Weight can be gained for a variety of reasons, and how you choose to deal with it depends on the root cause. During menopause, the main cause is hormonal imbalance, and additional factors include genetics, lifestyle, stress, and other diseases. The reason for gaining could be due to one or a combination of any of these contributors, and can happen at any age. Needless to say, some factors are easier to deal with than others, but steps can normally be taken. Read on to discover tips on how to combat a growing waistline.
Weight Gain during Menopause
Unfortunately for women currently undergoing the menopause transition, hormonal imbalances are common. These leads both to weight gain and difficulty losing it, or simply feeling they are unable to. As the body prepares to reduce the amount of estrogen it produces, owing to the fact the reproductive cycle is no longer needed, fluctuations in hormone levels are common - and too little estrogen can lead to visible extra pounds.
Menopausal weight gain cannot be solely blamed on changes in hormone levels, however; an irritating part of getting older is that the body simply needs fewer calories. Therefore, the treats you could previously consume daily without seeing any effects can now lead to the pounds piling on rapidly. Combine this with the fact that as women get older, the amount of physical activity they engage in typically declines, and it's no surprise that weight gain is one of the most common complaints. Read on for advice on how to deal with this issue.
How to Deal with Weight Gain
There are several ways of countering increased pounds, some more practical and effective than others:
This is the safest, most obvious, and healthiest place to start. No matter what the cause of weight gain, nothing is going to be shifted by a diet high in fatty and processed foods full of sugar and salt. However, you don't have to go overboard - a 2012 study showed that a focus on food, and not calories, helps weight loss.
The simplest way to begin on the road to healthiness and happiness is to cut out the saturated fat, sugar, and cholesterol-raising foods, and eat a diet that emphasizes fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods. In addition, try to increase your intake of fish, nuts, and wholegrain products.
Exercise is also an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and doesn't always have to mean taking a daily 10-mile run. Just 20 - 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity a day is recommended for most adults. If you have a personal physical condition rendering this impossible, it is still worth taking the time to move your body (e.g., doing some gardening, going for a walk, or practicing yoga). Finding what works for you and your body is the most important point here.
Some women opt to buy medication to aid their weight loss, and these can come in both pharmaceutical and herbal form. Many of the commercially available tablets have either proved ineffective or have not even been tested for safety. For example, one that is defined as “possibly effective” is conjugated linoleic acid, which works by reducing body fat, but it does have side effects.
Generally, the advice would be not to buy any diet pills unless you have spoken to your doctor about safe and effective ones to take, and don't assume a pill is harmless just because it's labeled as natural. By buying over-the-counter dietary aids, you risk throwing your money down the drain at best and horrible side effects at worst.
It is easy to feel despondent if the weight is piling on before your eyes once you hit menopause, but a healthy lifestyle is essential if losing weight is high on your list of priorities. It's never too late to start.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Healthy Weight - it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle! Retrieved July 11, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/index.html
- Klein, W. & Jonekas, S. (2009). The Menopause Makeover. USA: Harlequin.
- National Health Service Choices. (2014). Get Active for Mental Wellbeing. Retrieved July 11, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/mental-benefits-of-exercise.aspx
- The North American Menopause Society. (2012). A focus on foods, not calories, can help you lose menopause weight. Retrieved July 11, 2014, fromhttp://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-take-time-to-think-about-it/consumers/2012/09/06/a-focus-on-foods-not-calories-can-help-you-lose-menopause-weight