Current Situation: Body Grief
by Sonja R. Price Herbert
Believe it or not, I thought I would never reach 48.
No, I didn’t think that the world would end by now. As I approach my 49th year of being on this earth, I have seen my 5’3 somewhat petite body change in many ways. I have gone from “tiny” with barely any upper body strength, to small, ripped, and very strong, to smallish, curvy, somewhat strong. Appearing to be fit and well in menopause.
Yes, I am currently in the stages of menopause, and in “Body Grief.”
What is menopause, you say?
Menopause marks the time in a woman's life when her menstruation stops, and she is no longer fertile.
What comes with this menopause stage?
Well, first you don’t have a period …YAY!!…well sort of yay. You see, without my period comes hormonal changes. I’m hot, then I’m cold. My moods change rapidly and some days I’m not sure if I’m anxious, tired, or pissed off. One woman I met experiencing these changes calls it “second puberty.” She couldn’t be more correct.
I have also gained a significant amount of weight. Now, given many of you have seen or will see pictures of me on my social media platforms, you will probably wonder…well what the hell is she talking about? For me, it is a significant amount of weight. Now don’t get me wrong, I have been wanting to gain more weight as I have matured but I wasn’t quite ready this quickly. You see, since then, I have been going through a grieving phase with my body. Comparison has been my best friend, and I have been feeling a bit unfit lately. I look at past pictures of myself and think “wow I was so strong," or, "I was so fit/muscular." Now, I see nothing but back fat and cellulite. I am in what I call “body grief.” Does it mean I have died from the physically fit body that I had? Well yes and no.
2015- 46-years-old & 112lbs
2017- 48-years-old & 135lbs
My body is definitely not the same as it was one to two years ago. Within a year I have grown out of the smallish clothing that I was wearing up to even a few months ago. I tried to get some sympathy from my friends but they were more like “girl bye, you look great and fit.” I went from a size 0 to a 2/4, so, ok, yeah. But, for me it was a big change. The only time I have not fit into my clothes was pregnancy. Both times I dropped the weight quite fast due to my lightning speed metabolism. Not sure I still have it now, though. Now here I am at my biggest ever and it was not from pregnancy. What is truly interesting is that I’ve also received more compliments than I ever did when I was ripped. I guess it can’t be that bad huh?
So, how do I really feel?
Real talk, part of me feels weak, unfit, unmotivated, depressed and sad. But then there is this other side of me which I will call “Commando” (get it, Commando Core Fitness?) who is embracing the curves and figuring out how to navigate this new body with other workouts, like powerlifting. Why powerlifting? Because the body types are so damn diverse and no one cares. What’s most important is that you are strong.
Just Body Grieving, and that’s it?
I am only speaking to my experience going through menopause, but maybe you or others have other things going on with your bodies that cause weight gain, loss of muscle, etc. I still get it. Women's bodies are the most talked about bodies in the world. If you are a Black woman, then that puts you first, weight gain or not. That’s a topic for another blog post.
Here are four tips for my ladies experiencing the “Menopause aka second puberty” or just grieving the body you used to have:
- Go ahead and grieve! Folks seems to have issues about grieving. Why? I am a former social worker and I would always tell my clients that it was ok to grieve, and for as long as they wanted. Telling folks to "get over" what may cause depression, isolation, anger, and stress is a landmine waiting to explode. Why would you want to hold all that in, or "just get over it”? From me to you: Don’t listen to PEOPLE about YOU, listen to YOU about YOU.
- Find a tribe you can talk to who understands, or at least can empathize. I have a few amazing tribes, and no one to my knowledge is experiencing what I am, but they are extremely supportive and refuse to let me talk down about myself.
- Find workouts that make you feel great. I am a badass Pilates instructor who also loves to lift. In the last year or so, I have started attending yoga once a week. I’ve recently decided twice a week is much better and I really love it. It keeps me mobile, flexible and helps me release stress. Whatever makes you feel good do that.
- Journal or meditate. Honestly, I don’t do either on a regular basis, but when I do it makes such a big difference. You can express your feelings, release some stress, create and breath.
Sonja lives in New York where she is a pilates, fitness, and lifestyle coach and a former social worker. She is the founder of Commando Core Fitness and the Black Girl Pilates community on Instagram and Facebook.