Menopausal Weight Gain & what to do about it

Menopausal weight gain has arrived and announced itself: "Hello, I'm middle age spread!" You've got a couple of choices when it comes to menopause and weight gain: You can stress and feel frantic about it as many women tend to. And frankly given the thin obsessed culture we live in - where even women in their 60's have the bodies of 30-year olds- that's totally understandable. Of course they may have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on nips and tucks - but still!  But have you ever considered that stressing about it may just be the very thing that's increasing your weight?

Stressing about Menopausal weight gain

Here's the problem with stressing about it though -- stress in itself researchers know lead to:

  • comfort eating 
  • stress burns up the hormone Serotonin which results in eating means more high-calorie snack-type foods and fewer fruits and vegetables, 
  • but mostly....the more we stress (whether it's about dieting or not) the more our body release stress hormones like Cortisol that cause hormonal weight gain...and guess what - all around the middle. We literally change our biology moment by moment when we're having a 'fat day' because your biology is triggered by your emotions and thoughts.
  • cortisol and fat, cortisol and weight gain

    Losing sleep over middle-aged spread

    You could lose sleep about menopausal weight gain. However, Dr. Eve Caulter from the National Sleep Institute claims that a lack of sleep may be the "royal route to obesity." And one of the problem might be that you're already losing sleep due to hot flushes and night sweats, which may be exacerbating your menopausal weight gain and middle age spread.

    You could head off down to your local pharmacy to those shelves that hold all those miracle 'lose 40lbs in 4 week' cures - you know one of those famous lose weight quick diets. Only problem is they help you lose water and muscle and help your body become a more efficient fat storage container, and the weight you'll regain when you stop them will come back in double quick time. They are definitely NOT the solution to middle age spread. But responding to your menopausal body with intuitive eating and a diet of body-fun and self-love...that's a solution I can buy into.

    Understanding menopausal symptoms

    Get to know the symptoms of menopause that impact on--and possibly exacerbate--how you're feeling about your menopausal weight gain.

    Understand what is happening in your body and over which you seem to have little or no control. At least knowledge can reduce your levels of stress about it and make you feel more in control.

    While there are many other symptoms too - these are the ones I've chosen because of how they might impact on how you feel about yourself.

    So while middle age spread may be the one you most confront every time you dress, this is a time to look at yourself through the eyes of love and maintain your sense of humor because, you're most likely also having to contend with:

    • a faulty mirror - surely I can't suddenly be getting all these wrinkles and cherry moles? Your skin may change and feel thinner and less elastic 
    • your breasts may become less firm (um and probably more gravity fueled too. Mine seem to be having a race to see which of them are going to touch my toes first! You'd swear there was some kind of prize for the one that wins this contest.)
    • facial hair... and here's the irony, you may actually find you start losing the hair on your head (which you don't want to do) and start gaining it on your upper lip and chin!
    • power surges--that's what I prefer to call hot flashes. I've had the occasional one that felt like it could have powered the whole of New York for a night! 
    • damp sheets (and usually not from wild sex like in the good old days) from all those night sweats which also have something to do with those disturbed sleeping patterns
    • not feeling like being a very sexual being - and of course this may be because with menopausal weight gain we feel less sexy. But there's another aspect to...you might be having more urinary tract infections, vaginal dryness which cause difficulties with sex
    • mood changes or depression: up one minute and down the next or just feeling plain down
    • a worsening memory -- you know that saying: "Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most!" I've definitely felt that applied to me at times. 

    Well it's obvious that menopause isn't for cowards! Just looking at these symptoms is enough for me to march off and put in a demand that in my next life I come back as a man! (ok, I'm just kidding...but um... at times it has crossed my mind)

    What do do about Menopausal weight gain

    Above all KEEP YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR! BREATHE! Menopausal weight gain isn't the end of the world! (even though I know if might feel like it!) 

    Make sure that for every pound you feel you've gained you're gaining at least that in confidence:

    Don't focus on your weight gainfocus on staying active, fit and healthy!  Menopausal weight gain, just like hormonal weight gain during pregnancy and puberty doesn't mean there is something wrong.  Keep reminding yourself this is just means your body is doing what nature intended it to. Find reasons to laugh about your weight instead of letting it depress you.

    But ultimately -- and I acknowledge that this may be somewhat difficult to accept- whatever you do, don't increase your levels of self-hatred.  Keep in mind that ALL average weight charts show that womens weight around the world rises during menopause.  

    Try to stay relaxed and maintain an attitude of curiosity towards your changing body. And remember that by the law of averages your body weight will start going down again once you're past menopause.

    I've read research that says we need up to 25-30% body fat at menopause and that a bit of extra weight is protective against osteoporosis. Osteoporosis occurs when our bones lose their honeycombed structure and along with that their strength and flexibility. And who knows what else it might be helping with that we aren't even aware of. And be aware - having your weight yo-yo up and down - results in a loss of bone. And besides BMI ranges are a bunch of baloney made up by the weight loss industry to sell more products.  Yes - really!  Listen to how that happened as told by health Prof Linda Bacon.  Besides which fatter people live longer.

    By the way, Leptin, which is a hormone that controls: feeding behavior and hunger, body temperature and energy expenditure, is produced by fat cells. It's another reason we need fat.

    According to Dr. Gerard Karsenty from the Baylor College of Medicine, there is a link between fat cells, leptin, the brain, and bone density.

  • Tune in to your body so it can tell you what foods it wants. 
  • Stay hydrated - make sure that your'e not eating when your body is thirsty
  • Stay  active. Exercise  helps your metabolism which makes you feel healthy and vibrant. 
  • Don't blame yourself --remind yourself that this weight gain is just your body reacting to hormonal changes.
  • Have your menopausal body rant here

    Here's the perfect place to rant about your changing body... Or just tell your story or share your self-acceptance tips....

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