Over the past 5 years I have managed to change my focus from how much I weigh to how good I feel. Believe me, this hasn’t been an easy transition. We are all bombarded with perfect bodies and weight loss articles. But it really is liberating to get rid of the scales and just feel good. I recommend it to anyone.
However, when I speak to my clients, the biggest reason they come and see me is to lose weight. So I decided I wanted to find out what they really wanted when it comes to feeling great about their bodies. I have interviewed a number of women over 40 about their biggest frustrations when it comes to having a body they really want. And the number one response was menopause. Now, I’m not currently experiencing peri-menopausal symptoms but I know my time is around the corner. So, I thought I’d do a little research and share it with you.
The number one thing I want to share with you is that menopause should not be debilitating. Many women can manage it with some simple lifestyle modifications. And if there are still more issues, then there is support. You shouldn’t suffer alone!
Common Menopausal Symptoms
If you are over 35 and are experiencing a number of the following symptoms there is a good chance you are transitioning into peri-menopause (the few years before menopause when hormones are fluctuating and potentially causing symptoms). If this is the case then start to use some of the lifestyle suggestions below. Or seek additional help if your symptoms aren’t reduced after a couple of months.
- Weight gain
- Irregular periods
- Heavy Bleeding
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Thinning skin
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of sex drive
- Memory Loss
- Head Aches or Migraines
- Sore joints, muscles & tendons
- Breast Tenderness
- Increase in Allergies
What to eat to manage menopause
The number one thing you should start thinking about when it comes to nutrition during menopause is nourishment. Every time you eat or drink something, think to yourself, “Will this nourish me?” Aim to eat as much whole, natural foods as possible. Leave the processed, low fat stuff behind.
You can also aim to increase your intake of phytoestrogens. These are natural estrogen-like foods. And since menopause symptoms are caused by the decrease of estrogen in the body, it is a great way to counter these effects.
Phytoestrogens can be found in soy, tofu, lentils, rice, linseed, mung beans, oats, sesame seeds, berries and more.
Also try herbal supplements such as dong quai, chaste berry, black cohash & liquorice root.
Increase fibre and omega 3s – linseeds are good for that. Take a good quality multivitamin.
Reduce MSG, caffeine, smoking, aspartame, simple carbohydrates, white/milk chocolate, alcohol and peanuts.
Try to eat at least 3 meals a day, focus on portion sizes rather than calories, eat protein at each meal, eat lots of fruit and veggies and eat healthy fats every day.
How to exercise for menopause
It’s best to try and move your body every day if possible. If you choose to focus on how good you feel rather than your weight on the scales you will realise that a little bit of exercise every day makes you feel amazing! Plus, during menopause women lose muscle tone so increasing strength is important to looking and feeling your best.
Aim for 3 to 5 days a week of gentle cardio. Walking, jogging, cross-trainer etc.
Try to do 2 or 3 days of resistance training a week. Things like free weights, body weight or resistance bands. Yoga is a great body weight resistance exercise
And then aim for 2-3 flexibility sessions. This would also include yoga and making sure you do a good stretch after every exercise session. Here is a link to a stretch routine you can do right now!
When we are stressed, the body has a complex series of hormonal responses. This means that other hormonal responses can be interrupted. This can increase the symptoms of menopause. Which in turn increases stress which in turn makes menopause worse – you get the drift!
A regular practice of deep abdominal breathing is a great way to manage stress. If you take the time to breathe deeply it sends a message to the brain that all is well and it’s ok to turn off the stress response.
Meditation and yoga are both great ways to de-stress and develop a deep breathing practice.
If the lifestyle suggestions above don’t sort out your symptoms then you may need some additional support. Speak to your naturopath about some supplementation or your GP about Hormone Replacement Therapy.
I would love to invite you to free webinar I am hosting Thursday 9th June at 7pm WST. The topic is “The Secret to being toned, calm and energised. Why yoga is essential for women over 40” You can register here.