What’s up with the weight gain? The disappearing waistline? The menopot? (We didn’t coin this term, but it’s a good one, isn’t it?)
It’s all so… distressing.
Here’s what you need to know:
On average, midlife women gain 1.5 pounds per year. 👎🏻
About two-thirds of us between 40 and 59 are overweight. 👀
And even for those of us who never had to worry about gaining weight, menopause is (Ta-Da!) The Great Equalizer. ⚖️
‘Eat less, move more.’
Thanks, but no thanks, buddy. Seriously, is that all you’ve got, Captain Obvious?
When it comes to added pounds, it’s not always just about food and exercise (although yes, we should all eat right and exercise). Instead, it’s worth taking a deeper dive into other reasons — aside from hormones — for why we might be gaining weight during menopause:
Prescription meds. Some antidepressants, beta-blockers and insulin may inadvertently lead to extra lbs. (The website Obesity Action weighs in on this.) And this is important: Although you may feel like ditching a medication because of the extra pounds, don’t do anything before talking to your doc. You may be putting your health at risk.
Sleep, or lack thereof. With menopause — and the pandemic — we’ll bet our favorite pillow that your sleep isn’t too deep. Without getting all scientific-y, here’s why that matters for your weight. Lack of sleep messes with the production of two hormones that regulate hunger and appetite: Leptin, which suppresses appetite, goes down, while Ghrelin, which triggers hunger, goes up. Up and down… just like the damn scale.
Oh, and another thing: Ever notice how, when you’re tired, you crave sweet, gooey, carb and sugar-laden stuff? Not a coincidence.
Muscle mass. Muscle mass typically diminishes with age, but you should make an effort to fight back. Why? With less muscle, your metabolism slows down, taking your power to burn calories down with it. Channel your inner Jack LaLanne and pump it up. An added perk: No one has ever said “no thank you” to nicely toned arms.
Blame your genes. Does someone in your family carry extra weight around their middle? Chances are your body might follow suit.
Photo by Marisa Buhr Mizunaka on Unsplash
All that said, losing weight is possible. Even now. But while not rocket science, it can be hard (like rocket science!).
To get you started thinking about what to tweak in your day-to-day diet and exercise, check out this rundown I wrote last summer (a.k.a., a lifetime ago) for Openfit:
“Pay attention to what you eat, monitor your portions and the types of foods you eat. Several studies found that making conscious food choices, and knowing when you’re hungry and when you’re full, are helpful weight-loss strategies.”
— What's the Best Way to Lose Weight?, Openfit
What’s working best for you right now? Anything? Leave a comment and let us know! (Asking for a friend…)
For a Pause…
These hand weights are especially colorful and easy to grab during your next TV binge-fest. Multitasking is possible — in this case, at least.
To cut calories without giving up on good nutrition, choose more fruits, veggies and whole grains, especially those that are less processed and have more fiber. Here are 10 ways to lose weight without dieting. One good tip: Floss and brush your teeth at night to signal “all done” to your temptation to snack.
The next time you’re tempted to overeat, think about not just your weight but your health: being overweight puts you at risk for these things. (Spoiler alert: It ain’t pretty.)
If you need help getting dinner on the table, The Family Plan is a fabulous newsletter that lays it all out for you, with easy meal planning tips to cover you for the whole week. So you don’t end up ordering online again.
One More Thing…
Jane Fonda knows a thing or two about maintaining muscle mass. At age 82, she still looks like she could make her way through her iconic 1982 workout video (the music for which is burned into Jennifer’s memory from years of working out with her mom).
Just remember to shout WHOO! as you do the moves! (No perms necessary.)
And it's a great day to be alive
I know the sun's still shining when I close my eyes
There's some hard times in the neighborhood
But why can't every day be just this good.
“It's a Great Day to Be Alive” — Travis Tritt
Until next week, stay well. Stay healthy. Stay safe.
See you next time!
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