Why do menopausal women struggle with weight gain around the middle section of their bodies?
This is definitely a touchy topic in more ways than one! As a middle aged woman myself, I have had to come to terms with the fact that, three children later, my body has changed and that the flat tummy and lean legs of my twenties have probably gone for good!
I have come to rather like my 'love handles' and my curvy body, but I also know that I have to keep an eye on it - because if I don't I could be in for a new wardrobe quicker than I imagined! I am not a fan of dieting and frantic exercise, but I AM a fan of being healthy - so I want to share with you some of the reasons women tend to put on weight more easily after 40 and what YOU can do to sail into middle age and beyond with the body you love!
Why do many menopausal women struggle with weight gain?
The answer lies in the mechanics of aging and hormones. As we age, muscle mass decreases and fat tends to increase. During menopause we have the 'double whammy' of hormonal changes and fluctuations - leading to fat storage around the tummy and decreased metabolism (the rate at which we burn fat). That being said, a lot CAN be done to stop the 'middle age spread' seen after 40 years of age.
10 Tips and Tricks to stop menopause weight gain after age 40!
1. Get corrected.
Hormonal balance. Those two words can make all the difference! Decreased levels of progesterone and oestrogen can cause not only hot flashes, mood swings and insomnia, but also a greater tendency to gain weight. It makes sense then, that a balance of these hormones would lead to lesser symptoms and a smoother transition. Because HRT therapy has been tied to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, natural remedies for female hormonal balance are gaining popularity with thousands of women singing the praises of natural ingredients to balance hormones. My favorite? Don Quai - a Chinese herb that has been used for thousands of years to support female hormonal health and balance.
Because your metabolism slows slightly during menopause, we need to look at the magic equation - calories consumed vs calories used (i.e. exercise). If you are not terribly keen on upping your exercise daily, it's recommended that you cut your daily intake of calories by 50 - 100 units. Hormonal changes during menopause slow the average women's metabolism by 55 calories per day - so if you adjust accordingly it can really help to avoid weight gain! If you are fond of your food like me - try adding 30 minutes of exercise to your daily routine. I like to go for a brisk walk every day - good for body and soul!
3. Watch out!
Although we've heard it all before, refined sugars and flours, as well as junk food with all the wrong fats CAN lead to weight gain - so better to avoid them. It can be infuriating watching one's teenage daughter munch fries and chocolate and never gain an inch BUT it is much more infuriating to find that you can't fit into last season's clothes!
I have to tell you, I have never been that fond of fast food, but chocolate is something I have learnt to keep for an occasional treat! A high fibre diet, fresh fruit and vegetables and lots of delicious water is healthy and wonder of wonders, can even become quite enjoyable if you use your imagination! A bonus is no more constipation, bloating or tiredness!
During menopause, as in pregnancy, you may experience certain food cravings - and the best bet is to listen to your body! Menopause can trigger cravings as much as during pregnancy, and while it's not recommended to indulge in unhealthy foods, if you really crave something it may be your body's way of letting you know that you are deficient in particular nutrients (so if you crave ice cream, try yogurt instead for dairy and calcium!).
5. B good!
B-complex vitamins may help with water retention and bloating, so make sure that you eat some of these foods every day: bananas, cereals (oats, bran), lentils, tuna, potatoes and turkey. Cramping, anxiety, depression, irritability and menopausal mood swings are also alleviated by B-complex rich foods, so stock up the pantry with leafy green vegetables and B-complex foods….
Because menopause can stress the body during hormonal changes, it's essential to replace depleted minerals and vitamins. Speak to our doctor or pharmacist about supplementing your diet with a well-balanced multivitamin formulated for menopause and post-menopause.
One of the most popular menopause remedies that I have formulated is MellowPause. Along with Don Quai, I wouldn't be without MellowPause which works wonders for hot flashes and mood swings!
Whatever you do, don't forget to MOVE! During menopause, women who are aiming to maintain their ideal weight, should do 30-40 minutes of exercise 5-7 days per week. This may sound like a lot, but remember that a walk to the shops and back could take 30 minutes, or walking the dogs. Park away from your office and take the stairs - it can all add up to less of a bulge on your hips! I do really well when I walk every day and I even look forward to it now! It doesn't really matter what you do - dance, yoga, pilates, swim walk - but do it!
Because menopause and aging tends to decrease muscle mass in the body, it's a good idea to start yoga or pilates - or any resistance training activity. This tones up flab and helps to fight weight gain - because muscle needs more calories than fat does to sustain itself. This is an important thing to remember! Even while you're not working out, any muscle that you have on your body will be burning calories! For this reason, during menopause, it is recommended to work weight training into your routine at the gym or start yoga or Pilates classes (remember to let the instructor know that you are a beginner and they can help you choose appropriate weights to start off with).
During menopause you may notice that certain areas of your body need extra attention. Extra weight tends to gather around the waist and stomach, (before menopause you may have been prone to weight gain in the hips and thighs). You may even notice that your body shape changes slightly from a 'pear shape' (smaller waist larger hips) to an 'apple shape' (larger middle and tummy, skinnier legs, flatter buttocks). This is fairly normal due to hormonal changes and aging, so you shouldn't worry about it too much (within reason of course!) - BUT you can minimize this change by targeting specific areas and adjusting your exercise to combat this. Try stomach crunches and sit-ups to target the belly area, squats to lift the butt and tone hips. I have to admit, this is not my idea of fun, but I try to work sit ups and tummy crunches into my routine as much as possible (early morning works best because then I get it out the way!)
I kept the best for last! Menopause is a transition that every women goes through - so look at it like a right of passage to a better phase of life - with certain freedoms and advantages too! No more sanitary pads or tampons, no more checking the dates for ovulation times, no more worries about falling pregnant! What a pleasure! It's very important to own this change of life and love who you are becoming - a woman who has passed the threshold with treasured memories and a new awakening of zest and possibilities. With the right management, menopause can be 'mellow' and a short detour in the road ahead to new things!
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