A Diary Entry About Menopause (and my favorite Pilates exercises to help)

Updated: Jul 29

It is another day in bed and no surfing. I bailed once again on my surf sister. I rarely bail, although the past two years have been a regular bail. Well, I thought I sailed through menopause and didn't have a period in a YEAR, and TO THE DATE, I got one. For the past two days, I have been nauseous, weak, and the flow was more substantial than usual. Now the count goes back to zero, and I have to wait another year to be in menopause and be over ups and downs. But are you really "over" them when you enter menopause? I don't know, every woman's experience is different. This article is a snippet of mine to give insight to the other women in menopause and the younger generations to come.


Menopause or Men On Pause as I call it has such a taboo feeling; moreover is an unsexy time of life, which makes me feel, well, as my mom would jokingly say, "I am out to pasture like a non-breeding cow." Now you live the rest of your life grazing grass until you die? Well, shoot me now because I have a good 40-50 years left on this world and "Hell NO" am I grazing grass for the rest of my life.


When your body starts to change as a woman, you feel lost, sad, frustrated, tired, unsexy, weak, alone, dark, depressed, unmotivated, angry, jealous, unsatisfied, despair, anxious, and the list goes on until you hit the bottom of the rabbit hole. You put on a mask to be positive, to be motivated, to be in denial that your mortality is real, to feel you still have the strength you once had in your youth; you try to do the hobbies you did in your younger years without pain. In reality, all of these feelings are valid, and all of the denials are coming true. What do you do to adapt and accept the enormous change in life that no one talks about or prepares you for? You tell it, you document it, you live it, and you feel it.


I try to be as positive as I can and move forward even if I do take a few steps backward. The most important part is to keep moving, and what do I mean by "moving?" Exercise is the first thing, and yes, it helps to feel better about your body, and it helps to increase endorphins in the blood to help keep a positive attitude. There are other essential techniques to acquire during menopause, and I highly recommend meditation practice. It helps clear all the negative thoughts about mostly teaches you how to get through an anxiety attack. NEVER in my life did I experience anxiety like I do in menopause/peri-menopause. Meditation and listening to my breath helps tremendously.


The exercise of choice for me is Pilates helps keep me centered and a technique that makes me feel more energetic, younger, and leaner. It works that damn Menopot or wine belly (as I used to call it.)Unfortunately, it is a Menopot now. I say this with a bittersweet tone, but let's face it. I am a woman, and you feel an absolute shame in putting on weight, especially if you cannot lose it healthily. So you can keep it under control, and I found that through Pilates.


Pilates helps me focus on my body, no one else. Pilates can be a moving meditation also. It coordinates the movement with the breath and helps you focus, and what body part you are moving, all the exercises must move from the core. Now, if you have a painful menstruation, then I recommend meditation or simple walking. But Pilates is the type of exercise that you can do two times a day.


During the COVID lockdown, I taught Zoom classes and had to work out with my clients so they could see what I wanted. I watched, corrected, and moved again. Some days I did that four times and added in my own workout. So you can take class 2 times a day if you have time, that is. Try Pilates every day even for 20 minutes to get you in your body, use your breath and focus moving from the core. I practice Pilates when I feel bloated (menopause symptoms: which can lead to body shaming ). Pilates helps me focus on the breath and movement of my own body, and I feel better about moving it and taking care of it in an emotional period of your life. Sometimes it is hard to get yourself on the mat some days, but if you can do it more than not, you will feel a difference.


Below are some Pilates exercises that you can do every day to help center and make you feel toned in the middle. You can also do them in sets, but please, these are not HIIT workouts. Be gentle with yourself and move mindfully!


Note: if you feel any pain please do not continue


Warm Up - Do all exercises in this series one time through.


1. Grounding Warm up (Join Kim K Pilates for FREE to see this video)


Founder’s Pose

  • Lie on your back internally rotate legs.

  • Knees slightly bent,

  • Inner thighs squeezing together,

  • Big toes touch and heels are outward and pushing down into the mat. 

  • Make shakas with both hands and place the pinkies on the hip bones and the thumbs underneath the ribcage elbows are bent and off the mat expanding the ribcage.

  • Breathe in and fill up the lungs up to the collar bone (first rib) with air keeping the ribcage separate form the pelvis decompressing the spine.

  • Breathe out and keep the upper body expanded, but engage the abs and press the navel to the spine.

  • Complete 5 breaths then relax the body 



Founder’s Pose Bridge

  • Same as above,  but bring the pelvis off the mat engaging the gluts and hamstrings keeping the knees together if possible.

  • Complete 5 breaths then relax the body



2. Sacrum Centering:

Bridge hip hikes

  • Lie on back and knees bent, heels in line with hips

  • Bridge up

  • Execute hip hikes 3 sets keeping the pelvis and shoulders facing the ceiling.


Bridge hip twists

  • Lie on back and knees bent, heels in line with hips

  • Bridge up

  • Execute hip twists 3 sets


Bridge side-lying figure 8’s

  • Lie on back and knees bent, heels in line with hips

  • Bridge up

  • Start the side lying figure8's to the right 3x and then left 3x





Heel Slides

  • Lie on your back make sure the sacrum, back of the ribcage, and shoulders are on the mat, but make sure the front of the ribcage is closed…this will help keep the abs engaged.

  • Flex your feet and drag the right heel toward the sit bone slowly then drag the left heel toward the sit bone.

  • Think of engaging the abs fist before you drag the heel. From the inner thigh to the floating rib is the eccentric contraction you need to activate. 




Exercises: Repeat from Alternating Knee Folds to end


Alternating Knee Folds (5 sets)

  • Lie on your back going with the natural curve of your spine. 

  • Legs in a table top

  • Lower the right leg tap the toe to the mat

  • Lower the left leg and tap the toe to the mat

  • Complete 5 sets



Double Knee Folds: 5 reps

  • Lie on your back going with the natural curve of your spine

  • Legs in a table top

  • Lower the both legs tap the toes to the mat

  • Complete 5 reps




Chest Lifts (10 max)

  • Lie on your back going with the natural curve of your spine

  • Knees bent in line with the hips

  • Engage the abs and flatten out the lower back 

  • Lift the head and shoulders off the mat relaxing the shoulders

  • Complete 10 reps


Roll up: 4 reps

  • Lie on your back going with the natural curve of your spine

  • Legs straight and arms overhead

  • Breathe in and bring the arms up to the ceiling while engaging the abs

  • Breathe out and roll up to sitting curve the spine and reach for the toes

  • Breathe in then out rolling down to the start position



Roll up Pulsing Sit-ups: 3 sets of 10 counts

  • Lie on your back going with the natural curve of your spine

  • Legs straight and arms overhead

  • Breathe in and bring the arms up to the ceiling while engaging the abs

  • Breathe out and roll up to sitting curve the spine and reach for the toes

  • Bent the knees and roll half way down

  • Pulse the sit ups for 10 counts and then roll down



Hundreds

  • Lie on your back going with the natural curve of your spine

  • Legs in a table top

  • Engage the abs and bring the head up curving the upper body and keep the focus at the abs

  • Breathe in for 5 counts pumping the arms

  • Breathe out for counts continue to pump the arms

  • Complete 10 sets


Series 5 Foam Roller or mat (See my Resources page for my favorites)


Single Leg Stretch (5 sets)

  • Lie on the foam roller from head to tailbone 

  • Engage the abs and lift the head to focus is on the abs

  • Right knee is bent into the chest and left is extended on an angle

  • Breath in and switch 

  • Breathe out and hold

  • Complete 5 sets





Double Leg Stretch (5 reps)

  • Lie on the foam roller from head to tailbone 

  • Engage the abs and lift the head to focus is on the abs

  • Bring both knees into the chest 

  • Engage the abs and breathe out

  • Breathe in and extend both legs

  • Complete 5 reps



Double Straight Leg Stretch (5 reps)

  • Lie on the foam roller from head to tailbone 

  • Engage the abs keep the head on the roller

  • Bring both knees into the chest extend the legs up to the 

  • Breathe in and lower slowly

  • Breathe out and raise slowly

  • Complete 5 reps




Single Straight Leg Stretch (5 sets)

  • Lie on the foam roller from head to tailbone 

  • Engage the abs and lift the head to focus is on the abs

  • Right leg is extended up and left leg is extended down

  • Breathe in and pulse the right leg 2x and breathe out and switch 

  • Repeat other side 

  • Complete 5 sets


Twist (5 sets)

  • Lie on the foam roller from head to tailbone 

  • Engage the abs and lift the head to focus is on the abs

  • Right knee is bent into the chest and left is extended on an angle

  • Breathe out and twist to bent right leg

  • Breath in and switch

  • Breathe out and twist to bent left leg

  • Complete 5 sets



Spine Twist





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