In this week’s A.Vogel’s Menopause Mondays I take a look at 5 common new year resolutions we all make (and often break) and explain why keeping them could make a big difference to your menopause. Plus, there is 1 resolution I recommend you don’t make!
Hello, and welcome to another edition of A.Vogel’s Menopause Mondays. And today, I’m going to talk about New Year’s resolutions.
Now, if you’re anything like me, I usually start on January the 1st, and by January the 5th, I have given up. I just find I can’t actually sustain whatever it is that I’ve planned to do. And you know, we make resolutions in order to improve our health, in order to improve our well-being.
They are actually quite important. And if we can do good things to help us during the menopause, then that can give us lots of different benefits. But it can be very difficult to fit New Year’s resolutions into our lives. We don’t often have the time. We don’t have the planning. And sometimes, we don’t actually have the focus just to be able to carry them through.
So what I thought I’d do today is look at the five main resolutions that we tend to make and how we can simplify them, how we can just do tiny, little changes that can actually give us lots of benefit when we’re actually doing them. So small changes can lead to bigger changes later on. Remember that.
Resolution no. 1: I’m going to exercise more
I always make this as a New Year resolution. And I do usually start off quite well. But it can be very difficult to fit exercise into your daily life. Where do we have the time to actually do it? And you know, going down the gym three or four nights a week, we might not have the time, we might not have the energy to do that much exercise. And it can actually be very expensive, as well. Here, I know in the UK, I live in Scotland, and it’s dark for most of the day. I come to work in the dark. I go home in the dark. The last thing I want to do is going to be going out for a brisk walk at 6 o’clock at night when it’s raining or snowing or the roads are covered in frost.
But there are little things that you can do, that you can add into your daily life. How about just starting off at lunch time, with a 10, 15-minute brisk walk during your lunch hour. All you need to do is bring a sensible pair of shoes with you to work. Just wrap yourself up well. Brisk walk, you know, really get movement going, get your arms swinging. Remember the deep breathing, that’s really good for clearing the lungs and giving your lungs and your heart a nice little bit of exercise. You’ll probably find, after doing that just for a couple of weeks, you will start look forward to it. You will start to feel better. You will actually find that you probably have more energy in the afternoon as well.
But if you find that you can’t go out, if this is not possible for you during your daily life, there’s loads of really good DVDs come out. They all come out at Christmas time, don’t they? And all these stars and their plans for getting fit for the year. But there’s a lot of nice ones that only take 10 minutes a day. All you need to do, just get up 10 minutes earlier, sort it in the morning, or do it just before you start your dinner, when you come home in the evening. This is something that once you get into the hang of it, you will start to enjoy it and that can then lead to more exercise, other forms of exercise, and before you know it, it will be a nice big part of your daily life.
Resolution no. 2: I’m going to improve my diet
Well, this is one, again, that I always try to make. Again, it’s a very difficult one to do. And what I would say is just take one day at a time. Don’t suddenly think, “I’m going to change my diet for the next six months.” Just look at what you’re eating on a daily basis, and you can tweak your meals very, very simply, and that can actually make a huge amount of difference. So just look at having a little bit of extra veg on your plate, cutting down your carbohydrates a little bit more, just having an extra piece of fruit, an extra piece of protein. That’s all you need to do. You don’t need to cut out all your favourite foods. You know, I’ve always said I love food and I like eating and we don’t want to restrict ourselves too much, because that can end up making us miserable, and then that’s it, failed, before we even start.
Resolution no. 3: I’m going to quit smoking
Resolution number three is to stop smoking, and a lot of women are really trying to do this. Now, smoking really isn’t good for you generally. We all know that, but in the menopause, it can actually cause quite a lot of problems. We know that if you smoked from a young age, it can actually bring on an early menopause, sometimes by three or four years. We know that it affects the lungs, and we know that the menopause can cause wheeziness and lung discomfort as well. Your circulation can get affected in the menopause, and smoking can affect your circulation as well. And skin, you know, smoking dries the skin. Menopause dries the skin. So you can get a double whammy here.
But this is a really difficult one to do. It can be very, very hard, and you know, I’m not looking at this lightly. The best thing to do here is, if you want to do this, is to go to some kind of support group. A lot of pharmacies will run Stop Smoking programs. Your local surgery might have a nice support group. And there’s even internet groups and support groups that you could join, there may be forums that actually help you to do this. So this is one that you can do, but you really need to plan it very well.
Resolution no. 4: I’m going to drink less alcohol
Resolution number four, we’re looking at drinking less alcohol. Now I know, for a lot of us, we really look forward to that evening drink. We think, “Oh, it’s going to relax us. It’s just going to make us feel better. It’s going to really start moods up a little bit.” The problem with alcohol, that that first hit of making us feel better and more relaxed only lasts a short while. And alcohol is actually a depressant, and we know that alcohol can affect sleep. It can affect our judgement. It washes magnesium and calcium out the body, and these are minerals that are very, very important for us during the menopause.
So if you’re finding that you’re relying on that evening drink to make you feel better, then really maybe just decide to try every second night, just to cut down that little bit, to help you. Or maybe just leave it for the weekends when you can enjoy it with your friends and your family. Again, it can be quite a difficult one to cut down on, because you know, the menopause can be quite a miserable time, and we need little treats. So maybe, instead of looking at alcohol as your evening treat, find something else that you could actually substitute it with, so you still have something to look forward at the end of the day.
Resolution no. 5: I’m going to drink less caffeine
Resolution number five is to cut down on the caffeine, and we know caffeine can cause a huge range of menopause problems. It can trigger palpitations. Even an afternoon cup of coffee can affect your sleep during the night. Caffeine can really push your blood sugar levels up and down, so it can give you sugar cravings. It can make you want to eat more. It dehydrates you, so there’s a whole range of issues with caffeine. So cutting down or cutting it out during menopause can be a really, really good idea.
But, and this is really important, don’t give up, don’t go cold turkey with coffee, otherwise you can find you can get an absolutely awful headache. You can really feel awful for about five or six days. So do it very, very slowly. If you’re drinking five cups of coffee a day, then just cut down one cup of coffee per week, so your body actually has a nice chance to rebalance itself, and then just slowly cut down over the weeks. Just remember to drink more water. And there’s loads of lovely herb teas as well. There’s lovely coffee substitutes such as our Bambu® that you can use instead of one of your cups of coffee.
The New Year’s resolution not to make: I’m going to lose weight!
Now, you’re probably all sitting there going, “Wait a minute. There’s a big New Year’s resolution she’s missed out, and that’s I’m going to lose weight this year.” This is one of situations where I would say don’t make this as a resolution, because we nearly always fail. In the beginning of January, there’s still mince pies about. There’s still all those boxes of chocolates. There’s cake. There’s all sorts of lovely things that we really like that are very bad for our weight, and it’s so difficult to resist temptations, straight after all the celebrations.
So this is one I would say if you really feel that you want to lose weight in the New Year, then wait till the end of January, and then really plan everything well. We know that in the menopause, that if you cut calories and exercise more, that can actually cause weight gain or you just don’t lose weight at all. So the normal rules of losing weight in the menopause very often don’t apply. So we need to look at what we’re eating. We need to look at when we’re eating. We need to look at how we’re eating in order to help with the weight loss. So don’t make that one as a resolution, because the majority of us fail practically before we’ve even started.
Make your goals simple & achievable
So hopefully, this has given you a little bit of an idea of incorporating some of the New Year resolutions that we normally try and make. Just to simplify them to make it easier for you to actually stick to your goals. And at the end of the day, that’s going to make you feel heaps better.
But if something goes wrong, if you fall off the wagon, so to speak, don’t beat yourself up about it. You’ve actually started. You’ve actually tried. Look at the positive side. You’ve maybe improved your diet for a fortnight before something tempted you. That’s absolutely great. You know, you’ve started it. Just get back on, and keep going. And you should find that over the next couple of months, these little tweaks, if you like, can have a huge effect on your menopause symptoms and your general well-being as well.
So let me know how you get on. If you’ve done any of these little tips or have you got a New Year’s resolution that you would like to see succeed and what is it? Let me know what it is, and how you’re actually going to try. So looking forward to seeing you next week for another edition of A.Vogel’s Menopause Mondays.