Just Keep Swimming: How I Learned to Manage Exercise After Menopause | Shanti Nelson

NThe transition to menopause is challenging enough without adding exercise to the mix. With the constant threat of overheating looming over my fuzzy head, I have to choose my activities wisely. Walking before sunset is a pointless endeavor. I need a cold shower before heading out, and the mere thought of the SoulCycle (admittedly, I’m still a bit new to the concept) gives me enough hot flashes to burn my lunch without getting on the bike.

I managed to vehemently deny that I was getting stiff with age, prompting friends to suggest it was just part of menopause until suddenly What in God’s name is? I can’t touch my toes and hobble to the bathroom in the wee hours, hunched over and grumbling to myself why the hell, at 53, am I hobbled.

It’s even more disturbing that in the same sentence I’m using hunched over, grunting, and rustling, three words I didn’t expect to use for another few decades.

As if being stalked by AARP wasn’t bad enough, now all this? I’ve always imagined myself in pretty decent shape, even slightly athletic. Was I delusional all along?

It’s like I’ve fallen asleep in the tropics and woken up in the Sahara without an ounce of lubrication in my body (apart from copious amounts of tears that flow freely at the sign of anything cute or adorable on Instagram).

Help! I’m stuck in the desert in menopause and heaven help me if I see a baby camel game over.

So basically, land-based cardio is out (at least in the summer), along with alcohol and caffeine (theoretically), though those menopausal bans have yet to take effect. Baby steps.

After hearing me bemoan my rapidly expanding lower abdomen that was pulling me out of yet another pair of overpriced jeans, the guy scanning my gym card suggested I take a cardio class.

You should try Zumba; it’s good for your core, he says.

Is he crazy? I think I’m in menopause. Like I don’t sweat enough 24-freakin-7 with my hormonal flushing.

Zumba? I’d rather jump out of a plane, I say. At least there will be a cool breeze.

He is confused and rightly so; he looks like he’s about 16 and probably wouldn’t recognize a hot flash from a rotary phone.

Or you can do Bikram, he continues. You’ll work up a sweat.

Hot yoga? There’s no way I’m signing up to overheat (and most likely pass out) with a bunch of strangers paying money to sweat. If only I could donate a few liters to their cause. Not to mention the ability to touch my toes is gone with all the collagen I’m apparently losing, so the thought of doing yoga is like climbing Everest.

No thanks, I say. I’ll stick to swimming.

My mom taught me to swim before I could walk, and in the throes of menopause I couldn’t be more grateful. Until she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, she swam a mile a day before coffee, tea or toast, and sometimes before sunrise.

Trust me, I’d love nothing more than to start my day with a cold plunge (the colder the better), but between the hot flashes and the cold sweats that keep me up all night like a caffeinated squirrel, I tend to wake up too too exhausted to boil water, let alone exercise.

It took long enough, but it finally hit me besides teaching me to be safe in the water (to float and wade), my mom taught me to appreciate how swimming makes me feel. Just as my grandmother ate chicken soup at the slightest hint of a sniffle, my mom touted swimming as a mental cure-all, adopting the mantra Just go swimming, Shanti, it’ll make you feel better as an opener to a host of motherly conversations she should have nudged me with. own way.

God bless her patience: I was an anxious child prone to nail biting, stomach aches and occasional panic attacks. I was afraid of almost everything in my life except thanks to my mother. I still am.

I didn’t swim for the longest time after she died. We spent so much time together in the pool that I couldn’t bear the thought of getting in without her, and for the first time in my life I was afraid of water. As grief commanded my existence, I avoided the one thing I knew she would tell me to do: Just go swimming, Shanti, it’ll make you feel better.

Her motherly instinct was right and I ended up back in the water.

Although I never shared my mom’s enthusiasm for pre-caffeine training (I’m working on it), she managed to plant the seed of swimming deep into my psyche. It took menopause and enough tears to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool (another benefit of swimming is that you can cry in your goggles and no one is the wiser), but after a fairly long period of germination, it finally took root.

Hallelujah. When it comes to menopause, swimming is a godsend. At the rate I’m overheating these days, water has proven to be the most effective hormonal surge protector, aside from sticking my head in the freezer, resulting in unnecessary snacking.

I wouldn’t leave it near the heat to get into the water, but so far the pool has been the only place those sneaky bastards can’t find me.

#Swimming #Learned #Manage #Exercise #Menopause #Shanti #Nelson
Image Source : www.theguardian.com

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