Menopause is a time for self-acceptance
“I put my 13-year-old daughter on a strict diet. She is way too overweight. She is heavier than me by whole two kilos”. So gushed an anorexic forty-something woman, squeezed into a tight dress and too-high heels when the subject of diets inevitably came up. My heart went out to her poor offspring.
If it weren’t for the Covid-19 situation, women’s magazines would be flooding us with advice on diets to whittle away the excess bumps and lumps; they would be expounding on the relative merits of different styles of swimsuits and accessories to hide said lumps and bumps when they can’t be whittled away in time for full exposure on the beach or by the pool. As it is, most of us are not really thinking about the beach right now, nor about the dreaded swimsuit season, which, on the whole, is a good thing.
I am so tired of being told how I am supposed to look in order to fit into a particular set of expectations. It has taken me almost a lifetime to arrive at actually accepting my body as it is; most days that is. Ever since I was a little girl, I was told how I am supposed to look, and how I was supposed to act to be acceptable, likable, loveable. I spent the best part of my youth feeling fat and unattractive. When I look at my old photos, I can see that I was perfectly normal, but I find it difficult to get my head around how overweight I felt. As a young woman, I was obsessed with my weight. There is no diet that I did not follow and my weight bounced up and down, as did my self-image and feelings of self-worth.
It is important to accept ourselves as we are. How can we strive for the approval of others if we don’t approve of ourselves?
Menopause brings with it many challenges, not least of which is a tendency to put on extra weight that is hard to shift. Let us do our best to fight the creeping pounds, but not to achieve some kind of ideal decreed by a society that judges us by our looks. No, let us be healthy and fit for our own sake; in order to feel good and stay active.
I surprised myself during the Covid-19 isolation at home by starting to walk around my dining table! My Fitbit became my ally in achieving a target of 10,000 steps daily. I listen to music or have a conversation with a friend while clocking my steps. I make a point of getting up every two hours or so and moving for a few minutes. It has helped me not only to counter the tendency to be lethargic but also to stay sane during this strange time.
By all means, let us try to exercise and to keep the extra pounds at bay, but let us do it to please ourselves not to impress others. The most important person to impress is you. When we like ourselves, we project confidence onto the canvas of our physical presence. I had to reach my fifties before I learned that lesson. I hope that poor 13-year-old won’t have to wait that long!
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