Menopause. I have gained weight. And I hate it. Yes, I hate it a lot!
So I’ve come to the internet , talked with my doctor and I think I have a better understanding as to what the hell is going on with me and what I need to do to fix it. This is not going to beat me. Tired of people saying “Well you are over 50 now. You’re not as young as you used to be. You can’t expect to look like you did 30 years ago”. So what!!!! Doesn’t mean I have to throw in the towel and just accept.
I have helped a ton of women over the years beat the battle of bulge. Menopausal or not.
So what have I discovered in my research and questions?
Well, let’s start here.
Your Metabolism Slows Down During MenopauseYour Metabolism Slows Down During Menopause! What can you do about it? Click To Tweet
What does a slow metabolism look like?
The obvious symptom of a slow metabolism is unexpected weight gain or difficulty losing weight, but if your metabolism is really slow, there may be other signs as well:
Feeling tired all the time
Loss of hair
What causes your metabolism to be slow?
It seems like weight gain and menopause go hand in hand. Many women who were not previously overweight start to put on pounds during menopause. Women who were previously overweight may find that they have an even harder time keeping pounds off. So why does this happen?
Some of the reasons your metabolism may have slowed down are:
Loss of muscle mass
Lower activity levels
Lack of sleep
Lower Estrogen Levels
Lower estrogen levels seem to be associated with a lower metabolic rate and an increased difficulty with keeping weight under control. Since these hormones are changing and some are diminishing during the menopause years and since insulin and cortisol may be the primary culprits in female belly fat storage, the transition into menopause often results in fat gain especially around the middle.
I might have to start with that Estrogen cream sitting inn a drawer. But I am keeping that as a last resort. We can do this without! I am sure of it!!!
Low Thyroid hormones
Hypothyroidism is common in menopausal women. Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism. When it produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down. The thyroid hormones tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and become more metabolically active. Ideally it should work to keep your metabolism just right. But in Menopause, it can just get off track.
What can you do? If you have symptoms of hypothyroidism (weight gain, hair loss, feeling cold) this is where you need to ask your physician to check your levels.
Loss Of Muscle Mass
As we age, we slowly lose a little bit of muscle every year if we are not actively replacing it. By the time menopause rolls around, less muscle and less activity can slow down your metabolism and your body’s ability to burn calories, even at rest.
Muscle mass loss occurs mostly because you don’t use it. So get off the couch!!! There can also be a decline due to lowering levels of testosterone and other age related factors. Ugh. Here we go with the age thing again.
Because muscle uses more calories than fat it helps to keep your metabolism from slowing down. Losing muscle mass means your body doesn’t have to work as hard. So the metabolism slows in effect. Chronic dieting also contributes to lower muscle mass. See The Biggest Thing Women Do Wrong When Trying To Lose Weight
What can you do? Get moving for starters. Even if it just a walk around the block to start. Weight training will also help.
What else contributes to weight gain??
Lower Activity levels
As we get older, our activity levels seem to drop for some. Yep, aches and pains in our body start to add up. This can make us feel less motivated to work out and get the exercise we need. As I said above, when you move less, you have less muscle and gain more weight. It is that simple. Get moving not only for weight management but to keep your joints and bones healthy.
We spend less time playing sports and less time in every day activity. Menopausal women are often too busy with careers, and families to even think about exercise.
What can you do? If you can’t seem fit in a regular exercise program, then incorporate movement into your day . Take the stairs when you can, park further away than you need to, or take a walk through your lunch break.
Not enough sleep
There is so much research that shows that sleep can affect your metabolic rate. We should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night. I know right? Where do I find the time? You want me to exercise and sleep? Get a grip!!! I need to address the night sweats that contribute to my sleepless nights.
Let’s face it, there can be many new and difficult challenges that come during this period in life. Children leaving or marrying, caring for aging parents, a spousal death or illness, job changes or nearing retirement—all these things add stress. Stress can increase your body’s levels of cortisol, a hormone which can cause you to pack on the pounds. It can be particularly problematic for belly fat.Stress can increase your body’s levels of cortisol, a hormone which can cause you to pack on the pounds. It can be particularly problematic for belly fat. Click To Tweet
OK So these are the reasons I may be gaining weight. So…. what can I do to combat it? Let’s break it down even further than above.
Eat Quality Food
This is a no-brainer…… you need good quality food to maintain a healthy weight. Eat foods that are rich in fiber, minerals, and vitamins like dark, leafy greens, brightly-colored vegetables and fruits, lean meat and fish. Carefully choose foods that reduce inflammation in the body and avoid white, starchy or sugary carbs that spike blood sugar and end up getting stored as fat. At the end of the day, at this menopausal time of life, you want to have eaten more real food, and less processed foods.
Watch your calorie intake. What may have been working for weight loss in the past, may not be working now. Talk to a trainer or nutritionist. You may need cut calories a little more.
Limit Sugar Intake
Not only can excess sugar cause you to pack on the pounds, but excess sugar makes menopausal symptoms worse. Hot flashes and night sweats are often more severe in people who eat more sugar. Yep I said it. Chuck that ice cream and cookies. Reduce your daily sugar intake for your waistline as well as your hot flashes. Need something sweet? I hear ya!! Try a piece of fruit instead. Your waist line will thank you.
Stay Consistent With Exercise
Consistency is the key here ladies!! Lift Weights!! Remember, you are experiencing muscle loss as your metabolism is slowing down. You need muscle to burn calories, so get out those weight and start lifting. They don’t have to be heavy weights either. Start small. You can work your way up. Cardiovascular activity is equally as important. It will strengthen your heart, and increase your energy. And to top it off!! It is a natural stress reliever. I have never finished a workout and said…….” I wish I hadn’t worked out!”
Getting your body moving, inhaling oxygen, increasing your heart rate, sweating and working those muscles are not just needed to take off a few pounds. In order to maintain lean muscle mass, bone density, cardiovascular health and structure exercise should be incorporated into everyday health. It is a win win situation.
Exercise can also be beneficial to mental health resolving symptoms of depression and anxiety. When you exercise your mind has the ability to check out or stop thinking about the things that are causing you to be depressed. This is often defined as “mindfulness” being in the present moment.
Let’s face it, as good as it feels, sometimes it is boring To keep myself motivated I will choose a Netflix series I like. Each episode is 45-60 minutes long, which is the length of time I want to walk on the treadmill.
Check In With Your Doctor
As I said above. It doesn’t hurt to have your hormone levels checked and discuss what is happening with your doctor. Some things are just part of the process of aging, while others might benefit from medical attention or different treatments.
Don’t underestimate the power of water. You should drink at least 8-12 glasses of water per day. At least! It will help with weight loss, and energy levels. I know this may seem like a difficult task for some people, but once you get started sipping on water all day, it gets much easier and automatic. I just have a couple full bottle of water with me at all times. But a large one and mark off where the volume should be down to by the time of day. It will keep you accountable.
Get Proper Sleep
I know, I know. This is easier said than done at this point of our lives, ladies, but we all know by now how important proper sleep is to our overall good health.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible. This may help prevent some of the night-time restlessness.
Staying as cool as possible during the night is also helpful. I think I have a fan in every room of the house.
If you stay within your daily calorie limit, exercise regularly, get lots of sleep, and stay hydrated…. YOU WILL MAKE YOUR GOAL! It’s that simple. I know it sounds easy, and you will have weak moments. You cannot change what you did 5 minutes ago so move forward and focus on what you are doing now. You WILL make progress.
Comment below with your thoughts, or if you have any ways to combat the weight gain that have worked for you. I would love to hear from you!!
Loving life one day at a time!