As noted last week, I have been feeling “off” since my race. But, if I am being honest, I have felt a shifting in my body and mind for a few years.
Recently, I had an important realization while out on a ride. In high school we would’ve called this one of those long coming “DUH” moments. That morning I had got my period after only twelve days without it. Irregular timing. Again. I wasn’t surprised, but I had been ignoring what I know.
I am truly there— I am in permimenopause.
*Don’t have a period? Don’t stop reading (even my male readers)! All of us benefit from more understanding of female physiology.
This “realization” was quite funny to me. I know that I have known this for nearly two years. I define myself in this way. I say it out loud. But, (for the most part) I still feel like I am twenty years old. Energetic, wanting to try new things, loving to have fun. But all it takes is one conversation with my 18 year old daughter to remind myself that I am in fact more than double her age.
Learning of my new life phase at age 38 did not come easily. After several irregular periods, unexplainable mood changes, GI distress, and many tests I had left conventional doctors puzzled. My male primary doctor offered the IUD and a male doctor at a women’s clinic suggested a uterine ablation as an answer (both denied perimenopause, stating that I was “too young”).
I visited another clinic that was recommended and asked if my longtime gut issues could be currently related to hormonal imbalances. The (female) doctor surveyed my outwardly trim physique and said to me, “Look at you. You are fine.” And then after asking me leading questions about my moods proceeded to suggest that I take antidepressants. When I mentioned perimenopause I was again quickly shut down and quoted the same general statistics. I left that office in tears.
But I knew then. And so the other day when I had the thought of, “Oh, I am truly there” I literally laughed out loud while alone on the country road.
I know that although my experience of personal and medical professional denial is individual to me it is not that unique. It has been one reason why my passion for educating others has grown. I believe in the science and new research. And even though I know that I am coaching and teaching perimenopausal athletes as a perimneopausal athlete, a part of me has kept assuming that I didn’t need to make important changes.
Historically, it makes sense as to why as educated women we can still live in denial and why doctors hesitate to think outside of statistics. Perimenpause and menopause are relatively new topics in scientific research and mainstream discussions. Our mothers and grandmothers most likely didn’t talk about it, but rather silently managed the changes. Often, women stopped doing certain things because the were “getting older or out of shape.”
And when you combine the stressors of midlife (parenting teens or older kids moving on, aging parents, sudden realization of mortality) with the constant hormonal shifts connected to changing phases of life you can understand more why women are anxious, tired, fried, and/or looking to buffer with alcohol, drugs, phone use, etc. But there are things we can do to mitigate perimenopausal symptoms and life a full athletic, adventurous life— up until the day we die.
Although I enjoy the wisdom and maturity that comes with aging, I don’t plan to resign to being what society has defined as being “old.” I will continue to focus on being me. And for now this still includes living as an athletic, active, adventurous woman. I want to thrive in this stage of life. And on my recent ride as I honestly cataloged my performance, body composition changes, mood and energy shifts, I couldn’t deny that I am truly in it. Time to fully practice what I preach.
What do I plan to change to work with my perimenopausal body and mind RIGHT NOW?
- I will track my patterns using the WildAI app consistently (2Xs daily).
- My training: I am changing my training stimuli by adding in more HEAVY strength, plyometrics (jumping), and high intensity interval Training (HIIT) to my schedule to maintain muscle mass and bone integrity.
- My nutrition: I will track for a short period of time to ensure that I am hitting my daily protein needs. I will focus more on using fruits and vegetables for my carbohydrate sources.
- My mood: Keep journaling, praying, and evolving. Practice consistent self honesty. Slow down to feel through all things. Start taking two adaptogens: Ashwaganda and Schisandra. More on adaptogens—I do not endorse the brands mentioned: https://thebeet.com/what-are-adaptogens-herbs-and-plants-that-can-help-reduce-stress-and-anxiety/)
Also, although I will still race in the summer, I will aim to choose my focused (“A”) races to be late spring or early fall to better accommodate my lifestyle and commitments.
Want to know more about how to thrive in perimenopause or other phases of life? (premenopause, pregnancy, postmenopause, etc) I include a lot of education in my coaching experience (for athletes of all ages and phases) and would love to work with your life stage and female physiology to help you keep crushing goals.
Join me at MB Coaching and/or at The Feisty Team (www.fesitytriathlon.com) for loads of amazing resources!
Let’s remain grounded in understanding and acceptance of where we truly are.
Let’s thrive together through all of life.