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Jan. 26, 2023

Roma van der Walt: Giving women power and agency during perimenopause

"We want to give women the power and the agency to understand their health - wholly."

In this episode of the Dear Menopause podcast, Roma van der Walt, founder of Vitelle, chats with Sonya Lovell about why it's important for women to understand and manage their metabolic health to improve their life span. Through science-backed tools and technology, women have the agency to improve their health and longevity and with her company Vitelle, Roma is making this possible.

Roma is a sport scientist with a broadcast media background and a former Team Germany Modern Pentathlete. She has worked on improving maternal health outcomes for over a thousand women and reached thousands more published in various outlets while also consulting with for-profit and non-profit partners. Roma was fortunate to profit from research and diagnostics in sport and has since seen it develop from traditionally reserved for high performance towards being at our fingertips.

In this episode, you will learn:

1. Why metabolic health and health span are important for women to understand.

2. How women can have the power and agency to understand their health - past and future - through the use of technology and diagnostics.

3. What the future of women's healthcare looks like when we incorporate data collected from wearable technology such as an Apple Watch or an Oura ring.

Vitelle - website
Vitelle - Instagram
Vitelle App - Android
Vitelle App - Apple
Oura Ring - use this link for a USD $50 discount
Evie Ring - coming mid-2023
The Courage To Be Disliked - book

Other episodes you'll enjoy:
Phil Hayes-St Clair
Kath Berry
Maryon Stewart

Where to find Sonya:
Take the Midlife Quiz
Stellar Women Website

You're invited to join the We Are Stellar Women community on Facebook, a free supportive space for all women navigating the menopausal transition. Click here to join.


[00:04] Sonya: My name is Sonya Lovell, and I am obsessed with helping women navigate the magical, messy, and, let's be honest, more hysterical moments of this thing called menopause. I'm a personal trainer and breast cancer survivor turned menopause coach. I help women understand what's going on, why, and what they can do to navigate the menopausal transition. Gloss over the real talk? No way. Exhaustion, brain fog, loss of libido, loss of confidence and anxiety are just some of the topics that we'll chat about. Consider this a juicy happy hour with your new bestie and her friends. Settle in and get ready to learn and laugh. This is the Dear Menopause podcast. My guest today is Roma Vanderbilt. Roma is a fascinating woman. She has represented Germany as a professional athlete. She worked for the United Nations, and she has worked for the last seven plus years as an entrepreneur, consultant, and writer in the women's and maternal health arena. She has now moved her sites into the perimenopause and menopausal space with the founding of an incredible app that is going to be game changing called Vital. Enjoy my chat with Roma. Roma, thank you so much for joining me today. Welcome to dear menopause.

[01:34] Roma: Hi, Sonia. Thank you so much for having me. I'm really honored to be on this.

[01:39] Sonya: All right, how about we kick things off? Introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about who you are and why you're here today. So.

[01:47] Roma: My name is Roma Van der Walt. I am the founder of a startup called Vittelle. I am most likely perimenopausal at the stage. I'm the mother of two young children, so I fall in that classic category with aging parents and then children, in my case, under the age of six. And with Patel, I've created a metabolic health platform that leverages personalized lifestyle interventions and machine learning and wearables to help women improve their symptoms of perimenopause and menopause without the use of hormones.

[02:19] Sonya: Tell us a little bit about because you've got quite an extraordinary story, both your personal background and your work experience prior to this, but also what led you to move into this area of perimenopause and menopause.

[02:35] Roma: Yeah, so my background from an early age was athletics. So I grew up in Germany, and unlike in Australia, we have a system set up by the states or governments that is little athletics, and it's free, and it's a really fun way to introduce kids to movement. And then I had a father from Kenya who used to walk everywhere. So I feel like from the age of two or three, I was asked to come on these long walks and really discovered my love of endurance and distance running later on. And when I turned ten, I changed that from a passion to a profession. So I became a professional pentathlete. So in the modern pentathlon, we run, swim, ride horses, shoot guns, and fence.

[03:24] Sonya: All the fun stuff. That is so cool.

[03:28] Roma: And with that comes a lot of organizing of different training modules. And my coach was at the University of my hometown, which is one of the foremost in Germany for exercise physiology and did his PhD in training. And it was, everything was data driven. And I think that really led to me knowing early on what my resting heart rate was doing, if it was working for me or against me. I knew how important sleep was. Athletes have to sleep and you develop a love for sleep. It's not just at night, but I'm a big napper to this day. You learn to take the emotions out of it. So even now I'm fortunate that I can fall asleep within about two minutes and wake up after 22.

[04:12] Sonya: Wow, that is a skill.

[04:14] Roma: That is a skill and it's really purely it's discipline of doing it over and over again. It also helps that then you are refreshed and you can go about the second half of your day better. COVID was good for me because working from home I could do that. I briefly took a detour and went into the world of nonprofit by joining the United Nations. I had a second part of my degree outside of exercise physiology was how to apply that in communications. So I joined one of the biggest media groups in Germany and then from that went to the UN. But within a regular job, sitting down for 10 hours a day, I realized that my health suffered. And it suffered even in my twenty s. And the response from the medical system to my persistent back problems was surgery.

[05:08] Sonya: Oh wow.

[05:09] Roma: I had to find a way for myself to at the time I discovered Gyrotonics, which I loved and it was just someone who worked with movement and would expand the body and give me the mobility back that I needed. His sessions were never shorter than 3 hours. It was a commitment, but they were so gentle. And so again, methodical, there were ballerinas who would come, who had injuries just move and all of that little by little crystallized my desire to go back into health and wellness. And so I founded a company in maternal health. And there was a need in maternal health to lead women through pregnancies and the postnatal period in a safe way, but still challenging enough that they would benefit from the exercise. And you will like this because you work with women and train them, but moving away from the just sit and breathe, eat for two, don't raise your heart rate over beats per minute, when birth itself is such an inherently difficult physical experience. And then helping women as they're racing back to go back to work to find themselves both physically, mentally and emotionally. And the next stage really came from that. So women would tell me okay, so now I am a year postpartum or 18 months postpartum, but my symptoms have not subsided and I go well, how old are you? Well over 36. So you're officially advanced maternal age. So you're classified as an old mother and your stress levels go up, your life becomes busier, and then these symptoms start creeping up. You start forgetting parts of your to do list. You don't have the same resilience to stress anymore, which I find very I noticed that myself. That happy go lucky, just hop on a plane, feeling goes away. And the more I listened, the more I realized women really wanted some agency and A, understanding what was happening and when, and then B, also having time efficient, evidence based daily recommendations of how they could improve their lifestyle.

[07:23] Sonya: Yeah, well, that is a big story and I learned a lot in that story as well that I wasn't familiar with. With your background. That whole rounded story really brings you into such a prime position now with Vitelle, the company that you've founded now that we're going to talk about in a little bit, but first of all, would you like to share with us? I love the story of your run when you were in New York and you were out running. Can you share a little bit about that for the listeners? Because I think that's such a powerful story.

[07:55] Roma: Yeah, I think obviously what I just described as more the provider. I'm an exercise physiologist. I was the provider to other women. But as a like any good founder, I've had that personal, AHA moment where and I've told you this story before, I was about five months post pattern. I was on an easy run in New York. It was very humid, very hot, but, you know, I wasn't that out of shape. And I was wearing a GPS watch and a mile in or something. I noticed that my heart rate went up to over 220. And I thought, well, you know, even if we do that 220 minus my age, you know, I shouldn't be anywhere near that. I hadn't seen anything over 200 in probably ten years. I was running very slowly and I got really scared. So first I got scared, then I realized that I couldn't catch my breath. I think to this day when I tell the story, I get really choked up because I had to stop to a crawl. I had to almost get down on hands and knees. I decided at that moment that I was going to take public transport back to my apartment. But the main thing, and I think we all do this as women I beat myself up. I was so angry at my inability to have the resilience to keep going at maybe not being fit enough after just having a baby. And I said to my friend, who happens to be a pediatrician, I'm just unfit and I'm overweight, overweight. And she said, no, this is silly aroma. This is your thyroid. And there's a part of our body that I had never heard about it's, a bit like perimenopause and menopause. So she said, this is your thyroid. I said, what is my thyroid? What does this have to do with anything? I went and had it confirmed by a GP, and they said to me, well, this is actually very common. 25% of women suffer thyroid disorders in the five months after giving birth to a baby. And then for a year, they suffer from hyperthyroid, and then for the next six months, eight months, they suffer from hypothyroid. And nobody talks about it. So I just assumed I had lost some of my baby weight because of luck. When I told other women about my thyroid, 60% of them came out and said that they were already on medicine for Hashimoto's for other reasons. And they said, oh, you're so lucky. You have the skinny thyroid disease. And I said, you don't understand. I'm suffering hot flushes. I have incredible anxiety, crippling anxiety. I was crying every day. I went from loving my husband to hating my husband in the span of ten minutes. And he was the one that also noticed the change. And so my GP said, you have two options. You can go on this medicine for the rest of your life, or you can try and figure it out yourself and then just come back when you feel better or don't.

[10:58] Sonya: Wow.

[11:01] Roma: And I said, I'm 35. I'm not going on medicine for the rest of my life. I talked to a few people and they said, with this type of medicine, you go higher in dose and higher in dose and higher end dose until your thyroid gives up its function. And I said, that's too early to make that decision. So I applied what we do now. I really forced all the healers and practitioners that I knew to marry the different approaches and remove the silos to help me through it. And then the most satisfying part was to go back to an endocrinologist who was younger than me for the first time in my life. And she said, don't bother with this. A little bit of traditional Chinese medicine and the nutrition and all that. She said, I can tell you right now, we're going to take your bloods and then I'll put you on that medication and I got a complete clean bill of health.

[11:55] Sonya: So my blood so your bloods came back and had changed so much.

[12:00] Roma: And she didn't know what to say. She actually said to me, she said, I don't know what you did, and I don't know how you did it, but I can bestow the highest honor on you that I bestow on women, which is that even if you choose to have another child right now, I would let you do that without going on medicine and know that your baby would be absolutely healthy. Wow.

[12:22] Sonya: It's such an interesting story to hear a specialist be presented with such definitive results that you had gone and done the leg work for and you had done all of the work. And I love your approach to taking all the different helpers that you could find and then removing those silos and weaving them together yourself. I mean, obviously you have an incredible background to be able to do that, have that reaction from her of, well, I can tell you now we're going to do your bloods and you're going to go onto the meds and then to really turn that 180 degrees around is incredible. So well done. That's quite a feat. And as much as that's almost a heroic story, it's such a sad story in so many respects as well because of the women that don't have that capability to do what you were able to do. And in those situations their only option becomes to take the meds that they're prescribed.

[13:26] Roma: Yeah, it's sad. I think we almost become professional patients and perimenopause exacerbates that because there are so many symptoms. So a person could really dig in with hot flashes or hot flashes just to then find that she's suffering from fatigue and needs to and then she's told she needs to see somebody else for that. There's a huge issue of accessibility. There's a big issue of equity in different socioeconomic backgrounds. And not surprising, people in lower socioeconomic, with lower socioeconomic incomes actually suffer more severely from these symptoms because they're also dealing with the livelihood. I think it's changing but there's more happening now. There's a capacity issue of providers. So I hate that we always bash GPS and MDS for their lack of education. It's partially not their fault because it's also their educator's fault. But Corbett has burned them out and they already were under so much stress to make appointments short and now they're probably also lacking in the resilience to listen to everybody more deeply. So I think in a way creating a solution where women have more agency and also go into appointments more educated and more prepared means that these appointments are more effective and valuable to everyone. And I think in the future what we'll see is that remote patient monitoring will become more of a thing where doctors can just use and I've heard this already being done in post op for medically induced menopause, but this was just for post surgery that you apply a system like a stoplight. So if the patient is tracking and self reporting and everything is going along really nicely, it's green and the doctor doesn't have to worry at yellow or orange, they would probably have a look. And at red, this is when the doctor picks up the phone or sends an email and says, look, make an appointment and see me on telehealth or come in. And it makes it easier for everyone.

[15:42] Sonya: Yeah, which great system. Great system and it's great to see that being rolled out in those environments and I hope that that is something that we see in the future, not too far away. So tell us about Vitelle, the company that you've found. It introduced us to Vitelle, what your hopes are with that, where you see this going into the future.

[16:05] Roma: Yeah. So Vitelle is really trying to look at metabolic health for women rather than hormonal health. There are already great companies that do a great job with educating on hormone replacement therapy, but also then helping women in the US, which is we're looking at Australia and the US. In the US, there's big companies like Ever now, where you can get your prescription by subscription so that you have no gaps, which is a big problem in Australia, especially regionally and rurally. When we started, we surveyed 100 women and we really asked them about their most severe symptoms. We asked them about their fears and their hopes for this next stage in life. And so metabolic health and health span, which is really the quality of life as we live longer, is now getting more momentum and it's getting more attention because metabolic health markets are more stable. I think, again, it's something that the patient or the user needs to know. Your hormones fluctuate day to day and within the day. So if your blood test is taken at the wrong time, it may not give a complete image of what is going on.

[17:23] Sonya: No, I was just going to ask if you can just for anyone that's listening that doesn't understand the difference between metabolic health, can you just explain that? Expand on that a little bit for us. Yeah.

[17:33] Roma: So metabolic health markers, the way they can be tested is we look at the complete physiology of a person through their blood. So we would look at things like your fasting glucose levels of sugar, which can be a determinant for diabetes, or type two diabetes. We would look at your lipid levels, we can look at things like your liver enzymes, which contribute to your health. And, wellbeing, there are key vitamins, especially for the perimenopause transitions that are often overlooked, like K and E, which are linked to heavy bleeding, and they're linked to menstrual pain, vitamin B, twelve, and vitamin D. We know about those. And then iron, magnesium, calcium. And so we want to look at the person wholly. Holistic has this negative connotation. Everybody thinks that means burning sage and.

[18:27] Sonya: Walking charging crystals in the moonlight.

[18:34] Roma: Who knows? We're very closely related to the moon, so I'm not against that. But there are very clear markers that go up or down that you can look at. And all of these have classifications within blood panels, so they are known to doctors. It's just about asking doctors to do the right combination for the right age group. Metabolic health, some of it is determined by our age and our genes, and we can't change those, but we can mitigate factors like sleep and our activity and stress. And then metabolic health is linked to potential chronic conditions later on. So heart disease, thyroid disease, kidney and liver disease. And I heard this crazy statistic that two in three women will die from a heart related condition, and that's much higher than breast cancer.

[19:31] Sonya: Yeah, I've heard that as well. And it's something that we need to be speaking more about because there are so many factors and lifestyle factors that we can control that can let you say mitigate. That becoming an issue down the track. And we do, we talk about breast cancer and other cancers and cholesterol and things like that so much. But heart disease for women is a really big deal.

[20:00] Roma: Yeah. So really our hope going forward is we want to give women the power and the agency to understand the symptoms. So in the app that we've now made available, you can read up on the symptoms as one big part. You can track those symptoms, which I find actually really cute. You can track days where there's nothing wrong. We never do that, never flip it on its head and say, tracking is such a negative connotation. But for every day that you're feeling well, you get a little gold star. We encourage women to collect rewards. So over the course of one week, we have set sort of a goal of how many recommendations would be great for you to do, and we move away from just analyzing past data. So right now, if you have an Apple Watch or an URL ring, there's a lot of what happened behind you. But what we really want to do is we want to move that into warning you. So if you're in a particular part of your cycle and you're self reporting that you're tired but your body should be feeling pretty okay, we want to be able to alert you to what you could change in order to get back on track. Someone said to me, if we could build that into their travel calendar so that when they're traveling, they know what part of their cycle they're in and what that means. Will they be more stressed out? Will they get their period? We want women to understand when they apply these very logical things. So none of our recommendations are that difficult to understand or that difficult to do. But there's simple things like combining your iron intake with vitamin C to enhance its absorption and not coupling it with coffee, which everybody does. I just heard that if you combine turmeric with black pepper, you increase its absorption by 2000%.

[21:48] Sonya: Wow. And turmeric is such an incredible I'm going to say herb spice, but as it's used particularly in the natural therapy world, incredible anti inflammatory properties and heart health, I think, as well. It's a bit of a wonder. It's a superfood. Thank you. I've lost my words there. Yeah, it's a superfood. It's incredible. And it's something that is so simple to add into your diet and to add into your food.

[22:18] Roma: Yeah. And it's not expensive. And so we want women to understand that they can do these things. We want them to understand how their biometrics work for them or against them. Resting heart rate is still something I find when I talk to women, is not understood how incredibly valuable it is. So, for example, when your arresting heart rate goes up consistently over a few days, you're either getting sick or your inflammation is higher. And that just means your sympathetic fight of light nervous system is working overtime. And then I think we're seeing a lot of movement in all these spaces through doctors, neuroscientists, and exercise physiologists like Dr. Huberman, peter Athier and David Sinclair. But I still find that it's not geared towards women. They talk about topics like lifting heavy and strength training is important, but they talk about eccentric movements. And the basics I find are just, okay, what does this mean? And when this changes, what can I do to mitigate that? The first part is really having a free app for women to use this data and understand it and then apply things that will make them feel better. And then later on, we really want to move towards what I said, working with functional medicine doctors or GPS and help them monitor patients better from afar. For these symptoms, a big area of concern is medically induced menopause through cancer. There's a subsegment within a subsegment that is completely overlooked. A lot of women cannot go on hormone replacement therapy. So yeah, so my vision is really to improve women's health, starting with this particular vertical and then helping the up to 1 billion women apparently that will be affected by these symptoms by 2025, or at least a large portion of them, to have agency to improve.

[24:21] Sonya: That amazing. I have a couple of questions for you. Out of that, I'm going to backtrack to one of them, but my first one is so exactly where are you at right now in the development of the app? The use of the app tell us a little bit and how can any woman that is interested in being involved, how can she do that?

[24:39] Roma: Yeah, so we just launched our app in its first version or beta on iOS and on Android. And if you look for Vitelle plus Perimenopause and Perimenopause, you should see it right away. What we're doing right now is we're trying to get as many people to sign up so we can test some of our hypotheses. In conjunction with that, we are rolling out webinars that are free for women to talk about specific symptoms. And the first one is going to be fatigue because fatigue really affects everything. When you're tired, you don't eat well, you don't move well. You could become anxious or depressed. And I'm in talks with Monash University to do more work in that area, to just improve that and find ways to prove objectively that somebody is less tired. For now everything around sleep and exhaustion is either in a meme or it's self reported. For women when you take A, if you listen to them and hear them I think that already improves their wellbeing and then if you tell a woman physiologically that she's improved then that's a very strong placebo effect for her to find the energy to do these micro changes to then actually improve further. So right now we would love for people to join us in these webinars. We open them up for ten people at a time. We want it to feel intimate, it's anonymous. If nobody has to be on camera they're going to be on zoom on camera. You can ask questions in the chat. And what we're doing again there we're going to use all the best recommendations from the four different disciplines. So we do nutrition, exercise, mindfulness and then the last one is traditional Chinese medicine and on the app we're basically looking at what people respond to the most so people can play around. There's a chat function where people can write back and the good days suggestion came from a user actually.

[26:46] Sonya: Cool.

[26:46] Roma: I want to log my good days.

[26:49] Sonya: Yeah, I want to celebrate my good days.

[26:51] Roma: So right now it's really everybody's opportunity to help us make this the best product. Not for them individually or for me, but to maybe discredit some of my hypothesis and just say I like this but I think if you did that it would work better for me and then we can test them.

[27:07] Sonya: Amazing. And I will make sure I will link in the show notes. So for anyone that's listening that a wants to find the app, be the webinars or CB involved, I will share every detail possible into the show notes for everyone to go find all of those information. So the question that I was going to come back to is around wearables because this is an area that I'm fascinated by. I have worn wearables. I am dating myself. So I'm going to say probably 2005 onwards was probably when I first started wearing like the Polar heart rate monitor when I was working out, tracking my heart rate during my exercise and, you know, my calorie burn, that sort of thing. And that for me has been a constant and has evolved over time as wearables have evolved. And now, as everybody that listens knows, I wear an aura ring and I'm fascinated about where that is going to take us in the future. But also how do we introduce women that perhaps unlike me haven't been wearing wearables or haven't realized that the Apple Watch that they're wearing can actually be such a powerful source of data and information? How do we normalize the wearing of wearables for women?

[28:21] Roma: Yeah, I'm like you. So I remember Chafing from my Polar heart rate swap as young as age twelve and I hated it and I'm so impressed with what's come out. Since then, I've worn them all. I've had the whoop and I've had the aura. And I've discussed with several other women who are really passionate about sort of the shortcomings of each of them. Apparently, the whoop is not waterproof. Parts of it are not waterproof.

[28:51] Sonya: Yeah. I had a whoop for a while. That was my first step before I got the aura. I got a lot of skin irritation from the whoop, and I found it unattractive to wear. That was my other thing with it.

[29:06] Roma: But you're right. Yeah. I think, again, designing with women in mind, so we have the whoop and then aura. Oura for me, presents a problem if I use it for exercise, if I'm actually carrying things.

[29:20] Sonya: Yes.

[29:21] Roma: Using kettlebells or barbells or dumbbells. I wouldn't know where to put the aura ring without it pinching.

[29:28] Sonya: Yeah. I've taken mine off, actually, quite a few times. When I've done been doing heavy lead deadlifts or Olympic lifts where you need to have that movement through your hands with the bar. It does cause a problem. I totally agree.

[29:40] Roma: Yeah. And now there's a new ring that has come out specifically for women called the Evie.

[29:46] Sonya: Okay.

[29:47] Roma: So very excited about that. I just saw the announcement on LinkedIn a few days ago, so I'm curious to see how exactly it's going to differ. I've heard from people that they men, they said, oh, I have an aura ring and an Apple Watch. So when I exercise, I use one device, and then when I yeah, sorry.

[30:07] Sonya: I didn't mean to be rude. Then.

[30:10] Roma: Everything that you wear, your aura ring on your middle finger. Because I've used it on my index finger.

[30:15] Sonya: Yeah. And when I received mine, that was the recommendation of where to wear it. But for me, that was really uncomfortable and quite unnatural, which was why I put it onto my middle finger. Yeah. And I have noticed most people do. So I have been intrigued as to or curious, I guess, about whether there is a difference in, I suppose, the validity of some of the data that's collected as a result of me wearing it on a different finger.

[30:43] Roma: Yeah. So I think as we're talking about this and we're laughing because we obviously know the devices, I find that the way they were marketed there was Fitbit, which now feels like 1999.

[30:56] Sonya: It does.

[30:57] Roma: They're working really hard at revamping their image. And I know it's it's a good technology, but they haven't quite come out of that lull and or that valley that they went into when everybody else came up. URA, for the longest time, marketed itself with Olympians, which is tough, because as a woman, I hear the word performance a lot thrown around. And the main thing there was this meme on Instagram about the perpetually exhausted pigeon. We really just want to come out of that space like we want to function. And that. Includes me. And I love being very fit and love I've run marathons and I still do when I can. So don't get me wrong, I will throw myself into any challenge, but 80% of my life right now is just getting through my to do list, my daily work, my children, my relationship. So I think part is with those companies to start realizing what an incredible opportunity they have in marketing it differently or prompt and maybe finding ambassadors that are less intimidating.

[32:07] Sonya: Yeah, it's valid points. Really valid points.

[32:11] Roma: Yeah. And also age. Now we're talking not only are we all sorts of IST, but ageist is a big one. So if people think that having an ambassador mid forty s to mid 50s is not that attractive or my biggest pet peeve was when on just just like that, charlotte proposes to her husband with the aura ring as if this was just for him. She hands in the aura ring and goes down on one knee and says, you should really wear this for your health and for your heart health. And I'm thinking no, you should too.

[32:48] Sonya: You should be. And we can also extend that into the peloton with Big. It was Big that was using the peloton in the bathroom, not Carrie.

[32:58] Roma: Yeah. So I think there's more talk now about perimenopause and menopause and mainstream media. There are more movies and shows that are building it in beyond just the woman getting the hot flush. And I think the same needs to happen with these wearables. And then it comes down to you and me, people like you and me, to talk about things that go that are not just two men sitting in a black T shirt being really buff and cool and talk about they go on walks and they put on weighted vests. We walk around with groceries all day. We walk around with children strapped to us. We can barely get on the floor to do one yoga pose without one kid jumping on us or someone interrupting us. So you're if we can just get more women involved to having these conversations and then also just being the conduit to talking about this in a non intimidating way, in a way that isn't overly scientific, then I think we can tap into something that I'm seeing emerge among the women that I work with who are already saying they say, So what did you think about this last podcast by insert man number one or man number two? And I go, It's really great. And they go, well, what is an eccentric squad? You don't need to do that. Like, you can just do a regular squad squad. I think there's going to be an explosion in those devices. I'm seeing headbands for better sleep. So I think the Zeitgeist is there to hear about it. And the other thing that I just go deep into is then how do I explain to people resting heart rate. How do I explain to people that actually tracking your calories, as much as it can be triggering is a good thing? So you have a rough idea what you're doing. I want people to walk away from the 10,000 steps because it's a metric that doesn't correspond to anything else.

[35:05] Sonya: It's just an arbitrary number that somebody decided one day was a good point.

[35:09] Roma: To measure the figure you are for me, 10,000 steps, if I wanted to move from the needle down, doesn't do anything anymore.

[35:16] Sonya: No, but you've also then got the opposite to that as well, where you've got let's talk about women. You've got women who do really struggle to hit that 10,000 step goal. But if we were to say, okay, well, what if today it was 5000 steps and that for you is an improvement, that for you, becomes your new benchmark, but there is so much pressure to achieve this 10,000 steps that anything less than that feels like a failure.

[35:45] Roma: Well, and that's where data is really powerful in predicting. Right. If we can say to someone, well, if you've consistently been at 3000 steps and that for you, was where your body adapted to now burning more, it's important for women to understand that even 4000 steps or 5000 steps is an incredible achievement and an incredible improvement. And for that, they need to understand what to read and where to get that from. And luckily, even in its most basic version, you can get that off of any phone. And you don't need to have the external device because they're also expensive. And within Vitelle in the app, we integrate with any device. So as long as it goes through your Health app or the Google Fit app, then you will be able to have a very easy to read panel that tells you what's going on. And then you get little alerts when your trends either show an improvement or deterioration.

[36:44] Sonya: Amazing. I think that's incredible, and I really do believe that it is the way forward for women in particular, but obviously also for the general population. Roma, what are your hopes? Where would you like to see this conversation be in five years time?

[37:06] Roma: In five years time. Well, I want to see you on a Ted Talk.

[37:12] Sonya: Thank you.

[37:14] Roma: Yes, I would love to see you just take all this wisdom and knowledge that you've gotten through the interviews and share that with a broader population in five years. I would really like us to understand fertility and post fertility better. There's a woman that has been advising me and is a great mentor who's actively working on trying to push reproductive health and longevity back because women are now negatively impacted in their careers if they have to have their children in their 30s. So in five years time, I think we'll get closer to that, which will then make us more equal with our partners and our counterparts at work. I would like to see more of a collaboration with our medical system and not undermining or playing down the incredible effects of some of these ancient systems and healing modalities that have existed for a long time. I would like to see that research that is now beginning, that traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture is one of the best way to comprehensively address perimenopause and menopause. I would like for us to be at the state that we are with our young women right now. So now, when I spoke to women in their 50s, their daughters are incredibly knowledgeable. So these women have taken up, taken it upon themselves to sit down there. They're young women, before they get their period and explain to them their options. They explain to them that this is not something to fear, that it's not a disease, but that it will have to adjust. And I think we need to help women in perimenopausal. Menopause also get that feeling of you're not falling off a cliff. You don't become invisible. There are incredible matriarchal societies, both in humankind and then in animal worlds that show us that this can be the reality. And we will all have to make changes, even if we take pharmaceuticals or medicine. And I would love for women to show us how it's done. So anybody who is a few years ahead of me, I just salute them. And honestly, I see women ten years older than me still in perimenopause and just crushing it. And I go, that's exactly what I want to look like. This is how I want to perform in my career. This is the freedom I'll have when my children are teenagers and they're not me 24/7. I'm excited for this. So in five years, you and I, with our children, older, I think we were just talking about how fit we are, what holidays we're going to go on.

[39:53] Sonya: Yes, amazing. I love all of that, and I truly hope for all of those things in five years time as well. And I do believe that we are on the path to achieving those things. Thank you, Roma. Let's wrap things up as I ask all my guests at the end of our interview, what are you reading, watching or listening to right now that is bringing you joy?

[40:14] Roma: So I've been listening to an audio book, which is also available in print on Audible, called The Courage to Be Disliked. And it's steeped in the Japanese phenomenon that shows you how to free yourself, change your life, and achieve real happiness. And as a woman, I definitely suffer from the syndrome where I try to be liked a lot to my detriment. And I found that just reading, it's a conversation between a teacher and his student and these assumptions we have about life, what will make us happy. And it's not an easy book to get through, even listening. So I find I have to listen to a chapter at a time, and then I have to absorb it. So it takes a while, but it's good. I always come back to it.

[41:01] Sonya: Yeah, cool. That's an awesome suggestion. And I'm going to go look that one up and I will link through in the show notes for anyone else that is interested. It sounds like a valuable read. Roma, thank you so very much for your time today. I have a feeling we'll be revisiting our conversation as everything develops for you and for Vital, which I'm really excited about, and I hope that we can continue to collaborate and that I will continue to have some involvement in the future of Vitelle as well. I think that's really cool.

[41:31] Roma: I really love talking to you, Sonia, so thank you for this opportunity.

[41:38] Sonya: Thank you for listening today. I am so grateful to have these conversations with incredible women and experts, and I'm grateful that you chose to hit play on this episode of Dear Menopause. If you have a minute of time today, please leave a rating or a review. I would love to hear from you because you are my biggest driver for doing this work. If this chat went way too fast for you and you want more, head over to Au podcast for the show notes. And while you're there, take my Midlife quiz to see why it feels like Midlife is messing with your head.