My name is Raelene and I am 52 years old. It is quite hard to admit that….I almost choke on the words as I write them.
In my head I feel about 37….give or take! But age is just a number, right??
Here’s my story….
I work full time as a school teacher, I live in Penrith, I am very happily married for the second time, I have a 25 year old son (gulp). I have had my fair share of ups and downs and health problems. I am minus one not-so-vital organ – my gallbladder- and a few years ago I had a huge lump removed from my breast (think cricket ball size)
Through the years I have also struggled with depression and panic disorder….oh and I survived menopause!!
I suppose I defined myself as a fairly typical middle aged woman. I didn’t expect an awful lot from myself….in fact I was “queen of the excuse”. I was too tired, too busy, too old, too stressed, too sore, too hot, too cold……the list went on and on. I was on a slippery slope to obesity and illness. But that’s par for the course as you get older. Or so I told myself.
I had read every piece of literature about menopause. In fact, I could have written the book on menopause! Oestrogen, progesterone, insulin, osteoporosis, hrt….I knew all the lingo. I had all the blood tests, scans and ultrasounds- I was investigated inside and out. I had the figures in black and white….my estrogen was a thousand times my progesterone. Fantastic! I had a whole new bank of excuses! Hooray!
The scientific research told me it was normal to stack on weight, to have sugar cravings, to feel cranky and tired and out of energy. I was the victim of nature….size 14 and size 16 became my friends. I lied that I looked pretty good for my age. I almost believed it….
Then we had school photos! Wear black I thought….it’s supposed to be slimming. Sit in the front row and hide that huge arse!
When I got the photo back, I was flabbergasted! Who was that pudgy, puffy, roly poly bird in the front row wearing those size 14 black pants? Oh my God….it was me. For the first time in ages I was seeing myself without my rosé coloured glasses. Something had to be done, and quickly.
The rest is history- I stopped making excuses and I stumbled upon Zumba with Shereen. I loved to dance and I liked the idea of exercising to music. But could a menopausal obese woman actually change her body? I wasn’t sure, but I was willing to give it my best go. I stopped defining myself according to my hormone levels.
Fast forward 3 years and I have shed twenty five kilos and I am the fittest I have ever been. I get up at 5 am and do a weights workout almost every day. I do 3 Zumba classes a week, a bootcamp style class and a weekly Tabata session. I walk on a Sunday and I love the new me. I am not perfect….after many years of excuses, old habits can die hard. I can still conjure up a pretty convincing excuse. But most of the time I have the inner strength to know the difference between a legitimate reason and a cop out!
My doctor was flabbergasted at the change in my “vital stats”. My blood pressure, glucose levels, cholesterol and weight have decreased significantly. I don’t even worry about hormones anymore. My menopause library is gathering dust. St Vinnies have all my size 14s and 16s.
There are so many things I have learned along the way. Things about nutrition, fitness, body composition….the list goes on and on. But the most important thing I have learned is to believe in yourself! You can change your life if you really truly want to. Be consistent, don’t give up, don’t make excuses. If you can do this you will see change, you will feel stronger, faster, fitter and healthier. One day you will look in the mirror and you will like what you see…I promise you.
Postscript- January 2015
It is about 18 months since I wrote this testimony and I am happy to say that I continue on my road to strength, vitality and good health. I am very serious about my weight training, and I have added a personal training session to my regime. I have also added another Zumba class to my weekly routine. I am older, but I am so much stronger and fitter and determined than I was 18 months ago. I can still experience a good dose of self doubt and have made excuses at times, but 95% of the time I try to be honest with, and accountable to myself. It is easy to become complacent but I now have the tools to get back on track much more quickly and efficiently than I did before.
I expect a lot from my body and I try to look after it. Good nutrition, plenty of water, infrared sauna and massage are a few of the essential ingredients in my life. I am certainly not perfect, but every day I strive to learn more and be the best human being that I can be.