Ok, let’s talk straight here: yes, it’s harder keep the belly fat at bay during menopause and accelerating through the years—however, Meno’s, it CAN be done.
Those of you who follow me on social media, especially on Insta stories, know that I am no saint in the food department! I do not exercise as much, or as intensely, as I used to due to due to many injuries—my lower back and hips being a massive problem from being whacked by a rather large, heavy car thirteen years ago—so pain management is key for me. If I do not move then I cease up. Motion is lotion!
What can we do?
Firstly, it’s the old balancing act of ‘calories in vs calories used’, but I am sure there are many of you that feel that you are doing this and still not being able to beat the belly fat.
Ok, so here are some tips: this is from my personal (loving pizza & wine) and my professional experience of working with people for over twenty-five years. I also reference a Harvard study written by Dr Stanford.
1. Be honest. I know myself so I can’t kid myself—the summer can be harder for me to lose weight as I am a July baby. Many of my friends are the same, so eating and drinking out happens more often, especially in this glorious weather! Those four pounds that I battle with have crept up this last month or so, and are now deposited around my middle!
2. Portion size. We need less calories now than we did we were younger, as we lose muscle mass and our metabolism slows down. So, look at your portion size, eat slower, and don’t get to the point of being hungry—plan your meals in advance.
3. Plan for long term. ‘We want women to find longer-term solutions to stop the cycle of weight gain and loss,’ says Dr Stanford. ‘Losing and regaining weight can actually make it more difficult to keep weight off over the long term. You need to think, is this something I can commit to forever?’ she says. So, stay away from fad diets.
4. Eat less and move more. Starting out can be hard but everything counts—you can progress the time and intensity as you become fitter. Shorter but more intense workouts where you become breathless will not only benefit your waist line, but also your heart and mental health. If you start to make small changes now, then these will make a massive difference over time.
5. Add strength to your workouts. This is a must, Meno’s! Building muscle can increase what’s known as your basal metabolic rate—the amount of energy your body needs to keep working when you’re not moving. So basically, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn at rest! Also, let’s not forget how your bones will thank you—osteoporosis is called the ‘silent killer’. An easy way to incorporate both strength-building exercises and cardiovascular exercises is to perform a circuit-style workout that includes both cardio and weights (sometimes these workouts are called HIIT).
6. Sleep! Poor sleep quality becomes more common during menopause, and this can compound problems with weight gain. A lack of sleep affects your weight in much the same way as hormonal shifts do, making you want to eat more and causing your body to collect fat around your middle. If you are experiencing disturbed sleep, practice good sleep habits: remove all electronic screens from the bedroom at least an hour before bedtime; go to bed and get up on the same schedule each day; and ensure that you have a restful sleep environment. If sleep quality doesn’t improve, seek help from your doctor or a sleep specialist.
7. Reduce your stress levels. Stress, like poor sleep, can lead to weight gain. Women at midlife often have numerous stressors in their lives, including caring for both their kids and their aging parents. Adopt strategies to fight stress such as meditation and exercise, or get support from a trained counsellor.
8. Check your medication and health. As we accelerate throughout the years our body can change, so if you really are doing all of the above and still see no results, then consider going to your GP to get your blood tested: check your hormones, thyroid, vitamin B, and vitamin D. Also, if you are on any medication, do you need this reviewed?
9. Acceptance. I know it’s difficult, but if you are looking after your health and you are feeling good, then that, for me, is really the way forward. Dr Stanford says, ‘Just as your body transitioned into puberty, with all the changes that followed—developing breasts, starting your period—now you’re having a different transition, some of these changes are the natural ageing process.’
10. Have fun! When we are stressed, our stress hormone cortisol is released and holds onto fat stores, so try and put some fab things in your diary with friends to release those ‘feel good’ hormones such as serotonin and dopamine.
Remember, if you are undertaking a new exercise or health regime, please get the ok from your GP first.
I hope this helps—if you’d like to find out about menopasue, symptoms, and solutions in more depth from a menopause GP specialist, I will be hosting an event in London on the 21st Sept. We will be joined by Dr Renée Hoenderkamp, BBC Radio London’s resident GP. MORE INFO HERE.
Every woman is unique, so I offer 1-2-1 sessions in my studio in London Bridge or SYKPE session in the comfort of your own home! MORE INFO HERE.
Have a great week, and I’ll be in touch. Any questions or anything you’d like me to blog on, just shout!