Does Menopause Scare you? Let’s Talk..

Having spent the initial years of my working life as a Management consultant in London and Hong Kong, pursued by a career as a BBC broadcast journalist; I chose to take a break when I fell pregnant. Before my eldest son turned two, my husband’s career brought us to Dubai. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend time raising my two amazing boys.

As the boys grew in their independence, I felt the desire to do something for myself. Health and fitness have always been a huge focus in our lives, I have been training myself since my student days and I enjoyed sharing workouts with my friends and family, so I qualified as a personal trainer.

Recently, a number of friends in their late forties, early fifties have approached me seeking advise on workouts to combat stubborn belly fat, whilst constantly feeling fatigued. They then share their fear of entering the menopausal era. I ask myself, what is menopause? Do women feel shy to talk about it?

My first port of call was to speak to Dr Katia El Sibai, an endocrinologist based in Dubai as well as Niamh Daly, a Senior Yoga and Pilates instructor and nutritionist who uses her expertise to support menopausal women.

Dr. Sibai answered my first question by explaining the journey commences with Peri-menopause, the ‘late reproductive years’ – this can start in your late forties. She clarifies ‘Cycles will shorten and progesterone decreases. Bleeding patterns will change with prolonged cycles between periods and hormonal fluctuations. Soon, periods will be missed and ovulations will decrease. This stage can last between 1-4 years before the Menopause. After a few years of menstrual irregularity, periods will stop’. She adds, ‘There are a list of symptoms women may encounter, the common ones being hot flushes and fatigue. Hot flushes are due to the drop in estrogen levels’.

The symptoms started to make sense after I hear this. Estrogen triggers serotonin, the feel-good chemical responsible for our good-moods. Serotonin makes melatonin, the primary sleep hormone; very low estrogen can also lead to bone deterioration.

How can fitness help?

Any exercise releases endorphins that in turn triggers a positive feeling in the body. Building muscle strengthens bones, along with sufficient vitamins and minerals.

Niamh suggests Pilates, gentle weight training, Yoga with added resistance. She also adds ‘ If you are struggling with aches and pains, gentle walking or moderate housework are great options. Regular activity is really good for lowering stress hormones, improving a number of health markers, and burning calories’. She is a strong advocate of yoga and stretching.

When I asked her advice on fighting fatigue, she claimed‘ You can’t eat/coffee your way out of fatigue when your body and brain need rest… I swear by a nap before 3pm…If you work in an office, just close your eyes for five minutes (even if you have to sneak into a toilet cubicle!)…’ This should be complimented by macro-balanced meals and snacks to nourish the brain and stabilise blood sugar.

My Mission is to focus on fitness during menopause and reach as many women as possible. I endeavor to delve deeper, learning and sharing as much as I can. There is no need to suffer in silence, every woman deserves to look and feel her best. I am here to help you and you can speak to me through my social media if you need any help.

Check out my personal page on Instagram Sharon Johal on @sharon_fitat40

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