Flying Up the Stairs: Menopausal Arthritis (and a Book Giveaway!)

Phyllis Two

A post by Phyllis Rickel-Wong, author of  Flying Up the Stairs!  What You Need to Know About Menopausal Arthritis to Break Free:

I am not quite sure when exactly the change happened.

No, not “The Change,” but rather the change in my body’s physical strength!

Right around menopause, though, my body was undergoing subtle changes that I was not aware of; hence, the reason that I did not take action then to correct them.

At one point in perimenopause, I had been walking for hours nearly each day (in an attempt to lose weight through the “calories in – calories out” rule).That is, any calories consumed by me such as a heaping plateful of spaghetti topped with bolognese sauce, I would then work off through a couple of intense hours of very fast walking.

This was precisely calculated to burn off my guilty culinary pleasures!

Well, the calories in – calories out equation didn’t work.

Not only did I not lose weight this way, but I also was not really exercising my body in a way that would bring strength to the muscles in my legs and feet, and knees and ankle joints. You might be wondering how can this be, and I’ll explain shortly.

It was sometime a few years later, right around menopause, when I began to discover that something was wrong.

I simply began to stumble and fall on more than one occasion without warning!

The last time this happened, I had turned around to enthusiastically wave goodbye to family as I descended a small sloping sidewalk. Turning front to continue walking to our car, I went instead careening through the air! I sailed right into their yard, and landed squarely in a hedge of rose bushes!

So, this brings me to the actual topic of my post, and that is “menopausal arthritis,” or the joint pain that is associated with the menopause!

It turns out that the supportive athletic shoes and the incredibly comfortable clogs that I was wearing didn’t allow my muscles to really work! Weakened muscles led to a gait that produced knee pain, and what I thought was arthritis! Also, my inability to lose weight, was related to a changed metabolism that is actually associated with developing osteoarthritis!

My husband, a martial arts master, developed a program of exercises to strengthen my muscles and tendons, and I began to use many anti-inflammatory foods, herbs, and supplements.

After healing from my own “menopausal arthritis” (and, indeed achieving a body strong enough to “fly up the stairs!”) I wrote my book so that others might not have to go through what I had in menopause and after. I hope that if you are experiencing joint pain associated with the menopause that my book will help you become pain-free!


GIVEAWAY: Phyllis has kindly offered one Friend for the Ride reader a copy of her book, Flying Up the Stairs! What You Need to Know About Menopausal Arthritis to Break Free. For a chance to win, enter a comment by June 30. U.S. and Canada only. Thanks!

Phyllis Rickel-Wong is a researcher and writer in the fields of health, medicine, and psychology. She has a long-standing interest in alternative and complementary medicine, and more recently, integrative medicine. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan, and her Master’s Degree in Developmental Psychology from San Francisco State University.

Ms. Rickel-Wong is currently writing a series of books to address physical and psychological health in menopause, of which “Flying Up the Stairs!” is her first. Through her work base and company, Transforming Menopause, Inc. in San Ramon, CA, she hopes to help women transform the experience of menopause into a “Welcomed Change!”

Photo of Phyllis: The photo credit goes to Herb Wong (Phyllis’ s husband) who had to assume a somewhat “supine” position in the landing of the Walnut Creek Library’s stairs to compensate for their lack of a sophisticated camera lens that would have rendered him a whole lot less amusing to library  patrons.



Apres La Holiday Willpower and Menopausal Weight Gain


My daughter Laura, the school psychologist,  gave me this treat-eating holiday advice, based on recent psychological studies:

When you use self-control to resist treats, you reinforce your ability to use willpower.  So each time you make a healthy choice, you increase your chances of exercising self-control in the future.

I tried this when I baked cheese straws. Worked pretty well.  When a cheese straw called to me, I resisted. Not easy, but I did it.  Each time I resisted, I felt empowered.

I used it  when I baked sugar cookies and bourbon balls too. I allowed myself one cookie, at the end, before I packed them away. More empowerment!

I lost it on Christmas Eve, when Laura brought out the peanut butter buckeyes.

Curses!  But my goal is to get it back. The empowered feeling. The I-have-willpower feeling.

“This is the wedding year,” Laura reminds me.

Not just any old wedding year.

HER wedding year.

Mother of the Bride dress here I come.

So I’m going to keep trying this technique, since Naked Church from last year was a failure. I knew I’d wimp out when the church bell rang.

Menopause weight gain continues to fluster me. Recent studies suggest menopausal women burn less calories metabolically.  Ha!  So menopausal weight gain isn’t  just menopausal ladies eating too much and exercising less.

What about you?  Do you think The Great Pause has done nasty things to your weight or are cookies just hard to resist?

Cartoon: I found this on Facebook. We never learn the names of the artists, but hats off to  the world’s clever, creative people.