“Menopause” – that word, so infrequently discussed almost as though it needs to be kept hush hush, yet is a significant part of ALL women’s lives. And no it’s not just that we stop menstruating, although many western doctors would tend to lead one to think that’s all it is.
One of my many pet peeves is the profoundly inadequate research and knowledge base for women’s specific health and training…from pre and postpartum protocols, to understanding hormonal cycles, debilitating syndromes, and how women in peri- and post- menopause manage a host of symptoms which are so often brushed off as “no big deal”. We can do better.
It is all a big deal and finally western science is beginning to do research based on the female physiology. Yes, most historical “athletic performance” data and health science has been done on men, outside of the realm of child birth.
Menopause is the final part of a decline in hormone production that can begin as early as our thirties and culminates usually mid forties to mid fifties for most women. The list of symptoms women can struggle with is massive.
After menopause when most hormone production has stopped, the list of increased health risks for women include and are not limited too: osteopenia and osteoporosis, insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular disease, muscle wasting, and anxiety and depression. Of course, this list is not exhaustive nor limited to women who are “unhealthy”.
So how do we stay healthy and have the energy to stay active and train? Our sleep is critical, nutrition needs shift and we need to commit to strength training and threshold training regularly or we lose muscle mass and slow down, and are unable to recover from what we see as regular activities. There are so many bullet points to share:
- Strength Train Regularly – you’ll also need adequate protein intake for recovery…
- Get .9-1.2g of protein per pound body weight daily, from a variety of protein sources. Complete protein is critical and specifically Leucine – which can be found in whey protein or a BCAA supplement.
- Get some intensity work in so you don’t slow down. Speed/Power work in the gym or your sport.
- Focus on getting plenty of sleep. Melatonin, Valerian Root, Tart Cherry Juice are just some options that can help.
- Stay hydrated (always).
- ..Of course, the list goes on. One fabulous resource for women of all ages and hormone phases is Stacy Simms book, Roar.
Having personally navigated peri and post menopause, and continuing the journey as it’s never really over, I’m happy to share my own personal experiences and insights.