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Let’s talk Perimenopause/Menopause—A healthy lifestyle to the rescue!

Let’s talk Perimenopause/Menopause—A healthy lifestyle to the rescue!

It’s strange enough when we hit puberty and our body starts changing; talk about drama wrapped in the explanation of it being a normal stage of life. But what about the other change, the one we aren’t really prepared for that no one talks about enough—perimenopause!

The best way to empower ourselves is through knowledge, so let’s talk about it.

We know in general exercise helps us to maintain a healthy weight, relieves stress and improves our quality of life. So, can this also extend to the symptoms of perimenopause?

First, let’s get technical; menopause itself refers to a point in time, more specifically the 12 months after a woman’s last period. The time before that is known as perimenopause—it’s a period of transition for the body where women experience a series of physical reactions owing to changes in their body’s production of estrogen and progesterone. Usually this happens between the ages of 44 and 55; however, if a women experiences uterus health issues, then changes in the natural production of estrogen can be caused to fluctuate earlier.

The symptoms of perimenopause are triggered by erratic fluctuations in estrogen levels, which cause changes in women’s menstrual cycle, leads to hot flashes, disturbances in sleep patterns, brain fog, hair loss, weight gain—especially visceral fat, risk of vaginal and bladder issues, and increased chances of health risks. Although these are some of the most commonly shared symptoms, we are all different, so everyone’s body reacts differently in this time, and there are factors like lifestyle, smoking habits, age at which the symptoms begin, race and ethnicity that come into play and shape a woman’s experience of symptoms during perimenopause.

Also realistically, I should state I’m not a medical expert; I train in fitness and wellness and know bodies. However, when it comes to perimenopause and menopause, one thing I’m certain about is that to a large extent, it’s an unpredictable time. Nonetheless, one that is important to talk about.

Perimenopause can last for up to 10 years. A decline in estrogen production can already begin to occur for women in their 30s and 40s. However, according to Cleveland Clinic, the average length of perimenopause is about four years. The effects of symptoms can be quite hard to deal with, especially if you’re one of those women who is experiencing hot flashes daily. And although there are over the counter prescriptions (e.g., estrogen therapy, vaginal creams, antidepressants, birth control pills and gabapentin) and homeopathic remedies (e.g., Lachesis) to ease the symptoms, they only really stop when we enter menopause, so, when it’s been over 12 months since your last period.

After menopause, women are at greater risk of having a heart disease, having a stroke, and suffering from osteoporosis; a common cause being the loss of protection previously offered by estrogen generated by women’s ovaries and weight gain. With age, we gain more visceral fat that lodges itself around our internal organs and heart. In reality, whether we see it happening or not, we get at a point in life where age, tiredness, lack of activity, and increased stress from added responsibilities makes it that we award less time to taking care of ourselves through exercise, but that’s a mistake. We can’t control when we start perimenopause, how severely we will experience symptoms, or when we will officially be in menopause, but we can take control of the areas in our life that will influence our comfort and health during those stages. For one, we must prioritize time to move our body to get the most from life by improving our quality of life—healthy is where it’s at!

The foods we eat can have an impact on decreasing the severity of our symptoms during perimenopause. Foods to avoid that could have a negative impact on the body and how we experience symptoms include saturated fats, highly refined carbohydrates, and caffeine.

Thankfully, there are way more foods we can eat that help! Foods to add more of to your diet include protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and calcium. In more details, increasing your daily intake of protein will help with maintaining muscle mass, which starts to decrease during this time. Eating more omega-3 fatty acids is key to decreasing inflammation in the body and it contributes to improving moods. Also, fiber is a big one, as it decreases risk for heart diseases and it will keep you feeling full longer, which can curb cravings and help with sticking to portion-controlled eating practices. Lastly, calcium consumptions is important to increase for bone health and to lessen the risk of issues like osteoporosis.

Good news is that adopting healthy habits now will have a long-term impact on our health and how we experience and mitigate how we experience the symptoms of perimenopause. For one, exercise combined with eating portion-controlled meals will help with maintaining a healthy weight, it also relieves stress, and improves our quality of sleep—all of which combined enhances our quality of life.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends, in general, for women to undertake moderate aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes a week or vigorous aerobic activity for at least 75 minutes a week. That’s in addition to doing strength training exercises at least twice a week. Good thing Barre Fit Warriors offers On Demand classes and a full weekly schedule of real-time Barre Fitness classes to cover strength training and moderate aerobic exercise needs, while also improving your stability and balance by helping strengthen your core.

At all stages of life, regular exercise done right—with proper form and a routine tailored to our abilities and needs—is important for our overall wellbeing and development. Exercise does more than work our physical body, it’s a mental challenge as we learn how to push ourselves while also respecting our bodies.

Exercise during peri-and-post menopause helps with managing weight, when hormones change dramatically it can be expected to experience a shift in weight. Hence, why it’s important to remain consistent in our eating and exercise habits for everything to balance out. Also, a key benefit of regular exercise is an improved mood! I wouldn’t give someone an e-gift card for Barre Fit Warriors’ classes saying, “I hope it improves your mood”, but here’s a secret, it will!

It’s proven that physically active adults are at a lower risk for depression and cognitive decline; exercise and following routines, like the ones we go through in class, makes us think and work our mind, and our mind-body connection.

All women know that going through perimenopause is something our body will eventually experience, but it also a reality that serves as a good reminder to take good care of ourselves every single day.

Change can be uncomfortable, even scary, but you are not alone!

Published by barrefitwarriors

Nicole Grant is the proud owner and Master Trainer of Barre Fit Warriors! Nicole was a professional dancer for over 25 years. She graduated from Toronto Metropolitan University's Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance/Pedagogy and over the years acquired a number of certifications in many different forms of fitness. To name a few, she is a certified Yoga Instructor in Hatha, Yin, Restorative & Gravity Yoga. Nicole is also a Certified American Barre Technique Master Trainer/Coach, a Piloxing SSP/Piloxing Barre & Pilates Flow Instructor.

41 thoughts on “Let’s talk Perimenopause/Menopause—A healthy lifestyle to the rescue!

  1. This was so helpful. This can be a tough time. It’s nice to read things you can actually do – especially the tips about food. Thanks for a great article!

  2. So interesting that food can help with menopause! It makes a ton of sense but hadn’t thought about it. I always prefer more natural ways of healing my body before relying on any pharma drugs.

  3. I can’t agree more with the statement, “the best way to empower ourselves is through knowledge.” Your post is full of very helpful information and tips. Also a great reminder to take care of ourselves as perimenopause/menopause is a fact of life for women.

  4. This is a great article on a topic that while not fun to think about is relevant to so many. This is practical advice and provides great reminders. I know for myself life gets busy, but great reminders not to let that get in the way of good health. Thank you!

  5. This is a fantastic article about perimenopause and great timing because I just turned 43. So far, my cycles are still regular and predictable but it’s important to keep all of this in mind as the time approaches!

  6. I haven’t quite hit my 40’s yet but I’m pretty sure I’ve been experiencing perimenopause for the last couple of years. The tips you have here are great reminders to focus more on some of these things. Thank you.

  7. I think I am just not entering this stage and I will tell you that the weight gain thing is no joke. No matter what I do, I am 15 pounds heavier that usual. And then I tore my rotator cuff and haven’t been able to exercise like I used to. It is so hard. I really need to crack down on my diet and find some exercises that I can do that won’t hurt my shoulder. Thank you for this post. I needed it today.

  8. it’s a bit early to me but it is very reassuring to know my options for the future. I agree special care is needed for all stages as well extra little help to yourself

  9. Great tips on a really important topic! I pretty much skipped perimenopause and ended up right in surgical menopause. Food and exercise choices really can make a big difference.

  10. Well, my dear, I went through all that mess and even published a book about it. But I am not here to bragg, just wanted to tell you that everything you said in this post is true. Well written and engaging. Thank you.

  11. I am creeping much closer to this point in my life, so I am extremely glad that you wrote this, because it really isn’t something I normally think about. But it is something I should be thinking about! I love how much I learn every time I come to visit your blog.

  12. Thank you for sharing this, this was really interesting. You’re right in that there really isn’t much info out there about the second wave of hormonal changes we go through! I’m not at that stage yet but it’s still so insightful to learn about. Thank you for this.

  13. This is very useful! I haven’t reached the aged yet but unfortunately we aren’t taught this growing up! Amazing!🤎💕

  14. I have been hearing more and more talk about perimenopause, especially in younger women. I was reading an article not too long ago about a young woman who had difficulty conceiving because of perimenopause but the interesting thing is that she had no idea she was in such a stage or that such a thing even existed. It’s a really unfortunate situation if it’s not your time yet. Anyhow, good read.

  15. Unlike menopause, peri menopause is less talked about so I’m glad that you mention it here. I completely agree that the earlier you start a healthy lifestyle, the easier and better it will be to cope when the time arrives. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  16. I always knew exercising was super important as we age but I never had a clue that the reason was because of the visceral fat settling around the organs. I wish doctors would explain “why” they recommend what they do, because this was super helpful!

  17. Very interesting. I have had a few moments over the past 9 months or so where I wondered if I was going through perimenopause then always felt I was too young. This was very informative.

  18. This is the life stage that I am in currently at 52 years of age. I do an elliptical workout several times a week for an hour, but I do need to add in strength training. My husband also reminds me that exercise helps sleep, which can often be interrupted during perimenopause. One may find it harder to fall back asleep if woken up, but I think exercise can help!

    1. Hi Julie, It’s a tough stage to be in. So much happening with the body but it sounds like you are on the right track. Cardio is great for the body there is no doubt there. I love cardio but definitely in addition to strength training. I do believe the addition of strength training would be a great asset to you. You should check out my website (Barre Fit Warriors) further and try a class with me. Barre Fitness would be a great way to get that strength training in, safe on the joints and you don’t need to lift heavy to get all the benefits. Plus your first class is only $5 bucks. Reach out if you have any questions.

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