Table of Contents
Next Level, Your Guide to Kicking Ass, Feeling Great and Crushing Goals Through Menopause and Beyond by Stacy T. Sims
Review by Brenda Bonin
Next Level, Your Guide to Kicking Ass, Feeling Great and Crushing Goals Through Menopause and Beyond by Stacy T. Sims is a must-read for any woman going through perimenopause or menopause…or who just wants to plan for what’s ahead.
While primarily aimed at serious athletes, I found this book very relatable as an active, moderately fit woman in menopause. The author provides a complete scientific breakdown of the menopause transition, how it affects wellness and physical performance, and what to do about it. Her tone is positive, authoritative, and affirming, written by a woman for women. I also found it refreshing to read a comprehensive guide that addresses more than low libido, as menopause disrupts life in many ways.
Interventions – News to me!
One common intervention is known as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which the author instead refers to as menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) because we are not replacing hormones, but rather helping the body even things out. She further discusses non-hormonal prescription medication and adaptogens. She is an especially big fan of the latter, something I found extremely interesting and plan to try.
For those not familiar with adaptogens, basically, they are certain herb or mushrooms thought to have many health benefits including helping your body deal with physical, chemical, or biological stress and helping its systems return to homeostasis, or a balanced state. They are sold as teas, tinctures, powders you add to food, and capsules.
Exercise – What you’ve done before might not work anymore.
Contrary to many guides that recommend slowing down, Dr. Sims recommends HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) especially SIT (Sprint Interval Training). She further outlines heavy lifting and includes some specific exercises for avoiding loss of strength.
Nutrition and Hydration – Not the same old story.
Much of this information packed guide on nutrition focuses on having a healthy gut microbiome. The author explains that when microbiome is out of balance, it affects performance, brain function and sleep. She has a contrary position on some popular eating plans such as intermittent fasting and keto diets, and points out that the research on these plans includes primarily on men and sedentary women. Sims also emphasies that what you eat and when is more important than thinking of calories in/calories used. She also has an unusual position on hydrating, stating that plain water is not as effective as water with small amounts of sugar and salt to activate transport mechanisms in the gut.
Sleep Well to Live Well
If you suffer from sleep issues, this chapter is for you. Lack of sleep is incredibly stressful. Dr. Sims covers basic healthy sleep practices we’ve heard before, plus delves into managing stress for good sleep and sleep support supplements. I plan to try the tart cherry juice and switch from black cohosh to ashwagandha. As sleep is a big part of recovery for elite athletes, she provides additional details on this subject.
The bottom line
Next Level is a great read and resource for anyone interested in supporting a healthy active lifestyle during and beyond menopause. I know I will keep it handy as a go-to guide for myself!
DISCLOSURE: This article is not intended as medical advice. Seek counsel from your physician before making any changes to your health plan. More research is needed to fully understand the benefits of some of the suggested treatments for menopause relief recommended in this book.