Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pre-Menopause or Menopause? How to Know The Difference AND the differences!

Every woman is different and that is pretty much the extent of any real information I gleaned from searching the internet.  And I would say that out of the women I know IRL, that pretty much is a true statement.
I can tell you personally what I have learned over the past 10 years though.
In 2004 when I first started gaining weight rapidly among other symptoms, my family doctor chalked it up to "well you ARE 40 now..."  No.  That is not what this is...this is not turning 40 and its not menopause. 
Well I was right...it was hypothyroidism and has since been contained with daily medication of course.
Then over the next few years, I would have on and off again night sweats, but when I asked my doctors (endo, OBGYN) if it was onset of menopause, their reaction was 'could be'.  I even got tested to see about my hormone levels and all was well.  So we chalked that up to the Synthroid.
I slowly lost the weight I had gained but was really never 'the same' in body comp.  Around late 2009 and basically through early 2012 I got in the best shape of my life at the high end of my 40's!  That came with lots of exercise and an eating regime of clean, clean, clean 95% of the time.
So I guess even that late, I wasn't really feeling any real what I thought would be considered pre-menopausal except for like I said the ever so often night sweats and not being able to sleep sometimes through a night without a few wake ups.  Annoying.
The other thing that started around that time was that I quit taking BCP's.  My periods regulated but nothing out the ordinary again for me to ever wonder...
Then about mid-2012 I started having HORRRRRRRRRRRRRRIBLE pre-menstrual symptoms...massive bloat, HORRENDOUS cramps and heavy heavy flow generally all at once.  Then it started to happen periodically throughout a cycle so you just never knew when you would feel a rush of 'something'.  You basically didn't go anywhere without having a tampon handy.  And that would be end of that.  A huge rush of fluid and then nothing...Gosh.
Additionally I had moved to Nebraska and that brought on extra weight due to the climate, and lack of things and people.  I spend a lot of time cooped up because of the cold, snow, wind and ice.  And since there was nothing to do there ...well lets just say my running and my body took a hit.  A big hit.
I thought once I got back to Texas (early 2014), I would be able to remedy quickly.  So not the case.  At 51 I was in the thick of pre-menopause.  My mid-section is the receiver of the majority of the dreaded pre-menopause that is for certain.  Unless I was willing to change my exercise and eating habits I was going to be stuck with what I considered someone elses body.
I call it meno-pot.  Its real and its horrible.  Also its just not the mid-section but mostly.  At least with me.  And let me tell you something.  There isn't a damn thing you can do about it.  I would say if your genetic makeup (look at your mom, your aunts, your sisters) and/or if you are already thick through the middle, well you might as well do one or the other...get that shit under control NOW, or live with it.
I do wonder had I not gone to Nebraska and not gone through that transition mentally and physically but yet stayed as I was before I left would I have the challenges I do now, but I will never know.
So yeah...back to what my pre-meno looked like....
So in 2013 I turned 50 and I was still having a period every 26-28 days.  And sometimes spotting in between but the cramps etc every month right on target.  I thought when the heck am I going to go through menopause???
So for 2 years I've been solidly in pre-menopause.  I might have had fluctuations of it for several years according to doctors but yeah 50-52 was definitely it.
I started using a tracker a few years back, and I guess over the past year I started noticing trends.  Shorter cycles both being days of bleeding/gush/spots (actually lasting a day) and then the time between started getting shorter and shorter and I noticed my pre-menstrual symptoms basically stopped.
Then about 6 months ago...that was it.  Right before I turned 52.  In reality they say you have 'gone through menopause' once you have missed a year of periods.  Well like I said its been about 6 months sooooooooooooo...
I also don't know if I have been lucky or if my lifestyle (food and exercise) has played a huge part in what has been a seemingly smooth transition.  My mom has been gone for some time now and my sister didn't remember hers being bad, but honestly I am sleeping fine and outside of a handful of 'hot flashes' ... nothing.  The hot flashes haven't lasted long when they did happen and I noticed a trend that seemed to cause them:  I had had a beer or two
So alcohol appeared to be a trigger.
Except for this past Saturday we were out and I had 3 beers, and yet no hot flashes.  Yay!
I am definitely considering myself lucky because amongst my friends they are really struggling.  Severe weight gain, hot flashes that seem horrible and insomnia, EXTREME mood swings....  However these same people are ones that weren't in great health to begin with...
My biggest advice to anyone ANYONE reading this is to get your health in order early 40's and don't quit!!!
We have tested my metabolism earlier this year (calorie expenditure on a rest day) and it is SEVERELY lower thanks to aging.  Even with my meds.  So earlier this year, I had a trainer to get a reality check on what I was actually eating and exactly what I was expending.  I can't recommend enough that you need strength and cardio!!!!!!!!!!!!  And counting calories...ugh... I have had to track EVERYTHING in a handy dandy app. But what a pain!
What an eye opener!!!  Lord no wonder nothing was working!  Now though while I still have a squishy mid-section it is reduced and I am still working on getting back to a new normal I guess.  At least my inflammation, bloatedness...overall body comp is better and I can fit in clothes that I couldn't pre-2015. 

I have even been back to running in a jog bra!  Not only because I feel better in my skin, but coming to the realization that NO ONE CARES if I do!  I see women out there so confident honestly not remotely looking like a Runners World cover, but yet embracing the sweltering temps in little clothing without a care in the world!!!

Another side perk of getting older:  not giving a shit

I want to say that if you are reading this and thinking you don't care about your size later in life, or that you have allllllllllllllllll this time to think about it...well you don't.  It will be here before you know it and again the best advice I can give is to rein it in now.  And honestly while vanity might not be a driving force, being HEALTHY should be.  Being out of shape and non-active, eating like crap will age you faster than you can shake a stick out...and duh, don't you want to be healthy and independent?????????????

Questions can be sent to my email address located in the right navigation bar.

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