This month we talk to Samantha Marcus, menopause professional, personal trainer and nutritional coach.
For most women heading into their ‘middle years’ can be a challenging time physically and emotionally. Hormones start to fluctuate, joints become stiff and achy plus there are obvious signs of weight gain around our abdomen called visceral fat. Generally we tend to ignore it, carrying on with day to day life not noticing we are becoming more and more miserable without really understanding why.
Having been in the fitness industry for over 20 years I have had the pleasure of training women of all ages. So for me it became extremely noticeable how our bodies stopped responding to eating habits such as ‘little and often’ or ‘snacking’.
After qualifying in Exercise and Nutrition for Menopausal Women I’ve spent the last six years researching this taboo subject, listening to women’s experiences and working closely with my clients to understand exactly how we can still feel fabulous at 40+.
‘Age should not be a barrier for good health and well-being’
I can give you some harsh facts like “from the age of 40 we lose half a pound of muscle and gain a pound and a half of fat, which means if you don’t alter your lifestyle you’ll be a stone heavier by your 50th birthday!” or “after the age of 40 the rate of bone loss exceeds the rate of new bone formation, meaning that bone density starts to decline and extra care must be taken to minimise this loss and risk of osteoporosis”.
Oestrogen helps to reduce inflammation, therefore a decline in this hormone will increase the risk of inflamed, stiff, achy joints. So for me, at the age of 25 or 45 these principles stand strong, if your body isn’t responding let’s try harder and most importantly understanding that movement is the best form of rehabilitation for any aches and pains.
‘I truly believe food and lifestyle have the power to heal almost anything’
I suggest to my clients to keep a diary. Log your intake of food, fluids and note the days your more bloated, feeling anxious or fatigued, possibly experiencing day or night sweats. This will help you to see a pattern of your cycle, enable you to eliminate foods your body just can’t digest anymore plus you will be able to book a yoga class for relaxation or a spin class when your more energised.
Another factor women miss as they get older is the importance of building muscle mass. Muscle helps to protect our skeletal system, enables us to move freely, improves strength and flexibility. Performing 2-3 weight bearing workouts per week, along with cardio will not only give us a strong, supple body but the more lean muscle we have the more our body utilities excess fat.
Muscles need fuel to grow. Over the years I have worked hard to get this calorie deficit right to reboot our slowing metabolism. Simple changes to make is to eat three balanced meals without snacking. Aim to leave 3-4 hours in between meals, for example eating breakfast at 9/10am, lunch around 1/2pm and dinner at 5/6pm can work so well as after three hours your body will want food BUT if you can wait another hour, where does your empty body get fuel from, the menopausal reserves we are holding on too, mostly around our stomachs.
I know this doesn’t work for all but I eat my dinner no later than 5pm, my food is well digested and I go to bed feeling less bloated. General rule of thumb is if your stomach doesn’t rumble then your metabolism has gone to sleep!
Taking up regular exercise and eating a healthy diet doesn’t just make us look good but it will play a big role in our emotional well being. There are many menopausal symptoms that affect our moods like feeling anxious or stressed, fatigue, lack of confidence and palpitations. If you are experiencing any of the above then I can assure you taking up regular exercise will help to reduce the severity of these symptoms by releasing happy hormones ‘endorphins’ and increasing your serotonin levels which will help us to sleep, eat and digest food properly.
So ladies if I still haven’t convinced you to ditch those heels for a pair of trainers let’s at least reduce the stigma on the word menopause by giving support, guidance and education which will only improve your experience that all women, at one point in their lives, will inevitably face.
‘Let’s create a future where’s is ok to say Menopause at a cocktail party!’
To find out more about Samantha, follow her on Instagram @naturallymenopausal.