December 28th, 2022 | Posted By: Kristen Runvik | Posted in Articles

Turning 50: What Helped Me Thrive and What I’m Still Bad At

I turn 50 on the 5th day of January 2023. 

As I sat down to write this blog post, I started pondering why women are reluctant to speak about and reveal their true age. I think it’s a combination of external and internal factors. External being shaming of women’s signs of aging, preference for younger-looking women, and menopause making us hyper-visible and subject to many stereotypes; from jokes to shaming. 

Then there is the internal factor; how we see ourselves. We can’t change the external factors and how the world chooses to see us, but we can change how we see ourselves. 

I’ve never been shy about revealing my age; in fact, I enjoy sharing it because I know I look and feel strong and healthy as a 50-year-old. This is what I want to impart in today’s post. I will share with you what has worked for me and let you see that I’m far from perfect and have my own struggles to stay on track. 

On most days, I choose progress over perfection. 

If I screw up, I go back to taking care of myself the best way I can.

When I fail, I forgive myself and move forward. 

The non-negotiables and things I still struggle with

Here are things that are non-negotiable in my life which I largely attribute to feeling and looking good as a 50-year-old. Here’s the list of things that have worked and I’ve done them well, for the most part. 

  1. Clean diet 
  2. Supplements 
  3. Clean products 
  4. Sleep and rest 
  5. Community 

And, here is the list of things I’ve struggled with 

  1. Alcohol 
  2. Exercise 
  3. Oxalates 

More on each below. 

My 5 non-negotiables

1. Clean diet

I live the life I advocate (90% of the time) and it’s gotten easier to be on auto-pilot and not look back. But, it took me a few years to get there. 

People often ask me “But don’t you miss a cannoli or a croissant? What life is it without ‘some joys’?” 

First of all, this question implies that these foods are the only source of joy which is a limiting belief in itself – I get tremendous joy from eating healthy, at times decadent, foods that don’t make me sick and therefore I don’t miss much of anything. I think it’s key to find these deeply pleasing “healthified” foods so they replace the old comfort foods. For me, that would be a miso soup (I grew up in Asia and a bowl of soup is what mac-n-cheese might be to you) or gluten-free buckwheat bread or apple muffins.  

Secondly, when I have a moment of weakness (ie I debate if I should have something that doesn’t serve me), I think about how the 2 minutes of pleasure will feel later on. Dairy makes me constipated for days and frequent consumption gives me full-on IBS. Gluten suppresses my immune system, causes headaches, and makes me bloated. So why eat them? Is the 2-minute pleasure worth the 2-day aftermath? For me, it’s not. 

I eat organic as much as I can. There is enough troubling research about “conventionally grown” food (I find this term awful in itself because it normalizes food sprayed with poisons) for me to justify spending more money on organic produce now, rather than paying for medical bills later on, to treat preventable diseases. 

I try to eat as much at home as I can (probably 90%). Not only is it kinder on the wallet but it’s much healthier, too. I also don’t order in unless I have to. After covid, it’s become exorbitantly expensive to order in. Instead, I’ve learned to make simple meals that are also tasty, satisfying, and healthy. 

Sugar is a big contributor to “inflammaging” (inflammation + aging) and I, therefore, pay attention to it, especially in packaged goods. I mean, Odwalla’s green juice contains 36 grams of sugar (making it 9 teaspoons of sugar). I typically don’t eat more than 20 grams of sugar per day (including sugar found in food) and recommend that for anyone who wants to keep inflammation at bay. 

If you’ve been in this space for a while, you know that I eat just like the recipes in Overcoming Estrogen Dominance and Cooking for Hormone Balance

2. Supplements

I’m a strong believer that diet alone isn’t good enough these days. When in herbal school, what shook me were charts showing the decline of the nutritional value of all fruit and vegetables – it was heart-breaking (and still is) and it also shed the light on why, in spite of such a clean and varied diet, most of us don’t feel at our optimal. It took me a while to arrive at this conclusion as for the longest time I was opposed to taking supplements and believed that a good diet can fix it all. It can’t. 

Having said that, it works the other way too. Taking heaps of supplements without a clean, varied, and nutrient-dense diet isn’t a guarantee of good health either. If a person is creating inflammation in the body by eating gluten, dairy, excessive sugar, processed foods, and eating outside most of the time, supplements won’t combat that. Instead, I see a clean diet + supplements working together to give you a 1 + 1 = 5 result. 

I often get asked what supplements I take on a daily basis. Here is the list: 

  • Magnesium Replenish – Our magnesium glycinate that I just can’t live without. It helps me sleep, go to the bathroom, and stay calm and composed. As a cofactor, it binds many toxins and is therefore one of the prime stars of the detoxification process.
  • Mag Energy – The second type of magnesium I can’t start the day without. For me, it’s slightly energizing and helps me recover from exercise (weight training is what I do now, not cardio).
  • D3 + K2 – Enough has been said about D3 so I don’t think I need to elaborate. I have the VDR receptor genetic variant which means I don’t absorb vitamin D well. That means I need to take more of it – between 5,000 and 10,000 IUs per day. I test my D level each year to be sure I’m in the 60-80 ng/mL range. I need to be in this bracket since I have a history of Hashimoto’s disease (I’m in remission now).
  • Zinc – I’ve tried not taking it and would get white spots on my nails quickly (a sign of deficiency). If I have access to fresh oysters I stop taking zinc, but that’s often not the case (or they’re just too expensive!), and then I rely on zinc supplementation – primarily for a robust immune system and strong gut integrity.
  • B Complex – This is another one I can’t live without and my body would let me know when I’m deficient – symptoms would start with canker sores. Taking vitamin B gives me energy and a sharp mind. It could be psychosomatic because I know so much about B vitamins and liver health. It makes me feel well-supported. 

To celebrate my 50th birthday, we’ve put the above supplements together the in the Thriving 50s Kit. You can save $50 on the entire kit with MAG50 coupon code, which is valid until February 15th, 2023.

What I also take and use on a regular basis

  • Progesterone (I use our topical, bio-identical ProgestPure Cream) – To balance the estrogen-to-progesterone ratio as progesterone drops quickly after 45. I sleep deeper and feel calmer when using progesterone; typically 25 days out of a month, skipping it during my period.
  • Sulforaphane (found in our Brocco Power) – I first came across sulforaphane when reading a study on how this magical substance found in broccoli sprouts (up to 300x than in mature broccoli) can kill cancer stem cells. There is more to it; as an NRF2 activator, it lowers inflammation, reduces cardiovascular risks, and lowers the viral load. (I sometimes wonder if this is why I still have not developed covid).
  • Calcium d-glucarate – A wonderful binder of toxins originating from drugs (both prescription and recreational), non-organic food, as well as “dirty” estrogens which I always have to keep at bay. (Based on my genetics, I’m a very slow estrogen metabolizer).
  • Vitamin C – I’ve personally developed more affinity for food-derived C vitamin and this is what I’m taking; not only for a robust immune system but to also support native progesterone production.
  • Digestive bitters – many people hate them, and this is why we developed ones that actually taste good and still work well – for before and after a meal. I carry them with me and they’re a fixture on my dining table. They help break the food down so I don’t feel full; they ease digestion, balance blood sugar levels, and aid constipation. 

3. Clean products

You know you’re using clean products when you pass a person on a hiking trail smelling the offensive chemical concoction of the washing powder, fabric softeners, and perfumes. It’s too big a topic to discuss here but to keep it simple: reducing the toxic load of the food and products I use is of very high importance to me. Not only do these chemicals increase inflammation (and inflammaging) but many also cause DNA damage which is the leading cause of cancers. 

Not to lose my mind on what is toxic and what is not (it keeps changing and many companies are making unfounded safety claims) I keep it simple by shopping at health food stores (such as Natural Grocers or Lucky’s) where the department buyers have done their homework; they evaluate cleaning, skincare, and cosmetic companies for their ingredient toxicity but also the environmental impact on our planet. 

For skincare, I use our Wellena skincare and my joke became one of our marketing taglines; “it’s so clean, you can eat it” – because you can and it doesn’t taste gross or chemical. For shower and hand soap, I keep things simple – Dr. Bronner’s it is all the way. 

For house cleaning products, I use either water, vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils; or Branch Basics. I use Molly’s Suds for laundry and never use any fabric softeners. 

For cooking, I use a hybrid of enamel-coated cast iron pots (from Dansk) and carbon steel pans (from deBuyer) which, when seasoned, are totally non-stick. I threw away all the “green pans” and have a real grudge against Caraway who’s misleading so many consumers – you can read about it here

The cleaner products one uses, the less inflammation, and the more graceful aging.  

4. Sleep and rest

Sleep and day rest have become my non-negotiable. It wasn’t always this way – in my 30s, I used to say that “I will sleep when I die” and now you would hear me say: “Can we meet for dinner at 5 pm because I want to be in bed by 9 pm.” 

I’ve written extensively about the many things I researched about sleep over an 8-month period using the Oura Ring to partly guide my research and observations. 

Another indispensable tool was Dr. Matthew Walker’s book Why We Sleep which gave me so much appreciation for Deep and REM sleep (which the Oura ring shows) that I’m very protective over it now. 

I’ve summed up what my sleep killers are in the Fixing Sleep After 45 article and the short of it is alcohol (especially close to bed), a late and rich meal (I sleep best when I eat complex carbohydrates 4 hours before bed), blue light (from phone, computer, iPad), and magnesium deficiency. 

I always feel like I’ve aged 5 years after a lousy night’s sleep – and then come the cravings for sugar and caffeine to get some energy boost – all big inflamm-agers. 

5. Community

I am alone, but I’m not lonely. 

With a community of smart, spirited, gifted, worldly girlfriends who are not only high in EQ but who care about this world’s affairs, and their own health, I can’t feel lonely. 

As I’m writing this blog post, I’m putting final touches to my 50th birthday retreat get-away with 10 girlfriends and I can’t even tell you how happy this makes me. 

The Blue Zone experts often argue what makes these pockets of people live so long. Diets are often used to make an argument. What is often forgotten is the community and support system that exists in these communities and can’t be overlooked as one to gracefully carry a person into her next decade. 

I will never forget reading about a pact women in Okinawa make – four of them get together at a young age and pledge to support each other, for life. 

I have a secret plan that we buy a house with six other girlfriends and share our lives as a unit of seven, all the way to our late years. 

As I write this, I realize there are lots of things I’m doing right and due credit needs to be given. And, by no means do I want to portray my life as being with no faults and weaknesses. There are many and here are some of them. 

The 3 things I still struggle with

1. Alcohol

I have a “strange” relationship with alcohol. I’m using the word “strange” probaby as a softer version of “problematic.” If there is alcohol at home, I will drink it – not excessively, not to get drunk but I would have a hard time saying no to it.

The bigger issue is how my body responds to alcohol – which is poorly. It triggers IBS, causes diarrhea, and destroys my sleep. It doesn’t help that I’m a former bartender (in my 20s) and mixing cocktails is one of my favorite creative pursuits. 

I’ve resorted to giving away ALL the alcohol (over 30 bottles, most top-shelf liquors) to my neighborhood and only have it once in a while, mostly in social settings. It’s certainly a win but I really wish I had a healthier and more balanced relationship with booze. 

2. Exercise

Yes, I know it’s important. As a natural and a former competitive athlete, I fell out of love with exercise when my hips gave way (I ended up with a bilateral hip replacement in 2017, age 44) and never got back to it in a consistent way. 

Rain or shine, I walk my two beloved dogs every day for 1.5 hours on our mountain trails. It however does not compare to the weight training that makes me feel so so good.

To better deal with it, I’ve signed up to a weight training gym and pre-purchased classes so I have to show up. It’s kinda working – except in winter, the mountain road going down to town can be treacherous and I’m finding excuses not to go. It’s an ongoing battle with myself. 

3. Oxalates

In August this year, I developed cellulitis (a staph infection) on my leg while on the East Coast trip in my camper van, and had no choice but to take an antibiotic. That disrupted my already delicate microbiome and I’m currently (as of now, January 2023) unable to metabolize oxalates which results in a host of symptoms; the worst being extreme fatigue, sharp, debilitating pain in my legs, brain fog, poor sleep, mood swings, and inflammatory weight gain.

Oxalates, found in so many healthy foods (including all nuts, seeds, chards, beets, pomegranates, most grains, sweet and white potatoes, and lots more) are hard to avoid and it’s made my food selection and social eating-out limited and frustrating to navigate. 

Health isn’t linear – but I’m grateful

As you can see, health isn’t linear and I have to remind myself of the same. 

Someone like me, who not only takes care of herself but has dedicated my professional and largely personal life to helping women balance hormones in the most natural ways, can also experience serious setbacks. 

Just like in 2008 when diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, it led to changing my profession (from an advertising strategist) to a women’s hormone advocate. Who knows where the recent health challenges will take me? 

I’m entering the next decade of my life with excitement and optimism. As my dear friend Dani Williamson said (when I was complaining of hot flashes): “Shut up and be grateful. Many women have not made it that far to even experience a hot flash.” 

32 Comments to Turning 50: What Helped Me Thrive and What I’m Still Bad At

  1. Thank you for your work and your mission – it is very much needed and appreciated ! Personally I was desperate to find my reasons why I’m not able to function normally – my body was crushing down hill – my mind was loosing it – and universe answered me by putting you on my Pat – it was life savior! Been on path almost 2 yers now battling Hashimoto and see big progress -Thank you from bottom of my heart ❤️

  2. Wow. You are so inspiring! I have learnt something from this blog pist- ‘be kind to yourself’, ‘ progress not perfection’ and ‘health is not linear’. Brava and congratulations on 50 years well done! xx

  3. Thank you for all the information you provide to allow people to intake the facts and then decide what’s best. It’s nice to not be dictated to, but rather, be educated. Also thank you for your honesty and vulnerability in admitting you too have struggles.

  4. My friend and I have done 1 – 2 month-long detoxes per year since 2019. This year she asked if I’d like to do it again in a month, but this time around, I decided I’m doing the meal plan in the Overcoming Estrogen Dominance book while she does the detox instead. I’m tired of the brain fog and stubborn weight, so something’s gotta change. I’ve actually been on this hormone healing journey since 2017, but haven’t been able to focus for one reason or another. But when my friend suggested the detox yet again this year, I saw my chance to do something different, and hopefully more impactful. I love that it seems like it’s a great foundation for making gaines with any health issues and not just ED

  5. Thank you for all the information you put out! So helpful. I was also diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease in 2019 and have chosen the natural way to healing. Estrogen dominance was added to the mix shortly after and huge fibroids as well. So have a few things on my plate to deal with. Thank you for the guidance.
    Happy birthday!

  6. So grateful for your work! I cannot live without the five supplements you mentioned in this post. I also take them on a daily basis whenever I don’t I feel sluggish and my migraines start to kick in. I have not been officially diagnosed with Estrogen Dominace but I know I have the symptoms. Finding your information has been a life changer for me! Wishing you many more happy and healthy years!

  7. Thank you for sharing your journey and insights so clearly. All the information you shared really resonates and is very validating. I’m at the beginning of my hormone balancing journey, although I’ve struggled with similar challenges as you for years. It’s easy to feel like things are “all in my head” or to make excuses, but I’m very inspired by you to learn more and make some positive changes.

  8. Thank you so much for this article. I’m 53 and am looking forward to trying your recommendations on sleep. I have been struggling with my sleep for a while now. I also appreciate the list of supplements and what each one does. Looking forward to trying more of them In addition to the Mag Replenish which helps me daily with muscle cramps and falling asleep.

  9. Congratulation to your birthay! I follow up you for sevetal years and I like your honesty that you share with us. Your article inspires me to do more changes in my life, mainly more exercise, and I need really change my sleep, I sleep so poorly. And I miss community of good friends….

  10. Thank you Magdalena for sharing your experience always in a truthful way. Something is always popping out stronger for me!!this time it was “I am alone, but I am not lonely”. I want a small community but I struggle to find it/ build it. I know I can be patient and if I want it really I will find it and as you express it, I just need a few real friend to feel good. That will be my focus this year. Thanks again and Happy birthday to you.

  11. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experiences through your books, blogs, and community groups and videos. I have so much respect for you and the integrity of your products and your company. I have a shipment of wellena supplement arriving today actually. I can not live without them! Happy Birthday! The second chapter is going to be the best one yet!

  12. I wish you all the best. I have been taking many online breaks to learn to live off grid, but when I get a chance to be on the internet, I always enjoy reading the articles. I recently ordered the Progesterone oil and I am so grateful. I thank you for being so kind and so helping to other women.

  13. Congrats! Happy healthy 50’s! In So enjoy your talks,your energy and sharing your own struggles In our self healing we are able to heal others You are a true healer Thank you!

  14. I’ve been putting off reading the article “Fixing Sleep After 45” but after a couple terrible weeks of sleeping and watching the Facebook live Turning 50: What Helped Me Thrive and What I’m Still Bad At. I’m planning to buy myself some new bedding and am looking forward to a restful night.

  15. Happy birthday! So grateful for all of your shared knowledge! I have used you as a trusted resource re all things progesterone! Looking forward to learning more from you in the years to come!

  16. So refreshing to hear that there isn’t a specific age women are supposed to arrive in great health, despite how much one does or doesn’t know about taking care of oneself. Thank you for the vulnerability about alcohol. It certainly is something I think most women can relate to- having this food with no brakes that doesn’t make us feel well!

  17. Belated happy birthday and welcome to the 50‘s
    Club. I really do like your honesty in sharing your life journey with us.
    And it is so refreshing to read your newsletters.
    We all are trying our best to stay healthy while our body is in a roller coaster mood.
    I am looking forward in learning more in the future.
    Thank you and keep up your good work and the clean products.

  18. I’ve been struggling for years, tried many different things to get better. A number of years ago I bought your book “Cooking for Hormone balance”. Then not that long ago I bought “Overcoming Estrogen Dominance”. After reading this post I realize I need to work harder and resist both of your books. Thanks for all you do for all of us.

  19. Excellent article, Magda. Really enjoyed all the wisdom you share and your philosophy to life. To 50 more years of health and happiness!

  20. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I have been a follower of your works for many years. Happy Birthday and wishing you a blessed year ahead and many more wonderful years.

  21. Magdalena, I am so grateful for all you’ve done & continue to do for so many! I too have been following you for many years (and consistently use your supplements) & appreciate your wisdom & perseverance. Wishing you all the best for 50 and beyond! I am about to turn 69 & feeling quite grateful of that! 🤩

  22. I like that you said Progress over Perfection! Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the changes I need to make. But I know I don’t have to do everything today. Each day I can do a little more until I get to where I feel my optimal self.

  23. I just turned 50 recently too (Dec 2021) and I’m loving it! I too am good at lots of health things, and probably do more good for my body than most people I know. And am also indulging in some things perhaps I shouldn’t, like sugar. There’s ALWAYS room for improvement! Thank you for all you do for this community of strong, healthy women, Magdalena. I’m a follower for life.

  24. So happy and encouraged to be here and to be amongst women who want to be proactive about their health. Thank you Magdalena for your personal sharings. It motivates and is inspiring. Progress, not perfection. A regular and consistent sleep pattern is one of the basic things I am aiming to establish for 2023. Been very bad at achieving this one, not been getting the sleep I need, so this year I’m gonna go for it! And why ever not?? Best wishes to everyone for many wonderful years ahead!

  25. I am now 63th! Your hormones health can help someone over 50’s?!? Let me know please! Please do not share my phone number and email please!!!

  26. Happy Birthday Magdalena! I have learned so much from you and continue to do so. I am 72-yrs-old. I would like to know your opinion 9n hair coloring as I feel it might not be the healthiest thing to do. I am debating on stopping doing so and going totally gray is not appealing to me, but perhaps necessary. I would really love to hear from you.

  27. Thank you for your content! I am looking forward to balancing my hormones. 🙏🏽

  28. My two huge take aways’ from your birthday blog…

    “Sugar is a big contributor to “inflammaging” (inflammation + aging) and I, therefore, pay attention to it, especially in packaged goods. I mean, Odwalla’s green juice contains 36 grams of sugar (making it 9 teaspoons of sugar). I typically don’t eat more than 20 grams of sugar per day (including sugar found in food) and recommend that for anyone who wants to keep inflammation at bay.”

    “I’m currently (as of now, January 2023) unable to metabolize oxalates which results in a host of symptoms; the worst being extreme fatigue, sharp, debilitating pain in my legs, brain fog, poor sleep, mood swings, and inflammatory weight gain.” I have the same symptoms and am going to look into my metabolism of oxalates.

  29. It is almost overwhelming balancing hormones, clean eating and supplements alone..
    it is a journey and mainstream doctors just do not know anything but treat this symptom not “ let’s get to the root of the issues”
    Thank you for your wisdom and guidance!

  30. Amazing information on Women’s health. Thank you for all your help and knowledge. Celebrate the next 50 years.

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