Here’s a fun fact about aging: Some of the things you’ve done nearly all your life without thought can suddenly stop working. With no warning, something you think you’ve got wired seems to be fizzling out. Then you’re like, “Why? I’ve always slept a solid 8 hours a night. Why am I’m waking up at 3 AM? ” or “Hello? I’ve eaten the same as I always have but I’ve gained 10 pounds.” or “Why do my knees ache? I haven’t gone hiking or skiing.”
Welcome to the wonderful world of aging and peri-menopause.
In general, when something isn’t working for us anymore we have 2 choices:
A – keep at it and hope that things will magically revert to the way they used to be.
B – do something different.
I have tried both ways and, I’ve gotta say, B is the way to go here.
Change does not have to be a ‘bad’ thing. In fact I have come to believe that all this changing is really just our body’s way of reminding us to Pay Attention. Instead of resisting, we can choose to look at the situation as a chance to experiment and find solutions that could end up making us feel better than ever.
We’ve all had to pivot at various times in our lives and it’s often not easy. Sometimes you get the results you want right away, sometimes it takes a while, and sometimes you have to keep experimenting with different methods until you get it just right.
The point is that you can do it.
You can rise to the occasion, even when it’s hard or uncomfortable. You’ve done it in the past. You just have to be patient and not beat yourself up while in the midst of it.
Here are some things to keep in mind when change is upon you.
- Get clear on why you want to make a change.
Knowing your ‘why’ will help you when the going gets tough and you want give in to temptation. For example, red wine tends to knock me off the sleep train, so when I’m faced with a tasty cabernet, I try to remember that getting enough sleep not only helps me be a nicer human, it also helps me fight inflammation which can ward off all kinds of disease. Remembering my ‘why’ makes it easier for me to say. “No, thank you.” Note: When I do, on occasion, decide to drink some red wine, if find myself awake at 3 AM, I try NOT to be mean to myself because that never helps.
- Come up with 2 or 3 alternative options that could help you achieve your result.
When I finally accepted that dairy was no longer my BFF, I went into mourning. I love yogurt in the morning like nobody’s business! But eating it every day wasn’t good for me (or anyone within 10 feet of me, if you get my drift.). Plan A: Maybe coconut or almond milk yogurt? Meh. Just not the same. Plan B: come up with some other new breakfast ideas and save yogurt for special occasions. Plan B for the win.
- Reframe your thoughts about the situation.
It’s never helpful to fixate on thoughts like “I can’t believe I’ve gained 10 pounds in the last 6 months. I suck! What the heck is wrong with me??” When you catch yourself thinking those negative thoughts it’s time for a perspective shaker. Imagine saying these things to your best friend. If they wouldn’t be helpful for her, they sure aren’t doing you any good. It’s much more productive to reframe them to thoughts that feel better and will inspire you towards change, such as, “There is nothing wrong with me – I’m imperfect like all humans! I’m going to make a plan to help me get back on track. What’s one small thing I can do today to help get me there?”
At the end of the day it might be easier to keep eating the way you’ve always eaten, doing the same exact exercise (or lack thereof) that you’ve always done, and keep railing against the Universe and our DNA that “it’s not fair” when you feel like crap or you’re sleep deprived or your clothes are too tight. But sooner or later (hopefully sooner!) you will remember that all you need to do is take a few deep breaths and give yourself a little love. You are built to change and grow and you can do this!
This article was contributed by Lisa Levine, a Martha Beck Institute-Certified Life and Health Coach at Audacious Health & Wellness. She helps women who are approaching midlife to create new and healthy habits in the way they think, eat, sleep and move, empowering them to live their lives fully and audaciously. Originally from the East Coast, she currently resides in Seattle spending much of her time writing, drinking matcha, overusing emojis, parenthesis, and punctuation (can’t stop, won’t stop), enjoying the beauty of the PNW, and playing in the kitchen, creating healthy fare for her family and friends. She is comforted by the reminder that the only constant in life is change and by the deeply rooted belief that ultimately everything will be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, then it’s not the end.