Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Befriend you body, find your core balance

Today I heard something new from my cleaning lady Georgia about weight gain and menopause. She said her doctor told her that with the increase in male hormones, women start gaining weight on the upper part of their body, from the waist up.

I have experienced the opposite, everything flowing downwards. Maybe this is explained by genetics and body shape - apple being round on top, with thin legs, and pear shape tending to be heavier around the bottom and thighs.

Whatever shape you have, your weight may change during menopause. I am actually losing weight, partly due to going gluten-free. Thyroid problems can also cause weight gain or loss, so I am definitely going to have this checked at my annual check-up in May.

Whatever you do, first thing is to accept your body and love it - before you can make any changes, you need to stop being critical of yourself. It's an odd fact that when you begin to accept and love yourself, then changes can come, resistance is lowered.

My favourite website for factual information on medical issues for menopause is http://www.womentowomen.com/. They recently sent me an interesting article about weight gain.

"whether a woman is overweight or underweight, the first thing she can do for herself is befriend her body. Women are often too critical of the weight level that their bodies find most comfortable. Whether you look in the mirror and see yourself as “too much” or “too little,” obsessing about the extra curves (or the lack of them) is a major obstacle to finding your healthy weight."

"We can hold extra weight — or be unable to gain weight — during periods of hormonal imbalance, adrenal fatigue, digestive disorders, neurotransmitter imbalances, toxicity, and inflammation, just to name a few. Weight gain or loss can also be related to imbalance in our life choices. Exercising too much or too little, over — or under — emphasizing specific food groups so that we don’t have a balanced diet — even imbalances in our relationships or emotional lives can affect our weight!

Whether your goal is to lose weight or gain it, a key starting point is to recognize where your life and health are out of balance."

So ladies, find your balance and your weight problems may be over.
It is not as simple as just going on a diet - find out where in your life you need a make-over -

what do you need less of? what do you need more of?

are you stressed and over anxious? are you giving yourself any time alone, just to be still?

are you living at a pace that's too fast? or too slow?

take a few moments and write in your journal every day/week, about how you feel, where you are going, how you are doing, and maybe throw in some self-love, compassion and kindness instead of harsh self-criticism.

See if a little self-love and befriending will help you find balance,


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Why you should eat organic animal products

Estrogen has many wonderful qualities.
It creates our fertility, protects our health in myriad ways, and serves as a powerful anti-inflammatory. But we are very concerned about environmental estrogens. They’re another story entirely.

Awash in a sea of xenoestrogens

For the most part, our bodies are amazingly resilient. We are hard-wired to resist threats to our equilibrium. What our bodies are not designed for is exposure to the many endocrine disruptors in our environment, among them the family of chemicals known as xenoestrogens.Many of these xenoestrogens are proven carcinogens. They are also well known for their ability to damage the immune system and interrupt hormonal balance.

Our cells can’t always distinguish fully between our own estrogen and xenoestrogens. Every cell has estrogen receptors that recognize and open to the shape of an estrogen molecular chain, regardless of where it comes from.

Pesticides are perhaps the biggest source of xenoestrogens. Most bioaccumulate, meaning they are stored in fat cells of fish, poultry and other food sources in increasing concentration until they reach the top of the food chain — where you and I consume them! They are highly estrogenic, and some experts estimate that the average American ingests over a pound of pesticides a year.

A second major source of xenoestrogens is the many growth hormones given to livestock and poultry, most of which contain fat-soluble estrogens. When we consume those animals or their milk, we ingest that estrogen.

Organochlorides like dioxin (a by-product of chlorine when it is burned or processed), PCB’s, PVC’s, and some plasticizers are just a few of the many manmade chemicals that act like estrogen in our bodies. Many others have the effect of interrupting our normal endocrine function, hence the term “endocrine disruptors.”

Mainstream medicine is finally paying attention because xenoestrogens not only affect the cells of women, but those of men and children. Sperm counts have dropped by 50% in some studies, a significant factor in the epidemic of infertility. The age at which girls develop secondary sex characteristics (breasts and pubic hair) is also dropping.

It is not exactly clear what role endocrine disruptors as a whole have in the steady rise of chronic diseases in children (at earlier ages!), but studies are underway to evaluate this.

taken from www.womentowomen.com article on Estrogen Dominance

Dear readers of this blog,
I have been buying organic meat, (poultry, lamb, beef, pork), eggs and dairy products for almost ten years now, and although I also eat frozen prepared meals and at restaurants occasionally, I feel the best way to protect myself and the environment is to eat organic animal products. Being vegetarian is no longer an option for my health (did it for 8-9 years) because of my low blood sugar. A chinese acupunturist was the one to tell me my dizzy spells after eating brown rice and tofu were a sign I needed more animal protein.

Find out what is best for your body, and don't fall into 'trends'. Ayurvedic medicine has also helped me discover which foods are right for my body type (dosha), which includes mental and emotional states. Eating too much rice is not good for me either! There is no one 'cleanse' that will be healthy for everyone. I tried a grapefruit cleanse that my osteopath recommended, only to find out it was for 'kapha' dosha, not 'pitta' dosha types. Understandably, it did not agree with me.

Be your own best health advocate, do the research, find the health professionals that will give you the right advice, and do not depend on the medical establishment alone for information on menopause.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Is this Menopause?

I don't know how many times I've heard that question - usually followed by a list of symptoms, physical or emotional, that make a woman wonder if, gee, at 42, I could be possibly experiencing menopause, at such a young age.

Often a trip to the doctor only confuses a woman, who has perhaps never missed a period yet, but is still wondering if the sleepless nights, or increased anxiety, or changes in her vaginal health, or lack of desire for sex, all these vague and indirect symptoms, could possibly be part of The Change. A doctor told my 42 year old friend during a pelvic examination that her uterus and vagina were young and healthy and she could still have more kids! (she already has 3, two teens and a seven year old, thank you very much!). You can't be in menopause, the doctor's say, you're too young!

But perimenopause can begin 10 years before you officially end menstruating. Some women begin in their late 30's! And at the very least, you should be aware that changes will be happening in your cycle in your early 40's - ovulation will be less regular, not 14 days after your last menstruation necessarily - my GP told me to be careful with contraception when I turned 40, because I could not count on my fertility period to be right in the middle of the cycle, it might begin the day after menstruating.

The other vague symptom that hits a lot of women in their 40's (way before they are thinking about menopause) is a desire to leave, to get away, to have more time alone to figure out where they are, who they are and what they want to do. You may call this a mid-life crisis, but it's not often a crisis - it's more likely an underlying angst, a questioning, the beginning of a quest for a self separate from all other relationships - mother, daughter, sibling, wife....

The need for a sabbatical from motherhood or marriage is never considered by most of us. We think the well of love and nurturing energy should be endless. It feels selfish to want to get away. To want to be alone. To fantasize a white room with no outside stimulation in which we could just be still, be quiet enough to hear our own voice.

And what would that voice tell us? That still, small voice so hard to hear in this busy, fast-paced world? It might shock us to think about leaving everything - but you may do as I did - and leave temporarily on retreat, then come back. Leave as often as you need to, and return. It doesn't have to be a year-long sabbatical. Maybe you just need an extended leave from being chief cook, bottlewasher and bread-winner (not to mention caring for aging parents, and in-laws).

So, yes, it could be menopause - or the beginnings of a 10-year long prep period - that is calling. It may be a call for self-care. It may be a wake-up call to prevent burn-out. It may be your body saying, whispering, cooing to you (or yelling): time for me, time for me to pay attention within, time for me to slow down and listen.

"When a woman stops doing she must learn how to simply be. Being is not a luxury; it is a discipline. The heroine must listen carefully to her true inner voice. That means silencing the other voices anxious to tell her what to do." The Heroine's Journey

Find that quiet space to do the questing in.

It is not a luxury. It is time.

take care

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Weight Gain and Menopause, a poem

Rose hips

In yoga class, surrounded by three walls
of mirrors, I cannot avoid my hips,
forty-nine-year-old bulging handles
wide at the wrong spot.

The truth about my hips: I find them
sturdy looking, square, front on,
but sideways they spread like sponges,
abundant woman fat, thick as butter on sliced
bread or baguettes bulging in the oven.

Bone on bone cracks as
I raise my legs, lying flat on the back.
Should soak these creaky hinges
in salt foam waves,
let my rose hips rise
like Aphrodite from the sea.

Perhaps a bath will perform some magic,
transform me into Venus
of Willendorf. Is it too much
goddess, to ask you
to bless my hips?


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