Recently, I had coffee after an exercise class with a middle-age friend. We got onto the topic of the changes we were experiencing during this time period, including the weight gain, aches and pains. When my friend bemoaned that she is having tremendous trouble losing weight now, I shared my recent a-ha moment.
So before I tell you about the a-ha moment, let me give you a little bit of background that helped me reach this moment. Throughout my life, I always have been able to do whatever I wanted to, whether it was playing tennis for years, working a huge number of hours or eating whatever I craved. However, as I went through perimenopause, I found that all of that changed. I started having severe acid reflux after eating fried food. I was hobbled for several months after straining my plantar fasciitis (a tendon that runs from the bottom of the foot through the heel). While hiking with a friend, I edged my way down a steep hill by grasping tree limbs. Afterwards, my shoulder was locked up something fierce for several months. I started having weird skin rashes emerge periodically. My weight increased and I looked and felt bloated. I was often stressed and frustrated with myself when I couldn’t accomplish the things on my to-do list (even though I was also caregiving for an elderly parent with fragile health, finishing a doctorate and working to earn income).
All of these situations left me questioning my abilities during the past three years. Over coffee, I told my friend, “For a while, I really started asking why my body – which always had been there for me -- was betraying me. But then one day, I flipped that equation and started considering whether I was betraying my body instead.”
So using that newfound insight, I pondered how I might indeed have been betraying my body. Here are some possibilities:
Eating a slightly-less-than-stellar diet. I have always been a pretty healthy eater – with an emphasis on “pretty.” However, while I love my veggies and fruit, I also have a weakness for cheese, pizza and Mexican food (especially enchiladas, queso and guacamole with chips). It took a few battles with GERD (see above about fried food) to make me realize that perhaps I wasn’t providing my body with the proper foods. Thus, as I mentioned in a recent sharepost, I chose to try a 21-day cleanse diet to take my body back to basics. While on this eating plan I’ve already experienced what sugar – in the form of a couple of candy mints – can do to me. Therefore, when I reintroduce other foods to my diet I plan to listen to my body’s feedback (discomfort, bloat, indigestion vs. healthy glow, joy and energy.
Searching for new ways to move my body. We talk a lot about exercise, but we rarely talk about how exercise may change as we age. While I have friends who started running long-distances in their 60s, I probably will not be one of them. I took part in a lot of pounding exercises through participating in sports such as basketball (played through my mid-20s) and singles tennis (played regularly until I reached 40). I find that my body no longer loves these sports (although doubles tennis might still work). Instead, I need to listen to my body to learn how it wants to move now, which is something that Dr. Andrew Weil also found changed as he aged:
Needing less self-criticism and more self-love. I also realized how critical I’ve been of myself. I would never act that way to a family member, friend or acquaintance, so why am I tearing myself down? Instead, I’m committed to making a conscious decision to be nicer to myself through all future self-talk, actions and decisions.
In this week’s edition of Time, Susanna Schrobsdorff makes an interesting observation about middle age, which she describes as a time of change in one’s identity, the body and how people see you. “It actually feels a lot like another adolescence – a period when you’re hyperconscious of how you compare to your peers and how they’re aging.” I’ve decided to take a different approach than I did in adolescence. This time, I want to salute my well-earned abilities, treasure my health and wholeheartedly support my well-being in order to have a good, long and useful life. I hope you celebrate your body and health the sameOther Shareposts You Might Like: