Menopause weight loss can seem impossible to achieve for so many. Being disheartened when finding that what worked successfully in the past may not work for you now; possibly cutting calories, upping your exercise but nothing changes.
Following a diet suitable for this time of your life is essential, the same diet that will help you balance those chaotic menopause hormones, the right exercise for the menopause years is also needed. Combine the two and you should be well on your way.
How hormones contribute towards the seemingly inevitable menopause weight gain.
One of the most common questions I get asked as a nutritionist specialising in menopause hormones, is “Why am I gaining weight that I can’t lose whatever I seem to do”?
This weight gain is evident especially around the stomach area, and many women will add an extra ten to fifteen pounds as they go through the menopause years even if there has been no change to either their diet or exercise regime. It can be so very frustrating!
And with metabolism decreasing by 5% per decade during menopause, so it’s no surprise that so many women find it so easy to put on the weight, yet so much harder to lose.
You don’t have to let that happen of course, a simple menopause nutrition plan and lifestyle changes can break the trend and will help you achieve an appropriate amount of weight loss that won’t cause stress and distress to your body. You’ll then gain a healthy, lean and strong vibrant body and mind from peri-menopause through to post-menopause.
The main hormones involved are:
Oestrogen: Oestrogen is the name of a group of hormones that we produce in the ovaries. These hormones are oestrodial which are the strongest and the main source of oestrogen until the menopause years; oestrone which is less potent and finally oestriol which is weak and you have in abundance particularly in pregnancy.
So you now know oestradiol is the primary source of oestrogen until menopause, then what happens?
The body switches to oestrone as its source and oestrone is produced in the adrenal glands and your FAT cells.
Here’s what happens:
So when you hit menopause there’s almost an inevitability that you’ll gain fat. Sadly you are fighting against your body’s own physiology when you try to lose this fat
Insulin: The hormone insulin also rises when oestrone rises. Too much insulin in the system leads to insulin sensitivity and potentially type 2 diabetes and all the associated health risks. Insulin resistance means your body cannot deal with excess sugars in your blood (carbohydrates) and the body will store these excess sugars as fat. The more fat you have, the more oestrone you produce, and so the vicious fat/weight gain cycle continues.
Leptin: Ever wondered why going on a diet, reducing calories, can lead to weight gain? Blame Leptin! Leptin is a powerful hormone released from your fat cells. It communicates directly with the hypothalamus gland in the brain and its purpose is to let the brain know if it needs to ‘rev’ the body up or turn it down. The brain responds to a strong leptin message at times of feast and abundance, by turning down your appetite and turning up your thyroid function. This results in a reduced drive to eat and a feeling of satisfaction following a meal, plus higher energy levels so you can go out and hunt hairy mammoth. Dieting weakens the leptin message and your brain down regulates thyroid function and increases your appetite so you feel like eating more while feeling less inclined to exercise.
Plus food actually tastes more appealing, rendering willpower useless!
Stress hormone cortisol: To add further to the problem you need to consider what causes stress to the body. Your body perceives any stress on the body as a stressor, not just the ‘I feel stressed at work’ stress. For example, your body sees the reaction caused by irritants to the body, like processed food, cosmetics, toiletries, as a stress. Any stress causes cortisol (a stress hormone) to rise and high cortisol levels will also add to the fat bank, not helped by the fact that raised cortisol has an effect on appetite and cravings for high calorie foods.
Cortisol also increases the activity of an enzyme called aromatase causing the body to convert male hormones into oestrogen, which further encourages fat gain around the middle. (Have you noticed how men hold their fat out front?)
All in all it can feel like fighting a losing battle. Very frustrating and stressful!
(A definite argument to justify a visit to a spa or a retreat and have some ‘me time’ luxuriating in beautiful natural products).
All is not lost!
Achieving & Maintaining Your Ideal Weight And Maximum Health Through Menopause
In addition to the above, you should always:
But what happens when you find it just too difficult to put the nutrition and exercise guidelines into action.Or you can’t stay motivated with the changes you wish to make and the weight creeps back on?
What’s missing from the successful weight loss equation?
It’s time to add in a positive change to your mindset.
Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude
Staying positive while making nutrition and lifestyle changes is essential to create lasting positive change through the menopause transition; attain and maintain optimum health through and beyond menopause.
You wont achieve anything unless you really want it 100%! And the words you use to talk to yourself have a direct bearing on the probability of you achieving any goal you set yourself in life. Remember that if you want to lose weight – keep your goals reasonable, as disappointment and frustration are the death of a good diet.
Here are a few tips to keeping positive:
1. Trying to be perfect from the start leads to failure in 90% of cases. Aim for ‘progress, not perfection’.
2. For the first month, focus on the 20% of actions that make 80% of the difference (write these down)
3. Take it slowly, baby-steps, day-by-day and celebrate each success – not with food!
4. Give yourself a cheat day, or relax every now and then – treat yourself!
5. If you have a bad day, don’t beat yourself up! Take time to think what happened and start again, right NOW!
The above are simple suggestions, and you may have some of your own that help you keep on track. If so, please do share with me so I can pass on to help others too.
So much information! So much to do!
I know! Just do your best to find what works for you.
Living in a modern society is a double-edged sword. You have all of the comfort and convenience of technology and advancements. But the downside is that you are also exposed to contaminants and invisible poisons, which not only make you sick, but can make you fat as well. It can be incredibly overwhelming and confusing trying to do all of the things you are told to do to stay healthy.
Sometimes, “one small step for (wo)mankind” is the best you can do, and those steps may never rise to the level of “one giant leap for (wo)mankind.” And that’s absolutely fine.
At YourNewLifePlan I provide the strategies and tools to help you on your personal journey with programmes that are neither rigid nor prescriptive, they set guidelines, and we’re here to ensure that it’s flexible enough to work for you, providing the unique support you need.
Our mission is to help you as much as we possibly can with all the above to ensure you set, believe and achieve all your goals offering you the individual support and information you need.
Helping busy ladies naturally create harmony and health through the menopause years and beyond. Regain control, confidence, and be free to live the life they choose.
A full hysterectomy in her 30s led nutritional therapist and health coach Clare on an amazing adventure exploring the many opportunities available to manage her enforced menopause and create long-term health.
Clare prefers the natural approach, and qualifying in nutritional therapy gave her the confidence to come off HRT, take back control of her life and health, and look forward to living the best third of her life free of prescription drugs. Understanding the importance of creating harmony of health of both body and mind through menopause and beyond, she’s now on a mission to inspire, educate and empower other women, too. Help them create their ‘new life’.
Click HERE to find out more about how Clare shares her years of exploring, experience and knowledge through 1:1 consultations, speaking and online programmes, and where you can request a FREE 30 minute phone consultation with Clare to discuss any personal menopause/health concerns you may have.
*Member British Menopause Society