Five expert tips to tackle female and male menopause
- Credit: Courtesy of Midlife Mentors
Claire and James Davis are the Belsize Park husband and wife team behind The Midlife Mentors.
Their podcast and coaching work is based on the 'midlife method' - a combination of lifestyle changes, nutrition, exercise, and mindset tools such as hypnosis and meditation to help clients through the menopause, peri menopause and andropause.
The pair, who as general trainers have worked with Melanie Sykes, Ashley Roberts and Lucy Mecklenburg, and helped dancer Neil Jones get in shape for Strictly Come Dancing, specialised in menopause after seeing an increase in clients with midlife challenges.
Both have studied hormones to understand how changes are linked to emotional and mental wellbeing, and how exercise and nutrition should adapt as we age.
James says they take a holistic view of "the midlife body" and preparing clients for "the second act of life" by changing habits and belief systems.
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"It's about hormone changes, how you are moving the body, nourishing the body, how what you eat will affect gut health which affects emotional health. How to be in harmony and have a positive mindset."
Claire adds: "Most people come to us with a physical symptom, carrying too many pounds, not feeling energised, you start to dig and find underlying reasons that are not just to do with overindulging."
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Claire, a former stress management coach in The City, feels passionate that: "When women go to their GP with anxiety, low mood and lack of sleep they get anti depressants before being asked about nutrition and stress management to alleviate the symptoms.
"Oestrogen is used in the transport of serotonin so when it drops it impacts how we feel emotionally. Women don't just feel the physical aspects of their body and looks changing, but lose their happiness and wonder why. It's about educating them about the cocktail of hormones playing havoc with their emotions."
While James admits the female menopause brings more changes, he says the andropause - or male menopause - is not a myth: "Testosterone declines. By your late 50s you have a half or 30 percent less. It can lead to a loss of energy, confidence, libido, and muscle mass. It's still a bit of a joke, and men don't talk about it so don't get help. But what's happening inside the body has a psychological impact. We are facing things about our identity and masculinity alongside hormonal changes and should be more open."
With events like World Menopause Day on October 18, the female menopause has become more talked about and better handled by employers," says Claire.
"Brain fog and struggling to concentrate can cause problems, but thank goodness there's more workplace wellness around the menopause. Women are the fastest growing demographic with 3 out of 4 in the workplace experiencing symptoms. We need to take away the stigma and help employers understand how to support it, whether through different working hours or therapy."
James points to the pressures crowding in on "generation squeeze" and warns that stress is 'a silent killer'.
"People think in your 50s they will have life sorted when the reality is they are juggling career, finance, kids, ageing parents just as they start to feel their body is letting them down."
Claire adds: "Gen X was the generation of high sugar food, and the diet industry. We worked hard and went to pub every night after work, that has taken its toll on our habits. You get to our age and think 'my goodness I want to live not just a long life but a good quality life, it's a lightbulb moment. Your health is your wealth so it's important to manage stress and hormonal changes before your body kicks back."
Midlife Mentors Top Five Tips:
Don’t overdo it
A common mistake with weight gain to do lengthy cardio to lose body fat. But too much of the wrong exercise can increase stress on the Central Nervous System and raise cortisol which is linked to increased belly fat, as well as hampering sleep, lowering the immune system and decreasing libido.
The best way to stay biologically young is to do interval training for short periods. HIIT gets amazing results while releasing endorphins which help low mood and anxiety.
Eat More Protein
Studies show the hormone leptin, which signals to the brain we're full, decreases with age. This can contribute to midlifers feeling hungry, and potentially consuming more calories and laying down belly fat. Eating more protein - turkey, white fish, nuts and seeds - triggers leptin and has been shown to significantly decrease calories consumed.
Resistance Training Twice Weekly To Boost Metabolism, Strength and Bone Density
Muscle mass decreases significantly with age so we lose strength and increase the chances of injury, but muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so the more muscle the more calories we burn at rest. Resistance training helps maintain muscle while boosting metabolic rate. It can also temporarily boost testosterone and Human Growth Hormone and help preserve bone density.
Resistance bands, kettle bells and our own body weight get great results and Vitamin D strengthens bones.
Ditch Fad Diets but Reduce Sugar and Alcohol
Ditch restrictive diets and eat a balanced diet, adding fermented food, pre and pro biotics and fibre to keep your gut healthy.
Studies suggest a link between high sugar intake and holding onto belly fat. We become more insulin resistant as we age so less able to process sugars. A high sugar diet is also linked to lowered immune system, increased risk of diabetes, cancer and depression. Midlifers produce fewer enzymes to metabolise alcohol so you get terrible hangovers and anxiety. "You can still party like a rock star but you can't recover like one." Alcohol is also loaded with sugar, as are carbs such as pasta and bread.
Work On Your Mind
Our mantra is “you can’t outperform your self-identity”. Acknowledge and shift your limiting beliefs or you’ll slip back to where you were. Consider what beliefs you need to have to achieve your goals. Beliefs and behaviours must be aligned or your old beliefs will sabotage your progress. Affirm your new beliefs daily and reinforce them with action towards your goal. Over time the new behaviour (like going to the gym) becomes easier as it's aligned to who we want to be.