Looking after yourself once the menopause ends…
The menopause can be full of ups and downs and once your periods have stopped and your symptoms have settled down, you may find that you have a renewed sense of self. This is the dawn of your autumn years and it’s time to approach your life slightly differently!
Living without the disruption of a menstrual period can certainly feel pretty liberating. Women who typically suffered from particularly heavy or prolonged periods may feel a new lease of energy and vitality since their iron levels now remain unchallenged by monthly bleeding. What will you do with all this new energy? Some women find they have a new lease of creativity and since the menopause tends to occur at a time when children are leaving the nest, then freedom from responsibility and routine generates a sense that anything is possible. Your time is now entirely yours, for the first time in a long while you can put yourself first. You can run with your ideas and explore many new possibilities of potential work or adventure, rekindle old friendships or pursue new connections.
Regardless of how fantastic you feel after the menopause there are definitely a few golden guidelines that could be wise to adhere to. Before the menopause hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone had a positive influence on skin health, heart health, bone health, mood and memory, weight management and metabolism. Once past the menopause these hormone levels hit an all time low and this has many health implications. Research shows that menopausal women are at greater risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, weight gain and some forms of cancer. You may also notice a change in your body shape, muscle tone, skin tone and you could start being a little forgetful! It’s essential for your long-term health that you take steps to look after yourself past the menopause. What does this mean? It means that you need to start considering your heart, skin, bone and mind health in respect to what you eat and the type of exercise that you do.
Some women find it quite unsettling at how quickly their body shape and tone changes once through the menopause. It’s typical to notice that you may put on weight a lot quicker than you used to and that you may need to work harder to maintain your desired weight. Be wary of fad diets which promise quick results as you’ll more than likely see rebound weight gain. Instead opt for a more sensible and realistic approach to healthy weight management. Reduce your portion sizes at all meals, you may no longer need as many calories as you used to because it’s more than likely that your metabolism is now a little slower. Avoid in-between meal snacking and cut back on starchy and refined carbs. Switch to having your main meal at lunchtime and have a much lighter meal, salad or soup in the evening.
Focusing on foods that are rich in bone building nutrients such as calcium and magnesium found in nuts, seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and tahini paste) and green leafy vegetables is a positive dietary habit for this phase of your life. But the real important bone health strategy is to switch to bone bearing building exercise such as walking, climbing stairs, weights program and dancing. If you have bone density problems or osteoporosis in the family then it’s advisable to talk to your GP about a bone density scan.
Now is the time to give your skin the love and attention that it so deserves. After the menopause without the support of skin nourishing oestrogen fine lines, wrinkles and skin tones could start to become an issue. Vitamin C is needed to help build collagen and protect collagen by neutralising harmful free radicals generated by oxidative stress. Berries, green leafy vegetables and parsley are all good sources of vitamin C and supplementing with vitamin C and collagen helps provide an extra layer of skin TLC.