One-woman heat waveA couple years ago I was shocked to notice that I’ve developed an early warning system, a spidey sense that alerts me when something is amiss.

My spidey senses have only gotten stronger with time. They let me know when I’m stressing about something, when I need to slow down and rethink things, and when I need to shut up and mind my own business.

The thing is, while my early warning system is super helpful, I’m not sure that I love it all that much.

Men, you will want to stop reading now. How do I know this? Because I tested the waters about this blog post with a couple of you and you looked … well … you looked worried. Or maybe deeply disinterested. Or something. I don’t know. Anyway, the look wasn’t positive.

But after careful consideration (and a flareup of my early warning system), I thought, ‘So what. Who cares what you think. This is a topic of interest to my people.’

And how do I know this, too? Because it’s a common conversation subject in the locker room, before group exercise classes and online among my super-hot friends.

I’m talking about hot flashes or as I prefer to call them, heat waves, because to me that’s what they feel like: intense heat that flows through the body like a wave.

I’ve got steam heat

When I get the least bit stressed — sometimes with just a random thought about something that I didn’t even know was bothering me — it’s as if my bones turn red hot, like the elements on a space heater. The heat they generate pulses out through my body through the pores of my skin.

For instance, right now I’m stressing a little about sharing this personal information about these heat waves — despite outward appearances I’m a very private person — and I can feel the fire igniting. My upper back feels hot and my cheekbones are warm. Even my legs are getting hot.

My body is warning me I might be heading into a danger zone.

My mom never talked about this stuff. Or if she did, I didn’t pay attention — back when she was likely suffering from heat waves I lived a couple hundred miles away and was oblivious to her midlife issues. And she’s gone now so it’s not like I can ask her what to expect. All I can do is look stuff up on the Internet (which, as you know, is an excellent way to scare the heck out of yourself and cause even more heat waves) and ask my doctor, who is awesome but also is a realist.

No one really knows exactly why these flushing episodes occur, except to theorize that changing hormone levels (don’t make me talk about hormones) cause circulation changes.

Heat waves add sparkle

Luckily (or not) I am used to feeling a little sweaty. I mean, I’m a lifelong exerciser and a fitness professional, so the extra “sparkle” these heat waves cause doesn’t bother me, per se. That being said, I feel kinda awful for women who don’t like to sweat.

Because now I can relate to them a little. If I’m not working out, I don’t like feeling sweaty. In fact, I like to think that a shower will hold me for at least a few hours.

For instance, I went to the post office earlier today hoping to get a package from Amazon (yay!) but instead my mailbox was stuffed with bills, which caused a slow-building heat wave. By the time I got back home I felt like I had spent 10 minutes on the elliptical: not long enough so that it constituted a real workout but long enough so that I didn’t feel shower-fresh. Ugh.

And the thing about spending time on the elliptical (or treadmill, or teaching Sh’bam or lifting weights, or any exercise at all) … well, it either does or doesn’t help abate these heat waves. Researchers can’t seem to make up their minds.

The only thing I know for sure about exercise and heat waves:

It really sucks when you have a heat wave in the middle of hard workout. Your face gets even redder than normal, your heart pounds a little harder and it’s as if your entire body is a volcanic explosion of sweat.

And while that’s super hot, it’s super not, too. When this happens to me, I try to console myself with the thought my body is ridding itself of extra toxins with all that sweating.

My doc and all the scary online sites recommend a list of supplements to help with this: flax, black cohosh and evening primrose oil. My results: Meh.

I’ve come up with my own highly unscientific, totally anecdotal method of keeping heat waves at a minimum, and it mostly works most of the time:

  • Eat a healthy, varied diet focusing primarily on veggies, fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats.
  • Work out consistently but not too hard — super-hard workouts bring on nighttime heat waves (at least for me).
  • Be aware of things that make me stressed: gossip, uncomfortable situations, etc. and do my best to avoid them.
  • Have a little quiet down time every day.
  • Watch my thoughts and notice the mind-body connection. It’s surprising how often I discover that something is stressing me out when I’ll have a random thought about it and suddenly: heat.

I’m also coming to realize that having these spidey-sense heat waves can actually be helpful when it comes to living a healthy, balanced, squared-away life …. except when it comes to coffee, because nothing brings on a heat wave like a delicious hot cup o’ Joe.

And I’m pretty sure going without my morning cup of deliciousness would be just as stressful to my system as drinking it, so I’m willing to postpone my morning shower till I’ve crested that wave.