Some things get better with age while certain things get downright difficult. And if you are a woman experiencing perimenopause (the transition to menopause) or one who has reached menopause, weight loss can be a challenging hurdle to overcome.
It doesn’t take numerous studies to show us that the menopausal transition can result in undesirable changes in body composition, where fat tends to shift from hips and thighs to our belly. Abdominal fat deposition and unfavourable health outcomes include diabetes and an increase in cardiovascular risk. For women in their late 40’s through 60’s, weight gain is a major health and image concern.
You may be consuming a good diet, doing moderate exercise and seemingly doing everything that younger women are doing, but you still seem to be struggling with weight gain. This is one of those times that we can blame it on the hormones.
Perimenopause can begin as early as the 30’s, but most often in the
40’s and is marked by a reduction in estrogen production by the ovaries. This loss of female hormone production does not occur all at once and as such there is often sporadic ups and downs of estrogen production resulting in irregular menstrual cycles. Symptoms associated with this time of life can include headaches, concentration difficulties, anxiety, loss of libido, and more. This makes sense when you look at the role of women’s hormones, but where does the weight gain fit it?
Why does the reduction of estrogen impact weight?
Sex hormones strongly influence fat metabolism and body fat distribution. The decrease and/or absence of estrogens (specifically estradiol) during perimenopause results in the dreaded belly fat accumulation found around the abdomen and midsection (including the organs). It is known as visceral fat.
What’s a Woman to Do?
Menopause is inevitable, but excess weight does not have to be. As you enter into perimenopause you may experience changes such as hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. Take this as the first sign that your body composition and fat distribution is likely to change as well, so take action early on. Keep in mind that excess weight can also be related to aging. As we age, muscle mass diminishes. Muscle is the fuel for the fat burning engine of the body and muscle mass impacts the rate at which the body uses calories. Muscle loss, lack of activity or continuing with the same caloric intake from an earlier age contributes to increased weight.
Review Your Lifestyle Patterns
Take stock of your patterns.
Consider the amount of daily/weekly exercise you engage in, the amount and types of food you eat and even your stress levels.
Understand that it is important to adjust to this new phase of your life. If you were relatively sedentary in the past, you need to find a way to get moving each day. Your body metabolizes foods for energy a bit different and with the hormonal shift some of those food groups and late-night snacks add calories and no longer burn
for fuel and become stored as fat. Review your food intake, how many calories do you consume vs how many you burn?
Keep your body moving
It can be as simple as trying to stand at your desk rather than sitting, pace in place or walk around when you are on the phone or watching television. Take the stairs more and park farther away. Engage in anaerobic activity (strength/resistance training, weightbearing exercises) and don’t forget the “speed” factor; power through motions such as getting up from a sitting position or walking an incline or stairs. Find activities that you like to do alone or with a friend, hiking, biking, walking, yoga. Make your “me” time more about fitness
Change Your Eating Patterns
Research suggests middle age or older adults should increase protein intake to higher than recommended guidelines. PLUS, choose a high-quality source like whey protein which can aid muscle gain and assist the fat burning process. Lastly, ensure protein intake is divided evenly amongst the 3 daily meals.
Give consideration to cruciferous vegetables: such as broccoli, cabbage and kale containing indole-3-carbinol, which naturally helps to balance estrogen level. Add Omega 3 essential fatty acids from wild-caught salmon, halibut, sardines, mackerel and anchovies. Studies show that regular consumption of omega-3s supports hormone production.
Don’t forget that consuming a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods (whole grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, etc.) will support weight management and optimal overall health.
Support the Process
Reach for CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). CLA has shown a wide range of beneficial activity including weight loss and an increase in lean muscle mass. Furthermore, studies suggest potential benefits to prevent and offset menopausal symptoms and may offer protective effects against post menopausal bone loss.
Make Menosense your go to menopause supplement. It contains a combination of key ingredients to support hormonal changes for both perimenopause and menopause such as black cohosh, chasteberry, gamma-oryzanol, hesperidin, and dong quai.
Hormonal and physical changes in a woman’s life, such as menopause, all have an impact on sleep health. Sleep is extremely important not just for the brain, but also for the rest of the body. Recent evidence suggests that sleep loss could be a risk factor that affects your mood, heart, weight, and blood sugar. SomniSense® offers an herbal solution for women who want a
natural sleep aid. It is a natural sleep aid containing passion-flower, skullcap, California poppy, linden flower, and hawthorn berry extracts. The combination of these herbs works as a natural sedative that promotes sleep and also has a calming effect.
Each of the 8 essential types of B Vitamins support your entire central nervous system in different ways. They can have a dramatic effect on mood, nerve function and metabolism. Handling the stress associated with menopause can also help to reduce weight gain caused by chronic stress.
Find Acceptance
Accept that your body is not going to be the same as it was in your twenties an redefine what your new healthy normal is.
  There are supplements shown to be highly beneficial in counteracting hormonal changes during perimenopause and menopause. These include black cohosh and evening primrose oil. Black cohosh has been well-studied and an effective treatment for hot flashes, depression/mood and vaginal atrophy. Evening primrose oil is rich in the essential fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and is involved in the productions of prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) which may combat menopausal symptoms.  
A Healthy Meal Is
Part of The Plan
Quinoa, Butternut Squash, Tomato and Broccoli Salad
2 tsp olive oil
1 small red onion, diced in small pieces
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 cup butternut squash in small chunks
1 cup broccoli, cut into small florets
¾ cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaf
1 cup quinoa
2 tbsp chopped parsley
¼ cup dried cranberries
3 tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
Cook quinoa and set aside in separate bowl. In a separate saucepan, boil butternut squash until cooked, but still firm.
Heat the oil in a large frypan with a lid, add the onion and garlic, and cook for 5 mins until softened, then remove from frypan and place in bowl with quinoa. Retain oil in frypan. Add the squash, stir until it starts to colour, then add the broccoli. Sprinkle in 3 tbsp water and the thyme, cover the pan and steam for about 5 mins until the broccoli is tender.
Meanwhile, add cherry tomatoes, parsley, cranberries, seeds and balsamic vinegar to quinoa. Add broccoli, butternut squash and feta cheese. Mix ingredients well.