Is Menopause Making Me Fat?
Science says no.
The common understanding about weight gain in midlife has no science to support it.
Instead, what it shows is that men and women have no substantial differences in metabolic rates, menopause in and of itself does NOT create a dip in metabolism, and age-related decline begins at about sixty-five and even then, it's a minor drop.
Menopause is a stage in life with some challenges but it's not responsible for weight gain.
It’s your self-care practices that need reevaluation, not your body. Let’s focus on that.
Midlife is a reckoning of sorts. Right when life gets a bit more stable and there’s a little more money in the bank, your body starts acting up. Hot flashes here, sleeplessness there. Some extra weight appears and it’s much harder to recover from a night out. I could go on, but if you’re reading this, I’m betting you get it.
Here’s the thing, your body isn’t rebelling or falling apart. It’s speaking to you. What you’ve been doing added up and now the bill is due.
If you’re used to your routine being good enough to get along, menopause (or perimenopause) will decidedly tell you it isn’t enough. Have a good cry about it and read on. This isn’t the end of things, it’s the beginning of exploring and honoring what you need to thrive.
The truth is that how you took care of yourself probably never worked all that well but the midlife weight gain and sleeplessness have now become intolerable.
Good! Your invitation to rethink this next phase of your life has arrived. Open it.
The first order of business is to reframe your thinking from, ‘my body is broken and betraying me’ to ‘my self-care practices aren’t supporting what I need to function well.’
Your body is just fine, it’s your care of it that’s a problem.
Weight gain is an indication of a lack of balance. The question becomes, what does my body need in order to feel energetic, balanced, and calm?
Here are my suggestions on where to begin.
Any solution has to be holistic.
Your diet affects your ability to sleep. Your sleep affects your ability to exercise. Exercise affects your sleep quality. Alcohol affects every one of those things and more.
Companies are bending over backward to sell you remedies for hair loss, hormones, or my least-favorite, a metabolism booster (not a thing!). Glide on by. It makes zero sense to pretend you can fix one thing without addressing the total care you’re giving yourself.
The answer to your woes involves a variety of self-care practices that create a solid foundation of wellness.
Get the basics right and add individual remedies (real ones, not nonsense you find on Instagram) as needed, later.
Let go of your younger self.
She was fun and got to wear a bikini without much thought. And that skin, amirite? She was also consumed with doubt and had terrible boundaries. Here’s your chance to do better with the time you have left.
It’s true I’m not as pretty as my younger self, but I’m wildly better, wiser, and more confident. That’s hot too. I celebrate the young woman I was and relish in who I am today. A woman with knowledge, compassion, and a wealth of important experiences to share.
Longing for youth is violence to your current self. Knock that off.
This step is important because it allows you to honor and care for the person you are now. Not the past-perfect.
Yes, your hormones are changing.
The answer isn’t to go out and buy supplements that purport to address them. It’s to enact a baseline of wellness practices that help your body adjust.
Eat a diet of whole foods. Reduce or eliminate alcohol. Take care of your sleep. These things done well over time allow your body to right itself.
As an added bonus these practices will reveal your healthy weight, bring clear thinking, and allow you to be more productive than that your younger self.
How’s Your Sleep?
If sleep is elusive, so is lasting weight loss.
Quit being responsible for your whole household.
I’ll be writing a lot more about this in the coming weeks, but I’d like to address it here as well. The household burdens women accept (or seek out to feel worthwhile) have a huge effect on their ability to care for themselves.
It absolutely matters to have time to yourself and support in the care of the home.
The people around you may or may not recognize their role in your deteriorating health, but you can begin to help them understand by not continuing self-destructive dynamics.
If your reaction to reading this is to dismiss asking for what you need or feeling queasy at the idea of your partner not doing things well enough, it’s time for a reality check.
It’s your health or a ‘perfect’ household. Pick.
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