Thursday, October 27, 2011

Menopausal Muncher

     I started my first diet in middle school after a fellow student accused me of looking pregnant because my blouse was so "puffy" around my stomach.  I didn't know how to explain to him that my stomach size was the result of a food baby, not a real baby.  All those years of sneaking chocolate bars at the park with my sister were beginning to show around my middle, and I had to do something about it.  Like adopt the diet of a rabbit---all parsley and lettuce and no fun. 
     My body shrank and expanded like an accordian over the years as I bounced from one diet to another.  In my early twenties, it was all about leg warmers and sweat bands at the gym in order to keep the pounds off.  Then came my pregnancies, which was a happy time for me because being pregnant gave me license to do some serious bulk eating.  Little did I know how all those pepperoni pizza slices were going to take up residence on my hips for the next twenty years.  I had a brief reprieve when Phen-Phen became popular.  What an amazing diet pill!  You could lose ten pounds in your sleep, paint your entire house in one day, and fit into a size 3 dress by the end of the week.  Sadly, it was banned (all the good stuff is) and it was back to old fashioned dieting: carrot sticks and lettuce and me feeling more and more like a rabbit each day.
     For years I ate right, excercised, and kept the weight off, and then something strange happened when menopause hit.  It was as if aliens stole my body and replaced it with a much plumper, sweatier version.  I gain five pounds now just looking at a piece of devil's food cake.  What cruel joke is this?  I finally don't have to count the days on my calender to calculate when my period is due, but now I'm left to obsess over the numbers on the scale.  If I could have a conversation with my scale, it would go something like this:

     ME:  "Good morning, scale.  I'd like to weigh in today because I've been really good on my diet this week."

     SCALE:  "Aren't you forgetting about those chicken nuggets you stole off your son's lunch plate when he wasn't looking?"

     ME:  "Yeah, but those don't count because they were just bites.  I didn't eat a whole one."

     SCALE:  "And the Hershey's bar?"

     ME:  "Hey, that was a Halloween fun size candy bar.  That doesn't count, either."

     SCALE:  "What about the three slices of all-you-can-eat-toppings pizza you had Saturday night?"

     ME:  "I don't remember that because I drank four glasses of wine first, so that definitely doesn't count."

     SCALE:  "And the secret rendezvous you had with the leftover lasagna yesterday morning?  Who eats a cold wedge of lasagna at 7:00 in the morning?"

     ME:  "It was part of a nutritious breakfast and...okay, you got me there.  Maybe today is not such a good day to weigh in."

     SCALE:  "Ya think?  Besides, you might damage my frame if you step on me now."

     ME:  "That's rude of you."

     SCALE:  "Just go back to your lettuce leaves and don't bother me again until you're serious about this dieting stuff.  Oh, and by the way, is it my imagination or are you growing whiskers and longer ears lately?"

     My doctor told me to expect a ten pound weight gain during menopause.  I think she was being kind.  What makes no sense to me is how much I sweat during a hot flash---I look like I've just run a marathon, so I ought to lose at least a pound of liquid a day in the process.  I should resemble a stick by now, not a basketball.  Pretty soon I'm going to have to call Omar The Tent Maker to design my next wardrobe if I don't lose this excess menopausal weight.
     Everyone laughs about marijuana munchies, but what about menopausal munchies?  They're worse because they last all day and night without leaving you in a state of euphoria.  The FEED ME valve won't shut off in my brain, and nothing seems to alleviate it except more food.  My stomach expects every day to be Thanksgiving with all the trimmings.  Instead I have to settle on plain turkey burgers, steamed broccoli and sugar free jello.  Yummy.  At this point I'm ready to gnaw on the frozen package of stale corn muffins in the back of the freezer.  If this was a kinder, gentler world, women would lose weight during menopause, their skin would glow and their hair would become thick and shiny.  Unfortunately, everything is turned upside-down in menopause---we gain weight, our skin dries out and the only thing that's thick and shiny is our thighs stuffed into a tight pair of black slacks.  Sometimes I feel like throwing my scale out the window and slipping into a roomy house dress with large, flower print.  I could eat doughnuts all day in front of the air conditioning vent and get caught up on all the latest nighttime television dramas.
     And the next time my scale talks back to me, I'm going to duct tape it to the wall as a decorative antique.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Animal Hoarder

     When my kids were teenagers with mutinous attitudes, I couldn't wait for them to move out so that I could have some peace and quiet from the angst of their hormonal mood swings. No more six foot laundry piles, wet towels "drying" on the bathroom floor, dirty dishes stashed under bunk beds and closests overflowing with mismatched shoes, bags, and discarded pizza boxes. No more blaring TV sets in every room, speakers pumping rap music in decibels loud enough to make my ears bleed, and a refrigerator that should have been outfitted with a turnstile door to accomodate my children's insatiable appetites.
     Sure enough, the first batch of chics graduated from high school and off to college they went, leaving behind their unmade beds and a few stray socks. The first month they were gone, I reveled in the lighter work load around the house, even though I still had a few younger chics in the nest to attend to. At least I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
     Soon after the newness of my older children's absence wore off, I started missing them. Badly. I missed the loud dinner conversations, the parade of young friends coming in and out of the house at all hours...everything just seemed so...quiet. I contemplated getting another pet to add to the menagerie of rescue animals I already had.  I grew up in a household full of exotic animals (my sister worked at the Wild Bird Care Center, so you name it we had it---owls, bats, a vulture and a hawk, just to name a few), so when my kids were little, we did the usual fish-turtle-hamster-guinea pig thing. Unfortunately, none of those animals had very long life spans and we had to give the turtles away (my son's room smelled like a swamp) along with the guinea pig (we discovered two things about him---he didn't like to be tickled under the chin and he had very sharp teeth). Pretty soon people caught on that we had a soft spot for all types of animals, and next thing we knew, our house had turned into an animal shelter (or a zoo, depending on how you looked at it).  A rabbit, an albino rat, a pigmy hedgehog, sugar glider and several chinchillas found their way home to us. Then we started on the rescue dogs. Every time a child moved out, an animal moved in, thus earning me the title of "Animal Hoarder" from my husband. I explained to him that I still had the need to nurture something. He told me to buy a plant. I blamed it on menopause---told him I was depressed and in need of love and affection. He said he gave me plenty of love and attention and that if I was sad, I should eat more chocolate. When I told him I was a kind, compassionate person for taking in all the stray animals, he told me the word "sucker" was stamped on my forehead at birth. I may have been suckered into adopting some of these animals, but I truly feel this is the best place for them to be. I've got one on heart meds, one on hair loss meds, and another in a diaper.  Hmmm...sounds like I'm running a nursing home. I don't regret taking in these little boarders---they're like family to me (except they don't drink all my wine and gossip about me when I leave the room) and I'll do whatever it takes to keep them comfortable and happy.  Having them in my life actually does ease the depression when my hormones feel out of whack. At least I don't have to worry about them behind the wheel of a car when they turn sixteen or contemplate where the funds for their college tuition will come from. But my husband does have fears---fear of what will come next after the last two kids leave the nest. A koala bear? Ostrich? Donkey? In this house, you never know....

Monday, October 10, 2011

Deliver The Liver

     Many people my age had parents who thought it was a smart idea to feed their children liver. They knew it was a good source of iron, something everyone needed, so once a month in my house, platters of liver and onions circulated the dining room table. I could smell it frying in the pan an hour before dinner was to be served, and I would contemplate my escape. The nights I was forced to eat liver with a side dish of succotash (lima beans mixed with corn) was pure hell on earth. Even a kid knows that the grouping of those two foods is a terrible, unpalatable combination of flavors, and I would have sold my six-year-old soul to get out of eating one spoonful of it. I tried slipping it under the table to the dog, but Mom caught on to that real quick---especially when the dog started gagging. He didn't like that junk any more than I did. My next trick was to fake cough between bites and spit it into my dinner napkin. Problem was, my siblings were doing the same thing, and after awhile my mother figured  out what was in those large, wadded-up napkins she kept finding in the trash.
     Fast foward forty years to my own kitchen, a liver-free zone, even though I'm married to a liver connoisseur. We should have included a liver clause in our wedding vows exempting me from ever serving the vile meat in our house. My husband found a kindred spirit in our neighbor, who shares his taste for liver and fries it up just the way he likes it---smothered in onions. I don't care what you smother it with, whether it's ketchup (which makes everything taste better) or seasoning---nothing is going to cover up the fact that you are eating organ meat. Just the thought of it makes me want to reconsider vegetarianism.
     I was anemic with all of my pregnancies, and the doctors encouraged me to increase my iron intake through various foods and supplements. For me, liver was never an option. I stuck with spinach and beets to boost my drooping energy. A lot of doctors recommend additional iron in the diet during menopause to help beat fatigue, and that includes the consumption of liver. The meat, which is high in B12 and protein, might be good for premenopausal women, but for older women, the high levels of iron can increase heart disease. The liver is the filter system in the body, and it can be full of pesticides and hormones. It is the organ that produces the nasty yellowish-green bile that helps with digestion. Who in their right mind wants to eat that?! It's gross to look at, it smells weird and it has the texture of chalky meat. Doesn't that just sound like something you'd want to chow down on? The next time you order a plate of calf's liver, just remember you're porking out on ol' Bessie's baby cow. That's about as appetizing as an offering of blood sausage with cod liver oil on the side.
     After twenty-eight years of marriage, my husband still begs for liver and onions. I tell him to go to the neighbor's house for it. When he comes home in a liver-induced coma, I thank the Lord for de-livering me from liver.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Born This Way

This is how the day started:

     I'm up all night hot flashing and using the bathroom. Because I'm up so much, insomnia steps in. Stupid stuff swirls around in my sleepless brain like leaves in a wind storm. Did I turn the stove off after dinner? Are the garbage can lids secure enough to keep the raccoons out of the trash tonight? Did I remember to pay my out-of-control water bill? Oh, why did I eat that last meatball? I didn't need it or want it, but it was just sitting there by its lonesome self on the plate and it was calling my name...
     At 5:30 a.m., I decide to get up, slowly shuffling through the house like a disgruntled zombie. After drinking mass quantites of caffeine, the sun is not so offensive anymore, so I hit the walking trail for a few laps. When I get back home, my legs ache and my skin is sore under the bra line. Why? Because I'm chafed. Chafed! I'm too young to get chafed, even if it's humid and 95 degrees out.
     The thought of chafing leads me down an unhappy trail of self-consciousness. I'm cresting on another wicked mood swing and have no clue how long it will last. My daughter whispers to her younger brother, "Don't bug Mom today, she's in her dark place." Time for me to retire to my bat cave and ponder the meaning of life. Alone. My inner wiring has fritzed out, and my behavior has become irratic. Yesterday I cried over a Humana commercial. Today I'm obsessed with Hershey's Kisses. Last week I went nuts because there were no clean towels left for me to take a shower. I think they sprouted wings and flew the coop because they couldn't handle my mood swings, either.
     After brooding in my cave for an hour, it's time to join the land of the living. Music is drifting down the hall. Lady Gaga's "Born This Way". Born to chafe and sneak Hershey's Kisses? Oh god, I hope not. I want to start over in a world where menopause does not exist, or at least has an entirely different meaning, such as "pause for a vacation", "pause for a Mai Tai", or "pause for cake pops." Anything but this, a perspiring woman in an "I'm Nuts For Squirrels!" t-shirt, fanning herself with a pink dust pan.
     The kids scatter like frightened mice when I emerge from the bedroom. My husband eyes me warily from the couch and quickly flips the channel to something more soothing than MMA cage polar bears circling a seal. No, no, no! Change the channel quickly! Wait a minute. What are those weird people doing on t.v.? They're dressed up like dairy cows in a bar and...are you serious? On cable t.v. before midnight? I don't think I'll ever drink milk again. Now I know I'm not going to be able to sleep tonight. What is this world coming to? Right now the world under my comforter looks a whole lot better, mood swings and all. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. I'm a conglomeration of Snow White's dwarfs: Grumpy, Sleepy, Sneezy, and a few of their cousins, Bitchy, Bloaty, Sweaty and Weepy...because baby I was born this way.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...