The (not so) Funny Challenges Women Over 40 Face
Who would have ever thought turning 40 (and beyond) brought much more than just grey hair and crow’s feet? We can deny it and fight it by investing in expensive treatments. But that will only put off the inevitable. Or we can accept the (not so) funny challenges women over 40 face. We can look for the humor and even HONOR of it.
If you’ve put the milk in the pantry and the cereal in the fridge, you know what I’m talking about. It definitely can make for a funny story.
But when brain fog makes completing tasks at work and home almost impossible, it can really make you question your abilities. It makes your coworkers also question your abilities, too. That’s never a good thing. Unfortunately, this is what happened at my most recent job. When I decided to leave, I felt defeated.
What the hell happened to me? I used to handle it all! I had always been respected for how much I was able to accomplish and how smart I was. Now my son and fiance have plenty of joke material on how often I forget things or miss obvious details at times.
Men in particular have no way of understanding how much of an effect this hormone shift can have on women. I can’t believe it myself sometimes. I never thought a naturally occurring event would be able to steal my superpowers.
However, after reading stories of other women, I realized I wasn’t crazy, and I didn’t suddenly lose my intelligence. It was just a bad case of brain fog, mixed with burnout from doing a job I was no longer passionate about.
Overnight weight gain
I hadn’t lost everything though. I actually gained quite a bit… OF WEIGHT, that is! As I’ve mentioned before, I used to be a fitness trainer, and even dabbled in the figure competitions a little bit in my early 30’s. I’ve gained a little bit year over year, but Holy Cow! This year has been a bad one! Getting older, I’m less concerned about the affect it has on my looks. But now the concern is more about my health and my joints.
So overnight is probably a bit of an exaggeration. But many women I’ve talked to said that one of the biggest things they noticed about this time was the weight was coming on quicker than before. In order to combat this, they definitely had to up their game in the diet and exercise department.
One things I’ve come to terms with is that I can’t eat like I used to without it showing up on my butt in a few days later. Seems obvious enough, but changing your habits is not an easy task. It involves rewiring your mind and acknowledging that it’s a lifestyle change, not a temporary weight loss solution.
Where’s My Glasses?
I had had one hell of a party for my 40th birthday–so many friends came to help me celebrate and for one more night, we relived our teenage 80’s heavy metal hair days.
It was the next morning when my body reminded me that I was NOT in my late teens or 20’s. Not even my 30s!
I woke up to look at my phone but couldn’t see the time. “Must be the hangover,” I thought. However, I still couldn’t see well later that day…. or the next day….. or the next month…. or any year after that.
And the 2 hours it used to take me to recover from a good party now took me a full day and night.
Old age was officially here for to stay! I had always heard your eyesight starts to go after 40, but I didn’t realize it would literally be like a light switch THE DAY AFTER TURNING 40!
Perimenopause- a.ka. Temporary Demonic Possession
I am convinced the perimenopause battle includes warding off a demon constantly trying to possess our minds and bodies. This is one of the funny, but not so funny challenges that women over 40 face.
One minute I will be laughing, and the next I have my hackles up over something trivial. The old fun me fights to show up, only to be overtaken by the evil demon again!
My fiance may make a lighthearted joke that I used to be able to laugh at. Now it can bring instant tears and a couple of hours of retreating to lick my wounds. I was never one to be overly sensitive, but now it’s a different story.
I’m convinced that sometimes he wonders what he got himself into, and who it is that replaced the fun, smart, confident woman he asked to marry him a short time ago.
At some point, I realized beating myself up for something that I really couldn’t control was just adding to the problem. I decided to treat myself with kindness and patience. I didn’t excuse my mood swings, but I did try to make my family aware of what I was going through.
Sometimes you just need to ASK for what you need. I asked my family for a little more grace and sensitivity during this time. To my surprise, when I put it to them in this way, they were very understanding. Imagine that! 🙂
I’ve never had long lustrious thick hair. But I definitely had enough that an elastic band would actually hold my ponytail. In the years since I turned 40, I can easily create a small furry creature from the amount of hair I clean from my brush every week.
Sounds scary, doesn’t it? It was, so much so that I went to the doctor worried that I had some sort of terminal illness. She chuckled and said it’s just a part of aging.
I thought becoming old, fat, and bald was only a male aging problem?!
I’m joking, of course. In all seriousness, if you notice excessive hair loss, it could be a sign of a thyroid or other problem, not just aging. Go get it checked out.
Lucky for me, I haven’t dealt with these much myself. But many women experience heavy sweating, red flushed faces, and other obvious signs.
If hot flashes have you wishing you could move your office to a walk in cooler, you’re not alone. A friend of mine said hers were so bad that when she had to have a hysterectomy (for an unrelated issue), she would gladly do it again just to be rid of these symptoms!
If you simply can’t take another night of sweat-soaked sheets, there are things you can try. Hormone replacement therapy seems to lessen these symptoms. But if you aren’t into that, there are other prescription drugs or herbal supplements that may help. Talk to your doctor before trying these options.
Unfortunately, our culture still thinks we are supposed to look 25 forever. We spend hundreds of dollars on makeup, creams and surgeries trying to live up to that unrealistic goal.
We as women have been conditioned to equate our value with how thin we are and how young we look, instead of the awesome life we’ve lived. Instead of hating the lines on our face, let’s be grateful we’ve lived long enough to see them. Let’s remember the memories of laughter and sunshine that created them. Even the lines that might have been created by pain, let them be a reminder that you’re a survivor! 🙂
This, Too, Shall Pass!
This stage of life doesn’t have to be all bad. We can try to find humor in the not so funny challenges women over 40 face. In addition, we can get advice and support for those things that are anything but funny.
And the best thing about this phase is that IT’S ONLY TEMPORARY.
I recently asked a few other women in their 40’s about their experiences and how they managed the changes that come with this stage of life. Here’s what they said:
Get moving!— It’s super important for your mood and your body. You know this! Exercise helps you sweat out toxins, boosts your endorphins, and gives you energy like you wouldn’t believe!
If you need a little boost to get started, check out the 7 Day Mind and Body Kickstart! It’s a simple program designed to get your mind and body started on the road to a healthier you! For a limited time, if you Opt in to the email list , you can get FREE journal pages and receive the 7 Day Mind and Body Kickstart program at a huge discount.
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Minimize sugar and alcohol— I know, I know. I don’t like it either. However, sugar, alcohol and processed foods can cause an inflammatory response in the body. This increases menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, water retention, and even irritability. Try to limit or eliminate inflammatory foods from your diet.
Join a support group-– Sometimes just being able to talk to other women who understand what you are going through is very therapeutic.
Do activities that you love— sometimes we can get down on ourselves and fall into a bit of a depression. We stop doing things that bring us joy for one reason or another. It’s important to take time to do things that make you feel happy and young.
One of my guilty pleasures is going to see live concerts. I’ll still throw on a concert DVD and pretend I’m right there!
Positive Outlook–Last, but probably the most important tip I received was to change the way you think about aging. If you look at it as a completely negative thing, or act like your life is over, then of course you’re going to feel like crap!
Your thoughts create your feelings. LET’S READ THAT AGAIN……
YOUR THOUGHTS CREATE YOUR FEELINGS. Not the other way around. Therefore, start thinking thoughts that are empowering. Banish thoughts that steal your superpowers!
We can make this the decade that we finally accept ourselves. The decade we get physically and mentally stronger than we’ve ever been. The decade that we are happier than we’ve ever been.
As one of the lines from one of my favorite songs says, “Time waits for no man” (or woman)! Decide how this story goes for yourself!