Women complain to me about their menopause middle and ask 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.”
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
FORGET DIETS AND EXTREME EXERCISE – GO FOR JOY
You’ve probably dieted a gazillion times by now, has it led to permanent weight loss or are you dieting several times year? That ought to tell you something about how effective that approach is. There is no magic bullet when it comes to food or fitness.
What does work is eating fresh, whole foods that are nutrient dense. That is 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. You only have one body, one life. It is mostly up to you how you’re going to feel in it. Of course, you’ll probably reduce or get rid of the menopause middle too. That’s just the bonus. Feeling great in your own skin is the real prize.