What can happen to our weight during perimenopause and menopause?
Being perimenopausal or menopausal can have a negative effect on your well-being and lead many women to pile on weight.
Our Founder, Katie Taylor’s own experience of weight management and weight gain during perimenopause is typical of many women during this phase of life:
“After four babies and then hitting perimenopause aged 43, followed by a hysterectomy at 49, I found I had gained 4 stone in weight and couldn’t shift a single pound due to perimenopause low mood and low energy.
I didn’t think I’d ever be able to shift even a pound and spent years berating myself for having no willpower. I eventually realised that not only do diets not work but they have a detrimental effect on your mental health and wellbeing too.
I’m 52-years-old now, and it’s taken me a full year to finally lose that 4 stone of menopausal weight gain through eating a healthy, sensible and nutritious diet, walking more, exercise, and looking at this as a long term health priority rather than a quick fix for a dress or a holiday. Losing menopausal weight gain is a possibility.”
Why do we put on weight during menopause?
The role of hormones
Menopause is a time when our hormones fluctuate and hormone production decreases. This can cause a range of symptoms such as tiredness, low energy, low mood and more. Understandably, these symptoms cause our motivation for exercise to decrease.
As Katie explains: “It’s a chicken and egg scenario and - until you find the right help/treatment to balance your hormones so you feel mentally better, it’s almost impossible to find the right headspace or energy to engage with a weight loss or fitness regime.”
How to lose weight during menopause
If you want to manage your weight during menopause, it’s really important to try and focus on health and long-term lifestyle changes rather than a quick fix.
Before all of that, please see your GP (and take along your symptom tracker) to get the right help for your overall menopausal symptoms as a first step. This will give you the focus that you need to make the lifestyle changes that are ahead.
Nutrition and diet during menopause
Many women say that they’ve been lucky enough to eat what they like in their 20s and 30s without gaining too much weight. As we reach midlife and menopause, our metabolism starts to slow down, which can mean it’s harder to maintain the same weight as before.
A number of expert nutritionists have written for The Latte Lounge to share recommendations for a healthy, balanced diet during midlife and menopause:
If you don’t already regularly exercise, then midlife is the perfect opportunity to find something that you love.
Not only can this help with weight management, but it will boost your overall health - bones, muscle health, mobility and mental health and well-being.
Even small changes to your activity levels can reap benefits and can boost your mood, making you feel even more motivated to continue to exercise too.
The key really is to start slowly (if you don't exercise already) and to try out lots of different options until you find something that you enjoy and can regularly and consistently fit into your day-to-day routine.
We've pulled together a number of our expert articles to help you get started:
The perimenopause brings with it many physical symptoms. As your oestrogen levels drop, you stop menstruating, and you may experience mood shifts, dry skin or changes in weight. While these signs vary for each of us, a common complaint among those going through menopause is leg pain and muscle tension.
Too often, women living with disability are left out of the menopause and midlife women's health conversation and, as a result, put their symptoms down to pre-existing health conditions, not realising that they could actually be entering perimenopause or menopause.
Katie invited Emma Livingstone, founder of Up – The Adult Cerebral Palsy Movement, to the podcast to share her own story and to explain why it is so important for women, in particular those with cerebral palsy, to have their own pathways within healthcare.
Emma talks about her own experience living with a long-term disability and why she was inspired to found Up and campaign for better understanding and support from the medical community and the wider community.
Katie welcomed author and pelvic floor specialist, Kim Vopni, to the podcast to talk us through probably one of the most uncomfortable and awkward conditions that can affect a woman, pelvic organ prolapse.
Kim explains exactly what a prolapse is, the most common causes and how commonly they occur. She also gives advice on treatment options, including how to do pelvic floor exercises effectively and also when surgery might be the best option.