Menopause Transition

Top 3 Strategies To Manage the Menopause Transition

By December 14, 2023 No Comments
Enhance your menopause journey with actionable strategies

“Is this what the next 5 or 10 years of my life are going to be like?”

As we are all learning, the menopause transition is NATURAL, NORMAL and an inevitable part of most women’s lives and has many effects on a woman’s body. 

Here’s the good news… 

There are simple things you can do to ease symptoms and have a better experience… while also improving your overall health, well-being and longevity. 

In this email, I’m sharing one nutrition strategy with you that you can begin to implement immediately. (A follow-up to, “The Signs & Science of the Menopause Transition” blog post.)

But first a quick disclaimer…

I’ve spent 20 years in the coaching field, and I can tell you this for sure: The sheer act of making a change, however small, can be incredibly empowering. 

During a time when so much feels out of control, you may find that taking any action — even a small effort here and there— can make you feel at least somewhat better. 

That’s the power of agency.  

Taking action can help you feel like you’re back in the driver’s seat.

Especially if you choose to frame these efforts as an opportunity to change and grow, rather than some kind of punishment for getting older.

So let’s dive in….

STRATEGY #1 — NUTRITION

FACT: Everyone has to eat. 

A simple and effective thing you can do today, at your next meal, is to take control and manage your nutrition better. 

This is especially true if you’ve gained 10+ pounds of abdominal fat over the last year (or faster) with no significant changes to your workout routine or nutrition habits. 

For example, many of my clients choose to not eat in the morning (full transparency, this used to be me!) whether it is for efficiency, intentionally fasting, forgetting to eat, or believing you “are not hungry” for breakfast. 🛑

TAKE ACTION TODAY:

  1. Making the SIMPLE change to eat breakfast in the morning (within a couple hours of waking is ideal) is a great experiment if you’re not a breakfast eater. 

Which leads me to the MOST CRITICAL part of your improved nutrition strategy for your menopause transition AND your overall health…

PRO TIP #1 — EAT LEAN PROTEIN

Why protein? (I’m going to get a little science-y on you…) 

  • Protein is THE cellular building block of your body. It helps build and repair almost every tissue in the body — muscles, connective tissues (such as tendons and ligaments), and bones.
  • Protein helps make many hormones. This includes hormones that manage appetite, balance blood sugar, and support feeling happy and relaxed.

NUTRITION TIMING

Protein in the morning, after fasting overnight, helps kick off a process called protein synthesis. We want to drive the process of protein synthesis in our bodies to support our muscle mass—which naturally declines as we age. 

So yes, this means substituting your morning muffin, pancakes, cereal, or piece of fruit with lean, whole food protein sources. (it will also help curb afternoon cravings and keep energy levels up! #fact)

➡️ FREE DOWNLOAD: 

🔗 Morning Fuel Mastery: 5 Clever Protein Hacks & 11 Delicious Ways to Load Your Plate

TAKE ACTION TODAY:

  1. Incorporate a lean protein source into your next meal. 
  2. If your fridge/pantry is not stocked, plan a trip to the grocery store or schedule your next Instacart delivery to have protein options on hand. 

Remember, the sheer act of making a change, however small, can be incredibly empowering. 

Empower yourself and make one small change in your nutrition choices and / or timing.

STRATEGY #2 — FITNESS

If regular exercise is not a habit, this is your cue to get more consistent with exercise. 

— initially it can be any type of exercise that you find accessible to build the habit of exercise. 

Your goal is to have CONSISTENT intentional movement built into your lifestyle. Strive for progress not for perfection.

A simple and effective thing you can do today —

If you do regularly workout, this is your cue to be more strategic about the type of workouts you choose this week.

TAKE ACTION TODAY

  • change up your routine, 
  • add more resistance training with progressive overload (heavy weights), and 
  • dial up the intensity of your cardio session

Steady state workouts—ya know, those hyped-up “fat burning” sessions you read all about in health magazines… they are NOT going to work for you anymore. 

Why?…

…Because your hormone signals are on the fritz. You must incorporate HIGH INTENSITY workouts and heavy resistance training to “reach” those hormones in order to burn body fat. 

Good news— because these recommended workouts are higher intensity and require heavier weights, your workouts can be SHORTER! #savingtime

PRO TIP #2 — RESISTANCE TRAINING

Perimenopausal women 100% need resistance training to help mitigate bone loss while estrogen levels are declining. 

  • Bone loss WILL happen with age, this is called osteopenia and osteoporosis. 
  • Resistance training cannot reverse these conditions, BUT it can slow the process down AND increase muscle mass.
  • You want more lean muscle mass to protect bones and reap the metabolic benefits of increased muscle mass.

Active Moms’ Club has a sample of free On-Demand workouts here, and I offer these same classes live-streaming on Zoom during the week.

If you need more 1:1 high touch support, or specific guidance on how to structure your workouts to better align with your goals, drop me an email (cassandra@activemomsclub.com) and we can discuss options.

STRATEGY #3 — RECOVERY

Let’s talk about one of THE most important aspects of managing your perimenopausal transition… 

RECOVERY

It is often overlooked or not implemented consistently. 

  “I’d rather spend my time exercising than stretching.”
  “If I stay up late, I can get more things done and have time for myself”.
  “I don’t eat after my workout because I just burned lots of calories.”

Do any of these statements resonate with you?

Recovery is critical to women over 40, and comes in MANY forms including, but not limited to: 

  • STRESS management,
  • SLEEP for restoration, and
  • TISSUE WORK for muscles

Just like the other two strategies discussed for exercise and nutrition, your recovery needs to be as thoughtful and intentional. 

WHY?

Again, because your hormones are starting to go a little haywire, you need to step in and give your body some extra assistance in the form of recovery. 

PRO TIP #3— MANAGING STRESS

The most impactful thing you can do, during the menopausal transition, is manage your stress.

Cortisol is a stress hormone, and it’s likely seeing new highs in midlife due to work, kids, aging parents, etc. Add on top of that, fluctuating hormones. It’s a recipe for metabolic chaos.

TAKE ACTION TODAY

One of the most easily accessible techniques to lower your stress throughout the day is deep breathing exercises.

Yes, it can be this simple.

The North American Menopause Society recommends practicing the simple method throughout the day to manage daily stress:

  • Sit in a straight-backed chair with both feet on the floor.
  • Rest your hands on your abdomen.
  • Slowly count to four while inhaling through your nose and feeling your abdomen rise.
  • Hold that breath for a second.
  • Then slowly count to four while exhaling through your mouth and letting your abdomen slowly fall. 
  • Repeat this exercise five to ten times.

Practicing this type of breathing, pulling breath deep into your abdomen while you’re in CHILD’S POSE can give you the double benefits of improving your pelvic floor health and reducing the risk or incidence of urinary incontinence while also reducing stress. 

Stress management is just one form of recovery, another critical form is getting quality sleep. 

PRO TIP #4 — SLEEP

Inadequate sleep is stressful on your body. 

The ideal amount of sleep is seven to nine hours a night.

Unfortunately, menopause, (kids!) and midlife can send dueling wrecking balls straight into your sleep architecture, leaving you tossing and turning and unable to get to sleep, waking up with racing thoughts at 3 a.m. and generally feeling unable to get the rest and regeneration you need.  #itsreal

HORMONES AND SLEEP

The levels of stress hormones like cortisol, which we already struggle to keep in check, remain elevated deep into the evening hours when they would naturally begin to decline. 

Research shows that cortisol declines six times more slowly in people who are short on sleep than in those who are properly rested. That not only messes with your moods, creates food cravings, but wrecks your recovery by impairing tissue repair and growth. 

It also sets the stage for insulin resistance, increased abdominal fat storage and injury. 

Progesterone helps control stress, lets you chill and relax, and has a direct sedative effect. 

As progesterone levels drop during menopause, it’s harder to fall and stay asleep. 

Estrogen increases REM sleep, assists serotonin metabolism (so you can relax), and may decrease sleep latency (how long it takes you to fall asleep). 

Estrogen also decreases the number of times you wake in the night, increases total sleep time and quality, and helps to regulate the stress hormone cortisol to stabilize sleep. It helps to regulate your internal thermostat and body temperature, which is essential for restful sleep. 

The decline of estrogen levels can lead to hot flashes and disruptive night sweats and make you more susceptible to nighttime cortisol spikes, even from mild stress like ambient noise and light (and kids!). 

Women also start producing less melatonin, which is a key hormone for regulating sleep and helping the body cool down enough to trigger optimal sleep. 

So what to do?

Sleep is essential enough to warrant a multipronged approach to reclaiming it and all of its recovery and health benefits. 

So let’s tackle the basics of good sleep hygiene and routines.

HEALTHY SLEEP PRACTICES

For the sake of simplicity, I’ve listed these in bullet form:

  • Avoid caffeine after 2pmAvoid alcohol or a big meal two-three hours before bedtime.
  • Turn off screens, electronics, including your phone 30 minutes before you want to be sleeping.
  • Keep your room cool— the best temperature is 65 degrees
  • Block out stimulation— use black out curtains and a sound machine 
  • Keep a pen and notebook bedside—write down what’s occupying your mind before you go to bed, including steps you’ll take the next day to address them.

Apps like HEADSPACE offer structured mediation sessions to talk you through the process and help you with mindfulness, relaxation, and sleep.

It cannot be expressed enough how critical stress management and quality sleep is to your health and the betterment of your menopausal symptoms.

Remember, the sheer act of making a change, however small, can be incredibly empowering. 

I realize there is a lot of important information to digest here. 

So where do you start? 

Ask yourself, what’s your biggest priority right now— and more importantly— what are you WILLING and ABLE to do? 

…releasing chronic stress, getting more strategic with workouts, or fine-turning nutrition choices. 

Commit to ONE thing for the next two weeks. 

…but maybe having one more thing to think about feels daunting. 

If you’re ready to shift from “not feeling like yourself” and could use a little bit of nutrition education, some expert guidance, plenty of mindset support, and accountability coaching.  

Drop me an email, Cassandra@ActiveMomsClub.com and let’s discuss your options on how you can feel better and get unstuck.