“I’ve never been overweight and since I hit my mid-forties, I’ve gained weight and can’t seem to lose it!” “My mid-section is getting bigger. I don’t have my hour-glass figure anymore.” “My energy levels aren’t what they used to be”. These are all comments that I hear on a daily basis from female clients who are going through the natural process of menopause.
While menopause is a natural physical process there is nothing normal about it. If you talk to 50 women about their menopausal symptoms, you will get 50 different answers about their own personal experiences which is one reason that it is hard to treat.
Beginning in our mid-thirties, hormone production in our ovaries begins to slow down and continues through our forties until we ultimately go through menopause which will happen around the age of 50. Some of the symptoms we experience as our body goes through these hormone fluctuations are:
There are things we can do to significantly decrease the symptoms typically associated with menopause. Menopause management can range from more non-traditional treatments such as acupuncture to eating a healthy diet. The two most significant lifestyle changes that can be incorporated to manage menopausal symptoms are a healthy diet and exercise.
The American Council on exercise states: "The good news is that a regular program of physical activity can help manage many of the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause as well as the related health concerns, such as heart disease and osteoporosis.
A National Institutes of Health review showed that people who did aerobic activities every day for 10 or more minutes had 6 fewer inches around the waistline compared to people who didn't exercise. And exercising while you're in the process of losing weight-- as well as after you've lost it -- may be critical to maintaining weight loss.
Exercise has many other perks aside from weight loss, including:
Lower risk of osteoporosis
Lower risks of metabolic syndrome and other cardiovascular diseases
Relieves depression and anxiety
Improved insulin resistance
Keeps joints and muscles strong
Helps bowels work well
Relieves depression and anxiety
Improves overall health
Proper nutrition is the other piece to the puzzle that will relieve menopausal symptoms.
Some of the healthy diet changes for women in their 40’s and older are to:
Get plenty of calcium. Women 51 and older should get at least 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day. Calcium can be found in dairy products, fish with bones, broccoli, and legumes. Aim for two to four servings of these calcium-rich foods every day.
Eat more fiber. Strive for about 20 grams of fiber a day. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are great sources of fiber.
Pump up your dietary iron. Iron can be found in lean red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and enriched grain products. Try to eat three servings of iron every day to meet daily recommended amounts.
Drink plenty of water. Drinking eight glasses of water per day will help you stay hydrated and healthy.
Limit your fat intake. Fat should make up 30% or less of your total daily calories. Saturated fat should make up no more than 10% of your total daily calories. Stay away from fatty meats, whole milk, ice cream, cheese, vegetable oils, and packaged foods.
Table the salt. Too much sodium has been linked to high blood pressure. Experiment with fresh herbs and different cooking techniques to season your food.
To ensure your success in incorporating a successful diet and exercise program into your life you should:
Talk to your doctor to make sure you are in good health before beginning
Find a partner to help you stay motivated and accountable
Work out with a trainer
Include both aerobic exercise and weight training
With proper planning and support, the symptoms of menopause can significantly be reduced.
If you would like to find out more information about how you can best manage your life as you move into your forties and beyond, please plan on attending a group discussion to be held at Reality Fitness on Monday, January 12th at 7pm Call 630-357-7087 to register.