Are you feeling challenged with Menopausal weight gain or a shift in Weight to your middle?
I talk with women everyday that are beyond frustrated, and are wondering what is the best approach for them now, in the menopausal years.
Some of these women have never had a weight problem before, and it is freaking them out to all of a sudden see the pounds piling on, or see their weight shifting to their middle.
I remember plenty of times as I was going through menopause, I felt like I was in a fog, and losing weight at one point seemed impossible.
I get the frustration of not knowing why are normal way of eating is now making us gain weight.
Why is it when we start going through the menopausal years that some of us find we just can’t eat the way we used to, and find little things stress us out more ?
I asked myself these questions for years, basically I was talking to myself, good thing I had a dog so those that passed me on the road did not think I was crazy 🙂
Now I know that one of the reasons is that as our hormones estrogen, and progesterone start to fall we become more insulin resistant.
Also with the drop in our hormones we become more sensitive to stress of any kind, whether it be physical, emotional, or mental.
I know this can be frustrating, and very challenging, we have been eating, and exercising a certain way all our lives then boom! It does not work anymore.
Here I was thinking I was eating optimally, and doing 5 days a week of my favorite exercise, which was running, and lifting weights.
All with no sleep mind you…it took me a long time to figure out what I was doing was wrong for my body at this stage of life, and how to fix it.
Even when I found out that it was really causing my body to much stress to be exercising as much as I was, I continued to do it for a long time.
I was afraid to stop doing my long distance running as I thought I would start to gain more weight.
Plus I loved running and racing, it was also my time to think.
Sometimes it is hard to believe that doing something entirely different will work, when it goes against all that I had learned over the years, which was to do MORE exercise, not LESS, and no pain no gain type of approach.
It can be darn scary to change or try something new, sometimes. I know it was for me, and so many ladies I talk to in my generation especially find it scary, and hard to make any kind of changes.
For menopausal weight gain, and the shift of weight to the middle, I have learned through trial, and error, helping other women, and education.
In the menopausal years we can’t diet the way we used to, that it is NOT just calories in and out, they are important of course. But that our hormones also matter.
Now with the drop in our hormones we are much LESS tolerate of any kind of stress to as I talked about.
We need to lower stress levels, and get enough sleep, for belly fat loss especially, and weight loss in general.
- Dieting is a stress to the body, exercise can be a good stress ,and bad stress to the body, not getting enough sleep is a stress to the body.
- When I say dieting is a stress on the body, I mean the body then thinks it’s starving and will go into starvation mode, it will slow your metabolism. It thinks their maybe a famine coming, our bodies are programed to help us survive.
- Exercising to much, is a stress on the body, exercising to little or not at all is a stress on the body.
- We need to find a balance that will work for us, now.
- With the drop in our hormones we now in our menopausal years, need to realize its not all about calories.That we now may need to focus more on the amount of starchy carbs we can eat, to either maintain our weight or lose weight, and lowering our stress levels.
- We can stress ourselves fat, so lowering our stress, and getting enough sleep is really two of the best things we can do in the menopausal years to help with stubborn weight and the shift of weight to the middle.
- As for carbs, I’m not on a low carb diet. I moderate my starchy carbs to my tolerance.
- It is NOT low carb way of eating, because all of the greens, fibrous veggies, and fruit have carbs.
- But it is a controlled amount of starchy carbohydrate, as we really are less tolerant of the starchy carbs now, but that does NOT mean have none.
I love my smoothies, big salads, and dinner with protein, fibrous veggies, and starchy carbs to my tolerance.
We need to find the amount of starchy carbs, fat, protein, that works for our own bodies, your amount could be more, or less than mine.
A good way to figure it out is to experiment on yourself, keep a food journal for a few days, noting how you feel after a meal. WE do forget how we feel so I have found we I write it down, I can then adjust my next meal according to how I felt.
Say you have breakfast, but you notice you are hungry right away after you eat or low energy. Then maybe you did not have enough protein, or starch or fat.
Try adjusting just one of those things the next time you eat, and see how you feel.
A typical day for me is a whey protein smoothie, but if you don’t like smoothies you could have protein, and veggies, or scrambled eggs, and veggies, etc…
- But always protein based, because proteins very filling/satiating, and veggies give a ton of fiber/bulk, and water to also fill you up, and not out.
Salads if you don’t like them you could have a plate of fibrous veggies, and about 4-6 oz of protein, and 1-2 Tbs of fat. An oil and vinegar based dressing about 2 Tbs is good staring place, NOT a fat free dressing.
Protein, fibrous veggies, and starchy carbs, starchy carbs such as sweet potato, red skinned potato, or butternut squash are my favorites, rice, etc.
- Having starchy carbs at night does help to lower stress hormones to relax you, and help you get a good nights sleep, which will help with fat loss.
- Find a balance with healthy fats, and fruit because some women find through the different stages of life they tolerate less, and do not get results with to high of fat no matter how healthy a fat source it is.
- 1-2 pieces of lower sweet fruit, such as berries, apples, grapefruit is best for most women at menopause, and post menopause and beyond, and some women may do better with more or less, to get results.
Just because it is a healthy fat or healthy fruit, or Starchy carbs does NOT mean you can eat tons of it, especially when wanting results.
- Stress management is huge, as is sleep.
- NOT getting enough sleep can cause belly fat or weight gain. Because we then can crave all the highly palatable foods the next day, and eat more.
- I’m a big proponent of moving more I live this way, all relaxing physical activity is great.
- Walking is KING, walk everyday if you can to lower your stress, I know its hard NOT to do tons of cardio, and vigorous exercise for some of us.
- I have days off now, and just walk and sometimes I want to start running if its nice out, and need to remind myself it is my day off.
Don’t over do long cardio, or any type of exercise, when I gave up my long distance marathon running in in my late 50’s and did LESS exercise my weight shifted down effortlessly, Who knew!
I started sleeping though the night something I had struggled with for years, and that little bit of stubborn weight I had tried for months to lose was gone.
I believe my body perceived less stress and could now release that extra weight, I kept my diet the same as I have been eating the way I do now for years.
We do need some form of vigorous exercise, and lots of movement though, and some stress but just not to much.
I never underestimate the value of sleep anymore, and exercising just enough for my body to stay fit and healthy, I will always be adjusting as I age.
We want to keep our muscle as we age, it is the engine so to speak, it helps to keep us strong and optimizes our metabolisms.
I lift weights to stay strong, for my bones, and to be able to get up off the floor if I fall down.
Resistance training, with a balance of good sleep, stress management, and walking leisurely.
All of these are key for controlling belly fat in our menopausal years.
Optimal nutrition, protein first, fibrous veggies, good fats, controlled amount of starchy carbs. Play with the amount that gets you results, and to your preferences as always.
Consistency, patience, and figuring out what will work for you for the long haul, as a lifestyle and not another diet.
Think of the ongoing process not the outcome.
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