You may have been noticing something odd happening to your body lately and maybe you have ascertained that you are perimenopausal. Now that you have a “label” for all those weird physical changes that are going on, it may be time to understand just what IS happening to your body.
Put simply, you are losing estrogen and progesterone- your female hormones. That’s great, you may be thinking because it will signal the end of your periods! But wouldn’t it be great if that was all it signified?
Perhaps you are also noticing that your workout (if you exercise) may not feel quite so “right” anymore.
It’s not all in your mind.
In fact, there is a lot happening to your body right now that just takes a bit of understanding, and you will be able to adapt your workout to this new body of yours. After all, why should your present workout be right for your new body? Remember, this menopausal body isn’t bad, it’s just going through a change.
So, while it’s changing, let’s make it the best body ever.
What role does estrogen play?
Estrogen lays down pockets of fat within the female body to create the feminine shape.
These pockets of fat lie
- Under your belly button
- Over your pubic bone
- Over your triceps
- On the inner and outer thighs
- On your knees (yes!)
- In your behind (it’s what gives it shape)
- And of course- your boobs
When this fat layer begins to disappear, you may think that your skin is sagging. You may be right, but more importantly, YOU HAVE LOST FAT! Doesn’t that sound like a better deal?
Once this layer of fat is gone, we are looking at losing some structure to our bodies. So, what can we do to help maintain the support the fat gives us? We can increase our weights or resistance. The concept would be to try and build up the muscle to take over the job the fat once had. But now you have a leaner body.
Are you with me? So far, it’s not looking too bad, is it?
Exercise concepts for menopause
Concept number one for menopause- work harder- more weights, more resistance, more days working out, just MORE. Not less, this isn’t the time to take it easy.
But while you’re working out harder, you may begin to feel more pain in your joints. This is because estrogen has an anti-inflammatory effect on your joints. This also means that you need to keep moving to keep the joints working well. The stronger your muscles are, the less pressure on your joints.
Concept number two- target certain areas. Yes, finally, this will work for you. The target areas will be where you have lost the fat. See the list above. The saggy skin doesn’t mean your muscles don’t have tone. It means your skin is not plumped up with fat. But remember you have lost FAT, not muscle.
Still looking good isn’t it.
Add the extra resistance and work those triceps, inner thighs, outer thighs, your butt, and your tummy. It may well be you might have definition for the first time in your life.
While you’re pumping all this iron, you may feel as though you are sweating excessively. That would be a hot flash. Also known as a power surge. My understanding of this is that IF your core temperature is rising to such a degree that you feel like you have to jump into a hole in the ice- you MUST be burning some calories. I say we give those hot flashes around 350 calories per shot. Now you’ve lost fat and you’re burning extra calories.
Menopause is looking rosy right about now.
While you’re at all that exercise, know that you are helping to keep your heart healthy. Estrogen protects your heart and it is said that your chance of heart disease is increased after menopause. I suggest that if you eat well, exercise right and rest, your heart will thank you for it.
Which brings me to cardio vascular activity during this time.
Yes, you have to do it. Why? Because your metabolism is slowing down and you may be gaining weight. You cannot eat what you did at 18 and still expect to be slim or plump or chubby, the way you once were. The adage that what goes in should be less than what goes out has never worked so well. Plus, if you do some cardio, you will feel much better due to the release of endorphins- the feel-good hormones. This may lower your stress levels, which may also be a part of the reason for that stubborn weight around your middle.
There is rest.
It’s not all hard work though. It is always a good idea to stretch. Don’t just sit in one position and hold the stretch though. Estrogen coupled with progesterone makes our female bodies supple. When you’re younger it may be enough to sit and ponder the universe in a stretched-out position but right now, we need to help our flexibility along. I have found that gentle rocking movements work better for release than static stretching. This has the added benefit of “oiling” the joints as well.
And about those boobs- a good supportive bra will help.
That menopause workout can be the best thing you have ever done for yourself and it might just be enjoyable too.