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Navigating through Menopause

 

My name is Deborah Divers.  I am a Fiancé, Mom, Auntie, Avid Crossfitter, Foodie and Nutritionist.   I have a passion for the science of nutrition, which began in college.  For 12 years,  I worked as a Registered Dietitian in the hospital.

 

As my kids got older, I made the decision to be a stay-at-home-Mom.  Even though I did not work in the hospital, I continued to study nutrition.   For the past 20+ years I’ve studied nutrition, homeopathy, and various holistic therapies.   I have been fortunate to find significantly skilled and trained practitioners who have taken the time to teach me some of what they know.  Following a more holistic approach to health has lead me to therapies that have significantly improved my health, and also the health of my loved ones.

 

A few years ago, even with all of my education and training, my health was declining.  I was eating what I considered “healthy”,  I was active, but not on a regular basis.  I had become out of balance, too much focus on working and not enough on my diet and fitness.

 

A Time For  Change

 

I made the decision to get myself back into shape and  headed to the gym.  At the age of 55, I started working out at Crossfit Olympia.  I weighed 220 pounds.  My blood pressure was running 140/90 (elevated) and my bone density scan results showed osteopenia (the beginning stage of osteoporosis).  So much for SAD!  (Standard American Diet).  Along with all of those changes, I was entering Peri-Menopause.  I was having mild hot flashes and noticed my ears ringing occasionally.

 

 

Enjoying my family and the food – Standard American Diet that I so believed in.  Overweight and health on the decline.

 

Crossfit Lead to Paleo

 

While I was making progress in my fitness and loving Crossfit, I had to admit that my diet needed an overhaul.   I will never forget the moment that I realized that I really did NOT know everything there was to know about nutrition!

 

I had several reasons for changing my diet; preventing kidney stones, reducing body fat, reversing the trend toward high blood pressure, a normal bone density scan and also decreasing the symptoms caused by menopause.

 

After 2 years of Crossfit (3 times a week), I was turning the trend toward poor health to a much healthier lifestyle.   My bone density scan had dramatically improved, only 2 small areas of bone thinning.   My blood pressure was coming down, (130/85 and 140/80) but was still not down to normal.  I had lost 20 pounds and was feeling SO much better physically and emotionally.  There is NO better feeling than being one with the iron!!  However, I was still overweight and suffering from night sweats.

 

Menopause Symptoms Evolve

 

Menopause symptoms continued, but when the hot flashes occurred at night waking me up 5 or 6 times,  it was time to do some research and figure out what I could do to ease me through this time of transition.  Menopause is a natural process, but why didn’t I know a SINGLE thing about it?

 

 

Getting my Pullups!

 

The Benefits of Eating Paleo

 

During my third year of Crossfit, I began doing Paleo challenges, and quickly realized how much better I was feeling.  After the first month of eating Paleo, my blood sugar was stabilizing and I wasn’t dragging food around with me everywhere I went.  I also started noticing a decrease in the frequency and intensity of the hot flashes.  But the night sweats continued.  My weight was staying the same, 200 pounds.  The best news was that my blood pressure readings were normal!  120/80.

 

One of the symptoms of Menopause is weight gain.  There is no question that choosing food from the Paleo guidelines has helped to keep me from gaining weight.  In fact, because of Paleo, I have trimmed down another 10 pounds (a total of 30 pounds down since starting Crossfit & Paleo).  When I get discouraged about the slow weight loss, I have to remind myself of where I would be without these changes!  I now weigh 190 pounds, and my goal weight is 165 pounds.

 

Weighing In

 

To reach my goal weight, I cut my alcohol intake from drinking red wine 3 to 4 nights a week, down to zero.   Once I stopped drinking alcohol, I realized what a big contributor alcohol made to the night sweats.  So, it’s a choice I make.  If I drink alcohol, it’s guaranteed, I will have night sweats.  Usually, my love of a good night sleep wins and I don’t have that glass of wine!

 

The other “tweak” to my diet during menopause is increasing my vegetables and decreasing my fruit intake.  I eliminated fruit juice  because of the affect the simple carbs have on blood sugar.  Fruit juice contains fructose, and very little fiber.  Drinking fruit juice is similar to drinking a sweetened soft drink as far as how quickly it enters our system.  When I do eat fruit, I have berries, which is closer to what our Paleolithic ancestors ate, according to what was in season.

 

Supplements I Use to Ease Menopause Symtptoms

 

For the past 6 months, I have been more consistently including omega 3 sources into my daily diet, fish oil, flaxseed, and more salmon.  A good reference on this topic is Mark’s Daily Apple:  http://www.marksdailyapple.com/omega-3-fish-oil-food-quantities/#axzz1pse9M13F

 

I have begun reading “Mastering Leptin” by Byron J. Richards, CCN.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Leptin-Energetic-Vitality-Prevention/dp/0972712100

 

I chose this book, to better understand the endocrine system and the role that leptin (referred to as the most powerful hormone in our bodies) plays in weight loss and also menopause.  I have identified that I  am “Leptin Resistant”, which is why I  struggle to lose weight during menopause.  I am learning the importance of balancing the “female” and “male” hormones, and made the choice to begin using Estriol, in a topical cream to support estrogen balance.  The subject of Estrogen is a big one.  To be brief, Estriol is one of the 3 types of Estrogen, referred to as “The protective Estrogen.” After using the cream for one month, my hot flashes have decreased to once per night, and the intensity has decreased dramatically.   I have ordered the topical Estriol online.

 

I found Estriol-Care made by Life-flo, the price is much lower than other brands I found.    You can find it online by Googling, or use this link to give you several purchase options:

 

http://www.bing.com/shopping/search?q=life-flo+estriol-care&qpvt=life-flo+estriol-care&FORM=HURE#x0y0

 

After using the Estriol cream, I then added Female Plus, an oral supplement.  This is an exerpt from the product description:  Female Plus™ is our most popular nutrient support to help naturally balance female hormones.* It supports the synergistic function of the brain, adrenals, and ovaries.* It does not contain phytoestrogenic herbs (soy, black cohosh, red clover, etc.), which are

 

I have taken this supplement for about 6 weeks now.  The night sweats sometimes do not occur at all……nice trend!   I have more stamina again.  The mood swings, fuzzy thinking and anxiety, well…..they are about the same, which is o.k., these are minor symptoms for me.

 

Adrenal Fatigue

 

Adrenal support is something we also need to consider.  When the ovaries slow down their production of estrogen and progesterone, the adrenal glands need to compensate during menopause.  Many of us have active lifestyles, balancing careers, family, workouts…..need I say more?  Pushing ourselves day after day, and relying on adrenaline to keep going, over time wreaks havoc with our adrenal glands.  One of the signs that you might be experiencing low adrenal function is significant fatigue in the morning.

 

Adrenal Support is a topic all its own and to do a decent job, should be a separate blog.  I will write more on that topic in a future post.

 

It is exciting to open up a forum for discussion and share our common experiences, especially when you, the reader, have found something that has helped you to deal with the symptoms.  I hope you’ll share your thoughts and stories on not only coping with menopause, but about embracing this time in our lives!

 

I’ll be back with more information on this topic.  Until then…..Stay Strong!

 

 

Happier & Healthier!

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