Menopausal weight gain can have consequences more serious than outgrowing your favorite pair of jeans. Find out how middle age spread affects your body and what you can do about it.
Facts about Menopausal Weight Gain
As estrogen levels drop during menopause, your metabolism slows down. Your body burns fewer calories and stores more fat.
Watch your waistline.
Extra pounds you gain after menopause are likely to turn into abdominal fat, which increases your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions. Talk with your doctor if your waistline is 35 inches or more.
Check your thyroid.
Menopause and thyroid conditions can cause similar symptoms including increased weight, as well as depression and fatigue. Your doctor can advise you about whether you would benefit from testing.
If you’ve been thin your whole life, you may be surprised to see the scale edging up. It’s natural if you to need to eat less and move more to maintain your dress size.
Using Your Diet to Fight Menopausal Weight Gain
Putting on extra pounds later in life is common, but not inevitable. A University of Pittsburgh study found that women who made two simple changes in the way they eat lost dramatically more weight.
Take a look at their secret:
Skip desserts and soda.
Women who consumed fewer desserts and sugary drinks lost almost eight times more weight than their peers in that Pittsburgh study. Switch to fruit and water instead.
.You can also eat less by controlling your portion sizes and choosing nutrient-dense foods. That way you can keep up your energy while you stay trim.
Dine at home
Cooking your own meals gives you more control. Restaurants tend to use more fat and sodium than you would.
Some experts believe that plants have isoflavones that function like human estrogen. You may want to try tofu or soy milk to relieve night sweats and help you sleep.
Most women can get all the nutrients they need from a balanced diet. However, your doctor may recommend supplements, including iron and calcium, based on your individual needs.
Using Exercise to Fight Menopausal Weight Gain
Almost 80% of adults don’t exercise enough according to the CDC, and older adults are even more likely to be inactive. Once you start working out, you’ll burn more calories and experience other benefits like strengthening your bones and relieving stress.
Train in intervals
Structure your workouts so that you alternate between brief bursts of high-intensity movements and gentler exercises. You’ll burn more calories and fat, condition your heart, and increase your metabolism while spending less time at the gym.
You lose muscle mass as you age, but you can slow down the process. Lift dumbbells or do body weight exercises like dips and pushups.
Work on balance
Enhancing your balance can protect you from falls, correct your posture, and sharpen your thinking. Sign up for yoga classes or train at home. Try doing squats while standing on your toes or sit on a stability ball when you’re watching TV.
In addition to formal exercise, you can incorporate more activity into your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car a few blocks away from the office so you can walk the remaining distance.
Women gain an average of 10 pounds around menopause, but diet and exercise can minimize the effects. Slimming down will help you to stay healthy and enjoy your golden years.
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I really wanted to talk about this topic today because the overweight and obesity epidemic is at an all-time high! We are a fat society and it’s killing us prematurely. Not only do I truly believe that you have the power to lose weight to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of obesity so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you lose weight, and maybe reverse some of your chronic diseases. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Since weight management is very important in combatting chronic diseases, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor (*this scale cannot be used with a pacemaker or other implanted devices).
Physical activity (or exercise) can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Physical activity can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even help you maintain a healthy weight.
I often recommend yoga and resistance training for physical activity, but as you are aware, there are plenty of forms of “movement” that you can do! But for the basics, especially if you’re just getting started, yoga and resistance training are where I would start.
Yoga can be a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, manage your stress, improve your heart health, and lose weight! I recommend using a grounded yoga mat to connect yourself with the earth and reduce inflammation.
Resistance training is the mainstay for overall health. It not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength. Check out some basic dumbbells/free weights that I recommend to everyone.
Another alternative for dumbbells/free weights are resistance bands. They are great for physical therapy, yoga, strength training, and excellent for traveling.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet, regular physical activity, and reducing stress are the best ways to maintain a healthy weight. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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