Here's a fun fact about turning 50 (or 43 or 47 or any age after 40 really): stuff you have done nearly all your life can suddenly stop working for you the way it always has. That's right - you think you've got something wired and just like that it either explodes or just starts fizzling out. Then you're like, "WTF? I'm waking up at 3 AM? I've always slept a solid 8 hours a night", or " Hello? I've gained 10 pounds and I have not done one single thing different in the past 6 months."
Welcome to the wonderful world of aging and peri-menopause.
When something isn’t working 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 gotta say, B is the way to go here.
This does not have to be a 'bad' thing. 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! In fact I have come to believe that all this changing is really just another way of reminding us to Pay Attention so that we can tune in to our personal navigation.
We have all had to do this at various times in our lives and it's often not that easy. Sometimes we get the results we want right away, sometimes it takes a while longer and sometimes we have to keep experimenting until we get it just right.
The point is that we can do it - make changes or adjustments when change is delivered to us - even when it's hard or uncomfortable, and we can do it without beating ourselves up about it.
Here are some things to keep in mind when change is upon you.
1. Get clear on why you want or need 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 I try and remember that getting enough sleep not only helps me be a nicer human it also helps me stay healthy and fight inflammation which can ward off all kinds of dis-ease. 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 and possibly find myself awake at 3 AM, I try NOT to be mean to myself. It never helps.
2. Come up with 2 or 3 alternative ideas that could help you achieve the result you are after. Then pick one to start you off and see how it goes.
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. Plan A - I decided to try making my own coconut yogurt. Um, not so much. Plan B - chia pudding! Kind of yogurt-y, right? Tasty, but not the same. Plan C - come up with some other new breakfast ideas and save yogurt for special occasions. Plan C for the win.
3. Reframe your thoughts on the situation as necessary.
It is never helpful to fixate on thoughts like "Shit! I can't believe I've gained 10 pounds in the last 6 months. I suck!" When you catch yourself thinking those negative thoughts it's time for a perspective shaker. It's much more productive to reframe them to thoughts that feel better and will inspire you like, "I don't suck - I'm totally awesome and I'm open to switching some things around to get what I want. I have done hard things before and I can do them again. I'm going to make a plan. 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 we've always eaten, doing the same exact exercise (or lack thereof) that we've always done and keep railing at God, the Universe and our DNA that "it's not fair" when we feel like crap or we're sleep deprived or our clothes are too tight. But sooner or later (hopefully sooner!) we can remember that all we need to do is take a few deep breaths, make a plan and give ourselves a little love. We are built to change and grow and we can do this!