Ever notice that the way we frame an issue in our mind has a huge impact on how we feel about it?

For most women, menopause brings about a series of changes in our health and our emotional state, and not all those changes are welcome. For instance, who among us enjoys gaining weight, having hot flashes, and watching our emotions swing madly about like Tarzan on hyperdrive?

However, the way we approach these changes is something we can control, and has a significant impact on our ability to rise above the symptoms and enjoy good health once again.

As tempting as it can be at times to give in and let ourselves feel like victims of our vanishing hormones, we’ll be much better off if we approach menopause as a challenge rather than as a problem. Why is this?

If we take menopause as a challenge, we’ll set the incredible power of our minds to finding solutions rather than finding shoulders to cry on. We’ll be constantly looking for answers, and we’ll find people who have valuable knowledge to share. We’ll experience the physical and emotional ups and downs as bumps in the road rather than as impassable obstacles. And, we’ll develop strength of character and determination which will help us in other areas of our life in addition to our health.

I know there are women all over the world who are approaching menopause this way and are winning over it, because I hear from them all the time. They have picked themselves up by their bra straps and decided to ignore all the misinformation out there, and to make their menopausal years some of the best of their lives.

I hope this will give you hope, if you’re having a tough time with menopause and wondering if you’ll just have to live with it. Don’t despair – you can take charge of your health and your weight, and feel and look great, even during menopause!

Here are just a few steps you can take to begin taking charge of menopause:

  1. Find a good doctor who listens to you and takes you seriously. It is astounding how many women tell me their doctors dismiss their concerns about menopause and appear to have no understanding about what a woman undergoes. If this is your experience, dump that doctor pronto and ask for referrals from your family physician, other women your age or your local medical association. You need and deserve a physician with the experience and wisdom to help you through this major transition in your life.

  2. Have that good doctor do a simple blood test to determine your current levels of estrogen and progesterone, and be sure to get a copy of the results. This gives you a baseline from which you can monitor your progress through menopause and test the efficacy of different natural and/or prescription remedies you may try. You should get a repeat test at least once a year.

  3. Keep a simple journal for two to three weeks, writing down your physical and emotional symptoms such as hot and cold flashes, headaches, menstrual changes, unusual appetite or cravings, and mood swings. This doesn’t need to be lengthy, just some simple notes including date and time of symptoms and how they affected you. Gaining this awareness will help you prepare for future symptoms and learn to moderate them when they appear. For example, if you’re having hot flashes in the afternoons, you can dress in light layers to quickly cool down and buy a mini-fan for quick relief.

  4. Make an extra effort to eat right. As estrogen levels decrease, women have a tendency to gain weight, especially in the midsection. You can moderate this by eating a healthy diet of proteins, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and moderate amounts of grain such as brown rice. Stay away from sugary, starchy, packaged foods and eat as much of your diet as possible from whole and natural ingredients. A glass of wine now and then won’t hurt you, but don’t overdo alcohol as it will cause water retention and weight gain.

  5. Move that body. Getting exercise is more critical to menopausal women than at any other stage of life. Studies have shown that getting moderate amounts of physical exercise helps menopausal women more than any other group, including men, seniors and younger women. Even if you’ve never exercised in your life, getting your body moving for at least 20 minutes each day will pay big dividends, not just with your weight, but with your moods and your energy level as well. And, women who exercise have significantly decreased risk for heart disease and breast cancer. So walk, swim, do bodyweight exercises or yoga – just MOVE!

Taking these simple steps are just the beginning of taking charge of menopause and building a foundation of good health for the rest of your life. Each positive change you make in your diet and your lifestyle will propel you forward with ever-increasing momentum, until you create an upward spiral of energy, strength, flexibility and a highly positive outlook.

Don’t let menopause bring you down: take charge, get educated and make these years the very best of your life. Women all over the world are doing it, and so can you.

About the Author:

Susan Blais is the author of the Fit and Fabulous for the Fifties and Beyond program, designed to enable mid-life women to disprove the popular but dubious notion that going through menopause means they must settle for feeling and looking less than their best.

Through a common-sense program of sensible eating, and mental and physical exercises that take only minutes a day with no equipment of any kind, women all over the world are finding they can take charge of their health and their weight despite menopause. To see how you or the women in your life can make the 50s and beyond the most satisfying and productive time of their lives, please visit http://susanblais.com.