The Menopausal Gym-Dodgers Work Out

I hate the gym.

Firstly because I’m an anti-social arsehole. Secondly, I have a pathological fear of looking at another woman’s pubes (attached or on the floor) when I’m showering.

Communal showers? Me dear? No dear.

The last female pubes (other than my own) that I clapped eyes was in 1986 when I was shoved into the communal showers by our sadistic PE teacher who was having no more of my ‘Please excuse my daughter from showering – she’s on her period’ notes.

The gym not your bag either? Here are some simple (but effective) exercises you can do at home or when you are out and about.

The Curling Tongs Squat – Bum & Thighs

I use my straighteners for this exercise..

Instead of resting the appliance on a table, or between your thighs, put it on the floor.

Health and safety: Use a heat mat (obvs) or you’ll set fire to the farking carpet.

Starting in the standing position, keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Pull in your tummy, push your hips back and bend your knees, lowering the body into a squatting position. Pause, pick up your hair appliance, then push back up to the starting position. Fiddle with your hair a bit, then lower yourself back into the squatting position – placing the appliance on the floor.

Do these squats every time you do your hair and you’ll have a rear-end like Kim Kardashian in no time!

Health and Safety: Have your mobile phone to hand in case you pop a hip joint.

The Bag For Life Cardio and Bicep Workout – Biceps/Cardio

Go to local supermarchet and buy two carrier bags worth of groceries. These must include a few tins. I suggest ‘bags for life’ – not those flimsy pieces of shite they flog you for 5p. You know the ones – wispy bits of plastic that surrender under the pressure of a loaf and a packet of Kit-Kats.

Keep the loads evenly balanced and start walking home.

Build up a nice fast pace to get your heart going like the clappers, hence, cardio.

Once you’re nice and warmed up – start lifting your carrier bags as if you’re doing a bicep curl with a dumbbell. Do a few reps with the right, then switch to the left.

You might notice people crossing the road away from you or doing a finger-swirly thing at the side of their heads? Swirly-finger aside, they are actually doing you a favour because it means that you have the entire pavement to yourself. More room to throw those bags about, dears.

Too far to walk? No probs! Park your car further away and get a few reps in before you collapse onto the drivers seat. Opt for this instead of doing your shopping online and within a few months you’ll be fit as feck.

Or possibly dead after having suffered a massive coronary..

Health and Safety: Always carry your mobile phone should you need to phone for a taxi or ambulance.

StairMaster Challenge – Bum & Thighs – Cardio.

This one is really simple. You alternate between running up the stairs and taking them two at a time whenever you get the chance. Running up the stairs gives you a cardio workout and taking them two at a time will give you thighs like tree-trunks. Just think of how magnificent you will look in those hot-pants you’ve been hoarding since 1975!

P.S This won’t work if you live in a bungalow.

Door Slide Squat – Bums & Thighs

For this you need a door – preferably a smooth one.

Stand with your back against a closed door and slowly lower yourself down to squatting position, then slowly push yourself back up.

That’s it.

First time I did this, the buggering door gave way. Before I knew what was happening my Reeboks were up in the air and I was staring at the bedroom ceiling. £250 quids worth of You’ve Been Framed right there. Thankfully nobody knew about except me. And now you, readers..

This exercise works your bum and thighs. Again, it might be an idea to keep your mobile handy in-case you can’t get up once you’re down. Though, I always find that a military type sideways roll sorts that particular problem out.

Health and Safety: Always check that the door shuts properly or you could end up doing yourself a mischief..

Bath Bingo-Wing Blaster – Triceps

Bingo-wings are what happens when the skin on your arms (the muscle above your elbow) carry on wobbling long after you’ve stopped waving to your mate across the street. It’s the reason cardigans were invented and it’s why some menopausal women wear one even when it’s 33 degrees in the shade.

YES I’M TALKING ABOUT ME!

Bingo-wings are unsightly but you can get rid of them without having some sweaty sergeant-major wannabe hovering over you bellowing, ‘GIMME FIFTY, YOU ‘ORRIBLE LITTLE WOMAN!’.

For this exercise, you’ll need a chair. A stable chair. Not a B & Q plastic garden chair.

Sit on the chair and grip the edges either side of you. Move your feet forwards to lift your bum off the chair. Keeping your knees hip-width apart and bent at 90 degrees, lower yourself by bending your arms to about 90 degrees, keeping your elbows tucked in. Push back up and repeat 10 to 15 times.

I do this on the side of the bath when I go for a wee.

NOT that I wee in the bath..

This is the same as the chair exercise. You simply use the side of the bath as you would the chair, innit?

Health and safety: Don’t do this after having a bath. It’s asking for a fast ride in the back of an ambulance with the nee-nar on.

Pelvic Floor Workout

As we age the muscles around the bladder, vagina and bum passage get slack. This is why we piss ourselves laughing. LITERALLY. However, there are exercises we can do to help with this problem and the good news is that we can do them anytime, anyplace – anywhere.

If you want to ‘feel’ where your pelvic floor muscles are – stop yourself mid-wee. That is your pelvic floor muscle working only you shouldn’t do this as a strengthening exercise.

Squeeze the muscles about 10-15 times in a row.

You can do this while standing in the post-office queue if you like. Unless your concentrating face is the ‘tongue out’ kind, nobody will know what you are up to. Do these exercises every day and stick the Vs up to incontinence.

So there you go. No need to go sweating it out at the local gym or paying extortionate fees. All these are free.

Note: These exercises are valid (except for the carrier bag bicep-curl which is me being a tit) but it’s a good idea to get yourself an MOT at your GPs before launching yourself into any keep fit regime. Oh, and make sure your life-insurance is up to date in the event of you carking it mid-squat. 😉

Viva La Menopause!

 

A Few Tips To Ease Your Anxiety Symptoms

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In the three years that I have had GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) I have trawled the internet and read countless books searching for ideas to ease my symptoms so I thought it would be a good idea to share what’s worked for me.

So, in no particular order..

Sugar

While diet doesn’t cause anxiety it’s fair to say that certain foods, like sugar, do aggravate the situation and making a few dietary changes can greatly improve symptoms.

When you have an anxiety disorder you can become hypersensitive to your body. Even small amounts of sugar can have a detrimental effect on the body because it’s absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. This causes an initial energy surge but once it wears off the body has to increase the production of insulin in order to remove the sugar from your blood stream leaving you feeling like a bag of shite. Cutting down or eliminating refined sugar from your diet will address the imbalances which trigger panic attacks and will improve your body’s ability to cope with stress.

It’s a good idea to learn bout how much sugar is in the foods you are eating. There is a smart phone app called Food Smart which allows you to scan the barcodes to see exactly how much sugar is in a product. It’s been quite the eyeopener!

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Mornings

Our bodies naturally release cortisol in the morning as we wake from a prolonged period of sleep. This is known as the ‘cortisol awakening response’. Non-anxious people wake gradually over a few hours whereas anxiety cases (like moi) get woken abruptly with the cortisol screaming “WAKE THE EFF UPPPPP ARRRGGHHH!!!”

Imagine having Slipknot waking you up at 5am with their screamiest song (plus scary masks) and you’re somewhere near.

Normally, cortisol is present throughout the day but at a decreasing level, the lowest being in the evening preparing us for sleep. It will spike during short term stressors like an argument or a near miss with the number 57 bus then subside again. The anxious person has consistently high levels of cortisol throughout the day which is unpleasant to say the least.

The best thing I’ve found on waking is to get up and move about – even if it’s 4am. I find that walking helps to burn some of that excess energy off. Lying there only makes me feel crap and if I try to doze off, I only end up having insane dreams of headless horses or toilets that don’t flush. Freud would have a field day with me, no?

I blog. I clean. I use the energy to my advantage and GIVE ANXIETY THE FINGER!

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Dr Google Will See You Now

Not everybody who has anxiety will have health anxiety but a good number unfortunately do.

Me, for one.

The problem is that anxiety presents with such a plethora of symptoms that it’s hard to believe that you’re NOT dying of something particularly nasty but instead of making an appointment with a GP, the cyberchondriac makes an appointment with Dr Google whose diagnosis is usually terminal. The sufferer then curls up into fetal position and awaits certain death only moving as far as their PC in order to post on anxiety forums which are full of threads like..

‘Pain In My Toe. Cancer?’

And..

‘I’m dying’.

Occasionally some desperate sod will upload graphic pictures of his/her poo for reassurance that they are not dying but as much as I understand and empathise with health anxiety, I really don’t want to see someone’s toilet massacre on my PC at 6am!

Or ever.

My advice would be NOT to Google your symptoms but if you really must then type the word ANXIETY alongside whatever symptom it is.

Instead of trawling though pages about diseases you imagine you have.. spend a good few hours researching the condition you DO have? Learn about anxiety and why the body reacts the way it does. Educate yourself!  It will also remove a lot of the fear and once you’ve done that you’re on the road to recovery.

Google isn’t all bad though because you will find great anxiety websites and podcasts.

The Anxiety Guru and Anxiety Slayer  are two excellent podcasts which are informative and help to normalise anxiety symptoms. Well worth looking up.

Exercise

In my opinion, the WORST thing you can do with anxiety is sit on your backside and do nothing. That’s a sure way to keep you in the anxiety/fear loop forever and ever, Amen.

There is a link between being physically active and enjoying positive mental well-being. It causes chemical changes in the brain which positively alter your mood. Even a fifteen minute walk can make you feel better. ANY exercise is better than none.

I walk as much as I can and do yoga. I ALWAYS feel the benefit during and afterwards even if I might not feel like doing it to start with. It’s the knowledge that I WILL feel better that has me reaching for my coat or yoga mat no matter how crap I feel.

Your body WANTS to move. It NEEDS to move to keep all your bits functioning effectively.

You have all these stress hormones whirring away inside you and they need to be diffused so work with them and SHIFT YOUR ARSE OFF THAT SOFA! Go for a walk in the sunshine or a jog if that’s more your thing. Put some funky music on and flick the duster about. Whatever floats your boat. JUST DO IT!

Be well and think positive thoughts.

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Bend It Like Barbara.

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“So, we have the results of your Dexa scan and ooh, you have Osteopenia”

I thought, ‘WHAT THE SHITTING HELL?!’

I said, “Oh!”

My GP went on to reassure me that it’s quite normal for post-menopausal women like me..

Rewind a few weeks to a conversation with a GP where I mentioned that I was creaking and cracking like an old barn door. This conversation concluded in me being sent for a Dexa scan to measure the density of my bones. The result being that I have Osteopenia.

What’s Osteopenia?

Osteopenia is the technical name for thinning bones and it’s the stage before Osteoporosis. Not to be confused with the film Quadrophenia, as can sometimes happen with the menopausal brain, eh ladies?

Brrrring on the mobilty scooter!

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Ok, it’s a bit shit. I’m only 46. However, there are far worse things in life to deal with AND the condition can be slowed down by exercise and taking calcium supplements – only one of the complications they don’t tell you about with Osteopenia is that you run the risk of choking to death on a calcium tablet because they are the size of Wales!

So I went to see a dietician who advised me to start doing weight bearing exercise like yoga to protect my bones. I already do the school run and walk the dog most days so walking isn’t a problem. I bought a yoga DVD (for the over 50s) and a mat.

The yoga DVD is aimed at menopausal ladies like moiself and has routines targeting Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and strength building in general to support knackered bones. There is even a routine called ‘Gentle Yoga on a Chair’. So you can basically work out while sitting on your arse!

WIN and WIN!

The DVD itself is relaxing to watch. It’s set outside on a lush green lawn with the Glacier National Park in the background and a beautiful water feature. Of course, you have the sound of running water all the way through which makes having a pre-workout wee ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL, unless you want to test your pelvic floor?

So the location is beautiful and instructor Barbara Benagh’s voice is calming. She’s also bendy as fook but she’s a yoga instructor so she’s meant to be. I mean, she’s bend down – straight legged – hands flat on the floor – bendy whereas I can only reach my knees but I can only improve from here, right?

When it comes to workout gear I opted for old leggings and my Breakfast Club tee shirt. I have some bingo-wing-age going on with my arms so much so that waving has become a health hazard so vest tops are out for the time being.

I did a few workouts in the living room then one day I decided to work out in the sun-room, sounds posh doesn’t it?

It’s not.

The sun-room (which overlooks the yard) is a small space but I can just about stretch my arms out without doing myself an injury. So, I’d set myself up and shoved the dog outside so I wouldn’t be disturbed..

I’d just got into the pose where you balance on one leg with arms outstretched (forget the technical term) when I caught sight of the lurcher in squatting position in the yard. Now, you have to hold the pose for a minute (closing eyes NOT an option if you want to stay upright) so I saw the entire performance of her dropping her load then doing the ski run across the hard flagstones to deal with her ‘cling on’s’.

OM. MY. GOD.

See what I did there?

Pretty much sums me up. Barbara gets tranquil sunlit mountain backdrop to work out to. I get the lurcher having a shit!

The problems with doing yoga at home are distractions of daily life (such as dogs ‘avin a poo) and the motivation that is required to do it regularly. The best way for most people would be to find a group and I have done this in the past but any benefit I got from the yoga was lost due to the stress of being in a group. I don’t do groups, you see. I prefer to go lone wolf and fortunately for me I can motivate myself well enough especially when I have a goal and my goal is to slow down the bone thinning process.

Bone thinning is a natural part of the menopause but many women are unaware of it until they have a Dexa scan or break a bone. There is much that can be done to prevent this condition and having Osteopenia doesn’t mean you will go onto have Osteoporosis. Every post-menopausal woman will have some thinning of the bones. Taking Calcium supplements and doing weight bearing exercise will help to protect your bones. If you are post menopausal, you REALLY need to start addressing it now. My GP told me that all post menopausal women should be taking a calcium supplement as we need around 1200 mgs a day along with Vit D3 which helps with absorption.

One thing about calcium supplements is that GPs prescribe them in carbonate form basically because it’s the cheapest. A lot of people (me included) have issues with constipation when taking it in that form so citrate is the better option.

Don’t take supplements without discussing it with your GP, especially if you take medication as some supplements can interact with certain drugs.

Finally, the BEST thing for bone health is sunshine. Lack of sunlight causes Vitamin D deficiency which affects the bones and the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Menopausal women generally need 800-1,000 IU daily and you can get that through a mixture of sunlight, diet and supplements. Get your calcium and Vit D levels checked about every six months via a blood test and you’ll know if you’ve got the balance right.

The effort you put in now will pay off in years to come keeping you active for longer and off that mobility scooter!

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