menoPAUSE: Real & Raw Stories of Midlife & Mental Health

Body 'Betrayal' and Surrendering to a new Self Image, with Sonya Lovell

October 21, 2022 Kylie Patchett Season 1 Episode 4
menoPAUSE: Real & Raw Stories of Midlife & Mental Health
Body 'Betrayal' and Surrendering to a new Self Image, with Sonya Lovell
Show Notes Transcript

Sonya is a Personal Trainer with over 13 years experience, turned Menopause Mentor, Advocate and Story Teller. She's also a Breast Cancer survivor who experienced the chaos of surgical/induced menopause, when she was 47. Obsessed with helping and supporting women navigate their way through perimenopause and menopause, she leans heavily into her lived experience of being unsupported, unprepared and seriously under educated through her own menopause.

In this episode, Sonya shares
 
- her journey from super fit and healthy PT through a sudden breast cancer diagnosis at 47 and the medical menopause which followed

- through all the feelings of body betrayal, self identity shifts and powerful purpose this journey ultimately delivered to her

- the big beautiful WHY behind Sonya's passion and stellar advocacy for women transitioning through peri-menopause and menopause


Find Sonya:
Online at www.stellarwomen.com.au
Insta @stellarwomen_by_sonya
Listen in to the Dear Menopause podcast here

Listen in to the episode Sonya mentions with Professor Jayashri Kulkarni leading researcher in menopausal depression: Mental Health and Menopause here

Find out why it feels like midlife is messing with you! Take Sonya’s quiz to discover if the reason you don't feel like yourself anymore is because you're in perimenopause... even if you think you're too young for that!   



Come visit Kylie's beautiful new home

Head to Freebies page here for all your meno and storytelling resources, including:

--> Midlife "Mojo" menoPAUSE Mini Course to help understand the shifts of perimenopause and learn simple self care practises

--> Cracking the Copy Code: Rave Reviews to get glowing rave reviews on autopilot & on repeat





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Come connect with Kylie on Insta @kyliepatchett or Facebook @kyliepatchettonline
and online for all your menoPAUSE and Brand, Content and Copy Storytelling needs at Kylie's brand new web home www.kpkreative.com.au



Kylie Patchett:

Well, hello there, beautiful. It's kylie patcher here. Welcome to the wild and finally fecking free podcast. I deeply believe that the years during and beyond perimenopause are right up of passage. All of a sudden, we find ourselves on the precipice of a life transition where our brain literally rewires and runs out of ***** forgive. We find ourselves shifting identity, no longer caring what other people think, and being invited to expand into new ways of being. Here we share the real and raw stories from women who have been through deep midlife medam offices, taken a leap of face, or broken the tires that bind us in patterns of staying small, stuck, and like, our knees just don't matter. This is the midlife medicine you didn't even know you needed. Stories full of joy, despair, freedom, courage and deep self honoring. I am so glad you found us. Welcome. Hello. Hello, everyone. I am super excited. I'm clapping my hands. I know you can't see me, but super excited to welcome our next guest. I'm speaking with a beautiful friend of mine and also an amazing, amazing advocate for women's health and the transition through menopause, which we'll get to in a second at the beautiful Sonia level. Hello, Sonya. How are you?

Sonya Lovell::

Hi, Kylie. I am so well and even better to see you today.

Kylie Patchett:

I've got that, like, wagon my tail there no, we were talking off air and I'm like, I'm so excited to share your story because you have such a depth of transformation to discuss from a personal level, but that's opened the door to you being this amazing professional advocate for women transitioning through I'm going to call it the clusterfuckery of Menopause, the Fun and Clusterfucker.

Sonya Lovell::

And I do think fun for me was tongueincheek, but thank you for that intro. I think I might need to carry you around with me in my pocket as my personal introduce fee.

Kylie Patchett:

I could be a professional spreaker.

Sonya Lovell::

I love that.

Kylie Patchett:

I can also tap there, so that's good.

Sonya Lovell::

Oh, my God. Two for one. What more could I ask for? Beautiful.

Kylie Patchett:

So let's start. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what drew you to talk with us, because the whole point of this podcast is breaking free of the ties that bind and that can mean many different things to many different people. So what drew you to come and share your story with us?

Sonya Lovell::

Yeah, that's a good question. And, yeah, it's really interesting because when you talk about breaking free of the ties that bind, for me, there are so many different levels and ties that I have broken free of, and not necessarily by my own choice, originally in the last five years. And so I am a personal trainer by trade, if you want. And I have been a personal trainer now for 13 and more years. And I've worked in all facets of personal training, but I was always drawn to working with women and it's really interesting. Early in my career, when I expressed that I wanted to work with women predominantly, I was pretty much kind of shut down by, you know, the mentors and those, you know, ahead of me in the industry that were predominantly male, because they were like, no, you can't what we call now Niching, don't do that. You need to work with everybody. You can't just work with one segment of an audience, which is we now know as business owners. So ridiculous. So ridiculous. I was always drawn to work with women, particularly women that were of my age. And I was 40 when I qualified. I'm now 52, and that has always been a big part of what I've done. And my drive to be a PT was to work with women and to help women improve their lives through exercise and fitness. I've also done nutrition, coaching, and all the things that go hand in hand with that. But I guess the big upheaval that I had in my life that created this change for me was in 2017, when I was 47, and I was very suddenly and unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer. And it was obviously incredibly shocking to me. I discovered a lump in the shower. I've always been, always been an advocate for self checking your *******, but just because it's always what I'd done. And then I discovered a lump in my right breast, and I was like everybody else. I ignored it for the first couple of months until I realized it had actually got bigger. And then I was like, oh, hang on, this is kind of need to trot off to my doctor for this. And so, yeah, that happened very quickly. I literally went from recognizing that the lump had increased in size from when I felt it the months before visiting my GP, being on the table after having a mammogram to have a biopsy, then that all happened within hours, and to being on an operating table a week later. It was literally like being put on a train that you didn't know where it was going. There was no destination, and it was going super fast, and there were no stops at any other stations. You were just on this train and you just left the station, and it was horrendous. And so when we talk about when I experienced having to break some of those ties, that was the big change for me. So prior to that, I lived this incredibly healthy life. I was fit, I looked amazing, and I was probably the poster girl for being fit in fabulous in your forty s. And all of a sudden, it literally was like my body betrayed me. My body let me down, and my body, which I had relied on so much in my thirty s, I had my kids, my forty s, I was a personal trainer. And all of a sudden, this body that had carried me through so much, just literally let me down. And I had to get used to that idea. And it was hard. And we can talk about all the things that happened in between, but it took me probably three years post diagnosis to be in a place where I could accept that this is what my body is now, and it's not the body that I used to have. It's still my body, and it's still capable of doing amazing things. Yes. It just looks very different to the body that I was used to.

Kylie Patchett:

It strikes me as I'm hearing you, what I'm feeling is this sense of fear in my chest. It's like the me that I know who is healthy, who has a body, who is functional, I eat well. I have this amazing life. I have this beautiful family around me. Everything's ticking along nicely. And then this train comes, and you're like, it's a bullet train. That's what I've got in my head, the bullet train. And obviously Japan. Is there a bullet train? I don't know. And all of a sudden, every single thing that you believe about yourself gets questioned.

Sonya Lovell::

Oh, my God. And even to the point where I had had a conversation with my husband, probably, I'm going to say, five or six years earlier, where I'd actually been at a kind of conferencing thing in the health and wellness industry, and had come home from that and said to him, if ever I have cancer, I want you to know that I will never have chemotherapy. I will never do that for my body. I don't believe in it. And my husband is quite an empath, and he was like, Please don't say that. Please don't say that. And I was like, no, I want you to know that that will be my decision. And it's so easy to say those things yes. And without the knowledge of what's coming down the track for you. And then I was literally in a position where I had to decide if I was going to have chemotherapy or not, potentially to save my life, I chose to have chemotherapy. And that was hard for me. And I was actually literally put in the position where I had to choose. But my oncologist was like after I had my surgery, they then do further investigation into the tissues that they removed to see how far spread and where your cancer actually is at, all the different proteins and what have you. And mine was I ended up in this gray area where it was like, okay, well, it hasn't actually spread. All the margins were clear, but there's this one particular protein that was really elevated, which shows that it was about to spread. Like, it was literally on the cusp of moving further afield. And because of that, we're a little bit nervous. So you need to decide what you'd like to do about that.

Kylie Patchett:

Oh, wow.

Sonya Lovell::

Okay. Yeah. So you could choose not to and be okay, or to be on the safe side, we would probably be recommending that you do. But you need to make the decision. And that was horrendous for me. Oh, my goodness.

Kylie Patchett:

Yeah. Because it's one thing for a doctor to say, my absolute clear recommendation to beat this is XYZ put in a position. Isn't that interesting? What's coming to my mind is this. I've actually got a whole heap of anchors around me at the moment, like visual, because I've just taken a big leap of faith as we were just talking about off here. And one of the things that I've written, which really feels true for me, probably for the first time in my life at the moment, is I am the decider and I am the creator. And it's very easy to be the creator and the decider when things are going well and you're heading towards something that you're driving towards and you believe in full in your heart. But you were put in a position where you have to be the creator and the decider of a really freaking tricky thing that went against what you believed was your belief, at least in the past 100%. Wow. Okay. So talk about breaking the ties at bind or making them someone cutting them off you. It's not even really yeah.

Sonya Lovell::

Or handing you the scissors and asking you to cut them off you. That was probably what made it so hard. And I took my time to make the decision, which my husband struggled with, and we had, as you can imagine, our whole family was in turmoil. My eldest son was in year eleven, just starting his year twelve work, which here in Australia is your final exam as a woman and as a mother, carried this incredible amount of guilt right from the immediate moment I was given the diagnosis was, I didn't do that. Oh, my God, what about me? I did this. Oh, my God, what about my boys? What about my family? How is this going to impact everybody else? That's such a crazy place that we come from as a woman and as a mother. So, yeah, I think I took two weeks to make the decision, and my husband really struggled with that because his thought process was you could potentially die, then therefore this is a no brainer decision to make. People have chemotherapy all the time, and why is this so hard for you? Yes, but I did take my time and I did decide to have it, which I knew was going to be hard on me physically, but also, I suppose, emotionally and spiritually, because it did go against my brain. So that was probably the first tie that I had to break, was to those previous beliefs that I had that I didn't realize I'd ever have to.

Kylie Patchett:

Question when you're making that decision. Because one of the things that keeps on coming up as a theme in these conversations is this concept of deep self trust. Like when we are making a change or stepping through a doorway where we're making a decision to do something differently, breaking something, choosing not to go down the path of an old belief. There is this concept of self trust that keeps on coming up for me. And in these discussions, it's really interesting because everyone uses different language when you're making that decision. Did you come to a point where you 100% knew that was the right decision, or were you literally operating on the probability that it might be the right one?

Sonya Lovell::

I think my analytical, scientific brain kick in, and that was the driver. And I think it had to be because I think if I had left it to my more emotional side, I don't know if I could have made a decision. I think I would have perpetually been stuck in this place of flux, which, as we know, you can't exist in. And also because I was feeling so guilt driven and I don't know if that is actually the right terminology to use, but it's what's coming to me right now about my children. My analytical, my scientific, my logical brain took over. I suppose I did a heap of research, and I did all the research. I got as much information as I could from my oncologist and my breast surgeon and everybody that could give me information. And I also saw a naturopath, and I also did delve into that side of it as well. And I allowed the decision to be made from that place. Yeah.

Kylie Patchett:

Got you. Okay.

Sonya Lovell::

And I wanted to be here for my boys. I wanted to give my body, my physical body, the best opportunity to be here for as long as possible.

Kylie Patchett:

Yeah, absolutely. Because one of your very obvious, very high values is your family. So, yeah, of course, 100% makes it perfectly logical. Okay, so you decide to have chemotherapy. You go through this course of treatment. I say to you before we recorded, you just post it on Instagram about, you know, cancer was like this holy **** moment. And then, like, not even when you completed your treatment, you decided that you were going on a holiday with your family. And to me, when I read that post, I was like, there is a woman who's saying, this is not going to ******* define me. I am in power still. I'm the creator, I'm the decider, and I'm choosing that. This family holiday is something that is really important to me. And you said it was the best holiday you've ever been on. I want to talk a little bit about that. Like, you go through all of this, obviously, fear, doubt, treatment, physical impact of the treatment, emotional, mental, your relationship, your boys, all of that guilt stuff. When you get to the other side, at what point did you decide that? I don't even know whether it's a decision, but where did the decision to just go, now I'm taking my life back?

Sonya Lovell::

You know what, it's interesting, I actually only recognize that that's what I was doing. In retrospect, yes. And I talk now very much about, you know, breast cancer was something that happened to me. Cancer was something that happened to me. It's not something that I created. It's not something that I caused. It happened to me. And I guess this is where it came down to my strength of character. You were talking about anchors and things before. That one kind of thing that you carry through your entire life. And for me, one of my strengths, I always believe, has been my resilience. Right from primary school onwards, I have been an incredibly resilient person, human. And I think that's been my default. And that was what I defaulted to without even realizing that's what I was defaulting to, if that makes sense. Family holidays for us have always been a significant part of our life. We predominantly travel overseas. We've taken our boys to incredible places and had amazing holidays. We love adventures, we love traveling. And, you know, it's something that my husband and I did a lot of before we had children. And it's something we made a really clear decision would always be something we continue to do with our children. And so it was almost a no brainer to start planning a family holiday. It was just this is what we do. And I suppose it was also like a really strong sense of I just wanted my life to get back to normal.

Kylie Patchett:

Normal.

Sonya Lovell::

And for us, normal is having a massive family holiday at that time of year. So I ended up having, obviously, surgery, chemo, radiotherapy, and that all finished up in the November, and we landed in Los Angeles in the first week of January. Wow. And I had to get clearance from my oncologist to be able to go and my radiotherapy oncologist. And it wasn't simple decision, but I made it happen. And I was really sick. I was so sick. And I had some really significant tummy issues going on. I didn't let the boys know any of that. I was struggling with sleep. And the other thing to talk about here, which we haven't touched on, but actually is a key part of everything, is that as a result of my chemotherapy, I went into medically induced menopause. So not only was I my body was physically healing from everything that had been thrown at it for seven or eight months, it was also in menopause, which I now know so much more about. And so I was all over the place. I was exhausted, I wasn't sleeping, I was having horrendous hot flushes and night sweats. Plus I had on top of these tummy issues, but I did not let any of that stop me from having what we all agree today is the best family holiday we've ever had.

Kylie Patchett:

Yeah, amazing. Amazing. That resilience piece. I think for me, I really relate to that, that I always have had multiple different challenges, but there's always a sense of, I can get through this, I can do hard things. And that bounce back ability, it's like that really deep, knowing that, yes, this is ****, but it will pass and there is life on the other side. And so let's get going before we go into the menopause end of things, can we backtrack just one little bit too? Because one of the things that you said when we first talked about the breast cancer was you had this body in your thirty s and forty s that was very active, very fit, had a particular look, feel, post a child of the fitness industry. And then you go through breast cancer. What changed in terms of your relationship with your body and the way that it looked?

Sonya Lovell::

That was huge. Yeah, that was huge. So I can remember sitting and this was after we'd come back from the state, so I'm going to say it was probably about six months after my treatment had finished. And there is this really interesting thing that happens with and this didn't happen just to me, I'm not unique. This happens to a lot of cancer patients, is that once you finish your treatment, society, including doctors, are like, okay, you finished your treatment, now you're good, you're done. Wash their hands if you want to go have a happy life, you live for the patient, that is not the end. In fact, it's actually just the beginning of the healing. Nobody tells you this, you have to learn it all through lived experience. But so I kind of went, oh, I'm done now. I've had this great holiday, I'm going to come back and my life is going to get on. And it didn't. And I fell in a heap and I ended up having a heap of counseling and a whole host of things happened. But I remember very vividly sitting on the lounge next to my husband, literally sobbing, and he was like, Babe, what's wrong? And I was like, why the **** did my body do this to me? And it wasn't the why did I get cancer thing, because I never went down that track. No, but it was like, why did my body let me down?

Kylie Patchett:

Yeah. Betray me.

Sonya Lovell::

Yeah, it's funny. I write now when I'm talking to women about menopause. I talk about your body gaslighting you or feeling like your body is gaslighting you. And I felt like, why did my body let me down and betray me like this? Why did I believe one week that I was the fittest, healthiest person that I could possibly be in my forty s and the next week be diagnosed with cancer? What the ****? Sorry, am I allowed to say that?

Kylie Patchett:

No, go for it. Definitely going to be a swearing podcast.

Sonya Lovell::

So, yeah, I had this really deep resentment for my body, my physical body, and what it had allowed to happen to me. And I put on an incredible amount of weight. I remember going to see a nurse prior to starting all of my treatment. It must have been in between surgery and starting treatment, and she was one of the head nurses in a kind of patient support role. And she said to me something like, you will put on weight. Because breast cancer chemotherapy, you actually tend to put on weight. Most people think when you have chemotherapy, you lose weight. It does very much depend on the type of chemo that someone's going through. I was lucky enough to get the chemotherapy that makes you put on weight, plus the menopause on top of that anyway, so that she was like, you will put on weight. I need you to be really clear on that. So probably, you know, not a good idea. And from a language perspective, I would never condone someone talking to someone like this, but she was like so I suggest now that you start restricting your you start thinking about what you're eating and drinking and all of that sort of thing. I remember in my head going, oh, it's been******* late for that, because I had fallen straight into sympathy. I was drinking more than I ever had, which I now know is a ridiculous thing to do when you've got a history of cancer and I was eating everything in sight. I was doing so much emotional eating, it was ridiculous. So there was that and then there was obviously I was on steroids. So before you have your chemo, each chemo round, you go onto a course of steroids. And I've got photos of myself and I literally look, my face is like a full moon. It was just huge. And I've kept the photos as much as they make me physically stick to look at, I've kept them because they're a mark in time. There a timetable of what was happening to me and where I was at this. And I had to grieve the body that I had lost. I had to grieve the life that I'd lost in many respects, because I got back to being I am fit and I am strong and I have gone back to training the way that I used to train, yes, but it took me a long time to be able to do that. And I truly believe that the only way I was able to do that was by mourning and grieving what I had lost so that I could then move on to what was next for.

Kylie Patchett:

Me, instead of pushing through. This is such a I'm so glad you brought this up, because.

Sonya Lovell::

I see.

Kylie Patchett:

This a lot in clients. They have this challenge and we have been taught in our society, just pushing through, and it's like, if you don't deal with the emotional fallout from this big change that's happening. Even if you choose the change, I know that the cancer wasn't something you chose. Absolutely not. Even if it was something you chose, you're still saying that the life that you thought you were going to have is not going to happen anymore. So there is grief. And if you're not dealing with the emotional end of things, you're going to go down. The self soothing alcohol, drugs, shopping, sex, or whatever your whatever it is, a choice is. Food is absolutely my addiction of choice. Yeah, it's the self soothing end of things that will happen. And it's like, thank God you had the sense to be able to honor the fact that there needed to be a pause and actual feeling. And was that partly also getting the counseling and actually working with someone professionally through that?

Sonya Lovell::

So I had one or two counseling sessions kind of straight after I came out of all my treatment, which was kind of self driven. Unfortunately, the doctors don't send you off for that. And it was very superficial at that point because I suppose I wasn't really aware of all the trauma that I was actually going to have to deal with. It took some time for that to come out, and there was actually a trigger for that to come out of. And what happened was one of my youngest son, his and I say the boys, my youngest son and his friend were probably, I'm going to say they're about 16. And at the same time as I got my diagnosis, his dad got a cancer diagnosis as well. But unfortunately, his cancer was systemic. It had spread throughout his body by the time they found it. And I knew that my outcome was going to be okay. Next we knew was never going to be okay. But we were chemo buddies. We went through chemo at the same time. We'd both be standing on the sidelines at a soccer game with the boys talking about our chemo treatments and how we were coping with this and how we're coping with that. We would text each other the day before treatments and things like that. And Nick died probably about eight or nine months after I finished my treatment. And that triggered what they call survivor grief for me. And I wasn't ready for it. I wasn't prepared for it. I tried to talk to other people about it, like, just my friends, but, you know, in there I'm going to say ignorance, which does not sound right, but in the uneducated way. All kinds don't be ridiculous skills. It's such a wasted emotion. Don't go there, don't do that to yourself. It was all said with love and it was all, you know, meant from the heart, but it wasn't what I needed. And that was actually what put me into therapy and properly into therapy to actually deal with everything. And that was the turning point for me to actually recognize that actually I have so much trauma, that physical trauma, emotional trauma that I need to now deal with. And it was only because I did that that I'm now in this position where I did so much work. I've also done a lot of energetic healing. I have a beautiful Kinesiologist and I spent a lot week and weeks with her clearing, clearing, clearing all of the emotional trauma that I was physically carrying. And it's taken a lot of work to get to where I am today.

Kylie Patchett:

Just honoring that because what a journey. I think the whole trauma piece end. I'm just rereading the body, keeps the score. I don't even know who wrote it, but I'll put it in the show notes, which is literally all the good science and research behind how we can go through things and we can talk a lot about them and whatever, but the physicality of it, the trauma, the energy of the trauma and the feelings and everything that you're going through get stuck in your body. So if you're not doing the work to you and this is why coming back to what you do or part of what you do with the PT is like, you need to keep moving if you want to be able to grow, expand, evolve, heal. Your body is like such an essential part of it. It's not funny. You cannot do just the mindset work. Coming from someone who was a mindset coach, right? That used to be my gent. Your fear out, blah, blah, blah. Do this magic in your head. Absolutely part of it. But if you're not also allowing the emotion to rise in your body and move, you've got a shitload of work to do. So, yeah, honoring and kinesiology. I've just booked in Reiki Kinesiology Energy healing for my last day at my job on Thursday night. Are you that **** out?

Sonya Lovell::

Absolutely.

Kylie Patchett:

Okay, let's move to there's so many different things, all this identity stuff, knowing that you're resilient going through the treatment, going on your holiday and then hitting that trauma trigger, doing the work. What's changed now? Because obviously you also said you've gone into menopause, but you weren't aware, like, you are now this amazing advocate for women understanding what to expect during the years of parenting menopause and menopause. Let's talk a little bit about I mean, it's very obvious to me why you're passionate about it, but where did that happen along the journey that we're talking about?

Sonya Lovell::

So one of the things that I was kind of left with that you can't really kind of fix was an incredible disappointment in the post treatment care that I received from my specialist. Yes. And that for me was very much around the fact that I'd gone into menopause now. I was 47 and my mum didn't go through a natural menopause. She actually horrendously had a full hysterectomy when she was 21, just after she had. Me back in the seventies, no HRT, no support whatsoever. So she had a horrendous journey, which I now recognized for what it was. And so I didn't have that template for what happened to a woman, a woman in her forty s and fifty s. And so I was totally oblivious to the fact that menopause was even on my radar. At 47, I had not noticed any changes to my body at all. And so I was told at my first oncology meeting that I would go into medical. Medical, and I would imagine I probably thought, oh cool, there's something I don't have to worry about.

Kylie Patchett:

Because you don't know.

Sonya Lovell::

Because I didn't know. It was just like, oh cool. I literally thought menopause was something you just tick the box and you go on and so anyway, so I came out of that with incredible disappointment at the lack of support that I got around what to expect as a result of menopause, the significant impacts that it has on your physical and mental health. And so I did a lot of I invested a lot in healing myself on all levels. I invested in we've talked about the kinesiology and the therapist. I invested a lot in nutritionist. My own personal trainer. There is a list as long as my arm of all the people. So I pretty much what I did. This is where we talk about the resilience things that I got some clarity, where I as a coach, as a PT, you're always coaching people. I've got those tools in my toolbox. I pretty much just flipped the narrative and I dipped into all of those tools and used them on myself. And, you know, amazing that I was lucky enough to have all of those tools and knew that that was what I needed to do if I was going to move forward. And so I invested in all the things that I would tell someone else to invest in and healed myself to a place where I am today well enough to go back to personal training. And sorry, I know I'm getting a long time to answer your question, but I am good. I am coming to it. The answer. And so I ended up opening a gym in my garage at home. I didn't go back into working in a Global, I didn't go back to CrossFit and all those crazy things that I had done in the past. I just opened a small gym in my garage and I decided then and there I was only going to work with women. Best decision from a business perspective I have ever made. My business is now the most successful it has been in my whole PT and career because I niche, which I was told not to.

Kylie Patchett:

Also not just niche. Sorry, Sonya, I just spoke over you, which I'm really bad at, but not just niche. This is something that you were called to do years ago. Saying, this is your blueprint.

Sonya Lovell::

Go do that.

Kylie Patchett:

And then you have some.

Sonya Lovell::

Because I am now a postmenopault for the woman. I don't **** you. I'm going to do what I want. Exactly.

Kylie Patchett:

Because we have zero ***** left to give once we get Perry Menopause, I.

Sonya Lovell::

Do not give any ***** for anyone. So anyway, so I opened my garage, gym started. I was only working with women, and as a result, started hearing the conversations. When you create a safe space for women, conversations just flow. And I started to realize that all of these women who were going through a natural menopause were just as unprepared, just as uneducated, and just as unsupported as I had been. And it dawned on me that I had this incredible and, you know, like, hello, hero's journey. I had this incredible lived experience that I could leverage to educate, support and help these women.

Kylie Patchett:

Okay. So, yes, I am agreeing with everything you just said in terms of education and support, because I am 47 and a half. In around about January this year, I started going, well, I'm feeling a little bit hot under the collar, feeling a bit like I'm going to rip someone's face off. Yes. Swinging from sad to angry all the time. And we've known each other for years, and I was like, I need some support. I need some support. And then it's like Google Menopause, mentor, advocate, or something like that.

Sonya Lovell::

And I find you. Here I am.

Kylie Patchett:

So my experience, certainly I haven't gone through surgical or medical menopause, but just naturally coming into that the starting point.

Sonya Lovell::

I guess, of what we call perimenopause. Yeah. And menopause is the five to ten years before your actual menopause, predominantly women, will experience it in their 40s.

Kylie Patchett:

Yes. And like, oh, my God, does this really go on for ten years? That's all I can think when you say that. Anyway, I have been very blessed to be able to plug into everything that you've created, including your incredible podcast. So let's talk about that. And also, actually backtrack one little minute in your gym was part of the menopause lack of understanding also around that body image thing? Because for me, that the beginning of, like, I put on I mean, we talked about this on your podcast earlier, but I had done this super restrictive eating plan. I'd gotten down to under the weight I was when I got married, when I was 25. How stupid is that? Like in your forty s. And I had just put on a whole heap of weight because I decided I was not going to diet for the whole of 2022 because I just screwed myself up so badly with the diet culture and industry and whatnot. So I started to put on a significant amount of weight. And, you know, for me, I'm wondering whether part of that conversation in the gym with the people that you were training was, why can I not the shift of that body competition, but also the self identity that you were talking about.

Sonya Lovell::

Yeah. The most common things that I hear are my body is changing shape, my body is changing shape. I don't know why, because I haven't changed the way I'm training, I haven't changed the way I eat. It's just got a ******* mind of its own. What the **** is going on? And then the next most common phrase is, I feel like I've lost the woman I used to be and I want her back. What the **** do I have to do to get her back? So there's a significant disconnect that happens for a lot of women, and I think that is probably linked to the physical changes that are happening that are out of their control. And this is where I draw similarities from my cancer journey to menopause, because it happens to you, if you are born with a female reproductive system, you are going to go through menopause, whether that is natural, surgically induced, medically induced, you will experience menopause. So it is something that happens to you and you can manage the symptoms of it. And there will be some symptoms. Not everybody experiences all the symptoms, but when it starts happening, you have no idea what the **** is going on. And so they're the most common things that I was hearing. It was actually the third thing, and you mentioned this earlier, and it gave me an inward chuckle because I hear this so often at the moment. I'm working with a bunch of women at the moment, and I've been asking them about when we're finished working together. What do you deem this to have been? A success.

Kylie Patchett:

Yes.

Sonya Lovell::

And one of the most common things I hear, and this was the big chatter that I was getting in my gym was, I want to stop snapping at my husband.

Kylie Patchett:

Oh, yeah.

Sonya Lovell::

I need to be happier for my family. There's that recognition that they're quicker to anger, they're cranky, they're on those emotional roller coasters that you talk about. Literally, you can go from waking up in the morning and feeling like you're on top of the world to wanting to ******* punch everyone in the face that you come across. Absolutely. Friends and family are included by the end of the day for no good reason. It just swings. Yeah. So they're the three things that I hear the most in women is the body changes, the emotional roller coaster in happy moods, and the disconnect with the woman that they used to be.

Kylie Patchett:

Yeah, absolutely. And I think as much as it's discombobulating and as much as we need all the education and support that you provide, I also think that there is this beautiful because there is literally changes in our brain that stop us giving a **** about what other people think of us. That is the biggest freedom that I have started to experience in my life is that I don't actually care whether you like me or not. Like, I'm being who I am. I'm doing what lights me up, my values and my values. And if you're not on board, that's absolutely cool, no harm done. But I'm not going to shift shape or shape shift to try and fit into your definition of who I should be as a mother, as a woman, as a person in business, as a partner, like all of the labels that we use. And so this is why my deep passion is that midlife metamorphosis, it's like, yes, and I say tongue in cheek, the clusterfucker of perimenopause. What I really mean is I feel like it puts us in a bowl, scrambles us all up, and we get to choose how we emerge. And yes, there is undoubtedly lots and lots of emotional, mental, physical changes that happen, but also something that I woke up the other day and I was like, I made this deal with myself that I wasn't going to diet at all for 2022 and actually beyond. But at the time that felt scary enough, right? And I woke up the other day and I put a dress on, I was like, I just really love this dress. I looked at myself in the mirror and I was like, there's actually an absence of me needing to know that I look good in this dress. And I was like, Holy ****.

Sonya Lovell::

Yeah.

Kylie Patchett:

All of a sudden I've realized that it's not my job to be the skinniest in the room. All the most attractive, all the least wrinkly, or any of the other **** that I used to worry about. I'm like, no, not my job anymore somewhere. And they're dressed because it feels good.

Sonya Lovell::

That's something that I really try and balance my message with, because we do talk so much about. For the women that really experience delibertating is that the right word? During their periodpausal and into their menopausal years. Often it is a cluster bug, and they do need support and education and medication in some form to help them live a healthy, happy life.

Kylie Patchett:

Yes, absolutely.

Sonya Lovell::

So it is often I feel like my industry does reflect a lot on that, but we need to balance that with this message that there are incredible things that open up for you once you are into the post menopause, and I truly believe in you've used this word already. But there is an incredible freedom to come. For me, it's the gift of menopause, this freedom to literally show up as the woman that you want to be, not the woman that society tells you you should be. I think there's so many women in their 40s. I'm going to target the 40s that do that thing that you just thought so openly about. Of going. Oh my God. I want to look like I did when I was in my twenty s. And they go to a gym and they go to a personal trainer and go. When I was in my. When I was in my twenty s. I weighed this and I wore this size clothes. I want to do that again. And once you get into your fifty s and your post menopausal, you don't give a **** about that anymore. That's probably generalizing as well. I would imagine that there are still women that do and that's okay. But I do believe there's a freedom that comes with menopause where if you choose to step into it, there is a place where you can fully show up as a confident and powerful woman.

Kylie Patchett:

Yeah, absolutely. And grounded in who you are and what you're about and what you care about and what you don't care about. And you know, the reality is and unless you've had kids very late in life that we often go through this transition when also our active parents emptying.

Sonya Lovell::

Yeah, exactly.

Kylie Patchett:

Our nest is emptying. Or if you haven't had a family but you've had this crazy career sometimes, often actually when I'm talking to someone who has had a crazy career, it's post menopausal. Or during that perimenopause stage where they're like, I don't actually even ******* want to climb this ladder anymore. I've gotten to this version of success that I've been chasing, but I'm hollow on the inside. And so then again this is invitation. It's like who do you want to be?

Sonya Lovell::

What do you care about? I also think so that conversely to that. But there is a percentage of women though that are on that ladder that actually finally go, I've actually got the balls to break that ceiling now. Yes. And they do. And they actually are having the best and most successful careers of their lives in their fifty s and beyond.

Kylie Patchett:

Amazing. Hey.

Sonya Lovell::

I did a lot of research into how menopause is treated in different societies. We all know, and I'm going to say this and it's not anything we don't already know. We live in a very patriarchal western society and as a result menopause is invisible and it's been brushed under the carpet and we've been told to suffer in silence and all of those things. But there are these incredible cultures that actually elevate a woman once she is into her post menopausal. Yet now they're not saying it's because she's post menopausal, but it's the when they become elevated into some of the highest positions in their communities because of their wisdom, because of their lived experience, because of their confidence and their ability to create change for others. And I would love to think that we can get into a position where we do the same.

Kylie Patchett:

Well I know with people like you, the conversations that you're having on your podcast and also in the programs that you run, the more that we have these conversations, the more that people speak out, the more that women are actually honest with each other about what they're going through. And then it's like, we create this oh, ****. It's not just me. Okay, let's talk about this. We will get to the stage where it's not this thing that's swept under the carpet. Actually, I was reflecting the other day I've got in the role that I'm in at the moment, which is only for three more days. I have a team, and a lot of my team are women in their forty s and fifty s. And if I were to stay in corporate, which I don't choose to, but one of the big things that I would love to have spearheaded is just the awareness of the transition and the fact that this brain fog happens. And women can feel all of a sudden not capable when they are. They've always been capable. Their professional career has been very important.

Sonya Lovell::

And one of the reasons they actually feel that they're not capable anymore is actually driven by the reaction of others around them, this awareness of menopause in the workplace. And there are some amazing women do some incredible work around it, which is awesome, but it's really interesting. I did an incredible podcast interview with Professor Jay Ashley Kochani, who is a professor of psychiatry. She is one of Australia's leading researchers into menopausal depression. And she talks at length about the changes that happen in the brain and the impact it can have on mental health. And we talked about in the interview, we talked about menopause in the workplace and how that impacts women that are in leadership positions and if they start suffering things like brain fog and word loss, which was actually something I struggled with. It's not actually the act of them questioning themselves that becomes the problem. It's other people around them saying, what's wrong with you? You used to be able to look at a spreadsheet and analyze the data in 10 seconds. Why can't you do that now? Or the kids at home going, Geez, Mum, you know, what the ****? Why did you forget that I had three activities on after school and you needed to pick me up to get me from one to the other? Like, what's wrong with you? It's that language and conversation that actually creates a significant dent in the woman's confidence in herself. Exactly.

Kylie Patchett:

That makes me think of I currently work in disability services, and one of the things that we are constantly working on is increasing inclusion in our societies. And there's this really clear thing that I was told years ago when I first started Disability Services and Community Solutions, you're only as disabled as the society that you live in. Yeah. So if we don't have accessible houses, if we don't have whatever, that is what disables someone. And it's similar to what you're saying, the environment is the problem. It's not the thing. It's the way the environment doesn't accommodate for that.

Sonya Lovell::

You're it correct.

Kylie Patchett:

Exactly. And judges like, you know, as soon as we feel like we're wrong. Of course, that's going to be challenging.

Sonya Lovell::

Yes.

Kylie Patchett:

Oh, my goodness. So many more questions, but we will have to wrap it up. So I would really love for you to share about your amazing podcast. I refer every woman in their 40s. I'm like, you need to know about this podcast. It's one of my ones that I like to binge to and from, like Brisbane or something like that, because you always have the most amazing experts on, but always with that thread of realness and sharing about your own journey, which that to me is the magic of your podcast, because I've been told that and I laugh, definitely.

Sonya Lovell::

I've always talked about how whenever I've done BIOS and things about myself, I always say, and funny is laughs lingers long after she left the room. But I get the most incredible feedback from women that listen to my podcast and they're like, oh, my God, I love your laugh.

Kylie Patchett:

Yeah.

Sonya Lovell::

Can you tell my family that? Because men do. They pay me out about my laugh.

Kylie Patchett:

Me too. Me too. I'm always getting **** for that. So, dear Menopause, where do we find menopause?

Sonya Lovell::

Yeah, so Dear Menopause is literally on every streaming platform that you could possibly find. All you have to do is put into the search bar Dear like you're writing a letter. Menopause. Also, you could go to Dearminopause Au and you will find the website which every episode is on there. You can listen to it directly through there, or you can hop over to your preferred streaming platform from there.

Kylie Patchett:

So good. And we will obviously put in the show notes for this episode. All of the links to your goodness in the world.

Sonya Lovell::

Amazing. Thanks.

Kylie Patchett:

On your level, I will have to have you back because I'd love to talk about the transition, like, more about the menopause. But I'm very grateful that you come and shared your personal journey because there's so much gold in there talking about resilience and the growth edge and creating something from change that's thrust upon us rather than deciding that it's going to define us, which you absolutely have not done. So go you, girlfriend. Lots of love. So much love. Thank you so much.

Sonya Lovell::

Thank you, Kylie. Thank you so much. These things I've shared a story that I've actually never shared before, so I appreciate you giving me this opportunity and creating this space for me.

Kylie Patchett:

Our pleasure. Our pleasure. Well, there you have it. Beautiful one. Another inspirational episode. And thank you so much to our guests from today for sharing their journey and Leap of Faith. So many takeaways. As always, I would love to know what your favorite thing that we discussed or that hit you between the eyeballs to invite you into your own expansion or leap of Faith was share it on Instagram or Facebook. You'll find me at Kylie Patchett and I would love it and be so honored if you take the time to leave a review on any of your favorite podcast platforms about this show or the podcast in general. And finally, if you have someone in your life who is another midlife maiden who may just need some reminding that she is a powerful, magnetic, amazing woman and that she absolutely deserves a life that she craved, please share us. Thank you so much, and we'll see you next time you.