Peri-Menopause?

Did you know the largest growing group of exercisers is women in their 50’s? This is great news because with each decade after 40, women can lose 5 pounds of muscle and gain up to 10 pounds of fat!! This can equate to a 1/3 reduction of muscle mass by age 50. Frightening! The good…

Did you know the largest growing group of exercisers is women in their 50’s? This is great news because with each decade after 40, women can lose 5 pounds of muscle and gain up to 10 pounds of fat!! This can equate to a 1/3 reduction of muscle mass by age 50. Frightening! The good news is women are starting to figure this out and are looking for help to achieve their goals.

Anyone in their 40’s and 50’s is likely experiencing some sort of peri-menopausal symptom to a greater or lesser degree: hot flashes, night sweats, foggy thinking, weight gain. I am not immune to the effects of peri-menopause. I have had my struggles. Four years of intense stress that played havoc on my Cortisol levels (Cortisol is our stress hormone). High Cortisol can lead to weight gain, typically in the stomach area. This happened to me and yet nothing had changed in terms of how I ate or exercised. Imagine the shame I felt as a fitness industry professional. It was real and embarrassing. Through out this time, peri-menopause symptoms started to rear their ugly head. It was a double whammy and one that I had to take a serious look at. On paper I was doing everything right in terms of nutrition and exercise, but it wasn’t equating to results. “What the heck is happening to me?” was a constant thought.

Upon reflection and research I realized I needed a complete overhaul. What I knew to be true for my 30’s was no longer serving me in my 40’s. I know there are many of you out there that can relate to my story. My hope is you can take away some of the tips I will provide to aid you on your hormone journey.

What is happening in your body during peri-menopause?

Estrogen Dominance:

Very common in peri-menopause.This means the relative balance between Estrogen and Progesterone is skewed. Progesterone declines thereby causing Estrogen to be high. A myriad of symptoms can accompany this:

• Decreased sex drive.

• Irregular or otherwise abnormal menstrual periods.

• Bloating (water retention)

• Breast swelling and tenderness.

• Fibrocystic breasts.

• Headaches (especially premenstrually)

• Mood swings (most often irritability and depression)

Low Progesterone Symptoms:

• weight gain and fluid retention

• insomnia

• high anxiety and low mood

• sagging skin

• heavy periods

• Thyroid issues and brain fog

Low Testosterone and DHEA (dehyrdroepiandrosterone).

Both are needed for libido, ability to build muscles, and energy. DHEA is considered our mother hormone and it affects all others. Produced in the adrenal glands it naturally declines with age, but can fall so low that the effects are felt physically.

What can I do to counter the effects of hormone imbalances?

Food

Many studies have shown that dairy, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, meat/dairy with antibiotics and hormones can contribute to hormonal imbalances. Our bodies, during perimenopause, just can’t tolerate food the way it used to. This is where you really need to pay attention to how your body responds to the nutrients you feed it. Many Women are feeling depleted, energy-less, and low. Considering the food they are eating isn’t always a priority, it is so necessary as food can produce great healing:

Food is always a great place to start. Consuming foods that decrease inflammation, and incorporating more of the below items will help. Hormone therapy is a viable option when one feels as though their quality of life is being compromised. It is not necessary to suffer during peri-menopause. If symptoms are hindering your quality of life, we all need to take responsibility to explore the right individualized solutions. Supplementing with hormones can be very beneficial. It does take due diligence , dedication and research however, to find what works for you. Finding the right health care professional to support this journey is critical.

Here are some great examples of foods that can help to balance hormones:

• Vitamin C – sweet potatoes, kiwi, brussel sprouts, lemons

• Magnesium – cashews, leafy greens, black beans, cacao, lentils, brown rice

• Vitamin B6 – russet potatoes, salmon, tuna, bananas, walnuts, beans, prunes

• Sulfur – broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, swiss chard, cabbage

• Arginine – lentils, chickpeas, salmon, trout, pumpkin seeds, walnuts

• Zinc – oysters, shrimp, prawns, shellfish, red meat, cashews

• Vitamin E – sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts

• Good cholesterol – coconut oil, coconut butter, eggs, yogurt, olive oil

• Fiber – flax seed, quinoa, millet, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds

* Ground Flax Seed is a wonderful way to rid your body of excess Estrogen. It can be consumed in smoothies, on oatmeal or in baked goods. It aids the intestines in sloughing off the excess Estrogen and is then excreted via your feces *

EXERCISE

Strength Training:

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of strength training during peri-menopause. So many Women fall victim to endless cardio without the physical results they desire. The more muscle one has, the more calories one burns at rest and the less weight you will gain with age, period! This is fact! Participating in endless steady state cardio (same speed over a period of time) does not keep your metabolism revved up. As soon as you stop, the caloric burn is over vs strength training, which keeps your metabolism revved up for up to 48 hours after exercise is over. Strength training can consist of weight lifting or body weight exercises. The higher the intensity the better. Many studies have proven high intensity interval training or HIIT is the best way to exercise during peri-menopause. Keeping in mind, too much can tax a body that is already taxed due to hormone balances. More isn’t always best. Pay attention to how your body feels after exercise. If you feel energized and rarin’ to go your body was able to handle the exercise. If you feel depleted, it was either too much or you didn’t give your body enough rest between sessions. Strength training is the key, NOT spending the majority of time doing cardio. I am a huge proponent of muscle.  I tell my clients this ALL the time; muscle is your friend. Lifting weights will NOT make you bulky like a man (this is a myth), but instead will speed up your metabolism and help counter some of the effects of aging. Who wouldn’t want this?

Restorative Yoga:
During peri-menopause you need to find the right balance of intense exercise, without over doing it, coupled with restorative exercise such as Yoga. There are many styles of Yoga and I am speaking specifically about the restorative style ie: Yin Yoga. Practices that allow the body to deepen into the pose, while calming the body has a profound affect on our Adrenal Glands and our body over all. The calmer we can be the less out of balance our hormones will be.

MEDITATE

Meditating is an amazing way to ground the body, decrease stress and bring you back to the moment. It used to be only a select group of people would engage in meditation, but now it is more mainstream than ever. Big corporations and schools are now adopting the practice, seeing the benefits for their employees and students. There is no “right” way to meditate. People can get hung up on not doing it correctly and therefor, don’t begin. It truly can be done in as little as 2 minutes and upwards of twenty minutes or more. It can be done in a silent room or walking in nature. The idea is to bring your awareness to the present, calm your breathing and be in the now.

PUT YOURSELF FIRST

Gaining wisdom and experience working in the fitness industry for over nine years, I have become acutely aware how prevalent it is for Women to put themselves at the bottom of the list. There are a multitude of reasons why, but at the end of the day the people suffering the most are Women. Their energy is low, self-love is low and there is nothing filling their tank. Personally, I have seen the physical, mental and spiritual benefits one achieves by making a conscious decision to put oneself first.

Put ME first?  Yes, that’s what I said!  By taking care of yourself, you will find more capacity to be all you need to be in the other areas of your life.  I want to empower Women to feel better as they age, better than they did the year before and the year before that.  Can you imagine?  I am asking you to believe this IS possible.

Your children, husband, work, or whatever other excuse you can come up with will not suffer because you take time each week for YOU. If anything, everyone or everything WILL thrive because you are thriving. Trust me, this is all true!

Peri-menopause doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom. It is a natural progression through our circle of life. An ending and a beginning all rolled into one. It is our job to become acutely aware of what our body is doing. Scrutinize how you are feeling, pay attention to the effects food has on you, good and bad. Create a support system – Family Practitioner, Naturopath, Acupuncturist, Herbalist, who ever you need to help you feel your best and in optimum health. Peri-menopause is part of a Women’s journey. It can either be ignored to the detriment of one’s health – physically, spiritually and emotionally or you can take charge of your health and well-being, settling for nothing less than a joyous, healthy life.

Kristen Vogt

www.ascendantfitness.com

780-235-1324 Bachelor of Arts – Psychology

Can Fit Pro – Personal Training & Nutrition Certification

AFLCA – Group Fitness Certified

Let’s talk hormones special: 3, one hour person training sessions, for the price of 2. – $150 ($255 value)

– customized workouts depending on where you are at in the peri-menopause process

– education on food and exercise appropriate for hormone balancing

– instruction on safe, proper techniques so you can confidently work out on your own

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *