12. Weight Gain
We know Christmas has been and gone, leaving most people sporting an extra inch or two and wobblier bits, blaming the excess chocolate, desserts, nibbles and alcohol that was so enthusiastically consumed in such a short period. However, LUCKILY us hotties have a secret weapon in our not-so-little-arsenal of excuses, as we begin the new year.
It’s not often we can ‘thank’ the menopause for many things, but this little nugget may help us feel a whole lot better about ourselves as we enter a new year, thinking what complete and utter gluttons we were, during the festive season. Although we ate in moderation (cos that’s what we do - or at least try to), but those pesky old hormones were messing with us once again - resulting in weight gain!
Well that’s our excuse and we’re sticking to it!!
So why exactly do some peri/menopausal women experience weight gain?
Yep…you’ve guessed it…it’s those bloody hormones AGAIN!
Our ever-fluctuating hormone levels affect the way we store fat, and during the peri/menopause our bodies tend to store more calories than they burn, thus causing a build up of fat.
Other symptoms caused by those pesky fluctuating hormones can also indirectly affect our weight, such as night sweats and insomnia, resulting in you having less energy and the ability to take part in regular exercise, because the lack of activity is likely to lead to more weight gain. Vicious cycle or what?!?
ANOTHER factor is that our muscle mass decreases during peri/menopause which translates to our body requiring fewer calories and if we don’t reduce our calorie intake hotties, we end up eating more than our bodies require, and before you know it, wham, bam, thank you ma’am, our muffin top has turned into a cake shelf!
It’s not rocket science the experts say - we do need to eat less and move more! Quite literally, every little helps!
Easier said than done when you’re a hot, sweaty, knackered mess, who cannot sleep and would gleefully murder or maim their family at the drop of a hat because they have absolutely ZERO understanding of just what you and your body are experiencing.
Their sympathy levels are pretty much non-existent, as is your patience. Probably best for a ‘time out’. For everyone!
Just take yourself off to your quiet and happy place until you calm down - but leave your ‘comfort blanket’ - a Hottie's secret codeword for chocolate, wine, biscuits, cake or any other calorific ‘treats’ - behind! Lavender spray, some herbal tea, and some soothing sounds are probably your (new) best friends at times like these…
So how do we combat this full on assault from the peri/menopause body snatchers?
Don’t fall into the trap of cutting out all treats and embark on an unsustainable diet or exercise regime that you know will end in failure, leaving you feeling like a failure and more deflated than ever.
- Rather than cutting out completely, try switching out refined carbohydrates for their complex cousins. Swap white bread and rice for the wholemeal varieties
- To help you feel fuller for longer you need to keep your protein intake high with lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy foods
- Fill half your plate with colourful fruit and vegetables - a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower the risk of digestive problems, plus have a positive effect upon blood sugar, which can help keep those hunger pangs at bay.
- Choose fats wisely and eat meals with healthy fats to counter any weight gain. Think oily fish, nuts, olives, eggs and avocado. Cut down on the cheese, chocolate fudge cake, calorific pastries and Big Macs, or your belly will end up a Whopper!
- Watch your portion sizes - sometimes our eyes can be bigger than our bellies - we don’t need to finish off the plate or stuff ourselves until we feel sick!
- Bring some structure to your day with proper meal times instead of grazing 24/7 - we are not cattle, and mindlessly shoving food into our mouths is totally unnecessary unless you want that cake shelf to expand into a cake stall!
- Remember to drink plenty of water. How many times have you thought you’re hungry when actually you were dehydrated, and all you needed was a glass (or two) of water? You don’t need me to extol the benefits of water - it’s a no-brainer!
- Vary your workouts and try new activities so you don’t end up getting bored, and stopping all activity in favour of retreating to the comfort of your sofa with a cuppa and a choccy biscuit!
- Find a friend or group to exercise with - try walking, swimming, cycling. What about yoga or tai chi? You might want to join a gym for some weight-lifting or strength-training. Try exercise classes that specialise in HIIT (high-intensity interval training).
- If group activities aren't your thing you can go for a brisk walk (dog optional), buy a hula hoop and revisit your childhood. Pop on an exercise video/ online tutorials or bop til you drop in your own front room - anything goes!
And for when you're exercising or need to take to distract you from becoming a fridge/cupboard raider - here’s a playlist of some thumptastic tunes.
Broken Heels - Alexandra Burke
Dancing queen - Abba
Everybody (backstreet’s Back) - Backstreet Boys
Heaven Is a Place on Earth - Belinda Carlisle
House of Love - East 17
I Wanna Dance with Somebody - Whitney Houston
Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny) - A.R. Rahman & The Pussycat Dolls ft. Nicole Scherzinger
Making Your Mind Up - Bucks Fizz
On The Floor (feat. Pitbull) - Jennifer Lopez
The Only Way Is Up - Yazz
Ooh Aah (Just A Little Bit) - Gina G
Reach - S Club 7
Rhythm Is A Dancer - Snap
Spice Up Your Life - Spice Girls
You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) - Dead Or Alive