Hot flashes. Night sweats. Mood swings. Crazy periods. Weight gain. Insomnia. Forgetfulness. Sadness. Anxiety.
These are the symptoms us 40-something women may experience with the hormonal changes of peri-menopause. For some, it’s compounded by other factors, too. Like an increase in cholesterol or sudden spikes in blood sugar. It can be hard to wrap your head around the idea that this is a “normal” part of aging and something women just have to accept, deal with, and manage during this phase of life.
But we if it didn’t have to be….so bad? What if we didn’t give our power away to the symptoms we’re feeling and instead chose to love ourselves through it?
I know, it sounds a little crazy. Especially in a society that sees youth and agelessness and beauty as everything. But aging isn’t something we can prevent or hide from. I mean laugh now, but you’ll get here, too. Faster than you think 🙂
So what if we looked at these “symptoms” of aging as just what they are…symptoms. And as I always say, not all symptoms need to be fixed. It’s all about perspective, isn’t it? When we change our perspective, our symptoms magically change, too. Or at least how we perceive them does. So what if we looked at our symptoms as loving signs from our body? What if we decided that our symptoms were just our bodies asking us to start listening more to what we need to thrive? Like more sleep. Some targeted nutrition (think protein, fiber and essential fats). Less stress. More time in nature. More time doing things that bring us joy. Less restriction.
From a functional medicine perspective, we look at the root cause of dis-ease — not so much symptom management. And if you apply this idea to pre, peri or just menopause itself, how we approach aging probably needs more attention than those hot flashes. Because if we get to the heart of the matter, the symptoms will take care of themselves. This is the truth for most things in life, and perimenopause is no different.
Which brings us to how we approach healthy aging. Loving yourself and aging well go hand in hand, and they’re two of my favorite topics.
The root cause of peri-menopause is definitely fluctuating hormones, but the symptoms are exacerbated by how we’re living on a daily basis. And there are things we can do everyday that send a message to our bodies that we’re listening and we care. Once we start to support and love our body through healthier lifestyle choices, the signs and symptoms we associate with aging will ease and a more balanced body will emerge.
Peri-Menopause & Weight Gain — It’s Not Just Your Hormones
Women are no strangers to hormonal changes and fluctuations…most of us have been experiencing these monthly shifts for as long as we can remember. And while the imbalance of estrogen and progesterone actually starts in our mid-30s, we typically don’t start to notice things getting a little whacky until we reach our ’40s. And this usually shows up first as weight gain.
At least that’s what gets our attention.
But in reality, the weight gain is also just a symptom. What I see with my clients is that it’s their lifestyle combined with the hormonal shifts that’s really causing the problems. And by lifestyle, I mean the chronic stress of parenting, working and trying to do it all.
Getting to bed after midnight and waking up at dawn, often after a restless night of sleep.
Eating on the go and sacrificing nutrition for convenience.
Putting self-care on your to-do list, like it’s a chore.
Not making any time for movement, exercise or rejuvenation – or overdoing exercise.
So yes, it may be our hormones, but it’s also our lifestyle that affects our metabolism and causes weight gain. What can you do to support yourself? Okay, so let’s get down to the practical stuff.
How Can You Love Yourself Through Pre & Peri-Menopause?
Below are what I consider the four foundational practices to bring about balance and well-being.
These are the things you’re body is asking for you to prioritize in your life:
Your Diet. Make the foundation of your diet high fiber and plant-based and include healthy sources of lean protein and good fats. Not saying to go vegan here at all, but if you can load up half your plate with veggies at each meal you might possibly change everything. A good multivitamin like Pure Encapsulation’s Women’s Pure Pack is also a great all-in-one supplement that provides your core vitamins and minerals plus omega 3, Vitamin D, calcium, acai and CoQ10…all in one convenient packet. Ask me about it here.
And if you need some help incorporating more nutrient-dense food into your diet or figuring out what foods work best for body, try my 21-day Nourish program.
Your Stress. This one is huge and will have the most impact on your health. When your nervous system is overstimulated, everything feels more intense in your body. Keeping your nervous system in a calm state is going to help support your adrenal glands and hormonal health not just now, but for your entire life. Not sure how to calm yourself down? Try deep breathing, yoga, acupuncture, meditation, massage, reiki and energy medicine…pretty much anything that is calming. Herbs can help, too.
Your Sleep. What if you created a cravable sleep routine? Something you couldn’t wait to do every single night? I’m talking low lights, no electronics, warm tea, snuggly PJs and anything else that makes going to bed feel amazing. Many women report difficulty sleeping during the years leading up to menopause, so making sleep a priority is super important. Do this by going to bed early enough to get at least 7 hours of sleep and make those 30 minutes before bed the absolute best time of your day. And if you’re having trouble falling asleep, try this.
Your Body. Getting in some exercise every day is super important, especially after you hit 40. Not just for help decreasing symptoms like night sweats, but also for optimizing bone health, improving brain function, and maintaining muscle strength and quality. Exercise can also help relax the nervous system and lessen anxiety. This doesn’t mean you should head for the nearest boot camp class. In fact, research shows that moderate intensity exercise (vs high or low) is the best for mediating symptoms. Aim for cardio 3 times per week and add resistance training or Pilates to increase bone mineral density. If you’re not moving at all right now, try grabbing a co-worker and fast walk during your lunch break, find an exercise class you love, and use the stairs as much as possible.
Okay, once you’ve gotten these four core practices in place, you’re ready to start looking at some symptom relief.
Natural Therapies For Managing Symptoms Of Pre & Peri-Menopause
Magnesium is your friend. It’s a superhero for women’s health. From stress to cramps to plain ole’ PMS, magnesium has your back. It eases anxiety, helps prevent cramps, relieves peri-menopause and promotes healthy estrogen clearance. You can get magnesium from green leafy vegetables, almonds, and avocado, but you may need a supplement because magnesium is depleted by stress. When supplementing, the best type of magnesium is magnesium glycinate. It’s the most absorbable type and the least likely to cause diarrhea.
Keep yourself well-hydrated. This will help with any dryness caused by decreasing estrogen levels. Also, try to limit caffeine and alcohol (both can affect sleep and increase night sweats).
If gut issues are persistent, a probiotic can help balance your microbiota, support immune health and optimize digestion. Pure Encapsulations Probiotic-5 is a great pick and it’s dairy and soy free.
Got cramps? Cravings? Bloating? Fatigue? I hear you, girl. I love Pure’s ProSoothe II to help minimize cramps, boost my mood, decrease bloating, and lessen fatigue and cravings. ProSoothe II is a comprehensive nutrient + herbal approach that will help support everything that ails you during that time of the month. Ask me about it here.
Support Yo-Self. If you’re feeling the occasional stress and herbs are your thing, try Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha belongs to the pepper family and it’s been used for over 4,000 years, promoting overall health and longevity. Acting as an adaptogen, Ashwangandha can help you adapt to stress better, counteracting its effects while also supporting cognition and memory function. Other herbs that help address peri-menopausal symptoms are dong quai, maca, black cohosh, milk thistle, burdock, dandelion root and DIM.
Flaxseed and flaxseed oil. A good source of hormone-balancing lignans, flax may help with mild peri-menopause symptoms like night sweats and hot flashes.
Why I Recommend PURE Encapsulations
Pure Encapsulations is a professional line of supplements that are certified gluten-free and free from wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts, trans fats and hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners, and GMOs, making them a great choice for people with food allergies and sensitivities (and anyone looking for high quality vitamins).
Pure Encapsulations is also super transparent about their quality standards and manufacturing process, so you know exactly what you’re putting in your body. They also dismantle, sterilize, and inspect all equipment before each production run, so they can ensure that cross-contamination is never an issue for customers with food allergies and sensitivities.
I always recommend you speak with a Registered Dietitian or healthcare professional before starting a supplement regimen so you can accurately identify what nutrients may be missing from your diet and to determine the best supplement plan for your unique needs. I’m happy to help! Just get in touch here.