Remember the days when you could eat anything without gaining an ounce? If those days are nothing more than a distant memory—along with your skinny jeans—don’t blame yourself. Blame estrogen (or a lack thereof).
One UT Southwestern Medical Center study shows that estrogen receptors in the brain help regulate appetite, energy expenditure, and body weight. So when estrogen levels take a nosedive during perimenopause and menopause, hunger increases, the metabolism slows, and fat starts hanging out around the waist. Worse than going up a size in the fashion department, gaining as little as 4.4 pounds after age 50 could increase your risk of breast cancer by 30 percent, according to Mayo Clinic.
Luckily, lifestyle factors can play a major role in resisting your entry into the sisterhood of the shrinking pants!
Here are my three steps to help you ward off those extra menopausal pounds:
1. Eat up. Stop the starvation-diet madness! In one University of Pittsburgh study of 465 overweight and obese postmenopausal women, those who simply ate more fruits and vegetables while reducing their consumption of desserts, meat, and cheese dropped pounds and (get this) maintained their weight loss for four years. My recommendation: Weight Watchers. At first, I was leery about joining (I would rather have a Pap smear than have to do math!), but when I gave the app a go, I realized the app did all the adding for me, and I learned a new size-shrinking and life-changing way to eat and live.
2. Take a walk. Strolling about for just an hour a day can cut your genes’ propensity towards obesity in half, according to a study from the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. What is the easiest way to get moving? Strap on a pedometer. Though it may seem geeky, in a recent Indiana University study, when people wore pedometers for 12 weeks, they reduced their daily sitting time by 17.5 percent and increased their activity levels—losing an average of 2.5 pounds. So clip one on and start losing weight!
3. Say Ooom. High stress is a predictor of weight gain and can break any woman’s will to stick with her diet, according to research from King’s College London. Meditation can help. A recent study published in Health Psychology shows a direct link between increased mindfulness and decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Try these easy meditation strategies.
Menopausal weight gain is about more than numbers on a scale. It’s about a body out of balance. So get your balance back by visiting a menopause specialist, tracking your symptoms, and getting the help you need and deserve. Before you know it, you won’t even long for the days when you can eat anything without gaining an ounce. You’ll live a healthy life—and reap all of its waist-whittling, stress-slashing, energy-boosting rewards!
Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT!