Two things in life are constant: death and taxes. But if you’re a menopausal woman, there’s a third: weight gain.
Look back to when you were in your thirties, when overindulging on chocolate chip cookies and burgers would cost you a few unwanted pounds. Nothing that watching your weight or joining a gym wouldn’t take care of, right? After a few months, you can expect to lose that extra weight.
However, two decades later, things are little different. When you step onto the scale, lo and behold! You’re several pounds heavier—and to think you’ve been carefully watching what you put on your plate! And you make sure to exercise regularly; however, each time you look in the mirror, you can’t help but wonder, “Where did my waist go?”
Time Is Relentless. So Are Hormonal Changes
There are plenty of other women who share the same story (and predicament) you do. So many changes take place in a woman’s body during menopause—most of them at the hormonal level—that it seems our metabolism just can’t keep up. Exercise and diet have lost their magic. Understandably, you feel betrayed, confused, and you may even want to ask, “What’s going on?”
Who Is Getting Caught In the Middle?
Apparently, wisdom isn’t the only thing we gain as we age; we get additional inches around our waist too. During menopause, our body’s adipocytes or fat cells store more fat due to hormonal changes. To make matters worse, the area where our body stores the most fat changes from our hips and thighs to our torso. (Apparently, there’s even a term for it: “muffin top” or “spare tire”). Additionally, you also lose muscle mass with age. It’s a bitter reality to accept, but our body really does change rapidly during menopause.
Luckily, all isn’t lost. The key to reducing or preventing weight gain during and after menopause is maintaining muscle mass. However, a busy schedule can often get in the way of a woman’s plan to exercise. Fortunately, you don’t have to necessarily enroll in a high-intensity workout class or run for several hours a day. Gentle exercises that don’t take more than an hour to do—walking, swimming, yoga, or Pilates, for instance—can already do much in improving your muscle mass.
Weight gain during menopause may also be triggered by several other factors, among them constant stress, medications, and health conditions (insulin resistance and hypothyroidism, for instance). Have a look at your family history too, as weight gain and body shape can be passed on through your genes. You are likely to pack on pounds around the midsection if your mother (and grandmother) did too.
When it comes to the food you eat, you don’t necessarily have to starve yourself just to keep menopausal weight gain at bay. Practice mindful eating by opting for lean meat (like chicken and fish) and leafy greens. Also, make sure to choose complex carbohydrates (whole grains and fiber-rich food) over simple ones, such as those found in white bread and sugary snacks. Lastly, while you may think a glass of wine or beer at night is harmless, take note that alcoholic drinks still contain calories, and empty calories, when consumed regularly, still add up overtime.
Start Off Small Now So You Don’t Get Big Later
You don’t need to resort to drastic or severe measures when regulating or managing your weight during menopause. Making small, incremental changes to your diet and activity levels is sometimes enough to tide you through the changes that come with this period. Most importantly, don’t forget to practice self-care. Don’t be too harsh on yourself if you’ve gained weight despite your best efforts, or if you skipped the gym for a day. Remember that no matter how old you are or what stage of life you are in, you can and will lose weight if you couple your efforts with self-love, patience, and determination.
Another option to consider is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) designed to relieve the symptoms of menopause and restore hormonal balance. One of many positive effects of BHRT is stopping and reversing fat accumulation around your midsection. Click here to schedule a free consultation with our doctor and see what your options are.