3 Things Menopausal Women Need To Prioritise

3 Things Menopausal Women Need To Prioritise

Let's not get all down because our bodies are going through what nature intended for them!

Menopause is happening, whether you like it or not. In a previous blog, we explained what all women need to know about menopause. Here, we talk about what you can do about it!

#1 : Reduce Body Fat

Regardless of your sex or age, keeping your body fat in a healthy range is important for a whole host of things. To put things into perspective these are the different ranges for body fat on a woman :

  • Essential fat 10-13%

  • Athletes body fat 14-20%

  • Fair fitness level body fat 21%-24%

  • Acceptable body fat 25%-31%. 

  • Obese 32% and above. 

A woman’s body fat distribution in menopause can shift toward the belly, and this is undesired fat distribution because fat round the belly can be the dangerous visceral fat which surrounds the organs. You may have heard of the apple and pear shape. The apple shape has fat around the belly, the pear shape has fat around the bum and thighs. From a health perspective, pears trump apples. 

A higher body fat can be a risk for developing CVD, stroke, diabetes and some cancers, including breast cancer. Simply put, let’s reduce our body fat. How though? 

If I could say to you to “move more and eat less” to reduce body fat that would be simplifying it. I’d argue, sure, volume of food is important. But the type of food, how much of certain foods, and the type of exercise and duration are what we really need to focus on. 


What to eat (or not eat)

When you hit your menopausal years, you don’t want to deprive yourself of the food that gives you pleasure. But, if there were some guidelines (note I didn’t say “Rules”) to follow, these would be them : 

Eat lean Protein at every meal. 

Protein is filling, and when you feel full, the hormone leptin will signal that you’re no longer hungry and this will help you stop snacking. Plus, protein helps to build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more fat it burns. See? Women have a tendency to not eat enough protein. If you are working out hard, then you will definitely need to eat at the minimum, protein that’s equivalent to an open hand. Otherwise, a palm size is sufficient. Lean protein includes chicken breast, turkey, prawns, tuna, mussels, cottage cheese. 


Eat unprocessed foods.

Eat food that is as close to it’s natural original being as possible. Steel cut oats vs instant oats. An orange vs orange juice. And while packaged food is convenient you don’t have any say in the ingredients. But, if you’re stuck for choice, go for it, but ensure that you’re having that protein and….


Eat slowly to 80% full.

With taking time to eat, the hormone leptin will signal to your brain that you’re full. Have you noticed that if you’re sat in front of the telly mindlessly eating you will eat more? But if you’re out at a meal with friends, with a lot of chatting, you’ll take longer with your meal and feel full earlier? Less food eaten, means, less calories consumed. 


Limit alcohol + sugary drinks

Your body just can’t process alcohol like it used to 20 years ago. Plus alcohol rarely results in a good nights sleep, and sleep is important for your body to rebuild muscle (which burns fat remember?) and also it keeps stress levels down. Alcohol has calories. If you wanted to have a drink, cocktails are can be high in calories, especially with the sweetened ones. And they’re too easy to drink, which means you can knock them back easily. As for wine, an average glass of white wine (125ml) has 120 calories. If you’re splitting a bottle of wine with your dinner partner, then you’re drinking 360 calories. Which in itself, isn’t a big deal. But when you add the meal, then we’re talking 1000+ calories. Which, also, isn’t a big deal IF you are having these dinners once a fortnight, or once a week even. But done too often, these all add up. 


#2 Lift weights

“I don’t want to get bulky” says nearly every woman when I say she needs to lift weights. 

 

If you actually WANT to have a body builders physique - I’m not the coach for you. And you’d have to be training 5 times a week, twice a day, pretty much ditch any social life, and make all your meals in advanced because you won’t be able to eat out. 

 

Lifting weights has been shown to help women with hot flushes, as well as promote fat loss. If you combine this with a well thought out cardiovascular aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) then that has been shown to give you the best results. 

 

You lose muscle mass by 5% every decade after your 30s. That’s why so many older people look frail, and are weak. You have to protect what you have, and keep increasing your muscle mass by including resistance training. 

 

Strength training also helps protect your bone density, because estrogen helps build bone - and in menopause, your estrogen levels go down. Putting you at higher risk for osteoporosis. 


How to start a strength routine

  1. Get a programme! Either join a gym, hire a trainer (in person or virtually) or join group classes that emphasise weight training. You’ll learn how to do it correctly. When you’re part of a tribe you’ll also  have that compelling reason to turn up. Your coach will (and should!) keep you accountable so that you continue to show up. 

  2. Once you’ve got the basics and want to do this on your own then the best exercises are :

    1. Chest press

    2. Lat pull downs

    3. Squats

    4. Lunges

    5. Hip Lifts. 

  3. Don’t be afraid of the ‘hard work’! When you “work out” it shouldn’t feel easy… that’s why the word “work” is in there. Your body needs to be challenged so while you may start off with light weights, challenge yourself to go up a weight every few weeks or so. 


#3 Reduce your stress 

When you’re in a stressed state, your body produces the “fight or flight” hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. And these days we are always go go go - fighting the symbolic sabre tooth tiger. 

 

If you’re stressed, there is a high chance that you get the 4 AM awakenings - this is your body getting a sudden shot of adrenaline and cortisol - waking you up to get the hell outta dodge! It’s a very common occurrence for women who are menopausal to have these wakings. 

 

So you need to reduce your stress to enable you to get on with the stressors of life, and to have a solid nights sleep. Here are some suggestions :


  1. Mediate - use an app like Headspace or Calm to get you started. It can be as little as 5 minutes a day. Studies have shown that meditating can reduce your stress levels, and just give you a clear head to step back, acknowledge how you feel, and decompartmentalise. So you can make decisions without taking it (too) personally. 

  2. Practice Parasympathetic Nervous Breathing. The angel to the “fight or flight” path of your central nervous system is the “Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS)”. This is your “rest and digest” system. And we need to train ourselves to get into this state and not stay in the elevated Fight or Flight state. Here’s how you can do this extremely simple yet effective practice :

    1. Lay on your back, legs straight and stick a pillow under your knees. Put your arms overhead on the floor. 

    2. Close your eyes, and inhale into your belly for a count of 4, hold for 2, exhale slowly for 6. Take about 3-5 minutes to do this. 


Conclusion

It may seem like I’m simplifying how to get healthier in your menopause years. It could be, but it’s also very hard. If you take those 3 points above, and apply these golden rules :

  1. Know what to do

  2. Apply that consistently in your life

Then you’re good to go!

 

Trouble is, even us fitness professionals hire other coach’s to train us. I myself need to be held accountable otherwise I may stray (I hire a coach in the USA for a 12 month programme).

 

That’s why we help our clients feel motivated, accountable and finally stick to a programme that’s going to make them healthier, fitter and happier. 

Look in your neighbourhood and see if there are any fitness studios you can join. It may be the best decision you can make.  

 

How we can help you

Our mission is to enable women to lead long, healthy, joyful lives, doing what they want to do, whenever they want to do it.

 

We help our clients feel motivated, accountable and they find they can finally stick to a programme that's going to work.

 

Fill in the form for a free consultation, where we can advise you on how you can best reach your health and fitness goals - finally.




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