How to avoid weight gain during menopause – here is what’s key

January 18, 2018 by Ann Rea, Phoenix Acupuncturist

Menopause is a time of change; it signals the end of a women’s reproductive years.  But life continues.  Assuming a normal life span, each woman spends as many years post menopause as she does in her active reproductive years.  So, life is not over, it has actually just begun!!!!!

Our purpose here at Harmony + Health, is to help you through the transition so that you feel strong and healthy for at least another 35 years.

One thing many women notice during this time of change is weight gain, especially around the middle.  Weight gain is actually a natural process that begins, slowly, around age 30, it can just kind of feel like it catches up with you once you hit your 50’s.

 

So, what is a woman to do, if she does not want weight gain to get out of control.  It may not be realistic to maintain the same weight in your 50’s and beyond that you had in your 20’s and 30’s, but you do have the power to keep your weight at a level that is healthy for you.

 

There are two key things to focus on: maintaining (and building) muscle and making some modifications in what you eat. (notice, I did not say anything about dieting)

 

# 1 – Get Stronger

That subtle weight gain that I mentioned beginning at about age 30, is due to a slow decline in muscle mass.  It is a natural process.  With a decline in muscle, there is an increase in fat, it’s a matter of biology.  To slow the increase in body fat, you need to increase muscle.  I don’t mean, you have to enter a body building contest or anything like that, you just need to make a concerted effort to maintain muscle.

 

How do you maintain muscle??  Resistance training is the key, that means lifting weights.  When you put strain on your muscle, it thanks you by getting stronger.  And there are lots of advantages to having strong muscles.  No only will you slow weight gain, you will be able to do more for yourself and avoid fatigue, you will be steadier on your feet with less chance of injury or falling.  By placing a strain on your muscles, you keep your bones healthier and stronger (good-by osteoporosis).  Your joints will remain healthier longer. Resistance training even helps your brain!!You will feel more confident, and even look better in your clothes.

 

How do you start a resistance training program?  The safest way is to find a qualified personal trainer or a group training class.  These could be live and in person, or perhaps online. You might want to focus your search on finding a trainer or class that specializes in working with older adults.  Safety, and learning proper form will help you reach your goals without getting injured.

 

#2 – Modify your Eating Plan

 

OK, who wants to change the way they eat??  Often, we eat on autopilot, and we are still alive, right?  Well, I am going to suggest ditching the autopilot, and focusing more on what you are eating, to identify the foods that serve you and keep you strong and healthy, and limiting those that don’t serve you.  Here is the thing: there is no one size fits all way of eating that works for everyone.  So you will have to figure out what is going to work for you going forward.

 

How do you start?  You need to start by keeping a record of what you eat every day.  Yeah, that is going to require a bit of work.  You can write everything down, but that is kind of boring.  What I do is use an app.  There are several.  My favorite is Cronometer.  Other options are My Fitness Pal, and Loose It.

 

Keep track for about a week, don’t fool yourself, record everything you eat or drink.  The apps make it easy to search for or scan your foods.  After gathering info for a week, you can take a look at the information. Most important for now is your macros: the amount and % of your natural intake of protein, carbohydrate and fat.  You will also have a record of your daily calorie intake.

 

Ok, now that you have a baseline what to do?  For women in their 50s or over, the first place I look to make a change is in the % of carbohydrates.  If carbohydrates are 30% or more of your normal daily diet, shoot for 28 – 25% and see how you feel.  You can look at your info in the app and it will tell you where your carbs are coming from.  Try the lower carb level for a week or two.  Do you have the energy you need?  Has your weight changed?  You may need to make further adjustments from there.

 

For best results, you will want to use both strategies, getting stronger, and modifying your eating plan. If all this is too overwhelming, make an appointment with us.  We provide acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and health coaching, all of which can be used to help you meet your health goals, including maintaining a healthy weight, after menopause.

 

Take care,

Ann & Emily


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