Menopause, or "the change," as our older female relatives may have discreetly referred to it, is simply our ovaries going out of business and dismissing all their workers. But they're not going out gracefully, stealing your sleep, emotions, sex life, and skin as they storm out. But, unlike our mothers and theirs before them, who had to grit their teeth and suffocate, decorum has now been thrown out the window, and we can finally talk about what the heck is going on with our bodies. Now there is a stage before that many of women tend to forget. Perimenopause.
But what is perimenopause? Let’s start at the beginning when we were all teens, Our two primary hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, made a big appearance when we reached puberty, and now the old ovary factory where they're created is shutting down, so all the hormonal turmoil you experienced in your early teens is occurring again, in reverse. Instead of fretting about maths and organising your school books, you now have grownup concerns such as elderly parents, a hard profession, and maybe even hormonal adolescents of your own. Yes, some women's oestrogen and progesterone slowly fade away, clutching hands like sleeping otters. Then there is everyone else, whose hormones swoop and crash like a wave. The experts doing really know why some women have it easier than others but there is a suggestion that lifestyle could play a role.
Perimenopause is the stage of life that leads up to menopause which only officially takes place once women haven’t experienced mother natures gift for a year. Statistically women within the UK reach perimenopause around the age of 47. It’s seen by researchers to be one of the most complex aged parts of a women’s life and according to estimates, 80 percent of women suffer from insomnia, 70 percent from irritability, and 20 percent from depression. That's a lot of people going through tough times. There is a number of different things that can happen to your body at this time so lets get going shall we.
Periods. Feeling a little bored with your periods? Wonderful news! Sure, your periods may get lighter and less frequent during perimenopause, but they can also suddenly go rogue and continue for 12 days and arrive every 13 days—and they can be heavy. These could also be known as Superperiods or in medical terms, Menorrhagia. This means that your flow is is 80ml when the advrage flow is only 16ml or the equivalent to 2tsp. When this occurs during perimenopause you can usually put it down to an imbalance, quite often low progesterone.
It is oestrogens designated driver, the friend who steps in when things are getting out of hand. But as progesterone naturally declines in perimenopause, oestrogen can get unruly. One of progesterone’s jobs is to keep tabs on our uterine lining—without progesterone that lining will thicken and grow unabated throughout the month. This is what causes the heavy periods as there is more uterine lining to shed.
Superfeelings aka premenopausal moodiness, That’s a very nice way to describe the emotional train wreck PMS can bring on. Experts recommends tracking your moods and cycles using an app. Once you get a sense of when your “superfeeling” times are, plan accordingly and clear the decks as much as possible. This means that you would avoid confronting your Mother In law over a perceived slight or talking to your co-worker about his excessive throat clearing. It it also advised when the superfeelings hit that you avoid social media because realistically the last thing anyone wants to see at that moment is to someone making star-shaped sandwiches for their crotch gremlins before heading to the gym with the boss lady hashtag.
Brain Fog, remember when your mother used to put their keys in the freezer and you used to laugh at them… who’s laughing now? Research tells us that two thirds of women who are going through perimenopause experience this and is caused once again by the changing hormone balance in out lovely friend progesterone.
Insomnia, due to our swoopy hormones, increased anxiety and the occasional night sweats can mean that sleep cycle decide to say bye-bye. Now there is a lot of arguing research that tells you what you need to do to help you sleep. Now one thing it all agrees on, is being comfortable. That is the best thing you can do, create a nice calm environment, create a routine and avoid using modern technology in bed so it’s a place for sleep or any other bedroom activities that may take place.
Disappearance of Libido, this can be brought on in many different ways one main one is vaginal dryness which can lead to painful sex. Now fantastic news there is an intervention for this! There is options such as Vitamin E oil, over the counter vaginal moisturisers such as Replens or Zestica and one of easiest products to buy… Lube. Now there is a stigma that lube is for pornstars but for women during menopause or perimenopause it can take your sex drive from 0 to 60 in 2.5. On an emotional level losing your natural ability to lubricate can come with some complicated feelings for one or both parties and that’s is completely normal. Keeping communication open with your partner about your wants and needs is key. A reduced level of natural lubricant can be sign of thinning vaginal walls and skin and not to scare you it can affect more than your sex life- it can cause a level of discomfort and potential itching. It could also mean that tearing can occur more often which could lead to infections. This is part of the genitourinary syndrome of menopause which includes vaginal and bladder symptoms.
Break outs, you might have thought that your skin would be safe after your mid twenties, nope sorry ladies, they are back. Now getting a spot in the middle of a frown line, add a newly found hair then you have the perimenopausal trifecta. You may also have observed an increase in skin tags and waxy, stuck-on lumps known as seborrheic keratoses. They most typically appear in regions that do not receive direct sunlight, such as beneath your breasts or arms, and on your trunk. These can be removed but more likely will come back, and are nothing to worry about, so no need to get yourself into a panic over them.
The most important thing to remember for all of this is that it is all completely normal! As women for years we have been told not to talk about our heath and what goes on within our bodies. I don’t ever remember in school being told about what will happen to us as we get older apart from the whole period and pregnancy talk. Sometimes it could feel like life is collapsing and it is always a good idea to come back to our cornerstones of heath: sleep, food and exercise and within the next few weeks this is something that we will be talking about further.
If there is something that we take from this is talk, talk about your needs and what is going on with your bodies, talk to each other, your partners, your children, especially your daughters. Transitions are, by definition, quite unpleasant. And this is a significant one. As we progress along the conveyor belt, we must all keep conversing and sharing knowledge. Just like we'd check in with a new parent to see how she's doing, let's keep an eye on each through what could be difficult time in someone’s life.
-Coach Hannah PH
Recently I had a chat with a member who has a stressful job, long hours and a lot of responsibility.
In the past she admitted she thought she ‘never had time’ to go to the gym or do something for herself. She’s now and member and said to me…
“The time I spend here is the only time in the day that I don’t think about work.”
That might not seem like a big deal but if you are stressed out or on the verge of burn out
being able to switch off for an hour out of the day IS a game changer.
As well as this, studies have found that stress can contribute to more central fat (mid-section) and consequentially then affect your tolerance to stress too.
‘The current cross-sectional findings support the hypothesis that stress-induced cortisol secretion may contribute to central fat and demonstrate a link between psychological stress and risk for disease.’
So if you feel like you’re stuck in a stress tornado, maybe you are… but there are so many ways exercise and healthy eating habits can help you take steps to change that.
Don’t forget to download our free Xmas Eating Guide using the link below:
“The problem is not the problem.
The problem is your attitude about the problem.
Do you understand?”
One of my favourite quotes ever.
The single biggest breakthrough any human being can achieve, is the realisation that it’s not WHAT we think about things……. it’s the thing that CAUSES our thinking (the lens or filter in our brains) that’s the problem behind ‘faults’ with our mindset.
What separates humans from animals, is our ability to separate ourselves from our thoughts - to ‘think about our thinking’ - and to consciously choose and decide to act differently.
I challenge you to consider that you - or anybody - doesn’t have a weight problem, or an eating problem - they have a thinking problem.
Or perhaps a fairer way to word it would be “there’s a dodgy lens in ye olde brain” and if that gets fixed, the actions and behaviiours get fixed, and if those get fixed, then the end result (healthier, slimmer, whatever…..) is a positive one.
I’m not talking about ‘PMA’ (positive mental attitude) and cheerleading yourself into being awesome.
I’m talking about paying closer attention to your thoughts - and devoting more effort to changing those first and foremost, than the effort you might be putting into to try and change behaviours.
We can change behaviours through brute force - for a while - but will typically revert back to older habits once ‘willpower’ exhausts.
When we change our programming (when we start thinking differently) - we’re kind of ‘rewiring’ ourselves so that old habits simply aren’t allowed to run freely anymore.
It’s like breaking a circuit.
“It’s just the way I am”
“It’s not that easy to change”
“It’s ok for you / her / him”
“I’ve been like this for so long, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to change”
These are common. And normal.
But if you find yourself thinking our mouthing those - then this post is even MORE relevant to you.
Because those thoughts ARE the problem.
They’re unhelpful as ‘default responses’.
Imagine if you trained yourself to think the OPPOSITE of those.
“I get you, and I want to, but it’s hard to train myself to think differently after all these years…”
and round we go……..you HAVE to catch yourself thinking those thoughts /responses and “check yourself before you wreck yourself”
Once you start catching yourself defaulting to these ‘reasons’ why it’s hard, you won’t magically change overnight.
But you’ll have taken the first huge step in rewiring yourself.
Because the problem is not the problem (the problem is not your weight).
The problem is your attitude about the problem (the problem is how you think about your weight problem).
Do you understand?
Most people think about aesthetic reasons for exercising and eating well.
‘Look good naked’.
‘Feel confident in how look (in clothes)’.
More confidence is what people are after when they’re wanting to change (improve) how they look.
And confidence tends to breed a higher quality of life.
However, aesthetic goals can go from being ‘most important’ to ‘least important’ in the blink of an eye.
Motivation can be turned upside down in a second.
All it takes is a diagnosis of a health condition that’s debilitating - or even worse, life-threatening - and all of a sudden, ‘getting better’ far outweighs any concerns over more superficial aesthetic goals.
There’s plenty of talk about eating and exercise in relation to obesity, some Cancers, and type 2 Diabetes.
But here’s 3 less common conditions that many people face - especially as you get older - along with how improving your eating and exercise can do wonders for controlling or even preventing them.
1. High CholesterolWith high cholesterol, you can develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels.
Eventually, these deposits grow, making it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries. Sometimes, those deposits can break suddenly and form a clot that causes a heart attack or stroke.
Regular exercise affects your cholesterol and triglycerides in two key ways.
a) Exercise helps to lower triglycerides, which at high levels are linked to coronary artery disease.
b) Exercise also raises your levels of HDL, or the “good” cholesterol.
And in terms of nutrition, high cholesterol is highly correlated to a bad diet full of too much sugar, too much processed food, and not enough ‘good’ fats and fruit & veg.
2. OsteoporosisOsteoporosis is a health condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break. It develops slowly over several years and is often only diagnosed when a fall or sudden impact causes a bone to break (fracture). The most common injuries in people with osteoporosis are broken wrist s and broken hips.
Early warning signs can also include receding gums, weaker grip strength, and more brittle fingernails.
A loss of height, a stooped posture, back or neck pain, and bone fractures are often the most common symptoms of later-stage osteoporosis
Although the condition is not reversible, people can prevent further bone loss and rebuild bones with medication, a nutrient-dense diet, and weight bearing exercise.
Prevention is very much preferential to cure here.
Resistance training (lifting weights) not only increases strength, it also helps to increase bone density - or at worse, reduce or significantly slow down bone-density loss.
Your body will thank you for making resistance training part of your routine, in your 40’s and onwards,
3. DepressionSymptoms can range from lasting feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness, to losing interest in the things, increase anxiety, and feeling very ambivalent about life.
Often there are physical symptoms too. The hormonal changes in our biochemistry affect our physiology too.
Feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive, or various aches and pains.
Whilst there’s no one cure all for this drastically ‘broad’ condition, which is unique to each individual, countless studies have shown that exercise is at least as effective as pharmaceutical interventions (and often, more so).
Regular exercise may help by
Whilst we shouldn’t go through life constantly worrying “what if this goes wrong” and “what if that goes wrong”, we also don’t want to be blinkered to the fact that things DO go wrong, and that we have a lot of power to prevent, influence and sometimes reverse various health issues.
Remember, prevention is better than the cure
innovatefitness.as.me/discoveryWe’re at the fifth and final installment of this series.
If you’ve been following all week, I hope you’ve had some food for thought - and maybe one or two insights.
Today we’re going to recap - and extracf the simple, clear lessons from the past 4 days.
PART 1: Expectations
(click here to read)
- Having unrealistic expectations is faulty thinking
- You would never deem it a failure if you didn’t lose weight just from one afternoon or two days of healthy eating, so what is it about 7 days / a week, that suddenly makes it ‘not acceptable’ to not lose weight if you’ve been eating well?
- What is it about that specific measure of time that takes your belief from “no expectaitons” to absolute expectations”?
- Question your beliefs around things - they’ve often just picked up over the years from other people without actually aksing how true they are.
PART 2: Reactions
(click here to read)
- When you drop your phone and crack it, you don’t whip out a hammer and smash it up
- So why would you then start binging, just because you had a minor ‘slip up’ with your eating?
- Fixing that thinking pattern (how you respond to setbacks) will do wonders for long term progress
PART 3: Undoing hard work at weekends
(click here to read)
- OVERLY rewarding yourself at weekends, because “you’ve been good all week” is dumb.
- It’s the same as saving £300 all week towards a holiday, and then spending that £300 at the weekends, and wondering why you’ve no savings (progress).
- You don’t have to be perfect either - even if you ‘saved £300 all week and then only spent £150 of it at the weekend, you’d still be saving money whilst not sacrficiing all the fun in life’.
- For clarity, the analogy of saving cash, is being compared to being in a calorie defict all week, then eating them all back (and then some) at the weekend.
PART 4: Organisation
(click here to read)
- You treat hair appointments, holidays, doctors visits and taking the kids to their clubs as ‘non negotiable’ appointments that you schedule in advance.
- Why don’t you also do the same with things that will help you with your weight loss and health?
- Like 30mins to plan a meal, 30 mins to find some new recipes, scheduling exercise sessions for the week ahead.
- Treating those things as importantly as other “appointments” will do wonders for removing many of the ‘excuses’ that crop up with poor eating habits.
WANT SOME HELP WITH ALL OF THIS?
Working with a Coach is one of the best investments you’ll ever make in yourself.
Eating and exercise alone, doesn’t address the route cause of faulty thinking (broken mindsets) and reversing bad habits.
A coach will hold you accountable.
A coach will help you look at the bigger picture.
A coach will keep you motivated.
A coach will keep reminding you - until it becomes the norm.
A coach will help you develop a new mindset.
A coach will stop you ‘smashing your phone when you drop it’
A coach will help you learn how to lose weight whilst still enjoying the weekends.
A coach will help you to prioritise yourself.
Can you see how working with a coach will do 100x more than just trying to eat and exercise your way out of bad habits?
Addressing ‘broken mindsets’ as part of your program, will literally alter the direction of your life.
To discuss more about how we work, CLICK HERE to schedule a free consutlation with one of the team.
We’d love to help you work on the inside (your mindset) aswell as the outside (your body).