Often credited as the woman behind the bodies of Emily Blunt, Ruth Wilson, Stanley Tucci and more, Monique Eastwood is a celebrity personal trainer, lifestyle coach, trained ballerina, professional dancer and she is also qualified as a Stott Pilates instructor for over 25 years.

Today, the average woman reaches menopause at 51 according to the NHS. Yet, an article by CIPD found that three out of five working women aged between 45 and 55 who are experiencing menopause found it had a negative impact on them at work. With rising challenges surrounding women and the topic of menopause, in this piece, we invite Monique Eastwood to explore how her personal menopause journey is shaping her motivation to inspire and support other women embarking on this journey. 

Q: How do you start your day? Any specific exercises, practices, foods and drinks you prefer in the morning and why?

Monique: I normally begin my day with a power walk or a circuit around my local harbour. After getting my blood pumping and flushing out the toxins, I feel ready to start the day. It also allows me time to declutter my mind and organise my thoughts. I always have a shower after and use a loafer all over my body to stimulate cell renewal.

I start with hot water with a touch of lemon, before having my usual protein and complex carbohydrates-rich breakfast. Protein keeps you fuller for longer because of the time required for digestion. Coffee and seeded, brown sourdough toast with egg, avocado or goat cheese follow. You must eat enough to last the day. I always have breakfast with my husband, it’s our quiet time together every day.

 
 
 
 
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Q: Can you share your experience with perimenopause, menopause, the symptoms and whether you made any preparations leading up to it?

Monique: In my case, I did not pay much attention to the perimenopause symptoms. A bigger fluctuation in my hormones was noticeable around the age of 48, but I believe several symptoms may have been masked by the contraceptive pill.

Nonetheless, I kept myself fit and strong because I was aware that we lose bone and muscle mass as we approach menopause. Another factor was that if I overdid it, a night of drinking and rich foods, I found that I recovered slower. It seemed that what I got away with previously was now affecting me more as I aged, therefore I had to modify my lifestyle to continue working as a trainer.

 
 
 
 
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Q: In your opinion, why is keeping movement and fitness up with systems such as the Eastwood Movement Method, intrinsic to overall female wellbeing, physically and emotionally during this stage of life? 

Monique: Women's emotional health is crucial in my opinion, and I have been training women of all ages for over 25 years! We all feel great after a workout because endorphins flood our bodies. Not forgetting how important it is to feel strong and in control of your body as you age. It is so liberating and empowering!

My method was developed over many years of observing my clients, recognising and understanding how vital movement is to us as humans. We move in multidirectional ways every day without realising it. If your core muscles are weak or unconditioned, you may find other areas overworking to compensate for it and this could cause irritations here and there.

Many of my customers also experienced pregnancies and either did not realise the impact it would eventually have or did not have the time to focus on rebuilding their bodies carefully and slowly from the inside out first.

Using breath as you move is also so important and with my method, we focus on incorporating this throughout the session. By doing a strong breath pattern, you are activating the deep core muscles to stabilise the torso as you move. Staying agile, mobile, flexible, strong and fit is all part of how I train my clients, we cover all the important factors for the body as we age, including body weight moves, resistance training, cardio, balance work and plyometrics, giving the overall result of a leaner and strengthened body without over-stressing the joints.

 
 
 
 
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Q: The term ‘menopause’ carries stigma, stereotypes and oftentimes a sense of foreboding towards it and its symptoms. Yet, this stage in a female adult’s life can be equally inspiring and exciting. Can you share your thoughts and what steps you are taking to support women on their journey?

Monique: Yes, it really does carry a stigma and I have noticed some women approach this stage very differently to others. Some women say it can feel like you are no longer noticed as a vibrant woman anymore. Others say there is a sense of becoming ‘less important’ because the childbearing years are diminishing and that women in this stage of life are now being seen as old and unattractive. The lack of confidence and self-esteem pushes you to hide away. However, we are beginning to see a change in the tone surrounding menopause and it is fantastic that the media is now focusing on this topic to bring information to the front of our minds.

This demonstrates how far we have come, as it is now entirely open and supportive. By discussing our experiences and symptoms, we are helping each other cope, find tools and solutions to experience this stage in a more inspirational way.

The knowledge and treatment they may now obtain without fear has enabled women to regain emotional control and become productive and powerful. Menopause no longer seen as losing control of our bodies and emotions.

 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Monique Eastwood (@moniqueeastwood)


 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Monique Eastwood (@moniqueeastwood)

 

Q: Your mantra is “Challenge is change” but humans are inherently afraid of change. This particular life chapter entails change in many areas at the same time. How do you perceive “change” and help other women to feel empowered and comfortable in the midst of change?

Monique: We can influence certain changes and not others. Despite this, we can still gain control over the ones we cannot by learning more about the changes we are going through and what we can do to support ourselves during times of change.

This is helpful for challenging our bodies to change. We may enhance ourselves by doing new and exciting movements. The body then quickly adapts to one style of moving. My method stimulates both the brain and body in each session.

When we feel like we are losing control of ourselves emotionally and physically, this can have an impact on our self-confidence, Which is why it is easier to do things that do not challenge us. It is however, important to keep pushing the boundaries, even with small challenges to prompt bursts of empowerment.

 
 
 
 
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Q: For women beginning their menopause journey, do you have any advice for them based on your personal experiences? 

Monique: This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us all. Many of the symptoms we share may be unpleasant and uncomfortable. For example, decreasing oestrogen levels. However, how we cope with them depends on the severity of the symptoms and let us not forget the added impact stress holds over our bodies. This became evident to me as I discussed it with my female clients over the years.

A healthy diet is especially necessary now, as our metabolism is decreasing. Eating a nutrient-dense diet, aiming for 3 healthy meals a day, with as much protein as possible. Avoid alcohol and processed sugars. Ultimately, it is all about balance.

In my case, I struggled for 3 years due to the constant hot flushes in my sleep. It eventually began to impact my day-to-day life because I trained at a high level but was constantly feeling exhausted, so I never felt fully rested or recovered from the previous day’s of exercise. I also felt my anxiety rise because I did not feel like myself in a number of ways. I addressed it by talking to a female hormone and menopause specialist, who gave me a wonderful explanation of what was occurring to my body. It made me question why I had put up with all those symptoms for so long! I had assumed it was based on the stigma around the topic. I knew I had to keep working in a physically and mentally demanding profession, so I sought a solution that would enable me to go forward.

 

 
 
 
 
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Q: We all live in a fast-paced and demanding environment but when faced with the challenges of age and changing bodies, how can the Eastwood Movement Method and other tools be implemented into daily life to facilitate this transition?

Monique: My Method covers much of what we need to focus on as we age. I have spent years observing my clients as they age so I am aware of the science behind this process.

In my opinion, multidirectional movement is functional as we want to continue to move in all different ways as we age. Strengthening our bodies, especially during menopause, by using varied intensity level exercises and weights training can help us move confidently and accomplish different tasks as we age. Balance is a skill we can lose if we do not continue practising it. Standing on one leg activates the pelvic, knee, and ankle muscles, while also engaging the core muscles to keep us upright and from toppling over.

If we are used to moving in different ways, stimulating all the larger muscle groups and the smaller ones we are more likely to be in control of our bodies and how they react under certain unstable, stressful situations.

We have all heard the negativity surrounding the ageing body, which makes me even more passionate about helping clients find ways to stay fit, strong and healthy going forward.

Find Monique on the upcoming Realign and Thrive - Women's Movement Retreat, 05th - 09th October 2022.