“Eat less, exercise more”
I have been studying health & the menopause for a number of years now. I know that “Eat less, exercise more” does not work for most women in their late 40s due to hormonal imbalances. Yet any time I feel my jeans a bit tighter this old belief of how to lose weight always wants to kick in. Maybe it does with you as well!
I saw Personal Training clients struggle to lose the last few pounds before holidays. They were training really hard even though they were tired and busy. Most however lost weight on holiday as their hormones balanced out with a bit or rest & relaxation and good food.
Instead of reacting with the need to ‘do more’ which is usually an extra gym session or run. Putting on a few pounds now is usually a sign I need to do something different. Now it means going for a swim rather than a gym session. Making time for a Yoga class rather than a run. Having a lie in rather than getting up early.
Balancing hormones is an art, and requires a new way of thinking, which takes patience & time!
Hobbies my brain loves my body doesn’t
At the start of each Pilates class I teach I ask the participants if they have any new niggles. “Gardening” is the common cry at this time of year. Followed by “Why does something I love hurt me so much”. I’m not a gardener but I definitely have hobbies that will have a negative impact on my body if I don’t manage them by stretching & strengthening in a way that will rebalance.
I love to run but I now know what my optimal race distance is through trial and error. I also know the more I include running in my exercise routine, the more I need to stretch more so Yoga & Pilates becomes non-negotiable rather than an optional extra.
Reading in bed is the most relaxing way to drift off to sleep. However, my shoulders & upper arms will complain if I don’t use a cushion to support the book.
Now it’s easy to think ‘woe is me, I’m getting old’, but it really is all about keeping the body in balance. When we are focused on a task and we enjoy it, it creates happy hormones and it’s often not until those happy hormones decrease we start to notice our physical aches & pains. We often need an external trigger to remind us to extend our backs if we have been flexing it while gardening.
To make appointments in our diaries for Yoga class so we can stretch out hips and legs after a run. Booking into a block of Pilates classes and paying in advance is more likely to promote regular attendance rather than a drop in class. Finding a way to make it automatic rather than a choice to be made each week.
“If nothing changes then nothing changes.” ― C.P. Sennett
The quote motivational above and numerous like it, suggest that you are the ‘owner’ of the change in your body.
Leading up to the menopause this doesn’t really hold true anymore. Without making any changes to our life, we can be eating the same foods, exercising the same way and we can still put on weight or our shape changes. How does that happen? The change is all happening on the inside so we can’t see it and it often takes us by surprise.
As our hormones decline as we approach menopause, this can have an impact on our shape, health and mood. It can be easy to become a symptom chaser. It is so easy to be reactive and feel it’s ‘unfair’ because you are working so hard and it doesn’t appear to be making a difference on your waistline.
However I’ve found it’s the ‘back to basics’, common sense approach that can make the biggest shift. The realisation that what you are doing is not nurturing your body you’re actually working against. It can often happen at an inconvenient time when work or family life is busy. However this is often a nudge to start looking after you, and that your maybe not doing it as well as your should. Sounds simple but it does take mental energy as well as physical energy
We often carry beliefs that no longer serve us. Some beliefs have been placed on us from family & friends through the years other have come through social media and newspaper headlines. Old beliefs are heavy to carry and always feels a relief to put them down.
‘The change’ is often the catalyst for other changes in our lives and will nudge us in directions we wouldn’t have dreamt of! It is easy to concentrate on the physical symptoms of the menopause however it is often then mental & spiritual changes at this time that provide the most growth. Get rid of beliefs that no longer serve us and creating new ones that nurture and help us to thrive.
Samantha Valand is the founder of Wise Women Wellbeing Academy.
A comprehensive hub of resources on hormone balancing, healthy eating and exercising in your menopausal years and beyond.