Are You Navigating the Symptoms of Perimenopause?


When I was in my mid-forties I started experiencing a number of seemingly unrelated symptoms – weight gain, brain fog, sore joints, and fatigue. I tried all sorts of one-off fixes – diets, exercise programs, and magic pills – without success. It wasn’t until my period started changing and I experienced hot flashes that the penny dropped and I connected everything to perimenopause. Did it happen like that for you too?

I wonder why there isn’t more talk about perimenopause? After all, it happens to all ladies, although it’s true that some have more challenges with it than others.

Perimenopause (and menopause) is the bookend to puberty, the reproductive part of our lives. So it includes a lot of hormone changes as the reproductive hormones – primarily estrogen and progesterone – naturally decline.

But the real challenge comes with how those changes impact our wellbeing. Like mood swings, inability to sleep, extreme fatigue, joint pain, digestive issues, hot flashes, night sweats, low sex drive and weight gain. What’s up with all that? Why can’t we just wind up our periods and call it a day?

There are two paths for getting help with perimenopause. The medical path and the lifestyle path. Unfortunately, many doctors are not well equipped to help. The American Association of Retired Persons reports most medical schools and residency programs don’t teach physicians in training about menopause. To make matters worse, a recent survey found that just 20% of ob-gyn residency programs provide any kind of menopause training.

When asked, 3 out of 4 ladies reported they did not get adequate treatment when they brought perimenopausal and menopausal concerns to their doctors. And 84% of women say their symptoms interfere with their lives and some are even debilitating.

One of the main areas where doctors should be able to help is in prescribing Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Even though treatment has changed dramatically over the past decade, many doctors are unaware. The new body identical treatment is administered in patches or gel and poses none of the earlier health concerns for breast cancer and heart disease. The topical delivery method means that the liver is completely bypassed, and that absorption through the skin dramatically changes the health risks. Dr. Louise Newson, The Menopause Doctor, goes so far as to encourage women to consider taking body identical HRT for the protections it provides against heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

The other path to get help with the symptoms of perimenopause is through lifestyle. There is a lot that lifestyle habits and behaviors can do to demystify the changes. It turns out the healthy practices of diet and exercise that ladies maintained before perimenopause are unlikely to suit them very well once they enter perimenopause. As our nutrition needs change, so does our digestion. We no longer need all the protein we used to eat, and our sensitivity to sugar and processed foods heightens. Bloating, brain fog, joint pain and weight gain result.

And with hormonal changes to our muscles and joints, the type of exercise and movement that is beneficial also changes. Even if you have always been athletically active, the fatigue and joint pain can make ambitious workouts very difficult. In fact, high impact and anaerobic exercise can cause stress to the system and result in the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. The timing and type of movement you choose take on new importance.

Hormonal changes impact sleep, especially when combined with food choices and stress. So figuring out new sleep hygiene habits are vital to being able to restore the body each night with quality sleep. As we sleep, the body is busy removing dead cells burning fat and rebuilding tissue. The brain catalogues the day’s experiences and builds up memories. Without adequate sleep, the body is stressed when it cannot carry out these maintenance functions and produces cortisol in response. That in turn stimulates appetite, which produces more insulin leading to fat production (and stubbornly stored around the middle). So getting enough good sleep is vital to being able to adapt through the changes of perimenopause.

And finally, mindfulness – getting your head in the game is so important. As it happens, the mind can only focus on one thing at a time. So if you control some of the things you tell yourself and make them positive things, you will benefit from that. Rather than tell yourself that you’re a lazy slob or beat yourself up because you don’t have enough willpower, you tell yourself that you’re an intelligent woman and the goal is achievable. Meditation is a great way to calm the mind, focus on positive things and create endorphins. This can really help to create positivity, reduce cortisol levels and help with sleep.

Are you satisfied with the support your doctor has been giving you for the symptoms of perimenopause? Some symptoms are best resolved using HRT. But many more can be resolved by taking a lifestyle approach.

The beginning of my perimenopausal journey didn’t go well, and I’m determined to help ladies navigate this chapter of their lives so they can take control of the next decades and live their best lives.

To find out how you can navigate the symptoms of perimenopause, click the button to book your free call with Dyna Vink, Health and Nutritional Coach.

What Is Low Carb Eating?


There’s a lot of interest in the low-carb lifestyle over the past few years because of the impressive health benefits and weight loss results that it can deliver. But it also is a great choice for ladies over 40 who want to resolve other issues – like hot flashes, lack of energy, bloating, joint pain, brain fog, and anxiety. Many celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Lebron James, Kim Kardashian, and Katie Couric have adopted it and shown very public results. So what is this all about?

The low carb lifestyle is a moderate fat, moderate protein, and moderate-carb combination of food choices.

The basic ratios are that about 35% of calorie intake comes from fat, about 20% from protein and the 45% from carbohydrates.

Low carb eating can be a very effective way to lose weight and also lower risk factors for many diseases. There is research that shows that low-carb foods are more successful than the previously recommended high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets.

There is less and less controversy about low carb and the Mediterranean diet as lifestyles. The science supports this approach to eating as we age. While keto might have worked for younger people, it is not providing all the needed nutrients to older women with their changing hormones and bodies.

Since the traditional low fat, high carbohydrate diet template that has been in place for the past 50 years has failed so miserably and lead the way to record levels of obesity, there is much to applaud the low carb way of eating.

That said, there is also a lot of misinformation floating around. And this can cause confusion for those who want to follow a strict approach.

So what do you eat on a low-carb diet?

  • Fat : Healthy unsaturated fats are encouraged — like nuts (macadamia, pecans), seeds, avocados, tofu, and extra virgin olive oil. And healthy saturated fats from oils are also good – like coconut, grass-fed butter, and cocoa butter.

  • Protein : Protein is an important part of the low-carb diet, but this is not a high protein diet. That means that protein sources high in saturated fat such as grass-fed beef and lamb, heritage pork, free run poultry, and fatty fish are popular choices.

  • Carbohydrates : Vegetables contain so many nutrients that we require as we age. Leafy greens, as well as root vegetables like beets, sweet potato, carrots, and parsnips, are excellent. Leafy greens (such as kale, collard greens, swiss chard, spinach), cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers, onions, garlic, fennel, mushrooms, cucumber, celery, and zucchini.

The fact that low-carb eating does not spike your insulin means that you don’t store fat. Instead, you burn it. The limit on insulin production is what makes the low-carb way of eating especially effective for people who have become insulin resistant and for people with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Many people say that following a low carb or Mediterranean food plan is much easier than other options such as a vegan or gluten-free diet. Many condiments include a lot of hidden sugar, but otherwise, eateries such as steakhouses, roadhouses, and cafes are usually able to handle dietary needs. Chicken, fish, pork, beef, or eggs are the easiest starting points. Add to that a salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing, or some sautéed green vegetables of the day. And Presto! You have a meal! This makes it easier to continue with your social life and to go on vacation while staying on course. While it takes a little mental and physical adjustment, the low carb way of eating offers millions of people a welcome alternative to shed pounds, support their aging body, guard against disease and feel better.

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