When the Davina McCall menopause documentary hit our screens a few years ago, she managed to open up an entirely new conversation about this much-hushed female affliction and how utterly debilitating, yet so misunderstood, it can be for millions of women across the UK.
For decades, menopause has signified the end of any sense of usefulness for women in their forties and fifties. Their childbearing years are now gone, and all they have in front of them is a slow decline into old age, weight gain, brain fog and social invisibility.
Ensuring that menopause matters in the UK
Yet Davina’s openness about her experience with menopause resonated with hundreds of thousands of women. The physical and psychological changes that every woman goes through, the weight gain, the brain fog, the depression, insomnia, the overall sense that a woman no longer feels like herself but can’t quite put her finger on why. Menopause symptoms can no longer be ignored—menopause matters in the UK.
The start of a new life journey
The trouble is that as age expectancy has lengthened, menopausal women still have several decades of useful life ahead of them. This includes years when they can still learn and grow, be active, participate, travel, and enjoy themselves – often without the burden of children.
Women have an average life expectancy in the UK of just over 83 years old now. Menopause should never signal the end of a useful life but the second coming of a new life!
Menopause symptoms are not pleasant, and the media does much to present it as this awful condition that a woman should be ashamed of. In the same way that menstruation is considered dirty and shameful in many cultures around the world, it sometimes feels as though this judgement continues to follow women no matter how civilised society purports to be.
The scourge of menopausal symptoms
Every woman has a different experience of menopause symptoms. Some start earlier than others. Some glide through it with no issues. Others find themselves falling into an arc of despair from which there seems no escape.
Any internet search for menopausal symptoms will throw up the usual suspects: hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, weight gain, irregular bleeding, brain fog, loss of libido, mood swings, low mood, thinning hair, bloating, increased stress levels, irritability, anxiety, and palpitations. There is no denying the deeply unpleasant symptoms that inflict on women daily who are going through menopause. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), for many, is a godsend, helping them to replenish levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone that diminishes during menopause.
Beyond HRT, women can work on their mindset, nutrition, and movement to help them wade through the treacle that is menopause.
Creating a new menopausal mindset
Mindset is probably the most important of the three. Menopause can knock the most strong and resilient of women off track, and without processing the ‘change’ in the right way, it is too easy to fall into negative patterns of thinking and low self-esteem.
Recognising that you are indeed ‘changing’ can be frightening, but with the right perspective, it can also be seen as exciting. Like a caterpillar going through a metamorphosis, a transition period is deeply uncomfortable and unsettling, sometimes requiring periods of introspection and hibernation while you work through the unexpected pain. Keeping a focus on the ‘other side’, knowing that you are no longer the 20-something you miss, but the 50-something butterfly that will emerge into a new lease of life keeps your thoughts in a more positive and empowering cycle.
Embracing a change in lifestyle
At the same time as working on your mindset, re-evaluating your nutrition and exercise will also help to alleviate menopause symptoms. You won’t be able to eat in the same way you did when you were younger. It’s as simple as that. You will also find that certain foods no longer sit well with you – you can’t ‘get away with them’ in the same way as you might have done in your younger days.
Overhauling your diet is more than about just losing that menopausal weight gain – it’s about eating for optimum health. That doesn’t have to mean giving up on all the good stuff – sometimes, it can actually mean eating more of the ‘good’ stuff. The physical gains that you experience – reducing bloating, inflammation in the joints, clearer head – will actually manifest themselves sooner than you think.
Move gracefully through the menopause
Equally, unless you have always maintained high levels of activity and exercise, launching yourself into an intensive, high-energy exercise routine will not do you any favours. Instead, learning to love your body again, concentrating on building strength to counteract the weakening of bones, and rebalancing yourself physically and psychologically, will give you a focus during the most arduous periods.
By partnering up with Be You Health Studios as you approach menopause, many of our female clients find that they can navigate the menopause years with greater strength and resilience. Having someone there who understands and provides empowering, achievable support and solutions will help you minimise the worst of the menopause symptoms and start to love the new you.
If you’re struggling with menopause weight gain and other menopause symptoms, contact Be You Health Studios for a private consultation about how we can support you through this transition period. Simply click on our booking page, and scroll down to book an initial 30-minute consultation.