The Conversation Women Should Be Having -
Written by Maureen Brintnell (@alphamommafit & )

What imagery does "the change" elicit for you? It is often depicted very simplistically, as an irrational woman sweating profusely, desperately seeking relief by sticking her head in the freezer or standing in the snow. The more scientific definition describes perimenopause as a gradual slowing down of reproductive hormones until the cessation of periods for one year (menopause). Both fail to really capture the reality of those years leading up to that day.

For the women living it, the journey is much more turbulent than the definition and more complicated than the caricature implies. These challenges are intensified when the symptoms and the process itself are poorly understood. While mood swings and hot flashes are a part of the experience for many women, there is also so much more going on. Starting in perimenopause, many experience sleep problems, weight gain, loss of libido, thinning hair, and lowered energy levels, among a host of other symptoms. This can leave women feeling overwhelmed and even out of control. It can also serve as a wake-up call that it is time for them to start recognizing and addressing their own physical and mental needs, if they haven't been doing so previously.

So where does that leave us? The good news is there is much we can do to alleviate the symptoms and approach this phase of our lives with knowledge and intentionality. While a doctor can advise women on the appropriateness of hormone replacement therapy for their particular situation, we know that there are habits we can implement today that help many women feel better and experience more balance in their lives amidst the sometimes-unpredictable storm of "the change".

Through exercise, nutrition, and relaxation, women can improve their physical and mental health, get more restful sleep, and keep their body strong.

  1. Starting a strength training program can help you maintain and build muscle while reducing fat gain, as well as protect your bones. It also serves as a powerful immune system and mood booster. The good news is that it is not too late, and a menopausal woman is not too old to start here training and reaping these benefits.
  2. Eat whole nutritious foods with a focus on fibre and protein. On top of feeling full for longer, fibre can improve nutrient absorption, help with weight management, and decrease the risk of certain diseases among other benefits. Making sure you are getting enough protein can help decrease your appetite, support hormone health and help in the repair and strengthening of muscles and maintain bone health.
  3. Prioritize Rest and Stress Management. Stress can exacerbate symptoms of menopause, including disturbed sleep patterns, a disrupted digestive system and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Finding methods and the time to manage this stress can be incredibly tough. Exercise, meditation, reducing or removing alcohol and seeking professional help will aid in bringing a sense of balance back to your life.
  4. Connect. Women are starting to talk about menopause and share their knowledge and experiences more openly than ever before. The wisdom, empathy, and humour of women who have gone through it or are currently living their perimenopausal years can be an invaluable emotional support and informational resource.
  5. Finally, understanding your body, how it is reacting to the changes, and recognizing some of the factors that may accentuate your symptoms will go a long way to allowing you to not only survive but even thrive during menopause and beyond. For example, are night sweats a regular occurrence on the nights where there has been alcohol? Is anxiety more prevalent the day after a walk or workout was missed? Is sugar bringing on those debilitating headaches? This is not to say you could never enjoy a glass of wine, or miss a workout again. However, having answers to questions like these allows us to make decisions about our life from a place of knowledge and power.

The years leading up to menopause provide women with an opportunity to learn how their body is changing and working with that knowledge to implement necessary modifications will allow them, as they age, to do so fitter, stronger, and healthier.

This phase of life can absolutely be a challenging point in a woman's life, but it does not have to be shrouded in mystery or shame. It is, after all, a life experience shared by about half of the population. Oprah Winfrey has described menopause not as an ending but rather as "an opportunity to get clear about what matters to you and then to pursue that with all of your energy, time and talent."

So, if you have not already been doing so, this is a great time to discover and start attending to your own physical and emotional needs with wisdom, knowledge, courage, and strength.

50+DeterminationFitnessMenopausePerimenopuaseStrengthThe changeWomen

1 comment



Maureen is absolutely right! I am 45, perimenopausal, and started a strength-training program with her one month ago. I already feel more energetic, stronger and happier. I am sleeping better, too. I highly recommend a program like hers to every woman over 40!

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