Thursday, March 27, 2008

Perimenopause - A New Beginning

Perimenopause, the transitional period before menopause, can bring with it many symptoms, challenges and changes for women. You may notice that you've gained some weight, particularly around your mid section, or perhaps your periods aren't as regular as they once were. You may also be experiencing hot flashes or night sweats and you're wondering if this time in your life marks the end of your youth.

According to several studies, the answer is "absolutely not." As a matter of fact, perimenopause can very well signal the beginning of a more mature, happy, beautiful and energetic you - if you have the determination and self-control that are necessary ingredients in the fountain of youth.

You may believe that the days of feeling youthful and full of energy are history, but this couldn't be farther from the truth. Maybe you witnessed your mother - or perhaps aunts - get older and the results weren't pretty. Believe it or not, that has very little to do with you. As a matter of fact, a study conducted by Swedish scientists found that our genes only contribute 20% - 30% in determining how healthy we'll be and how long we'll live. That's very good news, because this means that it is we who determine our fate.

Three key factors to staying youthful and reducing symptoms of perimenopause are: Diet, exercise and a healthy, positive attitude. Unfortunately, most women don't believe in healthy eating and exercise. As a matter of fact, far too many people become complacent and are more than happy to sit around watching television or writing e-mails, yet the excuse is always the same - "I don't have time to exercise and eat healthy." If you were to face unfavorable health conditions and severe symptoms of periomenopause (likely as result of an inactive lifestyle) there's no doubt you would find the time to seek and receive treatment. Why not use that time for preventative maintenance on your body so that you may reduce the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke and many other conditions that so many women face as they enter middle age?

Let's take a moment to examine the lifestyle of many Americans who are now living past the age of 100. Those individuals currently living past the age of 100 never inactively sat behind a desk, ate fatty processed foods, experienced road rage, or believed that exercising no more than their fingers at the computer was a sufficient amount of activity for the day. Let's face it, in the early 1900s people walked miles to work not by choice but out of necessity, because cars were still a luxury back then. Boys and girls were expected to till the fields because their farmer parents needed cheap help. People ate what they grew because it was available. Most labor was manual then, and most nutrients were natural. Preserved food was what they sealed in a jar. Tobacco and alcohol were available in the early 1900s, but the majority of today's centenarians didn't indulge to excess.

The lifestyle changes necessary to look and feel youthful and energetic, and reduce symptoms or perimenopause, are so very easy and you'll be thrilled that you took the time to make these changes, because the results will astound you. Your diet doesn't need to be so strict that you can't enjoy those foods that you love. As a matter of fact, recent studies have shown that the consumption of cocoa or dark chocolate may offer protective effects for healthy people and those who are at risk for cardiovascular disease. So, go ahead and enjoy your chocolate - if consumed in moderation, and as part of a well balanced diet, it may be very good for your overall health.

Additionally, red wine has been proven to increase longevity, serve as an antioxidant and may reduce the risk or spread of breast cancer. Also, as you may know, a strong association between moderate consumption of red wine and reduced cardiovascular disease and lower cancer risk has been documented.

So, as you can see, many foods and beverages that you thought you'd have to give up can easily remain a part of your everyday diet. Foods you will want to avoid, however, include those that will contribute to fat accumulation, such as white rice, potatoes and white bread. Instead, add wholegrain bread, oats, rye and wheat germ to your diet.

I know you're probably not fond of the word "exercise," as many women don't understand the benefits of a regular exercise routine - both physical and emotional - but you will be shocked and amazed by the positive results you'll see by devoting a small amount of time to regular physical activity. You'll lose the weight you've gained around your mid section, and you'll become toned, fit and thin. You'll also have much more energy, which is likely a result of being in better shape, as well as knowing that you've accomplished a great deal, which leads to so much more self confidence than most of us are accustomed to having.

In summary, perimenopause really can be the start of a beautiful new beginning if you should choose to make it so. Remember, it's up to you; do you want to become frumpy, overweight and lacking energy, or will you devote a small amount time and effort to looking and feeling youthful, energized and beautiful? I know I'm experiencing some of the best years of my life and if I can do it, so can you - enjoy!

Susan Megge is the founder of, a website designed to assist mature women as they approach and experience menopause. Susan started experiencing symptoms of menopause several years ago and researched various avenues to deal with these symptoms naturally

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