My first encounter with menopause was unexpected, I had just turned 40 and was living my dream. I had a career in New York City, traveling all over the world, wearing amazing clothes, and going to glamorous art and film openings. I was meeting so many incredible people and having such a blast. I was living a life that most women dreamt of until one day out of the blue my body started to change.
It all started with dizziness, numbness, and tingling in the extremities. I had headaches so bad that it felt like my head was bursting from the inside. I’d be in the middle of a meeting and start sweating profusely. No matter how much I took time to rest, I felt tired, and the worst part was how my brain just didn’t seem to feel like it was working the way I was used to.
If you are anywhere near 40 or in your 40s perhaps you know what I mean.
I had always been athletic, running, jumping, swimming, and climbing rocks… I loved how powerful and lean my body was. I took care of it by eating clean, lean, and green, I happily exercised every day and made sure I got good sleep.
I loved beautiful clothes and once my career took off, I was able to buy what I wanted and had my clothes made by a wonderful designer in NYC. I could walk into his showroom and wear anything off of his models between a size 4 & 6.
Until one day, my new belly made that impossible.
That was the last straw. After the fourth doctor’s visit and countless tests and multiple scans…the doctor said it’s menopause.
“Menowhat?” I gasped. “Isn’t that something for old ladies?”
….I had just turned 40.
I left that office feeling confused, angry, and thinking…
What the heck, am I going to do now? Does this mean I’m aging prematurely, that I’m no longer sexy or beautiful or desirable?
What’s going to happen now?
I didn’t know what I didn’t know – The facts on menopause:
In the United States, approximately 2 million women become menopausal each year. That’s an estimated 6,000 US women reaching menopause every day. (Source: The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports 2019.)
This means at any given time, an average of 27 million women between the ages of 45 & 64, or 20% of the American workforce experience menopause each year.
It sounds like I have a lot of company! I began to understand that there are a lot of women out there who are probably just as confused as I am. Source 1: (https://www.fastcompany.com/3056703/how-menopause-silently-affects-27-million-women-at-work-every-day) Source 2: (Peacock, K, Kervertis, K./ Menopause – Nov. 2019 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507826/)
What happened next?
My doctor offered supplementation with synthetic hormones to get my hormones back on track. Anti-depressants for my hot flashes and mood, and some painkillers for the headaches.
I thought “This isn’t what I’m used too, but I’ll try it.”
It didn’t take long for this regimen to kick in, I immediately noticed that my symptoms got worse…especially the hot flashes and brain fog. I had somehow naively thought that I could start this treatment and then everything would go back to normal fast…but that wasn’t the case.
When supplementing with hormones, there is an adjustment period where your body experiences side effects that can include breast tenderness, nausea, leg cramps, and more. I also didn’t realize it would take up to 3 months in some cases for my hormones to balance out with this form of treatment.
Since I didn’t count on this adjustment period and my doctor did not mention it in my initial visit, I proactively called back while experiencing symptoms.
It was then she said, “Oh right, your body needs time to adjust.”
So, the more I learned about menopause and its symptoms the more there was to know. I also thought if I’m confused, then other women are probably confused too!
If you know someone who has dealt with a serious illness, and the impact it has on their body, you know how horrible it can feel when something like this happens. It undermines your confidence, forces you into stress mode, and affects all aspects of your life health, finances, relationships, work, and even your relationship with yourself. It can make you feel truly miserable in every area.
I had to get help!
So I did what I do best. As a public health and epidemiologist practitioner trained in women’s health, I jumped down the research rabbit hole.
The most notable expert I came across in my research is Dr. Christiane Northrup MD who is the foremost expert on women’s health and menopause, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, and The Secret Pleasures of Menopause.
What she said changed everything for me.
She said: “Menopause is not the end. It’s only the end of your ability to have a child naturally, however, it is the beginning of the secret and unlimited pleasure that your body and mind ever thought possible.”
She calls menopause the springtime of the second half of your life.
This perspective helped me to realize the approach I was getting from my doctors and what most experts were recommending was exactly contrary to this idea of the secret joy and pleasure of menopause. That I was thinking of menopause like a disease, and treating it like one when it actually was not.
So what exactly is menopause?
The word meno is Greek and literally means the end of monthly cycles. The first stage of menopause is perimenopause which is called the transition phase and starts on average at around 40, but as early as 35 in some cases. The second stage is menopause which starts around 51 and is characterized by a 12 complete month cycle without a period and the final stage is postmenopause.
Perimenopause is the initial transition stage of menopause where the flow of the monthly menstrual cycle becomes erratic. Lighter, heavier, or unpredictable as the ovaries begin to make less estrogen. The duration can be as short as 2 years or as long as 10 years. It can start as early as 35, but on average it starts at 40 and can end by 50 or 51. During this transition period, a woman’s sex hormones especially (estrogen, & progesterone) decline their production. This decline in production and function of these key hormones is a direct result of the hormones decreasing because of aging. The end result is hormone imbalance which causes the dreaded menopausal symptoms that we all complain about.
Hormone imbalance is the root cause of menopause and results in a barrage of symptoms. There are 34 at least– including irregular cycle, some heavy bleeding at times, headaches, night sweats, hot flashes, brain fog, weight gain, poor sleep and anxiety, moodiness, and more.
These symptoms become a regular part of life and are often what women complain about when they go to their doctors for relief.
Gamechanger: A Holistic Health Coach specializing in hormone imbalance:
When my struggles with menopause started, I wasn’t a health coach and didn’t even know they existed. I just knew I wanted my body and my life back and I didn’t want to feel so physically and emotionally miserable because of how my body was changing.
It would have been fine if I only had to deal with a couple of these symptoms, but it wasn’t just weight gain or brain fog or lack of energy. I had a high pressure, high-performance job, and having those symptoms coupled with constant headaches and lack of motivation, moodiness, hot flashes and poor sleep drained me of my vitality and compounded how sick I felt.
This is why I’m convinced most women look for a medical solution to end the misery created by these symptoms.
The body has innate wisdom.
My journey led me to understand that there is an innate wisdom in a woman’s body and that the body can guide us if we listen to it, in how we take care of it. I knew in my gut I wanted a more holistic, natural, and gentle approach to restoring my health, weight, and hormone balance.
After calling 10 “naturopathic, holistic offices” It was a health coach specializing in hormone health who got me back on the right track.
She taught me that what was happening to me wasn’t my fault. That a woman’s body changes every decade and, most importantly, the body is always seeking or trying to get back in balance. It is our responsibility to listen to it and take ownership of our own healing. Exactly what Dr. Northrup preached in her book…
With her help:
I learned the power of clean organic food to balance my body. Essential oils and herbs to help the body adapt gently to the hormonal shifts, and get better sleep. As well as the power of mindfulness and the body’s own innate wisdom to recapture the energy and vitality and excitement about feeling great again. In short, I was discovering the secret joy of menopause that Dr. Northrup spoke about.
Curiosity became the driving force for me to understand how to nourish and treat my body with more love and attention. It wasn’t just about nutrition or exercise, it was about mindset and the energy of my thinking. Instead of pushing and forcing my body to get better quicker, I could step back ask my body what it wanted and listen.
It sounds crazy, but all of these things impact your hormones. I had never asked my body how do you feel about what I’m eating, how I’m exercising, and how I’m living? This is the innate wisdom that every woman possesses and if we stop and ask questions from a place of curiosity, self-compassion, and non-judgment, then we can find the right path to whole hormone balance and a more joyful menopause.
This was the turning point for me, for my body, health, and lifestyle.
I turned my trials on the hormone imbalance rollercoaster into an adventure and uncovered the key to my own healing.
I’ve used my journey, to embrace a new way of being.
I left my high-pressure job to study and become a Holistic Health & Nutrition Coach and a hormone expert. I am fascinated by women’s health and study and learn daily from my clients. As a public health and epidemiology practitioner with a focus on women’s health, I never stop learning from the experts.
It is this experience that became the foundation of the Joy of Menopause Program which my clients now embrace. As they start their journey to joy, they get a step-by-step plan to uncover for themselves the keys to losing weight with ease. They double their energy, minimize and manage menopause symptoms, especially hot flashes, so they are in the words of one client “just a whisper”.
Most importantly they find their pleasure and joy again, so that menopause becomes the next best chapter of their lives, with more pleasure and joy than they ever thought possible!
If you find yourself wanting more for your body & life during menopause, perimenopause and postmenopause then connect with us.