I still remember the Christmas when I went into peri-menopause. It’s usually a time of year I love, but back then, when everyone around me was looking forward to it, all I could think to myself, was ‘I really can’t be bothered. I have no motivation for Christmas cheer’. With no energy for shopping, no motivation for social events and feeling conscious about my belly-fat weight going up and up and Christmas drinks setting off endless hot flushes, all I wanted to do was to hide!
How differently I feel this Christmas from just a few years ago. And it seems I’m not alone. Penny emailed me yesterday saying this,
“I just wanted you to know that this has been life changing for me. For the last 5 years I have surrounded by clutter and chaos, poor concentration and lack of incentive etc etc. Since I have put the changes into place recommended by yourself I a slowly getting my life back in order and my mojo back. It is incredible. Slowly slowly I am getting clarity back into my mind and life. I looked back a few nights ago and it hit me like a brick wall. Every week since starting I got better and better. Now I am freaking fire I can tell you, I am like a mad woman. I can’t tell you how much better I feel with the knowledge you have given me.”
We all know it’s been a year to forget and we often blame stress, work, the pandemic etc etc, but if you add to this the fact that your changing oestrogen levels in menopause can also have a negative impact on your mood and motivation, then it’s a double-whammy for women in mid-life. With Christmas festivities just around the corner, if you’ve lost your Christmas cheer this year and you are as confused as I was, then don’t despair because here is what’s really going on.
Oestrogen exerts a powerful effect on it’s opposing hormone called Progesterone, which is one of your ‘happy hormones’. But here’s the kicker …. how you are feeling is affected by whether these two hormones stay balanced as they decline as part of your menopause transition. If they get out of balance because you aren’t sleeping, or if your food and exercise don’t match your changing hormonal environment, or if you are feeling over-whelmed with all that is going on in your life, then this imbalance causes your thyroid, adrenal and pituitary hormones to get out of balance too. This then affects your symptoms in menopause.
Your brain hormones control your mood, motivation and mojo. If you aren’t sleeping, or you are overweight, or you feel stressed, or your gut health isn’t ideal, then your master hormones in your brain get out of balance. These master hormones help to manage numerous metabolic functions in your body and they are also affected by your changing reproductive hormones as you transition menopause too. Furthermore, certain nutrients help to make all of these hormones, so they are crucial to get into your diet at this time of your life and more importantly, at a time of year when there is still so much going on. If you have persistent foggy brain, then take note!
Knowledge is truly power when it comes to our mid-life menopause transition and it’s my passion to position menopause symptom management in specific scientifically-evidenced lifestyle change strategies. For too long, managing our menopause symptoms and our weight gain has been positioned in endless diets, exhausting exercise, or various supplements and medications, but it doesn’t have to be like this as numerous women on the MyMT™ programmes discover. So, if you have lost your Christmas cheer this year, then here’s what you need to understand:
- Low oestrogen causes your mood hormone, called serotonin, to decrease. This then has a spiral effect on your sleep hormone called melatonin. It’s also why, when you aren’t sleeping, it’s hard to stay motivated. But what’s worse, when your serotonin levels are low and you can’t sleep, then your brain craves more sugar. Knowing that you may experience more cravings means that you can prepare some healthy snacks to have on hand and some sparkling water as well, especially if you know that alcohol is going to send your hot flushes soaring. I wrote about why this was last week, so I hope you read it! If not, then have a look on my BLOG page on my website.
- Eat foods that boost your mood. But also be aware that our gut health changes as we move through menopause because our gut lining becomes thinner with the loss of oestrogen. [That’s why as part of the MyMT™ programmes, I have a Gut Health Module for you as a stand-alone module and it’s included as part of all my 12 week programmes too]. If women have changing gut health or a fatty liver, then the absorption of an important mood-hormone called Tryptophan is important. I also mention this in my optional module in the programme for women taking anti-depressants as this can be over-looked when being prescribed these powerful drugs. Tryptophan is a protein an is one of the master-building-blocks to not only make serotonin, our mood hormone, but also our sleep hormone, melatonin. I talk about this in my online MASTERCLASS ON MENOPAUSE as well which I hope you have time to listen to over the festive season break. It’s my presentation that I was taking around New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom before rushing home in March. You know why.
- Don’t rush around! If you are continually busy (and who isn’t at this time of year?), then remember too, that your lovely adrenal glands, where your stress hormones are produced, stays in over-drive as you rush around getting everything done. If you aren’t sleeping, then these stress hormones become even more out of balance. When this happens we produce more of our chronic stress hormone called Cortisol and the continual production of cortisol, makes our lovely calming progesterone decline too rapidly in contrast to oestrogen. The result? Increased feelings of anxiety and depression, increased bloating and your motivation drops lower. You can’t get off the couch at the end of the day. When progesterone crashes, then it’s also not available to make your happy-hormones in your brain, because it’s being all used up to keep making cortisol. It took me a long time to pull this puzzle together. Nobody I went to explained that part of the reason for my lack of motivation was the perfect-storm between not sleeping and high cortisol and low progesterone. It was also the reason for my foggy brain and weight gain. And I wasn’t alone it seems. I look at Tineke, and as an ex-Les Mills exercise instructor, as I used to be too, I resonate so much with how she used to feel.
As we go into the end of the year, I hope that you can reflect on the year that was and congratulate yourself for getting through it! If you’ve been experiencing worsenimg symptoms in menopause, then a give yourself an extra pat on the back. You’ve done it tough – menopause and the pandemic. I so understand how you’ve been feeling. But like our menopause transition, we must also focus, not on the past, but on the future, so put my favourite saying on your notice-board, “Don’t look back, you aren’t going that way now.”
If this is how you are feeling, then I would love you to consider coming onto the MyMT™ 12 week online weight loss and symptom reduction programme on my new year JANUARY SALE. I’ve bundled up the 12 week exercise programme with this if you would like to explore this option too, and yes, it includes my new module called ‘Restore your Joyful Joints’ – you can’t exercise if your joints are sore or you aren’t sleeping. I know this, because this used to be me as well. To learn more just click on this LINK HERE, then you can read how the MyMT™ Transform Me weight loss programmes can help you. You might also like to watch my short video below when you have time.
RECHARGE, REASSESS, REFOCUS AND RENEW YOUR HEALTH, ENERGY AND MOTIVATION FOR WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE IN 2021.
2020 has been a busy and challenging year for all of us, so I hope that you can enjoy the festive season where-ever you are in the world. I have so many women who join me from around the globe and whilst we all live in far-flung places, we are all connected through menopause – I love that!
“Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. Thank you for being part of the MyMT™ community. I love writing blogs for you and if you have time over the Christmas break, then there are many more on the My Menopause Transformation website. Sending you aroha/ love from Aotearoa/ New Zealand. ”
Dr Wendy Sweet, PhD/ MyMT™ Founder and Women’s Healthy Ageing Lifestyle Researcher.