We are stressed, overwhelmed and gaining weight (especially around our belly). We can’t sleep, we struggle with fatigue, anxiety and exhaustion, we suppress our feelings whilst resorting to alcohol, food, smoking and other vices for some instant gratification or to escape the daily grind.
And, no matter what quick fix diets or exercise programs we try, our weight just keeps creeping on, leaving us feeling so deflated, we give up because it’s “all too hard”. Add to this, the daily pressures of life and trying to keep it all together whilst juggling home, family and work responsibilities, and the truth is, it can all get too much to the point where we feel like we just can’t cope anymore.
In our 20’s and 30’s – life was easy, we were footloose and fancy free, we had no real concerns, no commitments or responsibilities. If we gained a few kilo’s we could easily lose it by throwing on our Jane Fonda workout gear and jump into an aerobics class or we’d skip a meal or two (I don’t recommend that, by the way). Our hormones were perfectly balanced and working in sync.
Unfortunately, moving into our 40’s and beyond – it’s not that simple. Because of the stigma attached to getting older, peri menopause and menopause are not really spoken about these days. However, the reality is – we are getting older and our bodies are changing. Research shows that there are over 4 million women in Australia aged between 40-65 who are peri to post menopausal and gaining weight due to hormone imbalances. These age related changes compounded by stress, lifestyle choices, poor sleep patterns, lack of exercise (or too much) plus what we eat, can put us into a vicious cycle of chronic stress, weight gain, low energy, mood swings and lower resilience to cope on a daily basis.
As a consequence, our mental, emotional and physical health is impacted. Studies show that anxiety and depression is the number 1 reason women visit their GP. The hormones that affect depression are the same hormones that are affected when we move into menopause. Unfortunately, many doctors are quick to write prescriptions for symptoms rather than focus on the root cause, and anti-depressants will not cure a hormonal imbalance.
Women’s health issues are more complex than a 10-minute visit to the GP, And, if not addressed, chronically stressed peri-post menopausal women will become insulin resistant, stress reactive, overweight, depressed or worse.
Therefore, I believe a more integrative approach is needed. Start by:
1. 📚 Educating yourself on hormonal weight gain and how to rebalance hormones to aid in fat loss as well as improve mood, energy, sleep patterns and curb cravings
2. 💣 Identifying triggers for behaviours that may be sabotaging your health, happiness and weight loss success eg: emotional eating/drinking 🍟🍰🍷, lack of support? And, implement strategies for positive changes
3. 💬 Learn to change your perception of stress, improve mental flexibility and regulate your emotions to build a resilient mindset to help you thrive (not just survive) during tough times
4. Become more intune with your body by becoming aware of how certain foods make you feel and make more nutritionally balanced food choices. 🥑🥦 This will support and regulate blood sugar and cortisol levels. 💦
Also, dehydration causes stress and stress causes dehydration. Increase your water intake to help your body deal with stressful situations and minimize the harmful effects of prolonged stress.
5. Boost those feel good endorphins, ward off anxiety and feel more confident by finding the joy in moving your body eg: dance 💃 , run 🏃♀️ , yoga, rollerblade or paddleboard – whatever makes you happy, schedule it in and move your body daily.
6. Get out in the sunshine ☀️ for some vitamin D during the day and reduce blue light exposure at night (phones, electronics devices, computers). This will help you to get better quality sleep and more of it!
7. Develop stronger, emotionally healthier social connections 👭👫 to enhance your health, happiness and life.
So, ladies, it’s time to stop playing the guessing game and start taking a proactive approach to your health. After all, your health is an investment and you can’t take care of anyone if you don’t take care of yourself first.
Think about it …