Wednesday, May 21, 2014

the post menopause post

I thought about calling this post "Ladies Only" but I figure putting the word "menopause" in the post title has done the work for me, and my three male readers have already run for their lives. So here we are.

I've been reading online a bit recently about menopause trying to figure out exactly where I am. Technically speaking, the bad part of menopause is actually peri-menopause, the months or years leading up to menopause, when you can be *smirk* swamped with heavy, unpredictable, long periods, hot flashes, irritability, mood swings, forgetfulness. Oh, yeah, I had those in spades. But menopause is actually just the cessation of menstruation--which has traditionally been defined as 12 months after one's last period.

So I'm there. It's been a couple of years at least. I'm actually not sure when my last one was, I think maybe fall of 2011?? And the worst of the symptoms is long gone. Thank God. Goddess. Whoever. I still have the occasional minor hot flash--maybe once a month??--but they're not nearly as severe as they were awhile back. I've always been a bit of a ditz, but it's not nearly as bad as it was three or four years ago when I was so spaced out I thought I was already in the early stages of alzheimer's. And I can't say how nice it is to not have to mess with the paraphernalia of periods. (paraphernalia. I had to look up how to spell it. That is a thoroughly excellent word.)

Maybe the best thing though is--as just about every woman I know who has been through it says--suddenly you're just not so concerned about what other people think. It's like this cloud of worry and anxiety about whether or not I fit in and how I hard I should work to make people like me--all of that is lifting away. It's not gone. I still have to deal with it, but it's so much better. I'm not so willing to throw away what I want just to keep everybody else happy.

Anyway, that's not what this post was going to be about, I just wanted to make sure that I buried this far enough down here that I'd have lost everybody who's not going through this. Because--also like many women I know who have been through this--suddenly I'm twenty pounds overweight. We've talked about this before. I've never been as thin as I wanted to be, but I've never really been overweight, either.

But now, I am. It pisses me off. I didn't change anything. I exercise more now than I ever have before. But suddenly I packed on the pounds. It happened in the space of about a year during my first year of grad school. Then I gained another ten pounds while I was writing my thesis. I lost that last ten pounds pretty easily, but the twenty that were from the first year of grad school and menopause--they're still hanging around.

I absolutely refuse to become obsessed with thin-ness, because being ultra-thin and being healthy are unrelated, as much as the diet industry would like us to believe otherwise. You have to find the size that's healthy for you, and it may not be the same as anybody else. I am at an unhealthy size for my build and lifestyle, so I've been working on this for awhile--those of you who have been around for awhile will remember some of this from a couple of years ago. I've tried various different things, but after failing miserably at anything that resembled a "diet," I swore off dieting some time ago. We've talked about that before, too.

But you know, a couple of weeks ago suddenly it occurred to me: to lose weight, you have to have a caloric deficit. There's no way around it. You may be able to achieve that through various different means, but that's the bottom line. And if you have caloric deficit, sometimes you're going to be hungry. And there it is: I hate to be hungry. I'm slightly hypoglocemic, so when I get hungry, I get angry and anxious and bitchy and obsessed with food. And sometimes I get a migraine. The surest way to make sure I'm thinking about food all the time is for me to be starving.

After I realized that, I spent a couple of days thinking, well, I'm just going to have to get used to being this size, because I can't deal with being hungry. But last week, I decided NO. I'm going to do this. I don't want to get back to the weight I was when I was 25 (which would involve losing about 45 pounds). I'll never be that thin again. But I can lose ten pounds--I've already done that, right? And if I can do that, maybe I can lose another ten and get down to the weight I was when I turned 40.

So I started a new rule. It's not a diet, because there's no prescribed list of things I eat. I eat pretty healthy food already, I just eat too much of it. But I can only eat every three hours. I've told you before I don't wake up hungry, so my new routine is: eat at 9:30, 12:30, 3:30 and 6:30. The first two days were pretty miserable, but I had decided I would do it for a week--you can live through anything for a week, right? and it was the beginning of the month, so I had plenty of migraine drugs.

You know what? By the third day I was starting to get used to it. And now, a week and a half later, it actually feels good. I feel so much more in control of my eating. I didn't realize how often I just cruised by the kitchen and put a bite or two of something in my mouth, and then if it tasted good, I'd cruise back by and have a few bites more.

All of that is eliminated. And it takes less food than I would have expected to fill me up at the times when I eat. I've made exceptions a time or two, but for the most part, I've been sticking with it. And I'm discovering that there's a different kind of hungry that goes with migraines. The migraines kind of hungry isn't what causes migraines, it seems to just go along with them, just another symptom like light sensitivity.

So will it result in weight loss? I don't know, but I'm sticking with it because it feels better. I lost a pound and a half the first week, but that's not statistically significant, as they say. It could just be fluctuations. But I'm sticking with this for awhile. I don't know if you remember this, but a couple of years ago, in this post, I said that I hadn't found the joy in food choices yet but I was sure it was there somewhere--and this is starting to feel like I might have found it. I'm not sure if this would work for anybody else, but it's working for me.

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