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Amanda

Holistic Menopause

Holistic Menopause

This article explores the topic of holistic menopause. When I think about who my role model is, who I look up to the most, I don’t think of some famous, so-called “important person,” I think of my mom. Being in her late 50s and having been through so much, she doesn’t look or seem like it has aged her one bit.

She is the reason I started my own holistic health journey and look deeper into women’s health.

When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was put on hormonal treatment to onset and speed up her menopause, which inspired me to dig into the effects of hormones as we age.

We hear so many women struggle with their mental well-being along with all the physical side effects that menopause brings. In my mom’s case, there is no doubt that her healthy lifestyle was a huge factor in bouncing back from her cancer treatment as strongly as she did.

Being in the professional fitness industry since her 20s, my mom continues to teach fitness with more energy than I can carry some days. She eats predominantly plant-based and practices yoga for her mental and physical recovery.

For me, my mom is a prime example of how aging and menopause do not mean the end of feeling healthy and SEXY. 

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Aging and menopause do not mean the end of feeling healthy and sexy.

What is Menopause? 

Menopause, defined by the cessation of menstruation to finish a female’s reproductive ability, is an inevitable reality for us females. While the word defines the end of our fertility, it doesn’t mean that our life needs to lack purpose and happiness thereafter. 

In adolescence, when our hormones change for the first time, we are told to embrace and accept the changes that occur; we are encouraged to own the curves and forms we get as females because it means we are entering this new phase of “womanhood.”

Similarly, I don’t see why it then has to be viewed negatively when we then transition into menopause.

I know it is easier said than done as a 23-year-old writing this article. However, from the words of Dr. Wendy Sweet (“Sexy Ageing” podcast), she explains that the key to sexy aging is to accept your age and work with your hormones. Your life will look different from your first 30 years.

While there is a time and a place for medication, in my mom’s case, for example, there are many holistic ways to help cope with the hormonal fluctuations that menopause brings.

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When entering puberty, the education we got was a key part in mentally preparing and accepting the changes that were happening, so, I dug into finding the specifics of what actually happens in menopause. 

The Stages of Menopause

  • Perimenopause

On average, women enter this first stage between the ages of 47-52. At this time, as our body prepares to lose fertility, our estrogen and progesterone levels lower, causing irregular periods.

This imbalance of the reproductive hormones can lead to the following symptoms:

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Women enter this first stage between the ages of 47-52.

  • Menopause

Coming from the Latin words “meno” and “pausa,” this phase begins when there has been a lack of a period for at least a year.

It typically occurs for women around the ages 50-52, but a range of factors could delay or speed up the entry into menopause, and it is important to note that we are all different in how we experience life and how our bodies react, but you can read more on that here.

  • Post-Menopause

After a year of unopened sanitary pads and tampons sitting on the shelf, it is likely you have entered the post-menopause phase. This, however, is not the end of feeling good and beautiful- contrary to what the media will tell you.

First thing’s first, it is a good idea to know what happens to your body so that you can be mindful of how you take care of yourself going forward.

A healthy body means a healthy mind, and the more you know about achieving holistic health for your age, the more you can enjoy and experience the present and life ahead. 

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 A healthy body means a healthy mind, and the more you know about achieving holistic health for your age.

Holistic Wellness in Menopause

  • Mental Health

It is no secret that we females are susceptible to “mood swings,” no matter what medically defined phase we are in life. Why? A huge part of these challenges has to do with our hormones and the menstrual cycle that lets us give the miracle of life, whether we want to or not.

The fluctuating hormones will cause you to be more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, depression, and irritability, which can turn into a vicious cycle if you bottle them up.

Self-care and being open to therapy are important here when caring for your mental health. Here are some ideas you can do for yourself: 

  • Get outside – there are plentiful benefits to being in nature
  • Learn to say no to what doesn’t feel good or right to you
  • Meditate (it has these awesome benefits for the brain), even just for 5 minutes
  • Be creative with journaling, reading, painting, etc. 
  • Spend time with family, friends, and/or animals that bring out the best in you
  • Treat yourself to a spa day!
  • Plan a holiday.

This list can go on forever! Self-care is so individual, but it needs to ultimately be for YOU to make YOU feel good. 

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The mood swings don’t end with menopause, make plans for yourself, like take a break and meditate even just for 5 minutes or plan a spa day!

  • Sleep

Sleep is essential. We need it for all aspects of our health: our brain, muscles, emotional health, metabolism, immunity, and heart health.

When we sleep enough, we are able to enter the deep sleep that lets our mind and muscles restore.

During menopause, this recovery is important as the joints, muscles, bones are more fragile and the mind is more vulnerable to stress. A consistent sleep pattern also promotes metabolic functions and helps regulate your appetite for weight management. 

Reduced sleep leads to raised cortisol levels (the stress hormone), which is linked to cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Cortisol and melatonin (the sleep hormone) work together, so when one is low, the other is high; if we never lower our stress levels, melatonin will not rise and we won’t get the recovery time our body needs.

Meanwhile, here are some things you can do in your nighttime routine that can help you wind down:

  1. Avoid blue light from technology in the couple of hours before bed-time. 
  2. No sugar – insulin negates the effect of melatonin, which means you might have to take that glass of red wine before your dinner! 
  3. Eat dinner earlier – Give your gut the time to digest before you lie down by having dinner 3-4 hours before you sleep. 

Your nighttime routine needs to be nonnegotiable and something that you can stick to so that you can get the sleep you need.

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When we sleep enough, we are able to enter the deep sleep that lets our mind and muscles restore. During menopause, this recovery is important.

  • Diet

Your diet can play a huge part in how you feel and look, as having a healthy gut microbiome and lots of nutrients have physical and mental benefits.

Low estrogen levels cause the bowels to slow down, which affects our energy and weight.

With 90% of our serotonin receptors in our intestines, a well-functioning gut can literally make you happier. 

Rather than going on a “low carb” or “low fat” diet, focus on getting the “right” carbohydrates, fats, and protein from whole foods. 

During menopause, inflammation worsens lots of the symptoms, like hot flushes, weight gain, and stiffness.

Therefore, eating more whole foods, meaning foods that are in their natural state can provide an anti-inflammatory effect. 

Thus, there are ways you can holistically achieve beauty from within rather than relying on topical ailments. Find more information on menopause and diet here.

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Eating more whole foods like fresh/frozen fruit and vegetables, unflavored nuts and seeds, legumes, and whole grains, can provide an anti-inflammatory effect.

  • Exercise

Research has found that, in ancient communities, females who lived a more active lifestyle (such as the HAZDA hunter-gatherer tribe in Africa), had lower symptoms of menopause.

While there is not much information still about fitness and menopause, the evidence points towards it being a great tool for healthy aging. 

Strength training when you are 50+ is fundamental for having a healthy body and mind as it stops muscle mass loss and contributes to the formation of new muscle which helps with fat loss and hormonal balance.

Include balance and stretch training like yoga (https://mbzen.com/yoga-for-perimenopause/), tai chi, and pilates to support the core and muscles surrounding the bones in a gentle way. 

 Therefore, like all the advice above, consult with a physician if you have concerns and always listen to your body for aches and pains.

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Cardiovascular fitness is incredibly beneficial for blood flow, decreased inflammation, and increasing oxygen around the body.

Conclusion

While the research that went into this article was menopause-related, holistic health is a way of life everyone can benefit from.

With the body and mind so interconnected, working on one’s mental health while feeding and moving the body in a wholesome way will help reach a higher quality of life

With all the benefits that come with living healthfully, and experiencing and witnessing it myself, I continue to do what I can to promote holistic wellness.

You are not alone in experiencing hormonal changes and imbalances, so let’s not be afraid of talking about it so we can continue to empower and inspire each other in our health journeys. 

Amanda

Amanda

Hi, I’m Amanda! I’m a singer/actress as well as a yoga instructor, who is super passionate about holistic wellness. Having suffered mental and physical stresses due to the hectic life of a performer, I have regained strength through practicing yoga, mindfulness, and healthy eating. I am a firm believer in the power of holistic health to navigate this crazy world we live in, and I hope to help and inspire others on their journeys to a healthier, happier self.