In 2008, former Sun newspaper national columnist and trends writer Ann Marie McQueen packed five suitcases and moved from Canada to the Middle East to join journalists from around the world in launching The National newspaper, where she became the features editor. In 2018 she was hired to launch Livehealthy, the first health and wellness online magazine and podcast for men and women in the Middle East. Now, she’s launched hotflash inc, a global platform covering the entire menopause transition. Read on to learn about the books and ideas that inspire her and why she thinks 50 is the best age yet.
What’s one practice, goal, or purpose that helps get you out of bed each day?
For about the last year I’ve been replacing breakfast with Bulletproof coffee: I whip up organic, grass-fed ghee, MCT oil and some cinnamon in my Nutribullet. It’s delicious and easy and holds me over until noon. That will get me out of bed over most things.
When and where do you feel the most centered?
Either hanging out with my niece and nephew back in Canada, doing a compelling interview, or writing or working on hotflash inc. Kayaking in the mangroves in Abu Dhabi is pretty good too.
What’s made a difference in how you feel lately?
In a one-two shot I read Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller and The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, and they have ended up being two of the most pivotal books I’ve ever read. Learning about my attachment style and our tendency to have an upper limit problem has helped me to understand my behaviour and make progress, both in relationships and work.
What’s one thing you try to remember each day?
No context, no comparison. Comparison is the thief of joy anyway, and people often seem to be having a whale of a time when they are not. So I don’t get to compare myself to anyone else and come out wanting, because I don’t even have half the story, and I don’t live in their head.
What’s a product or life hack that’s saving your sanity?
My lightweight Rooster laptop stand. I take it everywhere and people always stop and ask where I got it (I bought it after it was recommended by Tim Ferris, in his awesome 5-Bullet Friday newsletter, which I also recommend). I really need that and an external keyboard and mouse or I screw up my neck.
What’s one good habit you’ve cultivated recently?
I’ve been doing Wim Hof breathing exercises every morning. I went to a Wim Hof workshop in Dubai just before the pandemic and sat in ice water for two minutes and lived to tell the tale. It was an amazing day. But since that’s kind of hard to achieve, I make sure to take cold showers and do the breathing exercises, which you can find easily on YouTube. I do the three-round version, so it’s 11 minutes to zen.
What’s your biggest challenge right now?
This is the first time I’ve launched something of my own. I launched a website in 2018, Livehealthy, but we had a small startup team, so there were people to bounce things off of and someone to do social media. Hotflash inc is all me, and I’m constantly battling this feeling that there is some better, easier way to be doing half the stuff I’m doing, if I could only find it. It can get overwhelming figuring out every single aspect myself, and there is so much to do I could work all the time.
What’s the best part?
I had the best year of my life so far, in a pandemic! Since turning 50 in 2020 I’ve found a level of peace and confidence I’ve been searching for my whole life. A ton of inner work is paying off; I’ve got purpose, passion and romance—which besides health makes me rich!
What’s on your nightstand?
I have a knock-off Theragun that my pilot friend brought me back from China. A bottle of lavender that I sniff if I wake up in the middle of the night. My journal and books: Right now I’m reading The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste, which is about how African women went to war when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, and Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty.
If you could name one book, show, or podcast that’s speaking to where you’re at, what would it be?
I am absolutely obsessed with the American comedian Theo Von’s podcast This Past Weekend. Theo is hilarious in such a smart, subversive way, and he’s really open about how he struggles emotionally, with how he’s always felt different, being vulnerable. You feel the pain and joy of life when you listen to this show. It’s a super-comforting podcast but it also makes me laugh out loud regularly. I like to think of other men following his lead emotionally.
How are you managing your health?
I have a range of perimenopause symptoms that ebb and flow. They include anxiety and depression, sleep issues, sore breasts, headaches, stiff neck, brain fog, dry eyes and just being overwhelmed. But I live in the United Arab Emirates, and there really isn’t a reliable stream of HRT or bioidenticals to turn to. (I could really use Evernow!) So I take a range of supplements—Pycnogenol and magnesium glycinate are essentials—and make sure to eat really well, manage my stress, exercise. If I don’t, things kind of go to hell for a bit.
How do you feel about your career?
I feel really lucky right now. Because I have a great paying gig that I love, as editor and podcast host of the first online health and wellness magazine for men and women from the Middle East. And I have time to pursue my baby, hotflash inc.
Do you have a mentor or a mentee and what has that relationship meant to you?
Our social media manager is in her early 20s and I love to talk to her. She soaks up information and context, things I’ve learned from my career. But I learn a ton from her too! She is so smart, savvy and switched on, and wise.
Do you have an object in your house that inspires you?
I had been trying to find a Bellicon mini trampoline for two years when the pandemic magically brought me one: a friend who wanted to bounce to offset her osteoporosis diagnosis found a studio that was selling a few. I love doing a trampoline workout along to the app LEKFIT so much that it’s kept me in really good shape. Jumping on that thing never fails to turn my mood around, so just looking at it makes me happy.