During menopause hormones shift and change sometimes so radically that we often experience significant weight gain (more fat) around the belly.
Most of the weight we gain in middle age is related to how our body is changing and, the lifestyle we have. Genetics play a role as well.
Menopause and weight gain. They go together.
As we get older our muscle mass diminishes and fat stores increase. Since larger muscle mass increases the rate at which your body burns off calories, as we lose muscle mass losing excess weight becomes more difficult...and gaining weight happens more easily.
The truth of the matter is, as we get older we simply cannot eat the same foods and in the same quantities we could when we were younger. You’ve probably noticed this, right?
The stressors that come with middle age contribute to weight gain as well. Raising teenagers, empty nest syndrome, divorce, death of a spouse, and other life changes can all be stress producing.
When stressed, the body produces higher levels of cortisol and science tells us higher levels of cortisol can cause the body to stop burning calories and hold on to stored fat.
Experts in the medical field tell us that gaining weight in the form of fat around the abdomen has been linked to some very serious health risks. Heart disease, Type II diabetes, colorectal cancer and breast cancer have all been found to be higher risk in women who are overweight after menopause.
So what can you do about it?
- Move your body – in particular ways. Strength training by means of light weight lifting (seek a professional trainer to teach you technique so you don’t injure yourself) or other forms of resistance training can help you increase muscle. As you gain muscle, your body burns calories more efficiently. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends regular activity such as brisk walking, for at least 30 minutes each day 5 days per week. Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for women after menopause because it’s easy on the joints and provides resistance for strength. Exercise addresses leptin resistance also – another issue for women over 40. Additionally, creating a very gentle yoga practice can help with flexibility, healthy joints and stronger muscles.
- Mind your food choices. Gone are the days of being able to mindlessly munch on chips and cookies. It’s important to choose foods that are nutritionally dense and eat only healthy fats in small quantities. Opt for 7 cups of brightly colored, high fiber vegetables and fruits (aim for 4 veggie servings and 3 fruits) daily and go for lean sources of protein. Start with my free 7 day Kickstart program!
- Start juicing and blending daily. Juicing and blending are two incredible ways to get high doses of powerful phytonutrients from organic greens and other veggies and fruits. Read more about these benefits here.
- Embrace healthy fats and quit the bad fats now! It is critical when we get over the age of 40 we pay very close attention to the quality AND quantity of our fat intake. It can make or break your health in mid-life. Read more about the wonders of healthy fats.
- Learn to Relax. As simple as it may sound, this is a crucial element of a satisfying and successful weight management lifestyle. While we can’t eliminate sources of stress, we can learn to cope. Learning how to relax in body and mind can lower cortisol levels and contribute to healthy weight maintenance. See my article on how to relax. Gentle yoga and meditation can be a great help here as well.
- Sleep Well. When the brain and body are able to get to a deep level of rest, this is when critical repair, healing, and even burning of unnecessary fat can happen. If you can make a habit of not eating for 3-4 hours before bedtime, create a routine of relaxation an hour before bed and maybe take a natural supplement containing melatonin and magnesium citrate or magnesium lactate, you’ll experience better quality of sleep. Taking an epsom salt bath with 1/2 cup of baking soda and some lavender essential oil an help induce deeper rest.
- Drink Plenty of Water. Drinking enough water each day keeps the body flushed out, allowing the liver, gall bladder, kidneys and intestines to all do their jobs efficiently so you’re body can properly metabolize the food you are eating and let go of toxins. Check out my article on how much water to drink here.
- Get Support. You can’t do this in a vacuum. In the beginning, professional coaching support can not only provide you a customized program but also can give you that encouragement knowing someone’s there to help. Also, it’s important to surround yourself with people who are in your corner and will be supportive of your new lifestyle plan. Avoid those who sabotage your efforts.
Losing excess weight and keeping it off after menopause requires new habits and lasting changes in your lifestyle.
If you want to feel better, look your best and be as healthy as you can be, get started on these suggestions and if you need extra help getting started sign up for my free 7 day kickstart program or jump right into my new 12 week Mind-Body program for weight loss called The Weight is Over!
Lynn Louise Wonders