December 6, 2023
Our Favorite Things from 2023
Here’s stuff we love that helped us live our best, strongest, feistiest menopausal lives last year.
By Selene Yeager
Three years ago, we started Feisty Menopause with the goal of providing the training, nutrition, and lifestyle advice you need to maximize performance during the menopause transition and beyond. Along the way, we’ve been able to try plenty of services and goods ourselves. As we close out 2023 and look forward to 2024, here’s a rundown of what we benefited from most.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. We do not have business affiliations with all of these products. We do, however, have sponsor affiliations with some of them (we partner with them because we love them). When a product is also a sponsor, we’ll make that clear (and pass along a discount link).
This device has changed my life, and I don’t say that lightly. As a woman who never really had to lift to be strong and muscular, the sharp decline in skeletal muscle that comes with menopause was a rude awakening that I was really going to have to walk my talk if I wanted to hang onto my power (and metabolic health). But I’ll be honest: I just don’t love going to the gym; I struggle to be consistent with strength training on my own, and I don’t really have room for a barbell set up. (I know, the excuse caboose is chugging along strong here…). Getting a Tonal two years ago changed everything, as I wrote about here.
Though I still have a summer slide when it comes to resistance training, I’ve never been so consistent in my life and most of the year. I use my Tonal five mornings a week. I just roll out of bed, grab a protein/espresso drink, and hit it. My strength and mobility have improved significantly: My Tonal strength score has risen 61% percent since starting two years ago, and I improved every joint mobility score on my DARI motion analysis since I started incorporating more full-body workouts this year.
For those new to the system, Tonal is a dynamic digital weight system (providing up to 200 pounds of resistance) that hangs on your wall like a vertical flat-screen TV. It has adjustable arms and various attachments including handles, a bar, and a rope, which you attach to the cables on the arms to perform your exercises. It comes with hundreds of coach-led workouts of all kinds. It’s definitely an investment, but they often run deals, and it pays for itself over time if you use it consistently.
I started wearing earplugs every night more than a decade ago, after doing a sleep study for a story in Fitness magazine. (The doctor was shocked by how lightly I slept because I woke up to every little noise.) They worked like magic…when they stayed in. I always struggled with the foam ones popping out in the middle of the night. Then I discovered Happy Ears, reusable ear plugs designed to replicate the inner ear canal with their oval shape, soft material, and short stem. I pop them in, enter my cone of silence, and sleep like a dead woman till morning. They’ve also recently introduced eco-friendly models made of ocean plastics and recycled plastics. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
I was an early adopter of Oura ring, and I credit the product with helping me maintain habits that benefit my stress levels, health, and performance. Why? Because I like good scores and gold stars—I don’t get those on my Oura ring app if I stay up staring at screens, have a drink I don’t need, or eat close to bedtime. I do when I curl up with a book at least 30 minutes before bed and respect my recovery. I’ve improved my sleep exponentially since starting to use an Oura ring several years ago. I also track my daily stress, heart rate variability, and activity (as well as inactivity, which as a writer who sits a lot, I try to stay on top of). The ring also knew I had Covid before I did a few years ago, as indicated by elevated overnight body temperature and increased respiratory rate. Oura also helps track cycles for menstruating women and integrates with femtech products like the Wild.ai app to help hone your training, recovery, and fueling recommendations. Oura has just partnered with us for a limited time after three years of me saying, “Hey, I love you guys; join us.” So, if you’re interested you can get 10% off an Oura Ring at ouraring.com/feisty.
Joint Health Plus (Previnex)
This will come as no surprise to anyone who’s been following the show. If I could only use one supplement it would be Previnex’s Joint Health Plus. They are a sponsor because when they first approached us, I was dealing with years of trying to manage an arthritic, rigid big toe that had pretty much stopped me from running. It was starting to wake me up in the night and I was wondering if I should just get surgery, which I was putting off. I’m not exaggerating when I say within 2 to 3 weeks of using Previnex’s Joint Health Plus, the toe stopped disrupting my sleep and I could actually wiggle it. I run regularly again and this year I completed an Ironman 70.3 and a Spartan Stadion event toe-pain free. The product contains eggshell membrane, which a 2022 randomized clinical trial shows has the potential to reduce pain and stiffness trial, as well as a Boswellia, which reduced pain and stiffness and improved joint function in a 2020 systematic review and meta-analysis. (Because they’re a sponsor you can get 15% off your first order with code HITPLAY at https://www.previnex.com/)
I love how swimming makes me feel. I love open water swimming. I find lap swimming at the pool, which is really the only way I can swim year ‘round in Pennsylvania, boring and torturous. Then I got a pair of Shokz Openswim open-ear, bone-conduction swimming headphones. The sound quality is remarkable, arguably better than a lot of earbud-style systems. And they’re simple to use. Just upload whatever you want to listen to and swim to your heart’s content. I actually found myself doing about 300 extra meters on my last swim because I wanted to hear the end of the podcast I was listening to. That would never happen when I lap swim in silence.
My LDL cholesterol shot up nearly 30 points when I hit menopause. I tried a lot of things: more fiber, fish oil, cinnamon, etc.etc.etc. Then I poked around in my InsideTracker supplement recommendations and saw Berberine. I didn’t have any expectations, but thought, “Why not?” and asked my doc about it who gave it a nod. Literally, just over one month after I started taking it, I got another blood draw, and my LDL sank 30 points. It’s been remarkable. I don’t have any side effects, just better lipid levels. This systematic review from 2017 found that berberine has a beneficial effect on low-density lipoprotein (reductions ranging from approximately 20 to 50 mg/dL) and triglycerides (reductions ranging from approximately 25 to 55 mg/dL). I use Brilliant Control, which also contains milk thistle (good for your liver), phytosterols (also good for cholesterol), lycopene (an antioxidant that’s good for your eyes), and Japanese Knotweed extract (another antioxidant). Thorne and Amazing Formulas also make Berberine extracts that meet the approval of ConsumerLabs. Note: This is not medical advice, as I’m not a doctor. Always run your supplements by your healthcare provider to make sure they’re not contraindicated for you.
I laughed out loud when a friend of mine started repping Oofos recovery footwear. I was like, “Recovery sandals? Sure, whatever.” Now I own three pairs and never leave the house without them. Made with “oofoam” technology, the patented foot bed absorbs impact, cradles the foot’s arch, and feels reinvigorating, not just for your feet, but your legs and lower back as well. They’re also supportive and comfortable and stylish enough to wear every day, any day. They also got a big thumbs up from sports podiatrist Karen Langone, DPM, during Hit Play Not Pause episode 56 Feet First. “Oofos are really great,” Langone says. “They have a nice, supportive platform, a lot of cushion, and a little bit of a rocker on the bottom, which does some of the forward propulsive movement for you, taking a bit of stress and strain off your feet.” And they feel amazing at the end of a long run or ride. Our feet lose some cushioning during midlife and foot pain becomes more common during menopause. The shoes you choose can make a big difference.
Amino Co Heal
I’ve been putting my body through it lately with two-a-day workouts, lifting in the early morning and then running or riding midday or post-work. And though I eat a protein-forward diet, I know I’m not always hitting the 20 to 40 g of protein per meal mark that helps menopausal women have all the amino acids they need to make and maintain muscle. So, I’ve really appreciated Amino Co’s Heal product, which contains a blend of essential amino acids (EAAs) and creatine monohydrate. I put a scoop in a shaker with some almond milk and a shot of espresso to sip on while I do my morning lifting and I feel strong during my session and well-recovered when I work out later in the day. (They are a sponsor, so you can enter code HITPLAY at Aminoco.com/HITPLAY to Save 30% + receive a FREE gift on a new purchase if you’re interested in giving them a try.)