Weight gain is one of the most common complaints of perimenopause but it doesn’t need to be. Just like the rest of your menopausal symptoms your weight gain or in some women weight redistribution to be primarily around your abdomen has more to do with aging, diet, lifestyle and genetics and less to do with hormonal changes.
It is a well-known fact that the body can confuse the sensation of thirst for hunger, encouraging you to eat more than you need to. Whenever you are hungry make sure to drink a glass of water first and see if you are still hungry afterward. Dehydration also slows down your metabolism. Did you know that drinking 2 glasses of water alone, can increase your metabolism by 30%? Finally, dehydration increases the burden on the kidneys. And this can affect how the liver functions, as they are both elimination channels.
Lack of sleep impacts negatively on your fat loss attempts as it increases Ghrelin and reduces Leptin. Let me explain what this means. Ghrelin stimulates the appetite. While Leptin works in reverse to tell the body to stop eating by increasing the sensation of fullness. Therefore not only are you tired, but you are also hungrier and eat more as you don’t feel full. Sleep deprivation also increases cortisol (a stress hormone), this hormone can increase cravings for sugary foods. Prolonged sleep deprivation (longer than 4 days), has been found to increase insulin resistance. Setting you up for obesity and diabetes, making weight loss even harder. If getting or staying asleep is an issue for you, you may like to check out this sleep article.
Cortisol is the stress hormone that makes fat loss difficult. Cortisol’s job is to mobilise glycogen stores (short term energy stores) and increase blood sugar levels. You can only utilise fat stores if there isn’t enough energy available. Therefore in times of stress, you shut down fat loss attempts and start plateauing. Unfortunately for most people, they don’t just stop losing fat, they can actually start gaining it! This is because when your blood sugar levels are high, this is followed by a blood sugar low and lows create a vicious cycle of cravings, especially for sugary type food.
The safest place for the body to store toxins is in fat cells. If your liver can't process the number of toxins you are storing, it will slow down your weight loss. This is often the case if you initially lost weight but now you can't move past a plateau. Learn more about toxicity here.
Turning the table on your weight challenges starts with determining where you are.
Jump on the scales and grab a tape measure. Click here to download our measurement chart.
Set a realistic target and time frame. For example 1kg in a fortnight. If you have lots of weight to lose chunk it down into bite-size achievable amounts and celebrate your accomplishments. Reward yourself with non-food prizes eg buying yourself a new dress when you drop a size
Write a diet diary, it may surprise you just how much you eat and the amount of junk food that sneaks in. Meal planners can also be beneficial. If you plan to eat well, you are halfway there. I personally use a meal planner so I know what shopping I need to buy and it also helps to minimise waste.
Do a kitchen audit. Remove all processed foods and replace them with healthy varieties. Planning to eat well is half the battle. Go back and reread the Menopause Diet Checklist Guide. Add this to a diet diary or meal planner to track what you actually eat.
Remember a flat stomach is made in the kitchen and not in the gym. Food regulates 80% of your weight and the remaining 20% is exercise. Exercise is still essential but you can’t outrun a poor diet.
Being overweight increases your need for all antioxidants. Antioxidants include but are not limited to Vitamin A, C, E, Minerals zinc, and selenium. Obesity is also linked to Vitamin D deficiency. The larger you are the more vitamin D you need.
Motivate yourself for success. Hang an old favourite item of clothing that no longer fits you insight and try it on once a week and watch it get closer and closer to actually fitting. Find old pictures of yourself that your both love and hate and the way you look and put them on the fridge. This might help you choose to feed the healthier version of yourself and not the unhealthy version of yourself.
Recruit a friend or two to support you on your weight loss journey. Share your challenges, keep everyone accountable and celebrate your wins together. If your friends are more likely to sabotage your success than encourage you, it's time to look for support elsewhere. You may benefit from the support of a practitioner or your local area may have suitable group activities such as walking groups where you can meet new people who value health.
Open up your elimination pathways. Old body fat doesn’t just evaporate it needs to be removed from your body. You need to be well hydrated. Expect increased urination and bowel movements. Constipation will slow down your results and needs to be urgently addressed.
Increase lymphatic movement. Your lymphatic system works as a sewer, it moves around and removes waste products. Increasing the movement of lymphatic fluid, cleanses the body and increases its ability to drop weight. Try dry skin brushing, massage, and movement. Why not head to the day spa? This can be a good reward for hitting your first target and help accelerate the accomplishment of your next weight goal.
Consider whether these supplements could be of benefit to you in reaching your goal. This is the last tip for a reason, it should be the last thing you consider after you have tweaked your diet and exercise regime.
Supplemental don'ts include fat absorbing supplements like chitosan as it also absorbs all of your good fat-soluble nutrients at the same time. Also, avoid products with lots of stimulants like caffeine in them. It's ok to use natural caffeine such as that found in green tea but the amount found in supplements is over the top.
Troubleshooting - if you can honestly say you have addressed everything above and your weight isn't moving it's certainly worth reaching out for a consultation.
Another option is to read Dr. Jason Fung's book called The Obesity Code. This book discusses how to reverse insulin resistance and promote fat loss through intermittent fasting.