**Reader discretion advised.
I'm gonna talk about "girl stuff", and I'm not talking about clothes or makeup.
Guess what...I'm old.
As you may know, I turned 50 this year. And instead of celebrating this milestone, with a big freakin' party with family and friends, the whole world was put on hold.
I am frustrated. No, I am downright pissed off. All the time, and it seems about everything.
I'm not the only one.
I decided to "embrace the suck" and use this this time "off" to learn. I want to learn more about endurance sports, especially things like "ultramarathons" and trail running. I want to learn techniques so I can be healthier, both body and mind and spirit. I want to be a better wife, mother, daughter, friend.
I'm a ferocious reader (I've already blogged about that), but sometimes I get in a rut of reading the same genre of books (lately, trashy romances, because they are quick, and I don't have to think...at all!). So, I force myself to read something different every once in a while. And I try to make it tough. Something where I learn something, either about someone, something, or about myself. I make myself think!
That is one reason I love biographies. Granted, most biographies are about extraordinary people, overcoming extraordinary odds, doing extraordinary things. Alexander Hamilton, Diana Nyad, Trevor Noah, and so many others show us what can be accomplished; how to overcome adversity, how to make a difference. And for me, it shows me that I too can do anything I set my mind to. Like Diana's book title says, Find a Way!
Since I'm already in a pissy mood, it's time to take stock, and get my house in order. It's time to get refocused. I'm already re-energized to work out (Thank you Tour de France, and even more so the Vuelta Espana!). Now I need to work on the mental game.
But that doesn't mean I'm reading a bunch of self-help books. I've done that. I need to get off the trash, and read/learn about things that will make me better--all the way around.
I am currently reading The Pants Of Perspective: THE 'HILARIOUS AND HEARTWARMING' NEW ZEALAND TRAVEL MEMOIR (Anna's Adventures Book 1), by Anna McNuff. The former British rower, outdoor enthusiast, and self-proclaimed, "mischief maker" decided she needed more adventure in an already adventurous life. So in 2015, she decided to run the 1,911 mile Te Araroa Trail--New Zealand's version of the Appalachian Trail. I love her whimsical storytelling as well as descriptions of life on the trail and the people she meets. And, don't worry...this wasn't her first rodeo. In 2013, she rode her bicycle over 11,000 miles hitting every U.S. state (and one Canadian province). She has since done other pretty crazy adventures. I like her...a lot!
But I can't always read, especially while I am driving. I have found that I can't listen to audiobooks, because I get to involved in the book, and I end up not paying attention to driving. Oops.
I have discovered podcasts.
Podcasts are awesome! There are tons of topics...everything from fashion to politics to history to music, you name it. Of course I’ve discovered the triathlon ones, but they have led me to others.
And, I can listen to them while I drive. Well, most of them.
The first podcast I subscribed to, no longer exists. It was called The Health Nut and the Hot Mess. The two women talked about health and sport, with a focus on triathlon. It only lasted 7 episodes, but morphed into The Same 24 Hours. The Hot Mess member of the duo, Meredith Atwood, took the podcast, and ran with it. She interviews all kinds of people, triathletes, psychologists, former addicts, sport stars, life coaches, you name it. The premise of the podcast is: "We all have The Same 24 Hours in our day. What we DO in those 24 hours, is what makes our greatest health, happiness and success."
This podcast led me to authors, and other podcasts. I would never have read The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (the creator of Grey's Anatomy!). That led to me taking the leap to start saying yes to things that I normally would say no to. It also helped me say no to things I normally said yes to, in order to please others. That podcast led to other books, apps and podcasts, like Maybe It's You by Lauren Zander, the Daily Stoic app, and Another Mother Runner podcast.
Currently I have 4 different podcasts I rotate through. I typically listen to them while waiting for B to finish his karate practice at the dojo. A brand new podcast that I just discovered is called Hit Play Not Pause. The podcast is hosted by journalist and professional athlete (Mountain Biker and Ironman), Selene Yeager. The focus: menopausal women who are athletes. But I would argue, any woman will find something of interest here. The podcast is only 8 episodes old, but they are packed full of information! Thankfully I'm not driving, because I am furiously taking notes!
Selene Yeager co-authored Roar with Dr. Stacy Sims. She interviewed Dr. Sims in episode 1. As a peri-menopausal triathlete (it has taken me quite a while to consider myself a triathlete...hmmm another blog post?), I noticed in this Covid induced craziness that I am not feeling as good as I should. I'm still running and biking, but my clothes are not fitting.
Where in the hell did this spare tire come from? I thought I got rid of you?
I cannot blame ice cream and alcohol. Well, not completely.
For those first few Covid months, it was definitely ice cream and alcohol. But by the summer, I had stopped that nonsense. No, something else was happening. In listening to the podcast, I realized I was beginning to see and feel the effects of "The Change". I used to joke with my mom and other older friends, that they were "pausing". I knew it would happen to me, but little did I realize the impact it could have.
My body composition is moving in a direction that I am not at all happy with. I have hot flashes. I don't sleep well at all. I'm grumpy, and quick to anger. I feel like I am slowing down...not just when I'm running and biking, but in life.
Well that explains a little bit of why I'm cranky all the time.
As I listen to these women talk of pelvic floor exercises, changing what you eat and how you exercise, hormone therapy and "happy vaginas", I am engaged like I haven't been in some time. I am willing to do the work, I mean, come on...I have a lot of work ahead of me training for an Ironman. So now it's a matter of working other parts of my body too.
This podcast has whet my appetite to figure out what will work for me. What types of exercises should I be doing? What kinds of foods should I eat or avoid? Should I continue doing my Kegels?
What I am discovering is that because of the reduction of some of my hormones, I need to readjust everything!!! My exercise needs to have more strength training (lift heavy shit!), and less endurance activities. I need to eat more protein, and less carbs (duh, but even more so that before) but I shouldn't cut them all out, because my body is burning its fuel differently. Stress is causing me to product cortisol, and I don't have all the hormones I used to, to combat it. And yes...keep doing those Kegels.
Perfect timing reduction of stress fighting hormones...right in the middle of a pandemic. You can't make this shit up.
Of course this all leads to other topics that I want to learn more about. For example, How do I become someone who still races (and kicks ass) at 70+ like Cherie Gruenfeld (who currently races in the 75-79 age group) or Madonna Buder (the Iron Nun) who completed an Ironman at the age of 82? She's 90 now. Both of these women came to the sport in their late 40s.
This triathlon journey has introduced me to so many people, ideas, concepts, that I never would have discovered on my own. And of course...swimming, biking and running.
This whole menopause thing has shaken me up a little. But, what I have decided is that I don't have to just deal with things quietly like our parents generation may have had to. I don't have to stay quiet about it. I don't have to be ashamed about it. I'm going to learn how to continue to treat my body well, and use it to kick ass and take names.
So deal with that!