Because it sure is surreal sometimes

Because it sure is surreal sometimes

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Menopause: A Beginner's Guide

About the only times I’ve really spent any money on myself to get in shape throughout the years is for gym memberships and yoga. I think I’ve belonged to a gym three times in my adult life, for about a year each time. The first time was post-first baby, when I lived in Southern California. I joined a gym and had a one-time appointment with what was called a “fitness trainer” and then I was on my own. I did the circuit three times a week and then hit the treadmill. It was a yawn, but I slowly got myself back into shape.

Fast forward 12 years, when I got divorced. I decided that shedding 230 pounds was not enough; I needed some muscles. Again, I joined a local gym. Again, I was highly motivated. I knew I had to get “back in the game” as they say, but the other thing driving me was my desire to be strong, and take care of my children. As a single mom, I knew it would fall on me to carry sleeping children from the car, up the stairs and into the house; I would need to pack up the car to go camping, lift bikes into the truck and boxes of wine into the shopping cart, all by myself. Then, I got married for the second and last time, and while I've managed to keep myself up fairly well, there's a new motivation for exercising: Ol' broad Menopause is gaining ground.

A couple years ago, I started doing yoga. My body changed rapidly and I had tone where before there had been little. Plus, I really enjoyed it. I was doing the right thing for my back, which happens to be chock-full of issues: degenerative joint disease, mis-alignment, arthritis, etc. Keeping the muscles in my core strong will counteract the effects of the arthritis in my spine, my doctor said. I also began running about five years ago, but my back doesn’t like running, and it doesn’t like sitting either, which I do a lot of as an editor and writer. So lately, I’ve been at a crossroads; my yoga teacher moved away, I got busier at work, and as a result, I have fallen out of my yoga routine. But time marches on, and so does peri-menopause. (For those of you with a penis, that’s the period of time before actual menopause.) It’s the time when hormones start tinkering with a woman’s body and mind; moods shift unexpectedly; muscle tone begins to change, and wine consumption rises sharply. Of all people, it was my 16-year old son that asked me about it recently.  

“Mom, I was watching ‘That 70’s Show’ the other day and the mom was going through menopause. The husband said she was having ‘mood swings.’ She was super nice one second and the next second she was screaming like a maniac and then she was back to being nice, in like three seconds.”

“Yep. That about sums it up.”

“Are you in menopause?”

“Nope, but it’s gaining on me. Those same symptoms are starting to happen to me.”

“How do I know which mood you are in?”

“Just don’t be an a-hole, ever, and we’ll be good.”

“When am I ever an a-hole?”

“Well, you know when I ask you to put your clothes away and you mumble, “yeah,” but then you don’t do it?”



“You know when I’m about to put dinner on the table and you chase the dog through the kitchen?”



“But that’s just me being a kid.”

“You asked me.”

“Are you getting that feeling right now?”


“I’m going to go clean my room.”

“I’m glad we had this talk, son. I love you.”

“Love you too, Mom.”

So now I’m working out with a personal trainer. It’s not cheap, but the results come in a fraction of the time. And there’s accountability: Every week, he watches me do those reps and crunches and lunges and I need to be better than I was last time. It's also keeping me on the lookout for new and inventive ways to cuss. (Firm) bottom line: I’m highly motivated to stay ahead of the menopause curve, build muscle and be strong. 

After all, those boxes of wine aren’t getting any lighter.

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