Okay, ladies. We gotta’ talk about something. I know that women sometimes feel like the word “menopause” has this totally un-sexy connotation associated with it, but I wanted to follow up on one of my posts about self love and confidence to further drive home that topic of empowerment and feeling GOOD in the skin we’re in. This is such an important thing for ALL women to do so that we can embrace our bodies and minds no matter what stage of life we’re in!
As women, all of us will eventually have to face the time when we go through this DREADED process. I know many of you (and myself included!) probably haven’t even thought about menopause yet! Who wants to, right?! But then again, maybe there are some of you out there who have been forced into early menopause due to health issues, or maybe you’re at the age where this is just beginning to happen naturally! I know from speaking with a couple friends of mine in their 30s and 40s who have experienced early menopause, and they both told me the same thing. They said they suddenly were faced with the harsh reality this brought to their lives and sadly, a lack of knowledge of what their bodies were actually going through. I hate the thought of having something happen to my body and not being prepared for what it entails. I truly feel for those who have experienced this.
Okay. Moment of truth. Did I catch you off guard with this one? I don’t blame you. Menopause wasn’t something I had originally planned on talking about! But I’ve promised to always be authentic with you guys, and this is no exception. I’m not exactly an expert when it comes to menopause, and quite frankly, I hope I don’t become one for quite awhile! But I was talking with a close friend just recently about her journey through early menopause, and that, coupled with the questions I frequently get from so many of you amazing ladies, made me feel like maybe this is a subject we should tackle together!
Is your coffee handy? We might need some!
First of all, thank you to the amazing, courageous members of our Transform Community. You all inspire me every single day, and I love that you’ve come to me with some of your toughest questions! Because menopause is often a big topic, here are some of the most frequent questions we get in our group:
Questions about Menopause
“Heidi, I’m going through menopause and the pounds keep piling on no matter what I do. Help!”
“Heidi, I’m trying really hard to lose weight, but I’m also going through menopause, and I’m really struggling. What can I do?”
“I’m suddenly without hormones and have to adjust my whole lifestyle. Any recommendations for meals or workouts?”
Even though I haven’t been in your shoes, I can sympathize with your struggles and frustrations every time I read one of these questions. So let’s dive into menopause and get some basic information that will hopefully answer some of these!
I’m definitely no Merriam-Webster, but here are what the expert definitions say about menopause in general, just so we’re all on the same page with what it really means:
Menopause is defined as occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period and marks the end of menstrual cycles. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51 in the United States, and it can last for several years.
Perimenopause, or menopause transition, begins several years before menopause. It’s the time when the ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen. It usually starts in a woman’s 40s, but can start in her 30s or even earlier. The average length of perimenopause is 4 years, but for some women this stage may last only a few months or continue for 10 years. Perimenopause ends when a woman has gone 12 months without having her period.
Since perimenopause and menopause can be very similar, I’m going to group them together from here on out as menopause because I like to keep things simple.
Besides going into menopause naturally, this process can also begin in other ways: a hysterectomy, premature ovarian failure, or cancer and/or radiation therapy, and each one of these causes can come with its own set of issues.
Our bodies are beautiful machines that are capable of doing so many amazing thing. When our systems change, a lot of wonky things can occur. But that’s okay, because half the battle is being prepared for what these changes are, and recognizing the symptoms so that we know what to do about them!
Some of the most common menopause-related symptoms and issues that can occur are listed below, but keep in mind that these can affect each woman differently. Some may experience most or all of these, and others may experience very few.
Raise your hand if you feel like you’re back in health class..
This list kind of makes you want to burrow under the covers for about 10 years, right? It’s almost like experiencing puberty…again. 😟 Menopause can be made even more difficult because it often occurs during a major transition period in a woman’s life: the end of the childbearing season, children leaving for college and the start of empty-nesting, kids getting married, and job statuses and other things in life changing, all of which can intensify these symptoms and issues. Nothing like making a tough situation even worse!
To top it off, I think we can agree there’s nothing feel-good about anything on this list. But ladies, even though I haven’t experienced this whole “magical” thing yet, I’m telling you it doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t have to take this lying down!
Since taking a 10-year vacation probably isn’t a possibility (dangit! – although if you figure out a way to make it work, let me know asap!), I’ve come up with some tips that can help you prepare for and better deal with many of the menopause-related symptoms and issues shared above.
Hopefully these ideas will help your menopause experience be a bit more pleasant, because I’d like to believe that’s a possibility! Note: There are medical and holistic options available for helping with menopause, so it’s always best to discuss these with your healthcare team to figure out what will work best for you.
Top 10 Tips for Menopause Survival
2. Exercise regularly, and include both cardio and strength training in your routine.
What do I mean by regularly? The American Heart Association recommends between 75 and 150 minutes of cardio exercise per week (depending on intensity), and try and get in 2-3 strength training sessions a week also. Here’s why you need both cardio and strength training:
- Cardio can boost your metabolism, strengthen your heart and muscles, protect you against osteoporosis, and burn calories. New to cardio? Take a walk! That’s an awesome way to start, and it can be done pretty much anywhere.
- Strength training can strengthen your bones, increase muscle mass (important for bone support and calorie burn), protect you against future weight gain, and tone up that amazing body of yours.
And let’s be honest, working out can decrease stress and make you feel better all around, which really helps combat those menopausal mood changes.
3. Limit alcohol. Alcohol = extra calories, and it can take away from the calories you could be getting from nutritious foods.
4. Get enough sleep. Sleep is so important for so many reasons, but for weight control and being able to better enjoy life, it should be a priority!
5. Drink plenty of water. Water is important for so many reasons! Plus, it helps keep you looking younger, longer. And I’m ALL for that!
We recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces every. single. day. (200 lbs = 100 ounces a day).
6. Find ways to relieve your stress and relax. Stress can literally be a killer, and it’s definitely an enemy to weight loss, so find things that will help you relax and take a breather, even if it’s only for a few minutes. One of my fave ways to relax? Yoga! Other things you can do: read a book, take a walk, or whatever you like to do that makes you feel good. And don’t forget about your fave Daily Hugs…these can be life savers!
7. Limit those sweets. Not only are they pretty much loaded with empty calories, but those calories can add up quickly and cause other problems too (like extra lbs!).
I’m all about enjoying the foods you love—just do it in moderation according to your plan. And don’t forget about our 80/20 rule: Eat healthy, nutritious foods 80% of the time, and fill the other 20% (if you want to!) with those foods you love that might not be quite as healthy.
8. If you get those lovely hot flashes, try and figure out if there are specific things that cause them, and then make a plan to help you either deal with them or get rid of them, which is even better! Layering your clothing, keeping a fan or cool cloth handy, and other things can help too. And remember to chat with your doc about any other remedies that might work for you. Don’t forget to check out the hot flash-helping products I found below!
9. Be aware of emotional eating. This, alone, can be a huge roadblock to menopause weight control because so many menopause symptoms can lead to emotional eating. Learn what triggers your emotional eating (keeping a journal can really help—and the cuter the better!), and then put a plan in place (or several plans) that you can turn to when the temptation to eat off-plan happens.
10. Remember—it’s all about taking those baby steps. Choose one of these tips you’re struggling with (only one!), and make and keep a small promise to yourself that will help you overcome this struggle. I promise you—this one small little thing can change your life!
Products to Help with Menopause
Here are some awesome products that can help make menopause—and those super annoying (from what I’ve been told) hot flashes—more manageable:
Okay. Take a deep breath because we did it. We tackled an uncomfortable subject together. But I’m happy that we did, because it’s honestly such an important part of life. And just because this major change will happen, doesn’t mean it’s going to change who we are as people, or as women. It’s all about embracing our inner beauty and strength, and taking care of ourselves so that we shine on the outside and continue to feel confident and our best no matter what!
Are you currently in any stage of menopause or post menopausal? If you’re comfortable doing so, please feel free to share what works for you in a comment below. After all, sharing is caring, and this is a topic where we all could use a little extra TLC. 😘
For more menopause-related info, check out these sources: