By Jo Jackson, writer and blogger
How to cope with the menopausal beach body blues!
I’m a middle-aged menopausal woman who has put on a fair few inches around the midriff over the last couple of years. “Thickening” is the official term for it. It’s another of the many crap things that Mother Nature decides to throw at us as a reward for surviving decades of periods.
Now, I exercise daily, I don’t smoke, rarely drink and I eat healthily, bar the weekend when I do allow myself a cake or pudding. Well you’ve got to have some vices, haven’t you? “Everything in moderation.” “A little of what you fancy.” Yep, they’re my mantras. “Life’s too short not to eat cake!”
I think I have the right balance, but I cannot shift this tummy or the fluid retention or the cottage cheese effect that is the cellulite on my legs. I hate it! However, I do not let it rule my day to day life because I don’t often choose to look in a full-length mirror.
I try to put it to the back of my mind but there are times in your life when you just can’t avoid it. Summer is one of those times, the mindset of the Menopausal Beach Body Blues!
Every year my friends and I join thousands of like-minded music lovers for a beach-based festival. Every January I am determined to get a beach body. Every June I acknowledge that it’s not going to happen and feel like I’ve totally failed!
Then, of course, I start trying on the clothes that I think I’m going to take. Urghh, further despondency! Nothing looks nice, I wonder if that dress might work if I buy really big knickers, and so many things just don’t fit anymore!
During the approach to Summer last year, I saw that many of my female friends, and friends of friends, young and old, slim and larger, were all facing the same struggles, having the same negative thoughts, and some were even contemplating not going to the festival, or even on family holidays (yes that was me on one occasion too).
It’s not attention seeking, it is a very real phenomenon. The responses to their Facebook posts expressing self doubt, were all positive, from male and female alike. It seems we are able to appreciate the beauty in others, but not in our ourselves.
When will us ladies give ourselves a break? I look back at photos of my younger self and think “wow I was actually quite slim then”! Of course, at the time I thought I was “fat”. Do you think that when we are 75 we are going to look back at our 50s and think ” well you actually weren’t bad for a middle-aged woman“?
I think we probably will. I think that when we are 75, we will wonder why on earth we wasted so many years worrying about the outside of a body when it’s really the inside that matters.
Men don’t seem to have these hang-ups, do they? I’m trying to think like my husband. The one upshot of getting bigger is that at aged 52 I finally have boobs. Every cloud does indeed have a silver lining. We need to learn to focus on the bits that we love not the bits we hate.
I decided to put those dresses away that didn’t fit and if they don’t fit in a year’s time then I will get rid and accept my new size. I tried to convince my mind not to torture myself anymore and look forward to a wonderful time in the sun with my husband and my friends. It’s about time we focus on the good things ladies. We really do need to love ourselves right now.
What happened at the festival? Well, we all went and had a jolly nice time. Did we cover up? Were we worried about what we looked like? No, because we were all having such a nice time, surrounded by people who love us for who we are.
And if there were people out there criticizing our bodies, well then, they are not the sort of people we want to know anyway. It seems it’s only when we are on our own that we beat ourselves up.
Of course, this year as the festival gets closer, we are facing the same insecurities again but rereading this has given me a boost, a bit of a pick me up.
The moral of this story – get out there and be with friends and family, you’ll be enjoying yourself too much to worry about a bit of fat or cellulite! Accept the woman you’ve become.
This post was originally published on Jo’s blog Tea And Cake For The Soul
Jo Jackson is a freelance writer and blogger. She has written many articles for books, magazines and websites, as well as her own blog Tea and Cake for the Soul. Jo loves to write about the nicer things in life such as travel, music, books and kindness, but also feels it is important to raise awareness for health conditions and environmental issues.
As a lady of 52, she talks openly about menopause, mental illness and body confidence from a personal perspective, in order to help others and reduce the stigma. She believes that personal experiences can make other people feel less isolated and afraid. Even though Jo is quite happy to have an early night with a cuppa and a Netflix box set, you will still find her at the front of a concert venue happily engrossed in her favourite bands, with her pink hair and Dr Martens. Happy to grow older disgracefully. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.