By Joshua McKinney
“Menopause is the reason I can’t lose weight.”
“Weight gain is inevitable when going through menopause.”
“Now that I’m going through menopause, weight loss is impossible.”
As a personal trainer at Impulse Fitness, Nutrition, & Lifestyle since 2007, I have heard these claims from a large portion of my female clients. However, if we can refute these theories with fact-based evidence, then these theories actually become excuses.
That being said, is losing weight during menopause more challenging? Yes, but why? During menopause, the ovaries make fewer sex hormones. This change “freaks out” your body’s normal hormonal balance. The response mechanism of your body during this hormonal imbalance is to store fat around the abdomen, hips, and thighs. Unfortunately, fat stored in these areas leads to the increase in estrogen levels which in turn, increases the production of fat. This sounds like an incredibly formidable cycle and is a main reason many women ages 45-55 (prime menopausal ages) gain weight. Menopause alone, however, cannot be blamed for all of this. In addition, as we age our metabolism slows down making it even harder to burn calories and keep off those extra unwanted pounds. Slower metabolisms, lower activity levels, and poor eating habits all contribute to the weight gain. Fear not, for there is good news!
A 5-year study known as the Women’s Healthy Lifestyle Project randomly assigned 535 women to either a lifestyle intervention group or an assessment only control group. The lifestyle intervention group received behavioral, dietary, and physical activity programming throughout the duration of the study. The premise of the study was to discover if these factors could counter weight gain for peri-menopausal and menopausal women. In short, yes the nutrition and exercise did make a difference; 55% of the intervention participants were at or below their baseline weight as opposed to 26% in the control group.
This research proves that an excellent diet, certain lifestyle modifications, and routine exercise may not only help combat weight gain, but may help you lose the weight for good. If you need help and aren’t sure how to implement these factors into your life, contact a fitness or nutrition expert to help you start your journey.
As mentioned earlier, menopause can certainly make your road to a healthier lifestyle a little more bumpy. However, the most empowering information from this article should be the fact that it is not impossible. Maybe all we need to do is look at our lives and find a more meaningful reason to be healthy. Maybe a number on a scale is not enough to motivate you. Maybe our outlook should be deeper than just “calories in, calories out.”
Clients frequently tell me that their main focus is to play in the backyard with grandkids free of back pain. Others have told me that they just want to make it up a flight of stairs without being completely out of breath. A large portion of my clients see me because they have lost a loved one to cancer or heart disease and they want to counteract their chances of the same fate.
We all have a reason why we do what we do. We all have a purpose for why we do it. Maybe if we find that reason, if we know our purpose, we can overcome so much more than we ever thought. This type of thinking could change our thoughts from “I can’t lose weight because of menopause” to “I won’t let menopause keep me from losing weight.”
Perception is reality. What is your perception?
How To Deal With Menopause