This year we have finally been having open discussions about peri-menopause and menopause thanks to Davina McCall's documentary, sex, myths and the menopause on Channel 4. In this blog, my colleague Sarah Cavaliere discusses her journey into peri-menopause and what has helped her regain her zest for life again.
Earlier this year, I found myself at 51 years old, peri-menopausal, with a minor health scare and a lockdown stone under my belt (literally). I have a challenging job which requires a lot of mental energy and can take an emotional toll. I live in London with my husband and 17 year old son, with an older daughter away at university. Time feels at a premium.
I had been looking vaguely into HRT, was taking a multivitamin supplement recommended for ‘women of a certain age’ and had been doing a weekly pilates class for a year or so pre-Covid-19 which I had continued on-line.
I’m not against HRT but I felt as though my menopause symptoms were mild enough to warrant trying some different options to improve my fitness, diet and general health. I wondered whether this way I could improve my sleep and balance my mood.
I remembered that my Pilates teacher had told her clients that she has completed a nutritional therapy qualification so I contacted her to see if she was looking for clients now the lockdown was easing.
She was, and so my nutrition and personal training journey began!
I was nervous as to what to expect as I’ve never been a ‘dieter’ and didn’t want to be too strict with what I was eating and drinking. My nutritionist was so encouraging and knowledgeable from the outset. We started off with an assessment session and I then booked a course of 6 hour long nutrition sessions. We met face to face in her garden Pilates/personal training studio and then continued on zoom. The input provided was amazing, with daily email updates as I charted my daily food intake and reported back to her.
Following her guidance, in just over two months I have achieved my initial goal of losing a stone and my knowledge and understanding of how I eat, what I eat and when has been transformative. This isn’t just about losing weight for me now, it’s about having a new, different attitude to food and my health that will stand me in excellent stead for the future. It’s about feeling more balanced, less prone to sugar ‘spikes’ and more aware of the importance of protein to assuage hunger pangs in order to initially lose weight and then to maintain a healthy balanced diet. It’s also about living life and not being so restrictive as to give up or get demotivated. Have the piece of cake and glass of wine - just build it into your overall food plan.
Once I was clearly able to understand and manage my food intake, we moved onto personal training sessions. The aim here is to feel fitter and stronger, with an emphasis on weight-bearing exercise to build muscle density as I move through menopause and beyond. I’m loving learning to lift weights and have got back into running with the couch to 5K programme.
As with the nutrition, my personal trainer has clearly and succinctly explained what she believes me to need to do in order to ensure I meet the goals we set, and she has just the right degree of encouragement and motivation to steer me through this programme. I never thought I would enjoy the personal training sessions and was quite anxious about them at first, but I am now seeing the benefits and relishing the positivity I get after the sessions.
I wholeheartedly recommend the time and financial commitment required for this type of one to one service - I now feel I can be accountable for my own wellbeing in both areas - nutrition and exercise. However, I’ll certainly carry on having personal training sessions and Pilates, as well as my own running programme (good head space) and eating plans.
The icing on the cake after my initial set of nutrition and then personal training sessions was a massage from Vanessa. I have had massages from her before and I find them both incredibly relaxing and refreshing. Vanessa is very knowledgeable about female health and menopause so I always feel in very safe hands. This final aspect of my journey through menopause is all committing time and money to those things that needn’t be considered ‘treats’ but instead are about self care and valuing myself.
Through healthy eating, tailored exercise (Pilates and personal training) and the occasional massage, I feel I’m fitter, stronger and healthier and overall in a better position to navigate menopause and beyond.
If you'd like to find out how Massage and Aromatherapy can support your menopause journey, get in touch for a free 20 minute chat.