Perimenopause – How To Lose Weight
The delightful ‘middle aged spread’ we can see in peri-menopause is one of the most distressing symptoms. Gaining weight even when we’re eating right and exercising daily can really knock our self confidence, and leave us feeling out of control, so it’s good to know that there’s something you can do. Here are some ideas about how to lose weight in perimenopause.
Why Do We Gain Weight In Peri-menopause?
A healthy body will lose and maintain an ideal weight easily, so if you’re struggling with menopausal weight loss, it’s a good idea to look into why.
The three key ingredients you need for effective weight loss are:
- A healthy diet
- Daily exercise
- Hormone balance
Although this sounds easy when you say it fast, it’s more complicated than most people realise! Let’s look at them in a bit more detail.
A Healthy Diet
With the powerful food marketing messages we’re fed every day, it’s difficult to know exactly what a healthy diet actually looks like. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve spoken to people who thought they were eating well, but their food was costing them more nutrients to process than it was putting back. Subclinical malnutrition is where a person is deficient in key nutrients, but not enough to cause a deficiency disease like rickets or scurvy. It’s surprisingly common, but usually quite easy to correct when you know how.
A healthy diet is more about counting nutrients than calories, and sadly by the time we reach peri-menopause, most of us have neglected our diet for decades because we’ve been too busy focussing on other things. We can’t expect optimum health and vitality if we don’t give our bodies the right fuel, and it’s vital that we take care over our diet especially as we get older. I work with the patients on my 90 Day Rescue programme to help them understand how to balance blood sugar as well as maximising nutrition. That’s because poor blood sugar balance in peri-menopause can often be an underlying cause of brain fog, bladder problems and weight gain amongst others. After menopause, it can also increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, dementia, and heart disease, so it’s always worth knowing how to eat well!
But when it comes to losing weight in peri-menopause, there’s also our digestion, absorption, and relationship with food to think about. Many women notice new digestive issues cropping up during peri-menopause, which can impact their ability to absorb nutrients from food. Long term use of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s) like Omeprazole, often prescribed to treat acid reflux can make absorption of nutrients much more difficult.
And lots of us have a complex relationship with food which can hamper our efforts to lose weight in peri-menopause. Whether we lack the willpower and motivation we need to eat well, comfort eat, or feel guilty after eating certain foods, there can be deep subconscious patterns which can make weight loss difficult. This is where Hypnotherapy can come in really handy!
With many of us working from home, or in desk jobs nowadays, it takes much more effort to get some daily exercise in. Thirty minutes of exercise a day can not only help with menopausal weight loss, but improve mental health and reduce the risk of cancer and dementia too. Again, even though we might be fully on board with the benefits of exercise, finding the motivation can still be quite challenging. It’s always easier to find something you enjoy, preferably outdoors and with other people.
This is the tricky bit when it comes to losing weight in peri-menopause! You’re probably aware that reproductive hormones can fluctuate wildly during peri-menopause, but you might not realise that non-reproductive hormones can too! One of them is ghrellin, which makes you feel hungry when you need to eat. When oestrogen levels are low, ghrellin levels can climb higher, making you feel hungrier for more of the time. At the same time, levels of the hormone leptin, which makes you feel, decrease. Between the two, you can end up with an insatiable appetite which can obviously hamper your weight loss in peri-menopause!
Our ability to regulate blood sugar is also affected during peri-menopause. Cortisol levels and insulin resistance tends to increase, making us more inclined to store fat than burn it. It’s still worth eating well, and exercising daily as both will give you multiple health benefits, and help to slow down the fat storage. However if despite that you’re still struggling to lose weight in perimenopause, you might need some extra help with your hormone balance.
Easy Ways To Lose Weight In Peri-menopause
If we go back to the three key elements of menopausal weight loss, we can find some easy ways to lose weight. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Make simple swaps to increase the nutrients in your diet, eg, swap breakfast cereal for porridge or chia seed pudding, and butter for mashed avocado.
- Talk about ‘releasing’ weight rather than losing it. That’s because other forms of loss are usually upsetting, and your subconscious mind doesn’t relish the prospect of losing anything.
- Keep ‘treat foods’ out of sight and reach, and healthy snacks where you can see them.
- Plan your meals and batch cook so that you’re less inclined to go for processed foods.
- If you’re eating out, ask to swap chips for sweet potato fries, or salad.
- Use some of your lunch break to enjoy a brisk walk.
Eating in a way that balances your blood sugar, and getting daily exercise, will both help to balance your hormones and reverse the vicious cycle that makes peri-menopausal weight loss difficult.
Other Ways to Lose Weight In Peri-menopause
If you feel you’re doing all the right things, and still piling on the pounds, it’s a good idea to get some extra help with taming your hormones.
It’s common to find that fatigue, hair loss, thinning eyebrows, dry skin or flaky nails can go with peri-menopausal weight gain. These are classic signs of hypothyroidism, where the thyroid gland which helps to regulate your metabolism starts to malfunction. This is a normal part of the peri-menopause process, but although the NHS thyroid function tests take this into account, they only give you part of the story. It’s very common to have classic low thyroid symptoms and test negative for any problems, because they only test part of the total thyroid function. That’s why it’s worth getting a full thyroid screen done with a private company.
Herbal medicine, although not aimed directly at weight loss, can help to tame the fluctuating hormones, reduce insulin resistance and make it easier to lose weight in peri-menopause. A number of my patients have noticed they’ve lost weight during their treatment, simply because their overall health has improved.
If you need some guidance and accountability when it comes to your diet and lifestyle improvements, you’d love health coaching! It really helps you get the results you’re looking for, and gets you into healthy habits for the rest of your life.
And if you’re an emotional eater, hypnotherapy can really help to clear old patterning, and feel more in control over your eating habits. The same applies for motivation to exercise, which I’ve done personally and seen great results with!
Where To Find More Help With Peri-menopausal Weight Gain
If you’d like to learn more about how to release physical and emotional baggage around peri-menopause, look at module 4 of my Rejuven8 self care programme.
If you feel that self care isn’t going to be enough at this stage, take a look at my 90 Day Rescue Programme, which will give you everything you need to get back in control fast.