One of the frustrations I hear from women over 50 is the weight gain or the “shifting of body weight” that you felt once you went through menopause. I understand. My body is different than it was 20 years ago too. We are constantly changing. One of the first things I talk about with clients is showing your body unconditional love. After all, you’d show love to your sister, girlfriend and daughter, why wouldn’t you show it to yourself? When I hear women say, “My belly is so huge,” “I can’t stand my thighs,” or “I hate the way my upper arms look,” it makes me sad. I used to be critical of myself too, even before menopause. It wasn’t until I started to really love and appreciate my body that how I cared for it changed as well. In this blog post we’re going to cover some reasons it’s so easy to gain weight in menopause and how you can help yourself.
Instead of focusing on losing weight, I’m going to ask you to focus on improving your body composition. But first let’s touch on why it’s so easy to gain weight in menopause.
During menopause estrogen levels drop and cortisol levels rise. Estrogen plays a key role in regulating body fat distribution which can make it a challenge to lose weight around our waist. Cortisol is not bad, we need it, but we want to keep it balanced. Getting enough sleep and learning how to relieve stress come into play. Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands in response to stress. Women in menopause often experience increased stress due to hormonal changes, lifestyle adjustments and emotional challenges. When cortisol is chronically elevated, it can affect the metabolism and lead to weight gain. Fat accumulation around the middle is associated with various health risks especially metabolic disturbances.
Many women in menopause go through lifestyle changes like reduced physical activity, poor sleep quality and a more sedentary lifestyle. All of these factors can add up to weight gain and muscle wasting. If we add in eating too many processed foods and calories in general, from food cravings and lack of sleep, weight gain will be inevitable. Add in careers, grandchildren, aging parents and kids who may need our help, all of which add to stress and leave not a lot of time for ourselves.
Emotional and psychological factors often come into play. Menopause can be a challenging time for many women, leading to increased stress, anxiety, and mood swings. Emotional eating and unhealthy coping mechanisms can become prevalent, making weight management more complicated.
Strategies To Lose Weight After 50
Adopting a balanced diet is crucial during menopause. Focus on whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. Reduce sugar and processed foods to control calorie intake and blood sugar levels. Become more mindful of what you put into your body and why. Just being aware of what we’re eating and how it feels in our body is the easiest way to make positive changes that stick.
Are you grabbing for processed foods because you’re exhausted and need a quick jolt of energy? How can you learn from this and prepare for tomorrow to have a healthier outcome? Keep processed foods out of the house. Have fruits and vegetables ready and waiting for you to grab when you’re starving.
Is it a habit to “munch” on snacks while watching tv or scrolling the internet? How about making a “rule” that if you’re eating, you’re only focusing on eating. Eat slowly, notice what the food tastes like and how you feel after you eat it.
Are you eating to deal with stress or exhaustion? Can you find different forms of rest and relaxation? Go for a quiet walk, put on some soothing music, call a friend, take a bath, journal or just sit and breathe.
Engage in regular physical activity that includes strength training, cardiovascular exercise and more daily movement, including exercise that you like as well–yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, gardening, walking, golfing, tennis and bike riding can add enjoyment to your life which is as important as the movement aspect.
Quality Sleep and Stress Management
Prioritize sleep quantity and quality by starting an evening ritual. Getting seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night will help keep your hormones balanced, help you recover at the cellular level, keep appetite hormones level and you’ll enjoy more energy throughout the day. Click here to read Sleep and the Menopausal Body. Implement stress-reduction strategies like meditation, breathwork, journaling or talking with a friend to mitigate stress and emotional eating. Click here to read Stress: Getting Serious About Solutions from the Northern American Menopause Society.
These are all techniques I teach you in The 6 Pillars of Wellness One-on-One Coaching Program. I have just two spots left for November. Email or call me today to learn more.