Best Exercises For Menopause

Best Exercises For Menopause

Best Exercises for Menopause

 

Best Exercises for Menopause

What’s happening to our bones and muscles during peri and menopause

  • On average a woman will lose about 10% bone mass while in menopause.
  • Doctor’s used to chalk this up to a decline in estrogen levels. You see estrogen helps preserve calcium in the the body, which in turn prevents bones breakdown. However, newer research is now recognizing that there is more to play than just our hormones.
  • We start to lose a percentage of our muscle mass and strength in our 40’s, and that picks up speed when we get into our 50’s.
  • Low estrogen levels can correspond with low serotonin levels (an important neurotransmitter which regulates mood and pain receptors), which can contribute to generalized aches and pain.

How to kick menopause in the a**

  • Exercise. You need to keep your body moving.
  • Strength training and weight bearing exercise to build your muscle and your bone mass.
  • Relaxation exercises (like meditation, yoga, mindful walking) to lower your stress and cortisol levels. This is especially important during our peri and menopausal years because our bodies are under enormous physical and emotional stress (during the hormonal transition of menopause – we also went through it in puberty).
  • Stress causes us to release higher levels of the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol, which can lead to increased programmed cell death in bone-building cells, as well as increased abdomen fat and chronic inflammation.

What I recommend

I would love to see every woman in the world pumping some iron. Strength training workouts:

  • Burn fat
  • Change the shape of you body
  • Boost your metabolism
  • Build your bones
  • Improve your joint stability and balance
  • Increase your muscle strength

What you should be focussing on with your strength workout

Over-40 woman

  • Because of the loss of muscle mass and strength that starts to occur in our 40’s (Kravitz, 2007), a strength training regime is a must for this age group.
  • 2-3 times a week at 60-90% of their repetition maximum.
  • Incorporate balance tools with your strength routine.
  • Areas to target: core, upper body strength

Fifties and Beyond

  • 2 times a week at 50-75% of their repetition maximum.
  • Women in this age bracket tend to see more success when working with a trainer or attending group classes geared for their age group.
  • Areas to target: balance, posture, core, shoulders

 

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Upper Body & Abs Workout for Women (Part 2)

Upper Body & Abs Workout for Women (Part 2)

Upper Body and Abs Workout for Women (Part 2)

When I set out to film workout videos I look at three things: has anyone requested certain workouts, what workouts are lacking on the channel and what are my most popular and viewed workouts.

Hence today’s workout Upper Body and Abs Workout for Women – Part 2 (but, really guys can do this too).

If you have done Part 1 Upper Body and Abs Workout for Women  I thought you might would enjoy another workout to add to their upper body training repertoire.

And if you haven’t done Part 1 – there is no need to do any of these two in order (part one first and then part two). Just choose at least one upper body workout a week and do it please. That’s all I ask.

upper-body-ab-workout-for-women-photos-fitness-with-pj

Upper Body & Abs Workout for Women – Part 2

 

Upper-Body-Ab-Workout-For-Women-Full-Workout-Fitness-with-PJ

 

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What is a Hot Flash?

What is a Hot Flash?

What is a Hot Flash?

I have been cold for most of my life (and I’m talking physically, not metaphorically).

I am always the one with a sweater on, even in the dead of summer. I am the last one to turn on a fan when working out, and I once wore a scarf – in Mexico.

I am probably the only woman on earth that couldn’t wait for menopause and hot flashes to start.

Fast forward to today and here I am kinda wishing I wasn’t so vocal to the hormone gods that I wanted some hot flashes.

What Exactly is a Hot Flash

Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause. It’s a quick feeling of heat that is not caused by any external sources, leaving us sweating from our scalps all the way down to our toes.

They can range from mild and tolerable, to downright troublesome, and all the way to severe and debilitating.

Some women can have hot flashes for decades, while others for just a few years.

A few weeks ago I reached out to my community to ask them how a hot flash felt for them, and here are some of the responses I received:

“A heat that feels like it’s “radiating from your body” late at night or the early hours of the morning…often accompanied by a sweaty neck and restless sleep.”

“…my experience has been with night sweats which you wake up and find yourself very hot and sweaty, sometimes having to change because you have soaked your pj’s – not fun! I have experienced day ones too, which you don’t give you any warning. One minute you’re fine and then the next you are wanting to take your clothes off because you are so hot and uncomfortable. It can be very embarrassing depending where you are, thank goodness I don’t get those very often. I do find if I have had wine that night that I am more prone to having a night sweat.”

“Hot flashes are a very uncomfortable feeling as they come suddenly and leave suddenly. Nights are the hardest as I dress up, undress, dress up, undress, probably 20 times a night.”

“Before hormone replacement I was getting hot flashes that would make my head and face feel like a volcano had erupted on it.”

“…a hot flash feels like my blood is burning up from the inside of me and my face and neck area gets very red, my arms are really hot and a darker color. Thank god they don’t last too long. You can feel them coming on and then you feel normal again.”

Researchers believe that women with hot flashes have more sensitive thermostats in their brain, so they are only comfortable in a small range of temperatures (North American Menopause Society – NAMS).

Researchers also hypothesize that hot flashes may be because of a change in our circulation (WebMD).

Dr. Karen McGee, naturopathic physician in Fort Langley who specializes in women’s health, says that a drop in estrogen is one of the factors in a hot flash, however she says that it is a bit more complex than just low estrogen.

She explains that we are actually designed to fight off hot flashes, but lifestyle hinders that fight.

There is a layer of our adrenal glands that releases sex hormones, and these hormones can prevent hot flashes. But, throw in a busy lifestyle and chronic stress and our adrenal glands are left being busy dealing with day-to-day life stuff. They are unable to balance the thermoregulation needed to prevent a hot flash.

And so the hormone sh*t-storm begins.

funny-menopause-hot-flash-quote-fitness-with-PJ

Hot Flash Triggers

While you can’t escape hot flashes during menopause, there some triggers you can avoid to help with the intensity of them.

These are:

  • Stress (to keep your adrenal glands happy)
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy Foods
  • Tight clothing
  • Heat
  • Cigarette smoke

NAMS recommends if your hot flashes are mild or moderate you may find relief by simply changing your lifestyle.

But, if you have severe hot flashes, while you will still benefit from lifestyle changes, you may also choose to take a nonprescription therapy or a prescription medication, including hormones to help you manage your symptoms.

Lifestyle Changes

A big lifestyle change that can help produce a difference with hot flashes is to stay cool (both physically and metaphorically), and reduce your stress.

Other relief options can include:

  • Avoiding warm rooms (no more saunas or hot tubs), hot drinks and foods, alcohol, caffeine, excess stress, and cigarette smoking.
  • Wearing layers of clothing made from light, breathable fabrics. This way you can remove a layer or two when you’re hot and replace them when you’re cooler (this is a tactic I use).
  • Using cooling products, including sprays, gels, and a Chillow pillow.
  • Reducing stress and promoting a more restful sleep by exercising regularly.
  • Meditation, yoga, qigong, tai chi, biofeedback, acupuncture, or massage will also lower your stress levels.

When you feel a hot flash coming on:

  • Try “paced respiration” (NAMS). This is slow, deep, abdominal breathing where you breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. You want to breathe like that for only 5 to 7 times per minute. So it is much slower than usual, and continue breathing like that until you feel the flash subside.
  • You can also try different strategies to stay cool while sleeping, such as dressing in light, breathable nightclothes. Or, wear workout wear, like a Nike dri-fit top.
  • Use layered bedding that can be easily removed during the night.
  • Cool down with a bedside fan.
  • Keep a frozen cold pack under your pillow, and turn the pillow often so that your head is always resting on a cool surface.
  • If you wake at night, sip cool water and to get back to sleep try meditation, paced respiration, or getting out of bed and reading until you become sleepy.

Women who are overweight tend to have more hot flashes, so maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly will help in both decreasing the hot flashes while also improving your overall health.

Nonprescription Therapies

Many nonprescription therapies can help reduce hot flashes, but not because of how you would think.

Researchers claim that nonprescription therapies work because of the placebo effect.

When nonprescription treatments are studied scientifically (NAMS) it has been found that they are JUST as effective as the placebo.

But, even if relief is simply all in our heads it is still worth a shot to try, yes?

Yes, I think so too.

Some remedies you might want to consider for hot flash relief are:

  • Soy: eat one or two servings of foods daily (containing isoflavones). This can be tofu, tempeh, soymilk, or roasted soy nuts.
  • Supplements containing soy isoflavones.
  • Herb supplements: such as black cohosh, have also decreased hot flashes in some studies

Prescription Therapies

Dr. McGee sees success with her patients using bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (replacing your estrogen and progesterone).

Estrogen, in a pill or a transdermal patch, is highly effective at reducing, and in some cases, eliminating symptoms.

However, there are risks with hormone therapy (HT).

Long term studies of women receiving oral preparations of combined hormone therapy of both estrogen and progesterones were halted when it was discovered that the women in the study had an increased risk for heart attack, stroke and breast cancer when compared with women who did not receive HT.

Later studies of women taking estrogen alone showed that estrogen was associated with an increased risk for stroke, but not for heart attack or breast cancer.

So, the decision to start, or continue taking, HT is a hard one and a very individual choice. Talk to your health care provider to weigh the pros and cons.

Other prescription therapies include:

  • Low-dose depression drugs like fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), or venlafaxine (Effexor)
  • Clonidine, a blood pressure medication
  • Gabapentin, an anti-seizure drug
  • Brisdelle, a paroxetine formula specifically for hot flashes
  • Duavee, a conjugated estrogens/bazedoxifene formula designed to treat hot flashes

You can also read what the North American Menopause Society recommends by clicking here.

 

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Mid-Life Crisis

Mid-Life Crisis

Mid-Life Crisis

The only thing I can chalk up my latest goal/what-I-want-to-do is that I must be suffering from a mid-life crisis.

You see I am a month shy of 46 years, peri-menopausal and wondering if this aging thing is really for me.

Actually scratch that last sentence – I know this aging thing isn’t for me. I don’t like it and I don’t want to encourage it in any sort of way. I know I am going to age but…I am not going down without a fight.

How You View Your Mid-Life

Experts say the answer of how we will enter our mid-life will depend in part in how we have viewed our life so far and how we view it for the future.

 

There are those who will feel less conflicted about their age because when they reflect back at their past years it’s with affection and they are able to happily move forward to the next years.

While others will wonder, “Is this it?”, and instead of looking back on their years fondly they, instead, only focus on the diminishing years ahead.

They see the time-bomb ticking and think to themselves “Sh*t.”.

This is where the mid-life crisis begins. When these poor buggers believe that if they do something drastic and shake things up in their life that it will either A) distract them from the fact that time is ticking away, or B) by getting their butts in gear they won’t miss out on any goal or grand plan that life had for them.

A mid-life crisis is really the original FOMO.

And, I am one of those poor buggers suffering from both A and B.

Mid-life-crisis-funny-quote-fitness-with-pj

Mid-Life Crisis To-Do List

My mid-life crisis to-do list is a bit long (visit Europe, learn a new language, write a book), but there has been one goal that has been in the back of my mind for a while and two weeks ago I finally bucked up and owned it.

 

 I decided this was the year I was going to compete in a fitness competition, in particular the NPAA BC Classic (Natural Physique Athletic Association) happening this May 1st in Richmond.

 

 What will I be competing in? Bikini Masters (for women 35 years and older), and if I have the courage Bikini Novice as well (this is where I would be competing with women as young as 20 – not sure I want to be on the stage twice). Gulp.

I Got To Wear What?!?

First things first, I am not a bathing-suit-strutting kind of gal.

 

 While I am comfortable in front of a group of people, it’s usually because I am talking about fitness (my passion), I am fully dressed (my desire), and I am wearing Nikes (my comfort).

 

 For this competition I will need to wear a bikini (similar to the one below), with the mandatory 5″ high hooker-heels and pose in some of the most awkward-looking positions.

 

 This all makes me very uncomfortable and sick to my stomach when I think about it.

 

Bikini-competition 

 

Why Do A Competition?

So why do this, you wonder? Why do something that makes me nauseous every time I think about wearing an itsy-bitsy bikini in front of a large crowd of people?

 

 Why live on chicken breast, protein shakes, broccoli, air and water for 12 weeks? Why workout six days a week, sometimes twice a day?

 

 These are great questions and the best answer I can give you is that I do not want to sit in my rocking chair in my later years and have any regrets.

 

 Regrets that I was too scared, too intimidated, too unmotivated, too lazy and too uncommitted to try.

 

Next Steps

 

 This past week has been helping loving husband feel comfortable with this (cause he’s not too keen about his wife being half-naked in front of a bunch of people), as well as assuring him I will only be a bit of a bitch for the next 3 months.

 

 Let’s face it. I am going to be a little angrier and a bit more impatient than normal until May. While I will try my hardest not to be, truth-be-told I don’t diet well and I love food.

 

 Starting a week ago, and until competition day, I am on one of the strictest eating regimes that I have ever tried.

 

 I have said good bye to my favourite foods and beverages (so long spiced rum, I will miss – but I will never forget you), and eat more meat than I care to.

 

 However, it’s worth it.

 

 It’s worth proving that mid-life is the best time kick some ass. It’s worth showing other women you can do, and can be whatever you want to be – no matter what age you are.

 

 All you need to do is put the work in, have focus and determination, and keep your sense of humour along the way.

 

 Week 13 – Before Photo

Week 13 - Before  

Stay tuned… every 2-weeks I will be blogging about my journey to becoming a fitness bikini competitor. 

 

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Testing Positive for Menopause

Testing Positive for Menopause

Testing Positive for Menopause

I just recently came face-to-face with getting older and I didn’t like it one bit.

With every passing birthday I was aware that I was getting older; I just never felt or thought that I was. I mean, getting old was what happened to other people, like my husband and my sisters for example.

Of course there was that grey hair I found a while ago. But, that was easily sorted out with a good tug.

Then the wrinkles came, but hallelujah for high-definition makeup, retinol and really expensive eye creams.

I also ignored the aches that weren’t there in my body ten years ago, as well as the declining energy levels (I chalked this up to me learning how to relax, something that is recommended for us high-stung Type A’s).

But, something recently happened that I could no longer ignore, buy a cream to correct, or even drink my delusions away with.

I started menopause.

A Trainer’s Denial About Menopause 

At first I was in complete denial. How much denial, you’re wondering? Epic levels, let me tell you.

One evening I internalized this change in my body when I couldn’t sleep – because we don’t really sleep do we? Instead, middle-aged women “drift” through the night.

Anyways, I got myself so worked up about my lack of a menstrual cycle for the past three months that I convinced myself that this absolutely could NOT be menopause.

It had to be something else.

I was far too young for menopause. This only happened to other women. Older women.

The thought of this not being menopause, and instead being the alternative, was frightening to the bone and I could not keep this to myself any longer. I had to wake up loving husband and let him in on my epiphany.

Now, ladies, I have a tip for you. If you want to FREAK your significant other out, wake them up in the middle of the night and tell them that you think you are pregnant. Works better than a bucket of cold water to the face.

Poor loving husband was up all night having waking nightmares of being in his 60’s with a teenager.

funny-getting-older-quote-Fitness-with-PJ

Testing Positive

The next day I ended up in a local pharmacy, incognito, buying a home pregnancy test. When I got home sure enough I did test positive…for menopause.

Lucky for me, this past last year I have been designing fitness programs and plans specific for peri and menopausal women.

I have had the fortune of interviewing some of the industry’s best about how to handle menopause so I knew what I needed to do to help control my weight, my hot flashes, my sleeping problems, my brain fog and my turn-on-a-dime moods.

What none of these experts taught me, however, was how to handle this change emotionally. Because that was where menopause was really kicking me in the butt.

I did not want to age like my mother!

Could Menopause Be Just Like a Workout?

And then I got to thinking (again when I couldn’t sleep, because those are the best times to think, aren’t they?), menopause is just another cog in the wheel of this thing called my life.

I started relating to it in terms that I knew and could understand.

First, I thought of life as one big workout (cut me some slack, I’m a trainer), and came to the conclusion that menopause is just another rep in this one big workout of life.

And, just like any other rep that I do in the gym I have three choices:

  • I can perform it poorly and set myself up for injury
  • I can do the rep half-hearted and see little to no results
  • Or I can put all of my effort and focus on this one rep and grow

The only difference here was that I wasn’t growing physically; instead, I was focussing on growing emotionally and spiritually.

So, here I am putting all my energy into this one rep and finding out that I don’t mind the burn or the short-term pain of menopause. Because, in the end, I plan on coming out of this a better woman.

 

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