Perimenopause occurs in the years leading up to menopause, for some women this can start as early as a decade prior to menopause. During this time a woman’s estrogen and progesterone start to fluctuate. In short, these hormone levels are decreasing. Although, estrogen levels may go up and down a bit more before leveling out as your body settles into menopause. Many women experience different symptoms during this time but some of the most common symptoms are:
- Hot flashes
- Brain Fog
- Joint aches and pains
- Change in sexual drive
- Trouble sleeping
- Urge to urinate more frequently
- Night sweats
- Mood changes
- Weight gain
While there is no clear-cut way to eliminate perimenopause symptoms, there are some things you should consider in the years leading up to and around this time that can make a dramatic difference in how your body reacts and continues to respond throughout menopause.
Focus less on losing weight and more on overall health
It is a common practice that in the years leading up to perimenopause women tend to focus on losing weight as they tend to find their bodies starting to change and they may be gaining weight differently than in their earlier years. The first shift that needs to happen as women enter their late 30’s is to focus less on weight loss and more on overall health. It is possible that if you focus solely on weight loss you may notice an adverse effect leading to women’s perimenopause symptoms being worse than they actually need to be.
What women should focus on perimenopause
Consider making movement a priority – but don’t overdo the cardio.
While it might seem tempting to max out on cardio in order to ensure you are not packing on any extra weight, this may be doing you more harm than good. Cardio is a great way to get the blood pumping and support heart health but it’s important to also focus on creating a balance between all exercises. What we find tends to happen when sleep is an issue, recovery is harder and food intake is not optimum if on cycle of restrictive eating and focusing solely on cardio may lead to a loss of muscle. Muscle mass is crucial to maintain during this stage in a woman’s life as it naturally begins to decrease during this time.
Hit the weights prior and during perimenopause
As mentioned above, as we get older and especially during perimenopause muscle mass, along with strength decreases, in order to combat this consider incorporating strength training into your weekly routine. Focusing on building muscle mass has an array of benefits that help to combat perimenopause symptoms and beyond. For example, in a recent study, a 15-week resistance training program decreased the frequency of hot flashes in previously untrained post-menopausal women.
When we focus on building muscle mass the body, in turn, fights the decline of muscle strength and burns energy and fat quicker. This gives us a more flexible and efficient metabolism.
Equally as important while approaching perimenopause is bone health. When women enter into their perimenopause period bone density reduces and a key way to help support the health of good bones is to focus on mixing in some progressive strength training with your schedule.
Focus on things like: kettlebells, dumbbells, or even resistance bands.
Putting the quality nutrients into your body
Not only does food give you energy but it also affects your mood and overall activity level. The food you put into your body directly correlates to your overall stamina and productivity daily. Ensuring that you are getting the right nutrients in your body is a crucial step in making sure you are setting your body up right for perimenopause. The first steps to take are avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol consumption and limiting processed foods.
But, the work goes far beyond that. In order to help balance out blood sugar and continue to maintain a healthy body, you should consider a few more things such as getting adequate lean protein and fiber from fruits and vegetables.
A great source of protein can come from legumes as they are a great source of fiber and can help to balance out blood sugar. You can also consider quality protein from lean meat such as chicken, turkey or lean beef.
Focusing on eating adequate calcium-rich food is an important step to continue to focus on bone health. Think of food such as yogurt, cheese, milk and dairy products. Vitamin D, magnesium and protein are also worth your consideration for optimum bone health.
Avoid limiting your carbohydrates as this can lead to reduced energy, brain fog and overall mood swings. Consider swapping out highly processed carbohydrates for whole grains which contain more fibre and provide you with sustainable energy throughout the day, and will fuel your brain and your exercise.
Prioritize a healthy sleep schedule
The importance of sleep continues to be high as you enter perimenopause. Making sure that you are getting enough sleep is a key factor when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle into perimenopause and beyond. Many women find that they have problems sleeping when entering menopause which is why focusing on reducing stress, eating adequately and creating a sleep schedule or routine can help you to maintain a better sleep schedule.
Focus on things like: regular morning sunlight, reducing caffeine, eating high melatonin content foods close to sleep, like tart cherry juice.
It’s important to remember that all women face different challenges and symptoms when approaching menopause and each situation is unique. By understanding key indicators & steps you can take prior to perimenopause you can feel confident that you are taking the necessary steps to ensure that you feel your absolute best while your body goes through every unique change.