Menopause weight gain can lead to major frustration and a feeling of lack of control. You may be feeling that you are doing everything right and you’re eating the same diet you were eating your whole life so why are you gaining weight now?! As we travel through perimenopause and menopause some diet and lifestyle changes are required in order to maintain (or even lose) weight. My clients often tell me that they have always been able to eat whatever they want until they hit their 40s and then the weight started piling on. However, previous diet and lifestyle choices may have been setting them up for metabolic dysfunction that eventually reached a peak when the hormones started to rollercoaster during the natural hormone changes that occur heading into menopause. In other words – they were never really getting away with it – it was always going to come back and kick them up the butt at a later stage. That doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it right now and get your body and health back to where they need to be for a lifetime of good health and weight management.
ARE YOU STRUGGLING WITH MENOPAUSE WEIGHT GAIN?
The hormone changes associated with perimenopause can start as early as our mid thirties. Periods may become a bit more irregular and heavier, sleep isn’t as sound as it used to be, mood starts to darken and weight can start to increase. As we head into perimenopause (which means before menopause), hormones start to go on a bit of a roller coaster. It’s a general belief that estrogen starts to steadily fall heading towards menopause, but this is not the case. Estrogen can actually start to increase to a state of estrogen dominance – this is where estrogen is much higher than it’s partner progesterone. Estrogen dominance can drive issues such as fibroids, breast cysts, heavy periods and weight gain. Unfortunately, our happy hormone, progesterone doesn’t rise to keep estrogen under control and low progesterone leads to sleepless nights, anxiety, increased muscle aches and pains, estrogen dominance and weight gain.
Estrogen and progesterone levels are going to alter as we move through menopause and the production of hormones moves from the ovaries to the adrenals, skeletal muscle etc. However, how dramatically they alter can be very much influenced by other hormones such as insulin, thyroid and cortisol. For example, when we reach perimenopause our insulin sensitivity reduces. This means that we cannot handle the same glucose load as we could before. Therefore, the amount of carbohydrates consumed may have to reduce for long term weight management. If you have lots of carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta, noodles etc) in your diet this will lead to glucose overload and fat storage. Again, a leaning towards insulin resistance is something that may have been building up over decades of unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices.
Our stress hormone, cortisol, is a master hormone that can have a major effect on all other hormones. Therefore, if you are constantly stressed, over scheduled, over exercising and under the pump you may be having a major effect on how well you manage menopause and beyond. As I mentioned earlier, the production of sex hormones moves to the adrenals during perimenopause so if they are a bit burnt out they are not going to do very well. Thyroid is also a hormone that is also greatly affected by cortisol, insulin and disturbance in the sex hormones and thyroid disorderscan become more prevalent during perimenopause and menopause. When the thyroid is out of whack, it is a real challenge to get the unwanted kgs off so you really need to get thyroid and other hormones balanced before you can achieve long term and real success.
Too much, too little or not the right type of exercise may also cause a lack of success when it comes to weight loss during menopause. Too little exercise leads to insulin resistance, a reduced basal metabolic rate and insufficient calorie expenditure. Too much exercise or too much high intensity exercise can lead to excess cortisol which has a knock on effect on other hormones including thyroid, estrogen and progesterone. Believe it or not you can also under eat as well as over eat. Years of yoyo dieting may have driven your basal metabolic rate so low that you can no longer eat 3 regular meals because you are burning very little calories. I often have to up-feed clients before we get long term success.
Our relationship with alcohol may have to change as we progress through menopause. You may find that hangovers get worse, hot flushes increase when you drink and the weight can often refuse to budge if those Friday and Saturday night wines stay in the program. Working with clients to negotiate reductions in alcohol intake is big part of my job!
Finally, mindset plays a huge part in menopause weight gain. Women spend most of their lives looking after others – partner, children, pets, parents etc. Sometimes we lose sight of our passions in order to stay on the hamster wheel of responsibility. It is very important to recognise issues such as emotional eating, stress eating, sugar addiction, wine addiction etc. These mechanisms may be in place because you have lost sight of your passions, goals and aspirations. Helping you to recognise these issues through vision boards, mindfulness etc can really help to settle hormones down.
WEIGHT MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS FOR MENOPAUSE WEIGHT GAIN
At Physical Nutrition, we understand the multi factorial approach required to achieve long term weight management as we transition through menopause and beyond. Eating the right macros, balancing hormones and working on mindset requires a multi-pronged approach. We have a few options available to you. Our 1 To 1 Weight Loss Program provides an in-clinic 12-week program loaded with personal nutrition programming, exercise videos, meal plans, coaching and resources designed to get those unwanted kgs off and keep them off. We also offer a 12-week online program specifically designed for women 35 up who are either keen to avoid health issues and weight gain during perimenopause and menopause or are experiencing the effects and want to calm everything down and get back to their normal (or new and improved) selves. Check out the Eat Train Glow Program and start a 7-day free trial to try it out. The program includes exercise, meal plans, education, live support, community – it’s the full package! You can also get some great health and hormone tips on the Physical Nutrition Facebook Page
On a final note, menopause weight gain is not ‘normal’ and you can do something about it. Get the right help and you can achieve your weight management goals.
Let’s all stay super fit and fabulous well into our old age.
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Fiona is one of my all time favourite people. After high school, I weighed in at 99kg. At 174cm, I have been overweight by 15-20 kgs for all my adult life. Until, at age 53, I met Fiona. She immediately diagnosed my primary problem and by following her dietary coaching, I lost 16 kgs in 5 months. More importantly, I have maintained this for more than a year now. Now, well into the second half of my life, life is good, very good. As I said, Fiona will always be one of my all time favourite people. Thank you Fiona.
Fiona ran a course at work and it was fantastic – I learned so much and she tailored the programs to each individual which worked really well. I reached my weight loss and health goals and it really wasn’t too hard and I still have treats! More importantly, I feel much better in myself for making food changes and continued to see her independently when the course at work finished.
Indigestion, stomach pain and abdominal cramps, were an every day occurrence for me. I was quite desperate by the time I found Fiona. With the help of some supplements and allergy testing, Fiona Took me on a journey of discovery. Thanks to her professional and kind guidance, I now know which foods to avoid and which ones will help my gut to stay healthy. For the very first time in a long time, my tummy now feels quite normal and I no longer suffer any of the above conditions. To say Fiona has change my life may sound rather dramatic but it is completely true and I will be forever grateful to her.
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I have been working with Fiona at Physical Nutrition for about 10 weeks through a corporate program run my employer. Losing weight and making some real changes to my dietary lifestyle has been a game changer for me. Through her weekly tutorials, Fiona has taught me about the food I eat, what is best for my body and to gauge how I feel after each meal. Combined with a sensible exercise routine of walking and cycling, I have managed to drop my weight by 7kgs during this period. My energy levels are up, I’m feeling fitter and I’m eating much more balanced meals and now know which foods to avoid and which to eat more of! It’s been a great experience and I would highly recommend Fiona’s program.
I have recently completed the Physical Nutrition 10kg in 20 weeks program and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the support and guidance Fiona has provided.
The 10 in 20 program not only helped me change my habits by giving me a coach that kept me accountable but also helped to educate me to make better nutrition choices in the future.
Thank you again Fiona & this is just the beginning, I’m not going anywhere ☺️
Fiona has been working with the City of South Perth over the last year. She has developed a customised 10 week health coaching and nutrition program with us which the City now offers as part of its suite of health and wellbeing benefits. All of the participants were overwhelmingly positive about the program. They rated the program highly on the aspects of Fiona’s professionalism, approachability and knowledge, as well as the results they had achieved.
I would recommend Physical Nutrition to any organisation looking to develop staff benefits.
Physical Nutrition/Fiona Murray has really helped my husband and I to achieve our weight loss and lifestyle goals. Her advice, support and knowledge during the 20 week challenge has set us up to lead a healthier and balanced life style. We thought we had enough food and exercise knowledge before meeting Fiona but she has kept us on track, motivated us and through her group classes has kept us entertained and true to our goals! Thanks Fiona!
My son is 21 and has been ill for years and part of it was Diet, and we have been to many nutritionalist’s but FIONA MAKES SENSE and TELLS YOU WHY you should be careful what you eat. She changed my sons life so I sent my Daughter who had auto immune issues and she has helped her. It is now my turn so I will keep you updated. Highly recommend her she is also very understanding.
I have been with Fiona at Physical Nutrition for several months in relation to skin and gut problems and for weight loss. Fiona is knowledgeable and supportive. I am slowly losing weight and my skin and gut issues are improving. Fiona works in conjunction with my integrative medical practitioner which is a very helpful. First time I have had any positive results, a slow but worthwhile approach.
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