A Weight off My Mind and BodyNov 24, 2021
A weight off my mind and body
The intimate guide to the menopause through the eyes of a woman! Trudi Roscouet shares her experience and what has helped, so far…
I thought I would start this piece about the menopause: The TABOO subject!
We are told by mums and school about starting periods. We have a whole team of people around us for when we start a family. But what happens when it’s all over? No one says anything.
Doctors appear to categorise many symptoms as “menopausal.” There is a general acceptance that we will “just get on with it.” So why am I writing this? Well, I am a 53-year-old mum who has been involved in health and fitness professionally for over ten years. I specialised in training women, but at 45, when I was at my fittest, I did not understand in the slightest what happened to women’s bodies at this “special time.” My aim was to encourage them on their weight loss journey by providing support and beating them up on regular fitness sessions!
I threw myself into my fitness and my passion, boxing! I was one of the first women to compete in a white-collar boxing match and absolutely loved it. But over the next few years, a combination of injuries, new relationship and failed business ventures in trying to open an obesity centre in Jersey, I walked away from the industry.
It was on a holiday in 2017, now aged 49, that I saw the photos that made me STOP!
Still not thinking of anything but weight gain, bar the occasional hot flushes, I underwent a series of diets and fitness regimes but really it wasn’t until I trotted to the doctor in 2019, just before I was leaving for Spain, for a series of routine blood tests that I started to understand the full story. I remember her calling me, whilst in the pub with a glass of wine in my hand, saying: “Well the good news is that you are not diabetic (phew!) but you are going through the menopause!” WHAAT! “Pop in and I’ll leave you a script for HRT which you can take with you!”
So here my journey began… I was now in a foreign country with no medical support, or in fact friends on the ground, so I started my research. I have met some amazing people, all over the world, on my journey and learned so much which has culminated in finding my passion and my goal.
OMG, why did no one warn me? Why did I not understand what was going to happen to my body? I like to think of myself as an intelligent woman, so how did I not realise that I was going to become an irrational, sleep thwarted, stress head?
I hadn’t had a period since 2005 due to a Mirena coil but of course the most infamous symptom is the lack or diminished frequency of periods! So, that was me fooled! Just because I had a Mirena coil and no periods, it did not affect the onset of the menopause so without me knowing, I was already perimenopausal. As estrogen depletes, this can lead to symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, insomnia and joint pains. Again, I can honestly say that I experienced all four of these symptoms, but it was so easy to pass them over as normal life issues!
As I mentioned, the first sign for me was the hot flushes – especially in the morning and during the day at work (I was now in Gibraltar where the temperature was even hotter outside!) A spontaneous self-combusting heat which rose from the depth of my belly and radiated out – down my arms, legs and eventually to my forehead. Pearls of water perspiring down my face, back and chest. In the mornings I would have to stop moving and stand outside – it didn’t matter about the time and how late I was going to be, I simply couldn’t move – and then at work!
Desperate to open a window – but the air con was on. People would look at you and just think you were mad. Now you want to talk about irritabililty: “No, you can’t open the window as it alters the air con.” You never want to say that to a hormonal woman! Joking aside, it is a very difficult path to tread for everyone!!
To this day I can’t really place my hand on my heart and say every time I felt frustrated, irritable and anxious it was down to the menopause but there were days when anxiety levels would escalate and I couldn’t understand why. Like the butterfly feeling in your tummy just wouldn’t shift – all day.
I was told to watch a film or focus on something else but sometimes those feelings just won’t dissipate.
The other major issue was brain fog! My lapses in memory were happening at the same time as I was experiencing lack of sleep – my Dad had died of dementia – this was my primary concern – was this it? Was I already starting the “missing words from the page” syndrome? Endless lists – post it notes – trying to repeat a name of someone who you met seven times and then relying on your partner to be able to introduce people!
I suppose the major issue was the BELLY! This was something that I had inherited from my mums’ side of the family – I was a definite apple shape.
Even before I left for Spain, I returned to the fitness industry to teach daily but I could never lose the tummy.
In 2020, at the onset of Covid and whilst resident in Spain and in ultimate lockdown, I commenced my studies. Talking to doctors and menopause specialists and using my own knowledge of nutrition and fitness, I started my business known as Vitality40plus.
During this time, I had also been diagnosed with high ferritin levels – which although has nothing directly to do with the menopause, it means the body clings onto iron protein in your blood. The protein gets stored around the liver and other large organs and can signal early signs of liver damage.
At this time, I was advised to reduce alcohol; this does have a major effect on the body at the time of the menopause and the result, together with combining the other four pillars of health – nutrition, exercise, sleep and wellbeing – really solved the belly issue.
However, Covid and menopause do not combine together very well – and returning to Jersey in December 2020 and facing another lockdown which meant working from home, therefore not achieving the 10,000-step guideline, top that up with layers of anxiety, insomnia plus bouts of financial stress, I saw my weight increase.
Back to the drawing board: it is a battle but “training the brain” and learning to accept life as what it is now – that’s the mindfulness bit – teaching Pilates which is my passion and “calm” – keeps me grounded.
This year, I have been trying a series of naturopathic supplements before surrendering to HRT. It is now that my life has turned another corner in my menopause journey – watch this space!
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