Smart Woman: 8 Steps to a Better Menopause

Right now 50 million women are dealing with it. Menopause is no laughing matter for most women but as Staness Jonekos found out, you can come out the other side new and improved.

"I feel good about myself. I'm healthy. I feel sexy. I married a younger man," said Jonekos.
But her walk down the aisle had a few stumbles ahead of time.  Two months after being engaged, this 46 year old's body made a transformation.

Jonekos said, "Six months before my wedding I gained 30 pounds, hot flashes, I was in no mood for a honeymoon."

But ironically, it was planning her wedding that got her thinking about planning her menopause.

"I created a plan inspired by my wedding planner that changed my life," said Jonekos.
She created the menopause makeover. It's a guide that answers questions, gives the pros and cons of treatment options, tracks eating habits, weight loss, and exercise plans. 

"There's a lot of myths that come with it and a lot of mistakes women make as they go through  menopause," said doctor Chrisandra Shufelt.

She says one of the biggest mistakes is believing everything you read. There are 4.4 million links to human growth hormone on the internet, some women believe it gives them more energy, helps them sleep and relieves hot flashes but it doesn't work for all.

"I took 2 every few hours and by the end of the week, I was 3 pounds up and instead of 10 hot flashes a day, I had 30," said Jonekos

Studies show there is no proof human growth hormones help.  In fact, studies prove HGH can make medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease worse! Another mistake doctor Shufelt cringes at is paying 120 bucks for salivary hormone tests to prove you're in menopause.

"There's no scientific data to show that those hormones are stable," said Shufelt.
Only one blood test is proven: The FSH or follicle stimulating hormone test. Once diagnosed, changing what you eat can help control the severity of hot flashes. Caffeine, sugar, spicy foods, and cinnamon are triggers. The debate on soy rages on. Staness worked with doctors to create a menopause food pyramid which includes eating 25 percent of calories from healthy fats like avocados and tuna, 35 percent of calories from low-fat, lean protein  like salmon and chicken and 40 percent of calories from low to medium glycemic carbs, such as brown rice and oatmeal. 

"Just simply switching from white bread to brown bread, white pasta to whole grain pasta, from potatoes to yams was huge," said Jonekos.

Another change is exercising five days a week 30 to 60 minutes a time. Staness swims, spins, weight lifts and loves her crunches.

"I've witnessed women who have wiped out their symptoms by exercising. I witnessed women who wiped out their symptoms cutting out sugar," said Shufelt.
Jonekos said, "I'm way healthier today than when I was in my 20's, and I look better in a swimsuit!"

Staness lost 25 pounds in 12 weeks, fit into her wedding gown, and today, she thanks menopause for it all.

"Well it wasn't the best thing, it was a drag. I had some ugly days, but it forced me to get where I am today and I've never been happier," said Jonekos.
Another mistake women make, the only hormone they check is their estrogen.  Many menopausal women also have trouble with their thyroid. Low thyroid is also associated with low energy and weight gain.

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