Women In Wellness: “Work on your relationship with your spouse” with Christine Egan and Beau Henderson

Work on your relationship with your spouse: Divorce is becoming more common for retirees. Studies show that the divorce rate for people around the age of 50 doubled between 1990 and 2010. The assets that you thought you had are now being split with your ex, which may not be enough for you to live […]

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Work on your relationship with your spouse: Divorce is becoming more common for retirees. Studies show that the divorce rate for people around the age of 50 doubled between 1990 and 2010. The assets that you thought you had are now being split with your ex, which may not be enough for you to live on. Now that you are spending more time together, seeking outside help with a therapist may not only save your marriage but your bank account as well.

As a part of my series about the “5 Things You Should Do to Optimize Your Wellness After Retirement” I had the pleasure of interviewing Christine Egan, Breast Cancer Survivor turned Health Coach and Author of The Healthy Girl’s Guide to Breast Cancer. Christine Egan is a breast cancer survivor, thriver, certified health coach and author of “The Healthy Girl’s Guide to Breast Cancer,” a personal journey of her roadmap to achieving remission. Christine now helps over 1,000 women around the world put their lives back together after cancer diagnosis by crafting a specialized support toolbox to tackle self-care, fear, guilt, dieting and loving your battle scars. Christine regularly appears on morning shows sharing her healthy living hacks, as well as contributing to various print magazines including Women’s Health, Yoga Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, and Live Happy Magazine. She has hosted breast cancer awareness events for major running brands, Saucony and New Balance, and is a model and brand ambassador for AnaOno, the first company to design lingerie specifically for those affected by breast cancer and mastectomy.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

It wasn’t until I moved out on my own that I made the connection between food and wellness. I used to work for a major fast-food company in their marketing division — part of my job would include going through the drive-thru and testing the quality of the food, fun times.

It didn’t take long for me to start making the connection between how I was feeling and what I was eating once I started to outgrow my clothes. One of my housemates from Italy taught me how to sautée fresh vegetables…not from a can or frozen packaging..I’m talking farmer’s market and garden vegetables — it changed my life.

I started preparing my dinners at home using only fresh foods. Not only was I fitting back into my clothes, but my energy level was better and my overall mood was elevated.

That simple act of learning how to prepare healthier foods that I enjoyed in my 20’s set me on a path to lead a health-conscious lifestyle that turned out to be a blessing.

At 42, I knew my body so well that I was able to detect a lump in my breast that a mammogram did not.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I am always shocked when people I don’t know reach out to me and let me know how much my book has helped them on their cancer journey. I’m truly honored when someone shares with me how they have assembled a Board of Directors (people who they trust to help them navigate the healthcare system) or tell me they bought a glass straw because they know the plastic ones are not healthy.

One of the benefits of helping other women put their lives back together after a cancer diagnosis is that I feel healthier. I take in all the material I review with them just as much as they do. I know the fear of recurrence is real, but I also know how to handle that fear. I know how difficult it is to stay on a clean diet, but then I’m reminded when I see the studies that show limiting the number of animal products in daily meals can reduce cancer rates I’m empowered to limit my meat intake too.

I’ve learned as much as I’m helping them, they’re also helping me and I love it.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

The first time I attempted a “green smoothie” was just awful, not sure what I was thinking. With a handful of spinach and a cut-up apple blended with some water. I saw this green, thick-looking sludge on my kitchen counter — yuck! I couldn’t drink it. It just tasted too “green” for me.

I realized there and then that I needed to slowly jump into the world of blending vegetables. I would try recipes, hate it and try again. I didn’t give up. I realized I needed to give my taste buds an opportunity to adjust to the taste of blending raw greens, so I researched the best fruit-to-greens ratio for beginners and learned to add three fruits to every handful of raw greens, success!

The next green shake I made included a fistful of spinach, two apples, and lots of pineapples. I loved it. Moral of the story, start small and ease your way in! Health is a journey, not a destination.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My husband Frank of 24 years has helped me every step of the way. We have been in each other’s lives for over thirty years. After my cancer diagnosis, he never left my side. He supported me in every decision I made as it related to my treatment. He helped me see what was truly important in my life, family, and love. My three children helped me heal as well, bless their little souls.

They nursed me back to health by snuggling next to me every chance they got. Dance classes, karate lessons, and birthday parties were skipped so that we could watch a movie or cook a meal as a family. Those moments meant the world.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

Treat your business like a marathon, not a sprint! As someone who treats health as a part-time job, fitting in work and clients comes secondary. Sometimes I need to put my work on the back burner due to health issues and that’s difficult, but I know my work will be there for me when I’m feeling better.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

I am a big believer in doing what I do, not just what I say. I would never ask a team member to do a task that I would not do. Everyone plays a key role in the success of the business, not just me as the owner. Success can look different for every business, decide what your version of success looks like.

For me, it’s important not to have creative downtime, which includes a vacation every six weeks. In order to do a high level of coaching and client care, time away to rest and recover is key for me and my teams’ success.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In some cases, retirement can reduce health, and in others it can improve health. From your point of view or experience, what are a few of the reasons that retirement can reduce one’s health?

One of the top reasons why retirement can adversely affect your health is financial change. People downsize when they are not ready to or think their life is not going to change financially, allowing new stresses receptors they are not prepared to handle emotionally.

It can also increase due to taxes, lifestyle changes, death in the family, health problems due to aging, or even something simple as maintenance on a vehicle or home you didn’t budget for.

Can you share with our readers 5 things that one should do to optimize their physical wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.

Exercise: One of the best ways to stay healthy is to move your body. The benefits of exercise include a reduction in cancer, heart disease, and overall death with only a minimum of twenty minutes a day, according to numerous studies. The best part about moving your body is that exercise doesn’t need to include a trip to the gym but rather can be incorporated into daily life such as walking, stair climbing, or gardening. The best type of exercise is when it doesn’t feel like exercising at all. Can you walk to your favorite coffee shop in the morning instead of driving the car? If so, try it!

Sleep: Rest is a key part of keeping a healthy body. Studies show that seven hours of sleep time is all that’s needed for a long and healthy life. In communities where people have the highest populations of the elderly, they sleep when they are tired and rise when they awake. Without the need to wake up early and get off to work, now is your opportunity to get in tune with a more intuitive sleep schedule. If you need a nap during the day, keep it to 30 minutes or less, it’s most beneficial to your health.

Volunteer/Give back: People who volunteer their time show a higher level of well-being and reduction of stress. Volunteering helps lower the risk of dementia and other health problems, it can also help promote physical activity like organizing a charity event or working at a soup kitchen. People who are volunteering they have a shared sense of purpose. When people contribute to something bigger than themselves they tend to have a more positive outlook on life.

Spend time in nature: Nature can have a profound effect on your health. Your attention span and memory performance can rise as much as 20 percent by spending time in nature. Think about adding healthy activities such as bird watching, fishing, hiking, cycling, and gardening to your daily life.

Sex: Not only is sex enjoyable, but it can help keep you healthy too. Recent studies show that men who had sex at least twice a week were half as likely to die of heart disease as men who had sex rarely. Healthy sex life is great for your heart, self-esteem and happiness level. So carve out some time for intimate moments, even regular touching and hugging can release hormones that activate your brain’s pleasure system.

In your experience, what are 3 or 4 things that people wish someone told them before they retired?

Don’t worry, be happy: The good news is that generally, people are happier in retirement. With the stress of raising children and the daily grind of work beyond you, most people’s happiness level increase during retirement.

Work on your relationship with your spouse: Divorce is becoming more common for retirees. Studies show that the divorce rate for people around the age of 50 doubled between 1990 and 2010. The assets that you thought you had are now being split with your ex, which may not be enough for you to live on. Now that you are spending more time together, seeking outside help with a therapist may not only save your marriage but your bank account as well.

Work on staying healthy: Staying healthy keeps more money in your wallet. By kicking bad habits like smoking and excessive drinking, you are saving on medical expenses in the long run. Start exercising, eating healthy, and taking care of your body now, it will lead to medical savings down the road.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

“The Healthy Girl’s Guide To Breast Cancer,” continues to impact me everyday when people reach out to me and tell me how much it helped them on their cancer journey.

I wrote my book as a way to remember in detail all the things I went through from the moment I was diagnosed with breast cancer to all the treatments I underwent and how I healed my body post-treatments.

There was no information out there that shared how to navigate the healthcare system, how to stay healthy while undergoing cancer treatments or what a radiated breast looked liked! So I decided to share how I became the CEO of my body and why taking an active role in my health care helped heal me in hopes my story will inspire fighters, survivors and thrivers.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Again, my wish is that people would really understand that being healthy is a journey, not a destination. Everyone has their own version of health. One diet that works for one person is not the same diet that works for someone else.

I needed to re-evaluate what being healthy meant to me after being diagnosed with breast cancer. I coined the term “Redefining Healthy” because I maintained my health while undergoing cancer treatments…I tried, failed and tried again until I found something that worked for me.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“What are you waiting for” has become my mantra over the past 25 years. The sign is hanging up in our house and I see it every day.

It’s a gentle reminder that there is no perfect time in life to do the things you want to do whether it’s starting a business, running a crazy race or taking the kids to Disney — pack the comfy shoes.

I love how the quote has a sense of urgency. Life is not going to give you a permission slip to do the things you want in life. It’s up to you to decide the things in life that are important to you and then schedule them into your already busy day. That’s how you lead a healthy balanced life, by getting clear on the things that really matter, that really light you up and then taking the time to do those things.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to sit with Sara Blakely, the founder of SPANX. I love that she created a company based on a need she had. SPANX is always supporting women either in the workplace or with ideas. Plus, I love the fact that she is a mom of three (like me) and married to live life out loud.

Second, Jesse Itzler. I love her boundless energy! She recently did an adventure event with Richard Branson that included biking, hiking, and swimming. I watched in awe as she went way beyond her comfort zone to accomplish each of those physical activities. Sara reminds me that with pure determination you can accomplish anything and she holds that level of integrity in her business and her real life!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the author:

Beau Henderson, editor of Rich Retirement Letter and CEO of RichLife Advisors LLC, is a best-selling author, national tv/radio resource, and retirement coach/advisor, with over 17 years’ experience. Beau is a pioneer in the strategy based new model of holistic retirement planning. He can be followed on Facebook here or on Instagram here

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