Ok so I’m aging, I accept that. But what I am not willing to swallow is the rubbish that women my age are being told about perimenopause. For those of you who haven’t heard of perimenopause it is the name given to the years leading up to menopause – the time when a woman stop bleeding. According to those in the know in medical circles perimenopause is a time when it is relatively normal for women to experience weight gain, hot flushes, sleepless nights, irritability, depression, joint pain, itchy skin, wrinkles, …. sounds bloody lovely doesn’t it.
I’m 51 and not sure where I am on the perimenopause time line but having watched my mother suffer through 15+ years of hot flushes I was determined not to walk the same path. Having spent the last 10 years of my life focused on spreading the message of Ayurveda I felt this would be my ultimate test, as a Pitta type I am already susceptible to conditions related to heat in the body, skin rashes, headaches, anger, insomnia, heart burn, reflux and as mentioned about hot flushes.
So what did I do? I avoided getting overheated – internally and externally.
Firstly, I virtually deleted alcohol from my life as this is heating and places a lot of pressure on the liver which already has its hands full dealing with digestion, hormones and a whole host of other stuff.
Secondly, I reduced the amount of red meat and dairy I was consuming, I have never been a massive meat eater but I do enjoy it now and then, these days it is pretty much reserved for winter. Dairy however was my weakness, especially cheese but I found every time I ate it I would wake in between 1-3am (liver time) kicking the sheets off wondering why I felt as if I was burning up inside. Yoghurt did the same so we had to break up too, I knew it wouldn’t be forever but it had to be goodbye for the minute. I also needed to watch my consumption of fermented and salty foods – as a pitta I had always had to monitor how much of these I included in my diet but now that really did need to become special sometimes foods or reserved for those chilly winter days when I felt I might need a little help getting warm. Cooling foods became my best friends, coconut replaced dairy where it could and mint, fennel, lemongrass, rose, coriander and leafy greens featured heavily in my recipes.
Then, I ate and watched and waited and every time I ate something that made me feel crappy I put it aside. Gluten and grains went on the back burner too. The longer I kept eating this way the better I felt. I lost weight instead of gaining weight.
Waking at 4am became an issue for me so I consulted a hormone specialist. She gave me an amazing tip that changed my life, she suggested that each day I drink one glass of fresh orange juice with a pinch of good quality salt. I did this and since then I’ve slept like a baby.
I stopped doing exercise that overheated my body and instead took up yin yoga. I found the yin really helped with the pain I had started to feel in my joints, that was when I really started to feel old and was adamant there was no way that this was going to continue. As we age our joints start to dry up and yin yoga works into the joints and connective tissue and the results really need to be experienced to be believed. No more joint pain, tick.
And finally, I slowed down and started to gently let go of a phase of my life that was nearing the end. Soon I would no longer a woman who was able to bear children, I had to accept that there were younger more energetic women entering my profession and I needed to get comfortable with the uncomfortable fact I was entering the crone phase of my life. I prefer to think of it as the wise woman years. I learnt that the more I tried to hold onto that young, energetic, look at me, Pitta personality that had dominated me from the age of 18 -50 the more exhausted I felt. My body was changing and with that so was I.
More about this in another post. I’d love to hear your experience with perimenopause.