Gorgeous poste, Annlee. Greetinx from Austria
Perimenopause (where things are changing but the cycles have not ceased) lasted in me over several years - partly because (I think) I was still not only eating SAD, but lots of "healthy whole grains." I have gone through enormous changes (careers, incomes, job roles/responsibilities) in the same years since the whole change began, so I can't honestly say menopause is responsible for anything in particular. But I don't miss the cycles .
What I can firmly say is I feel better than I ever have - seriously, I turned 62 yesterday and I FEEL BETTER THAN I HAVE MY ENTIRE LIFE!! I am steadier, and the body recomposition is proceeding slowly, including on my saddlebag thighs, even without exercise ... and doing better, of course, with some exercise. For me, nutritional ketosis (NK) is the key. Obviously, we've established it isn't the key for everyone, but I suspect everyone has a diet/lifestyle that is the key for them ... the hard part is finding it (and realizing the difference when you slip, and coming back "home").
Hang in there, everyone - it is NEVER too late to improve. My Dad's still ticking along at 102 - so I am confident I have another 40 years at least to keep getting better. You can, too.