You have had a tough ride. Your health can only get better and you will feel better. Now your thyroid TSH levels are back to normal your metabolic rate will speed up. However, you must realise that when you reach menopause your metabolic rate does slow down. In addition with normal TSH levels the constipation should improve, as should your fatigue, gritty eye feeling and the brittle nails. In addition your mood should feel more positive.
What is it about menopause that makes it so hard to keep off the weight? It's likely a mix of factors related to menopause and aging. Continue reading below...
In animal studies, oestrogen appears to help control body weight. With lower oestrogen levels, lab animals tend to eat more and be less physically active. Reduced oestrogen may also lower metabolic rate, the rate at which the body converts stored energy into working energy. It's possible the same thing happens with women when oestrogen levels drop after menopause. Some evidence suggests that oestrogen hormone therapy increases a woman's resting metabolic rate. This might help slow weight gain. Lack of oestrogen may also cause the body to use starches and blood sugar less effectively, which would increase fat storage and make it harder to lose weight.
The most common concerns expressed by my menopausal and postmenopausal patients are how easy it is to gain weight and how hard it is to lose weight. It's a real challenge, so much so that many women believe menopause causes a shift in the body that makes it impossible to lose weight. But is this really the case?
A recent study tried to answer the question by examining the eating habits of 419 overweight and obese menopausal and postmenopausal women. Some women were encouraged to make eating behaviour changes through regular meetings with nutritionists, exercise physiologists and psychologists while the other "controls" received only limited health education. After four years, 57 percent of the postmenopausal women encouraged to make lifestyle changes maintained at least a 3 kg weight loss compared with 29 percent of the controls.
What food changes worked best to get weight off and to keep it off? Eating more fish, low fat dairy, fruits, salads and vegetables but fewer desserts and sugar-sweetened drinks, as well as less lollies and chocolates, were key. Reduction of alcohol consumption was also very important.
I know you've probably heard this before. But now it's a proven fact. And so is the reality that increased weight affects most menopausal women, and that this increases the chances of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis, particularly of her hips and knees.
The other thing that this study suggests: As you enter menopause and beyond, the rules for weight control are really the same as they are before menopause.
So how can you best use this information? Energy in versus energy out! Here are five steps you can easily take to lose weight in menopause and keep it off.
1. Make time to exercise daily. You don't have to run a marathon. Just 50 minutes daily walking or gardening or dancing.
2. Talkto a dietitian. You'll be amazed at the stuff in your refrigerator and cabinets that isn't good for you that can be swapped out for healthier choices. In addition you need to learn the impact of portion control.
3. Keep the sugar and processed food out of the house. Eat fresh – veges, salad, fish, lean meat, chicken, low fat dairy, fruit – but in the controlled amounts. Don’t snack, sit down and eat so you are mindful of what you are consuming.
Eat a balanced diet, exercise and sleep are the factors you should focus on to feel good and lose weight. Don't focus on the speed of weight loss, focus on making all the changes permanent lifestyle ones.
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