I guess it’s about that time. I’m closing my 49th year with more curiosity than anything else, as my body reaches the peak of transition into the next chapter of my life. Sometimes I feel that it (my body) is very separate from me. It changes from day to day, and I’ve learned to listen and flow with whatever the day brings.
The most noticeable changes are the hormone surges. Typically a discomfort like PMS would last one, maybe two days. I’d have a little discomfort, a little bloating, and then a few days later my period would come. But these hormone surges are a whole new ballgame. Instead of days, one can last up to two weeks. There will only be one day (or two) of discomfort, but there are days of swollen parts: breasts, hips, and thighs. My body turns into the expression of a Botticelli painting, and appropriately so; I recognize that it’s my body’s last ditch effort to try and make babies, no matter what my mind has already decided on this matter. What’s most interesting is that despite my extra bodily real estate, my body functions don’t change: I’m still as strong, as balanced and as flexible as I am when I’m not in a surge. I do have to be more careful about the way that I move, because I am noticeably heavier. That means I have to be aware of how I get up and down from the floor in rapid succession during a workout. The last thing I want to do is roll an ankle or tweak a knee.
I’ve developed a bit of a ritual to manage my surges (and to keep my sanity about these changes). I’ve found that routine hydration and dehydration (think of it almost like contrast therapy) helps almost to perfection. I’m not talking about a couple of little bottles of water. I’m talking at least a gallon… sometimes twice that throughout the day. The swelling is the result of water retention, so to get rid of it I flush… a lot. The other thing that helps is sweating. In addition to working out (which I do 6 days a week), I also sauna regularly. Sweating and hydrating in tandem helps to rid my body of excess water and that annoying swelling rather effectively. It makes movement more comfortable overall. I don’t know that this practice is true across the board for all bodies, but it definitely works for me.
I’ve also incorporated new herbs into my daily nutrition (more on that later). This part took a few phone calls to the elders in my family, who understand more about the subtle body than anyone I know. I’d retained some of the rituals and teas from my childhood, but the information never stuck because I had no use for them until now. So off I go with a healthy dose of black cohosh and raspberry leaf and the like. So far, so good.
I started this transition several years ago, but this year has been the most pronounced. I likely have another year or two before I settle into full menopause. So here I am, ebbing and flowing with the changes, and ever curious about what’s to come.