One of the earliest signs I noticed with my body, that indicated something had changed was the weight gain in my mid-section. My clothes stopped fitting in the waist, and I seemed to be bloated more often than usual. As we get older, we may notice that maintaining our usual weight becomes more difficult. As a matter of fact, many women gain weight around the menopause transition period.
It is ironic how older females in our families or even among our friends do not see it as important to prepare us for, or share some of their experiences with us before we start experiencing these changes. Although most women gain weight as they age, the extra pounds are not inevitable. It is not clear who will or will not gain weight as we enter perimenopause; we just need to be prepared and “change with the changes” There are ways to minimise perimenopausal weight gain, and we will look into some of them.
What Causes This Weight Gain?
There are hormonal changes that accompany perimenopause that might make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen than around your hips and thighs. However, hormonal changes alone do not necessarily cause the weight gain. The weight gain is usually related to aging, as well as genetic factors and lifestyle.
For example, muscle mass naturally contracts with age, while fat surges. Loss of muscle mass cuts the rate at which your body uses calories, which can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight. If you continue to eat as you always have and do not increase your physical activity, you are likely to gain weight.
Hereditary factors also might play a role in perimenopause weight gain. If your parents or other close relatives carry extra weight around the abdomen, you’re likely to do the same.
Some other factors, such as a lack of exercise, unhealthy eating and insomnia, might contribute to the weight gain. When people do not get enough sleep, they tend to eat more and consume more calories.
How Risky Is Weight Gain At This Stage?
Studies have shown that weight gain at this stage and age can have serious consequences for our health. Extra weight increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems and various types of cancers.
How Do We Prevent Weight Gain At The Perimenopausal Stage?
There is no magic formula for preventing, or reversing this weight gain. Simply create a personal programme to control your weight and live your healthiest life. Here are some areas in which I have made adjustments, and you can try doing that too:
Try taking in less calories during the day by reducing the time frame within which you eat. So in the 24 hour period, have a shorter feeding time and a longer resting time for your digestive system. Example, start eating later in the day and stop eating earlier.
Also change what you eat – more fruits, vegetables and seeds; and less starch and meats. Start with water, tea or some extracted juices (fruits and vegetable mix, fruit or vegetable); around 10:00 am – 12:00 as you progress. You may then introduce fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew and pineapple at manageable intervals throughout the afternoon (eat them separately).
Then have an early dinner, at times between 3:00 and 6:00 pm (depending on your schedule), and have a healthy snack at the latest 8:00 pm. Do this for three months and record the results and your body’s reaction.
Try not to be sparing on your nutrition intake in order to reduce calories, pay attention to what you are eating and drinking. Replace processed foods and snacks with fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Dinners and lunches should contain more legumes, nuts, lean meat, fish or chicken which are healthy protein options. Replace butter, stick margarine and shortening with oils, such as olive or coconut oil.
Be on the lookout for the sugar cravings, as this is one of the things I noticed. The need for chocolate and other sweet-tooth items, especially around the time for my period. Start acquiring the taste of unsweetened beverages such as teas, coffee etc. Reduce your intake of soft drinks, juices from concentrates, energy drinks and flavoured waters. Ensure to drink lots of high ph. water throughout your day.
After doing a little research on how to reduce the weight around my belly (mid-section), I realised that the breads that are sold as wheat are not true wheat, but are more colouring and sugar. Based on that, I reduced my intake of bread by approximately 80%, and my result was even better.
It cannot be overstated that women at this stage of their lives need calcium. Eat and drink two to four servings of calcium-rich foods and take a good supplement (Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc with Vitamin D), is usually recommended by doctors, to keep your body’s supply up. Calcium is found in dairy products, fish with bones (such as sardines and canned salmon), broccoli, and legumes.
Try to also ensure that your Iron and Vitamin B12 intake is adequate. These are important for the proper functioning of your body. Try to eat at least three servings of iron-rich foods each day. Iron is found in lean red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and enriched grain products.
Moderate aerobic activity can help you shed excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight, if your joins (knees and ankles) can handle it you may also do light jogging. There tends to be joint pains at this stage; which might not allow for too many strenuous activities. My doctor actually told me to do brisk walking instead of vigorous aerobics such as jogging. I started walking three to five mornings and or evenings per week (for 30 minutes), and saw results in one month.
Depending on your age, preference and health conditions, you may also include crunches, stretches and yoga. Meditation is also a great way to release some of the stress and depressed feelings you may be experiencing.
Remember to Breathe
Now ladies, remember to breathe. With all that you have to deal with at this stage, you have to remember to invest in yourself. Pamper yourself at least once per month. Do your nails, do your hair and a facial to take care of your skin; a light massage may also be great. While all those signs and symptoms are doing their thing, you are coping with them without it showing physically.
Ladies let us have each others back. Share the changes with other girl friends, family members and co-workers. each one help one and in the process we feel better.
Remember, feel free to post your comments, questions and feedback.