As a Pilates instructor, more than one of my clients have complained about menopause middle, that extra weight around the waist that women can get. How to get rid of it? Exercise, good nutrition and sound sleep – the traits of a healthy lifestyle at any age, are ever more important at middle age.
According to Nancy Clark, author of the upcoming new edition of the best-selling Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook (Human Kinetics, November 2013), women do not always gain weight during menopause. “Yes, women aged 45 to 50 commonly gain weight as fat settles in and around the abdominal area,” Clark says. “But, these changes are due more to lack of exercise and a surplus of calories than to a reduction of hormones.”
Reduce Menopause Middle – Stay Active
In a three-year study of more than 3,000 women (initial age 42 to 52 years), the average weight gain was 4.6 pounds. The weight gain occurred in all women, regardless of their menopause status. According to Clark, weight gain is not caused by the hormonal shifts of menopause, but by other culprits associated with midlife. That is lack of exercise and excess calories.
Middle age women (and men) tend to be less active which is especially unhealthful as we age. We need to keep our muscles strong and flexible for many reasons: better balance, good bone mass, and for weight control.
more muscle = faster metabolism = increased calorie burn
No Magic Menopause Middle Diet
You’ve probably dieted a gazillion times by now. I know I have and I’m sick of it. There is no magic bullet when it comes to food or fitness. There is however, a choice to lead a more joyful active healthy lifestyle. I love to dance. So I Zumba, Tango and Salsa weekly.
Eating fresh, whole foods that are nutrient dense is a smart way to go. Nutrient dense means foods that pack a lot nutrition for the amount of calories – think apple vs pretzels. They may have the same calories but your body gets more satisfaction out of that apple.
Choose movement that you enjoy. If you like boxing – great! Weight-lifting, Pilates? Perfer bike riding to dancing? Do what feels good. Mix up some resistance training with activities that increase your heart rate enough so that you can talk but not sing while you are doing it and you’ve got a good aerobic pace.
exercise 3 – 5x/wk for at least 30-minutes.
Once you experience how good it feels to live in a strong, fit and healthy body, you’ll want to keep it that way. While shifting hormones can and do create changes in our bodies, we can mitigate some of it with wise choices.
You only have one body, one life. It is mostly up to you how you’re going to feel in it. Of course, you might reduce or get rid of the menopause middle too. That’s just the bonus. Feeling great in your own skin is the real prize.