Liberty X singer and one of the stars of TV’s The Real Full Monty, Michelle Heaton, 38, experienced a premature menopause at 35. Like actress Angelina Jolie, she was diagnosed with the BRCA2 gene and opted for surgery
1. Deciding to have surgery I discovered I had the BRCA2 gene for breast and ovarian cancer when my daughter Faith was six weeks old. I’d had a blood test after my dad’s mum was diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer. My great-grandmother had died of ovarian cancer, and my dad was identified as a carrier for the gene mutation. I was given an 80% chance of developing breast cancer and a 40% chance of developing ovarian cancer. I was 32. Six months later, I had a double mastectomy. Then, three years after that, when my son AJ was six months old, I had a hysterectomy. This put me into a premature menopause at the age of 35 and I now have a HRT implant.
2. Managing my weight Staying slim doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m really a fat Michelle Heaton screaming to get out! I eat everything in moderation and try not to be too strict, as otherwise I’ll overindulge and binge or eat in secret. It’s not that I’ve suddenly got fat in the menopause, but things are different – the weight is distributed differently. Firstly, I started putting on weight around my tummy, and things that would normally have fitted around the hips don’t any more. I’ve gained about 5lb – I fluctuate between 8st 5lb and 8st 10lb, and I’m just under 5ft.
Michelle Heaton normally eats an egg-white omelette for breakfast
Find our omelette recipes here.
3. Exercise helps me cope with stress I exercise most days – I like weights and high-intensity training, and I go for runs. I’m not fast, but I like to run long distances. I can keep going for an hour and a half to two hours – I run like Forrest Gump. I prefer running to walking, but I do walk when I have Faith with me as she refuses to run. Releasing those healthy endorphins every day is so important to me. I force myself to get up and do it first thing. I’ll go at 6am, or later if my husband can do the school drop-off. I’ve always needed my gym time, but never more so than in menopause. It’s become a tonic for me. I wish I could prescribe the gym for every menopausal woman. On average, we gain between 5lb and 7lb during the menopause. However you choose to exercise, your menopause symptoms and energy levels will improve if you get the blood flowing a few times a week.
She drinks a homemade protein mocha, mid-morning
4. Dealing with my emotions I’ve had to learn to deal with my rage and my fluctuating hormone levels, two very young children and a career. I’ve made my daughter cry, and that just wasn’t me, and I’ve made my husband very upset, and that wasn’t me, either. But thank goodness I’ve found a little bit of peace with Femarelle, a herbal supplement. It’s only been a few months and I’m not saying everything is always rosy, but I’m already seeing the difference. It’s helped with my anxiety levels and I’m hoping it will help me with insomnia, too. I take it as a top-up for my HRT implant. I checked with my GP first that it was OK, as it depends on what dose of HRT you are on.
5. I follow a healthy-carb diet. There’s a misconception about carbs – the right kind are important in a healthy diet. I don’t eat pastries or starchy breads, but I do eat vegetables and fruits, lentils and sweet potatoes, for example. This summer, I’ve been back on the road with the Liberty X girls – we’ve done 35 gigs. I love being on stage as it helps with my stress levels and I find stress actually decreases when I’m busy, which is weird. I don’t procrastinate and I just get on with it.
Michelle Heaton uses Femarelle has been designed to help alleviate menopausal symptoms. It combines DT56a, a soya extract, with a selected blend of vitamins and minerals. It’s available in three formulas (around £26.99 for 28-day supply) at Holland & Barrett, Weldricks and chemistdirect.co.uk.