Managing Menopause

Anu_Prestonia

When my friend Patricia Patton of Boomer Wiz informed me that, “Menopause will take you off your game, Girl,”  she never lied.  We all know that menopause is different for every woman.  Some women have little to no symptoms, some have few symptoms and other women experience it all.

I didn’t begin to have any symptoms until after my 56th birthday.  Since the symptoms took so long to come, I thought I had dodged the menopause challenges.  I thought I’d go skipping into the next stage of my life like a young girl.  Ha!

The first thing that occurred was intermittent menstrual cycles.  That, I didn’t mind.  I had had plenty of experience with that almost all my life.  I never knew when my cycle would show up.  Then when I turned 46 or so, I suddenly began having regular cycles, every 28-30 days it became like clockwork.  So I didn’t mind the intermittent cycle.  After all, I couldn’t wait to stop having a cycle.  Careful what you wish for…

In the next phase, I began noticing a warming of my body from time to time.  Oh, I thought that was cute at first, because it was quite mild and I had always suffered from being cold and I still do.  I am typically cold, really cold until I get hot, and then I’m really hot.  The heat itself is bad enough, but what happens before I get hot is the part that gives me pause, literally.  I feel sick and I feel irritable and it all happens in a 60-second timeframe.  It passes and then I become hot.

I have found a few ways to deal with the hot flashes, that has minimized how much I sweat and how often.  The flashes have been curtailed considerably since I cut from my diet most foods that generate heat.  Did you know that some foods have a cooling effect?  Yes, watery foods like watermelon, all melons, cucumbers, bell peppers and lettuce all cool the body.

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Then there are foods that generate heat and those are the ones that make food quite exciting, such as onions, garlic, hot peppers, chili, and all hot spices like mustard, cumin, ginger, and curry just to name a few.  Some spices you may not think of as hot include cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Other items that create heat include caffeine, alcohol, and sweets.  Ahhh yes, the fun stuff all create heat in the body.  So I’ve cut back on much of this as often as I am able.

There are two different supplements that I did try.  Estroven worked exceedingly well for the first six months.  Then it just stopped working at all.  I attributed that change to a few too many glasses of red wines during the holiday season.  I didn’t mind because in the back of my mind, I had concerns about all the ways I heard that estrogen is linked to breast cancer.  The other remedy that I tried for the hot flashes is a Chinese herb called Da Bu Yin Wan.   I took the pellet form.  This herb works slowly and over time.  I’m at a point where the flashes are manageable by drinking lots of water, so I’m taking nothing now and just dealing with the heat.

The next challenge is the one that caused me to gain weight and weigh more than I had even weighed in my life,  and that was sleepless nights.  I had always been the type that was early to sleep and early to rise.  When I say early to rise, I mean around 6:00 a.m.  But nowadays I invariably awaken between 2:00 a.m. to 4:30 a.m.  And I noticed what would wake me would be my body getting warm, a hot flash.  Sometimes I am able to fall back to sleep and other times not so much, which caused me to be extremely tired in the morning and the thought of trying to work-out, to exercise was out of the question.  And that’s when the weight began to creep upon me.  I hadn’t realized that I had kept my weight consistent via regular exercise.  Since I hadn’t had a weight problem it wasn’t the reason I was exercising.  I was exercising just to feel good and be healthy.  This was the first time my clothes, clothes I’d had for years, were no longer fitting.

Summer berries in bowl

This past summer without realizing it at first, I lost all my menopause weight without consciously trying.  I’ll give you the quick and dirty version.  First of all most of the food I eat is natural and organic, which is healthier to begin with.  But without really planning to do so, I began to eat a late breakfast, around 11:00, a late lunch between 2:00-4:00 and then for dinner I would have watermelon or a fruit salad.  Not eating heavy meals in the evening really made a huge difference.  I’m back to my ‘normal’ size.

Let me just say that I do not eat watermelon before June or after September because I live in a climate that is cold from October to May.  It is not good to eat foods that generate cold when it is cold outside.  So no more watermelon right now, instead I am doing berry salads and other fruit salads.  If you decide to try this, you may consider smoothies or salads, or something light like Sushi for that evening meal.

My menopause and its symptoms are not all over yet, but I have monitored my attitude and internal conversation about it, to be more positive.  In addition, I try my best to go with the flow.  I know longer am anxious about being up at strange hours.  I recently began reading books at that hour instead of trolling on social media.  Or I’ll do some type of modified version of yoga.  Speaking of which, since I lost that extra weight, I am now able to do a yoga pose that had become difficult with the extra weight.

It is said that this stage of a woman’s life is the Crone Stage, the stage of developing wisdom and deeper internal development.  It is the autumn of her life, a time for reflection, introspection and increased intuition and awareness.  It’s a time that we move into our full power as we dive deeper within.  So let’s embrace this stage and be in accord with the magic it has to offer, symptoms and all.

 

18 Comments

  1. Farah October 13, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Thank you for being so generous with your experience and advice! You are such an inspiring model.

    • anu October 14, 2015 at 7:09 am

      You’re welcome Farah. It was something I battled with sharing because we are taught to hide this stage of our lives. No one wants to hear about a woman’s discomfort. But thankfully we’re at a time in this world where women are beginning to be as concerned about themselves as they are about others and we are reclaiming our power in all its stages.

  2. Debra Spruill October 13, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    I offer a tip to help with your sleep. Put one of your feet out from under the cover. It helps to cool your heat flashes. I am near the end of my menopausal phase but still can experience a personal summer on occasion, especially if I eat or drink caffeine or those hot foods you reference. And thanks for sharing.
    — Debra S.

    • anu October 14, 2015 at 7:03 am

      Thanks for the tip Debra! Many nights my entire body is up from under the covers. Thanks so much.

  3. Melissa October 13, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    Thank you for sharing how you manage menopause. You look great! Thank you for promoting a healthy lifestyle regardless of age.

    • anu October 14, 2015 at 7:02 am

      Thank you Melissa! You’re so welcome!

  4. Raza "Ayanna" Ram October 13, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    I was diagnosed as post-menopausal at 47 yrs. old with no one to talk to. Thank you for sharing. Acupuncture helped when the hot flashes and night sweats were really taking a toll. I’m overweight for the first time in my life. Still struggling to change my diet since I’ve been an emotional eater my entire life.

    • anu October 14, 2015 at 7:01 am

      My Dear Raza, I am glad to know you found this of value. It is very unfortunate that you felt there was no one to talk to. I have noticed on FaceBook that there are some menopause groups. But I’ve found none that are by and for women of African descent. I tried starting one when I first began this journey, but it was difficult to engage people… In any event, there are great books on the subject. Have you heard of The Wisdom of Menopause by Chirstaine Northrop? Check that out for starters. And you can always reach out to me at anu@anuessentials.com

  5. Linda Ridley October 14, 2015 at 6:48 am

    Thank you as always for your spirit and insight. I write this at 5 am after being awakened by night sweats. Your food suggestions are well taken, and I want to do more reading on the Crone stage!

    • anu October 14, 2015 at 6:53 am

      You are so welcome Linda. Unfortunately, in this young culture we live in, a woman’s worth, especially as she grows older and wiser is dismissed and ignored. It’s time for us to reclaim our power. If you haven’t read Women Who Run With The Wolves, I highly recommend it.

  6. Brigitte McKinney October 14, 2015 at 10:53 am

    You continue to be a pioneer and I thank you for sharing your personal journey. Embracing menopause as a normal phase of life and creating a positive inner dialogue with oneself are very helpful in making it through the challenging symptoms. Talking openly helps us all recognize the personal power we all have within us. Much love and respect to you, Anu, as always.

    • anu October 14, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      OMG Brigitte, you’ve brought me to tears. Yes indeed, it is time for us to all recognize and share our personal power.

  7. Gina October 15, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    Thank you for sharing! Most people only complain about how horrific menopause is and suffering seems inevitable without hormones! I love the go with the flow approach you’ve taken and feel empowered for when my time comes.

    • anu October 21, 2015 at 6:56 am

      Thank you Gina! I am impressed that someone like yourself who is not yet there has the interest and took the time to read this. I decided to go with the flow, because no matter how often we say no, the Universe always says yes, to what is. You will do well with this when it does come. Continue blessings, Bright One!

  8. Maya Nettles October 15, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    I want to thank you for writing your piece on menopause. I recently found out that I have early menopause because of my illness so I appreciate the helpful information that you shared. I don’t take any hormone replacements, I’m just living through the symptoms. It can be uncomfortable with the hot flashes and weight gain but I’ve been able to adjust so far. Your advice has been helpful and I plan on applying some of your suggestions in my life.

    • anu October 21, 2015 at 7:00 am

      Hi Maya, I could have sworn I had responded to your message before. I am grateful that you found something here of value that can help you through. I hear that many celebs take hormones so that they can avoid the symptoms. With it being so difficult for them in the entertainment business first as women and than as older women; breaking out in a sweat wouldn’t go over to well with those who hire. I am glad we as women are gaining our voices in addressing this natural phenom. I am inspired to know that despite your pain and discomfort you choose to work through the symptoms. Keep up the good work.

  9. B'jai Francis October 20, 2015 at 3:23 am

    Thx Anu. Always good to hear how others deal w similar. I’m not having any flashes for months now but might again. At least u get a break n as someone w Lupus who have had to deal with lots of pain, I always say, well at least it DOesn’t hurt.

    • anu October 21, 2015 at 6:53 am

      B’jai, the tenacity one must have to manage Lupus is beyond my imagination. It would seem in a fair world that one wouldn’t have to deal with a major illness and menopause. Thanks for reminding me I have no right to complain. I am glad to know this has been of some value to you.

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