Remember when you could eat pretty much anything you wanted and remain at the same weight? Remember when you could just go for a walk or 2 a week and notice your jeans getting looser? Remember?? For many of us, those days are gone. What is going on? This is a question I get from clients many times a week. Seems like we have to work twice as hard just to maintain our weight, let alone lose a few pounds. Guess what? There is a physiological reason for this and luckily there are some concrete solutions as to how to deal with this issue. For many women this weight gain is related to peri menopause and menopause. 90% of women experience increased weight between the ages of 35-55 years old. It is a gradual weight gain, that tends to sneak up on us and suddenly we have 10-20 extra pounds to lose. The sad truth is that for most of us, these pounds are more difficult to lose.
DON’T THROW IN THE TOWEL
Mid-life weight gain can be incredibly frustrating. You feel like you are eating healthy and working out, but the pounds just don’t want to budge, especially those extra inches around your middle. Many factors contribute to this weight gain, stress, hormones, sedentary lifestyle etc… One factor in particular can be influenced by food intake – INSULIN RESISITANCE. Insulin Resistance occurs when our bodies convert most of the calories we eat to FAT due to fluctuations in blood sugar.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUt INSULIN RESISTANCE AND THE HORMONAL CHALLANGES ASSOCIATED WITH MENOPAUSE?
Ditch the Diet Mentality – This is a lifestyle change. You need to focus on changes that you can live with over the long haul. Gone are the days of having a shake for breakfast and lunch and a frozen diet dinner at night. If you cannot live with your dietary changes and go back to old habit – the weight will come right back. Additionally, scientific research has proven that quick weight loss from a very low-calorie diet can slow down our metabolism. We want to keep the metabolism burning calories constantly all day.
Eat Several Small Meals a Day – This helps to level out your blood sugar. Wild swings in blood sugar increase appetite and cravings for refined carbohydrates. Going long periods of time without eating slows metabolism and consequently the next meal eaten – your body will hold on to every calorie. In addition, letting yourself get TOO HUNGRY, can lead to intense cravings, especially for carbohydrates. Shoot for a meal or snack every 3-4 hours. REMEMBER – Eating frequently does not mean eating more! On average, most woman require about 200 calories/day less as they enter middle age than when they were in their Twenties.
Increase Protein Intake and Try to Evenly Space Throughout the Day – Protein comes from meat, fish, nuts, seeds, eggs, legumes, nut butters etc… The body has to work harder to break down protein than carbohydrates and thus burns more calories eating protein. This is referred to as the Thermic Effect of Food. Protein also keeps us full longer than carbs. Always combine a protein and a carb when you eat. For ex. Have a handful of almonds or a cheese stick with your fruit or put peanut butter on your toast instead of jelly or butter. You will notice a difference in your fullness level almost immediately.
Cut down on the WHITE STUFF – Sugar and white flour based foods. Much research on menopause has proven that when we take the white out of our diet – weight loss increases!! If you are going to have a sweet or dessert – have it within the context of a meal as oppose to skipping lunch to have an ice cream cone.
Increase Intake of Fruits and Veggies – Colorful produce are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. In addition, they contain PHYTOESTROGENS (helpful in fighting many menopausal symptoms, including weight gain). Foods rich in Phytoestrogens include: oranges, grapefruit, plums, apples, beets, cabbage and sweet potatoes.
Increase FIBER intake – Fiber can help to control your appetite, keep you full, keep you regular, control food cravings and maintain a stable blood sugar. Beans and legumes are an excellent source of fiber and also rich in PHYTOESTROGENS;
Adequate Sleep – I realize this can be difficult due to the insomnia associated with menopause, but try to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep per night, Many studies have noted a direct correlation between lack of sleep and obesity. Try having a cup of herbal tea and turning the electronics off before hitting the hay. You may sleep better.
Get a Physical – Speak with your doctor regarding the symptoms you are experiencing. Ask to have your thyroid and vitamin D levels checked. Many times these factors can be contributing to weight gain.
Last but not least – MOVE YOUR BODY! Daily exercise is essential for both physical and mental well-being!
Remember – small changes in daily habits can have a huge impact on how you feel and how your body handles this physical change.
TO YOUR HEALTH – Noreen!