I recently wrote a book that's now titled Orchids-The New Black: How to Get Over Your Ovaries and Make the Change of Life Your Bitch. You could say I was almost forced to write this book, in the same way I was forced into menopause much too early. I was diagnosed with the BRCA2 genetic mutation and gave up my breasts and ovaries to surgery (I was way ahead of Angelina Jolie. Just sayin'). OK, so I wasn't forced, per se. But when I was suddenly thrust into what everyone calls menopause earlier than my body planned, I decided someone needed to take charge on so many levels. It was time to not only change the vernacular, but to speak up and say "Hey! This isn't an old lady's disease! We aren't old! We are strong and dammit, we are beautiful and sexy too!"
The book is full of information and interesting tidbits that will help women everywhere be able to own this! Here are a few tips I hope will help you through your own early onset "orchids" (or... er... regular onset too). It's just a slice of what you'll see in the book. Enjoy!
- Take the "Men" Out. Menopause is such an ugly word. It's got MEN in it, for godssakes. Who the hell came up with that word, anyway? I call it Orchids, because orchids are beautiful and sophisticated. And dammit, I still feel beautiful! And hey, I aspire to be sophisticated... when I grow up, that is. So menopause is now called Orchids. 'Nuff said.
- Calm the Psycho. Don't just sit back and let things happen to you. If you're noticing some drastic changes in your body, your cycle, your mood and more, there's a good chance you're in orchids. Don't kill someone! Check with your doctor and then wrap your brain around what will happen to you in orchids. Choose right now to deal with it, to rock this thing and you'll come out ahead. No woman gets a hall pass on this, so breathe in.... and breathe out. You can do this (this thing, where your body will cease to produce hormones and your skin, hair, muscles and bones... basically every part of you will notice, go into withdrawals, and stage a coup). Be prepared for this mentally, and you'll own this "thing."
- Tell Your Brain Who's Boss. It's one thing (and incredible, I might add) to be comfortable in your own skin, especially for ladies who are more zaftig than lean, but when that Zen-like demeanor is ripped from your tiny little neurons while you gain more weight than you know what to do with... well, that is another thing altogether. Just because your fat cells are one of the main sources of female hormones doesn't mean it's OK for your brain to override all fat loss from here on out... nor should you sit on the sidelines and let it happen. See number five, because it's time to pull out all stops and amp up your high protein, low carb, low fat diet (of course with your doctor's approval). The bottom line? A big part of this is mental, and you must decide that you aim to win right now. That'll show your brain (and your fat) who's BOSS.
- Get MOVING. Sit ups, push ups, leg circles, crunches, whatever. Just do it! You say you've never really been into exercise? You've always been able to just eat what you want and not gain weight? Well in that case, I suppose you're allowed to sit back all the way into your senior years and continue to eat bonbons while you watch episodes of Judge Judy.
- Lose it. It's time to tell that newfound fat that you are done. It's all over. Say "C'est la vie" to those Fatty McFat-Fat-Fattlestein cells and get to work! Analyze your diet and see where you can make adjustments. I'm not saying to go all extreme on your tushy. Just don't let anyone tell you it's not possible. Go for it. If you eat a lot of processed carbs for example, it's time to bid them farewell and supplement with fruits and lots of vegetables. Add the habit of drinking two big glasses of water prior to each meal to your routine and watch how fast things begin to take shape. Seek nutritional advice, but this is one area where you'll have to get as serious as a pit-bull in your decision. Sink your teeth into the idea that you must lose excess fat and don't let that idea go. Do not, repeat, do not accept the mindset that you are now older and it's okay to fatten up and veg out. It's not. We need you here. Your loved ones need you here. So get with it!
- You're HOT. Just when you thought that winter was over and you were experiencing a heat wave, you realize that, no, it's not warm outside, it's you. You're suddenly sweating uncontrollably and your body has just produced a wave of heat rivaling anything the Mojave can dole out. You reach for something, anything you can use to fan yourself, as you watch your brand new blouse shrivel under the barometric pressure. Lady you're having what's called a hot flash.
"Menopause is now called Orchids."
"Wrap your brain around what will happen to you in orchids. Choose right now to deal with it, to rock this thing and you'll come out ahead."
If you're just not that into exercise, you're going to have to fake it to make it here, ladies. Gone are the days when you could party-hardy with little consequences. Your body has had ENOUGH, and if you don't do something healthy here, it's going to take that "living large and in charge" idiom a little too literally. It's just too bad if you don't like any form of exercise. Find something you can get into and get started now before they're rolling in the gurney and pumping your heart (heart disease is a leading killer of women over forty, and it's mostly due to lack of hormones and fat retention). I don't care if you start out doing loops at the neighborhood mall, but get busy and do it regularly and often. Then change it up and challenge yourself regularly too. This is one thing you must do to live long into life, to ward off all kinds of diseases, and to keep the side effects of being in menopause at bay. Not only that, if you opt for hormone replacement therapy and start to forget everything and everybody, you're going to need the exercise to keep the blood flowing to the brain. Not into living long and healthy and don't care if you suffer as a result? Well, there's always that.
Your first order of business? Make an appointment to see your menopause specialist or gynecologist. There are a number of meds and homeopathics that can be taken for hot flashes, not the least of which are hormones, but there is new information indicating that serotonin is involved in the hot flash mechanism. So, they're prescribing what many refer to as anti-depressants for those little hotties these days as well. If you're an la naturale kinda gal in all you do, there are solutions there too, but you must seek them out.
Your second order of business? Refer to number two, and remember not to go psycho and that you can do this. You just have to think like a Girl Scout and BE PREPARED (or is that the Boy Scouts?). Pay attention to these hot patterns, and be ready for the next one. Get a cooler, fill it with ice chips and "SUCK IT" lady. Buy yourself a handheld battery operated fan or something, but whatever you do, don't let this be the thing that brings you down.
Of course these tips are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to conquering orchids, but I believe in you and your resolve to make it happen for yourself. I believe it so much, a full-on book is coming! Wait for it... It's coming and it'll be worth it.
The point is, women are entering orchids younger and younger these days (surgery, genetic mutations, cancer and birth defects are making this so). But if you're in orchids, it doesn't have to destroy your quality of life. You can remain beautiful in everything you do in life (well, most things). And by god, I'd say you're not only making this thing your bitch, you're bringing sexy back just by taking care of you. Kudos!