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“Pack your suitcase for the journey,” advises Grandma Growth softly. “Your Change may be rough in places, so temper yourself. Your Change may have some rough edges, so let your contours round. Your wise blood stirs, and you learn to let it move without attaching fear to its meanderings. In the same way, you can gracefully allow your natural weight gain. Struggling with your weight or dieting is bad medicine for you now, resulting only in thin bones that break easily, extreme hormonal changes that will keep you from sleeping and thinking, and an inner fire reduced to ashes or burning out of control. Pack your bags, slowly, dear. There’s no rush,” sighs Grandma Growth, closing her eyes and sinking into a nap.
The best ally you can have on your transition journey is ten “extra” pounds. I know you don’t want to hear this. I understand how difficult it is to want ten extra pounds (or accept that it happens to you, as it does for most menopausal women). You may have spent much of your life trying to lose ten extra pounds. The ultimate failure as a woman today is not being infertile, but gaining weight.
When thin and young is the standard of beauty, any menopausal woman can find it difficult to maintain a positive self-image as she sees herself becoming a fat-waisted, silver-haired Crone.
I had some killer hot flashes, but the hardest part of menopause for me was gaining weight. I knew it would happen; I knew it was going to happen. But I never thought it would happen. I read the studies; I knew that most healthy women, thin or fat or in between, gained ten to fifteen pounds during their menopause. But not me, I thought. I eat excellently. I exercise: an hour and a half of yoga every week, tai chi and my usual farm chores (moving and splitting firewood, throwing hay bales, drawing water, hunting goats). Not me.
Yes me. I saw my image in the mirror take on a shape more and more like the prehistoric Venus figures. And my modern prejudices surged forward: “Yuck. You look disgusting. You’re overweight. It’s not healthy. Lose weight!” I knew that wasn’t true. But despite years of feminism and consciousness-raising on every -ism, from ageism to weightism, there was my culture yelling at me in my own mind every time I looked in the mirror.
Now I looked like my aunts. Now I looked like a woman. It was as strange and unfamiliar as the sprouting of my breasts and pubic hair at puberty. I remember standing in my closet at the age of thirteen, wistfully and exasperatedly removing my favorite little girl dresses, none of which fit.
Not looking in the mirror didn’t help. (I didn’t have to resist looking at the scale. I don’t own one.) My clothes didn’t fit. First it was my blouses: my buttons gaping and my t-shirts straining. Then it was my trousers: tight waistbands became completely impossible. My size fluctuated a lot from morning to night and grew larger as the day went on. For months, I walked around the house with my pants untied from dinner to bed, a menopause symptom my partner was a total fan of.
Fortunately, I knew that dieting would not improve my health and could easily harm me. But without the loving acceptance I felt from my lover, I might have faltered and given in to the desire to resist this change with all my might. I could have given up being proud of looking like a postmenopausal woman: like Margaret Mead, Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony.
I want every menopausal woman to tell her every night when she undresses how goddess-like, how voluptuous, how attractive and desirable she is, and say with her, “The best ally I can have on my transit journey, is ten. extra kilos”.
Of course, I don’t mean ten pounds of regular fat. You will have ten pounds of healthy fat supported by healthy muscles and bones. And you want to gain that weight very, very slowly. Ideally, about a pound or two a year during menopause. Remember, you are bracing yourself for the journey. Love yourself when you get “fit” for change.
Step 1. Gather information
- Fat cells convert androstenedione, a substance produced by the adrenal glands and ovaries, into estrone, the primary postmenopausal estrogen. Women who gain weight during menopause have less severe hot flashes, an easier transition and denser bones, according to menopause advocate and longtime editor of A friend actually, the menopause newsletterJeanine O’Leary Cobb.
- Despite statements that extra fat is a health risk, weight gain during menopause is not associated with any increase in mortality risk.
- And losing it won’t improve your health.
- In fact, weight loss can lead to thyroid dysfunction, severe gallbladder problems, increased insulin resistance, and weakening of the cardiovascular and immune systems.
- If you don’t have a cute partner to tell you that your bigger body is full, read:
Radiance: The magazine for plus size women; PO Box 30246, Oakland, CA 94604, USA.
Journal for Healthy Weight; PO Box 620, LCD1, Hamilton, ON; L8N 3K7, Canada. 1-800-568-7281.
You count, calories don’t, Linda Omichinski. Box 102A, RR#3, Portage La Prairie, MN; R1N 3A3, Canada. 1-800-565-4847.
Love your midlife bodyLinda Moore Browning, Health Forum for Older Women, Winter 1999.
Step 2. Engage the energy
“The first time I saw pictures of my postmenopausal self, I was scared of my size!”
- Give yourself permission to take up more space. Let your needs come first. Enlarge your view of yourself. Enlarge your world.
- If you’re not already doing an hour or more of yoga, tai chi, or other meditative physical exercise a week, start…now.
- Go to an art gallery or get a book from your library and find a picture of an attractive woman with a round proud belly. Meditate with her. Be her for a moment. Feel the energy in your belly. Feel the wise blood stirring in your stomach. Stirs and simmers and sends its heat up your body’s energy pathways. Be proud of yourself and your belly.
- Say a short prayer of thanks, sing a song, or light a candle, or hold a moment of silence before you eat. Affirm that the food will bring you health and pleasure.
Step 3. Nourish & Tonify
- Give up dieting. Eat the widest possible variety of whole foods. Do not make any foods absolutely forbidden. What you eat every day has the greatest effect. The best way to stop worrying about weight gain is to eat ten or more servings of fruits and vegetables, three or more servings of whole grains, and a cup of yogurt daily.
- To ensure you’re adding hormonally beneficial, bone-strengthening, strengthening fat, include one serving of high-calorie phytoestrogen-rich foods and three servings of super-mineral-rich foods in your daily diet.
Hormone-rich, high-calorie foods include olives, olive oil, organic butter, freshly ground flaxseed, home-brewed beer, non-alcoholic beer, fresh peanut butter.
Super mineral-rich foods include nourishing herbal infusions of nettle, oatmeal, red clover or comfrey leaves; cooked vegetables such as kale, collards, lamb’s quarters, amaranth, mustard; seaweed; whey; whole grains including oats, millet, wheat and brown rice; bittersweet chocolate.
- Beer is traditionally brewed from hops and sprouted whole grains. The fermentation creates easily absorbable B vitamins and releases minerals. One beer a week will slowly increase your weight, improve your memory, calm your nerves and improve your immune system. A cup of hops tea with a spoonful of barley malt sweetener is an alcohol-free alternative.
Step 4. Stimulate/sedate
- Most herbal remedies sold for weight loss include stimulants that can interfere with heart function, and diuretics and laxatives that can cause excessive fluid loss and disrupt electrolyte balance. This can lead to life-threatening events during menopause when heart and adrenal function are unstable. Avoid all “weight loss” herbs.
- If you are determined to lose weight during your menopausal years, here are some sure-fire strategies:
Eat a hearty breakfast and a big lunch and save on dinner. Absolutely avoid midnight snacks.
Eat one cup/250ml of fresh chickweed daily or take a drop of fresh plant tincture in a little water during or after each meal (at least four times a day).
Gently simmer a handful of dried or fresh Fucus seaweed for 15 minutes in enough water to cover. Tribe. Drink a cup before each meal for a maximum of three months.
Eat a bowl of hot soup at the beginning of the meal. You will feel fuller and eat less. Cold soups and drinks do not have the same effect.
- Stay active. But you don’t have to buy spandex. Five minute periods of exercise done several times a day, every day, is better than a long session once a week. Weight loss as a result of increased physical activity is safer than weight loss through dietary manipulation. Lifting weights.
- Depression can be associated with intense cravings for starchy foods. If we satisfy these cravings with mineral-rich foods (including chocolate), the depression will be “treated” and will disappear. If we try to satisfy these cravings with mineral-deprived white flour and white sugar, the depression will deepen.
Step 5b. Use drugs
Appetite suppressants interfere with your metabolism and make it harder and harder for you to maintain a normal weight with a normal diet. Avoid all drugs and herbs and supplements of any kind that claim to suppress your appetite.
Step 6. Break and enter
Science is ready to help you deny your increasing wisdom and power by liposuctioning fat from your derrière and adding it to your face to fill out wrinkles.
Legal disclaimer: This content is not intended to replace conventional medical care. Any suggestions and any herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal guidance and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified practitioner with a specific formula for you. All material on this website/email is for general information purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or consultation. Consult a reputable doctor if you need medical attention. Practice self-affirmation by seeking a second opinion.
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