It didn’t make sense to me, I had always looked after my body, yet it just wasn’t reacting to food and exercise the way it previously had. I had started to get fat around my once flat belly, my legs had a jiggly quality that I wasn’t used to, and my overall look had softened. We all have a preferred image of ourself and my preference is for my body to be tight and lean. I have been an athlete all my life and the last five years of my late 30’s to early 40’s I was in the best shape of my life—not anymore, and I don’t like it.
It Wasn’t Just a Phase
Nearly all of my experience with menopause is anecdotal. I am a certified strength coach and have qualifications in sports nutrition—yet even with all this knowledge I still I couldn’t work out what was happening to myself and to my female clients clearly experiencing the same issues.
Let’s take a look at my experience. Well, my food choices had become a little less focussed, not that I was ever super strict with my diet, but I leaned towards the healthier side of the spectrum. Now I was having daily treats of cream cakes and ice cream. In the past I had always been able to have these treats with no adverse implications, but now my weight had started creeping up so that I ended up being the heaviest I had ever been. Yet somehow I accepted this with general apathy, putting it down to just another phase in my life. I was certain that I would get back on the healthy train soon enough, yet three years later I still seem to have lost my athletic edge and ability to dial it in like bygone days.
Taking a New Approach
I needed to know why this was happening and started my research into the impact that hormonal fluctuations can have and why this is experienced in how we look and feel. There is nothing wrong with caring about how you look, but more importantly to me, I cared about how I was feeling about life and everything that I have to deal with each day. The inability to cope with everyday life became a huge issue for me, and that is when I started to get worried something serious was going on. This situation has led to me speaking to many women who are all experiencing some form of symptomatic change from menopause and it actually felt pretty good to know that I wasn’t going through this alone. Understanding that menopausal issues change us and that we need to learn how to get through this time became of utmost importance.
It was then that I realized that the old way of doing things wasn’t working anymore. I needed a new way of approaching health and fitness, and I now needed to focus on doing the stuff that would make me feel like a better human. Doing that would encourage me to grab life by it’s figurative balls and dance once again with the unicorns became the goal. OK, I have gone too far, but seriously my goal is to be back where I was and get out of the mid-40 doldrums that seemed to have taken over.
Keep It Simple
My realization that keeping things simple and small was integral to my success. I started with one new habit at a time. The first was to move everyday. I put aside my issues with indulging in shitty food for the meantime, instead focusing on a way to create a schedule that allows me to consistently get sweaty for at least 30 mins each day. Feeling good about my body and its ability to let me be strong is such a privilege that I no longer take for granted. Exercising and proving to myself once more that I still can make the improvements I want is huge.
I encourage you to set aside those 30 mins every day and move, doing whatever activity drives you to thrive. These are your 30 mins and it is an investment in your health and sanity. The rest of the puzzle will fall into place later.
Coach Amanda Thebe is Breaking Muscle’s Expert Coach in Residence. If you are a woman who is over 40 years old and want Coach Thebe to cover a topic you are interested in, or would like her to address a specific issue you may have, email [email protected]. Put Coach Thebe in the subject line, and let us know what you need in your training.