There have been many times in my life where I have struggled with the F-A-T word…
…but my perception of my weight hit a new low when I entered the menopause. I have always tried to keep in some sort of shape by working out but I have never been consistent. I would train very hard for 6 months of the year and then take the next 6 months off. But the menopause threw even my limited efforts out of the window.
I was suffering with a bad case of anxiety and fatigue and so I didn’t have the physical or mental energy to exercise. Even the thought of trudging to the gym was enough to make me feel ill. I was also anxious about leaving the house and bumping into anyone I knew on the way in case they wondered what had happened to me. I was stuck in a loop as not exercising made me feel down which made me less inclined to go out which made me more self-conscious which made me more inclined to stay indoors with a Netflix box set and a tub of peanut butter for company.
…this state I found myself in and this person I found myself becoming was completely foreign to me
It was especially upsetting to me because I naturally have quite an athletic body. At the age of 3, I had thick, strong ‘footballers legs’ and I was always really sporty at school. Even during my party days in the 90s, I was still able to work out and keep fit. So this state I found myself in and this person I found myself becoming was completely foreign to me; and the truth is it scared me, largely because I had no idea what was happening to my body.
After finally realising that all my symptoms were connected to the menopause, I started the slow and difficult process of getting myself back on track. Ladies, I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy and I’ve had to be very strict with myself. I have also had to be realistic. I had to finally come to terms with the fact that I no longer have the metabolism of a 20-year-old. The saying, “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” couldn’t be more accurate. But with patience (mostly with yourself) and dedication, you can get back into shape.
My Top Tips
This is the LAST thing that you will want to do especially if you are suffering with fatigue but low-impact aerobic exercises, such as walking or swimming, are great for the lungs and heart and keep you active while burning calories. It also stimulates the brain’s production of serotonin that can improve your mood. Exercise is vital during our time of life as the menopause increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. A good exercise regime helps to regulate heart health and strengthen bones.
The loss in muscle mass as you go through the menopause slows down your metabolism. To speed it back up, try and get some strength-training exercises in like yoga, pilates, and even gardening(!), about 2-3 times a week.
Change your diet
That extra slice of chocolate cake after dinner may be tempting, but watch out! Diet is incredibly important to maintaining a healthy weight through menopause, so focus on reducing the amount of processed food in your diet and instead, eating more filling, complex carbs and lean proteins.
Eat less, more often
Never skip a meal! Instead, eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. This keeps our metabolism and energy level up, and our digestive systems happy.
Eat a protein snack midday
Blood sugar tends to drop around 4pm, so keep a healthy, high-protein snack in your handbag to keep your energy up and avoid sugar cravings later in the night. Snacks like nuts and apple slices are quick, easy, and healthy.
Avoid alcohol and fizzy drinks
Don’t drink your calories! Not only does alcohol dehydrate the body and disrupt sleep which makes menopausal symptoms even worse, it also fills you up with empty calories. Just the same, fizzy drinks and fruit juices are full of sugar and calories, so cutting them out is an easy way to cut-down on your daily sugar intake.
Take multivitamins and probiotics
A good quantity of multivitamins and probiotics can help keep you and your body active, helping you process and digest food in the healthiest way. If you’re missing key nutrients from your diet, like omega-3 fatty acids, consider taking supplements. However, speak to your GP before taking them, since they may interact with some medications.
Enjoy your cheat day
If the majority of your diet is healthy, allow yourself a cheat day. The other day, I really fancied chips with lashings of vinegar and salt. And it was delicious – no regrets. As long as you are conscious of your overall health and wellbeing, a cheat day every now and then isn’t going to cause you any lasting harm.