I am 51 years old and I feel like I have been going through menopause for forever! It started for me when I was 47, four years ago, and it is not finished with me yet. Oh the joys of being a woman!
Menopause started for me, as with most women, with sporadic periods which were all over the map in terms of their length and flow. Some months were really light and others were so heavy I'd have to change every hour. It was difficult to be prepared. But eventually they stopped completely. I can't say I miss them.
That was the easy part. The things that are hardest to deal with are the hot flashes, moodiness and sudden weight gain. I think I gained 10lbs overnight!!!
When I was in my early 20's I was diagnosed with endometriosis and the treatment was a hormonal nasal spray I took for 6 months that put me into temporary menopause. During this time I experienced some hot flashes but they were manageable and I knew it was temporary so it didn't seem so bad. The hot flashes I get now, if I'm not following the methods I'll tell you shortly, are crazy! They start with a nauseous feeling in my belly and next thing I know sweat is dripping off my forehead, as though I'm in the middle of a really rough workout!. I can barely think I'm so hot. And all I can think of is how ridiculous I must look right now! Does the person I'm talking to notice? What are they thinking?
And the weight gain, sigh, I thought I was doing really well with my weight. I work out, I eat really well, after all I'm a Personal Trainer and Health Coach, I've got this covered! NOT! I literally gained 10lbs in what seemed like one day and nothing I was doing would take it off.
Of course the weight gain, embarrassing hot flashes and change in my hormone levels didn't help my moods. I didn't like how I looked. I felt like a fraud as someone who helps other people lose weight. Sometimes I just felt down for no apparent reason. I didn't want to socialize and I would get anxious about every day activities like going to the grocery store (not that I ever really enjoy grocery shopping-it's a pet peeve of mine)!
At first I thought all these things would work themselves out in a few months and I could wait it out. However, after 18 months I knew I had to do something because this wasn't just going to stop. I turned more to my spiritual practice to help with my moods and feelings, attending a local Soul Healing Group, making sure I attended yoga classes, and meditated. I decided I needed to try something new to lose the weight since I was already exercising enough and my diet was pretty good.
I came across a 28 day Intermittent Fasting (IF) Challenge. I had researched IF before but it really didn't appeal to me. I don't do well going for long periods of time without eating, ask my family, they are very familiar with the bear that takes over if I'm too hungry! LOL! However, I wanted to know more about the challenge, how it worked, how long do you fast for etc. What I found was this program did a gradual increase of the fasting time with a goal of fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8. You could drink water, black tea and black coffee during fasting times. The hours you ate during were set by your schedule.
I decided I had nothing to lose if I went into this challenge with no expectations and more as an experiment to be able to give my clients more information. So I committed to starting with 12 hours of fasting and 12 hours of eating and increasing to 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating over the 28 days, giving myself a break on the weekends when meals tend to be less scheduled.
The first week was tough, especially if I wasn't eating a proper lunch. So I made a good lunch a priority, something I've always struggled with (I hate taking the time to prep and eat during the busy day). When I ate enough during the day I wasn't hungry in the evening and didn't even feel like snacking! I began to sleep better and felt more energy! And by the end of the 28 days I'd finally lost those stubborn 10lbs! Hallelujah!
The hot flashes got a bit better but they were still super annoying. One week, more to continue to improve my eating than anything, I decided to eat little to no refined carbohydrates, increasing my vegetables and monitoring how much protein I ate with each meal. My hot flashes almost disappeared! That weekend the family went out for wings and beer. Oh boy was that an uncomfortable night! Before the meal was even over my hot flashes came roaring back with a vengeance! I realized my diet was key to keeping the hot flashes under control! It's certainly hard to go without breads, pasta, and sugary treats, but for me, I feel so much better it's worth it. And if I choose to eat those foods I know what the consequences will be and that's my choice.
It has certainly been a journey and a learning experience for me. One that I don't think is over yet. I am committed to continuing to learn as my body changes. Every woman is different and what works and what doesn't isn't always the same, but if you are suffering with some or all of the symptoms I mentioned, it certainly can't hurt, so give it a try! As women we need to stick together to get through these crazy things our bodies do! Here's to us!!!