A little over a year ago, I started having insomnia — in short bouts at first, but it kept getting worse. Several visits to the doctor later, I was finally told a couple of months ago that I am in menopause. I would not say that I took this news gracefully. I really wasn’t expecting to deal with this particular life change for another decade, so I wasn’t at all prepared. My reaction was partly denial, partly a depressing feeling that I’d crested the top of a hill and was now looking down into the abyss. Irrational, I will admit, but transitions are usually tough.
It didn’t help that my insomnia kept getting worse — I can never tell, when I go to bed, whether I will sleep all night, just a little bit or not at all — and I have also gained some weight, which depressed me further since I’d done a fairly good job of losing and keeping off the post-pregnancy pounds. My doctor so helpfully told me that the weight gain had nothing to do with the menopause; I was probably just eating more. I honestly don’t think my eating habits have changed that much, but even if I have been indulging a little more, it’s still an indirect side effect of this wonderful change of life. Feeling tired and slightly blue all the time does not inspire one to eat healthfully.
Still, I’m tired of cringing at my reflection in the mirror, getting blue whenever I see pictures of myself and having a shrinking wardrobe of clothes that look good on me. I’ve resolved to lose some weight this month. I haven’t set a specific goal, other than to get on a downward trend, because I don’t want to be unrealistic and end up disappointing myself. The holidays are not the best time to try to resist temptation, as we all know. If I can lose even a couple of pounds, I think I’ll start feeling better about myself, and that will help with dealing with all the other changes I’m going through, not to mention the whole “mourning my youth” thing.
My strategy is to plan all my meals out a week at a time and stick to the plan. As the holidays get closer, I’ll allow myself a couple of free days per week, but until then, I’m going to try to be strict. I’m basing my eating plan on the simple No-S Diet: no snacks, no sweets, no seconds, except on S-days (Saturday, Sunday and special days). This is a simple plan that I think I can maintain for the long haul, which is the key to a diet that works. Although, I am reserving a small list of healthy snacks just for when I really need them: a cup of yogurt, a handful of almonds, a piece of fruit or a stick of string cheese. I’m also adding no-F (french fries and fried food) and no-W (wine) to the list, since these are particular temptations for me.
This first week, I’m focusing on eating a lot of soups. Eating broth-based soup is a good strategy because soup fills you up while remaining relatively low in calories. I also pack my soups with vegetables. If all goes well, I’ll post one or two recipes later in the week.
I think it’s okay to allow yourself a period of adjustment, even mourning, when going through a transition in life. But I realized this week that feeling sorry for myself isn’t productive. If I really want to enjoy the next phase of my life, it’s up to me to take control of my own happiness. It doesn’t help to grumble about all the foods I can’t eat anymore (at least, not all the time). It’s better to focus on eating healthy most of the time, feeling good about myself and enjoying my favorites on an occasional basis, like the special treats they are intended to be.