As if going pretty much brain dead for a season, isn’t enough. As if waking up and not even recognizing the person in your head isn’t enough. As if experiencing an intensity of emotions, or complete lack thereof, that could land us in jail or the psyche ward isn’t enough… We tend to gain weight during and after menopause. Damn!
On Being a Woman
There are a few factors that contribute to this travesty of justice. You’d think that we’d already suffered enough, right?!? However… the changing hormone levels in our bodies actually cause a decrease in muscle mass, (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health-depth/menopause-weight-gain/art-20046058) which automatically decreases our caloric need and guess what? Eating LESS during the most miserable times of our lives is NOT what we want to do! We usually eat more and the pounds begin to pile on. As time passes, our bodies can change into something that we don’t even recognize.
According to the Mayo Clinic source cited above, to merely maintain our current weight we may need about 200 calories/day less during this time of our lives. Oh, great. “Comfort food” suddenly becomes our staunch enemy because there’s no comfort in watching that scale go up week after week.
The “formula” that worked/works for me is pretty simple. It’s a combination of eating less and moving more. Any activity will burn excess calories but weight training will aggressively rebuild some of that precious lost muscle so it has the advantage over all other forms of exercise for me. It burns approximately 90-266 calories/hour on average, depending on the individual’s weight and effort involved in the lifting, according to the Harvard Medical School (https://www.livestrong.com/article/256854-calories-burned-through-strength-training/). It has served me well. I eat 1600-1800 calories/day, non-lifting and lifting days respectively. Before this time of my life I daresay I ate 2,000-3,000 every single day. I could eat 2,000 easily without gaining weight. Reducing caloric intake after menopause is necessary to avoid weight gain but instead of drastically cutting calories, I found it much more pleasant to increase my activity and cut fewer calories. The added benefit of the endorphins and other neurotransmitters produced by strenuous exercise was a win-win when I realized that I could still eat enough to be satisfied. Since beginning David’s Way I find it difficult to eat all of the calories that I need because the foods that David encourages, whole food sources of protein and complex carbohydrates, are so filling. Sometimes I feel guilty because I didn’t eat all of my allotted calories!
You Are What You Eat
I also discovered plain, full-fat, Greek yogurt during this time. I read somewhere that it decreased belly fat better than other sources of calcium and I jumped on that bandwagon. It definitely made a difference for me.
Simple carbohydrates and sugar cause insulin spikes and and insulin spikes cause an increase in cortisol levels in the body. Over time, increased cortisol levels may cause excess belly fat. I avoid simple carbs and treat sugar like a poison. If I have sandwich bread in the house, I will see an increase in belly fat. I just don’t eat it except on rare occasions. My burger doesn’t have a bun. I keep my Net Carbs at 100 grams/day to control tummy pudge. I constantly pursue a lean body and I have discovered that David’s Way of high protein and low carb eating is exactly how I need to eat now. The truth is , I’m certain that I should have been eating this way all along.
Considering the cortisol link, stress causes terrible cortisol spikes. David’s advice to “Keep your world small.” can help with that. If people or activities stress you out, avoid them. Keep your world full of positive people who encourage your efforts to be healthy and leave the negative ones behind. This time of your life that can be so frustrating will instantly get a little easier and your overall health and waistline will reflect that wise decision.
Knowledge is power. Don’t let this time of life catch you off guard. It’s a real thing, Girls. Be ready. If you’re in it, and you’re not eating this way and you’re not exercising, then decide if this sounds like something that would be good for you. I’ll never go back. I say that I’m middle-aged at 64 because I plan on living a very long life in good health, completely independent. It looks like I have a pretty good start on it.
Don’t be miserable another day. A quality diet and physical fitness are always beneficial. Use the energy that you have to make important changes in your life. The same methods work for both naturally occurring and surgically induced menopause. I have no intention of growing old gracefully. I haven’t even hit my peak. Your best years really are ahead of you. The choices are yours.