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Selene Yeager, 54, is host of the Hit Play Not Pause podcast, content manager at Feisty Menopause, and a best-selling professional health and fitness writer, including the co-author of ROAR and Next Level with Dr. Stacy Sims. She lives what she writes as a certified personal trainer, certified nutrition coach, off road racer, and former All-American Ironman triathlete. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, 1 Methuselah-aged pit bull, 2 fluffy sister cats, a couple of fish and Golden Mystery Snails, and a daughter who makes appearances during university breaks.
Coming fully into my own. Turning the page from worrying what everyone else thinks; taking care of others first and foremost, and walking around with an undercurrent of self-doubt to turning that energy toward myself and my professional passions has been a revolution of self. Sure I probably could have got there without menopause. But I think it’s an important part of the process. Going through the transition forced me to step back and take a hard look at who I wanted to be on the other side. I’m grateful for that.
As an athletic woman, the change in muscle mass is hard. It feels like one day you’re flying up hills and the next gravity has been turned up to 11. It rocked my sense of self. Who was I if I wasn’t strong? Who was I if I wasn’t chasing podiums? Who was I if I wasn’t competitive? My body didn’t respond—or look—the way I had come to identify as me. That goes beyond any sort of vanity when your body is one of your professional tools. That’s still hard sometimes. After digging into the existing literature on resistance training, muscle synthesis, nutrition, and more, however, I was able to make changes to my athletic approach that have made an enormous difference. I obviously understand that we don’t keep getting stronger and faster forever. There will always be a decline. But I feel more in control and feel more like myself.
When I turned 50. It felt like the moment I tossed a leg from under the blanket, I’d crossed over an unseen, but palpable line into a life just outside of the one I’d previously known. I was 50. I was also “menopausal,” something society at large barely talks about outside of chronic disease and the aging process. I’ve never thought of 50 as old. Hell, I don’t even know what I think “old” is. But my mind, a sudden machine gun of clichés, unloaded on me: “past your prime,” “aging,” “irrelevant.” I’ve always loved to live large. Now I felt the urge to shrink back…to disappear. I felt sorry for myself. I cried for something I’d lost that I couldn’t even fully define.
Then slowly another voice pushed through, not as loud at first, but reassuringly persistent: “Own it. Explore it. Embrace it.” Over time that voice got louder, drowning out the other, and it dawned on me that while I would be exiting my physical prime of podiums and PRs, I was entering another, more important “prime:” one of purpose. By relinquishing the sole (and sometimes…well a lot of times, selfish) pursuit of physical gain, I have opened up space in my life for being more present for others, giving back, and thinking harder about how I can use the words I send into the world to leave it a better place. And of course, surfing this Earth in search of adventure. It’s filled me with a kind of excitement and contentment my younger self never knew. I’m grateful for the struggle and the lessons. I’m also determined to keep on living large to maybe inspire others who are hiding in the shadows to come out into the light and realize that your best days aren’t in your rearview mirror.
My bike. There is no hard day that is not made better by a good ride.
My Oofos recovery slides. These are sandals that are made with a special foam that absorbs a ton of impact from the ground to reduce the stress on your feet and joints. I know it sounds kind of gimmicky and unserious, but it’s really incredible how well they work. Most racers I know swear by them once they try them. I laughed out loud when someone first told me about “recovery footwear”. But menopause and midlife definitely make recovery more challenging. Now that’s literally all I wear!
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