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About a year ago I came to the realization that I was having menopause symptoms. I have to admit that the thought had occurred to me prior to the ‘realization’ but I pushed it to the back of my mind convinced that I was much too young for that. I was just barely 42 when I started wondering.
Finally I could no longer deny that what was going on with me was directly related to hormonal changes and most likely menopause. In the book New Menopausal Years by Susun Weed (that’s an affiliate link) she says something like if you think it might be menopause, it probably is. I don’t know if she’s right about that for everyone but it fits for me.
I had a very rough few months. It seemed that the menopause problems exacerbated other problems I was having. Basically, I felt like I was falling apart. My entire body hurt, I had headaches, I was exhausted, moody, listless, hot flashes, putting on weight–you name it. I was nothing short of a mess.
To find relief I started visiting an acupuncturist. That helped a lot with the exhaustion and hot flashes. She also encouraged me to start on some herbs that would help even things out. I started taking wild yam (first as a tea then I made it into a tincture) and also rhodiola (also first as a tea and then a tincture) plus licorice root. I also started drinking nettle infusion (I learned about that from the Susun Weed book and from Heal Thyself!). I also learned about magnesium deficiency and in addition to the nettles (which help with the mag deficiency) I also started taking Epsom salt baths and using magnesium oil.
Those things helped but the body pain persisted. Then I found a person in my town who did Structural Integration (based on the Rolf method). This worked wonderfully for me! From the first appointment I had less headaches. The SI is usually a ten session procedure but it did take a few extra to get me put back together. I finished in May and I felt absolutely wonderful.
This summer has been terrific. I’ve felt better than I had in a couple of years. I finally had the energy and desire to not only do my necessary tasks (you know, like work) but also to do some of the things we’d been planning. We added seven goats to our little place, put in our biggest and best garden yet, bought a new piece of property that we’ll eventually move to, and I even spent two weeks away working and then visiting family.
Then at the end of July/ beginning of August, after returning from my trip, I realized I was feeling kind of blah. I was tired again and having headaches. My hip was hurting. I thought it might have been from being on the road and driving something like 2500 miles so I didn’t think much of it. But the feelings persisted. I started evaluating things.
Truth is I’d stopped doing many of the things that were helping. I was feeling so good that I would not do the stuff that helped me feel good. My wild yam tincture had spoiled and I didn’t make any more. When I stopped taking that I also stopped the rhodiola and licorice root. And I hadn’t made nettle infusion for a couple of months. I couldn’t remember the last time I took time for an Epsom salt soak or used magnesium oil. And while the SI work had put me back together my daily habits were taking apart– I wasn’t paying attention to posture for one along with a few other bad habits. I had been paying attention to my diet and getting quite a bit more exercise (all that goat tending and gardening, ya know) but the weight hadn’t budged and in fact, my stomach was larger. I hadn’t gained any additional but I was really hoping that once my activity level increased the weight would decrease.
No way did I want to go back to the rotten way I was feeling last winter! It was time to get back on track.
I added back in the nettle infusions and the magnesium oil. I know before that those provided excellent and quick results. I need to make another wild yam tincture since that seemed to help so much but keep forgetting to stop by the liquor store to pick up the vodka. It takes six weeks for the tincture to develop. One in a while I do make a cup of wild yam tea but the taste if not very pleasant.
It is too soon to take a full SI course for my body aches but I did start back with acupuncture which seems to be helping with the headaches and energy.
The weight is another thing I want to deal with. While I’ve long been comfortable with my body ‘as is’ I want to be healthy. And truthfully I want to look healthy. In the past I used to put most of my weight on in my legs but now it is hanging around the middle. I look bloated often and even slightly pregnant. Of course, the gray hair is a good indicator that I’m not pregnant– just fat– but still.
When we first switched to real food four years ago I lost forty pounds over the course of 18 months without trying. It was strictly from the change in our diet and the increase in my activity. For the most part, I’m doing the same things now but not having the results. Some of the weight I lost went back on for reasons I’m not sure of.
Because of troubles I’m having with my teeth, I’ve been trying to have more milk in my diet. There is research that shows that milk can help with weight loss, especially stomach weight. Of course, the research indicates it should be ‘fat free’ milk which is just gross (and not a healthy choice) but I’ll stick with my real milk (from healthy, grass-fed cows). Unfortunately, I haven’t done well at increasing my milk consumption but I am trying. With cooler weather coming up I suspect it will be easier. I don’t care for milk very much when the weather is hot.
A few months ago my friend KerryAnn posted about how she was working on firming and toning her stomach area using herbal based wraps. I hadn’t heard of the wraps before and wasn’t sure what to think. But knowing her pretty well I was in awe of her results. I was, however, skeptical that it would work for me. And not 100% sure that I was comfortable with the idea of using something like this to eliminate belly fat instead of what I thought I should do— good old fashioned hard work. It almost seemed like ‘cheating’ to use a wrap to get rid of fat. It took me about two months to decide to give the wrap a go.
I followed the directions for the wrap including taking before pictures and measuring. At the end of the 45 minutes that the wrap was on, I took another picture and measured again. I was right. It didn’t work. My measurements did not change and I actually looked worse in my picture. The instructions said that it would take 72 hours to see full results but I wasn’t holding my breath.
Three days later I took another picture and more measurements, I was shocked to discover I’d lost a total of 4.5 inches off my waist, belly and hips. My friend had given me directions to save the original wrap in a zipper bag to use again three days later (this is not a company approved method, the wraps are marketed as single use only) so I put that wrap back on and three days later had lost even more inches. I went from skeptical to convinced. While I’m not 100% comfortable with all of the ingredients in the wraps, I do think that since it is something that is used on occasion (no more than one wrap every 72 hours) it is okay (my personal opinion only, yours may vary. For more information about the ingredients and how the EWG scores each ingredient see this post from KerryAnn). In fact, I was so impressed with the wraps that I became a distributor. I’ve now done four wraps and you can see my before and after picture below. I’ll do at least four more wraps on my stomach and will also do my legs and arms. Yes, the results are permanent but the way the fat originally went on, it can go back (ahem).
While the wrap (Ultimate Body Applicator is the official name) is marketed for cosmetic use only, I do think that having a smaller middle is helping me in other areas. I feel better about myself for one. My clothes fit better and I look more balanced. Plus seeing such amazing results makes me want to do more things to continue to improve. I’ve been super busy with work for the past several weeks but am now looking at how to adjust my schedule to add in deliberate daily activity along with the usual necessary things. Of course with winter on the horizon (we have snow right now!) outside activities will be more limited. Maybe this winter I’ll bust out that collection of exercise videos I have gathering dust…. 😉
Overall, menopause has been an interesting journey. I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed the bulk of it. But I’m finally starting to feel like it is becoming familiar. I’m happy that the hot flashes and night sweats have decreased. I’m happy that I’ve found ways help with the symptoms. And I’ll be very happy when I’m on the other side of menopause.
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Photo credit: Acupuncture needles from freedigitalphotos.net