Anxiety, hot flushes, weight gain and hair loss.
These unwelcome symptoms will be recognised by many women of a certain age as the menopause - or to give it its medical definition the time of life when menstrual periods stop.
But this sudden change can be alarming for those experiencing them for the first time, leading to fears of serious ill health and mid-life depression.
One woman who is all too familiar with such symptoms is Isle fitness guru Sue Taylor - and that is why she is on a mission to help women to not only survive what is commonly referred to as ‘the change’ but to actually thrive during it.
The 50-year-old Belton woman and busy mum-of-two noticed she had been putting on weight despite not changing her eating or exercise habits, was losing sleep, felt bad tempered and was finding it hard to concentrate.
Sue discovered she was perimenopause - the period in a woman’s life just prior to the menopause - which came as quite a shock.
She said: “Having it confirmed put it all into perspective and the realisation that I wasn’t actually going mad made me feel a whole lot better and enabled me to deal with what was going on rather than try to ignore it and hope it all would go away.”
But what was even more shocking was the lack of support available to women going through a tough stage in their lives.
Sue said: “Menopause can be a very upsetting and distressing time – and not just for the women going through it. It can affect close relationships, partners and siblings, and even effect the relationships we have with our friends.
“Let’s face it, feeling tired all the time, putting weight on, constantly forgetting things, mood swings and going right off sex are not the ingredients for a happy, healthy or confident women.”
So she set about making herself feel better and those around her. Sue is already a qualified fitness instructor through her business Isle Lose It, but she decided to complete a 16-week course to become a female health and wellbeing coach with specific focus on the menopause.
She said aside from hormone replacement therapy (HRT), used by many to relieve menopause symptoms, there are many more natural ways to help yourself, such as regular exercise, eating well and managing stress levels. Put it into practice and Sue is sure you will see the benefits.
She said: “I immediately started to implement what I was learning and hay presto, my symptoms, including hot flashes, weight gain, mood swings, insomnia, brain fog, carbohydrate cravings and hair loss, started to subside and the happy and healthy me re-emerged.”
She has now launched Mastering the Menopause, a six-week one-to-one scheme which incorporates training sessions, moral support and meal planning. She has so far coached 10 ladies through the course.
Said Sue: “Going back to using natural ingredients and cooking from scratch is highly recommended. Avoid processed foods, fizzy drinks and sugars. Workouts are best done in short sessions of around 30 minutes. Long duration exercise during the ‘3rd age’ is not recommended and can exasperate weight gain due to an increase in the production of the fat storage hormone, cortisol.”
She feels that because we have moved towards a more open-minded society, people are becoming more comfortable talking about ‘taboo’ subjects.
“Many women still refuse to talk about or acknowledge their menopause. But I do think things are beginning to change with some high profile celebrities like Davina McCall talking about their experiences. This can be the most fulfilling time of your life. Menopause is not an illness. It is not a time for decline, It is actually your time to live life by your rules. It is your time to thrive - your power years.”
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