The Truth My Ta-Ta’s Told Me
(FYI I wrote this in September of 2015…I just didn’t have the nerve to share it until now–but I feel compelled to so that maybe my experience can help other women understand their own bodies, especially if they’re having a similar experience.)
I’m going to be pretty candid about something—something I’ve been dealing with for most of this year, but wasn’t’ ready to talk about publicly.
I’m still not super thrilled about sharing it, BUT it’s something that has impacted my health, my well-being, and my approach to fitness and nutrition, SO I think it’s important to share—because I’m pretty sure someone else reading this might be able to relate and might not feel so alone.
That’s what my whole approach to fitness, to training and coaching, to public outreach is about, after all—that we’re in it together, and we do better together. I share my experiences, my knowledge, my enthusiasm and my tenacity in the hopes that it reaches and helps someone else out there.
So here goes…the story of my ta-ta’s and my new truth.
I turned 41 this past summer. I’ve probably mentioned that a couple of times 😉 It was significant because I didn’t feel anywhere near as good at 41 as I when I turned 40, and I really didn’t enjoy it as much.
Turning 40 was cool; it was novel. I turned 40 and felt slim, attractive, fit and coming into my own personal power; I terminated my contracted position with the post fitness center (Army bases are called ‘posts,’ FYI) because I was ready to take charge of my own professional life, and to train and coach in the way that was in alignment with my values and ethics.
I was going to ride this ’40 is the new 30’ thing into the sunset.
Except 40 isn’t the new 30. It’s still 40—and while my brain is still fresh, young, energetic and flexible, my body has some miles on it, and being a woman, these miles add up to unavoidable hormonal changes.
For some of us, these changes happen sooner, for some of us, later. BUT if you’re a woman, the fact is that those changes WILL happen eventually. And if you’re a man, well, aging will happen—which changes how your body feels and responds, too. Maybe just not as suddenly or not as much.
(Now, this isn’t going to be some long-winded spiel about hormonal changes and women’s issues—don’t’ worry. It’s a little bigger picture than that!)
‘Hey, look–I’m 40!!’ was the mantra of my first few months of life in my 40’s. Then some unwanted changes started creeping in February.
My weight started to fluctuate, my cycles got off-track and I was moody. A lot. I blamed it on stress—Gabe had just come home from Afghanistan after 8 months away, only to turn around and go the states for training for 6 weeks shortly after.
I changed my eating habits. I changed my exercise routines. I redoubled my ‘positive thinking’ and ‘take action to improve things’ techniques. Things still felt off.
Fast forward to this past summer. Things suddenly were wildly out of whack. And I tried to blame it on stress and lack of sleep (It gets light at 04:30 in the summer here, and doesn’t get dark until at least 10:30 for a while!), which I know contributed to my physical and emotional state of discomfort, but didn’t account for it all.
I blamed myself for not eating well enough—even though I was eating in the same way that had worked for me for so long. I thought maybe I was training in the wrong way—even though I was getting stronger, faster and getting more muscle definition.
I blamed myself for having a bad attitude, for being too self-conscious or too superficial—I mean, I was supposed to walk the ‘body positive/body acceptance’ walk that I was talking!
But I was SO uncomfortable in my own skin for most of June, July and August—and I really was doing everything ‘right.’
The moment when I admitted to myself that my body’s changes and my emotional state were probably due to hormonal changes (at 41!!—I’m too young for this sh*t!! had been my denial rally cry) was when all of my bras stopped fitting. That doesn’t happen when I gain 5 pounds. That happens when I’m pregnant.
And I wasn’t.
My ta-ta’s were telling me something I couldn’t deny.
So…I started to do a little reading from women’s fitness and doctor’s sources I trusted, and what I have been experiencing is typical of being in an ‘estrogen dominant’ state: hormones are out of whack.
Went to the doctor, had some basic bloodwork done: Estrogen is pretty elevated. So there it is.
My ride the ‘40 is the new 30’ into the sunset plan just went *poof*.
When you’re younger, in the back of your mind you know you’ll age—SOMEDAY. I really thought I had a few more years at least before I had to deal with these issues. But here it is already.
So I can either freak out, or I can be proactive, learn what I can, make any needed lifestyle changes and share what I learn and know as I go. I like the proactive route 🙂
Over the past few months, as I’ve been sitting on my struggles with my body, denying that my hormones were changing, I’ve been mulling over a certain phrase: adapt and overcome.
In the past it’s been my mantra, the cornerstone for my cultivation of personal resilience. Plan A goes south? Get Plan B in action. Obstacle thrown in my way? Build a ladder, dig a tunnel, find a route around. Except this mantra wasn’t working for my current situation. I didn’t know what I was dealing with, so I couldn’t adapt, let alone overcome.
And I don’t know that aging, because that’s what this whole hormonal thing is at the end of the day, is something that we need to ‘overcome.’ Heck, I’m pretty sure aging CAN’T be overcome!
Then in late August, when I left the land of denial, another phrase popped into my head:
tweak and evolve.
What has classically worked for me in terms of exercise, nutrition and even sleep isn’t working for me anymore.
I can’t ‘adapt and overcome’ aging and hormonal changes—none of us can. We can fight and struggle with our bodies, we can blame ourselves for having bad habits, or a lack or willpower, we can cling to the idea of how we once were—and desperately try to claw our way back to that person…OR.
Or we can learn more about what’s going on with our bodies, surrender a little control, and learn to tweak our current habits as we go, and evolve into the next phase of our being.
We don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater and start from scratch; we just need to be more in touch with how our bodies are feeling and performing, and make the small, needed changes as we go.
Because aging and changing aren’t light switch events—they are gradual and continual. It’s a process. After all, like I’ve said tons of times before, there’s only one finish line.
Having spent most of the past 9 months denying, struggling and trying to claw my way back to my slim and mostly effortless 38 year-old self, I can tell you that adopting a ‘tweak and evolve’ approach is already easier on me.
->I’m learning I really DO need 8 or more hours of sleep to feel good—and my body rewards me with a more positive frame of mind AND less squish around my middle.
->I’m learning the importance of better stress management, which has classically been one of my weak points—I’m a hard worker, but not so good at the chilling out thing.
->I’m learning I need to tweak my nutrition a bit—that some foods trigger more of an estrogen response, and others give more relief.
->Most importantly, I’m letting go of the idea that I could hit the ‘pause’ button on time and aging just because I was fit. I can’t.
What I CAN do is continue to learn, continue to tweak what needs to be tweaked as things change, to stay attuned to how my body is feeling and responding.
The takeaway I hope to leave you with, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman, is this: If what has worked for you in the past isn’t working for you anymore, don’t be afraid to change what you’re doing.
We are constantly changing creatures, at the cellular level alone, and what worked for us when we were 25, 30, 35, 40 isn’t the iron-clad formula for lasting success.
If you’re not feeling your greatest, or things have been changing, or you just have the inkling that something is ‘off,’ check it out.
You can start with a process such as the framework I use in Project ReSolve**, where you reevaluate the different aspects of your lifestyle that contribute to our overall fitness and well-being. You can also just head in to the doctor and start having a candid conversation about your observations and concerns.
Whatever you do, just keep taking care of you—the YOU that you are NOW, not years ago.
Because at a certain point in the game, it’s not about ‘adapting and overcoming’ to be successful, it’s about tweaking and EVOLVING. It’s about continuing to become your best version of you.
Here’s to always becoming being our best selves.
Quick Fast Forward to today: prioritizing sleep, taking leisure walks regularly, learning to better manage life stress, and eating lots more protein and veggies (and skipping cheap carbs) have helped tremendously. It’s a long road, and I have no guarantees that hormones won’t throw me for a loop again, but for now things feel balanced 🙂
**If you’d like to sign up for my FREE Project ReSolve email series, you can do it here. It’s a downloadable 5-week e-course that gives you a series of tools you can use to evaluate the different parts of your life that might be affecting your overall well-being. You can use them as you get them, or save them for when you need them or you’re ready**