Ever wondered why you have to work even harder to lose and maintain your weight as your age progresses? In fact, the most profound weight gain in a woman’s life tends to happen during the years leading up to menopause. While it may be a well-known and grudgingly accepted part of life, many of us don’t know the reasons behind this lovely rite of passage. Once you better understand the chemistry behind this, you can better determine how to fight the bulge head-on with healthy eating habits, leading an active lifestyle, and through working with your doctor to identify and treat the hormone levels that are preventing you from seeing the results you want.
The hormonal changes of menopause could make you more susceptible to abdominal weight gain, rather than putting on excess weight in the thighs and hips. On top of hormonal changes, lifestyle and genetic factors also contribute to the weight challenges you may be seeing.
Lifestyle changes can be part of the problem. For example, menopausal women tend to exercise less than other women, which can lead to weight gain. In addition, muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. So, not consistently replacing the lean muscle through strength training will lead to a shift in your body composition. Muscle turns to fat, which burns less calories. Naturally, if this is occurring, you’ll gain weight simply by eating what you’ve always eaten! And thanks to good ‘ole genetics, if your parents or other close relatives carry extra weight around the abdomen, you’re likely to do the same.
Weight gain after menopause can have serious implications for your health. Excess weight increases the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. In turn, these conditions increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Excess weight also increases the risk of various types of cancer, including colorectal cancer and breast cancer.
The good news is that weight gain is not inevitable, and you can still maintain or even lose weight after menopause.
There’s no magic formula for preventing or reducing weight gain after menopause. The simple math for weight loss doesn’t change with age… Calories in minus calories out. So, consider these points when assessing what changes you need to make before summer rolls around.