5th Day of Menopause

Carrying on with our seasonal ditty, instead of gold rings I give you day 5.

For the 5th symptom of menopause our bodies gave to us, 5 extra pounds.

‘And the rest’ would say many ladies!

Yup unexplained weight gain. I have seen stories of people who have always eaten exactly the same foods, do the same exercise and suddenly put on 10 lbs or more in the space of 6 months of so. It’s as if the body is stocking up for hibernation .. only we don’t hibernate and still have to keep eating so the excess doesn’t disappear ready for Spring. Boo.

Others find that they gain a lot of weight when trying HRT.

Some find their shape changes and weight that used to go on the bottom half now lands on the tum.

And I am yet to find a woman who is happy about it.

Right, so what to do? First we have to start with some acceptance that yes our hormones are doing weird things again and appear to have messed with our metabolism. And in turn we have pretty much 2 choices: ignore it and put on weight or adjust our eating / exercise habits and do something about it. And it is a choice. You might need some time to ponder it but make sure you are consciously choosing. If you opt for ignore it, great, enjoy and don’t beat yourself up about if weight goes on. Embrace your new look.

If you want to opt for the latter, from what I’ve read / heard, most people can shift the extra pounds but it takes a lot more effort than in our 20s. (My 20s – a time of excessive unhealthy eating and boozing and never putting on weight .. oh how I miss thee!).

I haven’t gained weight yet which I put down to an excessively healthy plant-based diet and a fair amount of exercise. I definitely have to pay a lot more attention to what I eat though. When I go on catered holidays I can easily put on 6 or 7lbs in a week, despite still making a lot of pretty healthy choices. In our 40s it can sometimes feel like we just have to sniff at a bag of crisps and a few pounds pile on.

There is a lot of conflicting diet advice, and this isn’t the place for me to recommend a diet, but there are some pretty basic things that we can all mostly agree on:

– processed food is generally not great for us
– fresh fruit and veg is to be encouraged
– high fat dairy / cheese isn’t going to help
– battered or deep fried foods are bad
– fibre is good (filling and calorie free!) 
– whole foods are better than processed i.e. brown rice not white, brown bread not white etc. 
– crisps, cakes, chips, chocolate, sweets, donuts etc are not doing us any favours 
– does any ‘diet’ or food approach make intuitive sense to you and feel good in your body?

If you follow some basic rules of limiting the crappier stuff and eating more of the good stuff it’s quite hard to go wrong. A lot of people swear by Slimming World and the group support seems to really help. Others love the 5:2 diet or other fasting approaches. My fitness pal is a great app for tracking your calorie intake and owning up to what you are actually scoffing each day. I personally follow a 95% whole-foods plant based lifestyle and love it. Whatever approach you go for, find a way of eating that isn’t a quick fix but an approach that works for you, in your lifestyle on a long term basis.

Same with exercise. Most people don’t move anywhere near enough. You may have got away with it for years but the menopause is saying ‘Sorry lady, you need to get your groove on and get a move on!’. Again find what works for you. I’ve heard pretty much every excuse there is for not exercising from clients over the years and am yet to find anyone who can’t actually fit it in. What will work for you? Taking up running? Entering a sports challenge? Doing the moonwalk? Finding a gym buddy? Adult netball? Bootcamp? DVD at home every day for 20 mins? Walk the imaginary (or real) dog but go really fast and choose a hilly route? Squats while the kettle is boiling? Look for opportunities to fit in some exercise everyday and eventually it becomes a habit.

It can feel as if, during the menopause, our bodies are at war with us. But maybe it’s just a cry for help? A time to reassess our lifestyle habits and the impact they might be having on our bodies. Pls like / share. Sue X
EDIT – I have to add that obviously it’s not the season to help you be healthy but have a ponder about how you want to be in the New Year. And a brisk walk is always a good option for escaping from difficult relatives!!

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