Sunday, November 19, 2017

Finding the Right Fit

Almost exactly 7 months ago (on Easter Sunday), I decided I was tired of feeling outta shape.

Through hormone changes and stress and inactivity and lackadaisical eating habits (i.e., the aging process), I'd maxed out the recommended weight for my height.

I know that to many, the number on the scale is "just a number," but for me, the number on the scale has always been pretty good index of my overall fitness level.

I'd always been at the low end of the 20-lb range for my height, but now, I was at its utmost limit. If the pounds kept coming, I would officially be heading into uncharted territory.

More importantly, truth be told, I felt like a chubby load of crap. This couldn't be my future.

For the record, the things they don't tell women about menopause would fill VOLUMES. "Hot flashes." That's all I ever heard about. "Some women get them, some don't. They're uncomfortable."


Try migraines. That wake you up in the middle of the night and last for 3 days. Good luck exercising with a migraine. I actually tried it (more than once), because I thought maybe swimming would help it go away. (It did not.)

Try eczema and food allergies and skin so dry there hasn't been a lotion invented that will soothe it. I still remember several night being unable to sleep because of how badly my skin itched. (And yes, that's with lotion on it.)

Try heart palpitations and night sweats and waking up every. single. hour. to use the bathroom--so, 8x a night. Even though you stopped all liquids before 7 p.m. Not a recipe for a good night's sleep.

Try muscle aches so bad you have to sit down and rest after carrying the laundry up from the basement.
There was the summer I couldn't eat more than a quarter cup of food at a time without feeling like I was going to barf. That lasted for about 2 weeks.

That was followed by a couple of weeks when I was reluctant to leave the house, because I felt like I had to go to the bathroom... constantly.

Luteal cysts every month for over a year. (For the record, feeling a "fire in your belly" is only good when it's figurative, not literal.) 

And the weight gain, my god, the weight gain. I would go to bed and wake up heavier than when I went to sleep. I don't know how that happened, but it happened.

And no, thank you, peeing 8x a night didn't help anything. Again, I don't know how that's possible, but I'm here to tell you, it's possible. I've lived it.

And speaking of not helping anything... doctors. Yes, I went to my ob/gyn. He ordered a couple of tests, found nothing, and told me to find a gastroenterologist. Even I knew it wasn't a digestive problem.

So I went home, googled a bunch of my symptoms, and found page after page after page that used the word, "perimenopause." (Last visit to that ob/gyn.)

A friend of mine also helped. She's in med school, and over lunch I described my woes to her. She commented that, pre-menopause, the hormone fluctuations are "insane." And they all interact, so the insanity gets even more ... insane.

She also commented that, over time, the insanity would stop and things would eventually settle down. There was just no telling when or how or how much.

I clung to that information, though. And then, one day, miraculously, the insanity had dwindled. And, when it became a little insane again--because in my experience, the fluctuations go on-again, off-again for a bit--I was able to remember that it had stopped and it became easier to be patient.

But the weight gain remained and would not budge. In April, I finally said, enough is enough. I decided I was committed to trying to lose it.

Everything I read warned me that it wouldn't be easy, that metabolism changes with age, that weight gain is "typical," etc. etc.

I said, "I don't care, I want my old body back." (Sans hysterical hormones, obvi.) So I committed to exercising regularly all summer long. That took care of about half of the weight I had gained.

Then, I participated in the Million Miles, and got a Fitbit. That helped me a lot, actually, both in terms of getting a good exercise habit (walking) in place and figuring out how to sync my exercise with my food intake in the wake of my new metabolism.

7 months later, I've lost 15 lbs and 2% body fat. And I'm toying with the idea of participating in the RW Run Streak this year. We'll see.

What I've learned in all of this is, it's not possible to turn back the clock. But it is possible to have a healthier body even as you age-- it just takes more time and patience. 

Everyone's body will change with time, and there's no avoiding it: those changes are often not going to be good ones.

I'm lucky. The changes I faced were ones I could cope with and adjust to. And on days when I didn't feel like sticking to an exercise regimen or I wanted to eat all the ice cream, I paused to think about that.

Some days, I said, "Screw it--I want ice cream." 

But other days, I thought, "Meh... I'll hold off. I have the luxury of good health. I can do what I need to do to support that."

In the end, I didn't get my younger self back. 

I got a new one: older, wiser, and--wonder of wonders--currently in better shape than my younger self ever was. 

I found the right fit for me.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."