fitness · Guest Post · menopause

Hit Play, not Pause (Guest Post)

by Michele A.

Two years ago, when I was 49, I broke my ankle while I was out riding on local trails. I wasn’t being a daredevil and the fall was unremarkable; I just fell in exactly the wrong way. When sharing my story with various people, I was taken aback by the reaction I got from several women who all told me that I was too old to be doing such things and I should stop.

One of these women (I’ll refer to her as Nancy) was a colleague I respect and admire who I have known for over 20 years. She has mentored many women in our organization to successfully navigate their careers and has provided solid advice to countless mothers on how to effectively balance a career and a family. Nancy has both daughters and granddaughters All these factors made me especially surprised and hurt to hear this comment from her.

Shortly after I had my fall there were three other women close to my age in my office who sustained injuries. One acquired a tear her shoulder after slipping in a neighbor’s driveway after having had several drinks at a party. The second missed a bottom step while carrying a laundry basket and fractured her foot. The third broke her ankle from losing her balance and lurching forward while she was a passenger on a speedboat outing on a lake in Italy.

It made me wonder, did anyone tell them they were too old to be drinking at parties or doing laundry or boating in a foreign country? I doubt it. Would Nancy or the other women who told me I was too old to be riding a bike have said the same thing to a man my age? Perhaps, but I doubt that too.

After stewing about this for some time and then reflecting upon it further, I concluded that Nancy and the other women weren’t intentionally being sexist or ageist, but they just didn’t get it. They had never taken part in this kind of adventure sport and didn’t know other women their age that did. Because, let’s face it, there aren’t that many of us. By “us” I mean women over 45 who are fitness-focused, competitive and/or performance minded.

We are women who are out adventuring and using their bodies to do things like get themselves across many miles of various kinds of terrain, over hills and through bodies of water. Many of us are there, or have been there, or are looking to be there again, following injury or disability or other life adjustment (or, perhaps ,a global pandemic…)

Recently I discovered the podcast “Hit Play Not Pause” and am so glad I did. It’s for “active, performance-minded women who aren’t willing to put their best years behind them.” I’m certainly not willing to give up doing the things I love now that I’m over 50, and I hope to continue doing them for many years to come.

This podcast is a godsend because I’ve been experiencing unpleasant and frustrating things with my body in the past few years that I don’t understand. Short of comparing notes with friends, information about being active in menopausal years is hard to come by. Not much research has been done on active women in this age group.

I’ve gotten lots of practical advice listening to the podcast: herbal remedies that can reduce hot flashes; ways to keep my lady parts from getting dry; eating and exercising approaches that can help with weight gain brought on by changing hormones. Specifically, I’ve learned that while we may tend to gravitate towards long, slow endurance workouts, we also need to include some high intensity work, like Plyometrics, to replace in our muscles what we’ve lost from reduced estrogen. (Listen to episode 1 for the science behind this.)  

I also found out that we’re never too old to be doing Kegel exercises! It can help with incontinence.  (Tune into episode 4 to find out more.) These were all useful tips, but the most important things I’ve gotten out of listening to the podcast are a mindset and a community.

If you don’t have much time to listen to podcasts, there’s one particular episode I’d highly recommend – “Joy Goals with Kristen Dieffenbach”. There’s so much good coaching in it about how to manage your own self-image and how to think about your goals amidst a body that is inevitably going to change whether you like it or not.

I walked away from this episode inspired and also with a powerful realization. We – the over-45 women need to be the role models for the generation behind us. Our own role models for being active over 45 are few and far between. Instead of worrying aloud about the weight gain or critically eyeing the crepe-like skin below the leg of your bike shorts, appreciate all that your body has done for you. Show younger women what is possible because of strength and determination. And show them that you can keep doing it for many, many years. Let’s pave the path for them and show them how it’s done, shall we?

13 thoughts on “Hit Play, not Pause (Guest Post)

  1. I took up roller derby at 48, and at 53 I blew off pandemic stress learning aggressive street and park skating. I have every intention of not acting “my age” for the rest of my days. 🙂

    1. I love to hear this! I’ve been wanting to learn how to skateboard. I got a board a few years ago and then got rid of it when I moved since it had been mostly untouched. I might have to re-think this. Thank you for the inspiration. If you’ve written about it, I’d love to read it!

  2. Thanks, Michele! I love this post. As I am approaching menopause (48 and a half :), I am looking for more of this type of info and will check out the podcast.
    I also have an appt with a pelvic physio this week, for similar reasons – kind of preemptive work to find out what I can do to help maintain my active lifestyle, as things start to change in that region. Thanks for sharing. I agree with your perspective!

    1. This sounds like a great idea. My understanding is that pelvis and pelvic floor health are really key to a strong body. I took a class called pfilates (pelvic floor pilates) many years ago and learned some good exercises that I should look into again.

      1. Hey Michele – Maybe you already found it, but as a participant of Liz Koch’s Core Crushers training , you have access to awesome and very thorough Pelvic floor training including in your plan — check it out!

  3. Thank you for writing this! I began circus training at 42 and had no idea what I might be capable of because I didn’t know of anyone my age doing anything like that. Now 49, I’m fortunate to have a coach and mentor in her mid 50s showing me that I can keep enjoying this for many more years.

  4. Wow, Renee, this is intriguing! I can imagine the kind of strength and discipline this sort of thing takes. Glad to hear you found a great coach and mentor. It’s so important.

  5. Thank you for this! I took up mountain biking in my late 40s (I’m now 52) and it’s become my passion. I’ve sustained injuries for sure (and I admit it takes longer to bounce back then it used to) and I’ve gotten the same kinds of remarks from people. One was a doctor setting my broken wrist! But the idea of community is SO important – I ride with a group of women, most of whom are in my age range, and we cheer each other on. I also admit I kind of like the comments from friends who think I am a badass for doing this sport at all. I’ll check out the podcast, thanks!

    1. Nancy, this is especially discouraging to hear from a doctor. My last physical was with a new to me PCP and by the end of the appointment he had told me to keep riding my bike at least 4 times! He reminded me of all the specific health benefits and it was the one thing he wanted me to remember when I left there! It was so refreshing. My woman’s health doctor is in her 60s and very active and competitive. It’s one of the reasons I chose her many years ago. I agree that community is an important reason I am motivated to continue. Keep riding and being bada$$!

  6. My feeling is that if you can do it, go for it. Exercise of all kinds makes life more enjoyable. Why should anyone stop doing something they enjoy because they’ve hit a certain birthday? (It’s different if your doctor warns you against a specific activity for a medical reason–that’s why an eighty-something friend stopped coming to the weight room.
    One of my professors suffered a fracture in a riding accident–he was in his eighties at the time.

  7. 55 and still riding, hiking and trail running. No plans to stop anytime soon! I love The Hit Play Not Pause Podcast! Keep on doing whatever makes you happy and fit. 🙂

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