Weight Gain After Menopause

In Menopausal weight gain by Janet

My weight had crept on slowly between 51 and 57 years of age. I knew I was buying larger size dresses, but the full reality of my 33-pound weight gain did not hit until I saw this picture with my sister, Lynn. We were once the same size!

Hormonal fluctuations and android fat distribution to the middle of the body affect your shape and put you at greater risk of cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack, stroke or high blood pressure. I needed to worry about this as both our parents and all four grandparents died of heart attacks or strokes.

Prescription medications may be a source of weight gain. I had been in so much fibromyalgia pain that I was taking extra medications. Review your medications with your doctor and pay close attention to any weight change when starting a new prescription.

My first step was to cut serving size – restaurants give us a false sense of what a serving size should be. My breakfast became a corn tortilla with a scrambled egg and one tablespoon of salsa. Salads with lots of vegetables and 3 ounces of canned fish were lunch. I used a salad plate instead of a dinner plate when dishing up dinner which consisted of steamed or roasted vegetables and chicken or fish. I limited brown rice to 2 tablespoons of raw rice per serving. The most difficult part was not baking cookies which had been a lifelong love. At restaurants I divided my food in half and took the other half home. Sometimes that made two more meals by adding more vegetables.

Getting plenty of good quality sleep was another way I worked on my weight after menopause. No electronic screens an hour before bedtime as they emit light that has been proven to disrupt sleep. I also went to bed and got up the same time each day and made sleep a priority.

If your body mass Index (BMI) is higher than 27 or you have high blood pressure or diabetes seek out professional help from a dietician, nutritional expert or an obesity specialist.

One year later, I was 20 pounds thinner and down from size 14 to size 12. Most of my exercise I since college was swimming and I no longer had access to a pool. I also knew I needed to start an exercise that I would continue. I was walking the dog – walk a few steps wait for the dog to sniff her messages and repeat. I could hardly call this something that would build my strength and help me lose weight.

I felt confident enough to walk into my first yoga class at age 58. The only thing I knew about yoga was that it involved breathing. Later I learned that stress levels can also make you gain weight. This is where yoga breathing, exercising and meditation helped me to fight stress a documented source of weight gain.

Since I had a long history of medical problems, I started with one class a week, During the next year I built up to three times a week after a year and dropped to size 10 without losing an ounce.  My muscles were stronger and my fitness level and cardiovascular system were greatly improved. I added three more classes the following year. I was always the oldest person in my class and I was careful about what I did. I used my common sense and did not do poses that were unhealthy for me. Soon, I no longer had fibromyalgia and gradually stopped taking six prescriptions. I have since lost another 13 pounds and am back to my high school graduation weight.

I have students of all sizes and shapes. Some have told me that their yoga practice gave them the confidence to lose weight. Being heavy does not always mean you are not fit. Just like sagging skin is part of aging, the change of body shape is part of this process that we all go through. Be thankful you lived long enough to see your skin sag, to gain some weight and to discovery the glory of having silver hair. Do everything you can to eat right and stay fit. If you don’t lose weight, change your expectations and accept the weight you are. Make yourself beautiful with your great haircut, makeup and smile. Mostly love yourself exactly the way you are.

If your body mass Index (BMI) is higher than 27 or you have high blood pressure or diabetes get professional help from a dietician, nutritional expert or an obesity specialist.

Reference: Winning the weight battle after menopause, Harvard Women’s Health Watch, Vol. 26, No 12, August 2019, page 1 & 7.

Janet at 74: Healthy diet + Yoga = Successful Aging!