The Midlife Feast

#52 - Story session: Making sense of menopause media with Ann Marie McQueen.

January 30, 2023 Jenn Salib Huber RD ND Season 3 Episode 15
#52 - Story session: Making sense of menopause media with Ann Marie McQueen.
The Midlife Feast
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The Midlife Feast
#52 - Story session: Making sense of menopause media with Ann Marie McQueen.
Jan 30, 2023 Season 3 Episode 15
Jenn Salib Huber RD ND

What did you think of this episode? Send me a text message and let me know!

In this story session, I talk to Ann Marie McQueen, a Canadian health and wellness journalist living and working in the Middle East and going through the peri/menopause transition.

In June 2020, Ann Marie founded Hotflash Inc to provide balanced coverage and context about all things menopause via a weekly newsletter and social media, adding a sponsored weekly podcast the following year.

Join us as we talk about her own experience of navigating perimenopause, the problem with mainstream media reporting of midlife and menopause, and how her unique ability to mix curiosity and observation has helped her find her voice in this space.

Sign up for her newsletter here: https://hotflashinc.substack.com

Looking for a place to learn more about midlife, menopause nutrition, and intuitive eating? Click here to grab one of my free resources and learn what I've got "on the menu" including my 1:1 and group programs. https://www.menopausenutritionist.ca/links

Show Notes Transcript

What did you think of this episode? Send me a text message and let me know!

In this story session, I talk to Ann Marie McQueen, a Canadian health and wellness journalist living and working in the Middle East and going through the peri/menopause transition.

In June 2020, Ann Marie founded Hotflash Inc to provide balanced coverage and context about all things menopause via a weekly newsletter and social media, adding a sponsored weekly podcast the following year.

Join us as we talk about her own experience of navigating perimenopause, the problem with mainstream media reporting of midlife and menopause, and how her unique ability to mix curiosity and observation has helped her find her voice in this space.

Sign up for her newsletter here: https://hotflashinc.substack.com

Looking for a place to learn more about midlife, menopause nutrition, and intuitive eating? Click here to grab one of my free resources and learn what I've got "on the menu" including my 1:1 and group programs. https://www.menopausenutritionist.ca/links

Jenn Huber  00:02

Hi and welcome to the midlife feast the podcast for women who are hungry for more in this season of life. I'm your host, Dr. Jenn Celine Huber. Come to my table, listen and learn from me. Trusted guests, experts in women's health and interviews with women just like you. Each episode brings to the table juicy conversations designed to help you feast on midlife. Hey there, welcome to this week's episode of the midlife feast. I'm really excited to share this kind of hybrid episode with you with Anne Marie McQueen, who's a Canadian journalist living in the Middle East. You may know her from hot flashes, Inc, which is her handle on most social media. It's also a weekly newsletter, and she tries to bring kind of a balanced approach to all things, menopause, whether that's scientific research, or kind of just what's happening in the world. 


And I've always loved how she has, you know, tried to present I think, a really balanced approach because there are so many different opinions about all things menopause that sometimes, you know, it can be a bit hard to find that balanced, reasonable, but also still opinionated, you know, person or voice in this space. So tune into this. This, like I said, it's a bit of a hybrid story session, but I always love talking to Anne Marie, if I find that we have a lot in common. Maybe it's because we're Canadian. But I think that you will enjoy this conversation. And I hope that you learn a little bit about why it's so important to have these balanced conversations in this online space around midlife. Before we jump into this episode, I just want to take a moment to remind you that February is Heart Health Month inside the midlife peace membership. 


I've got lots of things planned to help support your gentle nutrition journey as you try and incorporate foods that might help to reduce your risk of heart disease or help support your herd health. We have a guest speaker coming in to talk about cholesterol and why it's important and what we actually need to know. So helping to kind of cut through a lot of the wellness culture conversations about cholesterol, we'll be answering questions like how much fiber should you have? And how much you know, how much does food actually influence cholesterol? And should we be having olive oil or coconut oil? We've got lots of support plans. So if you are someone who is starting to think about heart health, and wants to have conversations about foods that aren't based entirely on weight loss, then we would love to have you inside the membership. And you can find the link to join in the show notes. Hi, Anne Marie, welcome to the midlife feast.


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  02:38

Thanks for having me.


Jenn Huber  02:40

How are you? How are things in your part of the world? Oh, they're


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  02:43

a little bit hectic, but absolutely gorgeous weather. So half of the time that I live here. It's very, very, very hot. So the rest of the time, we're all very happy.


Jenn Huber  02:54

I'm sure it's much nicer than the very typical Dutch November day that we're having here. And I'll just leave that to your imagination. Good. So this, I've been really excited to have this conversation because I've been on your podcast and we've chatted lots like I feel like I've known you forever even though you know, we're Canadians who are you know, expats living abroad. And we both work and live in this midlife space. And I'd love to hear about a little bit about your story, because you came from a really, you know, kind of traditional journalism background. And you know, how did you end up doing this thing called hot flash ink? And how did you end up being this advocate for women in midlife?


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  03:40

Yeah. How would have How would I? If you told me that 10 years ago or even? Yeah, probably five or six years ago, I would have said absolutely not? Well, I think part of it is being international just changes your thinking, you know, getting out of your country, and I left Canada in 2008, to work to launch a newspaper in Abu Dhabi, with a team of journalists from around the world. And everything in the UAE is the 250 Something national tuner and 20 nationalities here, there's people doing everything you can imagine. I've interviewed so many of them. And I think it just seeped in me that I could maybe do more, but I didn't know what. And I was at that newspaper for nine years, and I lost my job when it was being sold. 


I was the Features Editor. And that was horribly shocking, because I'd been like promoted five times it was, I'm not sure I to this day. I think it was something with a new editor, whatever. It was the best thing that ever happened to me because I had sort of golden handcuffs. I had that feeling that I think people will know where I just, I was like I need to this is this is good. You know, this is good. Be happy with this. This is other people would want this you make a really good living, like just stick with it. And so when I was sort of shoved out my colleagues who were at my level were sort of going and getting other jobs and I just had this distinct feeling that I just didn't want to rush into another job. Because I thought like, this is a time I was 48 years old. I had just realized that I was in perimenopause. And I had been researching menopause for a couple of months, like I had made Google Alerts. 


And I had already been thinking, geez, like, the content here is really crappy. Like, it's just not content I enjoy. I identified at that time that it was either sort of freelancer.com content that you buy, that's just loaded with keywords that makes not much sense. Or content provided by someone selling something with a clear angle, or just like very negative, and you couldn't really find what I want. So I've been thinking because I'm a content person, like, that's what I've done. You know, my whole life, and I've been doing it. I've been a writer all along until I got here. And then I became an editor. So all that to say, I sort of had my life sort of fell apart at 48. And I had to I had a bunch of other stuff happen. I had a real midlife bracketing that can happen to some people, I had a, you know, a couple of relationship things, I had lost my job. So it just, it all gave me time. And when I started freelancing, I started planning. I didn't know how to do it. 


Like I didn't know how to I didn't know how to do it. And how do you do it, you know, but I knew that there were these new ways opening up to reach people. And everyone likes to make fun of Gwyneth Paltrow. And I know that she can be ridiculous, but I'm a fan of hers in that she, she's a really good founder of a company. And she started it all from a newsletter. And so I thought, do a newsletter, you know, I'll do a newsletter and see where I'll go from there. So that's how it happened. And then now I've just taken on way too much because I want to do everything.


Jenn Huber  06:35

You have to have a podcast, maybe midlife space has exploded in the last two years. You know, I feel like you and I connected, maybe even pre pandemic, it was very early if it was pandemic related around the


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  06:51

very early in the summer. Like I launched it in June, I launched everything, June 2020. So it was right, it was very early. Yeah.


Jenn Huber  06:57

Yeah. So it was right around that. And it really feels like that next year, you know, there was so much happening, advocacy, government relations, you know, celebrities getting into the whole midlife mix. But one of the things that I really enjoy about your approach has been that you've always presented a really balanced approach, which, you know, in this online space when it comes to opinions, you know, strong opinions sell, even if they're bad opinions. So, oftentimes, it really stands out when someone seems to go out of their way to present a balanced approach. Why do you think that that's a rarity these days? Or do you think it's a rarity these days? I absolutely


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  07:48

think it's a rarity these days, I lament my profession and call myself a recovering journalist. And then social media has just made it torqued everything up, right, like, I don't know if I can trace it, and I don't have a comprehensive dissertation on the subject. But I know when Trump was elected, and everyone was just like, anti Trump and following Trump's every time he burped, and every time he lied, and I was just saying, like, we're not paying attention to a whole bunch of other things. And it's when there's a PAC, I've worked for years in different places. And, you know, I remember once when I was at the Ottawa sun, and I just started and one of the reporters said to me, 


Look, when you go out, just glue yourself to the Ottawa Citizen reporter, just glue yourself to them, so you won't miss anything. And you know, and they're always to Ottawa Citizen reporters, it was a bigger paper, and I remember them thinking, but if I do that, then I won't find out what I won't find out what I could find out. And there were many times in my career that I didn't glue myself to that reporter and ended up scooping them with, you know, just thoughts that came into my head and hunches that I had. And so I've just become more convinced than ever, that what we need is balance. And, you know, there is not just two sides to every story, there's like seven sides to every story I have, you know, since the 90s have been walking into rooms, like picking up the phone and conversations going into events, just kind of saying like, what's going on here, and even the most odious people, or the people you felt you could never understand or agree with or wouldn't have a point always do. And so I just that's just my thing. 


That's just and it's gotten, you know, much more polarized in every part of our conversation in the last couple of years. But also menopause has become very, very polarized. And I found that there's, you know, topics you're not supposed to talk about, and there's things you're not supposed to say and that scares me so much because we should always be asking questions. But being on social media, you'll know you've done really, really well on social media. I've done okay, but I remember early in the early days someone joined and her account was like my my HR team The story right and she was getting like so many followers. 


And I was just thinking, This is crazy. Like, she's just getting so many followers. He's talking about taking HRT every day. And I'm like, busting my ass. I'm like researching all of this stuff. And like it's growing, growing. And that's when I realized, like, okay, there's two ways you can go here, right? Like, you can go, you can go and try to pander and appeal, or you can say, the uncomfortable things. And I can see when I say the uncomfortable things, I'll lose a group of people, and then I get upset. And then I think no, like, they're not ready. They're not ready to hear that there's three or four sides to the story.


Jenn Huber  10:37

Yeah. That whole sensationalism selling. You know, in my world, obviously, in the menopause nutrition world, you know, that's the people selling keto and fasting. And, you know, the quizzes that tell you your metabolic type, and then, like, assign you a diet. And there's, you know, no evidence for any of that stuff. And yet, yeah, like, these are the people who get the views who get the likes who get the sales, you know. And it's frustrating, because when you're the voice of reason, and you come out against it, same thing, I lose followers, every time that I come up against keto or fasting, do I lose hundreds sometimes? Wow.


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  11:22

It's hard to handle too, right? Like, you get that feeling of like, oh, but then I honestly,


Jenn Huber  11:26

I don't even I don't notice it as much now unless I'm like looking at something. And I'm like, Oh, what happened on that day? I go back, and I'm like, oh, yeah, that was the day. But yeah, it's funny how people want the best information. But there are so many opinions about HRT, and about diets and those kinds of things that I think that becomes really muddy for them. So one of the things that I love about your newsletter, and anybody who hasn't signed up, it's a great newsletter, how flushing is that I love that you talk about the research, you talk about new research, you kind of present that balance kind of medical journalism. 


But I also feel like you have a really good pulse on the types of topics that are of interest to, you know, kind of us in this age and stage. And I'm curious as to how you're, I'm curious as to how you come up with that list, like how do you decide what people will want to hear? Because I mean, that has to be part of, you know, being a journalist, but also being a midlife. I mean, are these things that people are asking you questions about? Or what are some of the big topics that people want more information on?


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  12:35

Well, this is a funny question, because in my career in journalism, you know, in the beginning, there was no internet. So you couldn't know what people want it. And that's journalists. And journalism was a very sort of elitist, like, smug sort of ego driven venture, because it's like, well, we'll tell you what you you know, you need to hear and you would open up the paper, and there'd be a selection of stories. And I worked with all those editors that were like, Oh, the internet, you know. And I remember when I started saying, I remember at the National it here in Abu Dhabi, when someone had died, like a film director had died, like Ridley Scott's brother had died. And some American editor thought it should be like the front page news. And I said, Well, I put it online, and no one clicked on it. And he said, You judge your stories by how people click, like, yeah, because that's what I feel like it's a pretty good measure. 


So all that to say like, just over the years, you can just sort of see and it start, it started out that I do think one of my talents is just connecting dots and seeing like, pieces of things and putting them together. And also, I just sort of pay attention to what people are talking about. I'll check like, I don't do this as much as I should. But I'll check something like answer the public or just look at what people have Googled. But I'm not as good at that. Because I have, I just, I'm crazy with ideas. So that's basically I'm a lunatic with just I have a list of just a million things that I would like to know. But with the connecting the dots, that's a concern to me recently, because I've always done that and that's one of my like, mental health things because it makes it really busy brain when you're always sort of, but one thing I've noticed lately when you're consuming social media is a lot of people are paid to say things and talk about things now and they don't always reveal it. 


So I'm noticing recently on Tik Tok, you'll just see a ream of of influencers talking about a certain program to use to to use your content or a certain this or a certain in that and I now I'm just very much like, Okay, this is this isn't me noticing a trend of any kind. This is something else altogether. So I digress there. Sorry.


Jenn Huber  14:43

I'm gonna jump in with a question because if I don't, I'm gonna forget it because menopause. So, you mentioned earlier that, you know, you had made this conscious decision to not follow the other journalists so that you would kind of see your own perspective. What do you think? Are some of the issues that maybe aren't front and center in the media or menopause? What do you think we're missing?


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  15:10

Well, first of all, there's just, you know, there's a few stories and they're repeated over and over, right? Everything you want to know about menopause. As if that could ever be in a story. You need to be on HRT, it's gonna save your life. It saved my life saved all these other people's lives. In the UK, it's a lot of sort of yelling at the government, because they're not doing enough to make this easier. There's a shortage. 


You know, the reasons behind that are very complex and actually lies within the government in the UK, or in the US. It's more becoming about products and sales, which I think is very American. But I think what's missing is like very the kind of thing that's not going to appeal to everyone nuanced conversations, you know, one thing it and when you raise it kind of, so for example, estrogen, estrogen gets all of the attention, you would think there are no other hormones in our bodies. And I'm learning about all this too. You know, I wasn't good at science. Even though I love science, I turned out, you know, like, I wasn't good at it in school. But for example, we make more testosterone than estrogen. And when you look at the, you know, the charts of what our hormones are, they've all been measured in different different measurements. So our even what we've thought were true about our own hormones isn't even true. So it's a concert, it's an orchestra. It's not one, you know, this is where it's been dumbed down and simplified. And I see people talking about estrogen and I see people talking about it in a way that's not true. 


We make we make a form of estrogen after menopause. A strong we are adrenal glands pickup some of you know, like, this is such a nuanced conversation, but it doesn't translate well. So that would be a really good example is the role of testosterone and why why did we it's we just focused on it and progesterone gets left out the the constant discussion of progesterone and progestin as the same thing, synthetic progesterone and progestin completely different things, completely different effects on the body. Yet I read medical studies where they're referred to together, I see doctors write about it in their books, those things and then something I'm really interested in lately, because I've gone through this myself, is that we're all suffering. 


I hate to say that we're all so many of us have problems, gut problems, a fatty liver, we have thyroid problems, we have chronic illnesses we have, you know, people say these things don't exist, but Lyme disease and mold in our house and in arthritis and all these different factors. I don't think that there's much evidence, but it's building, we should be just tackling these things and discussing these things, I think before hormone therapy, and I interviewed a naturopathic doctor Jennifer Harrington, and she was saying to me, I think too many people start at the end, and by her saying start at the end, that's hormone therapy, they start with hormone therapy. And I think it probably is a lot more effective if you tackle some of your other problems. First, for example, I had a gut a gut issue.


 I had SIBO. I thought I thought I was dying of perimenopause a year ago, and I had a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, it took me eight, nine months to get rid of, I feel like 100 times better. My I don't have the fatigue, the crushing fatigue of brain fog, a lot of that is better. So that's one of the other things is I think it's just a lot of people talking about a gym that don't, they're not careful with information like you are. They're very irresponsible with their information. And they're simplifying things. And they know a little bit and I'm the same. But anyway, those are my big ones.


Jenn Huber  18:49

I think that's a great list. Absolutely. The hormone one, especially because, you know, it feels like you're right, that every discussion around hormones, is a proxy for estrogen. When we're really talking about a concert of hormones that do play together that do interact with each other and are pretty much all affected by perimenopause in some way or the other, right. I think that's a really, really important one, especially the progesterone progestin one. And on the one hand, I understand that from a protecting the lining of the uterus perspective, they're equivalent, but the rest of the effects on the body aren't. And that is such an important distinction. Yes, progestin will protect your uterus, but it is not progesterone, and that has a very different effect on the body. Absolutely. You know that. Sleep,


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  19:44

sorry, the sleep the mood, you're not going to get those benefits from the synthetic form. And you're gonna be confused because maybe you were told that


Jenn Huber  19:51

you would. Yeah. Yeah. And the gut health one is interesting. There is research looking at the effect of perimenopause, pause on IBS and there does seem to be a worsening in, you know, for itself for people who have IBS, which isn't everyone obviously. But they may be a good kind of study population to to highlight what some of the changes are. Because we have estrogen and progesterone receptors in the bowel, it makes sense that they would also go through perimenopause. And I kind of describe it as like a drunk sausage maker, basically is what tends to happen is that, you know, you're gonna have periods where it's going crazy and periods when it's asleep and periods when it's uncoordinated. And that's often what people describe. 


And that scenario actually creates the conditions that may allow something like SIBO to take hold. And so there's a whole lot of kind of conversations and research areas, in my opinion, that need really the focus that estrogen has gotten over the last five years now, don't get me wrong, I am so grateful that at least the conversation around estrogen now isn't as fear based as it was even five years ago, and that more women are, you know, pretty literally, I think having their lives saved in one way or the other by, you know, increased access and awareness of safety and use and all that kind of stuff. But I'm one of those women, that you know, I would have actually loved to take estrogen. But I am hormone sensitive. And progesterone just makes me like, you know, terribly depressed. 


And you know, within days, like don't want to get out of bed depressed. So it was just never an option for me. So I had to find what else and there really is so much out there. That's kind of what I want people to know is that yes, estrogen is great. Don't get me wrong, but it's not, you know, a one size fits all answer. It's not a one and done answer. So you're not going to solve all of your Peri menopausal symptoms, just with HRT. And yeah, there are other things that you can try that may be just as effective or at least give you some kind of relief from these symptoms that definitely affect our quality of life, for sure.


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  22:03

Well, women want options. And one of the things about the conversation that bothers me is that you're like a bit slow or kind of adult, if you haven't gone on hormone therapy, you just a bit thick, like you just, you know, I've had this presented to me, You know what, like, what are you doing? Like, and I'm just kind of like one a I'm figuring it out. And be it's my choice what I do. And I'm not dumb, I'm just trying to it's up. To me, it's a big deal to go on anything. I'm not on anything. So when I make a decision to go on the first thing that I'll ever be on, and I'll be on it for a long time. I'm going to think really long and hard about that. And I know there's a window of opportunity. 


The closest you can get to after menopause which I haven't gone through within 10 years that may change in our lifetimes. But so I don't like that. What is also very confusing is yes, when you speak about the gut, like perimenopause can make gut issues worse gut issues can make it seem like perimenopause is worse, it's like insulin resistant, that there's that relationship between both things, right. And it's just like this interplay, and it's just like, but I I'm erring on the side of sorting out, you know, I had, I had SIBO I had surgery and a couple of rounds of antibiotics. I'm pretty sure I got it from there. But maybe I wouldn't maybe it wouldn't have settled in 


Do you know what I mean? Like maybe if I wasn't in perimenopause, and then I found out that I have a fatty liver. And so now I'm working on the fatty liver and the science on fatty liver and hormone therapy. It's, what I'm getting is maybe I want to sort out the fatty liver because it maybe it's not a great idea to put estrogen in a liver that's not working like super fantastically, you know, but we're not getting I'm doing tons of research on that. And it's not. But it's everyone's choice. Because I've had people I really I really respect say, you know, when I was struggling with my God, I've heard someone say, you know, probably if you went on estrogen, it would probably help. And it's like, yeah, that's true. So


Jenn Huber  24:01

yeah, I mean, and again, I think that the the conversation just needs to be broader. Because it has been really narrowly focused on HRT, in my opinion, in the last couple of years. And I think that that conversation has served its purpose, and that it's brought awareness. And I know, again, a lot of people really feel like it has, you know, saved their life. And that's amazing. And I wouldn't want to change that. But the conversation doesn't end there. There's so much more to the conversation.


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  24:28

And then the other thing is, if you don't go on it, I mean, I have interviewed dozens of experts and said, Should I go on hormone therapy, if I'm managing my symptoms, and no one has said yes. Like, there's not one person that said yes. And so I don't know if we're there yet, but we're in a place where the evidence is building that you should go on hormone therapy, maybe to protect yourself from future disease, and dementia and cardiovascular disease. And so that's tricky, right? Like if you're, I mean, you're facing that because you're not going to go on and And I'm like, okay, so say I get through all this, and I feel great. Do I still go on it? Do I still? You know, I don't know,


Jenn Huber  25:08

these are things. And I'm thinking that the important piece because I've, you know, I keep revisiting this issue, because I'm also one of those people that technically, I will have gone into early perimenopause, assuming that Mother Nature doesn't play a joke on me in the next 69 days. And so it will mean that my last period was actually when I was 44. And so that, you know, puts me in the under 45 zone, where, you know, it is recommended. And, you know, when I have this discussion with my, with my gynecologist here in the Netherlands, you know, he was just basically like, well, it's up to you, because you're on that line. And we could try it again. 


And you know, but at the end of the day, what I'm looking at personally, and what I often talk to people about is that there are other ways to support that estrogen response and to support the pieces of health that are bent that benefit from additional estrogen, right, so we can, you know, talk about phyto estrogens, and we can talk about those kinds of things. But when we're talking about herd health, we're talking about many, many, many variables, of which hormones can be one, undeniably, estrogen plays a role in keeping our risk lower than men until menopause and then that a you know, that risk tends to even out. 


But unless the evidence becomes overwhelmingly in favor of it, there's always going to be a risk benefit conversation that needs to be had around it, right. So you know, you're gonna have individual risk factors for heart disease and individual risk factors for breast cancer. And at some point, there's going to have to be a decision that is made, you know, if if you come to that point where you're considering it for a primary prevention, and not symptom reduction, which is what we're talking about. And it is a very, it is always going to be nuanced, because they're always going to be other things that you can do to reduce the risk of whatever it is you're trying to reduce, that you can't not do if you start estrogen, right. It's not like estrogen is going to be the overarching umbrella treatment for that. But, but yeah, it's gonna be an interesting conversation to follow. And I look forward to future conversations with you about it.


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  27:24

Me too. And, you know, it's the same with dementia. It's a different condition. But to read social media to read a lot of media, you think, Oh, my God, I need to be on estrogen and my brain is going to wither and my heart is going to die. And then you look at all the things that prevent heart disease and all the things that prevent dementia, and many of them overlap. 


And why I mean, if you did all of those things, I just, I'm not even speaking as someone looking at research. I'm this is just common sense. If you did all of those things, if you went for walks, if you had good relationships, if you lived your truth, if you ate wholesome, delicious, nutritious food. I'm just saying if you didn't smoke, if you didn't drink alcohol excessively, if you didn't, if you didn't, if you did, if you did, you know, I think it's Dale, President, he he's written, he's the end of Alzheimer's, lead, and he I think he says the he calls the Alzheimer's risk. It's like a leaky roof. You know, it's just like a bunch of dozens of reasons that you get Alzheimer’s.


 And I'm seeing more and more each day, I'm working on a list. This is how I do it, Jen, I'm working on a list all the other all the other reasons that you get dementia, except other than estrogen, it'll be pithier than that. And it's such a long and ridiculous list. Like it's such a long list that when you were to look at it all, you'd be like, Oh, my gosh, yet, even like Lisa Moscone who's one of the head, you know, ahead on the curve on on the she wrote the xx brain, and she's a leader in this field. I've heard her in podcasts, and she may not even mention estrogen, or she mentioned it at the end of the list. You know, she's, they'll say, what are your top three I heard on a podcast the other day, and she said, what are your top three things she didn't say estrogen.


 She said exercise and nutrition. So again, this is this is what makes me skeptical and suspicious, because a lot of those things we can do and we don't need to buy anything. And one of those things we need to we need to have it prescribed to us. And we did take it while also acknowledging that it's good for us, if that makes sense.


Jenn Huber  29:31

Yeah, one of my favorite sayings is that the plural of anecdote is not data. But that being and you know, so my, my family's on my mom's side, my family's kind of genetic. You know, hand me down is early menopause. So, you know, my mom and my grandmother and I all hit menopause at 4445 and my grandmother died last year at 92 never having to Taking HRT was very, you know, cognitively with it until pretty much for last couple of years when she did have a little mini stroke, and went into a nursing home, but like, 90, you know, and my mom is 75 and also has never taken HRT. And, you know, it's also you know, very with it doesn't have heart disease has high blood pressure has high cholesterol, but you know, and so when I look at my family history, and I think, well, I'll probably be okay, you know, and I'm doing all of the things that I know to do, and want to do and can do and have the ability to do so. 


Yeah, it is a really, I think it's an area that is very confusing for people, because they hear these messages all the time, and it's literally bombarded. And I do get the question a lot, will I be okay, if I don't take HRT? And, you know, no one can give an a yes, no answer to that. No, one should give a yes, no answer that. But I always say, Well, let's talk about what it what we know, for sure it can do. And, you know, that's usually if you're having terrible hot flashes, it will fix them. Yeah, that that we can pretty much say, and there's a lot of good, you know, evidence or kind of drops in the bucket, you know, movements in the right direction, and that it can also do blah, blah, blah, blah. But we can't say definitively that is that it is going to extend your life that it is going to do all these other things. And I think sometimes people are surprised to hear that. Because the media around HRT is so clear cut. It's the best thing ever, and everyone should do it. And like you said, if you're not, there's something wrong with you.


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  31:43

Yeah, I mean, the media around it, particularly in the UK is not. It's not very objective. You know, it's, it's, it's not. And that's just the way that the media has gone in certain cases. But I'd also like to interview, I don't want to be the deep like the person you didn't want to talk to at a party. But we're going to die. Yes. And I feel like there's a really big problem with that. There always has been, but you know, no one's getting out of this. We just, I think the, like, my goal is just to live as well. And as healthfully as I can until the time when i To die happens. 


Yeah, rather than, Oh, God, I don't want to die. You know, like we saw so much fear in the last three years, over COVID. And a lot of it was I just felt this, people haven't sort of reckoned and I get it, that's what midlife is all about to is reckoning with this idea that we're going to die, you know, we are going to die. And why not just aim to make every day as great as you can, until that happens, rather than just grabbing, you know, grabbing.


 And I think people can become a little bit more aware in modern times, we're much more besieged by things. And then we then our mothers were or their mothers were right, like even you know, I'm I've got wireless all around me, it's very difficult getting to the bottom of what what impact that has on our bodies, but I'm sure it has to have some sort of impact. All the chemicals and all of our products. You know, the pesticides that are used on the crops of the food that we eat, like a lot of things are coming at us. So anyway, those we can control them all. Sorry,


Jenn Huber  33:32

you and we can't control them all.


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  33:34

That's the thing. No, no, you can drive yourself absolutely crazy. And I've gone down those roads, because I've been reading about health and wellness. You know, I tried to ask myself why I got so obsessed about this. And I was dipping in and out of it for years, but my mom died when she was 53 which is the age I'm turning of pancreatic cancer and she was very unwell. Like she had a lot of autoimmune fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and she always had migraines and she was awesome. She was a nurse, but I always wondered why she had those things. And I just wanted to know, and I might carry menopause. 40s when I didn't know I was in perimenopause, like 40 to 40 H they were very, very difficult because this is what I was doing. 


You know, I was grabbing I was working on it. I was running a newspaper department that health was part of in wellness was part of it. So I was grabbing everything I was going to you know, I would go to yoga and think the yoga teacher would know more than I would I was outsourcing a lot of my belief system and and not trusting my own inner guidance and I spent a lot of money and I took a lot of things and I did a lot of things. Meanwhile, you know, he was carrying none of us. But I understand this. I understand this tendency. No, yeah.


Jenn Huber  34:49

Okay, so let's lighten up a little bit as we as we wind up here. So what is one great thing about midlife that has surprised you But you want people to know about?


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  35:02

Okay, this is funny, I was just talking about this on a podcast last night. So I got married or had kids, you know, I always hoped to and truly, that's, you know, that's one of the sadnesses of my life. But I've had a really fun, exciting life. So, you know, it's all working out. Not everyone gets everything. So I've had a lot of real excitement. I've had long relationships. And I've done a lot of dating. The big surprise to me is that from 49 onwards, I've really started to find myself and grow into myself, I have had more dating opportunities, more romantic experiences, more men who are interested in me, I get what they mean when they say your taxi lights on. 


If you told me this when I was 30, I'd say there's no way I'll be old and hideous, and no one will want me Well, no. So you know, it doesn't for any woman who's sitting there feeling like I'm not gonna have it anymore. I'm not attractive. It's, I do think it's from the inside. Like, you have to take care of yourself physically, but something has happened. Something has happened that has really changed and I can't believe it, but I know. You know, also, it's probably my beliefs. I used to think, Oh, I'm never gonna meet anyone. And now I'm like, I'm gonna meet someone else.


Jenn Huber  36:13

It's your love it.


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  36:15

Hopefully, someday I'll meet the one you know, one that I can. Yeah. Anyway, that's that has nothing to do with menopause. But it does, because I think this whole transition is soul mind body. And anyway, that's what I found.


Jenn Huber  36:28

Yeah, no, it absolutely is. And I think that women in general, find themselves showing up more confidently, in all aspects of their lives. at unexpected times, you know, whether it is new relationships, changing relationships, their current relationship, their job, their friends, or whatever it is, it's really just kind of showing up. 


And, you know, my favorite thing is that when you hit midlife, you have no more fucks to give. And honestly, that really kind of rings so true in every aspect, it's like, if I don't care about that, I don't care about it. And I'm not gonna put any time or effort or worry into trying to make it happen. It is this is how I show up. That's who I am. Like it or lump it. See you later.


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  37:18

It's confusing at first, right? Because you're like, seem like I should care about this. It's so true. Like this absence, like it's emptiness. It's a freedom, but you have to sort of wrap your head around it at first.


Jenn Huber  37:32

Oh, no, it's so true. I love that. Okay,


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  37:34

so here's your on tick tock. We're crying. When there are bros on there talking about the beauty of the older woman, I get guys falling. Work. We're, there's this is our time. This is a this is the coolest time to be our age. And it's gonna be cool for everyone after us, I believe. No, I


Jenn Huber  37:51

think so too. And I you know, I really do think that I mean, I tell my my kids all the time, like, you know, being in midlife, that's awesome. And, you know, and especially as I see like my teenagers going through that, you know, phase where they're maybe a little bit more self conscious and worried about other people's opinions. I'm like, I promise in 30 years, you will care anymore. It's great. Do they believe you know, but I keep telling them because it is so true. Like, it's not just something that we say it is literally true. You just don't


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  38:21

care anymore. Yeah, you don't. And by the way, how cool is it? My niece and nephew were like this to like, menopause is gonna mean nothing to them, because they just hear it all the time. It's like nothing they'll know about it. It's not no fear will be involved. It's just normal. My little nephew said the other day. She's does menopause. I mean, my niece asked what my podcast was about again, and he said, It's been a pious lately, and I was like, this is the coolest thing ever.


Jenn Huber  38:46

Yeah, well, I mean, it is definitely a more open conversation. You know, menopause was absolutely not something that our mother's generation was openly talking about. And my dad was even an OBGYN. And I feel like it was not something that was just part of normal conversation, whereas now it is right. Okay, so last question that I asked all my guests. What do you think is the missing ingredient in midlife?


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  39:15

Oh my goodness. The missing ingredient in midlife.


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  39:28

A true acceptance of yourself. A true connection with yourself and an acceptance just where you are. None of these lists of you know I was always had these improvement list. I find my old journals and I want to cry. It's like, is this where you are now? Just working on that.


Jenn Huber  39:47

body acceptance? Absolutely. body acceptance in all aspects. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much for this conversation and for everything that you bring to the table of midlife. You You're you're definitely one of my favorite people in this space. So thank you for the work that you do. It means a lot


Ann-Marie-Mcqueen  40:04

because you are one of mine.


Jenn Huber  40:09

Thanks, Anne Marie. Hey there. Thanks so much for tuning in to this week's episode of the midlife feast. Just remember that the midlife feast community membership is now open for registration and it is the perfect place for you to gather, grow and nourish with other people in midlife who know exactly what you're going through. You can find a link to join this monthly membership in the show notes. We'd love to have you join us as you feast on midlife. And if you found this podcast episode helpful or any of the episodes on the midlife feast, just a reminder that the best way to help others find us is to rate and review the podcast wherever you tuned in.