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Lavina Mehta, personal trainer and inclusive menopause campaigner

Lavina Mehta is a personal trainer, wellness coach and mum of three. In October 2020 she was awarded an MBE for services in health and fitness during the covid pandemic after offering virtual workouts to keep people healthy and mentally positive from home.

As a British Asian she is passionate about promoting the health benefits of exercise to treat, prevent & reduce risks of chronic diseases like diabetes & heart disease, so prevalent in Asian communities.

Living by the slogan “Exercise for Sanity not Vanity”, she continues to provide free virtual workouts sessions (for all ages & abilities), with her 74-year-old mother-in-law on her YouTube and Instagram channels @feelgoodwithlavina.

Lavina is a Diabetes UK Ambassador & Patron of the Menopause Mandate. She’s age 44 and lives in Bushey with her husband Menal, three sons and cavapoo Bailey.

1. The best thing about the menopause is…..

It’s a reminder to follow your passion and do something for you! Life is too short and peri/menopause reminds us of this (the clock is ticking and it’s a reality check, in the nicest possible way!) Cut out the toxic relationships, focus on doing things you enjoy and surround yourself with positive people. It helps us realise how important it is to invest in ourselves – both physically and mentally. Although it can be a challenging time of our lives juggling families, work, elderly parents and children, even doing a 1/5/10 minutes of movement (what I call ‘exercise snacking’) and investing 5 minutes a day of selfcare (what I term a ‘selfcare snack’) will help us feel good.

2. The hardest thing about the menopause is….

Admitting you’re going through it and prioritising getting help for yourself. As women and mums we tend to just plough on, care for others and brush our symptoms under the carpet. But for me, sharing this with my husband, 3 boys, family, friends and publicly on social media has been refreshing (and especially as it’s not commonly discussed in South Asian communities). But now my loved ones understand and sympathise why Mummy keeps forgetting things, hasn’t slept well or gets anxiety over the small things like being late for school runs and making packed lunches!

3. My lightbulb moment was….

I suspected I was perimenopausal when I turned 44 – I’d been suffering with symptoms since I turned 40 but I just thought it was the fallout from having covid. That and the fact that everyone I told said I was too young! Nonetheless, my irregular periods, brain fog and moods were really affecting me so I had an initial chat with my GP and remember telling some of my close girlfriends…. But it really hit home when I watched the Davina McCall documentary in May. I burst into tears and my husband and youngest son sat with me watching it while holding my hands. I was amazed to hear about the change in the brain and brain fog. As a supporter of Alzheimer’s Society and after losing my grandma to it, I always raise awareness of the power of exercise but to hear that we can reduce our risks of Alzheimer’s by up to 50% with HRT is huge!

I had a massive response to a very tearful and honest Instagram post the next morning and received so many private messages from women at rock bottom – it broke my heart to see so many suffering. That’s why I kicked off sharing my journey on social media, raw and unedited – the symptoms I’m experiencing and the steps I’m taking to make sure I don’t suffer anymore and to help women understand what perimenopause is (especially in South Asian communities).

It’s important we normalise the conversations with our loved ones, the men in our lives, at home and in the workplace. As a South Asian woman, I feel it’s my duty to represent, be open, share and help educate. This is to break the taboos. To raise awareness. To make it normal to talk about peri/menopause. To support one another. To know that we can get help and that there are solutions. You are not alone. Don’t suffer in silence. Let’s feel empowered to get help and find solutions that make us feel good.

4. My selfcare superhero is…..

Feel-good walks are my self-care and the best tool to combat any brain fog! The aim is to hit 30 mins of moderate intensity cardio 5x per week but I recommend ‘walk snacks’ too as 5/10 mins a couple of times a day can be easier to fit in! For me, my outdoor walks are literally my therapy and sum up my motto of “exercise for sanity not vanity!” Rain or shine, I find walking so refreshing and an immediate mood-lifter, instantly boosting my creativity, productivity and energy levels!

I share my ‘Feel Good Walks’ practically every day on my Instagram stories. Ideally, I recommend walking in nature for its fabulous mental health benefits (a spot of forest bathing is wonderful!) I’m blessed that I now have my lovely cavapoo Bailey as my companion and walking buddy. If I’ve been sitting at my desk too long or am feeling stressed or experiencing a spot of peri anxiety, stepping outside in the fresh air and getting my heart rate up with a brisk stroll works wonders.

I often listen to a podcast or call a loved one/friend, or sometimes practice mindful walking and use it as a time to tune into my senses and breath in an almost meditative way. Some of my craziest and best ideas over the last 2.5 years journey have been on these walks. Let me know how you get on by tagging me on Instagram @feelgoodwithlavina hashtag #feelgoodwalk!

5. I couldn’t live without…

This is hard to nail down to just one thing….

One of the main symptoms of perimenopause for me (and since becoming a mother) has been disrupted and light sleep. I just can’t live without my silk eye mask, ear plugs and a spritz of lavender spray. Writing away my worries/to-do list and some gratitude in my journal also helps me switch off and once a week I love my self-care Sunday ritual of taking a soak in a bath filled with Magnesium or Epsom salts.

Strength training keeps me sane – it’s like my me-time, helping me feel empowered and strong in both body & mind. I can’t emphasise enough how important strength training is during the perimenopause to help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. In my opinion, strength training trumps cardio as the more muscle mass we have, the more calories we burn at rest, and with effective weight management we also reduce the risks of so many other chronic illnesses like heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes and dementia. Lifting weights is a great anti-depressant too!

Finally, my family & kids – who have supported me on this new journey which was totally unplanned (I only qualified as a PT just 4 years ago!). Thank you to them for allowing me to follow my dreams and passion.

You can follow Lavina on Instagram @feelgoodwithlavina 

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