Wendy Hoffman blogs about menopause and women's health—particularly focusing on how diet and nutrition can positively affect a woman's life around the age of menopause.See all posts »
Is It Time To Take Charge of Your Health?
Are you a 40- or 50-year-old woman still in your “invincible” mode? You fit the bill if you haven’t had a medical check up in a few years, visited the gym for a serious workout in months, you’re overweight, and you feel tired most of the time. You probably think that’s what being middle aged feels like.
That’s how Barbara Hannah Grufferman, who writes the “Life After 50” blog on the Huffington Post, described herself before she took charge of her health and celebrated her transformation with a run in the New York City marathon.
I love her story because, well, except for the marathon part, it’s so similar to mine -- and probably yours, too. Until my late forties, my body was on auto pilot. I had no health concerns, took no meds or supplements, slept okay but not enough, and kept a gym membership that I didn’t use very much.
But then came menopause with all the symptoms that you’re so familiar with by now. And like Barbara, I had a baseline bone density test (a Dexa Scan) that showed some bone loss, the result of declining estrogen levels. I was told I had Osteopenia, which, if ignored, can progress to Osteoporosis with time. There’s a debate over whether this “pre-disease” diagnosis should be a reason for taking bone-building drugs called bisphosphonates. But that’s all that I (and Barbara) had to hear to take charge of our health and get moving.
We both resolved to get strong and fit. We both sought advice on nutrition and fitness from experts. We took important, bone-building supplements like Calcium and Vitamin D, and we both kept at it till we reached our goals.
She chronicled her transformation in a book, “The Best of Everything After 50.” I started a blog called Menopause The Blog to share all my research about bone health and other midlife health concerns. Obviously, we both share the opinion that our hard-won lessons can help other women in their own menopause journey.
The good news is that Barbara’s strength training and diet regimen, started when she was over 50 years old, reversed or halted her bone loss and that accomplishment earned her an award from the National Osteoporosis Foundation this week. I didn’t win any award, but I look and feel better now than I did 20 years ago.
I hope Barbara Hannah Grufferman’s story inspires you to take charge of your own health. And remember -- you can’t feel your bones getting weaker. It just happens, usually within a year or two after the onset of menopause. That’s why of the 10 million americans estimated to have osteoporosis, eight million are women.
There’s a lot you can do to avoid being one of them. Your doctor can offer guidance and you’ll also learn a lot by visiting the website of the National Osteoporosis Foundation.