Read an Excerpt
At forty-seven, I was busy planning my first wedding after thirty years of dating in Los Angeles. It was a joyful time, with the exception of hourly hot flashes, weight gain that made it impossible to preorder the wedding dress of my choice and a vagina that was in no mood for a honeymoon. I was desperate to find solutions to my miserable menopause symptoms so I could feel like myself again, and look like the woman my fancé fell in love with. I prayed that my doctor would have a magic pill, but she did not.
I began an urgent quest for answers that would allow me to regain control over my health and beauty before the big wedding day. I needed a Menopause Makeover! There were many books and Web sites about menopause, but none had an action plan to guide me through the confusing array of treatment options. During my search, I discovered that the actual process of planning my wedding held the key to my Menopause Makeover. For me, managing menopause was going to take the same amount of effort as planning a wedding.
Since I had less than four months until my wedding, and there were no "menopause makeover" books available, I created a twelve-week plan to manage my uninvited wedding guest—menopause. Inspired by my own wedding planner book, which offered succinct information, checklists, to-do lists, and a place to journal, set goals and track progress, my makeover plan helped me reclaim my health—and my life—in just three months.
I ended up with two planners in my life—one for my wedding and one for my menopause. Marriage and menopause made an odd pair, but the dual-planner approach worked! My menopause makeover plan gave me the direction I needed to accomplish my goals in twelve weeks.
Going through menopause was a wake-up call for me. I could no longer ignore my bad eating habits, lack of exercise, and health issues, such as high blood pressure and fading vision. Most of us are busy with family, career, children, home and parents, with no time left for ourselves. Menopause will demand your attention. Making a commitment to the 12-Week Menopause Makeover is the first step to taking control of your health and beauty at midlife. It is the key to a new and revitalized you!
It took forty-six years for true love to find me and just six months for menopause to seize me. And when I said, "I do" to the man of my dreams, I said, "I don't" to hot flashes, a dry vagina and an ever-expanding waistline.
Menopause hit me at full speed. Before getting married, I decided to get an FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) test to determine whether or not I was still fertile. I had been on birth control pills for twenty-five years. Getting off the pill to get a "true" FSH test sent my body into chaos. Little did I know that over the years, my "natural" state had started shutting down and had entered a stage of menopause. My FSH test result was 72. Generally, any number over 40 mIU/ML indicates that the ovaries are not producing enough estrogen to keep monthly periods normal (see Chapter 1 for more information).
I was in a state of shock at the results. No one told me how dramatic it would be to experience "the change." When my mother's hormones started changing in her forties, she had a hysterectomy and immediately began taking a hormone therapy drug called Premarin, an oral form of estrogen. My family never saw any "changes" in my mother, other than that she seemed happier. All my friends got married much earlier than I did, had their children, and were nowhere close to menopause. Feeling terribly unprepared, I entered one of the most challenging phases in my life, getting married and "getting" menopause alone.
As any bride knows, the day you get married is the day you want to feel like a princess. We spend months preparing for the big event. Beautifying, pampering, slipping into wedding gowns, hoping to discover the one dress that makes us feel special. I eventually found the perfect gown. But three months before the wedding, I started gaining weight. I gained seventeen pounds in three months. Just to give you a tiny taste of my dismay, I no longer fit into my wedding gown, and I could not afford to buy another dress two sizes larger.
I was so confused that I started feeling depressed. My fancé was beyond mystified. What happened to his carefree, loving, supportive, spontaneous and fun wife-to-be? Who was this raging madwoman who "lost it" over the most minor events and attacked him unprovoked? I certainly didn't know. No doubt, the man of my dreams didn't know, either.
Something was wrong. I was not the same person. I was not comfortable in my own skin. All I wanted to do was hide in a cave and hope that when I emerged, the nightmare would be over. I was two sizes bigger, cranky, bloated, sleepless and sweaty. In full panic mode four months before my wedding—the day I had dreamed about my entire life—I scrambled to find answers. It was countdown time, with no room for error. I needed results—and fast! As an executive producer and writer for television, I have a career that requires me to become an expert on many different topics in a short period. Being one of the original executive producers to launch the television network Oxygen Media, cofounded by Oprah Winfrey, I was profoundly committed to producing stories about incredible women, such as Gloria Steinem, Ann Richards, Anna Deavere Smith and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I had the tools, contacts and passion to find answers.
Desperate, I started reading books, researching the Internet, and speaking to experts. I discovered that nothing was changing but me! I was doing everything the menopause books and Internet articles suggested, from dieting to exercising, yet nothing seemed to be working. I searched online and in bookstores for the one book that would explain what was happening to me and show me the way out. I read nearly fifty books, but even though they were loaded with all the medical information I needed to understand menopause, none gave me the solution—the program—that I needed to take back my life. What was a menopausal bride to do? I wanted one-stop shopping. I wanted an ultimate plan. And it was up to me to create it.
Inspired by the wedding planner books I used for my wedding, I decided I really needed a menopause planner to help me keep track of hormones, exercise and my diet the same way I kept track of caterers, florists and dress fittings. Through extensive research, interviews with medical experts and trial and error, I developed an eight-step program and menopause planner that really worked. My menopause planner gave me the tools I needed to look and feel better in twelve short weeks, and it will do the same for you.
This book is your survival guide to menopause. It will take the mystery out of menopause, offer you proven solutions to your symptoms, and help you stay sane and organized. With my twelve-week program for managing symptoms and regaining your health and beauty, you will feel like yourself again in no time!
Thanks to this unusual combination of life transitions—marriage and menopause—I discovered a wonderful connection: Just as you commit to loving the partner of your dreams, you need to commit to loving yourself. This is especially true during menopause. With The Menopause Makeover, you can say "I do" to the new you.
My Commitment to You
The Menopause Makeover produced incredible results, and everyone wanted to know my secret. After my wedding day, I repeated the 12-Week Plan with great success. Knowing that I couldn't be the only one having trouble with menopause, I decided to share what I'd learned to help other women manage menopause. Taking this commitment seriously, I launched a Web site and Hot Flash newsletter to reach out to menopausal women worldwide. The first month, over ten thousand women searching for menopause solutions found the Web site, women from the U.S.A., Great Britain, Canada, the Bahamas, and Australia. They openly shared their frustrations and concerns. Women wrote to my advice column, "Dear Crabby," revealing their deepest fears. I discovered that women were struggling most with weight gain and aging, the very same frustrations I was experiencing. Miserable menopause symptoms, like hot flashes and dry skin, usually came second or third on the list of menopause complaints.
Hearing from other women going through menopause helped me refine the Menopause Makeover program to encompass all their needs and concerns. The Menopause Makeover offers eating and exercise advice, beauty tips, and emotional and relationship support, topped off with a splash of spirituality and a dash of happiness—you need to work on all areas of your life in order to truly manage menopause.
Before publishing this book I spent two years fine-tuning the program, collaborating with medical experts and eventually teaming up with a leading expert on menopause, Dr. Wendy Klein, Associate Professor of Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. As a pioneer in women's health, Dr. Klein shared my passion for helping women manage menopause. We spent months discussing menopause symptoms and treatment solutions, from complementary remedies to hormone therapy, along with the latest scientific evidence on hormone therapy, bioidenticals and compounded hormones. We read the latest studies from the Women's Health Initiative and leading medical journals on risks associated with hormone therapy, from heart disease to cancer. I was astonished at the misinformation out there in bookstores and online!
Dr. Klein's dedication to accuracy ensures that you have the most up-to-date information at your fingertips. In order to design your own successful Menopause Makeover, you need to be informed and understand all your choices. In her mission to educate both practitioners and patients, Dr. Klein is committed to healthy solutions based on sound scientific research. I discovered that traditional medicine is not only aggressively researching treatment choices for women, but there are already many FDA-approved options available, all of which are discussed in this book.
There's a lot of confusion out there about menopause treatment—what's safe, what isn't, what works and what doesn't. With the help of Dr. Klein, this book provides clear, simple explanations about menopause symptoms and treatment choices. The Menopause Makeover is more than a girlfriend's guide to menopause; it is a book built on a foundation of sound science. This book is dedicated to your meno-
pausal journey. You have all the tools needed in The Menopause Makeover to go through "the change" informed with the latest scientific evidence, so you can celebrate your new beginning.
The Menopause Makeover IS for You
When the word menopause is used in this book, I am speaking to all women going through perimenopause, menopause, postmenopause and surgical menopause.