Written by Lorel Studer
This month is a month of transition for many of us. Autumn is on its way. And all the schedules change to adapt to the back-to-school routines. Some of us welcome the structure, others not so much. If you’ve got a kid in school, you already know that the routine begins its change in August getting ready for the next school year (school supplies, new school clothes, arranging after-school care, etc.). By September we are usually working out the kinks and sliding into the new routine. Hopefully…
We asked our members at Newport Fitness to give us their best back-to-school tips and how they maintain their own fitness and health priorities during this month of transition. They fell into three main categories.
Among the people polled at Newport Fitness, 50% encourage folks to keep the same schedule all year, set boundaries, and stick to them. Another 25% incorporate yoga into their work day and also take advantage of onsite gym at work. The other 25% remain flexible between work, school, kid’s curricular activities and the gym, feeling they get their best workouts during the summer.
September is not only a month of transition, but September 27 is also National Women’s Health and Fitness Day. As a woman, I can confidently say that we are used to transition within our own bodies… every single month (*sigh*). But what about when we get to THE transition? Or as my dear mom used to say, “The Change” (*deep sigh*). This, my dear sisters, is somethin’…
The first thing I’ve noticed is that this perimenopausal thing is very individual. I can remember chatting with a dear friend who’s about seven years older than me and she was describing different frustrating situations. She has been a professional mentor to me and is one of the most capable, skilled, consistent and intelligent nurses I’ve ever met. Her responses to the situations she was describing was, well, not her typical response. She was frantic. I observed her reactions to be a complete 180 from her usual calm, cool and logical responses. I paused and suggested using all the sensitivity I could muster and said, “Um, hey friend, this seems to have you really upset. That’s unusual for you. Do you think this could be due to any hormone changes? I mean, is it that time?”. We laugh about that conversation now, but it really hadn’t occurred to her. She saw her doctor and suggested to me that I see a doc before “you check the boxes next to nine out of the ten symptoms of perimenopause”. From then on, I was on the lookout.
Fast forward eight years and there I was, gaining weight like it was my job and experiencing insomnia like I had a newborn in the room with me, screaming all night while I worried about that baby (worrying about the newborn that wasn’t really there). When I did sleep, I woke up in a pool of sweat like I left the house for a brief 40 mile run in my dreams; probably trying to save the newborn from imminent death, all the while cursing my new belly bulge.
The lack of sleep threw my cognitive abilities for a loop. In fact, I used to say to my husband, “Stop talking to me. I’m too dumb after 8pm” or “Shhh, remember? I’ve got the dumbs.” I needed him to remember because I couldn’t.
The memory issues started. Then the joint pain. My inner ears started to itch (it’s a real thing). Ahh, then our (our meaning, me and my new personalities) favorite symptom, stress incontinence. Why these are all lovely changes! A beautiful transition from a butterfly to one of those roly-poly bugs drowning in a puddle. Seriously, what the actual…?! Oh wait, then the hot flashes started during the day. It felt like someone turned on a furnace that was embedded into my spine and rib cage. I literally pictured my bones like hot orange heat tubes.
Anyway, what does all this have to do with fitness? Well, I needed an outlet. Thanks for indulging me and allowing me to vent about it, but the one thing that has kept me feeling sort of sane has been the Em’s FitCamp. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got some hormone replacement therapy on board and something to help me sleep, but I feel less homicidal (that’s a joke… mostly). I think that’s because I can come to class and work really hard, surprise myself even, and leave feeling human.
My tips for survival:
Have a sense of humor. Seriously it will save someone’s life.
Find a friend. This requires good friends. Make sure they have a sense of humor.
Talk to your doctor sooner than later. It’s nice if your doctor has a sense of humor.
Ask your mom about her perimenopausal symptoms. She’ll also let you cry without asking questions or laughing.
Read about it. Make sure you have good sources. Start here.