Three Steps to Control Your Weight in Menopause

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Menopause and Weight Control

Ask any woman what the most frustrating symptom of menopause is and weight gain will be somewhere near the top of the list. Menopause is associated with a wide range of hormonal changes which is only one of the causes of weight gain during this life transition. Other factors making it hard to lose stubborn weight include loss of muscle mass, genetics and lifestyle (stress, diet, etc).

Throughout our lives, estrogen is our friend. It keeps our body happy but when normal aging and menopause occur, estrogen levels begin to decline resulting in a cascade of issues for women including weight gain and muscle loss.1-3 Muscle mass is important for women to burn calories and increase our metabolism however when estrogen levels decline, metabolism will ultimately slow. 2,3 Menopausal women tend to gain weight in their mid-section, which can have detrimental health consequences including an increased risk for developing heart disease, heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer, including colorectal and breast cancer.1-3 

Weight can be controlled during menopause by employing some simple strategies including:

  • Adding movement into your routine: Be sure to add aerobic activity into your exercise routine for at least 75-150 minutes per week depending on intensity, or more if possible. Strength training too will increase muscle mass leading to a more efficient metabolic rate. If you divide this time up, it's only half an hour for five days a week.
  • Making better food choices: Eating less calories, adding fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins will help your body fuel in a healthy way. Eating food with a lower glycemic index may also be helpful to decrease the effect on your blood sugar levels. These may seem like small steps but if practiced daily can make a huge difference.
  • Finding support: Finding support in your friends and loved ones will keep you on the right track. If your support comes from friends who are also trying to maintain their weight can be very helpful.

The benefits of exercise are numerous and not only help control weight but also lower the risk of developing secondary diseases due to obesity. National Institutes of Health (NIH) data revealed that those who exercised for 10+ minutes per day, had smaller waistlines. And by smaller, I mean 6 inches smaller than their non-exercising counterparts!

In addition to the obvious weight loss benefits, exercise can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis, heart diseases and metabolic syndrome, strengthen joints and muscles, maintain bowel health, aid in the reduction of depression and anxiety and improve one’s overall health! Exercise has also been shown to lower the risk of breast cancer.

Menopause doesn’t have to be the end of the road for looking good, feeling good and maintaining good overall health.

During various transitional periods in our lives, women sometimes have to mix things up, try something new and maintain consistency. It can be a frustrating process but with the help of your healthcare team, fitness experts and online education, menopause doesn’t have to be such a trying life process.

As with any health program, speak with your healthcare providers to see what program works for you specifically. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to maintaining your health. And creating healthy habits that include controlling your weight will not only make you feel better and lower your risk for some pretty serious health problems, it will also help you to feel good about yourself as you travel into, through and beyond menopause.

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