Menopause and weight loss

My stash of meals has gotten a bit full this week, so I am not cooking to try to pare them down. I figured it would be a good time to talk about menopause and weight loss. I believe there are a lot of women out there who think once you start the process towards menopause losing weight or weight maintenance is impossible. With hormones gone wild, there’s no way. I’m here to tell you, it is not only possible, but doable for every woman. How do I know? Because I am in the process myself.

First, let’s discuss what menopause is and isn’t. Most women think menopause is the hot flashes and what you see on TV. That’s actually perimenopause, That’s what I’m going through right now. That can start as early as your 30’s and last for an average of 4 years and up to 10 years. I started at 41. These are the hot flashes, irritability and sleeplessness. However, I also want to touch on something that is not regularly listed as a symptom which is worsening of mental health conditions. According to Rasgon, Shelton, & Halbreich (2005), they review the literature regarding the exacerbation of mental health disorders. The short answer is, yes it can make current mental health conditions worse. I know, because it happened to me. I suffer from mental illness myself and had been doing very well for over 10 years. No issues at all. However, a few months after I had my first hot flash I felt like all of the work I had done to function normally had disappeared. I quickly turned from well-managed to a mess in a matter of months. I had to get help to get back on track, and I’m glad I did.

This leads me to another thing about perimenopause that I want to cover. That is getting help. Going through a hard time is normal, but it doesn’t mean you have to just put up with the symptoms. Make sure you get help. No matter if it’s just hot flashes or what I went through, get help. If the doctor says it’s all in your head, find another who will work with you. You DO NOT have to suffer. I think too many women think they are going crazy and have to suffer. You don’t. Which then goes on to weight gain and menopause.

It is not inevitable that you will gain weight going through menopause. According to Proietto (2017), weight gain leading up to menopause is due to the changes that occur when estrogen decreases. One of the things that happens when estrogen decreases is muscle mass also decreases more rapidly. That can be combated easily by lifting weights as part of your exercise regimen. The next is not changing your diet. At this stage, we really need to eat less. I can’t eat like I am in my 20’s anymore. Neither can a woman at this stage in her life. This is why sustainable dietary changes are important. That’s why I post recipes. Eating less should not be eating horrible food. The bottom line is weight gain doesn’t need to be a reality at this stage of the game.

Is anyone going through this right now? Leave a comment below about your experience.

References

Proietto, J. (2017). Obesity and weight management at menopause. Aust Fam Physician 46(6), 368-370.
 
Rasgon, N., Shelton, S., & Halbreich, U. (2005). Perimenopausal Mental Disorders: Epidemiology and Phenomenology. CNS Spectrums, 10(06), 471–478. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1092852900023166
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