Real Talk: Midlife By Design

Ep. 20 | Midlife, Redirect Your Path with Dr. Ellen Albertson

December 14, 2021 Ericka, Curator of Zest / Dr. Ellen Albertson Season 1 Episode 20
Real Talk: Midlife By Design
Ep. 20 | Midlife, Redirect Your Path with Dr. Ellen Albertson
Show Notes Transcript

Question, if you're in a role that allows you to be of valuable influence in others lives, how well do you practice your own valuable advice?

How well do you allow yourself to be guided?

AND What's it costing you to be present to the highest for everyone but yourself?

This path is all too common for women and it's easy to understand why we may fall into such circumstances.

Midlife is the ideal time of knowing and believing that you have the tools to redirect your path with your needs at the helm.

Our guest today has found the courage to do this for herself in many areas

of her life and I'm grateful she is here to guide us into our own journey!

Dr. Ellen, also known as the midlife whisperer, has more degrees than a thermometer, but she's proud of her track record empowering women at midlife to get unstuck and
make their next chapter their best chapter.

She's a PhD Psychologist, Registered Dietician National, Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Mindful Self Compassion Teacher and Reiki Master with over 25 years experience transforming women's lives. A best selling author and inspirational speaker.

Dr. Ellen has appeared on Extra, the Food Network and in BBC World News and has been quoted in Psychology Today, Eating Well and USA Today.

She has written five books and articles for Self,  Better Homes and Gardens and Good Housekeeping.

Her latest book is a
Rock Your Midlife: Seven Steps to
Transform Yourself and Make Your Next Chapter Your Best Chapter.

Stay connected with Dr. Ellen  and find out more about her work with the quick, access links below:



We're inspired to become the #1 Resource for Midlife Women. Go get access to articles, expert insights and more at  The Zestful Movement

Ericka  00:04

Midlife. What does it mean to you? I believe that midlife is a place to recognize, reprioritize and redefine your purpose. It's a place of new beginnings, new personal growth and new adventures. Midlife is a chance to release your outdated labels and begin designing your second like journey. How? With heart centered experts, tangible tools and a supportive community. Why? Because if not now, then when? Now that's real talk. I am Ericka, your host and Curator of Zest. Let's begin building our Midlife by Design together. If you're enjoying this content, please follow and share this podcast with someone you care about too, as it truly helps to keep that zesty energy flowing and visit where you'll find more resources cultivated for your midlife journey on health relationships and more. 


Ericka  01:03


Dr Ellen, also known as the midlife whisperer, has more degrees than a thermometer, but it's proudest of her track record empowering women at midlife to get unstuck and find the energy, confidence and clarity to make their next chapter their best chapter. She's a PhD psychologist, a registered dietician National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach, mindful, self-compassion teacher and Reiki master with over 25 years of experience transforming women's lives.  A bestselling author and inspirational speaker, Dr. Ellen has appeared on Extra, The Food Network and NBC World News and has been quoted in Psychology Today, Eating Well and USA Today. She has written five books and articles for Self, Better Homes and Gardens and Good Housekeeping. Her latest book is Rock Your Midlife: Seven Steps to Transform Yourself and Make Your Next Chapter Your Best Chapter. She lives in Champlain Islands, Vermont with her high tech, raw food loving partner Kim and I tree climbing Border Collie, Rosie.  


Ericka  02:09


Question, if you're in a role that allows you to be a valuable influence in other's lives, how well do you practice your own valuable advice? How well do you allow yourself to be guided? And what's it costing you to be present in the highest for everyone but yourself? This path is all too common for women. And it's easy to understand why we may fall into such circumstance. Midlife is the idle time of knowing and believing that you have the tools to redirect your path with your needs at the helm. Our guest today has found the courage to do this for herself in many areas of her life. And I'm grateful she is here to guide us into our own journey. Dr. Ellen, welcome to Midlife by Design.


Dr. Ellen  02:52

It is awesome to be here. Thank you so much for having me on your podcast.


Ericka  02:56

I'm so grateful for you to be here with your energy with all the exciting things that you do have going on. So we'll go ahead and jump right in. And I want to kind of get back to that whole thing when we're giving advice to people but not necessarily following it too well ourselves. So when did you first recognize that the results or clients were achieving, or the results lacking in your own life? And what was the step that you took in shifting this dynamic?


Dr. Ellen  03:21

Oh my gosh, that is such a good question. You mean when did I realize I was being a hypocrite?


Ericka  03:27

We can put it that way if you like.


Dr. Ellen  03:28

But what happened with me is you know, I'm a registered dietician. So I was working with all of these midlife women around weight loss and dieting, but then I realized it really wasn't about weight loss of dieting and nutrition, it was more about making larger changes in their lives. So I started like, working in this space of teaching women how to love themselves, know themselves, value themselves. So the health and wellness was a piece of that. But then I was seeing them making these like incredible leaps in their lives of like traveling and falling in love and getting new careers and getting super healthy and doing all of these really groovy cool things and I was so incredibly stuck. For me my stuckness was, I was in a 25 year marriage that really wasn't working for me anymore. And I was really scared to leave. I mean, there was a lot of love. It was like that YouTube song, you know, with or without you. You know, and when you're you've got two kids and a home and your finances and you know, you have this certain way of being. I really realized about four years ago that I just couldn't stay on this trajectory where we're going in very different directions. I think, like you, look at midlife as this incredible second adulthood where you know, empty nest, you're kind of sad, but all of a sudden you've got freedom to like figure out who do I want to be, what do I want to do? So the time I realized it was, you know, my my kids were both sort of in you know, they were getting into College, were believing the home and my ex-husband and I were really looking at being empty nesters. And I was just like, this is just not gonna, it's not gonna work. This isn't what I want. And it's really holding me back. And so I had that, that realization about four years ago.


Ericka  04:21

Yes.  Yes. Okay, and what do you think for some of those windows there? Because I know for a lot of people who are going through that empty nest phase, and the kids are kind of the gel sometimes that bring people together. And then when those kids begin to grow up and step out and find their own journey, what do you think were some of the red flags for you when you're like, you know what, this isn't going to work? And where did you find the courage to step forward with that?


Dr. Ellen  05:40

Yeah, well, you know, part of it is you, you start to take a look at your values. And of course, your core core values are things that change. And so the things that maybe you wanted in your late 20s, early 30s, when you start that relationship aren't necessarily the things you want in your 40s and 50s. And even, you know, early 60s, so I started realizing that a lot of my core values things like health and well being my ex-husband didn't share that health and well being. Spirituality, he was an atheist. I'm very interested in God and spirituality. Adventure, wanting to travel and step outside my comfort zone. So, you know, I started really looking at my core values, it was interesting, because no, the time leading up to this, I had both earned a PhD in psychology and also really furthered my coach training. So I became a Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach,.  I took a lot more deeper professional training, and did a lot of soul searching as part of that training. You know, when you're doing a nine month training program, you're really throwing a lens on your own life. And I remember, it's so funny because I write about this in my book, rock your midlife. As one of the things that we did in this training, we wrote a bucket list. And I remember one of the things on my bucket list was, fall in love and have another great romance.  And I'm thinking, Oh, my God, I'm married, like, what was it that made me think, Oh, my God, I really don't want to be with this person anymore.


Ericka  07:11

Mm hmm. That is pretty profound right there. Well, that's coming at you that way. I mean, it's coming through your words before it's coming through your actual you know, your written words before your actual mouth. So what did that look like, though? What so you got clear on that, that made a lot of sense to you. And you need because of all of your values, you two weren't working in the same direction. So what did your first step feel like? And what kind of would you say it was courage? Or do you think it was faith that helped you step forward into this big transition?


Dr. Ellen  07:39

Yeah, I think it was a bit of both. But I have to say my power animal is a tiger. And I remember years ago, when that tiger attacked the trainer back years ago at Las Vegas, and Chris Rock came out and he said, it was like, Oh, my God, the tiger went crazy. And Chris Rock was like, No, the tiger just went Tiger. Yeah. And so I had been this cage Tiger for years, like going through hoops. Trying to please my ex, a very dysfunctional relationship where I was always, you know, trying to make him happy. Definitely not a healthy relationship. And there was just one evening we had been watching a video myself and my, my son and my ex husband. And I had these two roast chickens in the oven that I had made, and we were both everybody was starving. And we had taken the backside of the chicken, I'm nibbling on the on the chickens back where my husband ex husband is cutting up the chickens. And he started to yell at me. Like, don't you you know, don't eat that I'm working here. And I just, I just gave a big F bomb. And I walked out the door. Hmm. So that was your moment, it was clear. So it's almost like you've all just came together to one moment. And you were like, that's enough. And I'm stepping forward. So yeah, was it? Yeah, it was enough is enough for me. But what I tell my clients and what I talk about in my book Rock Your Midlife really is, perhaps that's not the best way to go about it. I mean, you can do it. I kind of liken it to like, if you want to learn French, you can do you know, one or two words a day, you know, a couple phrases a week, or you can say I'm going to book a one way ticket and figured out.


Ericka  09:16

I am going to sell everything and move to France. Yes.  


Dr. Ellen  09:18

Exactly. So I mean, some people I mean, I've had people like that I had one client, she moved to Australia. She met someone moved to Australia. I do have people you know, they get a job. And then some for some people, they want a fresh start and that feels really spacious. But there's lots of things to do. I mean, if you're stuck point is your relationship, when I have clients where their this is their issue, what we do is we prototype, so we work on what can we do to make the relationship better? How can you improve communications? How can you, you know, do things that you both enjoy, explore new things, reinvigorate the relationship? And at the same time, if you feel like I want to investigate splitsville? Well, what does that look like? Can I talk to a divorce lawyer.  Can I talk to friends who've been divorced? You know, can I maybe try a trial separation before you just pull the plug and say, you know, I've had it, I'm out of here. But it can go you have to you can go either way. But I think the thing that happens at midlife is there's this profound sense that you're running out of time.


Ericka  10:16

Absolutely, absolutely. And you don't really want to diddle daddle. And if it's really clear in your heart, and in your mind that this is not what I want. And I have different opportunities. Yeah, why not take action on that? And with that being said, I'm curious with you two having children, how did that land on your children?  And did that have any impact at all on your decision to move forward in a different way with your life?


Dr. Ellen  10:41

Yeah, it wasn't, you know, it's always hard for kids at any age. Right? So I mean, but I think that my kids knew that there were issues. Um, you know, we thought a lot, there was a lot of tension in the household. So I don't think anybody was surprised. It didn't, I don't think it influenced my decision. But it wasn't easy. I mean, that's the thing, if you're thinking about it, I always encourage people to really investigate all of the options before you pull the plug.


Ericka  11:10

Right? That totally makes sense. And so you were in one moment, nibbling chicken, walking out the house, dealing with your children and moving forward to the other side, and you know, 25 years, like, when you look up, and 25 years go by, it's like, that was a blur. But 25 years in a marriage, sharing the life with someone that is an eternity, you know, that can feel like an eternity. So how did you get to the point in your life and in your healing, that you were able to open your heart again, and really love intimately? What did that look like? What was that journey for you?


Dr. Ellen  11:42

Um, it took me a couple years, well, first, I had rebound guy. That can be a good thing. Right? 


Ericka  11:49



Dr. Ellen  11:50

And then, you know, I was ready and had a better sense of who I was, and what I wanted. And when the right person showed up, it just felt very different and very right. And it was very much in alignment with who, who I am and who I was becoming. So I would say, you know, regardless of the relationship status, it's so important. It's the first step in my seven-step process that's in my book, is really know yourself, become the woman that you want to be. And, you know, you really need to do that whether you know, your in an established relationship, or you're looking for someone new, it's really important to figure out who the heck am I? What do I love to do? What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? To really get to know yourself.  And then the second step is to really learn to love yourself. So the thing that's so cool about loving yourself is when you love yourself, it's twofold. On the one hand, you stopped doing things that insult your soul. So you don't stay in those relationships, or you create boundaries, or, you know, when someone over steps over the line, you start to protect yourself. Kristin Neff was one of my mentors talks about it. And she's got a great new book out called Fierce Self-Compassion. So we think about self-compassion as treating yourself like a good friend. But there's also this fierceness about it where you love, protect and motivate yourself. So you stopped doing things that insult your soul. The other thing that starts happening is when you love yourself, you start to truly attract the people, places, things, opportunities that are really good for you. When you have self-loathing, and you're criticizing yourself, that's what shows up in your life. It's a set, you know, basic law of attraction stuff, when you love yourself, what starts to show up are the things that are in support of who you are, who you're becoming.


Ericka  13:45

I find that only so fascinating because it's such a simple concept, right? But it takes so much for us at times to trust that concept, lean into that concept, and let that good flow back through us. And so in your book, Rock Your Midlife, that's coming out in November, I believe there are seven steps, right. And you've already covered a couple steps with us in this interview, which I totally appreciate. But I'm also curious that when someone picks up that book, do you think there's like one surprising takeaway, that could, that a midlife women could gain from the book.  Just one surprising one.


Dr. Ellen  14:17

One surprising one, um. I think that, you know, the change that you are seeking can happen so fast. I'm so amazed when I work with clients. And once they decide to, you know, invest their time and their money in to work with me. Things shift overnight, literally, like within a matter of weeks. We always think oh my god, it's gonna be all this work and it's gonna take all this time. But things can change very, very rapidly. And basically what happens it's an inside out world when you start to shift your current your self-concept how you feel about yourself, how you talk to yourself, you change your perspective. When you change your perspective, then the external world shifts. And then my clients honestly don't even look the same. I had a client, you know, that I've been working with for a couple of months. And I looked at her the other day, and I was like, oh my god, your face doesn't look the same. Like the lines. It is. It's crazy. The lines and the wrinkles are gone.  Just think, we'll just take the women who are going silver, right, like think about years ago silver gray hair was like ick. I didn't want to go there. I have to color my hair. You know, if I don't do this, I won't be acceptable, then I'm not at all saying if you like to color your hair, and that's your thing. That's totally fine. But there's a lot of women who look at it as a burden. And now this is whole movement of women. These women are so sexy and so gorgeous. You've seen them, right?


Ericka  15:43

Yeah. Well, you're one of them, and I am actually becoming one of them.


Dr. Ellen  15:46

I know. 


Ericka  15:47

I am so inspired and I'm grateful for that. Because yeah, there's nothing wrong with dye and how we show up in the world, but like you stated, like, for me, it was becoming a burden. And I kind of felt like why am I continuing this process that's going to undo itself in a matter of four to six weeks. So other than hearing him again. So I am leaning into that. And I think that's quite a beautiful, beautiful movement. And you do it really, really well. By the way,


Dr. Ellen  16:09

Thank you. I love gray, but I've had gray for a long I live in Vermont. So I guess it's a little easier and I don't really care what what people think about how I look or how I show up. But the thing is, that's a good example. It's it's a mind shift. And there's a story that I tell in the book about dandelions and about, you know, when I was growing up, or when I became a homeowner, I hated dandelions, right? They were weeds and they like literally your lawn. And now that I live on these beautiful 10 acres in Vermont, and there are literally tens of thousands of dandelions and there's no way in heck that you can fight them. I've learned to love them. I mean, they're nutritious. They're an incredible nutritious food. They actually help to aerate the soil. They're super fun to like, you know, blow and make wishes on, but we can. So that's the thing. I think the surprising takeaway is that just like whether it's dandelions, whether it's silver hair, we can change our perspective. We can say, gosh, I mean, so many women are like, I love my hair. There's all of these women who, who really, a lot of them are stopped because they were having toxic reactions to the chemicals. And they're like, why was I doing this? My silver hair is absolutely beautiful, and it's unique. And I've got these great highlights in the way that the sunlight hits your hair. I'm amazed, like, sometimes my hair looks dark. And then sometimes it looks almost white. And it's, it's fine. So I think you can you can shift who you are honestly, in a matter of, you know, moments or days or weeks. It doesn't have to take years.


Ericka  17:34

Yeah, it's a matter of us just accepting where we're at. And like I said, like you say, shift the perspective. So it sounds like getting really clear on what your value system is. Being willing to make those changes, even if they're grand changes, and realizing that it doesn't have to be a miserable journey. It's more about embracing where we're at. Shifting that perspective. And then just getting really clear on the action steps that we want to create the life we want in the second journey.


Dr. Ellen  17:58

Yeah, and I would add to that, it's not even just get rid of the miserable idea, just going back to the law of attraction. If you think it's going to be miserable, then that's what you're going to show up with. So you really want to get rid of this idea that you know, and that's one of my big missions. My Uber mission is really changing the way that we perceive aging, and we perceive midlife.  That you know, if you if you put midlife in Google, it's conjoined with crisis. And you find you know, the source the wrong side of 40. And that's just ridiculous. I'm having the best time of my life.


Ericka  18:34

Yeah, and you exude that you can hear that in your voice. You can see that on your social media feed. And I think that's so powerful because we don't have that example. Because I know that when I think about midlife, I look back to my mom. And while I am very much my mother's daughter and I admire and respect so many things about my mom, I just can't help believe but believe that her second journey could have been a little more exciting, a lot more fulfilling, a little more engaging, creative, all of those things. And so that's why I'm like really curious to explore it for myself because like you say, I believe there's another side to that. And it's about shifting that perspective, dropping miserable, and moving forward with the things that make us feel whole and complete as individuals so I think that's fabulous. I guess that kind of sums up Rock Your Midlife, your book, right?


Dr. Ellen  19:18

Yeah, absolutely. You know, and that's what brings us you know, the first step is knowing yourself so all about authenticity, because part of being happy is being yourself and then when you are yourself, that's where the competence comes from. I mean, I think that the biggest issues I see with with midlife women, besides the sort of physiological menopausal weight gain issue, which I addressed in the book, is this confidence issue. But when you show up as yourself, you can really trust yourself. The word confidence, the root of it is confide. So when you show up, no one can tell you you're doing it wrong, right, just being your best self. So knowing yourself and loving yourself. And then the third step is really energizing yourself. And that's where I get into the nitty gritty of how do you eat right? How do you deal with things like menopause. Midlife, women have different nutritional requirements. We need more protein, for example. We need more calcium. We have trouble with sleep. And so you really have to take good care of your body. If you want a great second chapter, if you're not healthy, it makes it very difficult. I mean, health really is your wealth. So I definitely address that in my third step. My fourth step is really about mindset, which we kind of touched on around you changing those limiting beliefs, changing your perspective. The fifth step is empowerment. So finding out what makes you feel empowered, what makes you feel, you know, powerful, and good and strong. The sixth step is relationships. And this is a tough one as we touched on this too, because when you start to change, not everybody is going to like the new you. 


Ericka  20:51

Absolutely, yes.


Dr. Ellen  20:52

So then you got to deal with those people who are like, wait a minute, you weren't like this a year ago? What happened? And so how do you show up with other people in your life? And how do you I like to midlife. You know, our female relationships or friendships are so important. And then the six, the seven step is really enlightenment talking about spirituality.


Ericka  21:11

Fantastic. Dr. Ellen, it sounds like those steps are one that can motivate a lot of women to show up more fully in their own skin. And I like that kind of without apology, and just doing what makes us feel good. Because like you say, when we do more of that, we're able to attract more of what we need in our lives to feel complete and whole. So I think that's fabulous. Thank you for sharing all the steps. I'm really grateful for that. And could you tell our listeners a little bit more about how they can find out about your offerings and maybe even become a part of your community?


Dr. Ellen  21:38

Sure. I think the easiest thing is to Google Midlife Whisperer and I will come up and I'm in the Midlife Whisperer on Instagram. So that's where we're that's how we met. Yeah, great place to hang out. I have a Facebook group called Dr. Ellen's Mastermind, so you can find me on Facebook, either there or Dr. Ellen Albertson. So Google Midlife Whisperer, or Dr. Ellen Albertson, and I will come right up.


Ericka  22:00

Midlife Whisperer. I love that. And so can you tell us a little last question. How and I can't wait to hear this answer. I just I already know it's going to be good one. So here we go. I have to ask you, Dr. Ellen, how is it that you defines zest in your life? 


Dr. Ellen  22:15

Well, that's such a great question. Well, first, it is definitely one of the I think there's 26, the VIA character strengths. So it's one of my favorites. And something I have a lot of, I think of it I think about like a lemon, right. So you think about just that energy of the lemon. Of just like this energy of this, this, because everything is energy, this smell and this essence of being kind of taking your breath away. There's nothing quite like a lemon. But I think it really starts with being yourself. We all have our zest. And we all have a specific essence like that lemon zest essence, to share with the world. So figuring out who you are, what you're here to do, and then you sharing that truth with the world. And it's sort of a it's really a two fold. Not only is the world going to enjoy your gifts, but you're going to get so turned on by sharing your gifts. And every time another midlife woman shows up, shines her light. Says this is who I am, this is what I'm about. It gives all of us permission to do the same. So the zest is really doing what lights you up. That lighting up is going to light up the world and it's going to light more women like yourself, and the work that you're doing is so amazing, right? 


Ericka  23:28

Thank you.


Dr. Ellen  23:28

And we're going to together just lift the vibration of the planet like the Dalai Lama said that our the human race is going to be saved by Western women. And I think that we have a very unique energy and as midlife women, honestly, we influence like four generations.  And we influence our grandkids, our kids, our peers and our parents. We are wise, we're powerful, we still have energy to make a difference. And so being zesty is really, you know, not living under a lampshade, but shining your light. Getting rid of the things that are keeping you in the dark and just giving yourself full permission to shine.


Ericka  24:10

That's absolutely powerful. I love every, every little bit of that. And especially that point of like impacting the generations, not only ourselves, but our children, possibly our grandchildren, and then going back and reaching towards our parents because we can inspire good things in them too as they go through their life phase. So thank you so much for sharing that. You definitely gave us lots of energy today. I am grateful to have you here and you've given so many little nuggets that I know our listeners are going to enjoy and most importantly can probably put into action today. So thank you so much for being here. Dr. Ellen.  We will be looking for your book, Rock Your Midlife and just really grateful for having you here. Thank you so much. 


Dr. Ellen  24:49

My pleasure.


Ericka  24:55

I appreciate your presence and holding space for my passion of helping women rediscover the essence of who they are meant to be, so they may live their life by chosen authenticity. If you enjoyed this episode, please like, subscribe and share with someone that could use a little zest in their life today. Keep the good energy going by following me, Ericka Bell on Instagram and LinkedIn @TheZestfulMovment. You're invited to sign up for our weekly newsletter that will help you become a part of our Zesty Crew as you stay connected to the conversations. This will also allow you to gain access to some monthly special offerings created with you in mind. Go to Until next time, please do keep it zesty.