By ALEXI VENICE
When I hit my 50s, my metabolic rate apparently drifted down to zero even though I have a nuclear reactor in my core producing hot flashes. I’m hotter than I’ve ever been (both figuratively and literally) but struggle to maintain my weight. In addition, I could rival a little league team in a gas contest, which is the unfortunate by-product of estrogenic fission of this magnitude.
Since I have a wicked hot flash every couple of hours, you’d think I’d burn mega calories to power the reactor in my uterus. I keep my office as cold as a meat locker but that doesn’t prevent the radioactive fallout. My office is so cold that my eye glasses actually fogged up during a recent hot flash! No kidding! Still not kidding—fumes poured out of my eyelids like a flaming lizard, causing my eyebrows to perspire—my wimpy, blonde eyebrows! My nonexistent eyebrows from my Norwegian heritage. Perspiring! Unheard of!
For those of you who haven’t hit your fifties, I’m talking about a whole new level of heat here—beyond the 3 am hot flash of your 40’s. This chain reaction starts with a slow simmer sending waves of radiation through my veins, making me feel a little nauseated. You know the feeling of pre-heating while you’re exercising or taking a sauna—right before you perspire? That feeling. Stretches. Drags on. And, tortures before I finally break out in a sweat. And, I mean beads of sweat everywhere—on my forehead, under my breasts and behind my knees. Ironically, the sweat is as welcome as a summer sprinkle because it signals that the estrogenic fission will soon be over.
Overlaying the radioactive process is my professional work attire, now saturated. As the perspiration evaporates, I get the chills from wearing wet clothes until the reactor rumbles to life an hour later. A toxic by-product of the fission is, of course, the spent fuel rods releasing gas. You think young boys are gas machines? Women in their 50’s fire back!
To allow for gaseous diffusion, I have a golden rule: if you pass gas in your office, immediately open a window, then leave, so you’re not trapped behind your desk, looking guilty, when your coworker unexpectedly comes in. (After my colleagues read this post, I’m sure they’ll stop at my door and ask if the coast is clear before entering. Smart a**es.)
To power my nuclear reactor, I was kind of hoping that I was burning at least 500 extra calories per day. Sadly, that’s a pipe dream. I’ve concluded that my metabolic rate has probably dropped another few points in my fifth decade of life.
Let’s review, shall we?
When I was in my 20s, I could go for a bike ride a few times a week, eat like a sixth-grader, drink like a sailor, and maintain my figure. I remember getting a 1,000-calorie caramel roll regularly for a mid-morning snack early in my career as a lawyer. I’m 5’11”, weighed 150 pounds and was a size 10, wearing pencil skirts and kicking ass!
Here’s a photo of me when I was 24 years old. I’m on the right. The other two are my sisters-in-law. (I know—they’re gorgeous. So is my niece.) That’s the outfit I wore on my first date with my husband—to his grandmother’s 80th birthday party. I still own that skirt. It fits my right leg snugly.
In my 30’s, I pushed out two kids, ate peanut butter by the spoonful to keep up with breastfeeding, and needed 18 months per child to lose the pregnancy weight. I had to focus on exercise to get my body back in shape, but the process wasn’t overwhelming. The weight fell off without going on a diet. Here’s a pic of my daughter and me in my mid-30’s. (The bad news is that I’ll never get that body back. The good news is that I have the Slim & Skinny app on my phone. Nowadays, I don’t slap a pic on Facebook without running it through the app.)
In fact, during that decade, I remember still dunking Oreos in milk for a late-night snack. However, my husband, Bill, explained trans-fats to me, so I swore off Oreos forever. I never missed them, because I started baking more—apple pies and homemade chocolate chip cookie bars.
Here’s a pic of me at 40, and our family of 4, you can see some dessert weight there.
In my 40’s, I sentenced myself to salads for lunch to maintain the same weight. Predictably, I was hungry by mid-afternoon, so I snacked on a Coke and a Snicker’s bar. Even though it defeated the purpose of a salad, I was drinking Coke back then, like the polar bears in the Arctic. Neither of us knew any better.
In contrast to the polar bears, however, my weight inched up, maybe a pound a year. The sinister truth is that the weight goes on quicker during your 40’s but comes off at a much slower rate. This disconnect caught me by surprise and resulted in a net weight-gain for me during that decade.
The wake-up call came in my 50’s. After spending three weeks in Australia, I came home 20 pounds heavier, weighing in over 180 pounds. (It was worth it. I sampled every wine, loaf of bread and fresh olive in the Margaret River Wine Region.) We were there over Australia’s Independence Day, which lands on my birthday—thus the glasses and champagne in the below pic.
I think I have the reverse of anorexia. No matter how fat I am, whenever I look in the bathroom mirror, I think, “Meh. Not so bad. I can work with that.” This attitude can get me into trouble.
Once I tried on my work clothes, I knew I couldn’t drop the weight by eliminating my usual vices—potato chips, chocolate and dark beer—so it was time to consult a professional.
Jackie, my trainer at Momentum Sport Fitness, outlined a diet for me, identifying how many grams of lean protein I should eat daily given my activity level. (Translation: high protein and fiber diet leads to more what? That’s right—gas.) My husband, who was committed to dropping weight as well, started making soups, and he added quality protein, healthy carbs (beans—no joke—the equivalent of enriched uranium for the nuclear reactor) and lots of veggies.
I dropped 17 pounds in three months, then entered a maintenance phase. As a result, I look and feel a lot better, and my knees don’t ache from carrying the extra weight. I’m not sentenced to salads for lunch anymore, either. Now, I eat something like a chicken breast, some quinoa and a serving of broccoli. (You know you’ve been deprived when a lunch like that sounds tasty!)
I do treat myself once in a while, though, especially when I travel. Here’s a pic of me enjoying “homemade” oreos and ice cream at a restaurant in San Francisco. It’s not about me. It’s about the oreos. Look at those cookies with ice cream! The kids at the table next to us jumped out of their chairs and rested their chins on our table—drooling. This was dessert after lunch. I’m not even going to tell you what I ate after dinner.
For me, exercising is key—both physically and mentally. I alternate my days between biking and CrossFit. Jackie introduced me to FITAID ®, a recovery drink that has only 45 calories. This isn’t an energy or protein drink. I think of it as drinking a vitamin because it’s so full of them.
Here’s a pic of me working out with Jackie, co-owner of Momentum Sport Fitness.
One of my colleagues pointed out that drinking a light beer makes him feel good inside, too. I agree, but I can’t drink light beer on my way to work, and it doesn’t restore my energy and love for life like FITAID® does.
I’m proud to say that FITAID® is one of my blog sponsors and occasionally sends me product. I wouldn’t work out a deal with them, though, unless I believed in their product line. I enjoyed their beverages long before I started blogging, so I thought I’d share my tastes with you.
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