Friday, January 27, 2017

Overheated, Overinflated, Over the hill…Call AAA!
“I think my body has been inhabited by aliens!  I cry at the drop of a hat, my brain has gone on vacation, it feels like I am sleeping in the hot desert one moment and the frozen tundra the next, and I don’t even know what is happening to my stomach”

Does any of this sound familiar? If you are a woman approaching the age of 40, or well into your 70’s you will understand what I am talking about.  The manic and magical years of menopause. 
I have elicited the help of AAA to help us through this.  The AAA attack of menopause

AWARENESS: What the heck is going on

To be aware of what the body goes through when it is approaching and going through menopause

1.       Your moods are unstable. The fluctuation of hormones creates a sea of sorts of your moods.  You may cry at a commercial, get angry at a seemingly innocent comment, snap at your friend for no reason.  This is normal.  Being aware of the highs and lows can take some stress off of beating yourself up for your feelings.

2.       Your brain is in a fog.  You may feel like you can’t remember anything from minute to minute.  You are working diligently on a task, and suddenly, you brain draws a blank.  Normal, take a breath, get a glass of water, or some nourishment, and move forward. 

3.       You throw your blankets off in a hot sweat, only to be freezing cold within minutes.  The influx of hormones creates this unique hot flash or night sweat within your body.  Think of it as a wave of energy that moves through you, instead of the devil that has swept through. 

4.       Your pants don’t fit the way they used too.   As you move through menopause you may find that your body gains weight.  Usually this weight is gained in the belly (thus the “menopot” saying).  Being aware that there are many things going on in your body that elicits this weight gain can help you move through the menopause years with a kinder and more compassionate inner voice.  One that does not beat you up (thus increasing stress levels and cortisol to only encourage further weight gain).  Strengthening this kind and gentle inner voice can be of great benefit to you in the upcoming years. See: Embracing the Roll

ACCEPTANCE: This is a new chapter of life

To be accepting that our bodies are going through normal changes

1.       Accepting the fact that your body may change as you age.  When you wake up and notice that you do not still have the body you had 10 years ago, and decide you are going to “do something about it”, try to remember that dieting or restricting food OR over exercising will only set you up for further weight gain (95% of dieters regain their weight and sometimes more within 3 years) One of the most advantageous things you can do is accept that your body may change as you get older. Note: I am not saying there are not things we can do (see our ammunition tips below)

2.       Realizing that you are in a different stage of life.  That your body and mind both may be driving you crazy right now, however, these are all normal changes that our bodies make.

3.       Acceptance of skin, hair and nail changes.  These are also normal during menopause.  They are also very different for everyone.  What is happening to your friend, may or may not happen to you.  All of it is normal.

AMMUNITION: Be prepared for the change

There are many things that can help to make this transition easier for you and the people around you

1.       Find some movement you enjoy.  Exercise can be helpful in many ways: 
  • Increase the feel good hormones like endorphins
  • Increase self-esteem and confidence
  • Decrease depression and anxiety
  • Decrease Stress
  • Can help with changes in body due to weight gain
      2.       Nourish yourself with foods that feel good AFTER you eat them.  There can be  some changes in the way your body digests specific foods as you age.  Be aware and pay attention to the way that foods feel after.

3.       Engage in self-care strategies.  Taking care of yourself is extremely important.  It can cut down on stress levels (and cortisol).  Without self-care, you tend to end up pouring out of an empty cup.  Take time to fill yourself back up.   Self-Care looks different for everyone.  What relaxes you?  Here are a few suggestions

a.       Take a walk with a friend or an animal friend
                    b.       Take a bath or shower
                    c.       Get a message, manicure or pedicure
                    d.       Carve out time to read a good book
                    e.       Color, draw, journal or do a crossword
                    f.        Dance or listen to music
                    g.       Find a new hobby or craft
                    h.       Watch a movie
                    i.         Pray

4.       Connect with Nature, nature can decrease stress levels, increase creativity, belonging and self-confidence.
                           a.       Take walks
                           b.       Garden
                           c.      Make a snowman
                           d.       Eat outside or have a picnic when you can

5.       SLEEP.   Sleep is essential to living a full life.  Some tips to get a restful sleep include

a.       Having a relaxation routine before bed.  This could include some light stretching, a cup of tea, journaling, prayer or some soft music
                    b.       Sleep in a dark and cool room
                    c.       Cut off screen time at least 1 hour before bed
                    d.       Keep your phone in another room
                    e.       Avoid drinking caffeine 6 hours before bed
                    f.        Hot flashes and night sweats can interrupt sleep.  Everyone will experience them a                             little differently.  Cutting down on caffiene, spicy foods and alcohol can help
6.       Develop a kinder more self-compassionate voice.  As changes occur in your body and mind, know that these changes are normal.  Be kind and gentle to yourself as you move forward.

When you do not recognize yourself one day when you wake up…like you have been abducted by the aliens of menopause, call AAA.  Being aware of what is happening can be the first step in accepting that you are headed into a new chapter of your life.  Utilize some of this ammunition and move into this amazing chapter with more energy and a giant size cup full of self-care and self-compassion.  Intuitive Eating and Body Image Coaching can help.

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