21 August 2022

Non-HRT part 2: Self care, Exercise, Nutrition & Weight


Move, eat well & start prioritising your self care

Part 2 of the information for those who don’t want to take HRT or can’t – or even for those taking it.  As women age, they really do HAVE to start taking care of themselves and moving self care further up the list!

Through our life, generally, the woman is the matriarch, always there for the kids & then when older, for parents too. So for most women the term self care tends to be classified as a glass or 2 or wine or a quick run.

Time to change this.  Time to stop and take a look at what you are doing – is it rushed, are you stressed if you don’t do it or more stressed by squeezing it into an already full on day?  Get a notebook NOW.  Jot down what exactly you do for your self care?  Is it even on your radar?

Now jot down what, in an ideal world you would actually LIKE to do.  Now compromise and see if you can start to do SOME of what is on the list.  Then look at your diary and see where you could possibly add it to your week without stressing or rushing.

Lets Move in the menopause

You may be sporty, always done exercise or maybe have tried to do it.  However, with work & family commitments, exercise or movement is often the 1st to go.

You need to understand, as we age, from about the mid 30’s we start losing bone density and muscle mass.  We have muscles everywhere in our body, so if we don’t use them, they get weaker – that includes your heart & your pelvic floor!  Come the menopause – suddenly little oestrogen or testosterone left in the body, we lose our bone density and muscle mass at an even faster rate and it is harder to keep them strong.

So moving and increasing ‘load’ on the bones (which are reactive tissue and build up more from impact) can help keep our bones strong & prevent osteoporosis.  If you have weak bone or osteoporosis then you have to build muscle mass to support those bones.  Remember, our heart is a muscle – it needs to be used, pushed hard for short periods of time to stay strong!

Whether you are on HRT or not, movement and exercise as we age can keep you healthier, keep you from getting injuries/niggles & it is a preventative.

So what can you do?  MOVE more, especially if you have a desk job.  Set alarms to get up (or between meetings) dance for a few minutes, do some body weight squats, lunges, press ups  – they can literally take 3 minutes.  Do this 2 – 4x a day and you will regularly be exercising the muscles and bones. My top tips for all women:

  • Walk more / always take the stairs not escalators /take up Nordic Walking
  • dance around the kitchen
  • garden more if you like it
  • find a friend who will walk or run with you (but not to the pub every time -ha ha!)
  • find a class & do something you will enjoy – no good doing something that is a chore, you won’t keep up
  • Start small – build up your exercise time
  • Don’t be afraid of weights – start with body weight exercises then build to using DB and then heavier weights (always get shown what to do with these so you lift to support not injure your body!)  Weights ARE YOUR FRIEND!
  • Look at what exercise you are doing – are you getting enough rest & recovery days?  These are essential, especially as we age.  Maybe you need to look at cutting down on the longer runs – they will be stressing your body for longer.  Change a few longer runs for shorter runs with some sprints in them.

This is the most important thing – you HAVE to find something you will enjoy otherwise you won’t keep it up but you MUST do something! IF you can, find a PT who can introduce you to weights.  They are the best way to keep you strong and keep the your body healthy as you age.

2. Self Care & Sleep in the menopause

This follows on nicely from over- exercising.  Our body reacts to stress in so many ways.  We want to reduce the stress in our bodies otherwise they can get burn out and you will find you have NO energy or may get run down very quickly.  It can also massively affect your weight.  As I said at the start – you are often looking after kids, parents, the home and work.  You HAVE to give your body and mind a rest.

Everyone is different, some may thrive on a non stop life, their body may cope. However, most of us can’t.  If you have run out of, or are not taking the hormones to help get you up and going in the morning, like testosterone, then your body will flake.

Therefore, take a look at how you react to stress or a non-stop weekend.  Do you start Monday off feeling like you need a day off?  Is this all having an impact on your sleep too?  Your body needs to have sleep so it can rebuild, mend and nurture itself.

It is NEVER too late to start adding in some self care, but you HAVE to do it.  You may only need 1 minute here or there in your day.  Sod the clearing up or washing – STOP, sit in the garden, breathe, listen to a song.  Then get back to it.  EVERYONE has 1 minute here or there throughout the day but ONLY YOU can allow yourself the time to stop.

Sleep is a really difficult one as I never want to add to the stress for someone who cant sleep.  All I can say is try all the sleep advice you read about.  I really, really can not recommend enough – getting outdoors early morning. BUT you need to then have a bed time routine, maybe try and wash your face etc once you have put the kids to bed, so you only have to clean teeth before getting into bed.  Look up the circadian rhythm.

I have been doing this for the past few years – out early, once light (in the winter) & do my face cleansing before I settle down in the evening for some ‘down time TV’.  I try and go to bed at roughly the same time each night.  My Saturday nights used to be awful, I was always ‘ping’ wide awake going to bed as I hadn’t done much exercise or been out early.  Now, I don’t experience this anymore.

3. Nutrition in the menopause

Where do I start with nutrition!  It is such a massive subject so I am just going to put the main points down.  In my latest blog it was all about the benefits of herbs & spices – Non-HRT ways to Support Your Menopausal Body Part 1. The aim should be to eat as diverse a diet as you can.

  • Increase the protein and healthy fats that you eat.
  • You DO need to eat fibre/carbohydrates but reduce the amounts of pasta and white starchy carbs.
  • Please don’t look at all fats as bad.  The healthier fats supports our brain function and organs.  Look at a handful of natural mixed nuts, olive oil, avocado & cut down on the transfats – margarines,  biscuits, cake & synthetic fats.
  • Liver support – this is necessary to help us excrete the excess oestrogen, which is really important.
  • Phytoestrogens – see the paragraph below with the best foods offering similar oestrogen effects

4.Weight & the menopause

All I can say here is – sort the movement/exercise, nutrition and self care out and THEN you may see a change in your weight!  It is not a simple eat less and move more when you are menopausal.  Your hormones DO affect your weight.  We all naturally gain weight as we age but we have to work harder to look after our body to prevent gaining even more in the meno yrs.

Think about your blood sugar levels – when we eat lots of sugar, carbohydrates or even fruit – they all spike your blood sugar levels, which then affect your insulin levels in your body which then affects the stress hormone cortisol which then means the body will store the spare sugars as fat in your body.  That is a massively shortened version, but it gives you a general idea about what happens.

  • Start eating vegetables 1st when eating, then eat your proteins and healthy fats BEFORE you eat carbs and sugars.
  • If you can have a table spoon of vinegar before going out or if you know you have a carb heavy meal
  • exercise/move for 10 minutes after a meal
  • if you have chocolate cravings – have some nuts with it or vinegar
  • eat your pudding or sweet fix’s after your meal, not on their own

Buy ‘Glucose Revolution‘ by Jessie Inchauspe – a fantastic book, very easy to read and SO makes sense!

To finish – only YOU can make the decision to help yourself.  All of the above will have an impact on your weight.  If you eat sensibly, think about what is spiking your insulin levels (blood sugar), exercise or move more and take some ‘me time’ and look at improving your sleep.  They can all have a positive impact on your energy levels, your menopausal symptoms, your mood and how you feel.

If you want to know more about all of this then have a look at the Everything Menopause Programme.



These need a section for themselves.  These are foods which have similar effects on the body as oestrogen, they imitate oestrogen.  They are a natural form found in foods.  Lots of research has gone into the benefits for women in their menopausal years.  Here are 50 foods which contain the most phytoestrogens:

Foods High In Phytoestrogens (amounts in µg per 100g of food/beverage)
Coumestrol Isoflavones Lignans Total Phytoestrogens
1. Flaxseeds 46.8 321.4 379,012.3 379,380.4
2. Soybeans 1.5 103,649.3 269.2 103,920.0
3. Soy nuts 37.1 68,571.5 122.2 68,730.8
4. Tofu 0.7 27,118.5 30.9 27,150.1
5. Tempeh 0.6 18,277.7 29.6 18,307.9
6. Textured veggie protein (soy) 2.4 16,122.2 99.4 16,223.9
7. Miso paste 2.4 11,131.0 63.9 11,197.3
8. Soy yogurt 0.5 10,227.8 46.6 10,275.0
9. Soy protein powder 0.5 8823.8 16.5 8840.7
10. Sesame seeds 0.4 10.5 7,997.2 (excludes sesamin) 8,008.1 (excludes sesamin)
11. Flax bread 0.6 300.8 7,239.3 7,540.6
12. Soy bacon bits nd 5,998.6 35.1 6,033.7
13. Black bean sauce 0.6 5,319.2 10.5 5,330.3
14. Multigrain bread 0.5 2.6 4,785.6 4,798.7
15. Soy milk 0.6 2,944.2 12.3 2,957.2
16. Doughnuts 0.1 2,872.3 31.4 2,903.8
17. Protein bar 0.2 2,703.6 19.6 2,723.3
18. Soy veggie burger 0.2 1,656.0 15.2 1,671.5
19. Miso soup 0.0 1,467.7 2.8 1,470.5
20. Hummus 0.0 13.6 979.4 993.0
21. Black licorice 3.8 443.8 415.1 862.7
22. Soy bean sprouts nd 787.5 2.2 789.6
23. Garlic 0.1 20.3 583.2 603.6
24. Mung bean sprouts 136.6 229.8 128.7 495.1
25 Dried apricots 4.2 39.8 400.5 444.5
26. Alfalfa sprouts 2.5 394.1 44.8 441.4
27. Pistachios 6.7 176.9 198.9 382.5
28. Dried dates 0.8 5.1 323.6 329.5
29. Sunflower seeds 0.1 5.7 210.3 216.0
30. Chestnuts 2.4 21.2 186.6 210.2
31. Dried prunes 1.8 4.2 177.5 183.5
32. Olive oil 0.1 38.0 142.6 180.7
33. Soy sauce 0.4 135.0 14.3 149.6
34. Rye bread 0.0 3.4 142.9 146.3
35. Walnuts 0.6 53.3 85.7 139.5
36. Almonds 1.5 18.0 111.7 131.1
37. Cashews 0.4 22.1 99.4 121.9
38. Winter squash 0.0 0.3 113.3 113.7
39. Hazelnuts 0.3 30.2 77.1 107.5
40. Green beans 0.0 39.0 66.8 105.8
41. Collard greens 1.5 1.9 97.8 101.3
42. Broccoli 0.0 0.2 93.9 94.1
43. Peanut butter 0.1 42.4 37.6 80.1
44. Cabbage 0.0 0.9 79.1 80.0
45. White beans 0.1 39.1 33.5 72.7
46. Peaches 0.1 2.6 61.8 64.5
47. Sesame bread 0.0 2.5 52.6 55.1
48. Red wine 0.1 16.5 37.3 53.9
49. Strawberries 0.3 2.4 48.9 51.6
50. Mung beans 0.0 4.3 43.7 48.0
Source: Phytoestrogen content of foods consumed in Canada, including isoflavones, lignans, and coumestan (9)
Year: 2006
Authors: Thompson, L.U., Boucher, B.A., Liu, Z., et al.
Publication Name: Nutrition and Cancer
Publication Details: Volume 54, Number 2, Pages 184-201. The 50 highest sources are reflected above.



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Are you a woman who has pelvic girdle pain? Do you have pelvic floor issues? Have you had a C-section, episiotomy or tears? Do you have a Diastasis Recti or weak deep abdominals? Are you peri – menopausal? Do you want to get fit in a safe environment? I can help, get in touch to find out more.


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