Mastering Perimenopause: 5 Strategies You Need

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In perimenopause, the 5-10 year period before our cycle stops entirely (menopause) it might feel like all the things that used to work for you don’t work anymore, and your body just isn’t responding like it used to. This is largely due to the fluctuation of our estrogen and progesterone, their overall decline, and the levels of these complementary hormones no longer being on an even back and forth schedule each month.

This gradual change has a huge impact on our ability to recover, regulate our body temperature, sleep, lose body fat, build muscle and so much more – so today I’m exploring the strategies you can use to mitigate some of these symptoms, build more strength and lose body fat, support a healthy gut microbiome and so much more!

In this episode I’m exploring…

⭐ What happens to our hormones in perimenopause
⭐ Exploring hormone balancing strategies like supplements and creams
⭐ The impact of the stress response, and why it hits us harder in perimenopause
⭐ The interplay between insulin and estrogen, and why sugar has a bigger impact than ever
⭐ The importance of supporting a healthy gut microbiome and the estrobolome
⭐ The most important things to include in your diet in perimenopause
⭐ Specific workout adjustments to make in perimenopause

Links to follow up from this episode:

  • Get on the list to be the first to know when PeriMenoFit is released!
  • 6 Adaptogens that support hormone balance
  • The Body Fuel System meal plan
  • My Dinner Plan eating system
  • Full Body Collagen (and all Betty Rocker supplements)
  • Betty Rocker Training Programs (90 Day Challenge, Home Workout Domination 1 and 2, Lioness)
  • Free Foundations of Functional Fitness Workshop
  • Rock Your Life home workout studio and women’s fitness program for women in their cycling years, in perimenopause and post-menopause
  • Women’s Health articles

Episode Transcript

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Betty Rocker (00:15):

What’s up, rock stars Coach Betty Rocker here. Thanks so much for spending some time with me today. So this is part two of a three part series where I’m talking about the life stages and the best strategies for training, nutrition and life habits to support your hormones. This is a big one today, so if you’re in perimenopause, you might want to take notes and save this episode because I’m going to cover some strategies that will help a ton with this life stage. And remember, the transcript is available on the show notes page too, so you can reference that since it’s, I know it’s a lot of information to take in. So as you know, there’s this phase of life that we go through that we often don’t even realize we’re in it first, and that is perimenopause. That’s the years of our life leading up to menopause where our cycle starts to get a little bit erratic.

You’ll have a period and then you won’t have another one for a while or it’ll just be really close together. Now one of the hallmarks of perimenopause is noticing that the things you used to do just aren’t working the same anymore. Whether it’s getting aches and pains that just don’t go away as quickly after your workouts or weight that doesn’t come off your body even when you work out more or you cut back on your sugar or your alcohol for a couple of weeks, the body just isn’t seeming to respond like it used to, and that can be very unsettling, I know. Then there are the other symptoms, a lot of women experience like hot flashes, mood swings, poor sleep, irregular periods, fatigue, and of course the weight gain. The reason all of this starts to happen comes in large part from the changes in our levels of estrogen and progesterone, both in their levels decreasing and in their levels being out of balance with each other.

So to really understand where we’re at in perimenopause, I think it’s helpful to just get a refresher of a regular cycle and how our hormones were behaving before we started having to think about this so much. So the two key hormones that of course really stand out like I mentioned, are estrogen and progesterone, and these hormones are primarily made by the ovaries, which are of course responsible for releasing an egg with each cycle at ovulation. And as our cycle starts to slow down and we’re not making as much of these hormones, things start to go a little haywire in our system and it was in the first half of our cycle from when we get our period to when we ovulate that we have more estrogen in our system and it was in the second half of our cycle from when we ovulate to when we get our period that we have that higher progesterone levels that balance out the estrogen and it’s really the balance and back and forth of these two hormones over the course of our regular cycle.

That’s the biggest part of what gives us our regular energy, helps us build and preserve our lean muscle tissue, gives us the resilience to come back strong from our, and it really supports our ability to recover and bounce back even when we get off track a little bit. And our estrogen is very anabolic or muscle supporting. It’s actually three hormones, three types of estrogen, E one, E two and E three and we make the E one and E two mostly in our ovaries, although some is made in our adrenals and our fatty tissue and the E three is primarily made during pregnancy. So we have this E one throughout most of our lives even after menopause, but the E two estrogen and that’s the one that we start to lose during perimenopause, those years leading up to menopause when our period stops, that’s the one that really helps support the lean muscle repair and growth helps us regulate our body fat, supports our heart health, our bone health and our brain function.

So that’s why during the first half of our cycle when it’s higher, we have an easier time of building and repairing our muscle tissue after a workout and we held onto that muscle tissue that we had a lot more easily and we got to remember that muscle tissue is really valuable tissue that increases our resting metabolic rate and it makes us more efficient fat burners and the more muscle we have, the more readily we utilize the glucose from our carbohydrates. This is one of the reasons it becomes harder to lose weight once we start losing muscle tissue. So this is why we want to really preserve that tissue, strengthen it, build it after we ovulate in the second half of our cycle, that progesterone helps prepare the uterine lining for possible fertilization. The body has a slight increase in our basal body temperature as it elevates and your immune system is a little more taxed and you have a greater need for nutrients as the body is laying down new tissue, you probably recall or even still experience a dip in your energy before your period and you notice how you don’t have the same drive at that time, your sleep is affected in that luteal phase due to that increase in the basal body temperature.

And many women get PMS symptoms in the late luteal phase due to the compounding impact of that heightened progesterone and the lower estrogen levels and the heightened inflammation and just all of those sort of compounding things. So in perimenopause, you’re likely still getting your period, but the length of the cycles may be changing. You can miss periods entirely or they just might seem different than they used to in other ways. And the symptoms you experience on either side of ovulation are starting to get more extreme because those even levels of those two key hormones are starting to really change and that starts to affect your body in profound and far reaching ways that are really related into your training and recovery response and your muscle to fat ratio. Menopause just means the cessation or end of your period. So that’s the event where it just fully stops and post menopause is the timeframe that happens after that event.

So in perimenopause we’re in the years it could be five years, seven years, it’s different for different women. It’s the years leading up to the of our period. So in perimenopause, the levels of these hormones we used to have in such nice even robust quantities that were evenly balanced each month, they begin to diminish and become imbalanced with each other, which is one of the primary contributing factors behind so many of those symptoms we were talking about. Brain fog, weight gain, hot flashes, energy highs and lows, poor sleep and more. Now some of these symptoms can be addressed and mitigated by working with your doctor to test your hormone levels and use some type of hormone replacement therapy or HRT for short to ease those transition symptoms. Adding back some of the hormones you’re losing access to can help relieve some of the discomfort and help mitigate some of those symptoms.

And this is really a great strategy. It’s one I’ve personally used with my doctor’s guidance off and on. Adaptogenic herbs are also really promising for supporting the body’s stress response, which impacts our hormone levels and in some cases really helps to balance the hormone levels. I’ve had really good success in using them myself with my doctor’s supportive course because I want to check what my levels are and which ones would be the most appropriate for me. But I’ll just give one example. Rho yellow rosea can help some of the neurotransmitters from actually being degraded like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which helps to decrease symptoms like anxiety and depression. It also helps to enhance relaxation, which allows the brain to focus and work better. Rhodiola also acts as what is called a sm, which is stands for a selective estrogen reuptake modulator. So as estradiol, that’s our E two estrogen we talked about.

As that declines as we approach menopause, rhodiola can actually modulate the receptor site, which means that if you have a little too much estrogen, it can exert a moderating effect and if you have a little too, if you have too little, it can actually act a little bit as a booster, which is really cool. So it reduces the impact of estrogen fluctuation and it also supports that heightened inflammation response in vasomotor symptoms, which are those hot flashes and night sweats that come along with perimenopause and early post menopause. Since mood swings and anxiety and depression are also hallmarks of this transition, rial is beneficial impact on the brain and the neurotransmitters can really help to support and improve those symptoms. I’ve actually got a great article over on the blog, the betty where I talk about six adaptogens that I’ve had a lot of success with that they have a lot of great uses for mitigating the stress response and supporting our hormones in various ways.

And of course there are contraindications for some of these, so you really want to do your homework. You could start by reading my article because I go over a lot of that. You can read my references and I also always recommend really getting your hormone levels checked before taking these types of supplements anyway, as plans are powerful compounds. And with that being said, adaptogens are gentle compared to some types of creams and hormone replacements. They do take a little longer to work and they work best when you’re doing things that help them work their best like eating well, lowering the stress burden in your body by not overtraining and things like that. They have these wonderful supportive properties, but they’re not a drug or a magic pill and they can’t override bad habits or unhealthy lifestyle practices. So while I find them very exciting and I love using them myself, I also know that they work the best in what I’d call a friendly environment where we’re already making an effort to reduce our stress burden and we’re already making an effort to reduce inflammation in the body with what we eat and how we train.

So more on those specific tips coming right up. Now when it comes to supplements that are supportive in perimenopause, you can also look into DHEA commonly available supplement that supports your body as a precursor to testosterone and estrogen. And again, I recommend working with your doctor on dosing and determining if this is appropriate for you of course here as well. But that’s a relatively accessible supplement that is commonly used in perimenopause. I mentioned testosterone there and that’s another really important hormone for us. Of course, we don’t have it in high amounts to start with compared to men, but the amounts we have start to decline at this life stage and that can also really impact our ability to build and hold onto our muscle tissue and support our bone density and cognitive function. So it’s another one to check in on if you are getting your hormone levels checked, and this of course is just scratching the surface of the supplements conversation and like anything you’re ingesting that can potentially alter your body’s chemistry, it’s important to have the data from your hormone tests and work with a practitioner to make adjustments over time as it’s very unlikely that you’ll stay in exactly the same place with your hormone levels and stress levels are just really, really important to pay attention to in general as constant stress can impact our HPA access.

That’s the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, which is how the body regulates our hormone balance in response to stress. You may remember in a previous podcast episode I talked about 12 ways you can work on building stress resilience, and I mentioned how really being proactive with this can help your body get into that rest and digest state more often, which will help lower your stress burden and help your body deal with some of the effects of that lower estrogen. So if you want a little refresher, put that episode in your playlist for up next so those adaptogens can help too. They can help your body manage the stress response, but you also have to be proactive and help that process along because cortisol, which is released in response to heightened chronic stress, creates more fat storage and breaks down our muscle tissue and the stress response also impacts our insulin sensitivity.

That’s our body’s ability to regulate our blood sugar, which can over time create insulin resistance and we don’t want that. Insulin resistance is a condition where our cells no longer open up to accept the glucose from the food we eat, meaning we storm more fat and those high levels of blood sugar in our bloodstream can lead to really dangerous health conditions like obesity, type two diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure. So really managing the stress response is key, especially in perimenopause because our estrogen levels are dropping and estrogen is actually a really big helper in our cells for optimizing the insulin response. But when our levels of it are low, our insulin receptors become less functional and the body just can’t handle glucose as efficiently. So this is why we’re going to talk more about nutrient strategies for perimenopause next because we want to really be mindful of added sugar and sugar in general in our foods and drinks because it just has an even greater impact on us.

As our estrogen levels start to drop, it’s going to be harder for your body to handle sugar and it’s going to disrupt the gut microbiome, which will also impact our ability to handle estrogen and move excess estrogen out of our system. One of the causes commonly attributed to things like hot flashes, weight gain, poor sleep, rain fog, and many other symptoms associated with the perimenopause years is estrogen dominance, which is where our estrogen is too high in relation to our progesterone. Now even when we’re losing our estrogen, sometimes we can end up with estrogen dominance since estrogen and progesterone serve as these counterbalances to each other in our regular cycling years. When they get off balance, things can get really uncomfortable and one of the reasons we can end up with estrogen dominance can be because we’re not eliminating excess estrogen from the body as efficiently as we should due to poor liver function or compromised gut health, which is what we were just talking about with the sugar intake.

But it can also get disrupted by high levels of stress, alcohol and other things that overwhelm our system compromised gut health makes it harder to stay healthy and have a strong immune system. It can promote feelings of anxiety, plus it just disrupts our hormone balance and makes it harder for us to absorb the nutrients we eat. Your gut actually has a specialized section that deals with the breakdown of estrogen called the estrobolome. The bacteria in that specialized section further breakdown the estrogen using an enzyme called beta glucuronidase, and this enzyme is super important and has to be in a just right balance in order to process and break down estrogen. Otherwise those estrogens get recirculated back into the bloodstream as dirty estrogens and can really further imbalance your hormone levels and contribute to that estrogen dominance, which has its own whole host of symptoms like we were talking about.

Now, there are a lot of signs of gut imbalance which sometimes get diagnosed as something else or could be combined with something else, but you want to look for digestive issues like bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation, weight changes, food sensitivities, fatigues, skin irritation, autoimmune conditions, and of course hormone imbalances can all be related to a gut dysbiosis and there can be other causes for any of these issues too. But since what we eat is really within our control, taking the steps to support a healthy gut microbiome is something we ourselves can influence and action relatively quickly. You can ask your doctor to run some tests to see if you have a bacterial overgrowth or an imbalance in your microbiome, and most frequently a stool test is what is used for that. Hormone testing may be your first stop If you are experiencing perimenopause symptoms though, so just so you know what’s off balance and you have a baseline to work from, but the body is dynamic and there are many moving parts.

So we often don’t look at just one thing in isolation, so sometimes we develop sensitivities to certain foods and eliminating them for a bit can help the body reduce inflammation. You’ve probably heard of an elimination diet, some type of diet like that may be advised by your doctor where you just take out some or all of the common inflammatory foods like gluten or dairy or eggs or soy or corn. Nightshades are really common caffeine. I know that’s tough to give up sugar pre-made foods and then you slowly reintroduce them back into your diet one by one as your body establishes a better baseline. And that of course takes some time and patience and it’s not like all of those things get eliminated. It’s really specific to you. I’m just mentioning some of the common ones. If it’s needed, this can help bring balance back into the gut biome and support your body in that hormone balancing as well.

And outside of eliminating food, some people just need better stomach acid to process their food and a digestive enzyme can be helpful, so that might be something to look. Eating prebiotic foods is also a great way to help support the gut bacteria. Prebiotic foods contain resistant starch and gut-friendly fiber, which really supports those friendly gut bacteria. So foods like seeds and nuts, unprocessed whole grains, green banana, onion, garlic, beans, greens, and cruciferous vegetables are all good sources. Then there are of course the probiotics which contain live organisms that support the gut microbiome and can be found in all kinds of foods like fermented dairy products. If you’re good with dairy like yogurt or kefi, they’re found in sauerkraut, kimchi, tempe, miso, and many more. There’s a lot of variety in the availability of probiotic supplements as well. And what you need individually actually kind of depends on what diversity is lacking in your system currently.

So some experimentation and testing may be helpful, but don’t just rely on supplements. You want to include food sources as well, and a good variety of them is going to help cover your bases. Now if you want to take action on your own to just support better gut health in general, one thing you can do is to simply get back to basics for a month and just focus on cooking simple whole food meals that don’t rely heavily on some of those common irritants that we were talking about or you can just take a couple out if they sound like they could be triggering to you. I really recommend at minimum eliminating added sugar and alcohol from your diet for a few weeks if you use them frequently just because they have such an impact on your gut health and on your hormones and maybe don’t eat pre-made foods that aren’t just the way you would make them at home that really think about the whole foods you could add back in, like we were talking about some of those great examples of those prebiotic fiber rich foods or those probiotic foods and really think about nutrient diversity.

You could totally use the body fuel system for instance, which follows this whole food, gluten and dairy-free path and offers you full on meal plans for six weeks. And I have people using it all the time with a ton of success and a lot of women actually rate me and say, I don’t have as strong PMS symptoms, and I know that that’s a lot because they’re lowering the inflammatory load in their body, which helps their body deal with some of the changes that happen in that second half of our cycle in the luteal phase. So people just really love how things are laid out for them in the body fuel system with delicious recipes. And of course that program includes both omnivore and vegetarian options. And you could also use something like my dinner plan, which is another program I have which has entree recipes, and you could use those for lunch or dinner or both, and that has like 24 weeks worth of plans that are also gluten and dairy free and has the omnivore and vegetarian options.

And both of these plans are just really easily adaptable. So if you wanted to take out some other foods you suspect may be triggering you as well, that would be really easy to do. Now, speaking of things you might want to add in, you might want to also consider adding more nourishing bone broth to your daily meals or even using a collagen supplement to support the gut lining and the intestinal epithelial cells that help your body absorb the nutrients from the food you eat and also really support a healthy immune system because as we age, we don’t produce as much collagen and we need it for the health of our joints, our skin and our bones of course, but also the cells that line our intestines for good gut health. Aside from aging, a lot of people just don’t have enough collagen due to a poor diet and your body just can’t make collagen if it doesn’t have the building blocks, the amino acids to create them.

So when your body synthesizes collagen from the amino acids in the protein rich foods you eat, just examples like meat beans, dairy products, it also is going to use vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, zinc and copper, which are typically part of a healthy diet. We can use bone broth gelatin or collagen powders to help provide the body with what it needs. If you’re using a powdered collagen, use a hydrolyzed collagen like mine. I make a collagen in the whole Betty brand called Full Body Collagen, which is broken down to the smallest particle. That’s the hydrolyzed part so that our body can more easily absorb and use it. It’s also very useful because it has no taste or smell and it can be dissolved in any liquid. So it’s really versatile and easy to use. Now speaking of amino acids, let’s talk about protein because we actually need a little more protein than we used to, and this is a missing piece for a lot of women that will actually help your body to your training more quickly and help you lose body fat faster.

If you don’t have enough amino acids from proteins circulating in your system throughout the day and your body needs to use them, it’s going to break down your muscle tissue to access the amino acids stored there. You probably know that your body needs enough amino acids from protein to repair and rebuild the muscle tissue you break down during a workout, but it also needs them for things like enzyme and hormone function plus things like cognitive function. So our alertness and focus and our mood, you actually need the aminos to form some of the building blocks of neurotransmitters, which are those chemical messengers that communicate between our brain cells. Your brain can’t make things like serotonin and dopamine as efficiently without the amino acid building blocks, which are really important mood regulators that also help us deal with pain and reduce anxiety. You also need amino acids for a strong immune system.

Those amino acids in protein activate the NK or natural killer cells that limit the spread of microbial infections and identify and eliminate harmful bacteria and organisms. They also are going to help regulate your response to oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, and they speed up the rate at which your body produces lymphocytes, which are those disease fighting cells. So if you’re not eating enough protein in your meals and your body can’t find the amino acids it needs circulating in your system, it breaks down your muscle tissue to access the amino acids that are stored there. And this is a big part of why a lot of women start to lose more muscle during perimenopause. Not only were they unaware of their protein needs before, they are unaware of how their protein needs change and actually increase in their forties and beyond. Plus of course, this is compounded by the fact that we’re losing our estrogen, which used to support our muscle repair and this just totally snowballs together with our need for amino acids.

So how much do you need? It really varies and you can look at it like a range. If you weren’t paying attention to protein before this, just start making sure you’ve got a solid protein source in every single meal that you eat. You can look at a range like 0.7 to one gram per pound of your body weight, not per kilogram, especially if you’re active or you’re in this age group. You can also look at maybe 30 to 40 grams of protein per meal if you’re eating about three meals a day, and that’s a big wide range. You could also aim for an average of 30% of your daily food intake coming from protein. And remember, these are all ranges. Don’t panic, don’t get too fixated on a perfect number. Our days are all going to be different. We can have a ratio or range up or down, and some people are going to have specific needs for very low protein intake because of a medical reason.

So it’s always ideal to check in with your doctor, but I’m just really talking about the average woman whose hormone levels are changing in perimenopause, who has a greater need for the amino acids than she did before. And there are so many great dietary sources of protein. One really easy boost for your protein of course is to add a smoothie in your day somewhere. You can do things like boost your protein powder in grams by going a serving and a half of a protein powder to get it up a little higher. For instance, you could throw in a scoop of collagen to your shake. Remember, collagen is not a complete protein source, so it doesn’t have all of the essential amino acids that your body can’t make on its own. So I typically don’t count it towards my daily protein intake. However, it’s still very important to include because it has amino acids that we need for other important jobs.

I love using my organic protein powders, my brand whole Betty. I make a chocolate organic protein and a vanilla organic protein that both have a blend of four different protein sources, so you really get that optimal complete amino acid spectrum. And I also make a greens protein that’s got a strawberry vanilla flavor and that has 15 different fruits and veggies plus 22 grams of protein per serving. So you could do a serving in a half. Some people like to do a serving of the vanilla plus a half serving of the greens. They love the way that strawberry vanilla flavor blends together. That’s really, really tasty way to do it, but you can get protein from such a great variety of food sources. You totally don’t need supplements. I’m just offering them up because they’re convenient. They’re an easy way to boost your protein over the course of the day, especially if you’re finding it challenging to get enough in your meals.

Your animal-based proteins are going to be complete proteins in general, meaning like we talked about, they have all those essential aminos your body can’t make on its own. But plant foods have such a wide spectrum of amino acids too and they have other really important components that we need for our diet like fiber and other important minerals and vitamins and combining them throughout the day can really help cover your bases. So if you want some more support, you can always get one of my meal plans, which covers both omnivores and vegetarians. And the bottom line is when it comes to how we’re eating in perimenopause, we really want to start to care about our gut health and eating balanced whole food meals that give us access to the amino acids we need from protein and the nourishing fiber and micronutrients and our whole food, fruits, veggies, grains, and legumes.

And all of this will really support the workouts that you do and when it comes to your training, this is an important area to really dial in. But before I get to the training tips outside of your workouts, it’s important in perimenopause to be getting more residual movement in throughout the day, like walking is a piece that will help with fat loss as that low impact movement is a really big part of our overall daily energy expenditure. And walking and moving more is just a super supportive piece of your long-term health and self-care. For instance, walking after eating has the added benefit of supporting your digestive process and regulating your blood sugar, both of which means it’s easier to lose body fat. It’s also really calming. Unlike a high intensity cardio workout, it’s just walking. It can really help lower your stress response and be really restorative to your system.

I know that hearing about developing more proactive self-care practices may not sound like the fast track to fitness in perimenopause, but I promise you it is an essential component. Really understanding that the body is changing and that we won’t bounce back as quickly from an injury or build strength as quickly has really made me personally think so much more about self-care and consistency. And as that E two estrogen, our estradiol really gave us the edge and muscle adaptations before when its levels were higher. Once they decline, our resilience starts to wane and it’s just so important to incorporate other aspects of training to support our bones and joints and ligaments and muscle health. Not to mention we’re losing that collagen and elastin as we age, meaning we don’t have the same stretchy tissue that bounces back either. But being proactive with your self-care that you might’ve maybe used to been able to get away with skipping, like warming up or cooling down or stretching more throughout the week and walking more and really leaning into things like mobility drills and a yoga practice will serve you so well and keep you more limber and flexible.

Now, when it comes to our training specifically, the most common mistake I see so many women making is training more in eating less, which totally has the opposite effect to what they’re hoping for. It leaves them depleted, tired in an even greater muscle breakdown than the body can repair or recover from effectively. And it makes sense why this happens and why we start to do that because we are used to having the resilience in our tissue, we were able to bounce back more quickly and as we’re starting to see less results with our training or our nutrition, we’re thinking, oh, I need to do more of what I was doing before because that’s the answer. But remember, when you’re exercising, you’re creating an inflammatory response that the body then repairs after your workout. When you refuel and you rest, you’re breaking down muscle when you exercise, creating micro tears in that tissue and it’s during the recovery period where we can impact the rebuilding and the synthesis of new tissue by eating the right food and giving our body time to repair.

It’s in perimenopause that we have those lower levels of estrogen and our testosterone levels are going down. Our period is not uneven timing like it used to be. And all this means that you’re just not bouncing back as quickly from your training. You’re more sensitive to your stress levels and your insulin response. So training too much shows up fast and contributes to more inflammation in your body as the body just tries to keep up with the repair from your workouts, especially if you’re eating less or dieting too heavily. And this just causes more and more muscle breakdown and promotes more fat storage. So my advice when it comes to your training is to just get more strategic with your workouts and recovery days and pay attention to the type of training that you are doing. There are two specific types of training that will really help you improve your muscle and bone density and lose that body fat.

And those are resistance training, which is either against gravity or with weighted objects and high intensity interval training, which is explosive cardio plyometrics, tabata sprint training. All of these can be types of high intensity interval training. That high intensity interval training helps get your heart rate up for a short duration, which helps to efficiently mobilize fat rather than long sessions of repetitive impact on your joints. Short burst training is highly efficient and yields a better result in the long run. We want to create an effective stimulus to our muscle tissue that creates an adaptive response and then support that with the building blocks needed to repair and the recovery time needed because we no longer have the same amounts of that fluctuating estrogen progesterone to drive lean mass development, we need to increase our training stimulus in other ways, which is to do high volume workouts using that explosive cardio and resistance training, and then pair them with complimentary recovery.

And let’s not forget stretching and self-care. So when it comes to the resistance training that’s working your body against a load at a lower impact, but it’s also high volume when you challenge yourself sufficiently, this is what will stimulate the muscle tissue to respond, adapt, and get stronger, and the amount of resistance that’s right for you and what challenges you depends on what you’ve been doing before and where you’re at right now. If you’ve been mostly doing body weight training, now might be the perfect time to explore how you can make that more challenging and start to do things like work more single side variations with your training or even add some weighted objects to the mix. If you’re newer to training or you’re rebuilding your strength, building a base on good form with body weight exercises can really help you safely strengthen your muscle tissue, your balance, and your coordination.

So let’s say you’ve completed a body weight program or you’ve been doing body weight training for a while and it’s just not challenging you as much anymore, that means you are ready to go to the next level. That’s where you want to start adding those weighted optics in and starting to challenge your body with more resistance. If you’ve been exercising with some equipment already, like dumbbells for instance, now is a great time to start to get more specific with the amounts that you’re using. And you could start with the suggested rep ranges in any program that’s provided working with the equipment you have available, say starting out in something like an eight to 12 rep range for instance. That’s a great place to build a strong foundation and really ensure your training on an aligned body. A rep range helps you calibrate how much weight is appropriate for you in different moves.

So you choose an amount that you can get to the bottom of the rep range, so at least eight reps for the example we’re talking about here and that it’s very hard to do more than 12 reps, you don’t want to just go through the motions and if it says eight to 12 reps, you’re just doing 12 reps because that’s what it says. You want to really challenge yourself. So it’s really hard to go past the top of that given rep range. But then once you get comfortable in, say that example eight to 12 rep range where you find it easier to hit eight reps and you have to stop so you’re hitting more the bottom of the rep range and you’re challenging yourself under a heavier load, you can consider increasing the resistance to be more of a six to eight rep range for moves that you feel comfortable loading your body up a bit more on.

You want to maybe start building up your options if you’re training from home, different equipment options or hit your local gym to use the equipment options available there. So just get comfortable with the suggested rep ranges first for whatever program you’re using for whatever stuff you have to work with. And then once you’re hitting your max at the lower end of the rep range that suggested try upping the amount of resistance you’re using a bit more to get yourself into the next rep range. So you could take an eight to 12 rep range like we were saying, and build from there into a six to eight rep range for instance. And remember, it’s not a race to lift as heavy as possible all at once. We want to build resistance onto a strong foundation and work against resistance. That’s hard for us. That meets us where we’re at individually, and that’s going to really vary because we’re all starting in different places with our fitness level, with what we have available to us, with what we’re comfortable with, with where you’re at in perimenopause, even in your cycle, you’re not going to feel that same amount of drive every single day.

So you want to have some options and you want to work with your body’s energy levels. Now of course, if you’re experienced and you’re using a combination of barbells or weight machines already and dumbbells too in the mix, probably you might want to even experiment with even lower rep ranges like four to six reps. I would just really recommend building into these heavier types of sets gradually and ensuring you’re starting with a strong foundation to prevent injury. And you have followed, say, my guidance from things like the foundations of functional fitness sequence set free 14 day workshop that I provide where I go over how to master all of the different moves and how to really safely protect your rotator cuff and pushing and pulling lunges, squats, deadlifts, all those types of things, or make sure that you’re working with somebody who can assess your form because of course, when we’re going heavier, we’re loading up the body with a lot of resistance and we just want to make sure that we do that safely.

Your body just needs more recovery time now than it used to, and this really benefits you because if you’re really challenging yourself in the workouts you do, if you’re going for that higher volume and you’re pairing the resistance training and the explosive cardio throughout your training program, you will really need the recovery time to repair and reset your system so you can hit your next workout fully. If you’re over training, you’re never really recovering and that’s keeping you in a state of inflammation, but it’s also limiting you from your workout potential. So if your body’s still recovering from its last workout or you’re depleted of nutrients or energy, you will just create more inflammation on top of the inflammation and stress your body’s already handling. This is why you might start to feel more aches and pains than you used to if you’re over training.

And this is why we’re getting more specific about our recovery days and self-care in perimenopause. That’s actually what I program in my rock Your Life Challenges. So if you’re not a member of Rock Your Life and you’re trying to figure out how to have a good tempo to your training, that includes enough high volume workouts that meet you where you’re at, incorporates the resistance training and the high intensity interval training component, the stretching the mobility days built in and gives you everything you need to succeed in perimenopause, just join us and rock your life. It’s such a great experience that thousands of women have found tremendous success with and found confidence in themselves and learn so much about their bodies because it’s a really holistic program and it provides you with the opportunity to start where you’re at, whichever level and progress with training for all the life stages, including you in perimenopause specifically.

The bottom line is that once you start challenging yourself more specifically, more strategically and really fatiguing the muscles that you train, whether that’s with body weight exercises or with some dumbbells and weighted objects or barbells and machines, you need to then be patient and give your body a recovery time so the muscle can repair and grow back stronger. For that to happen, it needs the nutrient building blocks, the stretching and self-care support your joint health, and for you to do your best to go to bed on time and be proactive about activating your rest and digest parasympathetic nervous system with more of those mindfulness and meditation type activities. And in perimenopause, you just want to fine tune things a bit by dialing in your gut health, upping your protein intake, and looking into hormone balancing support from your doctor. If you can, you’ve got this rockstar.

Remember, it’s all or something, not all or nothing. Remember that all these actions are like small dials that you can turn to impact your health and set yourself up for years to come. After all, we’re all going to get to the postmenopausal stage next if we’re lucky, and that things we do now will really ensure that we have strong bones, healthy muscle tissue, and good habits when we get there. So tune in to our next episode where I’ll talk more about some of the hallmarks of the post-menopausal life stage and how you can dial it in to feel your best then. And thanks so much for listening today. You can find all the links mentioned in today’s episode on the show notes page on the betty, where the transcript also lives. If you want to reference this material to read and you can check out Rock Your Life, all of my other fitness programs, my meal plans, plus my supplements, and all of the great things I have for you over there in my store, I look forward to connecting with you again. So till then, as always, I’m Betty Rocker, and you are so awesome and amazing. I’ll talk to you again real soon. Bye for now. 

This episode brought to you by Rock Your Life!

Rock Your Life is my online workout studio that you can attend from anywhere you are, and access workout challenge programs, healthy recipes, and get coaching and support in our private women’s fitness community for all 4 Pillars of Health. We provide support and strategies for women in training with their cycle, training in perimenopause and training in menopause.

All of our workouts and training programs include a strong focus on form and alignment to keep you healthy and balanced. You’ll find workout classes to take a la carte of all types, including strength training, HIIT, kickboxing, yoga, barre, mobility and more!

Our workout challenge programs provide a balanced training plan and you can start a challenge anytime within a time frame that works for you! We have challenges in tons of different time ranges, including 15-20, 20-25, 20-30, 30-40, and 45+. We show modifications and welcome all fitness levels!

Join us today and get the support you deserve in an empowering environment!

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The post Mastering Perimenopause: 5 Strategies You Need appeared first on The Betty Rocker.


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