As you enter mid-life you just want to enjoy yourself, feel happy in your own skin and accept yourself with renewed confidence. It can be hard to do when you feel you have the fun police breathing down your neck about your menopausal lifestyle, looking on disapprovingly and muttering ‘do you really want to be doing/eating/drinking that?’
Eat healthily, drink plenty of water, include more lean protein, watch alcohol units, reduce caffeine, move more – yadda, yadda, yadda! It reminds me of Adam Ant’s famous 1980s refrain, “don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?” Does every single one of life’s guilty pleasures need to be given the heave-ho as we reach menopause? Learn more about the stages of menopause.
The answer to that depends on what you want your postmenopausal life to look like and if your health could scupper your plans. It’s your life and, of course, you can do what you want! But if you are honest about what you want for your later life, is your menopausal lifestyle helping you get there or being a hindrance?
It’s not too late to look after muscle mass, bone density, blood sugar and your heart by taking control of your exercise and nutrition
Start your free online menopause assessment to see if HRT is right for you
Intention versus reality
When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, most of us have a fair idea of what we should be doing yet find it so hard to put into practice. And it is hard when you’ve spent most of your life cultivating a flawed reward system.
“Oh my! What a crap day! Of course, I deserve crisps/gin/giant chocolate buttons or a weekend under a duvet on the sofa.”
After a spectacularly bad day, it could be all four things together. What follows is the crushing disappointment and guilt when you can’t sleep, feel rubbish or have an energy crash. I know this reward system so well, it’s like a best friend forever. Why are some of us just so skilled at over-riding logic when our emotions get the better of us?
Invest now for later life
Menopause throws a lot of symptoms our way and all of a sudden life can feel a little out of control. It’s at this time that you can feel desperate to try anything to alleviate what you’re going through. Again and again, lifestyle choices are raised and you are left facing the consequences of the flawed reward system. It can feel like you are being told the obvious, but there really is something in evaluating your lifestyle.
The good news is small changes can make a massive difference and that it’s not too late to look after muscle mass, bone density, blood sugar and your heart by taking control of your exercise and nutrition. Stella offers you personalised support and a coach that helps you set goals to manage menopause symptoms and menopausal lifestyle. Stella’s coaches help you achieve your goals that you set for yourself.
Find out more about menopause with our symptoms library.
Changing your menopausal lifestyle one step at a time
I would love to travel later on in life. I want to be active and able to walk easily around the places I plan to visit. I don’t need to become a wellbeing guru that can master yoga on a paddleboard or collect ultra-marathon medals, but I want to be able to enjoy destinations on foot without having to sit down every hour.
During the last year, lockdown home-working meant my movement dwindled, motivation was low, my diet was snack heavy and the weight crept up – find out more about weight gain during menopause. Talking about my menopausal lifestyle, symptoms and current health status with the practice nurse gave me a bit of a wake-up call to tackle some long-term issues. I decided to commit to the following things:
This year I’ve been focusing on moving more and I wanted to walk around my local area with ease, without aches, pain or feeling breathless. Home-working left my step count averaging 1,200 steps per day (yeah, poor show!). I started to challenge myself to see how far I could walk. I went to 3,500 steps per day on average to 5,000, and then 8,500. Now I am walking 25 miles per week (roughly 1.5 hours walking per day) without any back, knee or foot pain (thanks to my Nike Air Max 90s, which are great if you are prone to plantar fasciitis like me).
I keep a daily food diary – even on the not so successful days (actually, especially those days) – and eat regularly. I’ve not berated myself if I slip up but to try again the next day with positivity. I’ve also weighed myself every day without obsessing about numbers. All I ask myself is, “Are the numbers generally going in the right direction?”
I am working on going to bed when tired and not going on my phone in the middle of the night when I wake. This is still a work in progress!
Walking for mood
Walking is having the biggest impact on my mood and sense of calm. It took around three weeks for it to become routine and something I just do without having to cajole myself to get out there – I even look forward to it. I even like walking in the dark, rain and snow.
I am not a naturally early morning person, so I began with getting out in my lunch break for a walk around the block. As it became easier, I added a walk in the evenings too. The breaks in my working day and after work really help me leave my work behind mentally and not carry it with me into the evening. Recently, I’ve started to get up early to go for a walk in the morning – a pink sunrise is just the incentive I need!
I am literally taking it one step at a time and seeing where this journey takes me. The fact it makes me feel better is a greater reward than the snack-demanding low energy beast who wanted immediate soothing with the wrong things after a dire day!
Read more about menopause on our blog.