Menopause is a major life change for women. Some welcome it, as it means the end of the dreaded monthly “M”– menstruation. Nevertheless, some mourn, viewing it as the end of their youth. No doubt, menopausal women are not as youthful as we once were, but this can be the best time of our lives. So true, except for that one enormous elephant in the room. Yes, that elephant can be us due to the typical weight gain associated with menopause.
My experience is slightly different than most because I am also saddled with a chronic disease that limits my activities. Combine the natural weight gain many menopausal women face with the neurological damage of multiple sclerosis and I could become that elephant quite easily. Yet, I am not. Why? Follow me and I will share all my secrets.
Move that body!
Even though my form of MS is a chronic progressive type, which chips away at my stamina, I have found that I can exert myself for short periods successfully. I take advantage of this by exercising for 30 minutes — Gilad’s Bodies in Motion is my favorite — in the morning when it is cool; heat drains those with MS. I then rest for ten minutes before showering. Also, since menopausal women tend to lose bone mass, my daily exercise routine includes weight training. The added benefit is that building muscle burns more calories than other forms of exercise.
An adult tricycle wins the race against a slowing metabolism.
Unfortunately, as we age our metabolism slows. These days, even 30 minutes of daily exercise does not keep me in my size-7 skinny jeans. In the past, I would take up the belly-fat slack by riding a bicycle, but with my MS induced balance issues I do not dare try. Luckily, I found a three-wheel cycle, which I can and do ride everywhere — at least an hour each day. It is my preferred mode of transportation.
Pass the leafy greens, please.
I confess; I am a carnivore. I love my steak paired with a silky red wine. This should not be a problem for most people. However, for those with limited mobility and a slow metabolism it can add pounds. I found that I could enjoy a decadent meal once a week with no weight gain if I balance it with healthier options. My favorites are all forms vegetables — especially leafy greens — grains, nuts, and at least three servings of fruit each day. Of course, I supplement my diet with vitamins and extra doses of calcium and vitamin D, which is known to reduce MS relapses.
So, is menopause really the death of a woman’s youth?
I have more gray hair, a few more wrinkles, and I do not dance around the room as I did when I was twenty. Nevertheless, following my regimen of diet and daily exercise has enabled me to appear more youthful than my nearly sixty years would imply. Therefore, mourning my youth is not on my agenda. For me, I’ve found my fountain of youth.
More by Rebecca
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Flying, Traveling, and Living with MS
How Multiple Sclerosis Helped Me to Be a Stronger, Better Person