Why Women Gain Weight During Menopause (And How To Reverse It) Part III
This is the third part of a three-part series on controlling some of the inevitable weight gain that can occur during menopause. In the first and second parts, we discussed the biological changes that happen during menopause and we shared some eating habits you could adopt to prevent weight gain from happening. In this final part, we will discuss more tips for keeping you at your weight goals.
Exercising During Menopause
Exercise is vital for the body at any age since it helps promote hormonal balance, reduces stress, and also lowers cortisol levels. However, for women during menopause, especially when hormones begin to fluctuate, it can be hard to feel motivated to exercise. For best results, do something light to moderate, such as swimming, hiking, yoga, Pilates, Zumba, or weightlifting. Try not to exercise for too long or do anything too rigorous, unless you’re used to it and it doesn’t make you feel crummy afterward.
You’ll also notice as you get older your ligaments will become looser, especially around your uterus. Some women deal with urinary incontinence when they exercise, or if they do sudden jumping, sneezing, or other exercises. So make sure to incorporate pelvic floor exercises as well, and don’t do exercises that are high-impact so that the pelvic ligaments don’t overstretch.
Remember, every woman is different too. Some can still do endurance training, marathons, and triathlons. That’s fine, but if you notice you feel worse when training hard, listen to your body and try something else.
HIIT is also good if you want something short and easy. It involves short bursts of intense exercising and then lower impact exercises afterward. So you can do about 20 seconds of burpees, and then, a couple of minutes of fast walking or jogging. If you do HIIT though, make sure your body can handle it.
If you’re going to exercise, you need to provide your body with amino acids, fats, and energy for repair. It’s important to take all of this into account. Remember, your body puts energy aside for exercising, and also energy for repair and hormones. If you don’t account for this when eating, it can be a problem.
Deal With Stress & Get A Good Night’s Rest
Stress is the most common way to cause hormonal imbalance, so make sure that you reduce stress as much as you can, calming down the nerves as needed.
Here are a few things you can do:
- Diffuse lavender, ylang-ylang, and rose essential oils
- Have a massage with essential oils
- Take magnesium, or soak in a bath of Epsom salts
- Mediate a few minutes a day
- Consider weekly float tank therapy
Sleep is vital for hormonal regulation. When you get poor sleep, it causes more cortisol to be produced, which is responsible for weight gain. If you notice you struggle with sleep, talk to an acupuncturist or a doctor for some help.
What About If Everything’s Normal?
This is very frustrating since you may still gain weight even if your tests seem normal and you’re doing everything right.
Another thing to consider is your hormone receptors, which are less sensitive as you get older. This can cause changes to not happen when they should. You might think you’ve got enough hormones, but you aren’t getting enough, and they’re not binding correctly, so you’re not getting the amount that’s needed. This of course can be a problem, and right now, there isn’t any way to test the sensitivity of hormone receptors, rather than what’s used for testing women with breast cancer.
What’s The Solution Then?
The best ways to fix this are to get exercise, ample sleep, reduce sugar, and lower your stress. Also, remember that if you get tested, hormone tests may seem normal, but remember there’s a range. What’s normal for someone or the average woman, might not be normal for you. Doctors can help you find the correct hormone levels, especially if it differs from what they view as the “average.”
In my scenario, my doctor gave me more thyroid, testosterone, and progesterone, along with local estrogen. While the doses were small, they made me feel better without any nasty side effects. A little bit of HRT is usually a safe measure.
You can also consider trying traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, herbs, ice baths, Ayurveda, and chi gong to help as well. Whatever works for you to improve your health and wellness is what you should strive for.