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Menopausal weight: Stop the middle age spread!

Many women see their bodies go through changes as they enter menopause--it is not just you! Your body is experiencing hormonal changes that make it more difficult to maintain your average weight as you age. These hormonal changes cause a redistribution of weight, primarily to a woman’s abdominal area, also known as central weight distribution.

Know the facts...

Let’s clear something up: weight gain versus weight distribution. While it is true that menopausal women, in the age range of 50s-60s, typically gain about 1.5 pounds a year, the hormonal changes caused by menopause do not alone cause women to gain weight. Weight gain for women in their 50s and 60s is directly affected by other changes the body goes through as it ages, such as metabolism slowing down. Lifestyle and genetic factors become more influential in woman’s overall health as she ages as well.

… and the risks

As we mentioned, menopausal weight redistribution usually resides in the midsection of the body. This type of fat (for more, read here) has been linked to higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death for women who are postmenopausal. Gaining weight in the midsection for women in their 50s-60s also puts women at risk for abnormal glucose and lipid levels and high blood pressure.

What should you do?

First, know this: menopausal weight gain (and midsection pound redistribution) are not inevitable. Being conscious about how you treat your body can go a long way towards maintaining the good health you had in years prior to menopause. (Even if your health wasn’t great pre-menopause, there is no time like the present. Doesn’t your body deserve a reward for a life being well-lived?)

Diet-wise, the golden guidelines still apply: opt for more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, and look for those with more fiber and less-processed. Olive oil is your friend! So is protein-- meat, fish, chicken, and if you are vegetarian, legumes, nuts, and soy.

Also, remember to: get enough sleep (not enough sleep makes you crave carbohydrates and more calories in general); drink enough water (and substitute water for sugary drinks and soda as well as limit alcohol), and be around others prioritizing their best health (together, care what you put into your bodies and do physical activity, a combination of aerobic activity and strength training, regularly). Keeping positive reinforcement company is always helpful when you have a goal.

Be a friend to yourself, and your body will respond in kind. Get on living!  

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