What every woman needs to know about menopause

What every woman needs to know about menopause

When a woman enters her menopause years, how she exercises and how she eats can have a huge positive impact for decades to come.  

“Since I turned 40 I just can’t get rid of my belly fat!”

“It’s so embarrassing when I can’t get off the floor unassisted”. 

“I look at my parents and am worried that I will have poor health just like them”

“I just want to feel confident as I age, sometimes I feel invisible”. 

“Every birthday that rolls on by I just get more depressed at how old I look and feel”. 

“I want to be physically and mentally agile”. 

 

Those are just some of the phrases that have been actually repeated back to me by clients during their consultation with me. I’m 48, and I started FitNut Loft when I was 45 for the ‘older woman’. Now, when I say “older woman” in this instance I mean those post 45, who are beginning to experience changes in their body that leaves them confused. As a woman ages and is past her child bearing years, hormones start to change which can have a massive impact on her body, strength and health. 


What is menopause?

First off it’s important to note that our bodies will enter menopause on their own timing. We can’t affect the timing (but we can help with our journey through it). There are three distinct phases of menopause. 

  1. Perimenopause is when a woman’s body starts to slow down on it’s reproductive capabilities, marked by a drop in estrogen. Perimenopause can start long before actual menopause (8-10 years before) so you can start to experience symptoms in your 30s and 40s. Symptoms can include 

    1. Irregular periods

    2. Weight gain

    3. Loss of sex drive

    4. Brain fog

    5. Increased cholesterol levels

  2. Menopause starts when you don’t have a period for 12 months. The common symptoms are as perimenopause, with hot flushes being the most commonly complained about symptom. Menopause can happen anytime but the average age is 51 (Data shows that the average age of menopause in the USA is 52). 

  3. Post menopause is when you’ve cleared the 12 month “no period” stage, you won’t have a period and it goes without saying that you can’t get pregnant. Estrogen is very low and there will be other health issues to be aware of.  


Why should you care?

Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers, released by your endocrine system and they travel around your body telling other organs what to do. Menopause causes an imbalance in hormone levels and the slightest change can have a big impact. 

In the case of menopause, this imbalance can cause the symptoms listed above but can also have an impact on other big health issues that women face, such as :  


  1. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in postmenopausal women (yeah not breast cancer, which surprised me). Along with declining estradiol, as women age and put on body fat, they can develop insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome, which leads to Type 2 diabetes and further elevates their CVD risk.

  2. Osteoporosis is when your bones become less dense. In menopause, estrogen drops and since estrogen is a natural protector of bone strength, the risk of osteoporosis increases in this time of a woman’s life. 

  3. As hormones become imbalanced, the menopausal body conserves energy. Less energy burned means more weight packed on the body. 

  4. Not getting a good restful nights sleep can impact mood and irritability. So trying to protect your sleep is imperative. 

  5. Incontinence can also develop, you may find that when you laugh, sneeze or cough you’ll have an “uh oh” moment. 


What can you do about it?

It seems hardly fair sometimes doesn’t it? A woman’s body goes through so much change in puberty, child rearing years and then menopause. But instead of griping and complaining about things, what can you change? What is your desired outcome, and what are the behaviors you can take to get to those outcomes?

Answering the questions to the statements at the top of the page (again, by real women who have come to see me for a consultation) would imply that a woman wants to :

  1. Get rid of belly fat

  2. Be physically strong to do daily things

  3. Not to grow old and feeble with chronic diseases

  4. Be mentally alert and not have brain fog

  5. Be confident with the changes occurring to her body. 

 

Once you’ve tackled the mindset of taking steps to see what you can do to get to a positive outcome, those 5 points above can be helped tremendously by …. Exercise, eating well and reducing your stress!

We write about it in this BLOG.

 

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