The lecture theatre was a bit warm to begin with. The university security team had forgotten to turn on the air-con. But when they heard who was in the room [women going through menopause] they had the sense to make haste! My final New Zealand live-event was held this week. It was my Masterclass on Menopause Weight Loss seminar.
“Two years ago, I nervously, but successfully defended my doctoral thesis just up the hill in the Faculty of Health, Sport & Human Performance” I told the attendees. “And I argued my case to the examiners, that women in their mid-life years were being forgotten when it came to understanding how to look after themselves during this time, so they remain healthy as they age.” There was much nodding of heads in the lecture room. “I’m saying that, because for the past 30 years, the emphasis on nutrition, exercise and health research, has either been conducted on males or younger people and athletes. Furthermore, there is not one academic course at present in New Zealand on menopause for Personal Trainers, Nutritionists, Health Specialists, Physios and other practitioners.” The Personal Trainers who came to my seminar agreed and so did the women attending.
That’s why I love my live events. It’s the time that I get the chance to educate women and others attending, about how we are moving through a critical stage of our life whereby there is just as much hormonal change occurring as there was during puberty. Our body is naturally ageing but often our symptoms leave us feeling as if an alien has invaded our body. My curiosity was why.
For too long, menopause has just been looked at through the lens of reproductive decline. But as those attending this week’s session at the University of Waikato discovered, there’s a lot more going on in the body with the loss of oestrogen and progesterone, than we think.
We have oestrogen receptors all around our body. In our skin, our heart muscle, our blood vessels, gut, liver, pancreas and brain. But the highest number are in our fat cells. So these areas are affected by our changing hormones in menopause too.
As I took women on a journey of discovery about WHY we end up with so much symptom chaos going on during menopause, I asked who wasn’t sleeping. Most hands in the room went up.
“When we aren’t sleeping, we aren’t fat-burning” I told them. “So this, along with our changing liver structure and loss of muscle, is the perfect storm, which leads to post-menopause weight gain. If we don’t get on top of this as soon as we can, this leads to changing cardiac health as we age. New Zealand, Australia, the UK and America, all have the worst women’s heart health stats in the western world. Yet, we aren’t understanding that it all begins during menopause.”
Weight gain in menopause is a ticking time bomb for women’s cardiac, liver and joint health as they age.
So, what do we do about it? Well, if you were with me last night in Hamilton, you would have discovered my 5-Steps which I focus women on over 12 weeks in my menopause weight loss ‘Transform Me’ programme. These strategies are so important to ‘turn back the clock’ and get healthy ageing, so we can enjoy the next 20-30 years of healthy living ahead of us.
Here they are:
Step 1: If you aren’t sleeping, you aren’t burning fat. It’s as simple as that. So, I told women about the Circadian Rhythm and how lowering oestrogen levels in menopause mess up our sleep hormone, melatonin, but high cortisol (one of our stress hormones) mess up melatonin production at night as well. If we don’t sort out our sleep (which I teach you to do on BOTH of the MyMT™ programmes (Circuit BReaker is for thinner/leaner women), then over time, our symptoms become worse. This includes fat gain around the mid-section.
Not sleeping affects every major organ in our body, which also work on a 24 hour circadian rhythm. That’s why researchers now understand that changing GUT HEALTH occurs when we don’t sleep as well. [I have an optional module on turning around gut health in the programmes too].
Step 2: Reduce the amount of protein and change the timing of it to help you sleep more deeply. High protein diets are ‘thermo-genic’ or ‘heat-generating’. With so many women struggling with hot flushes and night sweats at night, it’s important to cool the body and manage the timing of protein. I can’t emphasise this enough and it’s all in my nutrition component of each MyMT™ programme. I have food lists, recipes and meal plans waiting for you with emphasis on the specific nutrients we need in menopause and beyond.
Step 3: Liver, Liver, Liver. When I showed the women attending my seminar, the powerful changes that occur in our liver as we lose oestrogen and age, I could see the looks of disbelief on many faces. “So many women end up with changing liver health, high cholesterol levels, poor gall-bladder function and pain and I now know why” I said. With the liver shrinking in size and the gall-bladder losing up to 20% of it’s bile-production as we move through menopause, it’s important not to clog it up with saturated fats. But there’s more too. Our liver along with the kidneys, help us to remove toxins, so in our 50’s the liver can get a bit inflamed as well. It’s had a lot of toxins to clear over our life-time and it needs a bit of a spruce-up. That’s why I teach women on my programmes how to do this based on research, not conjecture!
Step 4: Reduce the load on the liver, gut and digestive system by eating carbohydrates that give you energy and then allow the gut to empty fully overnight. As a generation of women who eat later in the evening, because we have so much going on in our lives or we are fitting around the needs of family members, it’s important to change the time of our food intake. When we eat large meals at night, then this increases the work of our digestive system overnight, which can then interfere with sleep patterns and keep us awake. When we are awake we are back in the vicious cycle of not fat-burning overnight.
Step 5: Do the correct exercise to help your heart health, lymphatic system, flexibility and joint and bone health. Changing our exercise, or even getting back into exercise is so important as we move through menopause. It’s a time when thousands of women stop being active, because they aren’t sleeping, have sore joints and restless legs and/or have no energy, time or motivation. I know this so well. But there’s another problem too. There is too much emphasis on High-Intensity exercise in the fitness industry that isn’t designed for women during their menopause transition who aren’t sleeping! As a leading exercise specialist here in New Zealand, I’ve written about this extensively in other blogs, so click through if you would like to know my thoughts!
I’m so passionate about women transitioning through menopause and into their post-menopause years feeling like their old selves again. I had no idea about the changes that I needed to make to turn back the clock on my own changing health and weight, when I put on over 15kg of weight during peri-menopause too. When I learnt that we are forgotten when it comes to solutions that suit our age and stage of life, I knew that I had to put some serious research into this area for all of us. Now thousands of women are pleased that I have done this too.
If you are struggling with your changing health and weight in menopause, then jump on board with me when you can. MyMT is a progressively delivered 12 week online programme, that you do in your time not mine. At NZ$299 or UK£149 (yes, you can also pay in 3 easy instalments) the next 12 weeks will change your life.
To discover what you receive in the MyMT™ Transform Me programme then have a listen to the video below or please click here to read what I have for you, then follow through to any Buy Now button to purchase. Scroll down and select the 3 payment option if you need to as well. I’d love you to come on board and I can’t wait to support you.
Dr Wendy Sweet, PhD/ MyMT™ Founder & Coach.