Menopause is natural.
“By 2020, more than 50 million women will be older than 51 years, the average age of menopause, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Close to three quarters of them will experience symptoms including hot flashes, mood changes and sleep problems that can hurt their quality of life and lead to higher healthcare costs.” ~Samantha Walravens
If you were to ask any woman what’s normal about menopause, be prepared for a not so pleasant answer. She probably thinks there’s nothing normal about it! And hates it! (also normal)
She would be partly right because there are many aspects of the change of life not to like. However, it can’t be denied, it will happen sooner or later, bringing with it loads of symptoms, not just the absence of your period.
HINT: You’re officially in menopause when you haven’t had a period for 12 months.
You may be pre or post-menopausal now if your age is somewhere between 40 and 58. That’s when you start noticing weight gain around your waist – meno-pot belly – along with other symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings and night sweats.
Keep in mind that menopause affects every woman differently. What works for your best friend or sister may not work for you.
What’s With Menopausal Weight Gain?
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” ~Jim Rohn
Weight gain during this hormonal chapter of your life isn’t inevitable but it’s also not accidental. Varying factors contribute to the average five pounds of weight gained when the change sets in.
Extra pounds gained around your middle and especially below your belly button – Meno-pot Belly – get there as a result of changing hormones, particularly decreasing estrogen levels, a decrease in muscle mass, and a poor quality lifestyle.
Menopause is signaled by a slow decline in estrogen levels. This causes all sorts of issues, most commonly vaginal dryness but also fluctuating hormones. It’s changes in estrogen that cause weight gain.
Why Sleep Matters in Menopause
It’s been established that your hormones are fluctuating wildly during menopause. As a result your sleep patterns may change.
You need 7-9 hours of sleep in order to feel truly well. Many women have trouble sleeping properly during the climacteric (menopause) and don’t get close to that recommended amount of sleep hours.
The important work that goes on while you sleep is interrupted. Hormones are not properly cleared from the liver and the brain doesn’t get a full chance to process and clarify.
With that kind of insult to the brain higher inflammatory markers arise, planting seeds for disease, depression, a decline in memory, a decline in brain function and weight gain.
A sleepy person is a hungry person.
A sleepy brain is a craving brain.
Lack of rest promotes a desire to eat more junk food. A recent study showed that skimping on sleep activated parts of your brain involved with the response to reward chemistry.
“The combination of increased primal drives and reduced executive function of the frontal lobes creates a double-whammy that makes people more likely to reach for potato chips and pizza than leafy greens or lean meats.”
Sleep psychologists recommend setting up a Sleep Hygiene Routine which includes a sleep buffer zone. It’s like an invisible shield that protects the hour or so leading up to your bedtime.
During this time, deep sleep is fostered through various activities including:
- Turning off your screen ( all of them!)
- Cooling your sleep environment
- Using organic and natural fiber linens to help keep you cool and comfortable
- Not eating after your last meal (about 7:00 pm onwards)
- Sipping warm sugar-free, caffeine-free liquids
- Dimming the lights
- Listening to calming or meditative music (or try this guided meditation)
Blood sugar and Belly Fat
“Added sugars account for nearly 300 calories a day in the average American diet. About half of these calories come from sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, juices, energy drinks, flavored waters, and sweetened coffee and tea.” ~Mayo Clinic
Go sugar-free. Strike Sugar! I’ve included some of my favorite Eat Clean recipes for menopause in this free guide.
Hormones can also go wild as a result of blood sugar dis-regulation – a situation that arises when the normal fluctuations of blood sugar begin to alter, dramatically affecting how “sugar” is handled in the body.
As women age, unfortunately, they can also become insulin resistant which means tissues in the body, particularly the organs of blood sugar handling – PALS, Pancreas, Adrenals, Liver and Spleen – can no longer do their job.
When blood sugar is not managed properly it is almost impossible to lose weight.
This is why I encourage everyone, menopausal or not, to do at least one round of Strike Sugar.
Through this program, based on NTA principles and sound nutrition practice, your body can clean out and reset the organs that manage the daily job of blood sugar handling.
It will take at least one round – 4 weeks – to properly rid the pancreas, adrenals, adrenals, and liver of the toxicities of refined sugar.
But once you do it, everything about your wellness changes from your mood to your appearance, your energy to your weight, your sleep to your sex. It feels as if you are viewing life through a brilliant, beautiful lens that you haven’t seen in a long time.
For those suffering from the pains of menopause and wishing to shed meno-pot pounds, cleaning up your diet is a very impactful first step. This free guide walks you through my top 10 foods for menopause.
As I once experienced when I shed 84 pounds of unhealthy weight, lots of it stuck below my belly button, Eating Clean lit me up from the inside and locked my health down on the outside. My whole body changed for the better.
Beat belly, butt, and thigh fat storage.
As if you didn’t have enough to worry about during menopause, fat storage seems to take on a new pattern too. Fat decides it would like to hang around on your belly, hips, and thighs, clinging with a vengeance.
This is the most dangerous kind of weight to gain. It doesn’t just affect your appearance, it’s a health risk because it’s associated with an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome, Type II Diabetes, heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Heart attack is still the leading cause of death for women.
I want to remind you that each of these conditions are lifestyle induced. If you’ve made poor choices relating to your wellness, including not paying attention to what you eat, how you move and how you take care of your head/heart space, the result is an overall decline in health.
Take heart! If these conditions are brought on by poor lifestyle they are also reversible. Taking deliberate action to Eat Clean, Exercise regularly and practice Emotional Self-care is the single most important step you can take now. If not now, when?
So, rather than feeling sad and hopeless about menopause and meno-pot, you can now feel encouraged because there is a solution!
Feel confident fast with these 6 Menopause Fat Loss Strategies
#1 – Avoid sugar.
There is no ingredient so seriously detrimental to your weight and overall wellness than sugar. Remove it from your diet and your body and win the battle against the bulge.
Recall that one of the main principles of Eating Clean is to avoid sugar and processed foods. There are also specific foods that you can eat to support your hormones and body during this transitional time in your life. Download this free guide that walks you through them and also provides some delicious Eat Clean recipes to get you started.
You can expect to lose as much as 3-5 pounds of weight per week!
#2 – Eat more protein.
No food does more good for your body than protein. Eating more of it, another of the main principles in the Eat Clean Diet, puts your body in an accelerated state of fat burning called thermogenesis. It means that while protein is digesting it generates heat and causes fat burning.
Protein also reduces cravings, particularly sugar cravings and it is effective in causing the loss of fat in the belly region.
I get asked often which protein powder I use and recommend, so here it is!
#3 – Manage carb intake.
Managing carb intake simply means eat more plant based, complex carbs like fruits, vegetables, and properly prepared grains. All carbs are not created equal. Avoid all processed foods and refined carbohydrates, another principle of Eating Clean. This free guide walks you through some of my favourite Eat Clean foods for menopause.
#4 – Practice resistance training.
Building lean muscle is a powerfully effective way to create a trim, toned tummy.
Every pound of muscle gobbles up nutrients, especially circulating blood glucose, at a rate 3 times faster than fatty tissue. This means that the more muscular your body is the greater your fat burning potential.
This free guide walks you through 5 exercises that puts your body in fat burning mode and keeps it that way as long as you are doing the work.
The exercises in this guide are focused on whole-body training, using various principles like laddering, HIITs, Metcon, and periodization, to maximize the greatest fat burning capacity in your body.
Your results will be noticeable everywhere on your newly lean physique.
#5 – Eat chia and flax.
Viscous fibers like those found in chia and flax seeds as well as pectin in apples, have a positive effect on your gut and your belly fat.
These fibers are able to soak up many times their weight in water. As they do so, the fibers increase in size forming a thick gel in the digestive tract.
When that gel sits in the gut it slows down the speed at which food moves through you, also slowing down the digestive process and the absorption of nutrients.
What this means is you will feel full longer and find that your appetite is reduced.
I have eaten one, some or all of these from the start of my physique transformation, over 20 years ago. I credit them, at least partially, for helping me maintain a slim waistline even during menopause. I was essentially symptom-free for the entire ride!
Be sure to try my Berry Protein Shake recipe using flax seeds in this free guide to the foods that most support you during menopause.
#6 Track your food, mood, and effort.
The process of journaling, tracking or recording how you feel, what you do, what you eat and your progress is as essential to your success as any other strategy listed here.
Putting these details on paper cements the relationship you have with yourself and your goals. It names the journey, the effort, and the work. It signals that you are in progress and involved in the very important work of transforming your body.
Yes! Science shows that if you simply write it down, you will be that much more successful in all your efforts. That’s a huge win!
BONUS TIP – Measure it!
Belly fat is usually estimated by measuring the circumference around your waist. This can easily be done at home with a simple tape measure.
Anything above 40 inches (102 cm) in men and 35 inches (88 cm) in women is known as abdominal obesity.
It’s your turn now!
It’s time now to find your Start position in your attack on belly fat.
Today is the day.
Your mind is already made up – you’re done with feeling sloppy and fluffy around your middle.
And I have no doubt you will be successful.
Wishing you success and love,