Why Menopause Weight Gain?
Something I find most women miss in their early 40’s, as their hormones start to roller coaster up and down – usually creating emotional floods of tears one minute and red, roaring rage in the next – is the hidden messages their body is giving them to “slow down” and “chill”.
When the message isn’t heard – the body will put on weight. Yep, you guessed it… stress is the major player in perimenopausal and menopause weight gain.
Now, it takes time and effort to sit still and quiet the mind. The exact antidote to lowering cortisol (one of your stress hormones) and reducing the body’s own messaging system to “hold onto” fat. You may have heard of this as insulin resistance. And while it is accelerated by a decrease in oestrogen after the age of 40 (one of the hormones that lowers dramatically as you transition in perimenopause to post menopause), it can be controlled by your body’s ability to reduce cortisol at the same time.
This means you need to BREATHE intentionally from the belly. Think of it like buddha breathing or yoga breathing. As your diaphragm expands with your inward breath & then deflates with your outward breath – it triggers to your brain (which is where all your hormone messages start from) that you are safe and can “flip” into the part of the Nervous System that controls digestion, absorption of nutrients and metabolism (or Rest, Digest, Restore).
This function not only repairs healthy collagen and skin, saving the sag, but allows the body to keep using the food it consumes for energy (and not store it for later in your fat storage areas – particularly in the belly and around the back of your bra strap & upper arms).
So how do you start?
By finding routines and rituals that you are already doing as part of your self-care, you can extend the time OR start a new routine. I find the most effective way to start is by doing 5mins of intentional belly breathing when you first lay down at night in your bed. Lie on your back in the prone position and focus your mind on counting… As your mind gets distracted with other thoughts, re-focus it back to counting. Once you hit 10 breaths, you can roll over and go to sleep.
This will do two things –
1. You will have a deeper, more restful sleep and it will activate your body’s repair hormone – HGH or Human Growth Hormone, used to repair EVERY cell in your body – think achy joints and muscles, saggy skin, rashes, irritations, rosacea and itchy skin PLUS you will have more energy in the morning from the deeper sleep.
2. It lowers cortisol before sleep, which can block your satiety hormone (which you want to be ON during the day for controlling hunger) and helps repair the gut/brain axis, which improves immunity & your healthy stress responses to inflammation.
If you’re wanting a much faster approach – add a morning routine to your day. If you set your day up with 10-15mins of intentional, calm breathing BEFORE you get sucked into the day’s events, you have a lower set point from which to “boil over” from and keep that cortisol at the correct level for activity, NOT panic and fat storing.
A special note – what worked for you before you hit 40 may not work for you after. This is sad but think of it as a new expansion of how your body can work smarter, not harder, to give you more energy and self-confidence… IF you listen to it. If you’re struggling with menopause weight gain – it’s a message from your body to slow down, take a bit more time for you, figure our what you want your life to look and feel like. One that gives you more fulfilment once the kids have flown the coup.
As you breathe intentionally in your new daily rituals, learn to enjoy the newly created ME time, the feeling of calmness that can start and finish your day, eeking into more corners of your day, the longer you keep the habit up. And of course, the new appreciation of foods that make you feel good – inside and out, exercise routines that have shifted to support a more strength based focus and letting go of concerns that really don’t add value to you – as you’ve gleaned your new perspective on life after 40.
If you are concerned about Menopause Weight Gain and are seeking friendship, support and a big boost of ZEST for LIFE, consider joining our Thrive Through Menopause Program – a 6 week course that’ll help you banish the night sweats and horrible hormonal merry go round!