hormone

Menopause: What Are You In For?

Menopause is one of the most common things members ask us about, so we decided to dedicate this week’s blog post to it! As a member once put it…”let’s talk about the miracle of menopause!” (she may have said it with a little sarcasm)

So, whether you’re already there, or just want to know what to expect – let’s look forward!

What Comes First?

Perimenopause is when menopause symptoms begin appearing but is not formally menopause (defined as not having a period for 12 months in a row) and generally happens in the 40s. Menopause can happen really any time between the 40s and 60s and begins at different times for different people.

What Can I Expect?

Menopause has a laundry list of potential symptoms: bladder control/infections, body composition changes, brain fog, change in breast health, changes in digestion, vertigo…and more.

Symptoms like these and hot flashes can lead to poor sleep, which compounds all sorts of issues. If you are not sleeping well, take your exercise intensity down until you are sleeping well so you can recover properly from your workouts. During menopause and in the ageing process, with a lack of sleep, the body likely doesn’t have enough growth hormone or testosterone available to grow muscle. The problem that happens is that until this age, many women find they know how much exercise and intensity their body needs without realizing their needs are changing as they age. Be open to trying new regimens!

Why Is Exercise Important?

As part of aging and post menopause, women are also more at risk for osteopenia and osteoporosis. Exercise, including strength training and high/low impact weight bearing exercises, can help ward off bone loss that happens and reduce the risk for fractures and breaks during a fall.

Aim for 30-minutes per day, 5 days per week, of moderate cardio, strength training, plus deep breathing/yoga exercises to reduce stress and other menopausal symptoms. Too much high intensity work could lead to an increase in cortisol and insulin disruption due to the hormonal changes during menopause. Consider taking a day off here and there (just adjust your calorie intake accordingly).

Flashback to about a month ago when we talked about the different types of strength training. Middle-aged women need a balance of hypertrophy, strength, and power training to offset the muscle loss and fat gain. Women generally gain around 1.5 pounds per year in their 50s and 60s from the disruption of leptin and ghrelin, our hunger hormones, thanks to a reduction in estrogen during menopause. You may need to cut around 200 calories per day to ward off fat gain because of the natural metabolic decline.

What About Diet?

A 2018 study indicated that menopausal women who ate more fruits and vegetables had less menopause symptoms (like hot flashes and night sweats) than those who ate a higher fat and higher sugar diet. The increased vitamins, nutrients, and fiber can aid in preventing the weight increase that is associated with menopause. Keep in mind that this is new territory, with a new hormonal environment. What once worked pre-menopause may not work for you anymore. Be open to guess and check strategies to see what the new normal is for your body, sleep, exercise, nutrition, and weight management.

In summary, help reduce the effects of aging and menopause with quality nutrition, exercise, balancing stress, being mindful of alcohol consumption, and getting enough sleep. Heading into menopause with a healthy body composition and healthy eating habits will help ease the inflammation and hormone imbalance that accompanies menopause, so it is not too early to start preparing for the future!

Hormones? Who Cares? They Only Control EVERYTHING About Your Body

The Endocrine System is made up of glands that produce and secrete hormones to regulate our cells, tissues, and organs. This system therefore regulates our metabolism, sleep, mood, and so much more.!

For example, if you eat your favorite sugary dessert, your blood glucose increases, so your pancreas starts pumping out insulin to try to bring your body back to its happy place. If your blood sugar gets too low, other hormones will kick in to bring it back to homeostasis…the perfect balance.

The Pancreas

The Pancreas is the largest gland of the endocrine system. It produces insulin that helps you use energy from the food you eat by transporting it to the muscles and tissue that use glucose for energy.

Too much insulin in our blood reduces its ability to regulate our system, which can cause obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity and reduces the reliance on insulin injections!

Adrenal Glands

An adrenal gland is located on the top of each kidney. It is responsible for releasing cortisol (and adrenaline) into our bloodstream, and it turns stored carbohydrates into energy.

Cortisol can help control blood pressure, blood sugar levels, metabolism, and help reduce inflammation. However, there is such thing as “Too Much of a Good Thing”. If you find when you are losing weight that you are losing muscle, try adding a small amount of carbohydrate before and/or during exercise. This will inhibit cortisol from being released and thus reduce the breakdown of muscle!

Thyroid Gland

When you start exercising, the thyroid gland (at the base of the neck) sends out hormones that regulate the body’s temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. It also regulates the alertness and focus that are needed to work at a high intensity.

The thyroid regulates how fast your body uses the calories from the food you eat…which is why you have likely heard of hypothyroidism (where it doesn’t produce enough of the hormone).

Pituitary Gland

The Pituitary gland is the “master gland”, at the base of the brain which regulates all the other glands we have talked about so far. When we exercise, the Pituitary gland releases a hormone to signal the body to increase bone, muscle and tissue production. Feed your gland…let’s work out!

You can learn even more in this great article by ACE Fitness!

Important: Hormone Disruptors

The endocrine system is very structured in its process, unless endocrine disruptors (i.e BPA, fire retardants, etc) are in play. They may cause a response to be too high, too low, or all together different than was intended and not in a good way. Hormone disruptors have been known to cause obesity, bring on early puberty, alter the function of sex hormones and mess with our immune systems. Sadly, they can be found in our food, water, pesticides, cosmetics, and so much more. Help your body get rid of these toxins through SWEAT!

Here’s a great article from Precision Nutrition – all about hormone disruptors!