Some days I feel like I am talking about the menopausal middle all day long. Many women in perimenopause and menopause start to gain weight in places they never knew existed on their bodies. It is like their body is not their own and is now being inhabited by an alien takeover.
Weight gain during this time is common for a variety of reasons. One key to this season in life is linked to hormones. Hormones are basically messengers that give the body signals about what to do, similar to traffic lights. Hormones can control the immune system, metabolism, and reproduction, in addition to many other systems in the body. During menopause these systems can change or become disrupted.
The hormone insulin becomes more dominant and resistant, which makes weight gain, especially around the middle exponentially easier. The balance of what you ate and foods you tolerated your can now cause whole life cause problems. Several studies show women who eat a low fat high carbohydrate diet during menopause gain more weight. Shifting the diet towards more protein, healthy sources of fats and lowering starches is fundamental to keeping your weight under control.
A balanced health plan during menopause might look like:
- Regular meals and snacks with high-quality protein
- Fruits, vegetables and healthy carbohydrate sources at meals and snacks with avoidance of starchy and processed carbohydrates
- Healthy fats – from monounsaturated and omega-3 rich sources
- An exercise program incorporating cardiovascular and strength training
- Incorporating omega-fats into your diet such as ground flax seed and fish oil since they help rebalance hormones
Since bone loss occurs with changes in hormones and age, weight gain around the middle is more prevalent. Weight training can stop muscle atrophy or bone losses, which will then increase the metabolic rate and stop or minimize weight gain.
In addition, exercise can assist with mood stabilization, reduction of hot flashes, anxiety and insomnia. Yoga is extremely helpful with moods and symptoms of menopause. Acupuncture also helps rebalance the systems of the body.
Having an individualized plan to cope with the hormone shifts and weight gain can be very helpful. You can dismiss the alien in your body and reclaim your body – it might require shifting the balance of what you are consuming and adding other therapies such as weight training to achieve your goals.