3 Tips for Successfully Managing Menopause and Weight Gain

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“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.” 

Camille’s favorites are MyFitnessPal and LoseIt.

“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!

Download my free eBook MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriends Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Perimenopause and Menopause.

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.

  • I love ‘set small goals’, that is so doable and helpful in weight loss, exercise habits and feeling good!

    • Me, too! When we try to change too much at one time – we are often not successful. Then we get discouraged and end up reaching for those not-so-good for you comfort foods!

  • Weight gain after a certain age is so frustrating. That’s really the only menopause symptom I had because up until 50 I was always skinny. I don’t have a sweet tooth, eat whole healthy foods and walk up and down hills everyday. I guess I’ll have to try weight training.

    • I thought her whole approach to how your metabolism affects your weight was very interesting. She found weight training to help her burn fat more than aerobics. I am not sure if that would be the same for everyone, but it is worth a shot! LMK how it goes! Good Luck!

  • Great tips. The point is that we really do have to be even more mindful after midlife. This stuff sneaks up on us!

    • So true, Carol. Eating healthy and exercise is the key to good health.

  • michelle

    hiya ladys anyone else experence blurred vision and dry eyes

  • sue

    Hi Ellen, fortunately I didn’t gain weight during menopause and it was because I did the three things you outlined in your post!

  • The weight gain is the worse, and I hate exercising. I just wish someone would tell me when menopause ends because I am in my 10th year and getting sick of it – sick of it I say!

  • Susan Andrews Kanoff

    This article came JUST at the right time, thank you! I’m going through menopause and gaining a few pounds a week!! I never had an issue with weight until this month. I’m panicking because I have a photo shoot tomorrow and literally nothing is fitting me! Yikes!! Susan wwww.themidlifefashionista.com

    • Put on your confidence, inner peace and happiness. That’s the best outfit for a photo shoot!!!

      • Susan Andrews Kanoff

        But if only I could button my pants 🙁

  • I love the focus on reducing calorie intake for weight loss and increasing exercise for health and fitness – a really balanced approach. Leanne @http://www.crestingthehill.com.au

    • I thought Camille’s approach was unique. She eats as if she is not working out. Seems really smart.

  • Lois Alter Mark

    I definitely needed to read this now. I’ve been traveling so much, eating terribly and not exercising enough. Time for a change!

    • When I am traveling, I give myself a pass — time to just enjoy the trip and all the great food of the region. When I get home, I switch back to my healthier ways and it takes no time to get back in the groove. Hope you had a fab time traveling…………