Due to a natural slowing down of metabolism and loss of muscle tissue, it is common for women to find themselves gaining weight as they age. Additionally, the hormonal alterations that occur during menopause make it more common for women to find fat accumulating around their stomach.
In addition to inviting self-esteem issues, extra pounds loitering around a women's midsection can result in serious health issues, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. The most effective means of counteracting weight gain is to confront it head first with a lifestyle overhaul. By making a series of positive, healthy changes, you will be able to not only lose weight during menopause, but keep it off, too.
Alter Your Diet
80% of weight management is about controlling what you eat. As one pound of body weight equates to roughly 3,500 calories, to lose one pound a week, women need to reduce their calorie consumption from the average of 2,000 calories a day to approximately 1,500 calories. The ideal diet for healthy weight loss should be low-fat and incorporate fiber, fresh fruit, vegetables, and protein sources. It can sometimes seem difficult to get the right balance, so you might wish to draw up a specific meal plan with a dietician or doctor.
Increase Aerobic Activity
Aerobic activity and energy expenditure make up the remaining 20% of weight management. Plan to spend at least 30 minutes five times a week doing moderate-intensity exercise. If you're worried about fitting exercise into your schedule, adapt your lifestyle and incorporate exercise into your daily life: try taking the dog for a run, cycling to work, using the stairs instead of the elevator, or even having more sex.
Take a Pause
When eating, it can take the brain almost 15 minutes to recognize the sensation of fullness. Take a moment or two before helping yourself to seconds, and you might find that you don't need any more to eat after all.
Avoid Crash Diets
Skipping meals and following extreme diet plans that exclude carbohydrates and other vital nutrients is not sustainable or healthy. Weight loss schemes such as these reduce levels of leptin, the hormone that regulates fat distribution by controlling appetite and metabolic rate, which forces a women's body to burn muscle tissue rather than fat. Ultimately, following crash diets slows metabolic rates and makes weight gain more likely when former eating habits are eventually resumed.
Instead of opting for sugary drinks full of empty calories, reach for some water; it's calorie-free, hydrating, and good for the skin. While diet sodas might be sugar-free and low in calories, the artificial sweeteners used to replace sugar encourage cravings for the sweet stuff.
When you're trying to lose weight, it's easy to get frustrated if the results aren't immediately noticeable. However, it's important to stay patient and optimistic; gradual, steady weight loss at the rate of around one pound a week is considered the healthiest way of both losing weight and keeping it that way.
- BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007
- Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.