How to Survive & Thrive through The Menopause
This week, we caught up with Nikki Caputa, health and fitness coach, certified nutritionist and co-director of UK Hypopressives about all things Menopause. This unavoidable transition can be a time of great physical and emotional difficulty to some women, but with the right insight and knowledge, it can be also be a time of rejuvenation, better health and personal growth. Here Nikki tells us why.
As a woman just about to hit my 50th year I’m becoming more and more interested in what is ahead of me, in terms of my health, my fitness and my body. I suppose, like most women, I’ve heard of the hot flushes, the hormonal changes and the loss of libido. Let’s look a bit further though to see what may happen and what we can do about it.
Menopause is the period that marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles. This can happen anywhere between the ages of late 30’s and mid 50’s and one thing is for sure, we will all experience the menopause differently. For some, symptoms will be more severe and the length of time it lasts will vary considerably as well.
During the years building up to the menopause and as you go through the menopause itself, it is very important to put things in place that will help your body and your mind to cope better with the changes.
Some of the physical symptoms you may experience are:
Loss of bone density
Incontinence (any leaking is incontinence I’m afraid).
Pelvic organ prolapse
Some of the emotional symptoms you may experience are:
Mood swings/ irritability
Many of the symptoms above are due to lower or diminishing levels of oestrogen and progesterone. Some, however, are just part of the natural ageing process and coincide with the start of the menopause.
If we look at weight gain, this isn’t always the fault of the menopause. It can just be the slowing of the metabolism as we age and a great opportunity to take stock and make some healthier changes. Keeping a food diary will help identify the habits you have formed around food and where you may need to make changes. Protein becomes more important as we age, so use the diary to look at ways you can introduce more into your day. Go for lean sources and fill yourself up with more fruit and vegetables to add fibre to your diet. Try to reduce your intake of caffeine, which is in coffee, tea, some fizzy drinks and green tea. If you have symptoms of an overactive bladder or insomnia caffeine could cause your symptoms to be worsened. So, make some sensible swaps to herbal teas, water and decaffeinated coffee.
An increase in physical activity can also combat any potential weight gain as well as having a positive impact on your mental health. If you are having problems with your joints, daily mobility exercises and an omega 3 supplement could help to keep painful symptoms at bay. A regular weights program at the gym will not only increase the tone of your muscles, it will also reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Looking at exercise, doing more of what you enjoy is definitely the first place to start. Personally, I love walking and in the summer make the most of the fantastic area that I live in by walking as much as I can. I wear an activity tracker as I like to see my daily achievements. Exercise is so good for your brain, it helps you focus and releases positive hormones which will make you feel good long after your session. So, it can be key to better mental health as well.
Changes in pelvic floor health, again due to the reduction of oestrogen and progesterone, can cause loss of strength and tone which in turn can lead to incontinence and/or pelvic organ prolapse. A form of exercise which is great for prevention of poor posture, pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence is hypopressives. It uses rhythmical breathing (which is very mindful!) and postural techniques to create positive changes in the core, pelvic floor and posture. I used it to get rid of my own issues (incontinence) and now use it as a method of prevention. I try to practise hypopressives daily as it only takes 10-15 minutes. It gives me some precious time to focus on myself, how my body feels and to de-stress.
So what is Hypopressives? Hypopressives is a whole body system of training using breathing and postural techniques to create positive changes in the core, pelvic floor and posture.
Hypo-pressive refers to a decrease in intra-abdominal pressure (IAP). We experience rises in IAP in most daily activities and we are most vulnerable to its effects when pressure rises are large and unexpected (such as coughing and sneezing) and when we exercise. We can also be at risk when tissues have been stretched or weakened as a result of, for example pregnancy. In addition, hypopressives can be used to treat or prevent incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, weak core, hernias (including herniated discs), back pain, poor posture, breathing and respiratory issues and sexual dysfunction.
Although I haven’t addressed all of the symptoms I hope this helps you to make some positive changes that will help you “survive and thrive” through the menopause.
To experience how hypopressives can help you, Nikki runs taster workshops and 1-2-1 taster sessions. If you are a health or fitness professional, working with post natal women, menopausal women or regular exercisers and would like more details on becoming a trainer then please get in touch.
For more information www.ukhypopressives.com
Facebook and Twitter: @ukhypopressives
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