6 Step Guide to Weight Loss During Menopause

A sign with menopause on it

My story

I was in my late forties when my clothes started getting too tight in several obvious places. My belly was growing when I wasn’t pregnant. So I was pretty sure I was starting to experience some of the joys of menopausal weight gain.

Let me tell you, when this stuff started happening to me I was not a happy camper. But I absolutely refused to buy bigger clothes, so I was determined to beat this thing. I did my homework and came up with a plan that has managed to help me avoid gaining weight through menopause and more than 10 years beyond.

But let me be frank

The sexy, flat stomach of pre-menopause days is gone, but, hey, I’ve got a waist and I can button my skirts and pants. What more could a girl ask!

And since I’m being frank, I’ve got to tell you that it takes time and effort to escape menopausal fatness. My body has changed, so I’ve got to change with it. I can’t do what I did 20 years ago and expect to stay slim.

But for me, the pay back is enormous: health, lots of energy, mental sharpness and a slim figure that can actually look good in real clothes.

So here’s how I fight back

  1. I do HIIT. I do my own form of a high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout twice a week for about 30 minutes, which is a combination of fast walking and running. Our metabolism has been slowing down for decades. Our muscle mass has been shrinking while our fat mass has been growing. HIIT is a great way to fight back by boosting metabolism and burning more fat in a shorter period of time during the exercise and after. No matter what type of aerobic exercise you do, you can add high intensity intervals to it. If you don’t know what HIIT is, check out this link: http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/high-intensity-hiit-workout/. Be sure to clear any exercise program with your doctor.

  2. I lift weights. We’ve been losing muscle mass for years, but more after 50. Muscle burns more calories than fat every second of the day, so if we’re not bailing hay or digging ditches, we need to add weight lifting to our weekly routines to help replace the muscle we’re losing. If we do nothing about our muscle loss, it’s take us longer to burn calories at 60 than at 20. I lift weights a couple times a week. If you’ve never done this before, be sure to learn how and what to do from a trained professional or you can unnecessarily injure yourself.

  3. I eat LOTS of natural fiber rich foods. Food plays a huge roll in beating menopausal fatness. Personally, I believe you can’t stay slim without having at least 75% of what you eat be natural fiber-rich foods (Full Plate Superfoods)3. But over the years I’ve taken things further--I’ve become a vegan. I really adore plant foods and love how I feel when eating them and what they do for my body. So I eat two Superfood packed meals a day: breakfast around 8 am and lunch around 2 pm, skipping supper most days of the week. I never snack because these meals fill me up for hours so I’m not hungry between meals.

  4. I dealt with my sugar addiction. I call myself a recovered sugar addict. Chances are you’ve got issues with sweets too, right? It’s a common problem for women...of all ages. So if we want avoid menopausal fatness, we’ve got to deal with this because it ain’t going away on its own...if you know what I mean. My problem sweets are cookies, cupcakes and cakes.

    So here’s what I do to stay in control:

    1. I only eat vegan sweets. That eliminates 98% of the sweets in the world. Sweet.
    2. I keep all vegan goodies out of my home and car; no sense making things harder on me.
    3. I enjoy some vegan sweets twice a week, after I eat a good meal of Full Plate Superfoods. That way there’s less room for sweets.

    Do I ever mess up and binge? Sure. But I don’t beat myself up about it. I just pick myself up and get right back to eating the way I should at the very next meal. Little secret: I love baking vegan cookies. In my case that is not an asset. So when I am baking, I make sure the cookies are going to be shared with others. That way I don’t eat the whole batch myself.

  5. I have a water drinking routine. Even mild dehydration can make you feel tired and sluggish so you move less, which doesn’t help with staying slim. Plus, as we get older things start drying up, so we need to drink more water. In addition, natural fiber rich foods love water, so if we’re eating more of these foods, we need more water. I drink about 10 cups of water a day between meals. I’m hardly ever thirsty so I just created a water drinking schedule that helps me reach my goal most days of the week: 3 cups before breakfast, a quart before lunch1 and 3 cups in the evening. I have a quart bottle on my desk which keeps me on track while I’m working. It’s just water for me because liquid calories don’t satisfy my appetite and lead to weight gain.

  6. I take sleep seriously. Menopause can sure mess up the joys of sleep. There are numerous issues involved, which we can’t deal with in this post. But let me mention a few things. First, a reminder: HIIT exercise that helps boost your metabolism will also help improve sleep. Lots of research has shown that staying up late increases levels of the hormone, ghrelin, which increases carb cravings. Just what we don’t need. So I try to have lights out by 9:30-10 pm most nights of the week. Since research has also shown that getting away from the TV, cell phones, laptops, etc. an hour before going to bed improves sleep, that’s what I try to do. For me, skipping suppers is beneficial because I just can’t sleep with a stomach full of food. Also, don’t forget that caffeine, even in the morning, can be a sleep stealer; so I became a recovered caffeine addict years ago.

It’s not the genes

Some of you may be thinking that I can’t really get heavy because I’m genetically predisposed to be thin. Let me bust that myth for you right now.

While it’s true that I inherited a slim build, it has always been easy for me to gain weight. I’m reminded of that every year when I spend a couple weeks with my family over the Christmas holidays. Exercise stops, restaurant and sweet eating soar. Result: I gain 5 lbs in two weeks!

You can do this

So that’s my story. I’m not sharing it to tell you what to do, but to give you an idea of what life looks like for someone who is escaping menopausal fatness.

We can’t stop the clock, but we can slow down the whole process and enjoy life more.

You can do this. Believe me when I tell you that you won’t be sorry for the time and energy you invest in staying slim and being healthy. It’s priceless.

What do you do to fight back?

Our readers and I would love to hear about your strategies for success. Maybe they can be helpful to us. Please take the time to share one with us.

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Diana Fleming

Diana Fleming, PhD, LDN, is a co-author of The Full Plate Diet and Nutritionist for Full Plate Living. She received her doctoral degree from Tufts University and has since dedicated her time to translating complicated nutritional data into easy and fun concepts anyone can apply at their next meal. In her spare time, she has painstakingly perfected the ultimate healthy AND delicious chocolate chip cookie.

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