The weight of menopause

woman stepping on weight scale

There are plenty of reasons you could gain weight during the perimenopausal and postmenopausal stages of your life. It’s also normal, but not inevitable. Hormones, aging, genetics and lifestyle all play a role in putting on pounds. The good news is that you don’t have to surrender to the swell. Here’s a little bit about why it’s happening and what you can do about it.

The Biggest Factor

The ovaries stop making estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen plays a role in fat storage and distribution. It’s common to gain 5-10 pounds in your midsection during perimenopause. Also, as you age, you start to lose muscle mass, and your fat storage usually increases.

The Stress Factor

Stress causes us to eat more, and middle-age usually involves stress-o-plenty. Finding non-food stress relievers can help. These may include going for a short walk, deep breathing (there are several free apps to guide you), listening to music, reading or putting a puzzle together.

The Metabolic Factor

Our metabolism slows as we age. You might need to eat 200 fewer calories per day than you did in the last decade. Eat less and move more to help with this energy imbalance.

Simple tips for eating less may include using a smaller plate, splitting an entrée with someone or asking for a take-out box at the beginning of the meal instead of at the end. Consider swapping fresh fruit for dessert and cut down on your liquid calorie intake.

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise (being able to carry on a short conversation while exercising) per week. Dividing this time among five to seven days of the week by doing five or 10 minutes three to six times a day is just as effective as doing 30 minutes at a time. Additionally, adding three or four days of strength training will help preserve or increase muscle mass, which helps to burn more calories while resting and helps with your bone health.

As your wellness needs change, Roper St. Francis Healthcare is here to support you through every stage. If you need a doctor, search our online physician directory. Or explore what we offer for menopause care.