There I was in my late 30’s and a shift was happening; weight started to slowly pile on. Prior, I had always been slim — even when I had put on weight during my two pregnancies I lost it again through breast feeding and getting back to normal. I didn’t understand what was going on. Whilst health was not much of a focus, weight was never a big issue until now.
Exercise had never been my thing; I actually considered myself a pretty lazy person in that department. I would proudly announce that the most exercise I ever got was walking from the front door to the car! I was able to eat what I felt like and not worry too much about the repercussions. Don’t get me wrong, I was never one of those ‘lucky’ women who could eat cake all day and never put on an ounce but I never had to watch what I was eating.
By the time I hit 40 I could start seeing changes in my body. I was gaining weight around my midsection which had never happened before. The weight gains had always gone to my legs and butt, however, never my waistline. It continued each year with me weighing just that little bit more on the scale than the previous year until one day I realized that those little bits had accumulated to around 26 pounds. Twenty six pounds may not seem like a lot to some people however, considering my height, it was pretty significant.
My weight was not the only thing that was my affecting my life, my periods were bad, too. They were coming every 2–3 weeks and were incredibly heavy. At night, I was burning up so bad that I would wake soaked in sweat. Not only was I feeling miserable about being overweight, I was tired from a lack of restful sleep. I felt fed up and fatigued from these ridiculous periods and the moods that accompanied them. It was as each of those things felt like an insurmountable mountain which I was unable to scale. To top that, it felt like my marriage was going down the tubes. My daughters were young and my husband offered little support which left me feeling lonely. At times I even felt suicidal due to the drastic hormonal fluctuations.
At age 45, I was desperate and turned to the only person who I thought could help me, my Doctor. I had a Mirena IUD fitted which helped the periods but the mood swings stayed the same. I was then referred to a specialist Menopause Doctor who added HRT into the mix and, boy, did I feel better! I was finally able to think like a person that didn’t want to either kill someone on the street, or herself, every day. While this made me feel better and made a difference it was just temporary. What would happen when I stopped taking this? At no point did anyone address the fact that I was overweight, never exercised, didn’t sleep properly or was stressed due to a crumbling marriage. Nobody suggested that lifestyle factors were exacerbating my symptoms and that if I got these under control I would not only lose weight but feel a hell of a lot better! I had to discover that for myself, but not for another 3 years.
I complained constantly about being overweight but I didn’t know what to do to change it. I had no energy and most days I had to have a nap in the afternoon. I wanted a magic wand to miraculously appear or hoped a pill would be invented that could turn back the years and create a younger, vibrant, slimmer version of me. I hated my body, I loathed clothes shopping, I felt unconfident, old and frumpy plus I felt that my best years were behind me and I had nothing to look forward to. I used to turn heads for God’s sake and look at me now! All I could see was an expanse of getting older lying ahead of me. My kids would leave home and I’d be left feeling crap about myself with a husband who didn’t love me anymore.
Still I took no action and was playing the victim in my own life. I felt powerless and less of a woman until one day a light bulb lit up in my head and the words “Get off your ass and do something NOW!” hurtled through my consciousness. The very next day I headed to the only gym I knew and signed my life away. I was allocated a Personal Trainer and was given a basic weights program. I knew nothing about gyms or weight training but I knew that I had to do more than sit on my butt in the house if I was going to lose 26 pounds.
To be honest, though, it was a bit of a mission to change from start to finish. I knew nothing about menopause and relied on the only advice I thought I could get. I knew nothing about how to exercise intelligently without killing myself. I knew nothing really about a balanced and sensible approach to nutrition and I had no idea that my body and mood were suffering from lack of sleep or stress. Heck, I didn’t even know I was stressed. I thought menopause was just something you experience in your 50’s after you stopped having periods! When I look back I am amazed at how little I knew.
Bit by bit things changed. I lost weight gradually. I learned about nutrition and my, and my family’s, eating habits took a different course. I stopped drinking wine regularly and I can honestly say that I had never felt so healthy, fit and toned. I actually started to like my legs which I’d always hidden from the viewing public for most of my life!
Health, exercise, nutrition and wellness became my life. I loved going to the gym, I loved eating healthy and above all I loved how I felt and looked. I dropped all 26 pounds. This new me felt and looked younger, more confident and more ready to take on life than I had done in a decade. Just 18 months after I began my journey I changed my career from professional art photographer to Personal Trainer (just before my 50th birthday) because I was on a mission. I wanted to help other women of a similar age to myself gain back control of their bodies so they could learn to fall in love with life again just like I had. As I learned more about health and nutrition I took it a step further and became a health coach guiding women with the resources that would change their lives.
Had someone guided me through the challenges age would bring I would have made changes long before I dug myself in a rut. Life throws us curveballs, however it is important to learn and practice how to hit them so you end up scoring. As we get older society seems to write us off but let me tell you, we have a whole lot of life ahead of us and furthermore some of our best years! Knowledge is power, and power gives us more at bats!
Originally published at medium.com