Please make menopause a topic in the forum index

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #48209
    Jane Mackay
    Keymaster

    Hello Uphill Athlete!

    As a 50-year-old woman (a goal attained one day before Steve House — not the woman part, but the 50 yo part) the bewildering and utterly unpredictable changes going on in my body and their effect on my capacity to train, metabolise food, etc. is a constant topic of thought and question these days.

    I’m sure I’m not the only peri/menopausal woman who has vast appreciation for the information you provide and frequents this forum, so could you please make menopause a one-click, easy-find topic in the index?

    Thanks!
    Jane

  • Participant
    lucye on #48213

    +1 to that suggestion, Jane!

    Turned 50 this year myself and also experiencing how all the old ‘rules’ don’t seem to apply anymore. It’s discouraging to discover the dearth of information there is–we are truly an overlooked constituency. That being said, I’ve been personally inspired and energized the last few months by the community emerging at Feisty Menopause. Their podcast (“Hit Play not Pause”) is legit and wide-ranging (first podcast featured Dr. Stacy Sims), they have a very active fb group and they just launched a new paid membership that gives you live access to people with specific expertise for peri- and post-menopausal athletes. (I’m not affliated in any way, just excited to feel like I finally have a means to try understand what’s going on w my body.)

    If I had one critique it would be that the focus is more along the lines of triathalon and cycling and not uphill endeavors that are the focus here. The guests (not coaches) on the Uphill Athlete Podcast have all been guys so far–it would be great to hear interviews with female alpinists and ultrarunners in the 50+ group.

    Keymaster
    Jane Mackay on #48231

    Great minds, Lucye!

    Last week I listened to the intereview with Cherie Gruenfeld on the Hit Play Not Pause podcast … having seen mention of it in Stacy Sims’ newsletter!

    Interestingly, though, I came to know about Stacy Sims thanks to Uphill Athlete when Allison Naney mentioned her book on the female athlete zoomcast during the lockdown early this year (March, I think). I promptly bought Roar and have since read it twice cover to cover, except for the chapter on pregnancy, which is obviously not relevant. I devoured it on first reading in March and made a ton of notes, which I then put into practice over the next few months, then read it again a couple of months ago, now with the learning and observations of the previous months, which allowed me to better understand aspects of the information and advice she gives and how they apply in my body and circumstances, at this moment.

    We are indeed an underserved and largely ignored population, both in the scientific field of study and in the anecdotal observations.

    Great idea to have occasional UA podcast guests who are 50+ women uphill athletes and trail/mountain runners. It would be a great gift and a great relief to hear the experiences and recommendations of someone whose body is like mine.

    It seems most of the time like we’re fumbing around in the dark and often paying the price in lost time and setbacks. And time is something we don’t have a great deal of, in terms of being able to make notable gains and do at least some of the things we aspire to do.

    Participant
    Jane on #48435

    Hi Jane (M) – good to raise this issue again – check out a similar thread I posted at the start of 2020 “Training into menopause”. I came across the UA site and the female UA forum in 2019, I’d browse it now and then hoping someone would post on the topic – – but no – – posting back in January 2020 felt akin to making a super exposed hard move on a climb. I think “menopause” appeared on the forum index for a while after the thread began, but it’s not there now, great to reinstate it.

    I’ve found the “Hit Play not Pause” podcasts a good source of info – as mentioned above by Lucye. Hearing a range of voices and perspectives feels important. I’ve a sense that more open conversations and sharing of information around menopause and sport are emerging. For me personally having posted about this at the start of 2020 I’ve found myself being more open to discussing the topic and slowly collating information.

    I feel like we can learn from a variety of sources: for example I think the information shared on UA aimed at older athletes is valuable for all genders. I nearly didn’t listen to Steve Johnston and Art Muir’s podcast “a 74-y.o. athlete in training”, being 51 I felt like it wouldn’t be relevant, but it was useful and inspiring in many ways.

    Jane (B)

    Inactive
    Anonymous on #48683

    Thanks for posting here, ladies! I admittedly don’t have a ton of experience here, yet. I just turned 40 and while I’ve worked with several women who are in menopause, I only have anecdotal evidence of how to best train through it. I hear you on the podcast-noted. If you have any specific ideas, feel free to shoot them directly to me at alison@uphillathlete. Encourage all your friends to also post here, so we can build up more resources. Sadly there is not much research around this topic, and the variation between women is high.

    Participant
    deborahrutter on #49507

    Ladies!

    Agreed–the excitement about not having to worry about period issues on roped climbs or weeks in the backcountry is a plus–now? The host of the issues aforementioned. It’s like puberty, only with no mom to explain what is happening. I have found my endurance hasn’t really suffered too much, but my speed has dropped off quite a bit. Meno-or something else, unrelated? The answers are out there, somewhere.

    Thanks for the podcast notes, above!
    Deborah

    Participant
    TerryLui on #49576

    +1 as my wife qualifies and I’ve been keeping my eyes/ears out for info that may be helpful for her 🙂

    Participant
    sannk06 on #52963

    Hi everyone, looks like this thread has been quiet for a few months. Maybe this will jump-start it again. I had a long drive today and listened to the UA Podcasts with Scott interviewing Phil Maffetone and also the one with Scott talking with Judd Van Sickle (the guy who runs the UC Davis metabolic lab). I’m in the UA Women’s training group and have been doing zone 1-2 training with those ladies for the last 3 months. As Van Sickle and Maffetone (and Scott Johnston for that matter) repeatedly say–this will make you faster and I am a full minute/mile faster than I was in January. However, as a menopausal woman, the rules about fat adaption don’t seem to apply the same–or maybe I’m burning fat, but I’m also not losing it in the places it’s become common on my body since I entered menopause. I’m 59 but had a hysterectomy when I was 46, so this whole process has been going on for a while for me. Is anyone aware of any info on this issue? I haven’t pulled out Roar recently (will do so tonight) but looking for insight or info others might have. Thanks!

    Participant
    mkt.ceva on #60792

    Thanks for the topic!!

    Participant
    Janel Anderson on #60839

    Such an important topic and yes there is quite a bit of lacking research. However, if you approach the topic through a functional lens and consider each unique individual in regards to signs/symptoms/history/goals and take a grassroots approach to balancing hormones (digestion, inflammation, adrenals, sleep, etc), I have seen remarkable improvements in resilience and function, not to mention confidence in aging as a woman. Thanks for bringing up this important topic!

    Keymaster
    Jane Mackay on #61021

    Thanks, everyone, for continuing this discussion. I wrote the original post and then have hardly been back — blame struggling with perimenopuase for this whole year!

    After those months of experience I have a lot more to say on this topic. Right now I only have a few moments, but it’s lunchtime so I thought I’d add thoughts on the issue of gaining or not losing weight/where the fat settles that sannk06 brought up. I have not so far noticed too much of this, and I’m wondering if it has anything to do with the changes I made after listening to two podcasts disucssing the gut biome early this spring, one on Selene Yeager’s Hit Play Not Pause (https://livefeisty.com/podcasts/guts-glory-with-stasi-kasianchuk-rdn-episode-27/) and the other “Talking Health, Performance, and Longevity, with Jesse Charles, M.D.” on the UA podcast (https://uphillathlete.com/podcast/).
    Both were enlightening and I immediately made changes to my diet to favour a flourishing and healthy gut biome. I can say that my digestion (and elimination) have improved notably, and maybe it has also offset some of the effects of the hormonal change.
    The main dietary changes I’ve made are to greatly increase the variety of food that I eat, particularly the variety of vegetables. I’ve always loved veges, but had got pretty monotonous in the ones I ate. I also now eat onion in some form (shallots, spring onions, etc.) pretty much daily, typically raw. I’ve also incresed the variety of carbs, which I get mainly from root veges, polenta, and rice.
    One other point is that since childhood my diet has always been low (and at times very low) in processed foods. I just finished the first year of Selene Yeager’s Feisty Menopause group, and one of the info sheets described “all the ways that highly-processed foods may disrupt our metabolism, ranging from altering the gut microbiome to spiking insulin to not triggering much of a thermic effect of food, as well as the unknowns of the collective effects of all the additives, preservatives, artifcial and alternative sweeteners and the pesticides and antibiotics that are just part and parcel of our food system at this point.”
    It’s early yet for me to see the long-term effects of this body- and life-quake though. I’m 51 and according to the specialist who did the ultrasound on me last week, I have a few months to go till my last period.

    Keymaster
    Jane Mackay on #63858

    @janeblackford007 Jane B, very belated thanks for your comment. I wasn’t able to find your post on this topic — if you can find it, can you post the link here? I agree that it is really important to talk about this, and I don’t see any reason why not — the heck with societal taboos. Menopause is something that every *single* woman in the world who lives long enough deals with — usually for decades. I read recently that by 2030 12% of the global population will be going through menopause. It is a major physiological change that reaches tentacles into every aspect of the functioning of mind and body and if we want to live vibrant, full, active lives through this time, then we need to learn from and support each other.


    @sannk06
    I also am finding that fat adaptation doesn’t seem to be taking place as it supposedly should. I’m rehabbing an injury (overuse!) right now, but as once I’m back to training I’m going to book in with Rebecca Dent to get a custom nutrition plan to support the training and to discuss if or how I might be able to do fasted training. So far my body has crashed when I’ve tried to do that.


    @terrylui
    Thanks for chiming in here! I hope we can help you learn and understand so you can help your wife 🙂

    As far as menopause in general, for me, leaving aside the hot flushes, which are unreal and indescribably disruptive, and seriously, destructive of sleep, the most serious manifestation of menopause so far has been psychological, notably depression and anxiety. And it set in way earlier than I was aware. I started on the estrogen (estradiol) patch about three weeks ago, and now I have a physical and psychological stability that I realise I haven’t known for probably a decade. From the place of stability I am now able to look back and see how depression and anxiety imperceptibly slid in and grew, probably beginning in my early 40s.

    The crisis time came last (northern hemisphere) spring, and that was what woke me up and set me learning about this hormonal transition. Even with the patch, I still need to watch myself, and I’ve developed a set of checkpoints, beginning with “Do I feel bright and energised with a generally upbeat outlook without caffeine? Do I feel bright and energised with a generally upbeat outlook with caffeine?” If the answer to the second question is no, then I see if I can identify likely physical causes: “Have I not slept well the last few nights? Has the training load worn me down a bit? Is my body battling allergens? Do I need a hearty meal? Could progesterone be high?”

    If I can’t identify any likely physical cause, then I start assessing the mental: “Do things seem generally hopeless and pointless? Is it beyond my capacity to run a simple errand, like go to the post office?” If the answer to either of those questions is in the affirmative, then I know that the depression has snuck in again. Another assessment: “Am I feeling timorous about any kind of social situation (like entering a store or café or posting in a forum) or about doing an ordinary activity, like riding a bicycle along the road?” If the answer there is yes, then I know the anxiety has snuck in again.

    I hope more voices — men are welcome too, because the more they understand, the more they can support the women they care about — will chime in here. I’d love this to become a really active discussion.

    Keymaster
    Jane Mackay on #63865

    Resources I’ve found particularly useful so far:

    As mentioned in a few of the earlier posts here, Stacy Sims’ book ROAR is an excellent resource to learn about the physiological effects of menopause and some ways to deal with them, particularly in the context of training/sports.

    GenM https://gen-m.com/ I stumbled on this website during my crisis period a year ago, when I was searching for something, anything to help me understand what was going on and what to do about it. The key thing about the site is that it’s for BOTH women in peri/full/post menopause AND the people in their life. The symptoms tab lists 48 identified symptoms of menopause (or ‘manifestations’, as a female Italian pharmacist of the appropriate age called them when I was asking about treatments), with information and recommendations for both the woman experiencing the symptoms and the people in her life.

    Selene Yeager’s Hit Play Not Pause podcast: https://livefeisty.com/category/podcasts/hit-play-not-pause/. Selene is a triathlete, long-time sports medicine journalist and Stacy Sims’ co-author.

    … and her paid Feisty Menopause membership group: https://www.feistymenopause.com/
    Under the rubric of Live Feisty (https://livefeisty.com/) Selene has also organised a Feisty Menopause summit each of the last couple of years.

    As others have mentioned, some of the UA podcasts that don’t seem directly related to menopause are helpful for understanding the changes related to aging that (can) affect all human beings.

    Participant
    lucye on #53035

    Hi sannk06! Not an expert, but will try to share my current understanding, which comes mostly from Selene Yeager’s Menopause Feisties group for (peri-)menopausal athletes (there is a podcast, a free fb group, and a paid membership where you get a deeper dive into the topic-of-the-month).

    Since you like podcasts, you might check out this one, which focus on nutrition:

    And this one with Stacy Sims, which covers many topics including nutrition and goes into more depth than Roar (note Selene and Stacy are working on a menopause book now!):

    The TL;DL (don’t listen) version is essentially as you suspect – that for most of us, menopause will unfortunately mean 3-5lbs of fat that is physiologically programmed to accumulate around the belly, even if other objective measures of athletic performance remain the same or improve. Of course some women are exceptions, but there are many anecdotes that trying to lose the “meno-pot” by severely restricting diet by fasting or caloric restriction causes many women to lose athletic performance instead and develop stress injuries.

    However, as a menopausal woman, the rules about fat adaption don’t seem to apply the same–or maybe I’m burning fat, but I’m also not losing it in the places it’s become common on my body since I entered menopause.

    As I understand it, becoming fat adapted and losing body fat are two different things–fat adapted means being able to use fat as an energy source during activity, and you could become fat adapted even if you are not seeing targeted loss of fat from one specific body area. If I were in your shoes, I’d focus on these performance metrics. And here, it sounds like you are on the right path–your UA training has been going super(min/mile faster is huge)!

    Hope some of this is helpful–we are all in new territory here and there is such a lack of expert info out there, so it’s great to share info w each other on our journeys.

    Participant
    lucye on #53038

    Hi @sannk06,

    Thanks for sharing–it’s great to hear experiences from others in our cohort are doing. Not an expert, but I will offer my understanding, which comes mostly from Selene Yeager’s Menopause Feisties group.

    However, as a menopausal woman, the rules about fat adaption don’t seem to apply the same–or maybe I’m burning fat, but I’m also not losing it in the places it’s become common on my body since I entered menopause.

    Yes – I don’t think that’s contradictory. As I understand it, becoming fat adapted and losing body fat are not necessarily the same thing. When one becomes fat adapted, they become more able to burn fat to fuel physical activity; this can happen even without losing fat from particular body parts. The hormonal changes of menopause essentially drive fat accumulation around the belly (“meno-pot”) that, for most of us, is not going to be our body’s choice to metabolize to fuel activity. While research and expert analyses on menopausal atheletes are essentially non-existent, there are many anecdotes of (peri-)menopausal athletes who went hard-core into caloric restriction and/or fasting to try to lose belly fat but instead lost athletic performance and developed stress fractures or RED-S.

    It sounds like with your huge performance improvements, you are on the right track! I might focus on that and on how your body feels.

    Since you like podcasts, you might enjoy these ones from Hit Play not Pause:

    Nutrition during menopause:

    Stacy Sims interview (she goes into more depth about menopause here than in ROAR)

    btw, Stacy and Selene are working on a book on menopause next!

    Keymaster
    Jane Mackay on #63866

    @lucye I just now noticed that your (much) earlier replies to sannk06 had been hidden for some reason, most likely a glitch. I’ve approved them so they should show up now!

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