2021 was the most challenging year of my life.
Covid, enough said.
Both of my kids went through trauma in 2021.
During it, I gained 15-20 pounds – fast – and started really struggling with sleep.
I also became menopausal at some point during 2021 or 2022. (Honestly, I didn’t have the bandwidth at the time to track precisely.)
My word of the year for 2022 was “renew” and I took it seriously. I didn’t do anything major with my work and I stepped into therapy and self-care to help my mind and body begin their recovery.
I also started to work on my sleep, energy and losing the weight I had gained. Nothing changed.
I figured it was menopause, but the things I was doing should work, right? I mean, I’m a wellness professional, I know what to do!
But it didn’t work.
In 2023 I decided to do some research and figure out what was going on – NOTHING I knew about fitness & wellness was working. (And I know a lot!) In fact, I had gained MORE weight.
That’s when I learned the wellness “rules” change when we reach a “certain age” and we have to do it differently.
In this episode, I share a bit about my frustrations and what I learned about wellness at this “certain age” because the wellness rules change!
I will also share what I’m doing in 2024 for myself.
This episode is a “pre” episode. I haven’t made it through my transformation yet. Usually people share these things after they have made the transition to inspire you.
I decided I wanted to share my journey for anyone it might help. I know how easy it is to feel frustrated, undisciplined, lazy, even stupid with what we navigate during this time.
I want you to know you are not alone. I have felt the same way – and I’m a wellness professional!
So putting this out there for you to give YOU support and, frankly, I could use the company and support myself. I’m excited about this year. I feel more like I really don’t know what’s going to happen than I ever have!
BUT I am determined to live the second half of my life with even more vibrant energy than I did the first half!
My word for 2024 you ask?
T H R I V E
I’m going to spend the year diving into all I’ve learned, making changed bit by bit to see what really works.
PS: Here are the extras I mention:
Come follow me. I am sharing about my journey, the good and the bad, along with tips and ideas in my Stories on Instagram and Facebook:
Board certified OB-GYN and also is menopause certified. She has fantastic info to help navigate this challenging time: Dr. Mary Clair Haver
The food tracker I use – it’s FREE – and I love it!: Cronometer
Podcast Episode I didn’t mention, but I should have from my wellness podcast:
Check out the SIMPLY :: clean
the 14-day life reset
If you want to join me on my journey, whether you are in perimenopause or not, check out the reset I’ll be doing regularly each month.
READ: navigating MENOPAUSE
I have basically already shared my challenge above in the intro. While I am sure there are more symptoms from menopause that I am experiencing, there are truly so many and you wouldn’t realize it’s from menopause, the main ones that cause me the most angst are the weight gain, poor sleep and low energy.
What I haven’t share yet is all that I have tried so far:
In the past two years I have tried intense, high-intensity workouts, focusing on steps (I got an average of 7,000 steps a day in 2023). I have experimented with intermittent fasting, cutting out sugar, I even restricted my calories for 3 months – not a technique I would ever recommend! I had a calorie deficit on every day but 6 and gained 3 pounds. Yeah that was a tough one to swallow!
This year I’ve decided to stop throwing spaghetti on the wall and refine what I’m doing to find what will really work.
I am going to embark on a 14-day reset every month and tweak something to see what seems to be working and track my progress – and share with you!
To begin with, I have some attitude adjustments to make! 🙂
3 mindset changes I’m making…
1. no more negativity
Or at least less of it! (In the video, I broke down in tears when I said this – so there’s still a little!)
BUT I want to see this as a time of discovery for myself, curiosity. It has been frustrating, but I feel the answer is around the corner and I’ve got this!
2. I will figure this out!
I will have the second half of my life be filled with the same vibrant energy that I had in the first half, maybe even more so!
3. I am done doing anything that is hard.
Look, I’ve done the 10-day fasts, not letting myself eat certain foods (that I love), eating foods that are devoid of joy, workouts that I have to push through and dread.
Going forward, I am not giving up anything I love and I’m not going to do anything that makes me dread the day.
I’ve been around the wellness block for a few decades, I know anything I change needs to be something I can sustain over the long haul or I will eventually quit and I will go back to the baseline.
In case you didn’t know…
Here’s a quick 5 cent tour of perimenopause and menopause: Perimenopause occurs when your ovaries begin their shut down process. They are responsible for estrogen and progesterone production in your body so your levels of these hormones begins to dip.
As I understand it (and I am a wellness professional NOT a medical professional – but then this is a 5 cent tour so you get what you pay for! 🙂 ), estrogen is the hormone that causes much of our perimenopausal/menopausal angst, although both are important.
As we lose estrogen, we experience the discomforts we attribute to menopause.
3 Things I’ve Learned So Far…
Wellness “Rules” that Change During Perimenopause
what nobody told us…
What we do to maintain our wellness needs to change when we reach perimenopause because of the changes in our bodies.
To be fair, nobody told us because very few people even know.
Did you know it wasn’t until 1993 that women were even used in clinical, medical research? Until then, the medical world just extrapolated what they learned from men and assumed it was the same for women. Congress had to actually pass a law
Needless to say, not much research on menopause was done on men.
Okay, off my soap box.
Let’s look at the 3 things I have learned so far…
change #1: stress + relaxation.
When we move into perimenopause, we also begin to become very sensitive to cortisol, one of the stress hormones.
So stress affects us more. We get riled more easily and it’s harder to relax, effecting our sleep AND where we gain weight.
Cortisol weight gain is in our belly.
So we need to be much more intentional around relaxing.
BUT often what we think is relaxing us really isn’t.
A glass of wine, vegging in front of the TV, taking a nap or sleeping just numbs us, it doesn’t actually relax us.
You may feel relaxed, but that is simply your brain numbing to what your body is feeling.
We need to relax physiologically by stimulating the Relaxation Response.
You need to find what helps you TRULY relax.
If you want more, I recommend listening to this podcast I created on my wellness podcast:
change #2: how we exercise.
We also need to change how we exercise – or you might need to, depending on what you do. 🙂
High intensity or long cardio sessions release cortisol. You see where I’m going here?
If you have been trying to lose weight and/or improve your sleep and started exercising but nothing changes, consider your workouts!
Here’s what you want to do:
High intensity workouts
Part of your relaxation
1. long, zone 2 workouts
“Zones” refer to a range of heart rates for working out. Zone 2 is when you know you are doing something, so more than a strolling walk, but you can still easily talk and enjoy yourself.
These types of workouts help maintain your metabolism and also help you with stress since they can release built up tension.
2. strength training
You want to build up your muscle tissue. We begin to lose muscle tissue when we reach this stage.
While ultimately, that can effect our quality of life, for now know that it slows your metabolism leading to weight gain.
BUT you need TRUE strength training, not the 2 pound weights for bicep curls.
You need to build up muscles.
No, you don’t need to bulk up and look like the Hulk – which you can’t anyway! BUT you do need to start feeling your muscles under your skin.
3. high-intensity workouts
Yep, I know, contrary to what I just said, high-intensity workouts might be helpful for you. They can help increase your metabolism.
BUT keep them short, just 12-15 min and only 2-3 times a week, again because of the cortisol release.
If you are particularly sensitive to cortisol, this won’t be appropriate, at least yet.
You’ll know if it’s not working for you if you do the workout and feel exhausted afterward (as in for 1-2 days) OR you are doing the workouts and you don’t lose any weight – or maybe gain more. Experiment and see how it feels for you.
change #3: what we eat.
And, no, I am not using the “d” word (diet…in case you didn’t know). I do not believe in dieting!
Yes, we need to change things but think sustainable changes.
Focus on 3 things:
1. anti-inflammatory diet
Google it for more ideas but the essence is cutting out some inflammatory foods and adding in more anti-inflammatory.
You’d be amazed at how much better you can feel when you do this!
Just know, I said cutting out some inflammatory foods, not all, especially if it sucks the joy out of life for you! 🙂
2. eat more fiber and protein
I began following Dr. Mary Clair Haver, a board certified OB-GYN and menopause certified specialist on Youtube.
She is fantastic!
One of the things she shares is upping your fiber and protein intake to help with all things menopause.
FIBER: Get at least 25 g each day and up to 35 g.
PROTEIN: Shoot for 1-1.5 g of protein per kg of weight.
Just focusing on these things for me has been huge. I definitely have less room for those inflammatory foods!
3. intermittent fasting
Have you heard of intermittent fasting yet?
It’s huge right now and seems to be one of those things that is sticking around – because it really does help.
The fast is between dinner and breakfast and you goal is a 14-16 hour window.
It might also help your sleep because we sleep better if we have a break between our last meal and when we go to sleep of 3-4 hours.
Dr. Clark says a 16:8 ratio seems to be the best so 16 hours between last meal of the day and breakfast the next day. Then you have an 8 hour eating window.
But start slowly and build, doing what is comfortable for you.
For example, I do better with the longer break in the evening so I can eat breakfast on time.
BONUS. one more thought on foods…
One more thing to realize, strict calorie reduction does not work at this stage.
First of all, hunger releases cortisol so strict, calorie reductions simply cause more weight gain.
AND, our bodies adapt to the lower calories, lowering our metabolism so we burn fewer calories as a protective mechanism.
I know it can break our brains to think reducing won’t end up in weight loss, but it’t true!
WATCH: navigating MENOPAUSE
And here is the video version! 🙂
I always share more personal stories in the video / podcast, in case you are wondering. The blog post is more to the point. I get chatty when I’m, well, chatting!
Subscribe to my channel for FREE: