Updated: Dec 2, 2020
I want to tell you about a client of mine, Jenny. She's 44 years old and when she came to
me she had given up. I'm not even sure why she made the appointment as she told me: "I just don't give a f*ck anymore."
Jenny's story is one that I have heard over and over throughout the years. She feels "off" somehow, but her doctors tell her that all her blood work is normal she should just lose weight and to do that she can simple eat less and move more. Then every thing will be fine.
Except it's not. After months of driving herself crazy with restrictive diets and 6 days a week in the gym she doesn't lose a single pound.
Which is why I am stunned that women like Jenny ever find their way to me.
The system is failing women as we age.
Don't get me wrong, there are a number of very compassionate, intelligent, and dedicated medical professionals out there doing good work in the perimenopause field, but how is it that so many women get to the age of 40 and have no idea that "perimenopause" even exists. (*Disclaimer- prior to age 41 I also did not know it was a thing).
Perimenopause is defined as "around menopause" and is considered the time leading up to menopause- signified by hormone fluctuations, irregular periods, and a whole bunch of other symptoms you wouldn't even think of. Menopause on the other hand is by definition the end of menstruation as indicated by 12 full months without a period. According to a definition I found, menopause is "a natural condition that does not require treatment."
Oh. My. GOD.
It's no wonder women are confused, frustrated, scared, and ignorant of what amounts to up to 15 years of their lives! For the sake of clarity, I'm referring to perimenopause in this article, the period with a large host of symptoms that most women think of as menopause.
Lifestyle Treatments for Perimenopause
There is a wide range of experiences for each woman entering the middle portion of their lives, but let's look at some of the most common symptoms. These are the struggles that I have heard from hundreds of women over the years:
lack of libido
lack of appetite
lack of balance
high blood pressure
Plus I'm sure a lot more that I haven't heard yet. But no, let's not educate women of the impending life changes. They can just suck it up.
If you aren't interested in simply "dealing with it" there are some ways to prepare for and even handle these changes once they begin (and often before). The foods that you nourish with, the timing of meals, exercise, and even your attitude can play a huge role in how you get to the other side of "the change."
Here are my 4 top tips for lifestyle considerations from perimenopause through menopause.
Nourish to balance hormones. The types of foods that you eat can make hormone imbalance more prevalent. In order to find balance it's important to properly nourish and encourage the natural flushing of excess hormones. I teach mindful eating as a method for working to develop eating patterns that put you back in control of your body.
Moving with intention. Your workout from your 20's is not going to serve you here. You need to work with your body changes- strengthen balance and encourage muscle growth, while reducing the stress of excessive cardio and high impact, long duration activities. Yoga is a great way to check off a number of boxes in an efficient and targeted manner.
Tune into stress- and build awareness around triggers. You aren't going to eliminate stress, but you can eliminate your extreme reactions to stressful situations. This is another place where yoga philosophy comes in handy. Learning to observe without attachment and let go of things that won't serve you is a good place to start. You might have a high stress job, but you don't have to bring it home with you.
Sneaky Self-Care. I say sneaky because let's face it GenX- we aren't going to actually do something for ourselves when there might be others to take care of. Find small moments where you can plug in self-care throughout the day- 15 minutes to read a book after dinner, 10 minutes during lunch to break out the coloring book, 5 minutes with your journal in your favorite chair with your morning beverage of choice, and so on.
Education, Awareness, and Community
We have a duty to educate our generation on a better way, so that we can pass the information on to our daughters, and granddaughters. It's our turn to make a difference in our own health and share our knowledge with our friends and family. Ask the questions, demand real answers, and advocate for yourselves to find a better way.
I have made it my mission to help women demystify this stage of their lives through providing solid evidence based solutions to the very real problems of living life as a woman over 40. For some it looks like teaching breathing techniques to help weather an anxiety attack, for others it might be a nutrition prescription for losing the peri-15. There isn't always a lifestyle based solution for every situation, but in my experience it never hurts to try.
If you are in a place where you want to learn how to take back control of your life so you can enjoy these years without the stress, uncertainty, and confusion I urge you to check out my signature program: What the Actual Fork?! Demystifying Midlife Nutrition.
I invite you to join me in my private women's only Facebook Group where I share free nutrition and yoga strategies for living in perimenopause!