Performing At Your Full Potential for Guys Over 45Nov 24, 2022
Writer: James Davis
Male menopause? Wait, What?? What the hell is “andropause” and how can it effect ME? Regular OG Badass’s, James & Claire Davis – The Midlife Mentors, shed some light on a problem most of us know dick about. Take heed.
- James Davis, The Midlife Mentors
This month I have something for the guys, in particular guys in midlife, between 40 and 65, who may be experiencing symptoms of the seldom talked about, often little known, male menopause.
There’s been a surge of interest and initiatives around the female peri-menopause and menopause, which is to be applauded. Celebrities including Meg Matthews (check our podcast for an interview with her) and Mariella Frostrup have penned guides to the menopause, and we’ve delivered several corporate workshops on menopause, so it’s great that this is finally getting coverage.
Less well know is the andropause, or male menopause. Estimates vary, but somewhere between 25% to 40% of middle aged men will experience symptoms, around 10% will have acute symptoms.
In fact if we look at the hormonal science of what’s happening inside the body it’s highly likely that most men will experience some of the symptoms at some point during their midlife.
So what are those symptoms? They can be broadly categorized into physical, mental and emotional, and of course all these interplay and have a causation relationship.
On the physical side symptoms can include a decline in energy, gradual loss of strength, loss of muscle mass, increase body fat, particularly in the abdominal area, erectile dysfunction and loss of libido.
Mental and emotional symptoms can include brain fog, lack of concentration, lowered confidence, increased anxiety, increased stress and trouble sleeping.
Put the physical, mental and emotional together and you have the perfect driver for more psychological symptoms: a perceived lack of self-worth, loss of self-identity, and over compensating behaviour.
This is why performance across the board can start to suffer… in relationships, business, career, sports…
So far so mid-life crisis and this is where the tired trope of the older man in the unbuttoned shirt buying the open top sports car comes from, an attempt to re-assert youth - but we need to look past it and see what lifestyle tweaks we can make to work with the changes we’re experiencing.
You see science shows us it’s possible to work in harmony with our hormones (the main driver for many of these symptoms) and offset many of the negative effects.
To understand what you can do you first need to understand what’s going within. For men levels of their primary sex hormone testosterone peak in their twenties, then decline at between 1 to 2% a year. Now, that might not sound a lot, but the time a man hits his fifties, those testosterone levels could be up to 50% lower then back when he was in his twenties.
Testosterone plays a key role in supporting muscle, metabolic support, strength, libido, cognitive processes, focus…
As it declines, so these can to. Low levels of testosterone are also liked to increased anxiety, lowered confidence and increased body fat levels.
If that wasn’t enough, at midlife we’re becoming more insulin resistant, meaning we’re less efficient at processing food for energy, meaning we’re more likely to lay excess calories down as fat
Finally, through some stress into the mix. We all know stress impacts our health, but did you know why it has such an impact on our hormonal health?
The stress hormone cortisol is produces from the same “mother” hormone pregnenolone so if we are producing more cortisol, there is less pregnenolone available to produce testosterone, further impacting those midlife hormonal challenges.
So far so bad, what can we do about it?
Well quite a lot is the good news!
If you want to perform at your full potential at midlife there are a number of specific things to do , right, but here's what it comes down to in my experience: you've got to align your body and mind. They have to work together.
What I see over and over are people thrashing their bodies but they haven’t got the mindset dialled in and it doesn’t work. They might perform well, for a while, but not to their full potential.
So, you need to start exercising in the right way. Specifically start intruding short High Intensity Interval Training sessions of 15 to 20 minutes to your workouts. These are not only time and results effective but have been shown to help boost testosterone levels temporarily and bring down your metabolic age.
You need to start resistance training. You can do it at home, but for guys, lifting heavy with compound moves like the squat, bench press and row also temporarily boost testosterone levels, as well as building new muscle mass, so raising metabolic rate.
You have to start cutting down on sugar, which is highly calorific and inflammatory, and start adding more lean protein (fish, poultry, lean red meat, pulses) to your diet, along with dietary fibre for gut health. You need to start eating more leafy vegetables and cut back on heavier processed carbs like bread, rices, cakes and pasta.
On the mindset side, you MUST get a handle on your stress and lower those cortisol levels. Start to eliminate the stressors you can in your life (like watching too much news), learn to control your reaction to stressful events.
Look at your limiting beliefs - we all have them. What beliefs about yourself could be holding you back? What new empowering beliefs would help you sustain a new healthier peak performance lifestyle? You cannot out perform your self-self-identity - sometimes we need to upgrade who we are to move to the next level. Neuroscience shows us this is possible. Our beliefs are not fixed we can alter our neural pathways and literally step into a new way of being.
Finally, learn to be present, cultivate and attitude of gratitude each day, and ground yourself with focus at the start of each day.
Put all these elements together and you can stride forward through male menopause (and beyond) with renewed strength, energy, power, confidence and joy for life.
Over to you.
James & Claire, The Midlife Mentors