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Joe Wicks: how to exercise and stay active during the menopause

Joe Wicks really needs no introduction: he’s a fitness coach, presenter and bestselling author who kept the nation moving during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Joe is also one of the expert contributors in Dr Louise Newson’s new book, The Definitive Guide to the Perimenopause and Menopause.

In this episode, Joe and Dr Louise discuss the importance of keeping active, and finding the motivation and time to exercise during the perimenopause and menopause.

Joe offers tips on setting achievable goals, plus beneficial exercises, and they talk about how replacing hormones with HRT will help ease symptoms so women can also better focus on exercise and nutrition.

Joe’s top three tips if you are struggling with motivation to exercise:

1. Prioritise your sleep: see sleep as an investment to give you more energy to work out

2. Work out in the morning: working out earlier can be transformative to how you take on stress at work, and for your relationships too

3. Prep like a boss: meal prepping on a weekend will protect you against fast foods and convenience foods during the week.

Follow Joe Wicks on Instagram @thebodycoach

Find out more about the Body Coach app on Instagram @bodycoachapp and online at

Episode transcript:

Dr Louise Newson [00:00:09] Hello, I’m Dr Louise Newson and welcome to my podcast. I’m a GP and menopause specialist and I run the Newson Health Menopause and Wellbeing Centre here in Stratford upon Avon. I’m also the founder of The Menopause Charity and the menopause support app called balance. On the podcast, I will be joined each week by an exciting guest to help provide evidence-based information and advice about both the perimenopause and the menopause. So today on the podcast, I am very, very excited. I’m often excited, but I’m really excited today because I have someone with me who I would bet all of you have heard of, but probably don’t know, just now from the screen and amazing work he’s done, but I’ve got the pleasure of having him in my podcast studio. So Joe Wicks, the Body Coach, the most amazing person with the most incredible values and a really incredible father of three lovely children. So, Joe, welcome to my podcast.

Joe Wicks [00:01:16] Thank you so much. What a lovely introduction that was. And I actually I love talking to you because I learn so much from you, it’s like being in school, I learn so much about different things which really help me in what I’m doing, trying to help people move. So thanks for your time and I look forward to learning more from you.

Dr Louise Newson [00:01:28] Oh well, do you know what, I love it because you reached out to me and I love it when people reach out to me who I don’t expect, and I have this sort of crazy wish list in my head of things that I want to do or people that I want to meet before I die. And I never share it until it’s happened. So actually in lockdown, when I was trying to do these lovely exercises with my children in my front room, looking at you, doing it effortlessly, and me who is so used to yoga rather than all that, sort of high intensity stuff, thinking one day I’m going to meet this guy because he’s not only really good, he just seems really caring. And there’s something about people who are not just inspirational, but do it with passion. We’ve talked a lot offline before about people chasing money, and money changes people, but actually in your heart you are a kind person. You want to help people. And that shines through all the time. And, you know, I remember looking at you, in my sitting room, getting a bit sweaty and thinking, how am I going to reach Joe?

How am I going to get hold of him? He won’t be interested in the menopause. And now you’ve come on to a menopause podcast, you come on to the other side. So what’s happening?

Joe Wicks [00:02:35] That’s amazing. I had no idea that you did my PE with Joe workout, thanks for that, and I’m glad that comes through, because I am so passionate and I love helping people. I get so much joy. I get so much of my kind of motivation and energy comes from seeing people who are struggling with physically and mentally, seeing them, you know, turn things around. And it’s amazing. And I think what you’re doing as well, you know, like you’ve helped my mum personally helped my mum with her HRT and it’s really helped her and I can see the benefit. So thank you for taking care of my mum and in a way paying on that love I put out with PE with Joe, you’ve helped my mum now so thank you.

Dr Louise Newson [00:03:07] Well, you know I mean I feel we’re both really privileged in our jobs, aren’t we? I’m so privileged being a doctor. And I’ve always thought that for the 30 odd years I’ve been a doctor because people confide in me and I can help them. And sometimes it’s just listening to them is helping them. Often it’s prescribing and looking very holistically, but actually it’s even more as I get older, it’s more about how do we prevent disease, how do we keep away from doctors? Because as much as I like seeing patients, I don’t really want them to be ill. I don’t want them to come when they’ve got diseases that could have been prevented. So it’s also about how to spread that message so people can be in control. And I think we all want to be in control of our lives. There’s lots of circumstances where we can’t be in control. But actually the older I’ve got, the more selfish I’ve got because I think if I don’t look after myself, I’m going to be a rubbish mother. I’m going to be a really crap wife for my husband. My job is going to be awful if I go into work tired and demotivated and sluggish. No one’s going to think that I’m a very good doctor and I won’t be, so looking at everything in our life, we always talk about how much we need to do more and more, more exercise. But for so many people, that’s just overwhelming, isn’t it? It’s so hard. So how did you get from being somebody who, I know your journey hasn’t been easy, you’ve not had an easy upbringing and lots of challenges, but you’ve always found that space to not just help yourself with exercise, but helped others as well.

Joe Wicks [00:04:38] Well, I’ve always had exercise and I’ve always, I think, more so looking back now you know in my childhood, that exercise for me was like my medication it was my therapy and I was going through difficult things at home and for me PE and specifically the male PE teachers were such positive role models to me and they really understood me and they could harness my energy, and I wasn’t this disruptive, distracted, troublemaker. I was actually a kid that wanted to be in the class. And what I realised was from such a young age, probably, from seven or eight years old, that when I moved my body physically, exerted myself, I could release all those negative emotions, you know, anxiety and stress and fear and all those overwhelming things I had as a young boy in a family of addiction and mental health issues. And so I got that in my DNA at such a young age. And I now basically want to do the same thing, help young people, because it is really hard getting adults to exercise, who have been sedentary all their life. But I think if I can put all my energy and all my love into getting young people to really fall in love with exercise, to really see how it can make them feel, then I’m going to make some impact, some real long term impact that can hopefully influence their lives, but also their children’s and their families in the future. Because you’ve only got to inspire one person in the household and it kind of elevates everyone else. Everyone else sort of wants to eat healthy, everyone else wants to start moving more. It’s been a challenge and the biggest thing is obviously motivation, because people want to change. They want to eat healthier, they want to move more and exercise. But there’s so many barriers and so many obstacles in their way in this modern world we live in, that it is really hard to motivate people to keep moving and keep going.

Dr Louise Newson [00:06:02] It’s so easy, isn’t it? We all go, right, I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ll do it tomorrow, I’m just a bit tired now. And I think as we get older, especially when you got responsibilities of children, your own time gets very, very narrow. Lots of people say to me, I have no time to exercise and I hate to be that doctor that says, well actually, if I’ve got time to do it, then you have. But actually carving out time…I have time in my diary on a Wednesday morning, I do an hour and a half Ashtanga yoga primary series. It’s a really important time for me and everyone knows I can’t have any meetings, I can’t have any calls. My phone is off and then I try and do 20 minutes yoga most mornings when I wake up and I think, well, 20 minutes isn’t much. Actually, I could be 20 minutes just on my phone scrolling rubbish. So when I start doing the sort of sun salutations, I think I’m not feeling it. And then suddenly the flow starts coming, my mind starts clearing. I end with a headstand because a headstand is one of the few things that many people can’t do. So I’m like, yes, I can do something. I might not be able to do it do a Joe Wicks class, but I can do this.

Joe Wicks [00:07:05] That’s pretty impressive. I’ve never tried that.

Dr Louise Newson [00:07:06] And it sets me up for the day. Can you do a headstand, Joe?

Joe Wicks [00:07:09] I’ve never tried but I’ll give it a go but I would probably end up busting myself. But I do agree and I think if you look at my kind of message and my whole philosophy from day one with the 15 minute meals, Lean in 15 was about those 15-minute meals, and even PE with Joe, was short, 25 minute workouts because I try and break the barriers down to say, you know, I know time is short and you are struggling. You are finding it difficult and you are fatigued and you are tired, but there is time, you can carve that time out. And the truth is, you know, if you are someone who’s exhausted and really run down and you’re not fit and you’re not in shape, you’re tired and you are out of shape because you’re not exercising. But if you can just break that first sort of month, that first month to six weeks, get through those difficult sessions where you do feel a bit sick, you get DOMS and you get sore legs and you bum’s hurting the next day. But when you break through that and you can start to actually get the benefits, you do enjoy it more. But a lot of people get to those first few weeks ago, you know what, this is horrible. I don’t understand these endorphins you talk about, this post-workout high. A lot of people get to that first hurdle and they stop. And I think especially, you know, with the perimenopause, it can be much more tough. It can be much more difficult to push yourself physically and have the strength you once had. But you can still do a little bit every day just to kind of build yourself up and build the confidence to actually keep active and not be sedentary. Because it’s such a draw to just, you know, just sit and do nothing. But, you know, you’ve got to keep moving, you’ve got to keep moving the joints, it’s good for your mental health. And I think that’s the difficult thing is taking the first step is the hardest thing. But yeah, you know, 15 minutes a day, I do think is enough.

Dr Louise Newson [00:08:33] And you can get a lot done. I mean, actually someone said to me a while ago, oh yoga, that’s just a bit of heavy breathing and relaxing. I just felt like punching their lights out. Because actually, once you feel your heart going, feel a bit sweaty, you feel can your respiratory rate changing, it’s really powerful, but it’s hard. But one of the things that I see is that a lot of women actually want to keep fit. They want to do exercise lots and men, of course, as well. But during the perimenopause, as you know, there’s no test for the perimenopause. There’s no blood test. There’s no saliva or urine test. It’s based on symptoms. But they can be very subtle. So symptoms such as low mood, anxiety, you know, just feeling tired. Well, that could be life as well. So it’s very hard to know. But a very, very common symptom is muscle and joint pains and sort of just feeling achy, sometimes joints feeling a bit stiff and swollen. And I know when I was perimenopausal and didn’t realise for a few months what was going on, when I was doing yoga, I just felt stiff, I felt really robotic and my practice did not flow at all and I just felt exhausted, even just doing very little amounts. So then I ended up doing less and less. And actually if I listen to this podcast seven years ago, then I would have, maybe the penny would have dropped because my exercise tolerance wasn’t as good, my performance wasn’t as good. And I see that a lot in people that exercise well, they come and see me and say ‘my performance is not as good. I can’t cycle as far as I could in the morning or I can’t go for a run or swim. And I thought it was just because I’m old’ and it’s like you’re only 40 and or only 50, you’re not old at all. So it’s something that happens quite a lot. Whereas I think for many years people haven’t realised it’s related to their hormones. Because if you think of hormones, you don’t always think about exercise, do you?

Joe Wicks [00:10:20] I think it’s just, I mean, people are learning so much and even, you know, watching the documentary with Davina and having a chat with you, it’s just opened my eyes. Because I’ll be honest with, before people used to reach out to me and say, you know, I’m going through the menopause, I didn’t really understand what it meant or the effects and how it can really affect your sleep, for one, which is a massive contributor towards gaining weight and having natural motivation to exercise, and also the joint inflammation and the pain in the muscles and stuff. So I now realise that in hindsight, when you are going through those symptoms, it is important to slow things down, to be, you know, more stable with the exercises. So I wouldn’t recommend running up and down the spot doing lunge jumps and burpees and squat jumps, but you can still do very gentle, low intensity strength training. So bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, light dumbbells, because ultimately, if your muscles are feeling weak, you know, you have to remember you can strengthen your joints, you can strengthen the ligaments and the muscles around the joints. So I think it really is a case of when often, if you can’t do an hour-long workout, don’t be disheartened thinking, well, I’m useless, I can’t do it anymore. Just set yourself a goal. Could I do 10 minutes a day? You know, can I focus on just doing some hip openers and maybe even 10 minutes of lower body exercises? It’s just going to build that strength and that confidence to keep coming back. And I think I can hear that a lot of women just lose that motivation to exercise. And they also feel they are a failure because they can’t do what they used to do. But, you know, that’s such a negative mindset. You have to believe that, you know, I can rebuild my strength, I can adapt my exercises. And, you know, it’s more about mental health. If you’re having symptoms of anxiety, depression, you’re getting stressed at work, finding it overwhelming…my mum left her job as a social worker because she was losing her mind at work and didn’t realise she was going through the perimenopause. And so, you know, luckily she exercises now. She’s managed things a lot more. But I think for some women, if you don’t have exercise, things are going to feel a lot worse and a lot more challenging. Exercise for me is such a powerful tool to release all those negative feelings you might have in your mind.

Dr Louise Newson [00:12:07] Absolutely. And I mean, the other thing is even women who aren’t perimenopausal, so PMS or MDD, there’s this drop of hormones before periods and a lot of women say, I just don’t exercise before my periods, but often thinking about hormones and actually then thinking about how can we replace the hormones? Well, a lot of people say, well, exercise can improve menopausal symptoms, and they might do to some extent, but they’re not going to replace the missing hormones. And it’s really important that women don’t set themselves up to fail because it’s so disheartening when you’re perimenopause or menopausal, and then you feel worse and you’re trying to have a healthy lifestyle. And someone sat in my clinic a few years ago. She was a doctor who was trying to set up a clinic, and she said, Louise, why are you prescribing HRT? I get all my patients to exercise better, to eat better, to sleep better. And then almost as a reward, I’ll give them HRT. And I said, actually, you’re trying to fight a deficiency. How can you do that without replacing the hormones? So for those people that want HRT, replacing hormones means that they can then concentrate on exercise and sleep and nutrition so much easier and they’re not setting themselves up to fail. And the other thing is one of the reasons I take HRT is because I’m very worried about osteoporosis. We know osteoporosis affects one in two women over the age of 50. One in three will have an osteoporotic hip fracture. This weakening of the bone occurs very rapidly without hormones. And so doing exercise as well as hormones is really good, isn’t it? To strengthen our bones as well as our muscles.

Joe Wicks [00:13:42] When you say it that, it makes perfect sense. It’s almost like you’re going against your nature. Isn’t your body saying to you that I haven’t got that right now, I haven’t got what you want. And you can try and lift weights and try and increase your natural testosterone. But you said if you can just get the natural levels and then suddenly the drive to exercise and the muscle pains might be going and, you know, you might have that clear mind to go, you know what, I’m going to set myself a challenge this week. I’m going to prep meals. So much of it comes from just momentum as well, doesn’t it? Once you take that first step and you get moving or you start prepping your meals, you’re on a roll, aren’t you? But I think, like you said, it’s like trying to get someone out of a depression. Sometimes it’s really hard getting to take the first steps.

Dr Louise Newson [00:14:16] It’s really hard. I mean, I cook all my food from scratch and everyone thinks I’m some amazing person, but I’m always thinking ahead. So, you know, tonight I knew I wasn’t going to have much time because of obviously took two year and I had to take one of my children to a piano lesson. And so I roasted some butternut squash before, I quinoa before. And I just fried an onion and some mushrooms and some goat’s cheese and mixed it all together. That’s it. I’ve got my next three meals are done, so it’s easy. But actually, if I’d been menopausal, there’s no way I would have even thought ahead. I would literally come in and then thought, Well, what can I eat? You know? And then you end up snacking and then you end up feeling worse because you’re eating bad. And then women just feel bad about themselves because we know we should be eating healthily and we know that we should be doing all the right things. But it’s really difficult if your brain doesn’t work. And one of the things we’re doing with some of the research is looking at the menopause and thinking of it actually as a brain condition. It’s not an ovary condition, it’s not a fertility condition. The receptors of our hormones, estrogen and testosterone, in our brains are so important. But like you say, if you don’t have your brain working and you’re not motivated and you’re not happy and you maybe have anxiety, then it’s really difficult. And no wonder women feel bad, you know, and then they put on weight because their metabolism changes. So their lycra or their running shorts just don’t feel the same and then you’re not going to put them on or go and see your friends for a walk in the park because you’re feeling awful. So it’s looking at how we can treat people earlier so then they can carry on their lifestyle and actually make it better. I mean, I’m fitter now than I was ten years ago, but that’s because I’ve kept my exercise going. And you’re not too old ever, are you, Joe, to start exercising?

Joe Wicks [00:15:57] No, definitely not. You can always think, you know, that you might be starting from a different point. You might not be as fit as you were when you 20 years old. But there’s always a way of building strength. And that’s the great thing about the human body. You know, if you stimulate it, if you do the right things, you know, you can build your fitness, you can build muscle. It takes time, it is hard. But I wanted to talk a little bit about sleep because one of the things I talk about I promote a lot is, you know, the importance of sleep. And then I obviously get a lot of messages from women saying they’re going through the perimenopause and it’s almost impossible to sleep. How common are sleep issues and insomnia? Is it really common for everybody going through the menopause?

Dr Louise Newson [00:16:28] It’s you know, it’s really common. And if we look at the balance app, in the top ten symptoms is poor sleep. And I, I hadn’t realised actually because when I was at medical school, obviously no one taught me about the menopause. And then you think about night sweats, so even when I was perimenopausal and I did have night sweats and I woke up dripping in sweat, I didn’t realise it was due to my hormones. But there are also lots of other times where you just wake up and it’s four in the morning, three in the morning, often have anxiety just having these ruminating thoughts and you just can’t sleep and you lie there thinking, I’m going to be tired tomorrow. This is ridiculous. And you hear it time and time again from women who just…so many of my patients say, actually, for the last three or four years, I’ve lived on three or four hours sleep and they go to bed early because they’re feeling tired. They might drift off to sleep and then they wake up and you know how bad it is for our health not sleeping. And once I started my clinic, several years ago now, first thing that people used to thank me for was their sleep. I would say, what do you mean, thank you? And then someone showed me their Fitbit and they were awake 47 times in a night. And then three months after HRT, it was literally three times a night. And I was thinking, no, this can’t be right. And I now have a specific thing when I ask people about their sleep and quality sleep and do you wake up refreshed? And most women will say, no, not at all. And then I wear an aura ring which monitors my sleep, and I don’t sleep very long because I’m quite busy. But I literally go to sleep, go straight to deep sleep, bit of REM sleep, bit of light sleep. And then I wake up. There’s none of this waking in the night unless my husband’s snoring, and that’s a different matter. It’s really efficient sleep. Whereas before I was probably in bed two hours longer, but I wasn’t sleeping well. I’d never wake up refreshed and I certainly would never have the energy to wake up and do yoga. I was snoozing my alarm and thinking, Oh, I’m so tired, this is awful. And we know that estrogen and testosterone and actually for a lot of women it’s the testosterone that can make a big difference for their sleep. And without sleep, you know, poor sleep is a form of torture, isn’t it? It’s really horrible. I mean, you know, you’ve got three children when you can’t sleep and especially when you’re woken up and it’s not what you’re expecting. You know, we always have these rhythms where we have a lighter sleep, but to be waking up. And it’s horrid, really horrid.

Joe Wicks [00:18:47] Yeah, I think that’s probably the biggest factor in terms of body composition and, you know, weight gain. I honestly think that sleep is the biggest marker of health. Also mental health, because if you are, you know, a new mum, I’m a new parent obviously, and it’s tough. You wake up, broken sleep, you’re not quite the same. I might train, but it’s not as hard, I might be snacking, I’m making probably not as healthy food choices. And so it does, it makes everything feel a little bit harder. Your meal prep goes out the window, you can’t be bothered to train. And so I think, you know, for women, especially going through that time, I think a lot of the weight gain will be down to the fact that they’re just so sleep deprived that you don’t have the energy. So what advice do you give to people then in terms of getting a better sleep routine? Is it literally HRT? It is kind of the fastest way to get that routine back to regulation sort of thing?

Dr Louise Newson [00:19:29] Often when I say to women, you know, let’s rebalance your hormones and see what’s left, because all I’m doing is topping up your missing hormones if you’re perimenopausal or replacing your missing hormones, I’m not doing anything that’s out of kilter to what your body should be used to and then see what’s left. And obviously, if you’re going on your screen just before you go to sleep, if you’re, you know, watching a horror movie and expect to go straight to sleep. There’s simple things. But most people know that, don’t they? They know about their routines. And then there’s sometimes people take magnesium. A good quality magnesium supplement can help with sleep. You can’t do a magnesium blood test because it’s within the cells, so doing a blood test doesn’t make any difference. Some people find just meditation, some relaxation. It’s really hard to switch off. A long time ago, I was trying to learn how to meditate. And I’d spent so long thinking about what I should be doing that I could never switch my mind off. So actually just, you know, visualising your mind being empty, is so important, isn’t it? So having time for yourself.

Joe Wicks [00:20:31] I can do fitness and I can do the food, but the meditation I dip in and out of it but it’s one thing I find really difficult to stay consistent with, but it does have a massive impact. So I like listen to the sleep stories on Calm. I listen to the Calm app and they help me get to sleep at night. But for me, yeah, the screen time, the device is a massive disruption for me. I have to leave my phone downstairs. I can’t have it in my bedroom because it’s so disruptive to my sleep. But yeah, I think some things that you can do, sleep hygiene, getting in bed at the same time helps having that regularity with your sleep. But, you know, it must be so difficult when you’re going through the menopause to want to just sleep but you can’t. And I can really understand how that must be so difficult.

Joe Wicks [00:21:09] It’s really horrible. I had one lady who used to tell me she’d sleep on the bathroom floor; she’d have 20 minutes on one side of her body, and then she sleep 20 minutes the other side because it would cool her down, because she was so hot. And then it’s not very good for the partners. So many people I speak to their partner’s in the other room because the duvet is on and off or they need a fan and then the fan is noisy or they wake up sweaty. And then how does that affect their relationship? You know, there’s no intimacy at all. We know that many people don’t have sex when they’re perimenopausal or menopausal, but it’s not even penetrative sex. It’s just actually going to bed. I enjoy going to bed with my husband. And sometimes it’s a time where I can just tell him about my day. And obviously, as you know, there’s a lot of toxicity going on with the work that I do, but just for him to calm me down, make me in the right state, focus on the positive things of life. You know, having that companionship is really important as well. And I definitely sleep better when he’s there with me. There’s something very comforting about having somebody there, whereas if I was up three or four times a night, or if I needed a wee which a lot of women have to get up to have a wee because their bladder is not very good, the pelvic floor is not good because they’ve got low hormones. And if I’m disrupting him when he can’t operate if he hasn’t had a good night’s sleep, so you can see how people just drift apart. And then that’s very isolating. And people who are perimenopausal or menopausal often feel very alone and don’t really want to admit how they’re feeling because they think it’s a sense of failure. And as women, we’ve just got to sort of get through these things and of course, we don’t have to. So just making sure that you’re sort of at peace with yourself and I know that sounds a bit silly, but we’ve got to, I really feel and I’m sure you do, try and make the most of each day and then end the day thinking about the good things that have happened rather than reflecting on all the bad things.

Joe Wicks [00:23:00] Yeah, I think you’re right. And I think when you really break it down into how many different areas of your life it can affect, so you realise actually every woman’s going to go through it, right? And it’s something that hasn’t fully been talked about, the fact that you talk about, you know, The Happy Pear, all these guys are now doing podcasts about it. I think it’s great that we’re learning because maybe I wouldn’t have known. And in the future when my wife goes through it, I wouldn’t have known what’s going on. So I think it’s great that the conversation’s getting louder and that people are talking. I think they’re reaching out to their doctors more properly. So I think what you’re doing is great. You’re heading in the right direction, but trying to give people the information, That’s what the great thing is about you, I think, is that you’re not saying you’ve got to do this or do that, just this is the information and what you want to take from that and what you want to try yourself, because everyone’s going to be so different, aren’t they?

Dr Louise Newson [00:23:40] Well, absolutely, everyone’s different. We all choose, you know, which car we drive or which job we have or, you know, we choose everything in life. And I feel that with health as well, it’s really important to have a choice. And actually the book which you’ve kindly written such a great section on about exercise, people are quite surprised because some people have said, oh, I thought it would just be about hormones. Well, no, actually there is quite a lot about hormones in general, not just HRT, but what they are, why they’re important, but also about these choices, about exercise, about nutrition, because all these things are just so important. You can’t do one thing in isolation. There’s no point you exercising and not eating properly, is there?

Joe Wicks [00:24:19] That’s what I’m always talking about, I call it the circle of happiness, sleep, exercise, nutrition and just having that calm mind and it’s sort of everything feeds into each other. And I feel like it’s become harder to be healthier in this day and age with technology especially because we’re so distracted, we’re doing so much screen time and lockdown accelerated that kind of tech world where we’re just on our phones and we’re also just isolated a lot more. So in the process of doing all these things on the screen, you’re not getting sunlight, you’re not getting fresh air, you’re not getting out in nature. So sometimes just going back to the basic human needs, fresh air and sunlight and touch and cuddling and seeing your friends face to face, like having interactions and, you know, the basic things and getting a good night’s sleep. These are the things that are going to help you overcome all the stresses and pressures that you are probably feeling in your life every day. And I think I often talk about exercise and nutrition as being not like an optional thing that you should do now and again, like this is essential to live in this world and to be healthy and happy. You have to use exercise, you have to fuel your body and you have to prioritise these things because otherwise everything feels very overwhelming and it’s really hard to see the positive in things when you know you’re just stressed all the time. Always tired, always overworked and always fatigued. And I think, you know, people are always waiting, I often think, they’re waiting for motivation, they’re waiting to have more time and they’re waiting to have energy. And it’s like all of those things that you want actually come at the end of the exercise, at the end of a day of healthy eating. So you’ve almost got to put in the work to start seeing the benefits. And once you do, you realise that you can thrive and have a really amazing day and feel super energised if you’re eating well and if you’re exercising and if you’re trying to prioritise that sleep. Even I would say, like could you just have one little win a day, it doesn’t have to be like everything perfect every day, but could you just cook one meal or do one 20-minute walk around the park or could you go to bed half an hour earlier? These little things feel quite insignificant, but they really add up over a month and a year, and then you start to feel so much better and happier in yourself. And so, I really do promote that, just one day at a time and focus on small little lifestyle changes that can really make a difference.

Dr Louise Newson [00:26:22] I think you’re obviously right, and it’s so easy, isn’t it, to look at people like you who eat super healthily and people think, oh, I never do it, I never do it, but then then never make any effort. So somebody today, there’s a bit of a joke because I always eat really healthily at work and everyone tries to hide their crisps and everything else from me. And I walked past someone who works for me today and she said, oh, I’m really sorry, Louise, I wish you couldn’t see what I’m eating. This is a one off, she said, but I didn’t have any food, so I went in to Stratford and the only thing I could buy was a meal deal. So she’s had Coca Cola, big packet of crisps and a horrible sandwich. And I was just thinking, well you didn’t have to, you could have bought water, you could have bought a bag of nuts. You know, you don’t have to do this, but it’s almost like that’s thought to be the easy option. But I know that she’ll feel more tired. She was already feeling really embarrassed. She knew it wasn’t the right thing. But rather than thinking, I’m never going to be able to cook lunch or do anything, she could have just swapped one drink for something else and then she would have felt good about herself. Whereas I felt bad because she was feeling bad because I’d seen what she was eating. So you’re right, because otherwise we get overwhelmed, don’t we?

Joe Wicks [00:27:27] We’re bombarded with convenience food and it’s just so easy to grab. And if you let yourself get hungry, you just crave it even more. And you end up grabbing stuff and the later it gets, you end up making, you know, harder food choices get more difficult when you’re starving hungry on the way home and it’s nine o’clock at night and you are stopping at a petrol station. So I just think you’ve got to really defend yourself against all these things. And the best way I always talk about is meal prep. Can you batch cook a big batch of bolognaise or chilli or veg curry or overnight oats, just things you can do that aren’t going to cost you the earth and that you can just have in your kitchen or in your fridge, you can take a little bit to work, have it cold or heat up and stuff in the microwave. I just think it’s those small, little lifestyle changes, but it all comes down to time and prioritising that time and just saying like, look, I haven’t got much time in the week, so I’ve got to do this on a Sunday, I’ve got to do an hour or two in the kitchen and get myself organised for a few days and that can be life changing. That one simple thing could be completely transformative to your life because you’re not going to rely on the meal deals and the takeaways and Deliveroos and things. And I think it’s just that thing of you’ve got to just work out what can really fit into your life. Don’t do something that’s really impossible. Don’t do something that’s going to stress you out and do something that can just effortlessly and seamlessly actually fit into your life, not just for a week, but for a month and six months and then a year. And then the weight loss comes and the transformation comes. But I think people put too much pressure on themselves, trying to too much too soon and often end up falling at the first hurdle.

Dr Louise Newson [00:28:50] Yeah, absolutely. And setting yourself up to fail is just awful. And it’s really hard, especially if you don’t have your hormones on post. So, Joe, I’m really grateful for your time. I listen to you all day, you’re just so fantastic. But before I end on, I’m going to put you on the spot. So I always do three take home tips for the podcast. So I want to ask you what three things you’d recommend for those women who, or men, say whom just may be struggling without much motivation, but they would like to get back into exercise. So what three things would you recommend?

Joe Wicks [00:29:22] Well, number one, I always say, you have to prioritise sleep, so make that your number one priority because we do start really late. We get hooked on the next series of You on Netflix or we binge watch a series on Amazon Prime and we kind of as human beings, we deprive ourselves of sleep. So try to celebrate an early night. See it as an investment, if you sleep an extra hour, you’re going to wake up more energy to work out. So sleep really is an investment. The second thing, if you can and your schedule allows, try and do a morning workout. I think it is so transformative to how you see the world and how you take on stress and how you can take on pressure at work. It can help with your relationships with your children, your family, it is so good. So if you can, switch your life upside down from an evening workout, if you can, to a morning workout. I think it’s so good. And then thirdly, yeah, you know, I’ve been saying this since the very early days of Lean in 15, prep like a boss. So prep your meals, do a shopping list, get the ingredients, you know, protect yourself against the fast food and all these takeaways and all these kind of convenience foods that are just there every minute of every day, by preparing your own meals and setting yourself up. You are literally setting yourself up for success. So sleep, daily movement in the morning, whatever you can do and meal prepping on a weekend is going to really make a difference to how you live your life.

Dr Louise Newson [00:30:34] Fantastic, you make everything sound so easy. Thanks so much. I really appreciate your time today. So thanks Joe

Joe Wicks [00:30:40] Thank you. Yeah, we could talk ages couldn’t we, but I hope you enjoyed the chat and look forward to seeing you soon.

Louise Newson [00:30:47] For more information about the perimenopause and menopause, please visit my website Or you can download the free balance app, which is available to download from the App Store or from Google Play.


Joe Wicks: how to exercise and stay active during the menopause

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