HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT DURING MENOPAUSE
Despite your exercise regime and no change to your diet, that the weight has just magically shifted to around your belly! Well it’s official Menopause – sucks! But you’re not alone, and the attempts and effort to lose this unsightly tyre sometimes seems hopeless. Don’t be dragged into fad diets, boot camps and any other so called magic cure to curb the midline takeover, it will just create a vicious cycle.
Obviously who every came up for the design of women’s bodies, needs to be sacked. After putting up with periods, menstrual cramps for 30 – 40 years, we have gone from being Snow white, busy women, cooking, cleaning our castles, are now faced with turning into the seven dwarfs of menopause, Itchy, bitchy, sweaty, sleepy, bloated, forgetful and psycho.
If you are now 50 plus, or going through this change, why would you expect that you could train like you are still 20 or 30 and still get the same results? Do you think that the guy (regardless of age) that is taking that boot camp really has any idea that your internal thermal reactor is ready to blow even before you even attempt that situp?(which by the way is not appropriate or safe for any age) Read on if you want to try something different.
Note: The solutions I have mentioned below are not rocket science, however if you follow a few of these suggestions under supervision, (it does take a bit of discipline, sweat and commitment), you just may stop or reduce the symptoms, reboot your metabolism and also shift that expanding waistline.
Disclaimer: You should always consult your GP before engaging in any exercise program, particularly or if you have any existing medical conditions. Your trainer should always conduct a pre exercise screening.
Firstly, why do we get the middle aged spread? Briefly:
- your metabolism slows,
- when you stop ovulating, you lose 900 calories per month that would normally be burnt off during your sleep,
- your diet may become convenient rather than planned nutritious meals,
- exercise may drop off or is no longer effective,
- you simply don’t need as many calories,
- your hormonal balance changes,
- you may lose your self esteem as your body increases in size and/or clothes no longer fit,
- your sleep may become erratic and you fail to get REM sleep (necessary restorative sleep)
- you may become insulin resistant making it harder to break down the foods that you consume.
So what can we do to change this?
- Hydration – Most menopausal women experience sweats and hot flushes, this can cause the body to dehydrate quicker, drink at least 2 litres, more if it’s a hot day or if you have exercised. Drink water when you feel hungry, as hunger is often mistaken for thirst.
- Alcohol – let’s face it there is nothing healthy about alcohol, it’s become an blight on our society, alcohol fuelled violence, drunk driving, one punch incidents. It is also associated as a cause of many diseases, as well as bowel, breast and throat cancers. Whilst it may be great to have a few drinks to relax and socialise, as women our bodies are not designed to process the ethanol the same as a man. It is important to have most of the week alcohol free, research says 2 days but the more days off, the healthier you will feel. This gives the liver, kidneys and pancreas a chance to recover and reset. If it is constantly doused in alcohol, it’s like you’re running a petrol engine on diesel fuel, it’s going to be sluggish and your motor will seize up.
- Yoga, mindfulness and meditation
This is a fantastic way to regain self esteem, develop self awareness of mind and body. It’s an opportunity to calm the thoughts, stretch the body and just be still. YOUR TIME! You deserve it. If you feel intimidated at a yoga class or simply do not feel you can relax, choose another class. Avoid hot yoga (bikram) if you are experiencing hot flushes. The inability to control your temperature is not the time to be sitting in a 37degree room with dozens of other people. Yoga is about controlling yourself, becoming self disciplined and respecting your body. This also helps when it comes to food choices, the more you are in control of yourself and your body, the more that you will respect what it needs and eat more mindfully.
Sleep is crucial for everyone, but especially so for menopause and weight loss. Our bodies need restorative sleep and that comes with the REM cycle for muscles to recover as well as giving us restful break for the brain. When you are having the night sweats and tossing and turning you may not get to the REM portion and therefore wake up tired and lethargic. Here’s a list of things to try before you hit the GP for medication. Exercise in the cooler parts of the day, make the bedroom cool before retiring, do not use ipads, iphones in bed, (the light affects the brain confusing it thinking it is sunlight), try meditation before bed, avoid alcohol and caffeine, keep a set routine, a darker room might also help. Some GP’s can offer HRT and also effexor, I STRONGLY do not recommend Effexor, the side effects coming off are like an electric current going through your body. But discuss all options with your GP, natural remedies may work in the first instance.
Eat less sugar, lose more weight!! simple. Well a few other things as well:
Eat more often, eat smaller portions! Sorry Ladies but 3 course meals are just ridiculous, no one’s stomach is designed to hold that much food in one sitting. At this time of our lives, we just don’t need as many calories, and once consumed, there is only one place that food is going to go, straight to the fat zones. Eat portion size meals more often to allow the body to break it down quicker and use as fuel. Eat only to your hunger satisfaction AND not because it’s delicious and still staring at you on your plate. Adopt an attitude that your body is a car engine, if you use the right fuel it will function properly. Again you don’t put diesel in your petrol car, so why put sugary sweets and unhealthy fats into your body for which it’s not designed for. It will clog up, run poorly and cause diseases and weight gain (in your body – not your car). Avoid low fat foods as they are generally laden with sugar or artificial additives.
Be organised with an eating plan and make it realistic. Don’t under eat and don’t skip Protein, your muscles need protein, so which diet is right for us? Paleo? high fibre, low carbs, reduced calories…NO
Mediterranean diet is still rated by nutritionists and dieticians as the most healthy diet. If you think natural foods and choose those with the least amount of processing, ( as close to nature as possible) you are on the right path. Summary of the eating pyramid.
- Eat: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.
- Eat in moderation: Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt.
- Eat only rarely: Red meat.
- Don’t eat: Sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods.
- WHAT TO EAT:
- Vegetables: 5 serves
- Fruits: 2 serves per day
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, Macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and more.
- Legumes: Beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas, etc.
- Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams, etc.
- Whole Grains: Whole oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat, whole grain bread and pasta.
- Fish and Seafood: Salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, prawns, clams, crab, mussels, Tasmanian Oysters for Kel and lots of them!, very low in calories!
- Poultry: Chicken, turkey, duck sparingly
- Dairy: Cheese, yogurt, Greek yogurt (watch out for low fat, it generally is higher in sugar)
- Herbs and Spices, and Healthy Fats: Extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados and avocado oil, (steer clear of coconut oil, it is not as healthy as the marketers make out).
We can’t train like we were in our 20’s or 30’s, we simply don’t need burpees, situps, wide legged squats, and be careful as many Pilates exercises are also unsafe and not suitable for our training now. We need a more sensible approach, particularly if there are injuries such as lower back or pelvic floor dysfunction or any other ongoing medical issues. The key however is a balance of activities that you can both enjoy and adhere to. Doing the same thing day after day doesn’t challenge the body i.e if you walk every morning and never seem to lose weight, there is a good reason, your body needs change. You need to challenge your body. Walking at the same pace, same distance, same streets provides no stimulation for your body to alter (or mental stimulation for that matter). Your body needs to do a variety of activities to engage the system, your mind, comfort zone, cardiovascular, core muscles, nerves, tendons, fascia – the whole body.
The best activities include:
Weights for women… imperative for weight loss, we need lean muscle mass. Not only does it help with bone density to avoid osteoporosis, but it builds lean muscle mass, the more muscle mass, the higher the metabolism = effectively burning that excess body fat.
Yoga – not only for flexibility, but also the strength, awareness of our body but a connection to our spiritual side of self respect. Yoga brings control to our lives and with regular practice we can adopt many of the principles into our every day lives.
There is no reason to stop these once you turn 50, in fact it’s more important that you keep it up or perhaps even take up a few of these as new hobbies as you head into retirement. Depending on injuries running may still be an option, even jogging will kick the metabolism into gear. Learn to play golf, cycling, zumba, rowing, kayaking, yoga, tai chi.
The one activity that I am passionate about and I know that it is great for both your physical and mental health is bushwalking. Extended periods on the track really get into the fat burning zones. Dirt tracks are more gentle on the joints whilst still providing a body weighted activity for osteoporosis prevention. The feet and legs need to perform a variety of different flexions and extensions to respond to the changing terrain. This also helps avoid plantar fasciitis by staying off hard surfaces and using the tendons and fascia in your feet. Your core also works harder to also stabilise your trunk over inclines and declines.
Bushwalking not only challenges the mind and the body, but importantly engages all of your senses. Just being outdoors, with the phone off, take out your ear phones and listen to nature to reap the real benefits. By far this activity will win hands down, best of all it’s cost effective!! Inside public gyms with aircon, fluoro lights, and sweaty used equipment cannot be considered a natural place to be.
A word of warning:
If you have never hiked before, don’t be over ambitious and expect you can just simply go on a hike. Like any activity it takes a lot of training, start small and build. You don’t want to end up on the news being rescued as yet another bushwalker who has overestimated their abilities or not considered the terrain or climate before setting out. Set out with experienced hikers to begin with. A good leader will have a safety plan, a first aid kit, years of experience and knowledge of bushwalking.
Full Life Fitness was set up to empower women to step outside their comfort zone, try new things, be healthy and live happy. If you are interested in any of our training methods, programs, hikes, please don’t hesitate to contact me. If you are shopping around for a trainer, always check the trainer is qualified , registered and insured.
Yoga Teacher (registered with Yoga Australia)
Pilates instructor (registered with Fitness Australia)
Diploma in Fitness (rehab and specialised conditions)
Pelvic Floor Safe Trainer (Pelvic Floor First Organisation)
CERT 3 AND 4 Master Trainer AIF
Wilderness First Aid
25 years of Military experience and have been multi day hiking since 2008.