Last year at this time I made a resolution to lose weight before my Son’s wedding. I wanted to lose 20 pounds or so and I was so pleased when I lost 25! My husband also lost a lot of weight. We were both really motivated (weddings will do that!) and it was just great to be able to do it together. We walked together very briskly (5km/hr) for an hour a day and were both using the LoseIt App to track calories in/out. This was the first time in my life that I ever counted calories (Huge shock – I sincerely never knew how many calories a beer contained!!).
The problem is: I stopped using the App after the wedding and Boom! 10 pounds appeared on my hips as if by magic! Now how did that happen? Well, in my case, mindlessness. Not the good meditation kind, just the mindless consuming kind. I LOVE good food and good drink, unfortunately to excess sometimes. And the older I get, the less I’m supposed to consume. On top of that, my “runner’s knee” which actually turned out to be pyriformis syndrome, made my regular daily walks impossible for a couple of months until it settled down. Life’s not fair sometimes, when you’re menopausal!
Menopause causes all kinds of changes in our hormone levels, starting about 10 years before (ask your Mother if you want to know when your menopause will occur) – a drastic drop in estrogen, progesterone and testosterone and an increase in the amount of androgen hormone, which is the one responsible for the “muffin-top” effect where menopausal women suddenly start gaining weight around their middles even if they have never gained weight before. On top of all this, it’s normal to lose some muscle tissue, which is replaced with (sadly), flab.
The good news is that this weight gain is actually a natural phenomenon preparing our bodies for old age. Some weight gain at menopause is desirable as it helps to prevent osteoporosis, however, this figure is 5 pounds, not 25 pounds! A 25 pound weight gain adversely affects us because it really increases the risk of high blood pressure, insulin resistance (often followed by diabetes) and an increased incidence of breast cancer.
So, what to do?
You’ve heard it all before – eat less, exercise more. Sounds oh so simple, but it’s so hard to do it consistently. On top of all the hormonal changes, physical changes in our bodies mean it might not be ideal to exercise aerobically to excess like we may have in the past. That’s a sure way to become injured. Even yoga, considered to be such a gentle exercise, can produce subtle but quite devastating injuries if you are not listening to your body and trying to get into poses which may not be possible for you. I am almost positive that my pyriformis problems started because I was trying to go too deeply into forward fold positions when my body just won’t bend that way.
Ideally, walking briskly and/or swimming every single day for at least an hour is the best exercise and can help you to lose weight if done consistently. On top of that, yoga for flexibility and some form of resistance exercise for your arms and upper body, either using light (2 to 10lb) hand weights or elastic resistance bands can help you to maintain your muscle tone and flexibility.
And, (heavy sigh), after losing the weight, you really can’t go back to eating and drinking the way you did when you were 30. I have learned that the hard way, and now I have to go back to doing all that hard work to lose the weight again, when I should have just kept it off in the first place. Well, live and learn. Tune back into my blog for healthful, low calorie recipes over the next few months as I try to get back to a healthy weight again.