Better & Bolder, the Blog

What Moves You On

trees many colors

You will know your answer to this immediately.

What is a story you have about yourself that you don’t want anymore?

And this.

What story isn’t as true as you’d thought it was?

 

It’s fall. It’s Autumn, and soon the leaves will begin to release from the trees. We’ll see a beautiful, dramatic transformation as the weather cools and the earth responds, as vines turn red, trees become yellow, the bright chamisa fades to a desert dusty brown. 

Are you ready for your own transformation? What story can fall away? What skin will you shed?

Everything’s temporary. Your old story, your new story, all temporary. 

 

I had multiple stories about my menopause. As I gained weight, I believed: Weight gain in menopause for me was inevitable, even necessary.  In all parts of my life, I felt less motivation, less drive.  At 52, I felt old. I thought that I was just going to feel a whole heckuva lot older in menopause. Truthfully, I was resigned though bummed out.  

Then I had the good fortune of getting sick. Sick isn’t the right word, actually. It was more like progressively unwell. I was achy and slow, and the slowness manifested most profoundly in my digestion. Even after I'd eliminated extra sugars from my diet, I sensed I still had to make some big changes to heal my gut.

So here’s what I did. I tried an experimental diet called FODMAPS (see what Marc David of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating says about experimental diets, healing diets, and maintenance diets in this wonderful post about 3 Levels of Diet).

I also prioritized sleep by improving my getting-ready-to-go-to-sleep habits (so far, the actual sleeping part is kind of a Fail; I'm still working hard on this one). I began journaling, once in the morning and once in the evening. I listen to a wonderful healing meditation soundtrack. 

This experience of healing my gut isn’t about healing my gut. It’s about healing me —body and mind and emotions and spirit. 

Good nutrition heals us, according to Yasmina Ykelenstam who blogs about histamine intolerance. Consider this: there isn’t any one food that harms or heals us. There isn’t any one diet that’s good for all of us at all stages of our lives. As our lives change and our bodies change, our nutritional needs, limitations, and desires will change. 

Overall, I have been eating fewer things and smaller portions. Some of my habits of eating have changed. My blood sugar has steadied. Something marvelous happened then: I felt real hunger again. When I feel hungry, I feel just hungry, not that urgent need or emotional desperation along with the physical hunger. I feel hungry, I eat, and then I stop. 

This is an incredibly sweet experience for me. I have longed to feel hunger as its self and not as a threat. I like experiencing hunger and then eating just enough to be sated. I am not sure I can convey here the enormity of this most mundane thing. As someone whose eating has long been disordered, I have struggled to listen to the needs and desires of my body and respond lovingly. I am having a most profound respite - perhaps this is a change of habit and way of being, or perhaps this, too, is temporary -- in which hunger is my friend. Hunger is my ally, and we work together. 

Within a week of beginning this experimental diet, another truly beautiful thing happened.  My achiness went away. My achilles felt better than it has in years. I stopped feeling old. 

I dropped my menopause pounds. I increased the intensity and frequency of my workouts, and that feels fantastic — fun, energizing, natural, just the right amount. I am not sure I have all the drive and motivation that I used to have, and, you know, that feels good, too. It feels like a natural, happy shift. I don’t need to be who I was pre-menopause. I do need to feel vital. 

I recognize this season as a peak time for me. I'm coming out of a very nurturing time, the summer, and I feel strong and happy. This, too, is temporary. Autumn's beauty will fade and be replaced by a starker, colder landscape. The Farmers' Markets will close. I know that as winter approaches, my mood and strengths shift. Then again, just because that's how previous winters have been for me, perhaps that, too, is a story that will change for me. It's all temporary -- my stories, my successes, my struggles. 

What is unchanging is whatever I learn as I experiment and explore. My weight goes up and down. My mood goes up and down. I fall in and out of my best habits and practices. It's temporary, but not meaningless.

As I have shifted to a way of living that makes my gut happy, I’m inviting myself to look forward with more hope and excitement. Who will I be in menopause? How will I live as I manage this transition? What is possible for me now? What’s good and wonderful and juicy about being in menopause? 

What's your story this Autumn? What lets go, and what moves you on?