By Contributing Writer, Terry Covey
I’m sure that as wives and mothers, you’ve all thought about health and nutrition. You think about it for your family and understand that it’s your job to help them achieve health. But do you find it easy, and sometimes necessary, out of time constraints and energy level, to put yourself last on the list when it comes to achieving good health?
I’m not writing earth shattering information here. But there is one thing you might not have given much thought to, and that relates to a season of life, the season of menopause. And preparing for that season, by being in good physical condition, can help ease your transition into it.
So much of your changing needs before and during menopause has to do with getting used to your body having a much slower metabolism. Just when I thought I knew enough about healthy eating and exercise, and felt I was in pretty good shape, so began a new phase of life!
Be grateful and praise God every day for this body you’ve been given! It’s too easy to take it for granted. You’ll find it’s easier to care for yourself when you know it’s His body, not yours!
The Process of Change
As we age it’s even more important to look out for our health. Our bodies just don’t get the natural, day-to-day exercise we once had. Those little people who constantly needed to be picked up and cared for just aren’t in our daily lives! All the mess and laundry and cleaning that comes with lots of little people ends soon enough, and the clean and orderly home we once dreamed of is at our feet. That home can can be a bit sterile, in my honest opinion! But that’s another topic….
A slower season of life comes upon us before we know it, and believe me, those pear shaped bodies you hear about – well – they happen seemingly overnight!
Steps To A Healthy Transition
So what can you do?
1) Plan ahead, before your ‘change’ of life. I started this season of menopause many years ago, and really, I didn’t see a big difference in my weight gain. I figured I wasn’t going to be one of ‘those’ women who struggled with weight and staying in shape. So I didn’t have a health routine in place.
I was simply cruising, running on the ease I had before, back when my children were all little. But then it happened. In the last few years, both my activity level went down and so did my metabolism. Life changes as do our bodies. There’s nothing you can do about it.
2) Exercise. Start now. Don’t wait - pun intended! Begin an exercise routine: walk (get out that stroller and give everyone some fresh air), run (if you can!), do Pilates or get an elliptical (I am this month!) Just do something. Begin the habit of thinking – thinking about giving your heart and lungs and muscles a work out. Something more than lifting babies and laundry. It’s a habit that will reward you in years to come.
3) Start watching what you eat!
- Read good books or websites on healthy eating. There are so many out there. Just avoid the fads; the “you’ll lose twenty pounds in twenty days” methods. Look for books or sites that recommend whole foods in their original ‘skin’ so to speak – not from a box!
- Checking the calorie content in what you eat makes a huge difference in whether you let that little dessert slip onto your plate – or those chips or M&M’s (yep, you know who I’m talking about!) But when you look at the calories those little offenders contain – oh my! You will begin to re-think what you put in your mouth! Even that occasional soda became the nemesis to me! I had no idea that a simple cola could add 160 calories to my day. I don’t drink them very often, but now knowing the truth, I can hardly enjoy one! I’ll stick to my home-soda machine, thank you!
4) Begin taking vitamins and supplements. The nutritional value of our food is at an all-time low. Depleted soil, food processing, and added chemicals are causing diminished nutritional levels in the foods we eat. Aging creates different nutritional requirements that stem from our body’s slower processing needs and the simple aging of cells and organs. We have used up many of our body’s reserves, added to the fact that we simply need different nutrition than we required when we were running at full force in our younger years.
All of this means that you need to understand your new needs. And for you who are in your forties, it’s even more important to know what your physical needs are, because many of you are still running at full capacity, but have less reserves to see you through. Many middle-aged moms are dealing with adrenal fatigue – the result of doing too much and running on empty. This won’t help you at all as you enter the menopausal years. Take care!
5) Decide what works for you. Ask yourself questions:
- What will remind you to think about your health?
- What will encourage you to think more healthy?
- What will have to happen to get you to take your health seriously? Will it be a diabetes? Or stroke? Or maybe a heart attack? We think of heart disease as a man’s disease, but the studies are in – women actually account for just over half the total heart disease deaths in the U.S. (theheartfoundation.org). Believe it or not, heart disease kills more women than breast cancer! Learn the risks women face and don’t rely upon the media to teach you.
When we’re young we think we’re invincible. We need to pray for wisdom as to how to care for this body God gave us. Be smart. Learn what you can. Time goes by quickly and we’re suddenly in our 50′s realizing that it isn’t going to get any easier. Our bodies do wear out.
The Scriptures encourage us to remember our frame and Whom we serve:
You are aging every day.
“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” James 4:14
Your family depends on you to be in good health.
“She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her…” Proverbs 31:27-28
God calls you to be a wise steward of your body.
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” 1 Corinthians 6:19
He’s given your body to be used for His glory.
“For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20
Our days are numbered. Your body – your life – and it’s seasons are given by God for all He wants you to be. Yes, even the season of menopause! Don’t take His precious gift for granted. Use these days wisely. Being healthy gives you the energy to do God’s work here on earth, for His glory and His purpose.