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A very SMART decade

We started 2021 in lockdown, but now we’re getting back some of the daily experiences that we had perhaps taken for granted. Long may it continue! But while we’ve all been learning to adapt to a post COVID world, I have been quietly having a little celebration of my own. SMART Nutrition and Fitness is 10 years old this year! So, I thought I’d reflect briefly on my journey. And tell you about a special birthday offer!

It all started with Nutrition. I’ve always been fascinated by food and the impact (both good and bad) it can have on our bodies. So, I initially qualified as a nutrition advisor and spent a happy couple of years working solely in that field.

But it soon became apparent that if food and nutrition are on one side of the scales (pardon the pun!) then lifestyle and exercise are definitely on the other!

I found that my clients were generally a similar age to me and looking for help to lose weight, boost energy or eliminate unhelpful eating habits. But nutritional changes, whilst important, were only ever going to have limited success if the client was making poor lifestyle choices. So, I went back to the classroom and qualified as a personal trainer.

Not long afterwards, I attended a workshop in London by Jenny Burrell about Menopause. And I was absolutely riveted.

Much of what she said resonated with me personally. I had been feeling increasingly stressed and anxious and was often struggling to focus. Physically, my pelvic floor was suddenly not a strong as it had been. I’d not related these experiences to menopause but hearing Jenny’s talk was like having a lightbulb switched on!

At the time there was very little information in the public domain about menopause. It seemed a taboo subject, despite being something that 51 percent of the population would experience! But I could see that lots of the symptoms Jenny outlined were also affecting my clients.

So, I decided to focus my SMART Nutrition and Fitness services around helping women through their menopause journey and beyond.

My own menopause experience was a little complicated. Whilst I was starting the business, I was also coping with breast cancer. In fact, I was having my radiation therapy while I completed much of my professional training. It was a lot to take on, but to be honest, having something positive to focus on really helped me.

My breast cancer was Oestrogen Receptor Positive, so treatment included five years of Tamoxifen. This reduces Oestrogen production. It can often also induce menopause. Or, in my case, semi-menopause. Women who take Tamoxifen are advised against Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) so I’ve taken a really deep dive into how menopause symptoms (and there are 34 of them!) can be managed using nutrition, fitness and lifestyle changes.

Which isn’t to say I’m against HRT. I’m not. I’ve researched it extensively and wish I could take it.

Menopause essentially puts women into a hormone deficiency. The average age for menopause is 51, although symptoms can begin long before that. At that age most of us will still be working, possibly bringing up kids and/or caring for parents. To do all that with a hormone deficiency is a big ask.

Clients often come to me at the early stages of peri-menopause (which can be any time after 40) and may not have even attributed their symptoms to this life change. Most people know about hot sweats and period changes. But joint pain, sleep disturbances, weight gain around the middle, difficulty focussing, and tearfulness frequently come first.

Initially, women are generally looking for information about what’s happening to them and what to expect. A first consultation frequently leads to a ‘penny dropping’ moment where they realise that the various changes and niggles that they’ve been dealing with can all be attributed to the menopause.

The next stage is wanting to find out what they can do to feel better or more like their old selves. Some ladies want to jump straight to HRT, which is great, and I can offer information to help with that decision and give them questions to take to their doctor. But others will prefer to try nutrition and fitness changes. Some do both!

And the post menopause stage is just as important. We could be living for 30+ years in this stage of life so it’s important to know how to do that well. Not just for our own benefits but also to put less strain on the NHS in terms of dealing with heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and obesity.

Basically, I help women to understand how menopause can affect them and what they can do about it.

To mark my 10 years in business, I’m offering 10 percent off all 121 consultations booked in October and November. Usually £90, these sessions are a great starting point for finding out more about menopause or for reviewing where you’re at in your journey and what steps you could take to feel better and keep healthy.