Menopause – Health, fitness and nutrition tips to rock this phase of your life! – 1

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Alessia Donato tells you all you want to know about Menopause in her two part series that will even tell you how to ease your transition into this stage of life.

What is menopause?

Menopause is a normal, natural life event that occurs when a woman’s period stops. It commonly happens between the ages of 40 and 58. Smokers can start menopause up to 2 years earlier than non-smokers.

Menopause happens because the ovaries naturally stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

A woman “officially” reaches menopause 12 months after her last period. However, changes and symptoms can begin several years earlier. Some of these symptoms include changes in the monthly cycle and hot flashes. The time from when these changes start, to actual menopause is called “perimenopause.”

Perimenopause often starts between age 40-50 and can last several years (4, up to 14!). It begins with changes to the regular menstrual cycle. During this time the ovaries’ production of estrogen and progesterone decreases.

There are a lot of natural approaches to the symptoms of hormonal changes during menopause.

In this article you’re going to learn how to help manage these symptoms naturally.

What we’ll cover in our two-part feature:

  • Some of the main symptoms of menopause;
  • How our health risks change after menopause.
  • 8 natural food & lifestyle health coaching tips to ease your transition through menopause.

“So many women I’ve talked to see menopause as an ending. But I’ve discovered this is your moment to reinvent yourself after years of focusing on the needs of everyone else. It’s your opportunity to get clear about what matters to you and then to pursue that with all of your energy, time and talent.” – Oprah Winfrey

Symptoms of menopause (and perimenopause)

There are a number of symptoms that commonly occur during menopause and perimenopause. Some women may experience many of these symptoms, while others experience just a couple.

Symptoms include:

  1. Changes in periods – shorter/longer, lighter/heavier, more/less frequent
  2. Hot flashes and/or night sweats (including flushing and sweating)
  3. Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  4. Vaginal dryness
  5. Bladder issues (including bladder infections, sudden urges, incontinence
  6. and leakage during exercise, sneezing, or laughing)
  7. Mood swings (including irritability)
  8. Difficulty focusing attention or remembering things
  9. Thinning hair (on the head) and more hair on the face
  10. Weight gain (including waist circumference)
  11. Joints and muscles may feel stiff and achy
  12. Headaches

The reason for this huge variety of symptoms is because the hormone estrogen is used by many parts of the body.

Other important health factors to consider, particularly after menopause are:

  1. Metabolism and fat cells change, so women may gain weight more easily
  2. Increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes
  3. Bones become less dense, and risk of fracture increases (osteoporosis)

Menopause is an important transition in our lives. We can use it as a reminder to take good care of our health & wellness.

Hot flashes & night sweats

“When I asked for a smoking hot body, menopause was not quite what I had in mind!”

Hot flashes are the most common symptom of menopause.

They involve a sudden “internal heat wave” which often includes sweating, flushing of the skin, and increased heart rate.

This happens because of hormonal changes. When your estrogen levels start dropping (during perimenopause) it affects your ovaries’ response to another female hormone “lutenizing hormone.” This can cause a release of the stress hormone adrenaline, which starts the hot flash.

Hot flashes usually last about one to five minutes, and are frequently followed by a cold chill.

A nighttime hot flash is called a “night sweat.” They can interfere with sleep, and it’s this lack of enough quality sleep that can contribute to some of the other symptoms like mood swings and difficulty remembering things.

Hot flashes can be worsened by some foods and drinks like coffee, spicy foods, sugar, alcohol, and even large meals. They can also be related to being overweight, stress, smoking, certain medications, or intense exercise.

It may be helpful to dress in layers and/or carry around a portable fan for when you need to cool off quickly.

Menopausal Weight Gain

Weight gain is common for women as they enter perimenopause and beyond. This is partly because of the hormonal changes. It’s simply easier to gain weight at this time of life.

Women can start seeing the weight increasing around the abdomen (“belly fat”), and slowly move from a pear shape to an apple shape.

The hormonal changes of menopause can be responsible for some of the increased weight gain and change of weight distribution in the body.

Another factor is that muscle mass generally decreases with age. With reduced muscle mass comes a reduced ability to burn calories which makes it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight. This is especially true for those who continue to eat and have the same lifestyle as they did before approaching menopause.

Menopausal weight gain increases your risk for several chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, and cancers of the breast, colon & endometrium.

Menopausal weight gain isn’t inevitable, though. There are many healthy eating and lifestyle habits that can help with this.

Alessia’s health coaching tips to transition into menopause coming up next week…

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