Happy Sunday everyone!
Hope you have all had a great week? This week on the weekly A-Z Menopause Symptoms Blog, we are at W and I am going to be talking about WEIGHT GAIN!
Did you know that fluctuating and changing hormone levels during Menopause actually makes out bodies want to store fat and in a different way than it has ever done before, storing it around our middle giving us that ‘spare tyre’ look that none of us feel is a flattering look!!
Follow the link below to find out how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help manage this problem.
So why do so many women feel that their weight gets harder to manage the older they get?
Most women would say that weight management can be a lifelong battle but it just seems to get even harder in our 40’s 50’s and beyond and this is due to the hormonal changes.
So what exactly is happening to our bodies at this time?
Basically, due to the reduction in eostrogen we develop “insulin resistance” and this makes our bodies store, rather than burn, calories. In addition, the body handles food differently too so for example, if you eat 1000 calories before menopause you will burn 700 and maybe store 300. After menopause you will store 700 and burn only 300.
Another change that women often notice it the way the weight is now distributed around the body….or not!! At one time, any weight gain would have been evenly spread over the body with weight sitting on the hips, bottom, thighs and arms. After the menopause it ALL goes round the middle and we can find ourselves with far more of an apple shape than a pear shape, leading to the term “middle age spread”.
Because of this unusual distribution, even a small weight gain can result in a change of clothing size, often with the top half of the body remaining as your old size, but the bottom half seems to need to notch up.
So the reason we are storing more rather than burning it is because our body needs less energy with studies showing that we may need around 200 calories a day less than we did in the past.
The trouble is as well (especially if you have it as an added Menopause symptom) is that we can find ourselves with more aches and pains, stiffer joints and fatigue. This can make exercise seem impossible and the result of a possible reduction in mobility and activity means that even less energy is being spent. If you think back to a couple of blogs ago (that’s not very good grammar, but you know what I mean)….I was also talking about urinary incontinence and of course, this can lead us to feel reluctant to be bouncing around exercising just in case we have an embarrassing situation on our hands.
As with all of the symptoms we have talked about there always seems to be a knock on effect and connection between the symptoms that can just create a cycle that is so hard to break.
Did you know as well, that at this stage of life we also start to lose muscle mass – known as sarcopenia – at around 8% per decade after age 40. High muscle mass means that we are more metabolically active, which basically means it burns more energy – helping us to lose weight even when we are sitting still (imagine that…..working out without working at all) However, sadly less muscle means less calories burned and frustratingly more weight gain.
Now, those of you that know me by now know that I always revert back to talking about the brain and our emotional responses that come from our primitive brain. The psychological impact of menopause can, in itself lead to weight gain. The feeling of demoralization about our changing and ageing appearance can lead to a great deal of stress and anxiety. The knock on effect can ultimately lead us to over eating or ‘comfort eating’ or even excessive alcohol intake and this, obviously only makes things worse.
The subconscious mind is starting to lay down new patterns of behavior and new habits, all with the best intentions, the trouble is….that subconscious mind doesn’t take into consideration our quality of life. The physical impact of excess weight can have long term detrimental effects on our health and of course, our wellbeing.
So what can we do to manage this in the best way possible? Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is reported to help avoid abdominal fat building up and help with other symptoms such as improving sleep, which of course helps energy levels and may encourage more exercise. More sleep can of course make us feel more focused and motivate and as a result we are more likely to stay on track with those healthy habits we introduce into our lives.
Other practical steps are to aim to eat smaller portions, the habit of piling a plate can be gradually weened down, thus reducing that calorie intake. We also want to aim for good nutritious food that will protect health as well as help weight and reducing the intake of sugar and processed foods can of course have a really positive impact. Where possible keep alcohol intake to a minimum as these are just empty calories.
Taking more exercise and eating a healthier diet will have the added benefit of helping you cope better with menopausal symptoms. Don’t forget that the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other issues are also increased by our weight. So, losing excess weight protects us.
Now, going back to those stress levels……when we are living in a heighted state of stress we find ourselves in a constant state of fight or flight. This means that the Amygdala, that sits at the centre of the primitive brain, is constantly on red alert for danger because it is all about survival and is preparing you to ‘fight or flight’. To keep us in that state of readiness it produces Cortisol, the stress hormone, and this hormone encourages abdominal fat deposition because the body thinks it needs to keep hold of those energy supplies it keep you ready to tackle the danger ahead. It actually also increases our appetite, once again, encouraging us to keep the energy stores topped up.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy can help you take control of your issues with weight, firstly by addressing underlying stresses and working on small steps to find solutions in managing them. Secondly the use of a technique known as reframe can help to kick those unhealthy habits that we have layered in as coping mechanisms. In addition, it can bring about motivation, confidence and focus of mind to support you in reaching your healthy goals.
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