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Journey Through Menopause: Finding Mind/Body Harmony

As we gracefully (or not so gracefully!) step into the phase of menopause, our bodies undergo a series of changes that can leave us feeling like an alien has taken over our bodies. Menopause marks a significant milestone in a woman's life, signaling the end of her reproductive years.


Let's explore how hormonal shifts during menopause can lead not only to changes in our body composition but also the mental toll it takes on our overall wellbeing and how by making some small changes in a few key areas, we can take back more control over our bodies.


The Hormonal Battle


Our hormones play a crucial role in regulating various functions in our bodies. During menopause the decrease in estrogen levels can disrupt this delicate balance, making it easier for visceral fat to build up around the abdomen. The fat distribution shifts from the hips and thighs to the intra-abdominal cavity, leading to the accumulation of visceral fat, commonly known as belly fat. This shift not only affects our appearance but also puts us at higher risk for health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia, breast cancer, etc.

 

As if that wasn't bad enough, as estrogen levels decline, inflammation levels increase, greatly contributing to joint and muscular pain, not to mention the mental toll it takes creating "brain fog" and a decline in executive function.


The Mental Toll


Beyond the physical changes, menopause can also take a toll on our mental well-being. Fluctuating hormone levels can create new struggles with the ability to focus on common tasks, difficulty paying attention, forgetfulness, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, etc.


To me, in my personal experience, these symptoms have been so disruptive and have negatively impacted my quality of life to a huge degree.


You have to be your own Advocate


Unfortunately, you can't always count on your doctor to understand (or be able to help you). In my personal experience, alot of doctors (especially older male doctors), have little to no patience (perhaps even education and/or experience on the subject), that they simply & quickly want to tell you to go on a diet, exercise more and then try to pawn you off on a psychiatrist (in the form of a recommended referral) to deal with the mental side of your symptoms because clearly, "It's all in your head."


I've had the painful and devastating experience of having to change doctors three times in the past two years. Two were older male doctors (who thought they were God) and the third was a female doctor whom the medical practice managers took regular patients away from and switched her role as a sub for other doctor's patients (that seems suss). So I will never again, trust or put all my stock in one person just because they happen to have an MD designation after their name. No, it's got to be up to me to trust myself as to what I am experiencing in my body and mind.


Ok, so while I am a work in progress, I have been experimenting with small changes for symptom relief that I found from scouring the internet, talking with female friends and family, etc.


They are by no means, medical advice, or proven strategies. But let's face it, it can't hurt to try to be a little healthier.


Seeking Symptom Relief


Here are some areas where we can start to make small changes that I believe have the potential to lead up to some life-long good habits:


  • Try adding cardio (in your fat burning heart rate zone) to your daily routine

  • Adopt a healthy diet where you add more fiber and subtract more added sugar

    • add at least 25 grams of fiber per day and

    • reduce added sugars to less than 25 grams per day

  • Reduce your cortisol levels through stress reduction techniques, such as:

    • journaling, breathing, meditation, sleep hygiene and other self-care therapies like self-massage, stretching, to more guided therapies like art medicine and grounding techniques, etc.; and

  • Decrease your alcohol consumption


Embracing Wellness


Navigating the journey through menopause is not always easy, but by staying informed and taking proactive steps to care for our bodies and minds, we can learn to embrace this new chapter.


Remember, you are strong, resilient, and 100% capable of navigating this transition with confidence. And you are not alone!


Come back often or join our mailing list to get notified of new blog posts. I will try to post more soon.


Thanks for reading!


Fondly,


Angie Mitchell

Age 52, Post-menopausal warrior, and owner of Pilates Stance.



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