Tips to Support Your Peri/Menopause Journey

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Katrina reading a book

Perimenopause and menopause are life stages that affect all of us differently. Some people struggle with wildly fluctuating hormones, memory problems, bladder leakage and increased PMS; others find themselves unable to sleep, suffering hot flushes and sudden bursts of temper.

Many of us approach menopause with trepidation – search on Facebook and you’ll find groups with names like Menopause Misery and Perimenopause Hell. Yet just like puberty, it’s a normal stage of life. For some women, it brings a whole new sense of self; the insecurities of our 20s and 30s are replaced with confidence and assurance.

Approaching perimenopause and menopause with a positive mindset will help you better navigate the changes. Combine this with a targeted approach to diet, lifestyle and self-care, and you’ll find many symptoms are minimised. Here are my top 5 tips to improving your menopause journey.

  1. Self care, self care and more self care. Listen to your body. Symptoms are your body’s way of letting you know what it needs. If you are tired, take time to rest rather than relying on coffee to push through. Take easier options when you’re too tired to cook (nothing wrong with eggs on toast for dinner occasionally; better yet, outsource at least one dinner a week to other household members – your children will thank you when they eventually move out of home and have to fend for themselves). The more rested you are, the less intense your symptoms are likely to be.
  2. Reduce coffee and alcohol. Try monitoring when and how much of both you consume over a week, then halve that for a month. You might be surprised. Especially if you’re suffering with hot flushes.
  3. If you’ve started noticing bladder leakage or vaginal dryness, find yourself a specialist women’s pelvic floor physio ASAP. These people are amazing! They can reverse these symptoms using a range of techniques (we all know pelvic floor exercises are important, but there’s so much more that can be done with the right guidance). Better still, they’ll get to the underlying cause of the issue and put you in a much stronger position for your future years. If you live in the Hills district, I highly recommend the physios at World of Women Physio at Bella Vista.
  4. Ease off the high intensity exercise. Surely not? That’s been your go-to for years when a kilo or two has crept on right? Here’s the problem. High intensity exercise releases cortisol. Cortisol breaks down muscle and creates inflammation. That’s ok for a short period of time – a key benefit of exercise is breaking down muscle so we can rebuild it. But, as we get older, we need more recovery time. Constant high intensity exercise without sufficient recovery leads to consistently high cortisol levels, which has flow on effects including increased belly fat, fatigue, inflammation and more. Consider keeping high intensity workouts to just a couple of times a week; walk more, stretch more and give your body the chance to recover.
  5. Lastly – and this is my new favourite thing – strength-based exercise. Replace some of those high intensity workouts with strength training, to ensure optimal bone health, which suffers once we lose the protective effects of oestrogen and progesterone. Body weight exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups and tri-cep dips are a great way to start. If you’re a member of a gym, ask for guidance with a weight-based training program (support from a qualified trainer is essential if you’re using weights, to reduce the risk of injury from incorrect technique). Strength based exercise will build muscle; muscle boosts metabolism and reduces your risk of insulin resistance. Aim for at least 2 strength training sessions a week, then space a few cardio sessions around these, allowing time for recovery in between.

Changing your exercise patterns in line with changing hormones may mean you need to tweak your diet as well; for example, you may need more protein and less carbs than previously.

For a tailored dietary plan to reduce menopause symptoms and support your exercise goals, make an appointment to see me. We’ll navigate this life stage together so that it’s a positive change for you.

Develop a positive relationship with food