jenn Stokes)

We bet you haven’t heard this one before!

Jenn Stokes, bestselling author, motivational speaker and media personality told me all about why you need to think of your wallet just like you do your most prized possession – your vagina. (Seriously, I don’t make this stuff up!)

1. Knowledge is power: Just like with your body, you need to know as much as you possibly can about your money in order to use it and take proper care of it. Read all of the books by authors who tell it like it is. Google money tips. Ask your banker for advice. Speak to your girlfriends. Make sure you ask as many questions as you can and be proactive. Remember that the government and the banks make more money from you if you are ignorant.

2. Know your weaknesses: Think about your ‘money personality’… Does your romantic decision-making fly out the window after a few glasses of wine? Can’t be totally trusted in the mall with a credit card? That’s equally important to know. Malls and stores love successful women and they want us to spend our money with them. Be aware of your money personality when you are making spending decisions. Get support to break bad habits!

3. Be smart about what goes in and out: The comparison on this one is pretty straightforward. The less activity the better and the more you know about what goes in and out, the better!

4. Protect yourself and make sure everything is in good working order: This goes back to the whole ‘knowledge is power’ motto. Your vagina should be your prized possession, and you need to think of your wallet the same way. You only have the one and you need to make sure you protect it. Be informed, be proactive. Ask questions and don’t open it up for just anybody!

Remember that you are a smart, successful woman and even if your career and your money-making is at an all-time high, without careful consideration and awareness, things can come crashing down quickly. If it can happen to your love life, it can happen to your finances. Take care of your wallet. Treat it with respect and thoughtfulness and it will reward you in some pretty amazing ways, just like… well, we’re sure you get the point by now!

A Guide to the ‘The Holy Grail of Women’s Orgasms’

(contributed by David Shade) Ladies, you will want to get your man to read this one too, because we are holding them personally responsible for your pleasure (you have your part to play yet your guy has a leading role!) It’s time to talk ORGASMS… As you know from our January issue, I interviewed David Shade, ‘The Renegade Sex Expert’ and bestselling author of the book The Secrets of Female Sexuality to bring you the secrets to achieving that ‘holy grail’ of female sexual pleasure, the vaginal orgasm. Female sexuality is primarily mental. As I bluntly said in our interview:  “a woman’s orgasm begins between her ears” and “foreplay can be anything and everything that happens to a woman through the course of her day” (ie. long before she enters the bedroom). This is also the key to why so many of us women find it difficult to over-ride our inhibitions, let go and enjoy the deep, satisfying pleasure of a vaginal orgasm. [My comment: A vaginal orgasm is longer, deeper, more emotionally satisfying than the intense ‘release or spike’ of a clitoral orgasm]. Many of us women believe that only the ‘lucky’ ones have vaginal orgasms – in fact evidently only 30-40% of women ever experience them in their lifetime. David and I disagree: every healthy woman is capable of soul satisfying orgasms and vaginal orgasms are your birthright! Netting it out: what it takes is learning to connect the pleasure centres of the vagina to those in the brain; to let loose and get lost in the moment and to release your inhibitions and self-sabotaging behaviors; to give yourself permission to feel deep pleasure! Here are some of the top tips on achieving a vaginal orgasm: For a Woman (self pleasure or with a partner):
  • Throw away the damned vibrator! (or, at least take out the batteries). Vibrators make women dependent on clitoral stimulation and orgasms. That is not what you are aiming for. Use a ‘lifelike’ substitute and let your imagination go. Women’s imagination or fantasies and emotions are a key ingredient to releasing emotion.
  • Practice the emotion that you would feel with a partner and/or allow yourself to fantasize about any and all aspects of pleasure – letting go is as much a mental exercise than a physical one.
  • Be pleasure oriented, not goal or time oriented. Give yourself time and be in the moment – all the moments – with yourself or with your partner.
To the Man who is Leading You into Your Pleasure:
  • Keep your goal under wraps. Nothing will cause her performance anxiety faster than telling a woman that you are aiming for a vaginal orgasm (because so few women believe they are capable of them!)
  • Understand that your pleasure has to come from her pleasure.
  • Keep her involved in the journey, and let her know that you are enjoying it and truly desire her and her pleasure.
  • Do not feel frustrated if she at first cuts you short and does not allow you to continue pleasuring her. Many (if not most women) fall prey to self-sabotaging thoughts of ‘its taking too long’ or ‘I just can’t get there…’ or ‘He must be getting frustrated or tired, we have to stop…’.
  • Take any and all opportunities to learn, to collect intelligence for the next time that you are together so that you can try once again to sweep her away. Progress is good no matter how incremental.
The Anatomy of It All:
  • For a woman who has never experienced vaginal orgasm, and who has a ready and willing partner, David Shade recommends using the middle finger first, rather than the penis, because it allows significantly greater flexibility and movement.
  • The goal is to stimulate the “anterior fornix” of the vagina, which is a ‘deep spot’ 3½ to 4 inches inside the front wall of the vagina. This is the easiest way for a woman to be brought to her first vaginal orgasm. Note: the deep spot is different from the famous G spot.

[check out http://masterful-lover.com/blog/deep-spot/the-official-deep-spot-video/].

  • Once a woman has experienced her first vaginal orgasm, she should be able to recognize and repeat the sensation much more easily, in a way ‘training’ herself to achieve vaginal orgasm over and over.
Do not get me wrong, obviously there is absolutely nothing wrong with a clitoral orgasm, which is quick, more ‘superficial’ and gets the job done  – we should all have them! Yet, a vaginal orgasm is a chance to experience a level of deep emotion and power that is extremely rewarding. It is a chance to release inhibitions and enjoy your sexuality on a greater level, unleashing your complete feminine power!