August 9, 2021
For a woman, the menopausal years bring many challenges and changes both physically and mentally. The least on the list of concerns should be weight gain, but alas and on the contrary, it is one of the top causes of anxiety and worry.
The perimenopause, which means "around menopause", is where the weight gain starts. This period occurs anytime between a woman's mid-30s and early 50s. Early during perimenopause, a high estrogen level is often produced, and some studies have shown that this is often associated with higher body fat and weight gain.
During menopause, estrogen levels decline, and this imbalance is the cause of weight gain. The low levels of estrogen promote fat storage in the belly area, as visceral fat. Visceral fat has been linked to many health issues, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
It seems menopausal weight gain is unavoidable, but before you seek comfort in that chocolate bar, there are healthier options.
Reducing carbs intake helps in the reduction of belly fat. Replace them with proteins, healthy fat and vegetables. As we get older, our caloric intake needs tend to decrease, so prioritise nutritious food over everything else. A high-fibre diet that includes flaxseeds is also recommended.
Another thing to avoid is emotional (over)eating. The menopausal period can be trying emotionally, but indulging in your favourite food to overcome that depressing feeling won't help.
Getting some exercise into your routine is good – full stop. You don't have to be reminded of the benefits of exercise but during this challenging period of your life is where its perks will be truly realised and much needed.
Cardiovascular exercises strengthen the heart and lungs while burning calories. Strength training routines like dumbbells and weight machines build lean muscles. Lean body mass helps battle diseases and keeps you in optimal health. Yoga and Pilates exercises are also beneficial for the body in many ways that have been proven.
You don't have to sign up for gym memberships. A little research will show you the exercises you can do at home – and there are plenty!
One of the best things about exercise is that it is an effective stress buster. Stress causes havoc to the body and mind, leading to health issues - weight gain included. Take a break and head to the spa for some well-deserved pampering. Go for a walk at the beach or the park or just around the neighbourhood even. Pick up a hobby like craft making or painting and express yourself. The bottom line is to find something to do that interests you, and both your body and mind will be ever so thankful.
Last but not least in importance is to get a good night's sleep. Proper and sufficient rest will do wonders for the body.
Weight gain can happen (and does) at any stage of a person's life although, for women, it is a huge reality bump on the road during menopause. There is no reason to give in and give up.