At the young age of 53, I understand the struggle of fighting with Father Time and Mother Nature. Just when you think your period woes are behind you, the stages of menopause make their grand entrance. Oh, the joys of womanhood! (Yes, men go through something called “manopause,” but that’s another blog in itself!)
The symptoms we experience can vary and occur over time, sometimes up to ten years before your final menstruation, known as perimenopause or premenopause. It can range from hot flashes, weight gain, mood swings, and skin changes—the list goes on and on.
But here’s the million dollar question: What can we do about it? Luckily, there are perks to this transition. According to Dr. Christine Northrup, “Menopause is a time of profound transformation—a portal to the best and most powerful years of your life.” With certain healthy habits and advances in medicine, it IS possible to go through menopause while still feeling like yourself.
With that said, here’s a survival guide with my tips to help you along the journey:
TIP #1: VISIT YOUR GYNO
Book an appointment with your gyno to discuss your symptoms and the options available to manage them. Your doctor will likely want to run a panel of tests to determine whether hormone therapy is right for you. If the tests find you’re still ovulating, hormone therapy may not be necessary. Instead, your symptoms can be managed through nutritional supplements and other healthy lifestyle changes. But if not, your doctor may suggest progesterone or estrogen, which are both common replacement therapies that help you transition.
TIP #2: INCORPORATE RESISTANCE TRAINING
One of the biggest struggles that women face during menopause is weight gain. And believe it or not, even those who exercise regularly can experience this!
Due to a significant drop in estrogen, the body will try to hold onto extra fat, especially around the belly and hips. Luckily, you can combat this "muffin top" by adding resistance training exercises into your routine. With an increased muscle mass, you'll boost your metabolism that has become imbalanced by hormone fluctuations, and keep the pounds from piling on. Also, exercising will bring mood-boosting endorphins!
TIP #3: EAT A WELL-BALANCED DIET
Watch your portion size and choose a balanced diet filled with plant-based foods and brightly colored fruits and vegetables. It will help minimize weight gain while getting the nutrients you need to stay healthy.
Also, during menopause, your iron levels begin to drop. Focus on adding more lean meats, eggs, spinach, black beans, lentils, and other iron-rich foods.
If you suffer from hot flashes, avoid hot beverages, spicy foods, chocolate, and heat, in general.
TIP #4: SWITCH UP YOUR SKINCARE
When estrogen levels drop, the oil production in our skin decreases, which can change its ability to maintain hydration or support cell turnover. It's why many women will experience dryness or an increase in fine lines and wrinkles.
To maintain the health of your skin and prevent future damage, cater your skincare regimen to your specific needs. Use a sunscreen, cleanser, heavier moisturizer, and facial oil and check each label for one of the following powerhouse ingredients in anti-aging:
- PEPTIDES: Helps the skin heal and stimulate collagen and elastin production.
- RETINOL: A form of Vitamin A that helps penetrate several layers of skin to help boost hydration levels and new cell turnover.
- ANTIOXIDANTS: Fights free radicals that heal the skin. Specifically, L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) which brightens dullness.
- HYDROXY ACIDS: AHAs and BHAs speed up cell turnover to soften skin, clear pores, and help to improve fine lines. Look for glycolic, lactic, citric, and salicylic acid in the ingredient list.
- HYALURONIC ACID: Helps to lock moisture in our cells to plump and smooth the surface of the skin. Keep on the lookout for sodium hyaluronate on the product packaging.
TIP #5: GET PROPER REST
Sleep is always important, but especially when you’re going through a major transition like menopause. If you’re well rested, the process and symptoms will be easier on your body. Make it a priority to get 8 hours of sleep a night and maintain a regular bedtime schedule.
If you have trouble winding down, create a calming space. Turn off the harsh lights, burn an aromatherapy candle, and power down your electronics an hour before bedtime. Studies have shown that the LED blue light of your iPhone, laptop, etc. can slow the hormone that signals our brains that it's time to go to bed. Instead, find a "winding-down" ritual, like journaling or reading, that will allow you calm down, center yourself, and drift to sleep.