MENOPAUSE & WEIGHT GAIN | Giddy Up Personal Training

MENOPAUSE & WEIGHT GAIN

I have many clients that I encounter, typically between 40-50, that struggle with weight gain during menopause. Many times the weight just comes out of nowhere. Sometimes 10-40 lbs and you cannot explain why! Then you say…”Not much changed in my eating habits, active or non-active lifestyle!” During menopause the body is going through several hormonal changes(a gift from Eve), causing several changes in your body and mind, including but not limited to weight gain.

Even though this change is inevitable (unless you remove your female organs)…..you can reverse course by paying attention to healthy-eating habits and leading an active lifestyle.

As many of you have heard about menopause, you have not experienced it….so let me take a moment to break down the stages.

3 Stages of Menopause

Perimenopause

The 3-5 year period before menopause when your estrogen and hormone levels begin to drop is called perimenopause. You typically enter into perimenopause in your late 40’s and could begin to experience irregular menstrual cycles and symptoms such as:

  • Hot flashes, sleep disturbances-insomnia, night sweats, elevated heart rate, mood changes—irritability, depression, anxiety, vaginal dryness or discomfort during sexual intercourse, urinary issues.

Menopause

On average, most women are about 51 to 52 when they enter menopause. Technically, you are in menopause after you’ve missed your period for 12 straight months without experiencing other causes, such as illness, medication, pregnancy or breastfeeding. The transition from perimenopause through menopause to postmenopause can take 1-3 years. It’s important to remember every woman is unique and will experience menopause differently. Some women experience few, if any symptoms, and for those who do, the symptoms can vary widely.

Post menopause

Post menopause starts after one year has passed since your last menstrual cycle. Other symptoms that might have started in perimenopause can continue through menopause and post menopause. It’s not unusual to experience:

  • Hot flashes, sleep disturbances-insomnia, night sweats, elevated heart rate, mood changes—irritability, depression, anxiety, vaginal dryness or discomfort during sexual intercourse, urinary issues.

Additionally, due to the decrease in estrogen, there’s an increased risk of heart disease, osteopenia and osteoporosis.

 Menopause & Weight Gain

The hormonal changes of menopause might make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen than around your hips and thighs. But, hormonal changes alone don’t necessarily cause menopause weight gain. Instead, the weight gain is usually related to aging, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors.

For example, muscle mass typically diminishes with age, while fat increases. Loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories, which can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight. If you continue to eat as you always have and don’t increase your physical activity, you’re likely to gain weight.

Genetic factors also might play a role in menopause weight gain. If your parents or other close relatives carry extra weight around the abdomen, you’re likely to do the same.

Other factors, such as a lack of exercise, unhealthy eating and not enough sleep, might contribute to menopause weight gain. When people don’t get enough sleep, they tend to snack more and consume more calories.

How Can I Stop It?

There’s no magic formula for preventing — or reversing — menopause weight gain. Simply stick to weight-control basics:

  • Move more. Aerobic activity can help you shed excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight. Strength training counts, too. As you gain muscle, your body burns calories more efficiently — which makes it easier to control your weight.

    For most healthy adults, experts recommend moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, for at least 150 minutes a week or vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging, for at least 75 minutes a week. In addition, strength training exercises are recommended at least twice a week. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you might need to exercise more.

  • Eat less. To maintain your current weight — let alone lose excess pounds — you might need about 200 fewer calories a day during your 50s than you did during your 30s and 40s.To reduce calories without skimping on nutrition, pay attention to what you’re eating and drinking. Choose more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, particularly those that are less processed and contain more fiber. Stop eating out so much! One time a week is a good rule of thumb, unless you are eating out for business. Even then order the salad with dressing on the side. Even the meal comes with desert and you “feel” obligated…eat one bite!Legumes, nuts, soy, meat, fish or chicken are healthy protein options. Replace butter, stick margarine and shortening with oils, such as olive or vegetable oil.
  • Check your sweet habit. Added sugars account for nearly 300 calories a day in the average American diet. About half of these calories come from sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, juices, energy drinks, flavored waters, and sweetened coffee tea. Other foods that contribute to excess dietary sugar include cookies, pies, cakes, doughnuts, ice cream and candy.
  • Limit alcohol. Alcoholic beverages add excess “empty” calories to your diet and increase the risk of gaining weight.
  • Seek support. Get a trainer and keep them. What you will notice is, even though you may not be losing like you want, you can avoid gaining. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who support your efforts to eat a healthy diet and increase your physical activity. Better yet, team up and make the lifestyle changes together.

Conclusion

It is what it is, right? So buckle up, apply these habits and this stage in your life wont be as stressful as it could be. Remember, successful weight loss at any stage of life requires permanent changes in diet and exercise habits. Commit to lifestyle changes !

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