Living and coping with Perimenopause symptoms

Perimenopause marks the beginning of this natural transition out of our reproductive years.

This period can last anywhere between 5-15 years. A lot of women do not even recognize that what they are experiencing is hormonal fluctuations due to perimenopause.

We want to help normalize these conversations and thank Miriam for sharing how she is finding her way through perimenopause. This blog post is a sequel to the previous post where she describes how she discovered that she was going through perimenopause.

Please note: This personal story is NOT a substitute for medical advice or information.


So how do you live with (or maybe better to say survive) perimenopause?

(Tip: if you haven’t already, take a few minutes and go back and read the previous blog post)

That’s a great question – thanks for asking!

I have done so much thinking on this topic that it would not be an exaggeration to say I could probably write a short novel. I’ll spare you the details, however, and skip to the practical tips which are what we want (no one likes reading a life story before a recipe – just show me the recipe already!).

I stopped doing this

Wondering what on earth was happening to me! I decided not to stay in the chaos I was living (again, please take 3 minutes to read my previous blog post here for context). I needed help and I needed it soon!

And tried this instead

Researched, researched, researched! In fact, I have an honorary doctorate in Perimenopause Studies from the University of Google (Inc). I googled every single ailment I had with the word “perimenopause” at the end and scoured the many links for solutions.

I joined a dedicated Facebook group “Perimenopause – Surviving and Thriving” and found a vibrant community there. And I visited many doctors until I found someone who was at least somewhat informed about perimenopause. And with persistence, I began to find pieces of the larger puzzle.

I stopped doing this

Long and intense cardio workouts. They are exhausting and they up your cortisol (your stress hormone) and we don’t want that. We don’t want that because cortisol tells your body to keep the stored fat in case you need it to survive. This was a hard and counter-intuitive lesson for me; you could have clawed my cardio-intense workouts out of my dead hands before perimenopause.

And tried this instead

30-40 minutes of brisk walking at least 5 times a week and strength and resistance training (you could even go beast mode with this and make it a HIIT routine) at least three times a week. I do my strength training at home with a 12 kg Kettlebell.

I stopped doing this

Trying desperately to fit into my pre-perimenopause clothes and then hate myself when I can’t. Damn you non-elasticized waistbands!

Don’t be at war with your body. You can’t control it like you used to with willpower and discipline.

And tried this instead

Accepted that my body was changing and will change and there is a limit to what I can do about it. I got smart with my nutrition (more about this next), my rest routines, and my exercise habits. I am buying clothes that suit me, not clothes I think should suit me. I have to say that this particular point has been one of the hardest for me. I deeply grieved (and still sometimes mourn) my “old” body. But I am letting myself feel that sadness so I can move on and not stay stuck.

I stopped doing this

Depriving myself of foods and being in a massive calorie deficit to lose weight.

And tried this instead

I focussed on my nutrition and learned to love what loves me.

It was with great sadness and not without a struggle that I significantly cut down on alcohol and wine in particular. But you know what? Wine doesn’t love me. It gives me a restless sleep and I wake up cranky the next day even after just one glass. Greek yogurt, salmon, almonds, lean proteins, and dark, leafy greens love me, though, so we have become firm friends. Personally, I’ve also cut down on my grain consumption (even whole grains) as I feel less achy without them. I have also zeroed in on micronutrients (eg zinc, magnesium, omega 3) and try to eat foods that give me a lot of these.

I stopped doing this

Trying to cope with the psychological challenges (anxiety, light depression, anger) of hormone fluctuations on my own.

And tried this instead

I ditched the stigma surrounding seeing a psychotherapist and have weekly sessions to help process my feelings. I am also very attentive to what stage of my cycle I am experiencing. I know if I’m feeling out of sorts, teary, depressed, angry like I can’t cope, that it’s likely I am just about to ovulate or my period is just about to arrive.

On the recommendation of one of the doctors I saw, I’ve also started taking a plant-based therapeutic supplement Rhodiole Saffron (Rhodiola Saffran) every morning. This has been life-changing! Gone are my erratic mood swings, anxious moments, and fury balls. I feel so much calmer and am way less quick to be angry. Now, please know that I do still feel irritable and a bit cranky and this supplement has not helped me feel mildly depressed so it is definitely not a cure-all.

So, these are some of the things that have helped me. But please know that there is sometimes no category of helpful or unhelpful when it comes to perimenopause. Something that was helpful for me, may not help you.

That’s why it is so important to just keep trying and experimenting until you find what works!

I’d like to conclude with this:

Try not to blame yourself for something that is natural.

Be kind(er) to yourself and don’t hold yourself to the same standards of energy and body composition as you did when you were younger.

You now have the very valuable added blessings of maturity and wisdom. Use some on yourself!

Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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About the author

In a previous life, Miriam Rawson was an educator and a not-for-profit executive director. Currently, she is a stay-at-home parent who uses anatomically correct terms and a Perimenopause evangelist. If she has the chance, she will corner you and ask you if you’ve heard about hormonal imbalance.

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