‘THE KEY TO MANAGING SYMPTOMS HAS BEEN LISTENING TO MY BODY’
Sally Leech, 42, is a personal trainer from Lancashire (themenopauseclub.com)
‘I was approaching my 40th birthday when I started to feel different. I felt exhausted all the time – not just from lack of sleep, but a deeper kind of lethargy. I’d never really suffered from PMS before, but around the time of my period, I’d get teary and feel anxious, never knowing why. And despite running three or four times a week as usual and following my normal, fairly balanced diet, I’d put on half a stone around my middle in a few months.
I felt self-conscious about how my body shape was changing, and I felt like I was failing as a fitness trainer. I’d be teaching classes or one-to-one sessions and find I couldn’t even remember the word for a squat. For months, I felt miserable and stressed, both at home and at work; it wasn’t until my husband asked what was up that I really took a step back and considered all the symptoms collectively.
I was training clients who were going through the perimenopause, but most of them were in their late forties, so I was surprised to learn that it could affect women my age. It probably took five or six months for me to recognise I was going through it too, then my GP confirmed that the symptoms matched up. Following advice from Jenny Burrell, Jessica Drummond and Michelle Lyons at Burrell Education, I began to see that I wasn’t going crazy. They supported me with nutrition and exercise tips that worked for my changing body.
For me, the key to managing my symptoms has been listening to my body and planning workouts around how I’m feeling week to week. I used to do half-marathons, but while I still run as regularly, I tend to stick to 5k. In addition to cardio exercises, I also do resistance work to build muscle mass and support my bone health. As your oestrogen levels drop, your risk of osteoporosis increases, so it’s really important to me that I use the perimenopausal period to equip my body as well as possible to deal with the changes ahead. Combining all that with more restorative exercise, like yoga and Pilates, gives me the time and space I need to listen to my body. Exercise can be a challenge when you’re feeling low and exhausted, but it has an incredibly positive impact on the way I feel, and it helps me to think clearer, too.’