Is it hot in here? Or is it just me?

 

I heard the other day that some women get through perimenopause and menopause with scarcely a bothersome symptom. I don’t think I like those women.
Seriously though – through my younger years, I was well aware of menopause and the fact that it meant that your period was over. Oh, and perhaps there may the odd mood swing. Cool!!!! I’m ok with that, end of my monthly visitor!
WRONG…menopause has a vicious little sister named perimenopause and she hangs out with you for many years before menopause even comes within sight. That’s right, these are the things that you end up finding out about that no one told you about before.

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So, lets get a few things straight. What is perimenopause? According to the Mayo Clinic “it is the time around menopause.” Pardon? Can we be more vague? I need answers people! I need to know down to the minute how much longer I can expect the peri gal to hangout for. So apparently this means some lucky ladies might be having to experience these symptoms for up to 10 years before the actual onset of menopause. Well, based on my research – it seems that perimenopause brings its own list of symptoms:
Changing menstrual cycle
Anxiety
Mood swings
Fatigue
Decreased libido
Skin disturbances
Insomnia
Night Sweats
Hot Flashes
ETC…
The Etc., is big a one, because depending on the woman there could be a whole host of other things, from restless legs and joint aches to itchy skin and so much more.
Also, keep in mind that sometimes all the above symptoms sometimes like to show up and join the party at the same time.

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In the last few weeks I have been having skin breakouts like that of a teenager. This is beyond frustrating for me, especially since I never had acne as a teenager! Why is this happening? Well, as anyone in my family can tell you – when something requires research you bet I’ll be pulling up a chair to settle in for some quality time with the internet to find out everything I can! I’ve done the work for you ladies – during my research I found out some interesting facts. I found out that during perimenopause, hormone levels significantly drop, specifically estrogen. But the levels of the strongest male hormone – testosterone, will remain the same. This imbalance results in acne.
As if, having all these hormones wasn’t one thing, we also have to deal with a MALE hormone! Why can’t they keep their hormones to themselves?
While there exist medications to help with some of these symptoms, as luck would have it, due to family history I don’t qualify for any of them. I am in the process of checking into some natural remedies and I will definitely keep you posted.
Anyway, for those of you that know me, you know that I try to keep a positive outlook on things, and my thought process is one of gratitude. I’m grateful that I made it to this age, to experience this bumpy hormonal change of life ride. As frustrating as it can be at times.
But maybe in my next life, I’m coming back as a man.

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51

Last weekend I turned 51. The last year flew by and, to be honest, I saw some changes.

The doc, advised me that I had hip and foot arthritis which led to a slow down at the gym, until the arthritic flair ups settled. This led to weight gain– slow and steady, hard to miss weight gain. Suddenly, I had a tummy! Or beer belly? Hell, I don’t even like beer! Getting back to exercise has been incredibly challenging, my metabolism taunts me, laughing at me and teasing me, refusing to help. It won’t move its sorry ass!

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“Don’t worry,” said one friend, “it’s perimenopause.” “Don’t worry” said another friend it’s “menopause.”  So now, on a regular basis, the terms perimenopause, menopause and post menopause are thrown around. All I know is that I don’t like any of them! I sure as heck didn’t sign up for all the exciting things that want to be a part of my life while this menopause gang hangs with me. In fact, maybe (depending on who you ask) I may have some mood swings, tiredness, skin breakouts and blazing hot as hell flashes etc.

I’ve also noticed no– actually I’m convinced I’m losing my hearing. “No, no Mom,” consoles my daughter “You just aren’t paying attention”.

Hmmmm… I don’t know. It seems to me that everyone is mumbling around me except my extra loud son and my loud middle nephew, who I can hear anywhere. I think they need to give the rest of the world a lesson on speaking up! I know, I know– That was a cranky old lady comment.

I’ve also noticed that my eyes like to fly open around 4 am and presto I’m wide awake! So wide awake, in fact, I’ve considered getting up and starting laundry or maybe washing the floors? It’s crazy! Then, if I do fall asleep, wild vivid dreams fill my sleep.
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Alas, the latter has invited dark circles around my eyes. I literally look like a raccoon most mornings. So, for the first time in my whole life, I’m actually wearing concealer, highlighter and foundation …. God bless you Mac Cosmetics.

And you know what else? Lines…. lines around my eyes. Especially when I smile. Recently I advised my husband that I just won’t smile anymore…that should take care of things. He found that amusing, because he knows me: I love to laugh, it will never stop.

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But there has been some pretty cool stuff this year that I witnessed:

  • I saw a family member deal with a health set back in a positive and admirable way and worked their way up to getting better and looking amazing. (So…gee maybe I can at least lose the weight and get back to a solid fitness level!)
  • I watched both our children turn 27 and 24 and make grown up decisions regarding their careers.
  •  I watched my spunky dog turn 14 (that would be 73 in human years)  but she’s still  young at heart, and chasing everything that moves in our yard… albeit slower, and a little out of breath!

The year went fast, and now that I’m 51, I think I can say I’m settling into this decade quite nicely. Each year will bring changes I know, but I am happy and grateful for every day and every experience.

There will be some upcoming goal setting on my part. Stay tuned as I introduce you to them one by one…. You’re gonna love it!

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Women: Mental Health and Wellness

Yesterday I attended an educational event that focused on Women’s mental health and wellness. This event was hosted by Markham Stouffville Hospital. I was immediately intrigued when I received the invitation as well as the list of guest speakers that were mentioned.

As we all know mental health needs have been on the increase every year affecting millions of Canadians of all ages and both sexes. I have been increasingly impressed with companies stepping up and sponsoring events or educating the public on mental health. One such company is Bell and the “Let’s Talk Campaign.”  Openly talking about mental health issues is the cornerstone of this campaign. Today it was great to see another company join in on bringing mental health to the forefront: Shoppers Drug Mart was a sponsor of this event, an event about Women FOR Women!

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The morning began with a seamless registration process followed by a yummy breakfast of fruit and yogurt. We were then shown into a large meeting room that was beautifully put together right down to gorgeous flowers on the table!

As I took my seat I immediately felt comfortable. There was nice calming music playing and a selection of positive quotes on power point being shown on a large screen at the front of the room. I looked around and took notice of booths on the perimeter of the room that had all sorts of community information. There were people at each booth ready to explain what they had to offer. I also took notice that there was much diversity in the room, women of different ages and races. This was wonderful to see, because the need for wellness and good mental health is important for everyone.

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The Chief of Psychiatry was one of the first speakers and listed many relevant statistics about women and depression, among the many things he discussed was the ever-increasing needs of women with regards to mental health. At this time, it is the number one form of disability in Canada. I almost wished I had written these statistics down as they were astounding.  Women face different burdens and pressures that are different then what Men face. Women deal with hormones that begin early in life and hit highs and lows throughout puberty, pregnancies and menopause. Sometimes, this ends up being too much and results in post partum depression, anxiety or depression or other types of mental illnesses. All the speakers were amazing, and about 75 women sat in rapt attention to everything that was being said.  Did I learn new things? Oh yes, I did. I learned:

  • That there is a connection to menopause, hormones, depression and anxiety.
  • That one speaker who is a very confident teacher and is also a successful black belt in karate with numerous competitions under her belt; can also have down moments, moments of questioning herself, and moments of wanting to give up.
  • I learned that a yoga teacher can have the best understanding of anxiety, panic disorder, PTSD and depression and still come out an amazing person, with a gift and passion to help others going through the same thing. Through diet, nutrition and yoga she helps with mental health issues. I had no idea that this type of yoga teacher existed!
  • I learned how to breathe properly as taught to us by this lovely yoga teacher. At 50 years of age I had not been using my diaphragm properly for breathing and having learned this, I could immediately see what a positive difference it made! I was immediately relaxed.
  • I learned that our brain is an organ and it is just as important as our heart. We need to take care of it. If we had a heart attack we wouldn’t go out and shovel snow. So why would we not take care of our brain the same way?
  • I learned that women can get overwhelmed, pulled in different directions. Tending to the needs of others, meeting deadlines at work and easily forgetting about themselves. But we need to advocate for ourselves, keep our brains in tune with our bodies. Sense any symptoms of disharmony between the brain and the body and address them immediately.

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I absolutely enjoyed every minute of this event, right down to the wonderful lunch that was provided for us. The day felt like it was just for us, for Women with needs and questions and a safe and wonderful forum for us to ask them and learn in.

Everyone in that room had a story, my hope is that after this event none of them will simply ignore their challenges and instead will actively seek out help. There is no need to struggle or suffer in silence.  Mental illness needs to be talked about openly the way it was today. Moreover, it needs to be addressed. No one should feel ashamed to bring these challenges up to their doctors.

As if the day and breakfast and lunch wasn’t amazing enough, at the end of the event we were each presented with gift bags containing, magazines, candy, body wash etc. So incredibly thoughtful!

Thank you to the team that put this wonderful day together and planned every aspect of the event. Your efforts did not go unnoticed.  Most of all thank you for giving women and their quest for continued wellness a voice today. A place to learn and be heard. I’m totally stoked for next year!

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50 candles on the cake

I turned 50 recently. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen when I woke up on the morning of my birthday. Would the skies open? Would angels sing and then drop adult diapers and hearing aids from the sky? Nah! It was all good. I reached and accepted this milestone very well.  A milestone it is! Officially well past middle age yet at an age that a few of my friends did not make it to and for that I am grateful.

Something I have noticed is that conversations are different at 50 in comparison to what was important at 30. Now, we’re talking more about health and wellness, our adult or teenaged children, finding jeans that look great and for my female friends the challenges of getting through menopause with sanity.  Many are telling me it’s a new beginning for them. A time to focus on themselves and/or significant other, make a career change or set new goals.  Maybe even reinvent themselves.

So I created this blog with the hopes of sharing some information for those of us in our fifties and beyond, or at the very least hopefully I can just simply entertain you. From time to time you may even see a fabulous recipe I tried, or a picture of me modeling something I purchased that just rocks! It’s going to be fun! Stay with me.

Love and Laughter

M

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