How to Deal with Weight Gain Due to Menopause
Many of my clients report being frustrated that what used to work to keep their bodies slim and healthy just doesn’t work anymore after menopause. There are physiological changes as women age that affect our metabolism. Increased belly fat after menopause is very common.
You are not alone and there is definitely a solution.
First let’s just get clear on one thing – menopause is not a problem! – it is a natural phase of life. By the time we are in our 40s, 50s, or 60s we have experienced lots of life and we are stronger and sexier than ever. We do not need to be fixed instead we may just need to adapt and learn new ways of treating our body to ensure optimal health.
Average Weight Gain Due to Menopause
Some of our less healthy habits that we could get away with when we are younger just don’t serve us as we age. Our hormones are shifting and this changes how our metabolism works. The average weight gain due to menopause is 10 – 15 pounds. In fact, one study says, “obesity and metabolic syndrome are found in women in this period of their life three times more often than before menopause”. And “The incidence of obesity in the United States among women between 40 and 65 years is calculated as 65%, and among women over the age of 65 as almost 74%”.
These are alarming statistics! After menopause we are three times more likely to be obese and 74% of women over 65 years are obese!!! I will not accept this – NO – this does not have to be the case we can do something about this!
It can start with you and me. It just takes some simple shifts in your diet and lifestyle.
Getting Back to Basics
What to do? Well it is about getting back to basics, exercise, sleep, stress reduction, water, and nutrition. Because our bodies are changing due to our hormones shifting, we may need to approach these basics from a different angle. We can rethink what we have been doing and make changes in these basics that will have us losing that weight gain due to menopause and feeling amazing again!
First is Exercise
It is sooooo important for so many reasons to keep active during menopause. You will alleviate so many other menopausal symptoms (think hot flashes, mood swings, etc.) and maintain a
Not only does physical activity burn calories but it also helps to curb appetite and boost our mood. On days when we exercise, we actually tend to want to eat healthy foods and have less cravings for sweets or junk food. Find exercise that you can enjoy. It doesn’t have to be a chore – it can be fun!
General Movement Counts
I recommend 30 minutes of exercise every day of the week if possible. In addition to exercise I urge clients to stay active throughout the day. One measure of this is how many steps you get each day. It is not enough to just be active for 30 minutes of the day and then sit at a desk for the rest of the day and then lay on the couch for the evening. General movement adds up and the more steps you can get in naturally through your day the better.
Make it Fun
Some ideas for general movement are to go for a walk at night, take a bike ride, mow the lawn or do gardening, clean the house, play with the dog, go shopping. Whatever gets you up and moving and staying active.
Sleep is Important
Many women have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep as they age. In order to lose
weight gained due to menopause we need to work on sleep. Sleep is important for healthy
Creating a bedtime ritual can help with sleep. Try to turn off all electronics an hour before bed. You can use this time to have a warm cup or tea, take a bath, or read a good book. Something to signal to your body that it is time to wind down and relax.
Sleep Inducing Tea
Herbs can also be a good support for promoting sleep. One of my favorite sleep inducing herbs is valerian. You can take this as a tea or in supplement form. Valerian may even help with hot flashes too!
Stress Reduction is Needed
Life can be crazy – I get it, but that stress works against our weight loss goals in a couple ways. First, stress raises our cortisol levels which can create an imbalance in our hormones and stall our digestion. Secondly, stress can cause us to turn to less nutritious food options and ignore the hunger and satiety signals in our body.
Practicing yoga, going for a walk, taking a bath all of these are great stress reduction options that don’t involve food.
Water, Water, and more Water
Water is needed for many processes in the body. Ideally you should be drinking ½ your body weight in ounces of water each day. Increasing your water can help you to shed that menopause weight gain by minimizing sugar cravings and giving you more energy to be active.
Water is also one of the main ways our body flushes out toxins, many of which have been linked with obesity, so drink up – flush those toxins out of your system and optimize your metabolism!
What foods to eat
As we age, we need less calories than we did when we were young. This may seem unfair but it is a reality and thus we need to be conscious of eating when we are hungry rather than just out of habit. We need to fuel our bodies and our hunger will signal this but if we continue to eat the same amount of food we ate when we were younger, we will gain weight.
Since we should be eating less food, it becomes even more important to focus on the types of foods we eat, i.e. the quality of our food. This is where a consultation with a licensed nutritionist or registered dietitian can be helpful. I look at my clients current diet and help them shift to more whole foods, including lots of fruits and veggies.
Importance of fiber for weight loss
Fiber is one of the quality measures of a diet that often goes unnoticed, but this becomes even more important as we age. One of the ways we maintain hormone balancing and optimum detoxification in the body is through regular bowel movements. In addition, regular bowel movements help to prevent colon cancer. Fiber is critical for maintaining regularity. Adding 2 T of ground flaxseed to your diet daily is great for estrogen balancing and regularity. You can add it to your oatmeal or smoothie or sprinkle it on your salad.
Protein is important
I help my clients to understand how to balance macronutrients and ensure they are getting enough protein and healthy fats in their diets. While this is important for everyone, it becomes even more important when dealing with weight gain due to menopause, because it is well known that women are more at risk for insulin resistance post menopause.
Lab analysis for insulin resistance and food sensitivities which impact menopausal weight loss
Insulin resistance increases women’s risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. It is reversible though with diet and lifestyle. Therefore, to avoid insulin resistance during menopause it becomes particularly important to focus on diet and lifestyle. One of the signs of insulin resistance is belly fat, so if you are experiencing recent weight gain around the midsection it is good to get some baseline bloodwork done to understand how your metabolism is functioning.
When insulin resistance is present, it is harder for your body to burn fat and I typically lean away from food eliminations, but for certain people food sensitivities do increase with age and can cause bloating and that menopause belly. With some clients it becomes necessary to try eliminating gluten, sugar and/or dairy. With testing we are able to determine what foods may be creating difficulty in your body.
The Best Time To Start
I know you may be scared that you will never be able to wear those skinny jeans again and that you will always have a little extra belly. This is not the case – I have helped so many older women to lose weight and feel awesome in their bodies. You can do it too! You just need to start. Imagine you can look back in three months and still be wishing you could lose that menopause weight gain or you could start now and three months from now be down a pants size and have people remarking how amazing you look!
Book a free discovery call with me and we can talk about how I can help you feel fabulous!
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