I sat in the Ob/Gyn office waiting room full of anxiety. I knew in my heart what the nurse practitioner was going to tell me, but I was hopeful that maybe, just maybe, she would hold my hand and tell me that there was a way to “fix” myself and it included dark chocolate and singing kumba-ya. A girl becomes desperate when her hormones are involved. I would have eaten dirt to lose these 30 pounds that I had gained since my last figure competition in May.
They called me in and sent me directly to the scale. I told my “necklace joke” for the fifth time this month “I wore my really heavy necklace today – it weighs 10 pounds! You can deduct that from my weight right?” Not a laugh in the room. Tough crowd here! I was shuffled in to the examination room, given a paper gown and left with my thoughts (anxieties!) for another 10 minutes while I waited for the nurse practitioner to come in. I flipped through a Shape magazine, wondering how I had gotten so far away from the 135 pounds that was normal for me. I could eat french fries on occasion, frozen yogurt, a (gasp!) cookie every now and then! Now, here I was sitting in the doctor’s office at 20 more pounds, having existed on oatmeal and vegetables and protein powder. I got a little teary eyed thinking about it and a moment later, the NP came in.
She sat down and looked at my lab results. And then she turned to me and said, “It looks as though we need to talk about peri-menopause.” She went on to explain that it can start in your late thirties and is relatively normal to have some early symptoms. She then sealed my fate by looking me in the eye and telling me exactly what I thought she would – that I would have to accept that my body will not look like it had in the past and that I should get to “know and accept” my new curves. She asked me if I was depressed (um… wouldn’t you be if you needed a whole new wardrobe?) and when I said yes, I do feel mildly depressed, she offered me a prescription for Zoloft. She also offered me a low dose birth control pill that would help me with my hot flashes and to regulate my “lady time”. I fought back the tears and told her that I would try to figure this out on my own and that I didn’t feel comfortable taking prescriptions just yet. She told me that it was my right to try that out and if in a couple of months, I changed my mind, I could just ask her for the prescriptions.
****Edited to add something that I cannot believe I forgot to put in my original post: The Nurse Practitioner actually looked me in the eye and said…. “I usually recommend women like you to hire a nutritionist. Also, you may want to ramp up your exercise”. I actually told her that in order for me to work out more, I would need to quit my job. Oh, and I said… “hire a nutritionist? I could BE a nutritionist”.
I don’t remember walking out of the office. I don’t remember driving to the nearest parking lot so that I could stop to unload the tears that were waiting to be released. I cried for a full 10 minutes. Heaving sobs. I cried so hard that if my kids have been in the car, I would have scared them. When I finally stopped crying, I walked into the grocery store that I was parked at and walked around like a zombie. I stared longingly at the beautiful artisan cookies and muffins in the bakery. The wheels of cheese in the deli. The candy by the pound in the bulk bins. I thought about saying “oh well, what the heck…. if this is my new normal, I may as well just indulge right?” But I didn’t. I bought myself some flowers and a head of cauliflower and went back to work.
I want all of you out there who are going through this that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I do not think that we have to accept the pudge and the mood swings and the hot flashes and the crazy periods! I picked up a book called “The Hormone Cure” and have been devouring its content. It is amazing. I have been reading blogs written by people who have competed in bodybuilding who have had similar issues. I have been pouring over information that tells me that this is NOT the end and I do not have to buy a moo moo and let my gray roots stay uncovered.
It seems as though my issue (and a lot of people’s also) starts with the hormone Cortisol. I will be talking a lot about this hormone on this blog in the near future. It is the hormone that “governs your hunger cravings, digestion, blood pressure, sleep/wake patterns, physical activity, and capacity to cope with stress.” according to Sara Gottfried, author of The Hormone Cure. Stress is a part of life, sure, but when you are under constant stress, instead of releasing little bits of cortisol, like normal, your body doesn’t know how to stop and you get slammed with it. If your body is busy making more cortisol to put up with the demand from your nervous system, it doesn’t really have the time or energy to make those important sex hormones! So BAM! Premature menopause.
I have developed a plan to ease this disregulation of hormones. It starts with stress relief. I have stopped stressing my body with weight training and heavy aerobic workouts for the time being. It has been 2 and 1/2 weeks so far. I renewed my yoga practice and have tried to do it 2 times a week. I have been eating a gluten-free diet, which Dr. Sara recommends in the book and today, I go to my first acupuncture appointment. I am keeping the faith and believing in the process. I want so much to look back on this time and say “gosh, that was rough but man did I learn a lot!!!”
So today, I encourage you to take a look at your stress and ask yourself if it is serving you or not. Perhaps we could all use a little deep breathing in our days. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I look forward to giving you all updates along the way.