How to regain your sparkle and zest for life through Perimenopause -
especially if you don't know you're in it!

Feeling a bit flat and lacklustre? Unable to put your finger on what’s amiss in your life but unable to shake the niggling feeling that you’re missing something? You may well be experiencing Perimenopause at its (not so) finest. The first step to reclaiming your sparkle and zest for life is to identify what’s going on for you. In this blog post, you’re going to get a good look at the indicators of Perimenopause so you can pinpoint what’s dimming your sparkle. Plus, you’ll take away recommendations on getting that sparkle back – so you can make your life your own again.

cathriona Hodgins Nutrition Perimenopause programme

Why do so many women not realise that they are in Perimenopause?

Lots of women miss the signs of Perimenopause. Partly because it isn’t talked about enough, partly because there are so many myths embedded in our thinking about this phase of life [head over to this blog post if you’re curious about whether you’ve fallen into the trap of believing in any of these myths] and partly because some of the symptoms look a lot like other conditions. I’m looking at you overwhelming fatigue, brain fog and low moods. So, if you haven’t spotted the signs and have been pinning the tail on a very different donkey, please know that you are not alone – help is at hand.

I too didn’t realise that what I had been experiencing for a while all added up to Perimenopause. It seemed like it crept up on me all of a sudden – and caught me unawares – despite all my training and passion for health. I felt tired all the time – but we are all tired right?! My cycle was normal. My GP said my bloods were fine. What did I have to go on that I was going through Perimenopause? It was easy to explain away and bury my head in the sand about it all.

What to do when you don’t know if you’re in Perimenopause

  1. Talk to female family members and open up the conversation about their
    experience. If you can, talk to your mum and see how her Perimenopause story played out. Ask what her symptoms were and what age she noticed changes. This may even bring the two of you closer as Mum may never have had the opportunity to share her experience before. Your experience may not be the same as Mum’s, but it can be a helpful indicator. And remember, even if hers was a horror story – that doesn’t mean yours will be, because you’re here, taking control.
  2. Listen to what the people closest to you are saying about how you’re showing up It’s often our nearest and dearest who notice the changes in us first. And whilst their observations are not always tactfully delivered or gratefully received, they can be very helpful indicators of what’s going on for us.
    “Mum, why are you so angry?” said Emily, 10
    In my case, I didn’t even know I was angry until I heard this statement from one of my children. That’s when I began to dig a little deeper, to join the dots and made the connection that I was in Perimenopause.
  3. Connect the dots with symptom tracking Tracking your symptoms on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis is very empowering in itself and is the start of regaining your sparkle as you can determine for yourself if you are in fact going through Perimenopause. You can use an app for this (I like Balance by Dr Louise Newsom) or simply take notes/keep a diary of your experience.

Bring more awareness to your daily life. Each morning, do a body scan:

  • How is your head i.e. mood, memory – have you forgotten where you parked the car lately? Or even how to park the car?
  • Eyes, skin, hair and nails – are they dry and itchy? Are your hair and nails feeling brittle?
  • What about aches and pains – are your joints achy? Do you have sore breasts?
  • Are you seeing sleep changes – do you wake up refreshed after 8 hours? Or is your sleep broken – you’ve been getting too hot, throwing off the duvet in the night or waking up in a sweat?

Symptoms come and go as your hormones fluctuate from one month to the next. That’s why you need to track for a sustained period of time, so you can get to know these fluctuations, connect the dots and make adjustments to your lifestyle.

For me the dots were changes in sleep, my moods becoming more erratic, heavier and more painful periods, dry eye PLUS other lady dryness.

How to get your sparkle back when you’re in Perimenopause

So, now that you’re clearer about what Perimenopause looks like and might now realise that you could well be in it, what do you do about it? How do you get your sparkle and zest for life back when you’re consistently feeling flat, lacklustre and overwhelmed?

  1. Identify your symptom triggers
    Well, the first thing – which your symptom tracking will help you with – is to identify your triggers. You need to trace those symptoms back to actions you took. For example, when you’ve had brain fog so bad that you cant think straight, come back to what did you eat or drink that morning? You
    may well be able to pinpoint something that has thrown your brain off balance. Yes, your hormones are playing their part – but if you skipped breakfast or just had a cereal bar that could be the missing link for you. Because then you can see if an adjustment like focusing on having more protein in your day balances the Perimenopausal brain fog for you. And you can start to plan when you need to rest more or when you need to reduce the caffeine.
  2. Be more aware of your relationship with, and response to, stimulants and toxins. Mood altering substances such as alcohol and caffeine need to be approached with a little more consideration at this point. Alcohol is the biggest sparkle saboteur – and it’s also the go-to coping strategy for many women as they struggle with the overwhelm of their symptoms. That’s not to say you have to cut it out immediately, but you do need to start taking note of how it impacts you now. Map whether drinking is associated with your night sweats. Or maybe you find that after drinking, you’re left flat the next morning, with no interest in anything?
  3. Go for the GALS
    This is the time to take care of the GALs – Gut, Adrenals and Liver – as these are fundamental to your Perimenopause experience. When the GALs aren’t having a good time, you tend to see things like bloating that won’t go away, being more easily overwhelmed by the stressors in your life and finding yourself awake at 2am for no good reason. This is because your stress hormones get raised in your adrenal glands, you become more sensitive to sugar and your Liver struggles more to deal with alcohol and caffeine. Your GALs need a bit more TLC at this stage.

It’s worryingly common that women don’t recognise when they are in Perimenopause. And it’s so important to be able to identify this defining life stage. Honestly, you’ll feel like a cloud has lifted when you realise that you’re not going mad or “losing it” – you’re simply in Perimenopause. So, if you’ve been feeling a bit lacklustre and “off” without being able to put your finger on what’s up, it may well be that with some symptom tracking you come to the conclusion that your shine is being dimmed by Perimenopause.
No, it doesn’t have to be this way or go on forever! You deserve to shine, to regain your sparkle and to experience a whole new zest for life – and this is 100% possible for you.

You can start with identifying your triggers, being mindful of your alcohol and caffeine intake and supporting your GALs but what next?

Or what if that all seems seriously overwhelming to implement on your own, with everything else you have going on in life?

You’ll be relieved to hear that help is at hand.

On 26th September, doors open on the Prepared and (em)powered for Perimenopause 4 week group programme. This journey will take you from overwhelmed and in a fog to brimming with energy and inspiration. You’ll discover your own toolkit to sail through this phase of your life and be ready to
breeze on through into mid-life. And you’ll be supported throughout your journey by a group of kindred spirits who feel exactly the same as you do right now.