Menopause and weight gain, is it really unavoidable?

Irregular period, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, mood changes, chills, night sweats, dry skin, trouble sleeping, weight gain…Oh Menopause you sexy thing you. 

There’s no denying it, Menopause comes with some pretty messed up side effects. Honestly the list could have stopped at vaginal dryness and it would have been enough to put most women off the idea of it. Unfortunately though, like all other necessary walks of life, menopause is pretty much a non-negotiable for us ladies. 

Whether you’ve experienced menopause yourself or not, you’re more than likely familiar with the connection between the wonders of menopause and gaining significant kg’s on the scales. If you haven’t complained of it yourself, I daresay you’ve definitely heard your Mum complain of it. 

In my time as a Personal Trainer, I have had the pleasure of helping many women keep their cool (pun intended) whilst going through menopause or regain their cool post menopause. In fact, my partner often jokes that I was put on this Earth solely to help menopausal women. One thing became very apparent to me early on in helping these women and that was that the word ‘Menopause’ had become a crutch we had become to rely on. This transformational phase in our female lives had become an unavoidable symbol for weight gain and shitty moods and there was nothing we could do about it. This led me to beginning to ask the question, but IS there something we can do about it?

During menopause the hormonal changes that take place can affect how many kg’s you’re holding across your waist, though what many women don’t take into consideration is that menopause is a symptom of aging and aging can have dramatic effects on your weight as well. Why is the cause important if the effect remains the same? Well first of all, we can all stop saying “It’s just menopause” and start addressing the issue, and secondly, with a better idea on the cause we have a better idea on the solution. 

As we age, typically our muscle mass will begin to diminish, our fat levels begin to increase and as a result of these two things alone our metabolism begins to slow down. Let’s look at example to simplify this:

Karen is 45, she exercises 3 x per week, has a balanced diet and maintains her healthy weight of 60kg week to week. Over the course of the next 5 years, slowly Karen’s muscle mass begins to diminish with age and as a result her metabolism slows down. Due to the fact that this has happened extremely slowly, she doesn’t realise this is happening and continues with the same nutrition and exercise routine that has kept her weight maintained for over a decade. Before she knows it she’s 10kg’s heavier, experiencing hot flashes and blaming the whole 10kg’s on menopause. 

With menopause coinciding with the age in which most of us tend to feel the effects of aging, it’s hard not to clump all the side effects onto Menopauses’ list of ‘shitty, need them like a hole in the head’ symptoms (Actual diagnosis).

So how does this help us tackle the weight gain that is virtually inevitable with aging? Earlier I mentioned that identifying the cause will help identify the solution and here is where we do this. If weight gain over age can sometimes be caused by slowing metabolisms, how can we increase our metabolism over age to cause weight loss, or at the very least cause our weight gain to stop in its tracks?

1: Incorporate some more protein in your diet 

All food can increase your metabolism for a short while, however, protein has a higher effect than that of fat or carbohydrates. It can also help you maintain your muscle mass and can help keep you fuller for longer.

2: Resistance training

As we’ve now discovered, muscle mass is an important factor when it comes to metabolism and weight. By incorporating resistance training into your exercise routine it allows you to build and maintain lean muscle mass which can help keep your fat stores at bay. 

3: Drink Green or Oolong Tea

These two tea’s have been shown to increase your metabolism by 4%-5%. They can also help convert some of the fat stored in your body into free fatty acids which may increase your fat burning percentage by up to 17%.

4: Ready, set, REST!

Lack of sleep has been long linked to weight gain and obesity. Amongst the numerous reasons not getting enough shut eye can be detrimental, sleep deprivation has been proven to have negative effects on your metabolism.

These are just a few of the many ways you can work on trying to increase your metabolism so let’s take ACTION with the 4 steps to success!

1: Brainstorm possible obstacles stopping you from achieving your health goals.

Example: Not enough sleep, stress, lowered metabolism, etc.

2: Choose one to focus on this week

Example: Lowered metabolism

3: Brainstorm some ways you can overcome the obstacle and then choose one to move forward with

Example: Get more sleep, drink green tea, eat more spicy food, incorporate resistance training into my workout, get more protein, do a high intensity workout.

Choice – Get more sleep

4: Actively put a strategy in place to improve this one thing over the coming week and a time and date in which you’ll review it.

Example: I will be in bed by 9pm each night and read for an hour before bed. That will give me at least 8 hours of rest each evening before my alarm at 6am. I will set a reminder on my phone to go off at 8:30pm nightly and I will review this next Thursday evening after work at 6pm. I have also scheduled this into my calendar.

Remember the 4 steps to success don’t work unless you do. Let’s all stop the blame game and start actively taking steps towards regaining control of our health, weight, and dare I say it – menopause. 

Last but not least, as always, if you are having trouble with any of your 4 steps to success, don’t hesitate to contact me through our contact page on this site or our socials. 

When women support each other, incredible things happen.

Jx

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