You’ve worked hard by eating healthy foods, sacrificing calorie-heavy foods or drinks (looking at you, chocolate!), and working out regularly. But as you get older, you may be in for a rude surprise in the form of weight gain. And we all know losing pounds and maintaining a healthy weight isn’t easy.
One of the most frustrating things women experience is weight gain. Even if you continue to eat a healthy diet and make it a point to exercise regularly, weight gain can still creep up on you. So how do you stop the scale from moving in the wrong direction? Combating this kind of weight gain is possible, but it takes dedication and effort. Still, with a little determination, you can stay as slim and trim as possible.
Why the Menopause Weight Gain?
Menopause is a significant transition. The National Institutes of Health explain that, as women age, the levels of female sex hormones—estrogen and progesterone—begin to decline. Eventually, your ovaries stop producing these hormones altogether. This process is accompanied by other symptoms that are common during menopause, such as your periods stopping completely, hot flashes, mood swings, and trouble sleeping.
It’s possible to get relief from some symptoms with your doctor’s help. Your doctor may recommend certain procedures, like FDA-cleared MonaLisa Touch®, to help treat your gynecologic changes and help you feel like yourself again. But what about weight gain?
Women are more likely to gain weight after 50 because of a variety of factors. True, dropping hormone levels play a role in your tendency to gain weight, but according to the Mayo Clinic, so do lifestyle factors, such as inadequate sleep, unhealthy eating, and the unavoidable process of aging.
As you get older, your muscle mass naturally diminishes while fat levels increase. Since muscle burns more calories than fat does, losing muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body burns calories. Genetic factors may also predispose you to gain weight during menopause, especially if your female relatives are overweight themselves.
It’s important to keep tabs on your weight. Gaining too much weight, especially around your abdomen, can have serious consequences for your health. According to Harvard Health Publishing, extra abdominal fat has been linked to serious medical issues including diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and cancer.
Dealing with Weight Gain Related to Aging
So how do you deal with weight gain? Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Your weight-loss journey will be completely different from another person’s. But sticking to a weight-loss plan is your best bet to get back into your favorite pair of jeans.
Your plan for losing weight should be tailored to fit your goals, but there are some general recommendations to keep in mind as you begin the process.
Eat healthier, and eat less
Even if you’re already eating a healthy diet, you can still work to cut calories to help you drop pounds. Aim for cutting an additional 200 calories from your daily diet to help you shed weight. You can reduce your calorie intake while still getting the nutrients you need by choosing nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Healthy protein and fat options, including fish, chicken, nuts, and olive oil, can help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Even if you’re already exercising, see if you can step up your routine. Aerobic exercise is great for helping you lose weight because it helps your body burn more calories. And there’s no need to run a marathon—just walking every day will still make an impact and burn those calories while you do it! Add strength training to rebuild muscle, which also increases your calorie-burning rate.
Just say no to alcohol
Alcoholic drinks add empty calories to your diet. And if you drink every day, the extra calories can add up to substantial weight gain. Cutting alcohol out of your diet prevents you from ingesting empty calories and can help speed up your weight loss.
Get a buddy
You’re more likely to stick to your weight-loss plan and achieve your goals if you have people in your life who support your efforts. Partnering with a weight-loss buddy can be a great way to keep you accountable while you lose pounds.
Weight gain related to aging can be a frustrating menopausal symptom, but you can take charge of your health and make changes to keep pounds off. Lifestyle changes help fight the natural effects of aging that make it more likely for you to gain weight. With determination and patience, you can lose weight and feel great during menopause.