I recently went live on our Instagram page and spoke with Dr Shahzadi Harper about the range of symptoms women go through during peri and menopause. Click here to watch the talk live, where we discover more about weight management and mental health.
Here are some of the points we raised below:
We as women all manage weight differently, some of us live a healthier lifestyle than others, some of us have conditions in which make it harder to lose weight and some of us simply have no idea why weight management is so difficult to maintain.
The reality is, even if we are eating a healthy diet, it is possible to still put on weight, especially during menopause and that’s thanks to our hormones.
Dr Harper explained that women in perimenopause often talk about their waistlines expanding and how all the reliable things they used to do before perimenopause like cutting down on carbs, sugar, stopping smoking etc doesn’t help their waistline shrink back to how it used to be.
“It’s not as simple as eating less and moving more, It’s much more complicated than that.”
Women in menopause are tired and have much less motivation, so we need to work harder to find the motivation and support our mental health, to feel better about ourselves before we can even think about exercise. That’s where communities like niix can be really important.
If you wake up and don’t feel like exercising you might see a live exercise pop up that you jump onto, or you might message the community, say you’re feeling down and there will always be someone to respond and help you find your mojo.
Let’s talk more about mental health
As busy women, we often feel guilty about carving out time for self-care. Our mental health suffers as a result and we might feel flat and down, many of us will comfort or stress eat which will make us feel even worse about ourselves. It’s a vicious cycle. What we eat will affect our mood and in turn our motivation, and then our waistlines. We need to break the cycle.
As we know, our hormones can also affect our mental health and how we feel. Hormonal imbalance which includes oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone will have a domino effect on other hormones like cortisol which is linked to stress through an increase in adrenaline. That’s why a lot of women report having brain fog as a symptom of perimenopause and menopause.
This then increases factors like not sleeping and the hunger hormone, the feeling full hormone. We start to lean on energy-dense foods which tend to be refined sugary foods to give that boost and energy. Yes, we may get an instant energy boost, but it makes our sugar levels spike and when the spike falls we will feel hungry. Again, we need to break this vicious cycle. This is where exercise can help. A simple 30-minute walk or workout after a meal can help lower your sugar levels, avoiding the spike.
Testosterone & Resistance training
Our testosterone levels decline by about 50% in our 40s and it’s something we need! Testosterone is great for energy, mental sharpness, libido and muscle density.
We start to lose muscle mass in our 40s and even if we aren’t physically putting on weight, we may start to feel a lot looser because we are losing muscle mass and are not working on maintaining it.
Women should incorporate strength and resistance training to help change & support body composition and maintain muscle mass. If you don’t know where to start, we have a great beginner weights session over on Youtube – <link to a video>
My top tip is to start small, start where you feel comfortable (but that feels like a challenge), even start with 10 minutes a day.
Strength training doesn’t mean being ripped & hugely muscular but more muscle means our metabolic rate increases as muscle burns more energy (even at rest), leaving you physically fitter and stronger.
“Exercise improves blood flow, which helps with cognitive function and your overall physical health. It is extremely important for women in their 40s whether they have started perimenopause or not, to consider exercising regularly.” Dr Shahzadi Harper
To hear Dr Shahzadi Harper and Nicki talk about HRT and testosterone, have a listen to their IGTV where they share advice, opinions and real-life experiences.
For tailored and premium workouts aimed at women in their 40’s and beyond, download my app today for only £9.99 a month.