How Well Do You Understand Your Own Body? 🤔

Hey everyone,

Thanks for stopping by today ☺️

As much as I love lotions and potions and makeup, I think beauty goes way beyond topically applied products. 

True beauty comes from within - in many ways, so I’m going to start from the inside out. 

Learning about your body and how it works, the impact it has on how you feel is important and goes a long way in being the best version of yourself. 

Being self-aware can make so much difference!

Let’s talk about hormones! What are hormones and what do they do? Here’s the science-y 🧬 bit.

👩‍⚕️Hormones are chemical substances that act like messenger molecules in the body. After being made in one part of the body, they travel to other parts where they help control how cells and organs do their work.

👩‍🔬 Endocrine glands secrete hormones straight into the bloodstream. Hormones help to control many body functions, such as growth, repair and reproduction. The endocrine system involves many organ systems and hormones, many of which are still being investigated and understood. 

👩‍🏫 Female sex hormones also influence body weight, hair growth, and bone and muscle growth.

We are incredibly fascinating creatures. Simple but complex at the same time. Strong yet fragile beings.

As a woman it’s hard to navigate your own emotions at times with our hormones constantly changing and if like me as you reach late 30’s and early 40’s the hormonal rollercoaster 🎢 steps up a gear.

In my 30’s I finally began to understand my body and navigate its inner workings so much better than my previous younger years, only to discover that in your 40’s you reach a new stage of hormonal chaos. Wonderful! 🙄 

I’ve reached an age where I feel so much more confident in myself, I don’t have anything to prove to anyone, glowing in my authenticity and striving for a peaceful life and boom  💥 hello hormones don’t forget we’re here to f**k 💩 up once again! I swear I had just got to grips with my balancing my hormones and life and they’ve thrown a new surprise at me.

In my younger and perhaps slightly more ignorant years I thought the perimenopause (the years leading up to the menopause which can last for years!!) and the menopause wouldn’t affect me. I was healthy, fit, active. Felt great, strong minded and full of energy. I thought I’d breeze through it and just end up not having periods in my 60’s and that it wouldn’t make much difference to me. I’m a “not going to let anything stop me” kind of a girl.

So, it was a great shock to start feeling out of sorts a couple of years ago.

Things started to change around lockdown and naturally I just put it down to the unprecedented situation. No one felt particularly great at that time!

In hindsight I don’t think that helped much but as life started to get back to normal, I still felt fatigued but still blamed the lockdowns. A lot of people I spoke to said the same.

My usual pick me ups weren’t helping, eating healthier, exercising more etc.

I was feeling drained, anxious, exhausted, I was finding it hard to lose weight, my periods although regular were just horrible, I mean they’re never great, but these were different. They were painful, bloating was horrendous! I looked like I had gained a stone leading up to my period.

And my energy levels were just zapped for the days leading up and after my period started.

My skin was awful. I didn’t want to see or speak to anyone. Thank goodness I work for myself and could juggle my days round as much as I could.

As for my tolerance levels they were very short! Which is not like me at all. I’m normally pretty patient. I’m not pushy but I’m not a pushover. I tend to handle tricky situations calmly. I felt it was taking all my willpower not to lose my 💩 at times over silly things. I was very snappy 🐊 I heard myself on occasion and I was like OMG did I just say that!! Honestly, I felt like my head was going to explode  at times with built up tension. 

Usually, a few days after my period I’d be energised and ready to take on the world again, but this wasn’t always the case in my 40’s. It was like constant PMT!

Some months I’d continue feeling quite low and lethargic. I think a good way to describe how I felt is flat. I just felt flat! It was a real struggle to get through some days.

Other months I would just be ravenous the entire month craving sugary foods and caffeine. I’d literally eat my face off haha. Then hate myself afterwards.

Some months I couldn’t sleep! No joke! I just felt wired at night. I’d then get frustrated because I knew I’d be tired all day.

I kept getting silly injuries from my workouts, even walking! My back, shoulders, knees and joints would hurt especially my ankles!!! Even my fingers were sore and clicky.

I can remember thinking gosh is this old age creeping in already. It can’t be! I’m only 42! Then my ADHD brain kicks in and I go from 1 to 100 in a split second the panic of “do I have something serious? Am I dying?” I tell myself to chill out!

I fondly recall my grandparents talking of their ailments and aching joints and never thought I’d see it happen to me. It was always amusing hearing them compare ailments.

What was really concerning was that I thought if I’m like this now how on earth will I feel in another ten or twenty years!!!! There’s still so much I want to do in life!

I want to be one of those crazy 90-year-olds skydiving 🪂I don’t want to struggle to do anything!

So, my ever-curious mind turned to the great God of Google for help …

I typed in various ailments, age, etc and found “the perimenopause” yep that’s it! 

I know we shouldn’t self-diagnose but let’s be honest we do! (Have you tried getting a Dr appointment lately for a non-emergency!!)  And often we are right. I did question whether this could be hormone related so I guess subconsciously I kind of knew.

I can remember feeling slightly enraged at my body, how dare it do this to me! I’m not ready for this to happen yet! I still feel like I’m twenty - until of course I hang out with twenty somethings and realise that I am certainly not in my twenties anymore 🤣

But I’m certainly not ready to be feeling absolutely terrible for the next 20 years either!!!

So, never one to accept anything that I’m not happy with it’s time to arm myself with the facts and what I can do about it!

Now whilst overall I’m healthy. I could still make some healthier choices! And I think as you age it’s more important to adjust to your body’s requirements.

And more importantly I need to learn about how my body is changing and how best I can adapt and improve these changes.

A few small things made a noticeable difference.

There are so many studies and evidence showing the importance diet and gut health plays in supporting our physical and mental health! It’s hugely beneficial.

I’ve spent years on and off antibiotics fighting serious infections. Some of them have hospitalised me. I’m just genetically more prone to them unfortunately chronic stress seems to trigger them! (We have skin microbes too just like our gut - more on this another day)

But a medley of strong antibiotics over prolonged periods hasn’t helped my gut health!

I try to eat healthy fresh foods as much as possible. Many processed foods are not good for gut bacteria 🦠 and inflammation.

I am often short of time so I’ll grab something quick and easy, so planning and prepping food in advance means I can grab something healthy. 

Sleep!! Getting good quality sleep and offsetting this as best you can if you have disturbed sleep. As I mentioned above my sleep has been affected with my hormones throwing some kind of party in my body. Trying to consistently sleep at the same time helped and earlier nights too. I’m such a night owl but this made such a difference.

Rest and relaxation. Listen to your body. Take timeout. Getting outdoors and in nature, I find it’s so calming. Managing stress is so important. 

Daily exercise. It doesn't have to be extreme, just be consistent. Move your body. Stretching is also really good!

Hydration! This is important for so many reasons. We don’t need to be told that but monitoring how much water you drink is helpful to ensure you are getting enough.

I have a big 3ltr bottle. I fill it every day and drink as much as I can. 

Fibre is your new best friend, in particular insoluble fibre. Along with protein. I eat a diet rich in protein, healthy fats and fibre.

I don’t avoid carbs because we need them! But I try to get my carbs from fruits and vegetables and limit myself to wholemeal or sourdough bread once a day.

For pastas, rice and pizza 🍕 I save these for when eat out or special occasions. My rule is on special occasions I eat what I want! I don’t worry about carbs or calories. The same goes for sugars and desserts 🧁 it’s all about balance. The 80/20 rule.

I especially (which I kind of did anyway) watch saturated fats and sugars from processed foods. 

I’ve cut caffeine intake down considerably! Some days I don’t have any caffeine at all. I don’t miss it! When I know I’m having an extra-long day/night I do have a caffeine boost! This was probably my biggest challenge because I was a real caffeine addict!!!!

Alcohol!🍷This wasn’t a big deal for me because I hardly drink. I can take it or leave it. If I fancy a drink, I will have one.

Aside from stonking hangovers which are not fun, I had started quite a few years ago not feeling so great after drinking even just one or two drinks I would get bad headaches 🤕 and it just put me off.

I also noticed that when I was drinking more my weight increased very significantly and quickly! My skin looked dull, I’d get bloated and just not feel nice.

I know it all sounds very boring but for me health is wealth! I’d rather feel good and be active than drinking and making myself feel even worse and damaging my body so that I’m unable to live life to the fullest in the future.

I can’t afford to be ill!

Having my hormones in check and boosting my feel-good chemicals is the best thing ever for me. Feeling good every day is worth sacrificing regular drinking. I don’t need alcohol to have a good time. I’m not saying I’ll never get drunk again!!

I’ve added more gut boosting foods into my diet such as

Kimchi 

Kefir 

Kombucha 

Homemade broth (great for joints too!)

Raw nuts 🥜 cashews, almonds and walnuts are my favourite. Almonds have the lowest fat content out of all the nuts!!! 

More vegetables and fruits. Mushrooms 🍄 especially.

I opt for spices over sauces for flavour. Less calories and sugars in spices and better health benefits.

I also take vitamins such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, eggshell membrane (yeah, I know but it’s good for your ligaments and joints apparently), omega-3's, maca and ashwagandha.

I’m currently really interested in adding resveratrol and NMN (NAD+) supplements into my diet. There’s some astonishing benefits and science behind these supplements that include cells, muscle and tissue health and improved metabolism especially as we age. I want to do some more research 🔬 into this first and will do a separate blog post about it.

It is also expensive at £80 plus for a month’s supply!!! I have read that you don’t have to take it continuously, but this is why I want to do more research on it. 

When doing my research into the perimenopause and women in their forties I found some incredible literature.

I first discovered Dr Louise Newton and purchased her book The Definitive Guide to the Perimenopause and menopause and downloaded her app. 

The Definitive Guide to the Perimenopause & Menopause by Dr Louise Newson

Now before I go down HRT routes I want to exhaust all possible options. I much prefer the “natural” way so to speak and prefer any prescribed medicines to be a last resort.

I always try to fix the root cause first taking my health into my own hands, doing all I can first. That’s not to say professional advice isn’t important! (Of course, if you need medical care always seek help!) You should always contact your healthcare professional for personal advice.

I just didn’t feel that I was at a stage where I needed medical intervention with my symptoms.

If my symptoms got worse or if they change over time, I will gladly go down this path. I don’t think we should suffer if there are options for us to take. But it’s my belief that we must always do what we can and be the best version of ourselves.

There is also huge scientific evidence to support that healthy diets and gut health does help with perimenopause and menopause symptoms.

It’s not a cure or reversal but helps the transition. Diet and gut health help with so many physical and mental ailments.

I have always been a believer that a good diet and being in the best physical shape is the best preventative measure for physical and mental wellness. It’s obvious if you think about it.

I then came across a fantastic book written by Louann Brizendine, M.D called “The Female Brain”  🧠 not only is it packed full of interesting information about how our brains work and change during phases of our development and life stages it’s also a fascinating read as well as fun.

The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine MD

There’s lots of ah-ha moments!!! So many things you have probably noticed over the years are suddenly explained.

I wish I had read it when I was younger!

My last book is called “Fast Like a Girl” by Dr Mindy Pelz and again it is an incredible read!

Fast Like a Girl by Dr Mindy Pelz

It’s a go to manual created specifically to address women’s needs based on their hormonal and menstrual cycle!

It has suggestions for different types of intermittent fasts to help with many things such as loss of energy, gut reset, balancing sex hormones, counteracting antibiotic use and many more!

It guides you through safely fasting and what to expect. And, when and what to eat once you break your fast.

I will absolutely be trying these out and reviewing them for you on my blog. I want to see if this further helps me with my quest for feeling better and becoming fitter and healthier than ever. 

I’ve sort of set myself this challenge now that I’m in my forties to become the fittest I have ever been!

The changes I’ve made so far to my diet, sleep, exercise etc and most importantly listening and recognising signs to rest have made such a difference already. 

Most important is gradual progress, implement one new approach to your life and routines. Get consistent with the change. See if it helps you. Making 101 extreme changes is often unsustainable and you can’t tell what’s working for you or what’s not. Slow, steady and consistent progress is always the key.

But me and my curious mind that never settles for less wants to know what else I can do and if I can feel even better!

So, the feel-good journey is only just beginning! I have some exciting nutrition studies that I have signed up for to improve your long-term health.

I will be documenting my progress and my health with you so you can learn about what’s involved and whether it’s worth your time and money doing them! So, stay tuned and keep a lookout for those and lots of other cool stuff 😎

On a final note, I feel its's important to say if you are looking to improve your health find what works for you!!!! Do your own research. We are all different, our lifestyles vary, our bodies react uniquely, and our goals are different. Take your personal circumstances into consideration and always seek professional advice.

Well, that’s about it for today. I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know. I love hearing your thoughts and feedback 💬

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Thanks so much for taking the time to read this.

Until next time, I am sending you love and gratitude 🫶🏼

Rebecca  💖

 

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