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!