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.
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.
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.