Fiona Hughes

'Menopause changed my fitness regime'

In this guest blog post, Fiona Hughes - a member of The Body Coach App - shares her experience of the menopause, how it affected her workouts, and what got her through.

I couldn't tell you when my perimenopause started. But that's the thing about it, isn't it - it just creeps up on you. There are so many perimenopause symptoms that could actually be something else - we just dismiss them, put our best foot forward and keep going, never thinking they could all be linked to one thing.

In 2021, I found The Body Coach App - a plan that promoted healthy living using home-cooked food alongside exercise and had done very well. It had a huge positive impact on both my physical and mental wellbeing. For around two years, I progressed, getting fitter and loving high impact style exercise. In May 2023, aged 51, I even completed a 100km Ultra Challenge and was feeling on top of the world.

Fiona Hughes

But then, later that year things began to change. I didn't have the same energy for my workouts, my motivation was decreasing. My moods really began to change, I became irritable and anxious with no explanation as to why. It was like I had no control over my emotions, and it was very scary. I couldn't remember simple words, I did really silly things like put milk in the cupboard rather than the fridge! My hair became dry, my skin wasn't very good, everything ached, I was always hungry and don't even get me started on the dreaded hot flushes! I couldn't believe all these things could be down to just one thing, surely?

I didn't know who to reach out to, but I remember putting a post on The Body Coach Community Facebook Group about how I was feeling, and the response was overwhelming. So many other ladies had similar stories, and all urged me to go to my GP. I've never been someone who likes to bother my GP, but I realised I did need help. And she was absolutely wonderful, listening to everything I had to say, offering constructive advice, urging me to be open about how I was feeling, how beneficial talking was and, most importantly, access to HRT. She also reassured me that it was completely natural to not have the same energy or motivation for high energy exercise, which was such a relief! I wasn't just being lazy!

The first thing I did after my chat with my GP was to approach my work colleagues and explain what was going on, and without exception, they were completely supportive. It's great knowing you have an employer who understands your position and wants to help you through what can be a very difficult time - I couldn't imagine how difficult it would be with an employer who isn't.

There was also a huge step forward, in March 2024, when the "Strength in Menopause" Series of workouts was launched on The Body Coach App. So many of us had asked for something for the "M Word Warriors", it was an amazing feeling to have been listened to. I don't mind telling you, I was quite emotional when I pressed play on the first workout in the series.

Fiona Hughes

Of course, not every day is easy. But an important lesson I've learned is that exercise can absolutely make a difference. High impact training has taken a back seat for the time being, and instead I now enjoy low impact cardio exercise and strength training with weights (my kettlebells all have names!). I've realised that enjoying exercise is the key, whatever you are able or choose to do. Even walking is amazingly beneficial.

There's a saying "movement is medicine" and during the tricky journey that is the menopause, I completely believe that is true.

Read more about perimenopause and menopause essentials, and why exercise is key during menopause.

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