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The Vegan Menopause Podcast -- Ep. 8 -- Redefining Menopause

Updated: Apr 5

I wrote an article recently for Global Vegan magazine, called Embracing Change - The Transition to a Plant-Powered and Mindful Menopause.

When looking for stock photos for the article, we mostly found photos of women in pain who are fanning themselves, looking tired, sad, and grimacing.

There are not a lot of photos of vibrant, happy women who are loving life.

Now we did find a beautiful photo, I think it’s contemplative, and you can check the photo and the article.  Get the magazine for free here.

But these depressing photos depicting menopause made me think – let’s redefine menopause.

Yes, menopause can be uncomfortable. It can be unpleasant.

Yes, it is somewhat like going through puberty all over again, but this is a transition that should be appreciated and celebrated.

North America has some unfortunate attitudes towards menopause.

We value youth, and it is a youth based culture. The media is all about youth.  Leading ladies in movies are usually under 40 and are super thin. If they are not super thin, they are usually playing a comedy role or a supportive friend. Advertisements portray young people, even for products where most of the consumers are not youth.

We absolutely face judgment around menopause and aging

People are starting to talk about menopause more, but it is still somewhat taboo. Let’s open up the conversation.

In some cultures, menopause comes as a relief because women are finally released from pregnancy and childbirth. In other cultures, the elders are valued more for their wisdom and experiences, and not shoved away in seniors homes.

I talked about the people of Okinawa in the last episode and I will mention them again.

You see seniors working in their gardens, completely independent, growing their own vegetables and living off their harvest, absolutely thriving surrounded by their family and friends.

For me, in my 20s, I saw my body as a way to get from point A to point B. I didn’t really notice my body unless I was in pain, and I would still keep pushing through the pain sometimes, because I was almost addicted to exercise at certain points in my life.

I only cared about the appearance or hitting certain fitness targets.

But now I have a completely different relationship with my body. It’s like a old friend or companion who I care for. Yes, I still care what my body looks like, and I do have goals that I am working on, but appearance is not my first concern these days.

My body needs more rest sometimes, so I give it what it needs. I can see my body as kind of sweet, how when I give it a chance to relax, it fully and deeply goes into relaxation and lets go.  This is something that I didn’t really give myself permission to do until perimenopause.  

And now I’m so much more aware of the sensations of pleasure and aliveness that are always available in my body.  I cultivated this, it didn’t come automatically, but I could not have even imagined feeling this in touch with my senses when I was younger.

Even though I was always into my health and eating healthy and did do some yoga and meditation, it was more of a dabbler.  I would do yoga videos and jump up to shut off the video when it was time for savasana. I didn't even enjoy savasana until I was around 42, and when I finally gave myself permission to let go, it felt like such a luxury.

I went through periods of anxiety, in my 20s. I would listen to my mom's meditation CD which helped me during the anxiety, but once that problem was taken care of, I would just go right back to pushing myself.

I’ve learned to balance go with flow.  This is a concept from my teacher Michaela Boehm, who trained me in  the Non-Linear Movement Method.  Go is when you are working, focusing, pushing, more aggressive.  Flow is when you are allowing, receiving, relaxing.

Exercise for me is no longer about how fast can I do the Grouse Grind (which is a long set of stairs going up a mountain in North Vancouver).  When I turned 30 I wanted to get my best time ever going up those stairs.  But I would feel terrible after, like my nerves were buzzing and it was almost like I was too tired to sleep.

Now, my exercise involves more movements I enjoy.  And this is something I fully recommend – finding something you like that you can stick with.  Not forcing. I still want to sweat and feel like a workout , and sometimes it may take a little push to get going, but ideally once you get warmed up, it should be enjoyable.

We can rewrite our stories around aging.

Menopause is not an illness, or a disease, or a life sentence.

You are not condemned to spending the next few years sitting on the couch next to a fan.

You are beautiful, you are wise, you can do anything with this next phase of your life.  You are capable of so much.

Let’s redefine menopause. Talk to your daughters and nieces about it, or send them this podcast.  Share your goals or some inspiring women over 40 or 50. Let’s take away the stigma and taboo and get the conversation going.

Ready to improve your experience of menopause? Book a free 30-minute Menopause Empowerment Call.

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