I don’t think I ever heard the word “menopause” cross my mother’s lips. Nope, for her it was the dreaded change of life or simply the change. For years I connected these terms with the idea of eventually losing my marbles and sprouting hair on my chin. Heck, according to my mom and aunts, some women went through the change and never came out of it! (Now that I think about it, I always wondered where Aunt Betty disappeared to).
Nowadays, we’re much more sophisticated about our terminology, and thanks to Google, better educated about this period (no pun intended) of our lives.
Despite my earlier fears about menopause, for me it didn’t turn out to be that bad in terms of physical discomfort. My biggest annoyance (and from what I hear from other ladies as well) were those times when I was walking around at work or at the mall, my temperature a comfortable 98.6 – when suddenly my body made a visit to the desert, at high noon on a 102 degree day. What the . . . ???
Yep, hot flashes (and their evil buddy, night sweats) were what drove me crazy throughout menopause. If you’re suffering from them as well, you may want to take a look at some cooling down options:
Craving Thai or Szechuan food? STOP! Do not go there. High-fat and high-sugar diets can make hot flash symptoms worse; ditto caffeine and alcohol.
Instead, try the Mediterranean Diet as described in this article from the Eating Well website. This way of eating can also help fight off that lousy weight gain that leads to meno-pots (don’t you love being a woman?)
Research has also shown that adding soy foods to a diet can help, because they contain isoflavones. Try soybeans, edamame, tofu, or roasted soy nuts.
Try ground flaxseed (available in grocery stores), which may help fight against hot flashes (they’re also good for our heart health; containing fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, and lignan) You can add the seeds to smoothies, juice, or oatmeal.*
Stress has been linked to hot flashes (jeez, what hasn’t stress been linked to?), so take steps to relieve daily stressors before they build up may help. Meditation, deep breathing techniques, getting regular exercise, and keeping a journal to vent about bad stuff are a few ways to do this. Or invite your hot-flash-suffering friends over for a kick menopause in the butt party.
Medical treatment involves low-dose hormone therapy used only for the short-term. You can read more about medical options in this article from the My Health Alberta website.
Looking for some natural supplement options? Take a look at Dr. Andrew Weil’s suggestion in this article. (You should talk to your doctor prior to taking supplements)
The long term benefits of this form of exercise are just as important, and affect our longevity in several ways.
Aerobic exercise, along with other fitness options, are a boon for our brain health. Who in the heck wants their brain cells to rustas they age? Bea sure doesn’t. A recent study published in Frontiers in Aging Neurosciencedocumented the effects of exercise on memory and other cognitive functions. This is only one study, of course; but there are plenty more out there in Googleland that provide additional evidence of the power of aerobic activity on our brains.
Aerobic exercise helps us fight off age-related disease and conditions that make aging not-so-fun! There’s a great deal of scientific evidence linking aerobic exericise to the prevention of heart diseases, certain cancers, Type II diabetes, and stroke.
Aerobic exercise can helps us increase our endurance, flexibility and balance, all of which help fight off frailty as we age.
Add protein to your breakfast. A breakfast that’s high in carbohydrates can make you feel sluggish before lunch. Try a hard boiled or scrambled egg, high protein cereal or Greek yogurt, along with a whole-grain carb.
Try a new fruit or vegetable every week. Many fruits and veggies provide us with high levels of antioxidants, are high in fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals our bodies need. Mixing it up by adding a new fruit or veggie every week keeps our palates from getting bored.
Craving something sweet? Pass on the Snickers bar! For a low-calorie treat, try Dole Dippers, found in the frozen foods section of your supermarket – strawberry or banana pieces dipped in dark chocolate (good for our hearts!). Warning: if you don’t like dark chocolate (67% dark cocoa) you won’t like ‘em.
Do you drink a lot of soda? Replace one glass of soda with good old water. You may find that once you start drinking water or plain iced tea with meals, your sugar cravings may be lessened. Don’t like plain water? Add a little lemon or lime juice. Of course, if you’re eating pizza, there’s nothing else you can drink but a soda or an ice-cold beer.
Work at a desk all day? Research has shown that too much sitting can lead to heart disease, obesity, and other health issues. Get up at least once every hour; walk around your office building or if possible, take a brisk outdoor walk. Fresh air is energizing.
Are you on your feet all day at work? Do your footsies a favor and give them a good soaking while you’re enjoying a television show, reading a book, or listening to music in the evening. Not only will your feel thank you, but you’ll also be lowering your stress levels and preparing yourself for a good night’s sleep as well.
Do you exercise? Mix it up to keep it from getting boring and to keep your muscles guessing. For example, if you do cardio exercises, add strength training. Try a new workout, such as Zumba or a Spin class. Add yoga for increased flexibility, muscle toning, and improved posture.
Answers to questions from Bea’s January 12th post:
Most diet experts say we should weigh ourselves once a week, since our weight tends to vary from day-to-day, and people who are attempting to lose weight may find it frustrating to see those up-and-down variances. WebMD points out the “4 S’s” of weighing ourselves in this article.
For a different point of view, here’s what Melissa Conrad Stoppler has to say in this MedicineNet article, To Weigh or Not to Weigh .
And as for the best day of the week to weigh ourselves? Bea recently heard the answer to this on her local news station, and the Cleveland Clinic agrees: Wednesday is the best day of the week to step on that scale. Read more here: The Best Day of the Week to Weigh Yourself.
I’m willing to bet that you weren’t aware of these 9 fantastic heart facts:
Our heart pumps around 2,000 gallons of blood every stinking day.
Our heart beats around 100,000 beats per day, 35 million times a year, and around 2.5 billion beats in an average lifetime.
The heart is not on the left side of our chest – it’s in the middle, hanging out between our lungs.
Have a big heart is great figuratively. Literally? Not so much. An enlarged heart is a symptom of heart disease.
What day do most heart attacks occur? I’ll give you a hint, it’s NOT on our favourite day of the week, Friday. Nope, it’s the day we all love to hate: Monday (wow, what a surprise).
A guy’s heart is around 25% bigger than a woman’s. A woman’s heart beats faster than a man’s.
Guys, are you losing the hair on the top of your head? Watch out! Research shows that you have a higher risk of heart disease, especially if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels. (I suggest you join Hair Club for Men, stat. If it’s still around, that is).
The heart can continue to beat when separated from the body, as long as it has an oxygen source.
Lastly, we all know that laughter makes us feel better about life. Health experts point out that laughing not only has emotional health benefits; it’s also great for our heart. You can read more about that in this article.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart. (Helen Keller)
Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye. (H. Jackson Brown, Jr.)
Despite everything, I believe that people really are good at heart. (Anne Frank)
I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark. (Raymond Carver)
Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them. (Marvin J. Ashton)