In my 3 part series, I wrote in the first article “Transitioning into Perimenopause” that it is important to care for yourself as you start your journey. It can be quite a long process with blurred lines as to which stage you may be in. The 3 stages are Perimenopause, Menopause or Post Menopause. It may be even harder to pinpoint when you've stopped menstruating or if you've had menstrual periods that were not as regimented every 28 days or have been sporadic throughout your womanhood. The transition can be a little more difficult to recognize. Not to worry; nothing about the process is written in stone, every woman experiences different symptoms and differing levels of those symptoms
According to the book Action Plan for Menopause, historically, menopause has been viewed negatively. This is not surprising considering that in the early 1900s the life expectancy was not much different from the time of menopause. Thus, many women did not experience menopause or much of postmenopausal life before death. It is no longer perceived that way because women’s life expectancy is much longer and menopause isn't equated with death.
Menopause is described as the point after menstruation diminishes and ceases but also a period (no pun intended) when hot flashes have you sweating and no one else in the room is. Your hormones raise their ugly head and find you’re biting off other people’s heads. This use to be known as the infamous change that had many women in the past ashamed of the physical and emotional challenges they faced as they transitioned into this phase of their life.
Menopause is a natural process says Susun Weed in her book Menopausal Years: The Wise Woman Way, and describes natural menopause as a metamorphosis, a change from one person to another, similar to puberty. Is this our "no good deed goes unpunished" reward for spending the first half of our life taking care of others?
How often have you said or heard your friends talk about what they were going to do when they had the energy and the time? Now you have the time and somewhere along the line the energy flew the coop along with the children. Another thing that flew the coop; were your estrogen levels dissipating as you progress deeper into your menopausal midlife. One of estrogen's functions is to burn energy stored up in your body. We are all aware of what happens when you don’t burn as much fat as you tuck away in your storage vaults better known as your belly, hips and thighs. You get fatter.
All of a sudden you have more inch to pinch around the belly and don’t understand what happened. You still eat and exercise the same. What you may not know is; you don’t need to eat as much to maintain a healthy weight and as a person gets older you need even less to survive. You do however, need to either eat less or burn more energy because your body isn't burning fat as naturally and efficiently as it use to. The good news is that your hormones will level off albeit at a lower level.
Consider a few activities you can engage in throughout menopause to ease your symptoms; walking or climbing the stairs, pelvic or core exercises, yoga or other stress relieving modalities such as Tai Chi, Meditation or Mind Body connection exercises.
A few things to avoid if you are having sleep issues are; heavy meals at night, caffeine, smoking, alcohol or exercising too close to bedtime.
This train ride has pulled into the station for now and when we meet again we'll talk about Post Menopause; a time when most of the distress of the menopausal changes has faded and the fun of being a mature woman can resume.