3 Tips for Successfully Managing Menopause and Weight Gain
“You look great for your age!”
Have you heard these words? What do they mean to you??
To my friend, Camille, “for your age” indicated that “middle age” as it’s referred to required serious compromises in terms of weight gain. She felt it was a slippery slope and she was going from sexy to dumpy. These words were the turning point for taking a more proactive role in her weight and health.
Like many of us, Camille began noticing the numbers on the scale rise beginning in her 30’s. Work and relationship stress were huge triggers for her. She was a bit of a “carboholic” and a dessert lover. So, she found herself comfort eating – half a pint of ice cream or a batch of cocoa icing – or half a leftover cake or cookies and chocolate at the office. Sound familiar???
Later in her career and coinciding with her menopausal journey, Camille became President of a company that used a combination of scientific research into the drivers of chronic disease, genomic testing, nutritional counseling and interval training to help people reduce their risk factors for chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. This research helped Camille focus on the science of health instead of embracing one fad diet after another.
What she learned helped her crack the code. She realized serious changes were in order. She began to read everything science-based she could find about menopause, metabolism, carbs, and nutrition. She then began running a company focused on replacing petrochemicals with recycled plastics and bio-based products – and began to learn a great deal about chemicals mimicking estrogen and endocrine disruptors.
Through her business expertise and research, she discovered a wide range of critical science-based factors that enabled her to lose 25 pounds in a year and a half and keep it off!
I asked Camille to share the top three changes that she made that changed her body and health.
1. METABOLISM – “It is important to understand your true metabolism. A recent Biggest Loser Study shows that dieting can slow your metabolism – so you will need less food than a normal person of your height, age, and body type who has not dieted. In addition, your metabolism slows as you age particularly after menopause. Finally, everyone’s metabolism is different thanks to our genes. There is no reliable rule of thumb based on your age and height. Experiment and track using an app to learn about your personal metabolism.”
“Learn how many calories you really need in a day to avoid gaining weight (on a no exercise day). Once you know – keep tracking every day. This is important because as you lose weight you need fewer calories. This is because your body is actually smaller and requires less energy to sustain itself. An app is a great tool to help you understand where you are before and after each meal and what your choices mean calorie wise, carb wise and salt wise. This is critical to progress.
Set small goals rather than your big goal and each week focus on a day where you want to show off your progress – it could be a night out with the girls or a new outfit at the gym. Reward yourself at intervals with something that celebrates your progress – I got new jeans on my birthday after being too embarrassed to wear them for about 6 years.”
2. EXERCISE – Many people allow themselves to eat more on days they exercise. That did not work for Camille. She began to focus on diet as the key means to achieve weight loss and exercise as reducing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. Also, exercise was a way to tone her body. This is especially important after weight loss so the skin does not become saggy.
During the period where Camille was working to lose the most weight, she found weightlifting to be the best way to speed up her metabolism. She saw an increase in metabolism for two days after weightlifting versus only one day with cardio. An increase in metabolism for Camille resulted in burning more calories. She told me that weightlifting using machines in the gym versus free weights worked multiple muscles and helped her avoid injury. In addition, she found that cardio exercises like running, hiking, elliptical, and treadmill made her very hungry. Ideally, she found it helpful if she lifted weights three days a week and did her cardio two days a week. In addition, she walked every day.
“Make sure you eat a small amount of protein and carbs for muscle repair in the first half hour after a workout. I love Greek yogurt or low-fat chocolate milk.”
3. FOOD – “Shop proactively so that you have the right foods and snacks on hand so you don’t binge or eat the wrong foods that happen to be at hand when you are starving. Greek yogurt is your best friend – the perfect combo of high protein and the right number of carbs. It keeps your gut/microbiome healthy, provides tons of calcium to keep your bones healthy, is loaded with protein to aid in muscle repair and slows the digestion of sugar so that it doesn’t spike your blood sugar. It is much lower in sugar than desserts. Enjoy caramel or chocolate flavor as a dessert, fruit flavors post workout or with breakfast. Buy organic fruits and vegetables. Pesticides and fertilizers used on non-organic foods mimic estrogen in your system and can cause weight gain.
Avoid restaurants or plan ahead by looking at the menu online and selecting something healthy to ensure you don’t overeat, eat the wrong things, or eat a great deal of salt. Split an entree and salad with a companion or take the other half home. Aim for fish and seafood – restaurants do not usually but organic meats but wild seafood do not have hormones and drugs that can mimic estrogen and cause you to gain weight.”
What I love about Camille’s success story is that her tips are very doable!
We CAN change those old habits that cause us to become members of the sisterhood of the shrinking pants without sending ourselves into a panic attack or hot flash. A few easy, healthy changes incorporated into our lifestyle can do wonders for our health and waistlines.
Give it whirl……………. I know I am!
My Motto: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.